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Por. In terms of choice I am not solely led 4 By nice direction of a maiden's eyes : Besides, the lottery of my destiny Bars me the right of voluntary choosing : But, if my father had not scanted me, And hedg'd me by his wit,5 to yield myself His wife, who wins me by that means I told you,
4 In terms of choice I am not, &c.] She means, I think, to declare, as a reply to what Morochius has just advanced in favour of his complexion, that, even if she were possessed of the power of choosing for herself, she would not be altogether influenced in her choice by an attachment to personal advantages, but would pay a due regard to the more estimable qualities, the virtue and merit of her suitors. Terms of choice are the conditions upon which she may be induced to show a preference: I am not solely led, relates to what, generally speaking, and, at all times, her natural disposition prompts her to: nice direction of a maiden's eyes, denotes the distinguishing attention which, as a maiden, she might be supposed to bestow upon exterior attractions, such as are the objects of sight. That what is contained in the first two lines of her speech, has no reference to her father's appointment, is evident from what immediately follows, in which that is directly alluded to, and which would otherwise be tautologous. E.
5 And hedg'd me by his wit,] I suppose we may safely read; “ And hedg'd me by his will.” Confined me by his will. Johnson.
As the ancient signification of wit, was sagacity, or power of mind, I have not displaced the original reading. See our author, passim. STEEVENS.
This emendation was first introduced by Sir T. Hanmer. E.
Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair, As any comer I have look'd on yet,
Even for that I thank you; Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets, To try my fortune. By this scimitar,That slew the Sophy,6 and a Persian prince, That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,I would out-stare the sternest eyes that look, Out-brave the heart most daring on the earth, Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she
bear, Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey, To win thee, lady. But, alas the while! If Hercules, and Lichas, play at dice Which is the better man, the greater throw May turn by fortune from the weaker hand : So is Alcides beaten by his page ;
6 That slew the Sophy, &c.] Shakspeare seldom escapes well when he is entangled with geography, The prince of Morocco must have travelled far to kill the Sophy of Persia. Johnson.
It were well, if Shakspeare had never entangled himself with geography worse than in the present case. If the prince of Morocco be supposed to have served in the army of sultan Solyman (the second, for instance,) I see no geographical objection to his having killed the Sophy of Persia. See D’Herbelot in Solyman Ben Selim. TYRWHITT.
7 So is Alcides beaten by his page;] The old copies read—“ by his rage.” The emendation is Mr. Theobald's. Lichas was the boy by whom Dejanira sent an envenomed shirt to Hercules. MALONE.
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
You must take your chance;
wrong, Never to speak to lady afterward In way of marriage; therefore be advis'd.8
Mor. Nor will not; come, bring me unto
Por. First, forward to the temple ;9 after
dinner Your hazard shall be made.
Mor. Good fortune then ! 1 [Cornets. To make me blest,2 or cursed’st among men.
8 -therefore be advis'd.] Therefore be not precipitant; consider well what you are to do. Advised is the word opposite to rash. JOHNSON.
9 First, forward to the temple;] Where, I suppose, the oath she spoke of was to be administered to the suitors. - E.
I Good fortune then!] Morochius cannot mean that good fortune, as opposed to bad, should make him cursed : good is here only an epithet of respect applied to Fortune, in his address to her. “ Then, O good Fortune ! it will be thy task, or
office, to make me blest, or, &c.” E.
-bless't, &c.] i. e. “ blessed'st.” So, in King Richard 11:
harmless't creature ;" a frequent vulgar contraction in Warwickshire. STEEVENS.
The passage, however, will be good sense though we should suppose blest only the positive degree. E.
Belmont. A Room in Portia's House.
Flourish of cornets. Enter Portia, with the Prince of Morocco,
and both their Trains. Por. Go, draw aside the curtains, and
discover The several caskets to this noble prince :Now make your choice. Mor. The first, of gold, who this inscrip
tion bears; Who chooseth me, shall gain what many men
desire. The second, silver, which this promise car
* Scene V. Hitherto Scene 7 of Act II.-It is requested of the reader, before he proceeds, to turn to some remarks upon the situation of this Scene, contained in the Appendix, but rather too long for insertion in this place, wherein such reasons are assigned for the transposition, as, it is hoped, will be thought satisfactory. E.
I The first, of gold, who this inscription bears ;-) The application of who and which so near to each other, and in situations so similar, proves how indiscriminately Shakspeare employed them: Several modern publishers had altered this to,
which this inscription bears.” E.
I'ho chooseth me, shall get as much as he deserves. This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt;2 Who chooseth me, must give and hazard all he
hath How shall I know if I do choose the right? Por. The one of them contains my picture,
prince; If you choose that, then I am yours withal. Mor. Some god direct my judgment ! Let
me see ; I will survey the inscriptions back again : What says this leaden casket ? Who chooseth me, must give and hazard all he
hath. Must give—For what? for lead ? hazard for
lead ? This casket threatens : Men, that hazard all, Do it in hope of fair advantages : A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross : I'll then nor give, nor hazard, aught for lead. What says the silver, with her virgin hue? Who chooseth me, shall get as much as he
deserves. As much as he deserves ? -Pause there,
-as blunt;] That is, as gross as the dull metal. JOHNSON.