A line-by-line translation

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 3, Scene 5

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Enter LAUNCELOT the clown and JESSICA

LAUNCELOT

Yes, truly, for look you, the sins of the father are tobe laid upon the children. Therefore I promise ye 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 buta kind of bastard hope neither.

LAUNCELOT

Yes, truly, for remember that the sins of the father fall upon his children. Therefore I worry for you. I have always been straightforward with you, so I will tell you what I am troubled about. Cheer up, for I think you really are doomed. There's one hope that can result in any good for you, but that's only an illegitimate hope.

JESSICA

And what hope is that, I pray thee?

JESSICA

And what hope might that be?

LAUNCELOT

Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you not, that you are not the Jew’s daughter.

LAUNCELOT

Well, you can hope that your father is not really your father, and that you are not really the Jew's daughter.

JESSICA

That were a kind of bastard hope indeed. So the sins of my mother should be visited upon me.

JESSICA

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LAUNCELOT

Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and mother. Thus when I shun Scylla your father, I fall intoCharybdis your mother. Well, you are gone both ways.

LAUNCELOT

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JESSICA

I shall be saved by my husband. He hath made me aChristian.

JESSICA

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LAUNCELOT

Truly, the more to blame he. We were Christians eno' before, e'en as many as could well live one by another. This making Christians will raise the price of hogs. If we grow all to be pork-eaters, we shall not shortly havea rasher on the coals for money.

LAUNCELOT

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Enter LORENZO

JESSICA

I’ll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say. Here he comes.

JESSICA

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LORENZO

I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into corners.

LORENZO

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JESSICA

Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo. Launcelot and I areout. 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 converting Jews to Christians you raise the price of pork.

JESSICA

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LORENZO

I shall answer that better to the commonwealth than youcan the getting up of the Negro’s belly. The Moor is with child by you, Launcelot.

LORENZO

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LAUNCELOT

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.

LAUNCELOT

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LORENZO

How every fool can play upon the word! I think the bestgrace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and discourse grow commendable in none only but parrots. Go in, sirrah. Bid them prepare for dinner.

LORENZO

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LAUNCELOT

That is done, sir. They have all stomachs.

LAUNCELOT

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LORENZO

Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! Then bid them prepare dinner.

LORENZO

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LAUNCELOT

That is done too, sir. Only “Cover!” is the word.

LAUNCELOT

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LORENZO

Will you cover then, sir?

LORENZO

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LAUNCELOT

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

LAUNCELOT

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LORENZO

Yet more quarreling 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.

LORENZO

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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 govern.

LAUNCELOT

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Exit LAUNCELOT

LORENZO

O dear discretion, how his words are suited! The fool hath planted in his memory An army of good words, and I do know A many fools that stand in better place, Garnished like him, that for a tricksy word Defy the matter. How cheerest thou, Jessica? And now, good sweet, say thy opinion. How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?

LORENZO

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JESSICA

Past all expressing. It is very meet 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. 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 Hath not her fellow.

JESSICA

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LORENZO

Even such a husbandHast thou of me as she is for a wife.

LORENZO

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JESSICA

Nay, but ask my opinion too of that!

JESSICA

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LORENZO

I will anon. First let us go to dinner.

LORENZO

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JESSICA

Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach.

JESSICA

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LORENZO

No, pray thee, let it serve for table talk.Then howsome'er thou speak’st ’mong other thingsI shall digest it.

LORENZO

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JESSICA

Well, I’ll set you forth.

JESSICA

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Exeunt

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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.