The Merchant of Venice By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 2

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 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]

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 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.

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

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

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