The Merchant of Venice
 Act 2, Scene 9

Enter NERISSA with a Servitor
Flourish of cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF ARRAGON, PORTIA, and their trains
And so have I address’d me. Fortune now
To my heart’s hope! Gold; silver; and base lead.
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
You shall look fairer, ere I give or hazard.
What says the golden chest? ha! let me see:
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
What many men desire! that “many” may be meant
By the fool multitude, that choose by show,
Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach;
Which pries not to the interior, but, like the martlet,
Builds in the weather on the outward wall,
Even in the force and road of casualty.
I will not choose what many men desire,
Because I will not jump with common spirits
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house;
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves:”
And well said too; for who shall go about
To cozen fortune and be honourable
Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
To wear an undeserved dignity.
O, that estates, degrees and offices
Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honour
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover that stand bare!
How many be commanded that command!
How much low peasantry would then be glean’d
From the true seed of honour! and how much honour
Pick’d from the chaff and ruin of the times
To be new-varnish’d! Well, but to my choice:
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
I will assume desert. Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here.
He opens the silver casket

Enter a Servant
                 Here: what would my lord?

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

This is the willshake edition of The Merchant of Venice, a play written by William Shakespeare, probably some time between 1596 and 1597, when he was about 32 years old. timeline of The Merchant of Venice

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