The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare


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ACT II - Scene II


Venice. A street

Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO

LAUNCELOT
Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this
Jew my master. The fiend is at mine elbow and tempts me, saying
to me 'Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot' or 'good Gobbo' or
'good Launcelot Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away.'
My conscience says 'No; take heed, honest Launcelot, take heed,
honest Gobbo' or, as aforesaid, 'honest Launcelot Gobbo, do not
run; scorn running with thy heels.' Well, the most courageous
fiend bids me pack. 'Via!' says the fiend; 'away!' says the
fiend. 'For the heavens, rouse up a brave mind' says the fiend
'and run.' Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my
heart, says very wisely to me 'My honest friend Launcelot, being
an honest man's son' or rather 'an honest woman's son'; for
indeed my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a
kind of taste- well, my conscience says 'Launcelot, budge not.'
'Budge,' says the fiend. 'Budge not,' says my conscience.
'Conscience,' say I, (you counsel well.' 'Fiend,' say I, 'you
counsel well.' To be rul'd by my conscience, I should stay with
the Jew my master, who- God bless the mark!- is a kind of devil;
and, to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend,
who- saving your reverence!- is the devil himself. Certainly the
Jew is the very devil incarnation; and, in my conscience, my
conscience is but a kind of hard conscience to offer to counsel
me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly
counsel. I will run, fiend; my heels are at your commandment; I
will run.

Enter OLD GOBBO, with a basket

GOBBO
Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way to
master Jew's?

LAUNCELOT
[Aside] O heavens! This is my true-begotten father,
who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind, knows me not.
I will try confusions with him.

GOBBO
Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to
master Jew's?

LAUNCELOT
Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but, at
the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next
turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew's
house.

GOBBO
Be God's sonties, 'twill be a hard way to hit! Can you tell
me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with him, dwell with him or
no?

LAUNCELOT
Talk you of young Master Launcelot? [Aside] Mark me
now; now will I raise the waters.- Talk you of young Master
Launcelot?

GOBBO
No master, sir, but a poor man's son; his father, though I
say't, is an honest exceeding poor man, and, God be thanked, well
to live.

LAUNCELOT
Well, let his father be what 'a will, we talk of young
Master Launcelot.

GOBBO
Your worship's friend, and Launcelot, sir.

LAUNCELOT
But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech you, talk
you of young Master Launcelot?

GOBBO
Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership.

LAUNCELOT
Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master Launcelot,
father; for the young gentleman, according to Fates and Destinies
and such odd sayings, the Sisters Three and such branches of
learning, is indeed deceased; or, as you would say in plain
terms, gone to heaven.

GOBBO
Marry, God forbid! The boy was the very staff of my age, my
very prop.

LAUNCELOT
Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or a
prop? Do you know me, father?

GOBBO
Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman; but I pray
you tell me, is my boy- God rest his soul!- alive or dead?

LAUNCELOT
Do you not know me, father?

GOBBO
Alack, sir, I am sand-blind; I know you not.

LAUNCELOT
Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the
knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well,
old man, I will tell you news of your son. Give me your blessing;
truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son
may, but in the end truth will out.

GOBBO
Pray you, sir, stand up; I am sure you are not Launcelot my
boy.

LAUNCELOT
Pray you, let's have no more fooling about it, but give
me your blessing; I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son
that is, your child that shall be.

GOBBO
I cannot think you are my son.

LAUNCELOT
I know not what I shall think of that; but I am
Launcelot, the Jew's man, and I am sure Margery your wife is my
mother.

GOBBO
Her name is Margery, indeed. I'll be sworn, if thou be
Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord worshipp'd
might he be, what a beard hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair
on thy chin than Dobbin my fill-horse has on his tail.

LAUNCELOT
It should seem, then, that Dobbin's tail grows backward;
I am sure he had more hair of his tail than I have of my face
when I last saw him.

GOBBO
Lord, how art thou chang'd! How dost thou and thy master
agree? I have brought him a present. How 'gree you now?

