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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

That I'm an illegitimate child? That really is an illegitimate hope. In that case it would be the sins of my mother falling to me.

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

Then I fear you are doomed because of your mother and your father. You're caught between a rock and a hard place with the two of them, and you are doomed with both of them.

JESSICA

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

JESSICA

Then I will be saved by my husband. He has made me  a Christian. 

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

Then he is even more blameworthy. We had enough Christians already, as many as could live well together. Making you a Christian will raise the price of pigs. If everyone starts to eat pork, it won't be long before we won't be able to cook some bacon for all the money in the world.

Enter LORENZO

JESSICA

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

JESSICA

Launcelot, I'll tell my husband what you are saying. Here he comes.

LORENZO

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

LORENZO

I'll be jealous of you soon, Launcelot, if you keep taking my wife alone into corners like this.

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

No, you don't need to worry about us, Lorenzo. Launcelot and I aren't getting along. He tells me flat-out that there is no mercy for me in heaven because I am a Jew's daughter, and he says you are not a good Christian because in converting Jews to Christianity you raise the price of pork.

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

I can give a reply to that better than you can reply to the charge of sleeping with an African. The Moor is pregnant with your child, Launcelot.

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

There's more of the Moor than there should be. But even if she's less than an honest woman, she's more than I thought she was.

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

Any fool can play with puns! I think keeping quiet is the best sign of true wit. Empty talk is only good for parrots. Go and tell everyone to prepare for dinner.

LAUNCELOT

That is done, sir. They have all stomachs.

LAUNCELOT

They're already prepared, sir. They all have their stomachs.

LORENZO

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

LORENZO

What a sharp wit you have! Go tell them to get dinner ready.

LAUNCELOT

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

LAUNCELOT

That's done, too, sir. The table just needs to be set.

LORENZO

Will you cover then, sir?

LORENZO

Will you cover it, then

LAUNCELOT

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

LAUNCELOT

No, sir, I won't. I know my place.

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

Even more annoying nonsense! WIll you exhaust your store of wit anytime soon? Please, understand what I plainly mean. Go to your fellow servants, tell them to cover the table and serve the meat, and we will then come in to have dinner.

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

Sir, I will serve the table and cover the meat. Come in for dinner, sir, whenever you like.

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

What a way he has with words! That fool has an army of clever words at his disposal, and I don't know of any fool better at avoiding things with wordplay. How are you doing, Jessica? And tell me your opinion, sweetie: how do you like Lord Basanio's wife?

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

I like her more than I can say. Lord Bassanio must have lived a very virtuous life, for he has found such a blessing in his wife that he seems to have found the joys of heaven here on earth. And if he doesn't deserve this happiness on earth then he doesn't deserve it in heaven. If two gods were making some heavenly bet and used two women on their wager, and one chose Portia, the other one wouldn't be able to find her equal anywhere on earth.

LORENZO

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

LORENZO

I am as good a husband to you as she is a good wife to Bassanio.

JESSICA

Nay, but ask my opinion too of that!

JESSICA

But ask my opinion on that matter, too!

LORENZO

I will anon. First let us go to dinner.

LORENZO

I will soon. Let's go to dinner first.

JESSICA

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

JESSICA

No, let me praise you now before we eat.

LORENZO

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

LORENZO

No, please, let's talk about it at the dinner table. Then, I'll digest what you say along with everything else.

JESSICA

Well, I’ll set you forth.

JESSICA

I won't disappoint.

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.