The Merchant of Venice


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Launcelot the Clown and Jessica


LAUNCELOT

Yes truly, for look you, the sins of the father

are to be laid upon the children. Therefore, I promise

you I fear you. I was always plain with you, and so now

I speak my agitation of the matter. Therefore be o' good

cheer, for truly I think you are damned. There is but

one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is but a

kind of bastard hope neither.


JESSICA

And what hope is that, I pray thee?


LAUNCELOT

Marry, you may partly hope that your father

got you not, that you are not the Jew's daughter.
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed


JESSICA

That were a kind of bastard hope indeed! So the
bastard (adj.) 1 illegitimate, spurious, unauthorized

sins of my mother should be visited upon me.
visit (v.) 1 punish, deal with


LAUNCELOT

Truly then, I fear you are damned both by

father and mother. Thus when I shun Scylla your father,

I fall into Charybdis your mother. Well, you are gone

both ways.


JESSICA

I shall be saved by my husband. He hath made

me a Christian.


LAUNCELOT

Truly, the more to blame he! We were

Christians enow before, e'en as many as could well live
enow (adv.) enough

one by another. This making Christians will raise the

price of hogs; if we grow all to be pork-eaters, we shall

not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money.

Enter Lorenzo


JESSICA

I'll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say.

Here he comes.


LORENZO

I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot,

if you thus get my wife into corners.


JESSICA

Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo. Launcelot

and I are out. He tells me flatly there is no mercy for me
out (adv.) 4 fallen out, in a state of unfriendliness

in heaven because I am a Jew's daughter, and he says you

are no good member of the commonwealth, for in converting

Jews to Christians you raise the price of pork.


LORENZO

(to Launcelot)

I shall answer that better to the

commonwealth than you can the getting up of the

Negro's belly. The Moor is with child by you,

Launcelot.


LAUNCELOT

It is much that the Moor should be more

than reason; but if she be less than an honest woman,
reason (n.) 3 reasonable view, sensible judgement, right opinion

she is indeed more than I took her for.


LORENZO

How every fool can play upon the word! I think

the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

discourse grow commendable in none only but parrots.
discourse (n.) 1 conversation, talk, chat

Go in, sirrah, bid them prepare for dinner.


LAUNCELOT

That is done, sir. They have all stomachs.
stomach (n.) 1 appetite, desire [for food]


LORENZO

Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you!
wit-snapper (n.) wisecracker, smart aleck

Then bid them prepare dinner.


LAUNCELOT

That is done too, sir. Only ‘ cover ’ is the

word.


LORENZO

Will you cover then, sir?
cover (v.) 1 lay the table


LAUNCELOT

Not so, sir, neither. I know my duty.


LORENZO

Yet more quarrelling with occasion. Wilt thou
occasion (n.) 1 circumstance, opportunity
quarrel (v.) quibble, dispute, equivocate

show the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

thee understand a plain man in his plain meaning: go

to thy fellows, bid them cover the table, serve in the
serve in (v.) supply, provide, deal out

meat, and we will come in to dinner.


LAUNCELOT

For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for

the meat, sir, it shall be covered; for your coming in to

dinner, sir, why, let it be as humours and conceits shall
conceit (n.) 4 view, opinion, judgement
humour (n.) 2 fancy, whim, inclination, caprice

govern.

Exit Launcelot


LORENZO

O dear discretion, how his words are suited!
suited (adj.) dressed up, set out, adapted

The fool hath planted in his memory

An army of good words; and I do know

A many fools that stand in better place,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

Garnished like him, that for a tricksy word
garnish (v.) provide with a good supply [of words]
tricksy (adj.) full of tricks, cleverly playful

Defy the matter. How cheer'st thou, Jessica?
cheer thou / you?, how how are you feeling
defy (v.) 1 reject, despise, disdain, renounce
matter (n.) 2 significance, import, meaning

And now, good sweet, say thy opinion,

How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife?


JESSICA

Past all expressing. It is very meet
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count

The Lord Bassanio live an upright life,

For having such a blessing in his lady,

He finds the joys of heaven here on earth,

And if on earth he do not merit it,

In reason he should never come to heaven.
reason (n.) 1 power of reason, judgement, common-sense [often opposed to ‘passion’]

Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match

And on the wager lay two earthly women,

And Portia one, there must be something else

Pawned with the other, for the poor rude world
pawn (v.) stake, pledge, risk
rude (adj.) 1 violent, harsh, unkind

Hath not her fellow.


LORENZO

                         Even such a husband

Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.


JESSICA

Nay, but ask my opinion too of that!


LORENZO

I will anon. First let us go to dinner.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count


JESSICA

Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach.
stomach (n.) 2 wish, inclination, desire


LORENZO

No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk,

Then, howsome'er thou speak'st, 'mong other things

I shall digest it.


JESSICA

                         Well, I'll set you forth.

Exeunt
digest, disgest (v.) 5 endure, brook, put up with
set forth (v.) 1 praise, commend, extol

 
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