LAUNCELOT
Well, well; but, for mine own part, as I have set up my
rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground.
My master's a very Jew. Give him a present! Give him a halter. I
am famish'd in his service; you may tell every finger I have with
my ribs. Father, I am glad you are come; give me your present to
one Master Bassanio, who indeed gives rare new liveries; if I
serve not him, I will run as far as God has any ground. O rare
fortune! Here comes the man. To him, father, for I am a Jew, if I
serve the Jew any longer.

Enter BASSANIO, with LEONARDO, with a FOLLOWER or two

BASSANIO
You may do so; but let it be so hasted that supper be
ready at the farthest by five of the clock. See these letters
delivered, put the liveries to making, and desire Gratiano to
come anon to my lodging.

Exit a SERVANT

LAUNCELOT
To him, father.

GOBBO
God bless your worship!

BASSANIO
Gramercy; wouldst thou aught with me?

GOBBO
Here's my son, sir, a poor boy-

LAUNCELOT
Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's man, that would,
sir, as my father shall specify-

GOBBO
He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say, to serve-

LAUNCELOT
Indeed the short and the long is, I serve the Jew, and
have a desire, as my father shall specify-

GOBBO
His master and he, saving your worship's reverence, are
scarce cater-cousins-

LAUNCELOT
To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, having done
me wrong, doth cause me, as my father, being I hope an old man,
shall frutify unto you-

GOBBO
I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow upon your
worship; and my suit is-

LAUNCELOT
In very brief, the suit is impertinent to myself, as
your worship shall know by this honest old man; and, though I say
it, though old man, yet poor man, my father.

BASSANIO
One speak for both. What would you?

LAUNCELOT
Serve you, sir.

GOBBO
That is the very defect of the matter, sir.

BASSANIO
I know thee well; thou hast obtain'd thy suit.
Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
And hath preferr'd thee, if it be preferment
To leave a rich Jew's service to become
The follower of so poor a gentleman.

LAUNCELOT
The old proverb is very well parted between my master
Shylock and you, sir: you have the grace of God, sir, and he hath
enough.

BASSANIO
Thou speak'st it well. Go, father, with thy son.
Take leave of thy old master, and inquire
My lodging out. [To a SERVANT] Give him a livery
More guarded than his fellows'; see it done.

LAUNCELOT
Father, in. I cannot get a service, no! I have ne'er a
tongue in my head! [Looking on his palm] Well; if any man in
Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to swear upon a book- I
shall have good fortune. Go to, here's a simple line of life;
here's a small trifle of wives; alas, fifteen wives is nothing;
a'leven widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one man.
And then to scape drowning thrice, and to be in peril of my life
with the edge of a feather-bed-here are simple scapes. Well, if
Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear. Father,
come; I'll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling.

Exeunt LAUNCELOT and OLD GOBBO

BASSANIO
I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this.
These things being bought and orderly bestowed,
Return in haste, for I do feast to-night
My best esteem'd acquaintance; hie thee, go.

LEONARDO
My best endeavours shall be done herein.


Enter GRATIANO

GRATIANO
Where's your master?

LEONARDO
Yonder, sir, he walks.

Exit

GRATIANO
Signior Bassanio!

BASSANIO
Gratiano!

GRATIANO
I have suit to you.

BASSANIO
You have obtain'd it.

GRATIANO
You must not deny me: I must go with you to Belmont.

BASSANIO
Why, then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano:
Thou art too wild, too rude, and bold of voice-
Parts that become thee happily enough,
And in such eyes as ours appear not faults;
But where thou art not known, why there they show
Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pain
To allay with some cold drops of modesty
Thy skipping spirit; lest through thy wild behaviour
I be misconst'red in the place I go to
And lose my hopes.

GRATIANO
Signior Bassanio, hear me:
If I do not put on a sober habit,
Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,
Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely,
Nay more, while grace is saying hood mine eyes
Thus with my hat, and sigh, and say amen,
Use all the observance of civility
Like one well studied in a sad ostent
To please his grandam, never trust me more.

BASSANIO
Well, we shall see your bearing.

GRATIANO
Nay, but I bar to-night; you shall not gauge me
By what we do to-night.

BASSANIO
No, that were pity;
I would entreat you rather to put on
Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
That purpose merriment. But fare you well;
I have some business.

GRATIANO
And I must to Lorenzo and the rest;
But we will visit you at supper-time.

Exeunt

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