The Merchant of Venice

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Launcelot Gobbo, alone


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
start (n.) 3 advantage, edge, upper hand

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. ‘ Fia!’ says the
pack (v.) 1 take [oneself] off, be off, depart
via, fia (int.) 1 come / go on, hurry up

fiend; ‘ Away!’ says the fiend. ‘ For the heavens, rouse up a

brave mind,’ says the fiend, ‘ and run.’ Well, my conscience
brave (adj.) 3 audacious, daring, bold

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
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous

indeed my father did something smack, something grow
grow to (v.) be an integral part of, become one with
smack (v.) 1 have a taste, like the flavour
something (adv.) 2 a little, to some extent

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,
incarnation (n.) malapropism for ‘incarnate’

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.
commandment, commandement (n.) 1 command, instruction, order

Enter Old Gobbo with a basket


Master young man, you I pray you, which is the

way to Master Jew's?



O heavens, this is my true-begotten

father who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel-blind,
sand-blind (adj.) half-blind, dim-sighted

knows me not. I will try confusions with him.
confusions, try malapropism for ‘try conclusions’ [= see what happens]


Master young gentleman, I pray you which is the

way to Master Jew's?


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.


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?


Talk you of young Master Launcelot?

(aside) Mark me now, now will I raise the waters. – Talk

you of young Master Launcelot?


No master, sir, but a poor man's son. His father,

though I say't, is an honest exceeding poor man and,
exceeding (adv.) exceedingly, extremely, very

God be thanked, well to live.
well to live (adj.) well-to-do, well-off, prosperous


Well, let his father be what a' will, we talk of

young Master Launcelot.


Your worship's friend, and Launcelot, sir.


But I pray you, ergo old man, ergo I beseech
ergo (adv.) therefore See Topics: Latin

you, talk you of young Master Launcelot.


Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership.


Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master

Launcelot, father, for the young gentleman, according to
father (n.) 1 old man, venerable sir See Topics: Address forms

Fates and Destinies and such odd sayings, the Sisters

Three and such branches of learning, is indeed deceased,
branch (n.) division, section, part [of an argument]

or as you would say in plain terms, gone to heaven.


Marry, God forbid! The boy was the very staff of

my age, my very prop.


Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a
hovel-post (n.) door-post of a hovel

staff or a prop? Do you know me, father?


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?


Do you not know me, father?


Alack, sir, I am sand-blind! I know you not.
sand-blind (adj.) half-blind, dim-sighted


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. (He 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.


Pray you, sir, stand up. I am sure you are not

Launcelot my boy.


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.


I cannot think you are my son.


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.


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.
fill-horse (n.) draught-horse, horse which goes between shafts


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.


Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and

thy master agree? I have brought him a present. How

'gree you now?


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
set up one's rest (n.) [in primero] venture one's final stake, stake all

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
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent

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
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent

I am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer.

Enter Bassanio, with Leonardo and a follower or two
haste (v.) hurry, speed up, accelerate


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
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count

Gratiano to come anon to my lodging.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

Exit one of his men


To him, father!


God bless your worship!


Gramercy. Wouldst thou aught with me?
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count


Here's my son, sir, a poor boy ...


Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's man

that would, sir, as my father shall specify ...


He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say,
infection (n.) 2 malapropism for ‘affection’

to serve ...


Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the

Jew, and have a desire, as my father shall specify ...


His master and he, saving your worship's reverence,

are scarce cater-cousins.
cater-cousins (n.) good friends, people on the best of terms
scarce (adv.) 1 scarcely, hardly, barely, only just


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 ...
frutify (v.) malapropism for ‘certify’


I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow

upon your worship, and my suit is ...
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count


In very brief, the suit is impertinent to
impertinent (adj.) 2 malapropism for ‘pertinent’

myself, as your worship shall know by this honest old

man, and though I say it, though old man, yet poor man,

my father ...


One speak for both. What would you?


Serve you, sir.


That is the very defect of the matter, sir.
defect (n.) 2 malapropism for ‘effect’


I know thee well, thou hast obtained thy suit.
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,

And hath preferred thee, if it be preferment
prefer (v.) 1 promote, advance, recommend
preferment (n.) advancement, promotion

To leave a rich Jew's service to become

The follower of so poor a gentleman.


The old proverb is very well parted between
part (v.) 2 divide, share, split up

my master Shylock and you, sir. You have the grace of

God, sir, and he hath enough.


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.
guarded (adj.) ornamented, trimmed, tricked out


Father, in. I cannot get a service, no! I have

ne'er a tongue in my head, well! (He looks at his palm) If

any man in Italy have a fairer table which doth offer to
table (n.) 5 [palmistry] area between various lines on the palm

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!
simple (adj.) 1 common, ordinary, average, humble

Alas, fifteen wives is nothing; eleven widows and nine

maids is a simple coming-in for one man. And then to
coming-in, comings-in (n.) income, revenue, yield

scape drowning thrice, and to be in peril of my life with
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

the edge of a feather-bed! Here are simple scapes. Well,

if Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear.
gear (n.) 1 business, affair, matter
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count

Father, come. I'll take my leave of the Jew in the


Exeunt Launcelot, with Old Gobbo


I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this.

These things being bought and orderly bestowed,
bestow (v.) 6 stow away, dispose of

Return in haste, for I do feast tonight

My best-esteemed acquaintance. Hie thee, go.
hie (v.) hasten, hurry, speed See Topics: Frequency count


My best endeavours shall be done herein.

Enter Gratiano


Where is your master?


                         Yonder, sir, he walks.



Signor Bassanio!




I have suit to you.
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count


                         You have obtained it.


You must not deny me. I must go with you to Belmont.
deny (v.) 3 disallow, forbid, refuse permission [for]


Why then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano:

Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice,
rude (adj.) 8 cacophonous, raucous, barbarous

Parts that become thee happily enough
become (v.) 3 put a good front on, give a pleasing appearance to
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]

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
liberal (adj.) 1 overgenerous, licentious
pain (n.) effort, endeavour, exertion, labour
something (adv.) 1 somewhat, rather See Topics: Frequency count

To allay with some cold drops of modesty
allay (v.) 1 subside, abate, diminish, quell

Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behaviour
skipping (adj.) 1 frivolous, flighty, frolicsome

I be misconstered in the place I go to,
misconster (v.) misconstrue, misinterpret, take wrongly

And lose my hopes.


                         Signor Bassanio, hear me:

If I do not put on a sober habit,
habit (n.) 3 behaviour, bearing, demeanour

Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,

Wear prayer books in my pocket, look demurely,
demurely (adv.) gently, in a subdued way; or: solemnly

Nay more, while grace is saying hood mine eyes

Thus with my hat, and sigh and say amen,

Use all the observance of civility
civility (n.) civilized conduct, courteous behaviour, good manners

Like one well studied in a sad ostent
ostent (n.) display, show, manifestation
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count
studied (adj.) 2 prepared, equipped, fitted

To please his grandam, never trust me more.
grandam (n.) grandmother See Topics: Family


Well, we shall see your bearing.


Nay, but I bar tonight. You shall not gauge me

By what we do tonight.


                         No, that were pity.

I would entreat you rather to put on

Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
suit (n.) 4 clothing, dress, garb

That purpose merriment. But fare you well;
purpose (v.) 1 intend, plan

I have some business.


And I must to Lorenzo and the rest,

But we will visit you at supper-time.


  Previous scene     Next scene