The Merchant of Venice
Act 2, Scene 2
Enter LAUNCELOT the clown, alone
LAUNCELOT enters 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 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 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 incarnation. 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 command. I will run.
I’m sure I’ll feel guilty if I run away from this Jew, my master. The devil’s on my shoulder, tempting me. He’s saying, “Gobbo,” “Launcelot Gobbo,” “Good Launcelot,” or “Good Gobbo,” or “Good Launcelot Gobbo”—“use your legs and run away.” But my conscience says, “No, Launcelot, calm down, don’t run away.” The devil’s urging me to leave. “Go away!” he says. “Run away! Be tough,” says the devil, “and run!” But then my conscience, hanging around my heart, says very wisely to me, “My good friend Launcelot, you’re a good boy, the son of an honest man,” really, that should be the son of an honest woman, since my father cheated on my mother. Anyway, my conscience says, “Stay put.” “Go,” the devil says. “Don’t go,” says my conscience. “Conscience,” I say, “you give good advice.” “Devil,” I say, “you give good advice.” If I listened to my conscience, I’d stay with the Jew my master, who’s a devil. But if I ran away from the Jew, I’d be following the advice of the devil, who’s the very devil himself. Certainly the Jew is the devil incarnate, and my conscience is giving me a hard time by telling me to stay with the Jew. The devil’s advice is nicer. I’ll run, devil. Tell me to run, and I’ll run.
Enter Old GOBBO with a basket
GOBBO enters with a basket.