Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Scenes from the Comedies and Histories
Launcelot and Old Gobbo
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
From ‘The Merchant of Venice

Scene: 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 contagious fiend bids me pack: “Via!” says the fiend; “away!” says the fiend: “’fore 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 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 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.  [Going out in haste.]
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.        5
  Gobbo—By 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.—[To him.]  Talk you of young master Launcelot?
  Gobbo—No master, sir, but a poor man’s son: his father, though I say it, 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.        10
  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.
  LauncelotErgo, 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  [aside]—Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or a prop?—[To him.]  Do you know me, father?        15
  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.  [Kneels.]  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.        20
  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! worshiped 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  [rising]—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.        25
  Gobbo—Lord! how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy master agree? I have brought him a present. How agree 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 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.

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