Merchant of Venice: Act II, Scene ii

 

The Merchant of Venice.         Act 2, Scene 2.             Launcelot

(This text is featured in our interview with Blake Hackler)

1            Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from
2            this Jew my master. The fiend is at mine elbow and
3            tempts me saying to me ‘Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good
4            Launcelot,’ or ‘good Gobbo,’ or good Launcelot
5            Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away. My
6            conscience says ‘No; take heed,’ honest Launcelot;
7            take heed, honest Gobbo, or, as aforesaid, ‘honest
8            Launcelot Gobbo; do not run; scorn running with thy
9            heels.’ Well, the most courageous fiend bids me
10            pack: ‘Via!’ says the fiend; ‘away!’ says the
11            fiend; ‘for the heavens, rouse up a brave mind,’
12            says the fiend, ‘and run.’ Well, my conscience,
13            hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely
14            to me ‘My honest friend Launcelot, being an honest
15            man’s son,’ or rather an honest woman’s son; for,
16            indeed, my father did something smack, something
17            grow to, he had a kind of taste; well, my conscience
18            says ‘Launcelot, budge not.’ ‘Budge,’ says the
19            fiend. ‘Budge not,’ says my conscience.
20            ‘Conscience,’ say I, ‘you counsel well;’ ‘ Fiend,’
21            say I, ‘you counsel well:’ to be ruled by my
22            conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master,
23            who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil; and, to
24            run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the
25            fiend, who, saving your reverence, is the devil
26            himself. Certainly the Jew is the very devil
27            incarnal; and, in my conscience, my conscience is
28            but a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel
29            me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more
30            friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are
31            at your command; I will run.

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