The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 3 Scene 5
No Fear Act 3 Scene 5 Page 3

Original Text

Modern Text

LORENZO

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

LORENZO

Good Lord, what a clown you are! Tell them to make the dinner.

LAUNCELOT

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

LAUNCELOT

That’s also been done, sir. The word you’re looking for is “

cover

By “cover,” Launcelot means “set the table.”

cover
.”

LORENZO

45Will you cover then, sir?

LORENZO

Will you cover, then?

LAUNCELOT

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

LAUNCELOT

No, sir—I know my duty.

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

You keep finding ways to mock me! Are you planning on showing me all your wit at once? Please understand my simple message: go tell the servants to set the table and bring in the food, and we’ll come in to 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

About the table, sir, dinner will be served on it. As for the food, it will be served in covered dishes. As for your coming in to dinner, just do what you feel is right.
Exit LAUNCELOT
LAUNCELOT exits.

LORENZO

O dear discretion, how his words are suited!
50The 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?
55And now, good sweet, say thy opinion.
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?

LORENZO

Oh, he’s good at bending words around! The fool has memorized a whole army full of fancy words. I know jesters in better positions, with the same talents he has. They also like to digress from the topic at hand by playing with language. Anyway, how are you, Jessica? And how do you like Lord Bassanio’s wife?