The Merchant of Venice: Act 3, Scene 5
Enter Clown [LAUNCELOT] and JESSICA.
1Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father
2are to be laid upon the children: therefore, I
3. fear you: fear for you.
3promise ye, I fear you. I was always plain with
4. agitation: blunder for cogitation.
4you, and so now I speak my agitation of the matter:
5therefore be of good cheer, for truly I think you
6are damned. There is but one hope in it that can do
7you any good; and that is but a kind of bastard
8. neither: i.e., to be sure. Emphasizing the negative implication of what precedes (= that isn't much of a hope either).
9And what hope is that, I pray thee?
10. got: begot.
10Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you
11not, that you are not the Jew's
13That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed: so the
14sins of my mother should be visited upon me.
15Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and
16‑17. Scylla, your father, I / fall into Charybdis: Scylla was a sea-monster and Charybdis a whirlpool in the strait between Italy and Sicily in The Odyssey, xii.255. . . . more 18. gone: done for, lost.
16mother: thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I
17fall into Charybdis, your mother: well, you are
18gone both ways.
19I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a
21‑23. we were Christians / enow before; e'en as many as could well live, one by / another: i.e., (before you were converted to Christianity,) there were enough of us Christians, just about as many as could get along together.
21Truly, the more to blame he: we were Christians
22enow before; e'en as many as could well live, one by
23another. This making Christians will raise the
24price of hogs: if we grow all to be pork-eaters, we
25. rasher: slice of bacon.
25shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals
26. for money: even for ready money, at any price.
27I'll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say:
28here he comes.
29I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if
30you thus get my wife into corners.
31Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo: Launcelot and I
32. out: at odds.
32are out. He tells me flatly, there is no mercy for
33me in heaven, because I am a Jew's daughter: and he
34says, you are no good member of the commonwealth,
35for in converting Jews to Christians, you raise the
36price of pork.
37I shall answer that better to the commonwealth than
38you can the getting up of the negro's belly: the
39Moor is with child by you, Launcelot.
40. more than reason: larger than is reasonable. Launcelot is having fun . . . more 41. honest: chaste.
40It is much that the Moor should be more than reason:
41but if she be less than an honest woman, she is
42indeed more than I took her for.
43How every fool can play upon the word! I think the
44. best grace: highest quality, excellence.
44best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence,
45and discourse grow commendable in none only but
46parrots. Go in, sirrah; bid them
47prepare for dinner.
48. stomachs: appetites.
48That is done, sir; they have all stomachs.
49Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! then bid
50them prepare dinner.
51. cover: lay the table.
51That is done too, sir; only "cover" is the
53Will you cover then, sir?
54. I know my duty: Being witty, Launcelot now takes cover in the sense "put on your hat," and says that he knows better than to put on his hat in the presence of his social superiors.
54Not so, sir, neither; I know my duty.
55. quarrelling with occasion: taking issue at every opportunity; i.e., quibbling at every word.
55Yet more quarrelling with occasion! Wilt thou show
56the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray
57thee, understand a plain man in his plain meaning:
58go to thy fellows; bid them cover the table, serve
59. meat: food.
59in the meat, and we will come in to
61. table: Here used in the sense "food," as is shown by served in. 62. cover'd: i.e., served in covered dishes.
61For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the
62meat, sir, it shall be cover'd; for your coming in
63‑64. as humors and conceits shall govern: as your whims and notions shall determine.
63to dinner, sir, why, let it be as humors and
64conceits shall govern.
65. discretion: discrimination; i.e., ability to play with various meanings of words. suited: i.e., suited to Launcelot's character. Lorenzo's point is that Launcelot is a fool and talks like a fool. 68. A many: many. better place: higher social rank. 69‑70. Garnish'd: furnished (with words). that for a tricksy word / Defy the matter: who for . . . more 70. How cheer'st thou, Jessica?: How are you feeling, Jessica? I think that Lorenzo wants to know if Launcelot has amused her.
65O dear discretion, how his words are suited!
66The fool hath planted in his memory
67An army of good words; and I do know
68A many fools, that stand in better place,
69Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word
70Defy the matter. How cheer'st thou, Jessica?
71And now, good sweet, say thy opinion,
72How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife?
73Past all expressing. It is very meet
74The Lord Bassanio live an upright life;
75For, having such a blessing in his lady,
76He finds the joys of heaven here on earth;
77And if on earth he do not mean it, then
78In reason he should never come to heaven
79Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match
80. lay: stake.
80And on the wager lay two earthly women,
81. else: more.
81And Portia one, there must be something else
82. Pawn'd: staked, wagered.
82Pawn'd with the other, for the poor rude world
83. fellow: equal.
83Hath not her fellow.
83Even such a husband
84Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
85Nay, but ask my opinion too of that.
86I will anon: first, let us go to dinner.
87. stomach: (1) appetite; (2) inclination.
87Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach.
88No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk;
89. howsome'er: howsoever.
89Then, howsome'er thou speak'st, 'mong other things
90. set you forth: (1) serve you up, as at a feast; (2) praise you highly.
90I shall digest it.
90Well, I'll set you forth.