–Bassanio [to the gold casket]
So may the outward shows be least themselves
The world is e’er deceived by ornament:
In law, a plea that’s false and corrupt,
Yet made with a gracious and seasoned voice,
Obscures the show of evil.
What damnèd act does not become a blessing,
When some sober brow will approve it with text,
Hiding gross error with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assume some mark of virtue on its outward parts.
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false as
stairs of sand, do wear upon their chin
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
who, inward searched, have livers as white as milk?
These are no more than feeble shows of valor
To render them so dreadful.
Look on beauty and you shall see ‘tis purchased by the weight,
This cream, when plied upon the face works wonders
Making them fairest who wear most of it.
So are those crispèd, flowing, golden locks,
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
But such pretense of beauty, as we know,
Comes from a wig; hair from another’s head,
The skull of which now lies in some lost grave.
Thus, outer show is but the guilèd shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling a queen’s wretched face; in a word:
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To trap the wise.
Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
You’re as worthless to me as the hard food
That greedy Midas could not hope to eat.
I’ll have none of thee.
[to the silver casket]
Nor of thee silver;
You are none but the stuff of common coin,
Passed between the drudging fingers of men.
But thou, meager lead, which rather threatens
Than give any promise or hope of gain;
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence.
And here I choose. May heaven be my prize!