William Shakespeare (15641616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.
The Merchant of Venice
Act II. Scene II.
Venice. A Street.
Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO.
Laun. 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 mans son,or rather an honest womans 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 ruled 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 incarnal; 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.
Gob. Master young man, you; I pray you, which is the way to Master Jews?
Laun.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.
Gob. Marry, God forbid! the boy was the very staff of my age, my very prop.
Laun. [Aside.] Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or a prop? Do you know me, father?
Gob. 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?
Laun. 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 mans son may, but, in the end, truth will out.
Gob. Pray you, sir, stand up. I am sure you are not Launcelot, my boy.
Laun. Pray you, lets 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.
Laun. I know not what I shall think of that; but I am Launcelot, the Jews man, and I am sure Margery your wife is my mother.
Gob. Her name is Margery, indeed: Ill be sworn, if thou be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord worshipped might he be! what a beard hast thou got! thou hast got more hair on thy chin than Dobbin my thill-horse has on his tail.
Laun. It should seem then that Dobbins tail grows backward: I am sure he had more hair on his tail than I have on my face, when I last saw him.
Gob. Lord! how art thou changed. How dost thou and thy master agree? I have brought him a present. How gree you now?
Laun. 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 masters a very Jew: give him a present! give him a halter: I am famished 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, and other Followers.
Bass. You may do so; but let it be so hasted that supper be ready at the very furthest 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.
Laun. Father, in. I cannot get a service, no; I have neer a tongue in my head. Well, [Looking on his palm.] if any man in Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to swear upon a book, I shall have good fortune. Go to; heres a simple line of life: heres 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, shes a good wench for this gear. Father, come; Ill take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling of an eye. [Exeunt LAUNCELOT and Old GOBBO.