William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, famous for the lines, "prick us do we not laugh, wrong us will we not avenge", tells the story of love, honour and justice.
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HOME > Plays > The Merchant of Venice > Act III. Scene V.

The Merchant of Venice

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Act III. Scene V.

Scene V.—The Same. A Garden.


Laun. Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of
the father are to be laid upon the children; there-
fore, I promise you, I fear you. I was always
plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation
of the matter: therefore be of 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.
Jes. And what hope is that, I pray thee?
Laun. Marry, you may partly hope that your
father got you not, that you are not the Jew's
Jes. That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed:
so the sins of my mother should be visited upon
Laun. 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.
Jes. I shall be saved by my husband; he hath
made me a Christian.
Laun. Truly the more to blame he: we were
Christians enow before; e'en as many as could
well live one by another. This making of Chris-
tians 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.
Jes. I'll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you
say: here he comes.

Lor. I shall grow jealous of you shortly,
Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into cor-
Jes. Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo:
Launcelot and I are out. He tells me flatly,
there is no mercy for me in heaven, because I
am a Jew's daughter: and he says you are no
good member of the commonwealth, for, in con-
verting Jews to Christians, you raise the price of
Lor. I shall answer that better to the com-
monwealth than you can the getting up of the
negro's belly: the Moor is with child by you,
Laun. It is much that the Moor should be
more than reason; but if she be less than an
honest woman, she is indeed more than I took
her for.
Lor. How every fool can play upon the word!
I think the best grace of wit will shortly turn
into silence, and discourse grow commendable
in none only but parrots. Go in, sirrah: bid
them prepare for dinner.
Laun. That is done, sir; they have all
Lor. Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are
you! then bid them prepare dinner.
Laun. That is done too, sir; only, 'cover' is
the word.
Lor. Will you cover, then, sir?
Laun. Not so, sir, neither; I know my duty.
Lor. Yet more quarrelling with occasion!
Wilt thou show the whole wealth of thy wit in
an instant? I pray thee, understand a plain man
in his plain meaning: go to thy fellows; bid
them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we
will come in to dinner.
Laun. 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 govern. [Exit.
Lor. O dear discretion, how his words are
The fool hath planted in his memory
An army of good words: and I do know
A many fools, that stand in better place,
Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word
Defy the matter. How cheer'st thou, Jessica?
And now, good sweet, say thy opinion;
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife?
Jes. Past all expressing. It is very meet,
The Lord Bassanio lead 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 mean it, then
In reason he should never come to heaven.
Why, if two gods should play some heavenly
And on the wager lay two earthly women,
And Portia one, there must be something else
Pawn'd with the other, for the poor rude world
Hath not her fellow.
Lor. Even such a husband
Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
Jes. Nay, but ask my opinion too of that.
Lor. I will anon; first, let us go to dinner.
Jes. Nay, let me praise you while I have a
Lor. No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk;
Then howsoe'er thou speak'st, 'mong other things
I shall digest it.
Jes. Well, I'll set you forth. [Exeunt.
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