“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
“As much as he deserves!”—pause there, Morocco,
And weigh thy value with an even hand.
If thou beest rated by thy estimation,
Thou dost deserve enough, and yet enough
May not extend so far as to the lady,
And yet to be afeard of my deserving
Were but a weak disabling of myself.
As much as I deserve! Why, that’s the lady.
I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
In graces, and in qualities of breeding.
But more than these, in love I do deserve.
What if I strayed no further, but chose here?
Let’s see once more this saying graved in gold,
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
Why, that’s the lady. All the world desires her.
From the four corners of the earth they come
To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint.
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
For princes to come view fair Portia.
The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
To stop the foreign spirits, but they come
As o'er a brook to see fair Portia.
One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
Is ’t like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation
To think so base a thought. It were too gross
To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
Or shall I think in silver she’s immured,
Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamped in gold, but that’s insculped upon.
But here an angel in a golden bed
“He who chooses me will get as much as he deserves.” As much as he deserves—wait a minute there, Morocco, and consider your own value with a level head. If your reputation is trustworthy, you deserve a lot—though maybe not enough to include this lady. But fearing I don’t deserve her is a way of underestimating myself. As much as I deserve—I deserve Portia! By birth I deserve her. In terms of wealth, talents, and upbringing, and especially love, I deserve her. What if I went no further and chose this one? But let’s see once more what the gold one says: “He who chooses me will get what many men want.” That’s Portia! The whole world wants her. They come from the four corners of the earth to kiss this shrine and see this living, breathing saint. Princes travel across deserts and the vast wilderness of Arabia to come see the beautiful Portia. The wide ocean doesn’t prevent them from coming to see her—they travel across it as if it were a little stream. One of these three boxes contains her lovely picture. Could the lead one contain it? No, it’d be a sin to think such a low thought. Lead’s too crass to hold her. Is she enclosed in silver, which is ten times less valuable than gold? Oh, what a sinful thought! Nobody ever set a gem like her in a worse setting than gold. They have a coin in England stamped with the figure of an angel, but that’s just engraved on the surface.