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We learn that he is being tempted by the devil to run away, but that his conscience wins out because he has no wish to dishonor the honesty of his mother and father.
Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew, my master. The fiend is at mine elbow and tempts me, saying to me, “Gobbo,” “Launcelot Gobbo,” “Good Launcelot,” or “Good Gobbo,” or “Good Launcelot Gobbo” —“use your legs, take the start, run away.” My conscience says, “No. Take heed, honest Launcelot. Take heed, honest Gobbo,” or as aforesaid, “Honest Launcelot Gobbo, do not run. Scorn running with thy heels.” Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack. “Fia!” says the fiend. “Away!” says the fiend. “For the heavens, rouse up a brave mind,” says the fiend, “and run.” Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely to me, “My honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man’s son”—or rather an honest woman’s son, for indeed my father did something smack, something grow to. He had a kind of taste.
The Merchant of Venice