Open Source Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice

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Act II, Scene 2

Venice. A street.



  • Launcelot Gobbo. 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 570
    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 575
    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, 580
    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,' 585
    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 590
    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 595
    at your command; I will run.

[Enter Old GOBBO, with a basket]

  • Old Gobbo. Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way
    to master Jew's?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. [Aside] O heavens, this is my true-begotten father! 600
    who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind,
    knows me not: I will try confusions with him.
  • Old Gobbo. Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way
    to master Jew's?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but, 605
    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.
  • Old Gobbo. By God's sonties, 'twill be a hard way to hit. Can
    you tell me whether one Launcelot, 610
    that dwells with him, dwell with him or no?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Talk you of young Master Launcelot?
    Mark me now; now will I raise the waters. Talk you
    of young Master Launcelot? 615
  • Old 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 Gobbo. Well, let his father be what a' will, we talk of
    young Master Launcelot. 620
  • Old Gobbo. Your worship's friend and Launcelot, sir.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech you,
    talk you of young Master Launcelot?
  • Old Gobbo. Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master 625
    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. 630
  • Old Gobbo. Marry, God forbid! the boy was the very staff of my
    age, my very prop.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or
    a prop? Do you know me, father?
  • Old Gobbo. Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman: 635
    but, I pray you, tell me, is my boy, God rest his
    soul, alive or dead?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Do you not know me, father?
  • Old Gobbo. Alack, sir, I am sand-blind; I know you not.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of 640
    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 at the length truth will out. 645
  • Old Gobbo. Pray you, sir, stand up: I am sure you are not
    Launcelot, my boy.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. 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 650
  • Old Gobbo. I cannot think you are my son.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. 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. 655
  • Old Gobbo. Her name is Margery, indeed: I'll 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 fill-horse has on his tail. 660
  • Launcelot Gobbo. 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.
  • Old Gobbo. Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy
    master agree? I have brought him a present. How 665
    'gree you now?
  • Launcelot Gobbo. 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 670
    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 675
    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]

  • Bassanio. You may do so; but let it be so hasted that supper
    be ready at the farthest by five of the clock. See 680
    these letters delivered; put the liveries to making,
    and desire Gratiano to come anon to my lodging.

[Exit a Servant]

  • Launcelot Gobbo. To him, father.
  • Old Gobbo. God bless your worship! 685
  • Bassanio. Gramercy! wouldst thou aught with me?
  • Old Gobbo. Here's my son, sir, a poor boy,—
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's man; that
    would, sir, as my father shall specify—
  • Old Gobbo. He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say, to serve— 690
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the Jew,
    and have a desire, as my father shall specify—
  • Old Gobbo. His master and he, saving your worship's reverence,
    are scarce cater-cousins—
  • Launcelot Gobbo. To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, having 695
    done me wrong, doth cause me, as my father, being, I
    hope, an old man, shall frutify unto you—
  • Old Gobbo. I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow upon
    your worship, and my suit is—
  • Launcelot Gobbo. In very brief, the suit is impertinent to myself, as 700
    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 Gobbo. Serve you, sir.
  • Old Gobbo. That is the very defect of the matter, sir. 705
  • 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. 710
  • Launcelot Gobbo. 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 715
    My lodging out. Give him a livery
    More guarded than his fellows': see it done.
  • Launcelot Gobbo. Father, in. I cannot get a service, no; I have
    ne'er a tongue in my head. Well, if any man in
    Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to swear 720
    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! eleven
    widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one
    man: and then to 'scape drowning thrice, and to be 725
    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 of an eye.

[Exeunt Launcelot and Old Gobbo]

  • Bassanio. I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this:
    These things being bought and orderly bestow'd,
    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. 735


  • Gratiano. Where is your master?
  • Leonardo. Yonder, sir, he walks.


  • Gratiano. Signior Bassanio! 740
  • Bassanio. Gratiano!
  • Gratiano. I have a 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; 745
    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 750
    To allay with some cold drops of modesty
    Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behavior
    I be misconstrued in the place I go to,
    And lose my hopes.
  • Gratiano. Signior Bassanio, hear me: 755
    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,' 760
    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 765
    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: 770
    I have some business.
  • Gratiano. And I must to Lorenzo and the rest:
    But we will visit you at supper-time.