The Two Gentlemen of Verona is often euphemistically referred to as one of Shakespeare’s ‘early plays’. This phrase attempts to account for its relative immaturity; aesthetically and dramaturgically it is considered by many to be inferior to the ‘later plays’. The actual date of writing is not certain, but the first record we have of it is from Mere’s Palladis Tamia, published in 1598. Edward Malone proposed that it is the first work that Shakespeare ever wrote for the stage. Another theory, initially put forward by Clifford Leech, suggests that the play was composed in stages, accounting for some of the textual inconsistencies.
Borrowing from the Portuguese story of Felix and Felismena, the plot focuses on two friends, Valentine and Proteus. Each leaves home and travels from Verona to Milan. Proteus leaves behind his beloved Julia, having exchanged with her rings and promises of “true constancy”. On arriving in Milan, Proteus discovers that Valentine has fallen in love with the Duke’s daughter Silvia and that they have planned to secretly elope together. Unfortunately, Proteus also falls for Silvia, declaring that “the remembrance of my former love / Is by a newer object quite forgotten”. He decides to do whatever it takes to win her for himself. The ensuing drama concerns itself with the limits of male friendship and the foolishness of lovers. The action comes to a climax in one of the most controversial scenes in the canon of Shakespeare’s writing. Many of the most famous performances have gained their notoriety because of the way that they have creatively navigated it, prompting Stanley Well’s comment that the play “has succeeded best when subjected to adaptation”. In the depths of the forest, Proteus threatens to rape Silvia, uttering the infamous line “I’ll force thee yield to my desire”. However, moments later he is reconciled to Valentine, who, despite being fully aware of what his friend has done, seems to offer him Silvia: “All that was mine in Silvia I give thee”. The play closes with Proteus and Julia happily reunited, and a decree that both they and Valentine and Silvia shall be married on the same day, sharing “one feast, one house, one mutual happiness”.
Although the popular opinion is that this is one of Shakespeare’s least accomplished plays, it has enjoyed a rich stage history. Notably, Peter Hall chose it has his first production as artistic director of the RSC in 1960, and John Barton directed another important RSC production in 1981. The play has been set in almost every imaginable era – the medieval, the renaissance, the music-hall 1930s, the rock-and-roll 1950s, the fashion-obsessed 1990s – and is not always confined to Verona and Milan. It attracted further attention after being featured in the Academy Award-winning film Shakespeare in Love (1998), despite never being explicitly named. The play is regularly admired for its spirited comedy. And for the fact that one of the characters is a dog.
Contributed by Rachel Thorpe
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
SCENE I. Verona. An open place.
Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS
Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus:
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.
Were’t not affection chains thy tender days
To the sweet glances of thy honour’d love,
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad,
Than, living dully sluggardized at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
But since thou lovest, love still and thrive therein,
Even as I would when I to love begin.
Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, adieu!
Think on thy Proteus, when thou haply seest
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel:
Wish me partaker in thy happiness
When thou dost meet good hap; and in thy danger,
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers,
For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine.
And on a love-book pray for my success?
Upon some book I love I’ll pray for thee.
That’s on some shallow story of deep love:
How young Leander cross’d the Hellespont.
That’s a deep story of a deeper love:
For he was more than over shoes in love.
‘Tis true; for you are over boots in love,
And yet you never swum the Hellespont.
Over the boots? nay, give me not the boots.
No, I will not, for it boots thee not.
To be in love, where scorn is bought with groans;
Coy looks with heart-sore sighs; one fading moment’s mirth
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights:
If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain;
If lost, why then a grievous labour won;
However, but a folly bought with wit,
Or else a wit by folly vanquished.
So, by your circumstance, you call me fool.
So, by your circumstance, I fear you’ll prove.
‘Tis love you cavil at: I am not Love.
Love is your master, for he masters you:
And he that is so yoked by a fool,
Methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.
Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
The eating canker dwells, so eating love
Inhabits in the finest wits of all.
And writers say, as the most forward bud
Is eaten by the canker ere it blow,
Even so by love the young and tender wit
Is turn’d to folly, blasting in the bud,
Losing his verdure even in the prime
And all the fair effects of future hopes.
But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee,
That art a votary to fond desire?
Once more adieu! my father at the road
Expects my coming, there to see me shipp’d.
And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.
Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our leave.
To Milan let me hear from thee by letters
Of thy success in love, and what news else
Betideth here in absence of thy friend;
And likewise will visit thee with mine.
All happiness bechance to thee in Milan!
As much to you at home! and so, farewell.
He after honour hunts, I after love:
He leaves his friends to dignify them more,
I leave myself, my friends and all, for love.
Thou, Julia, thou hast metamorphosed me,
Made me neglect my studies, lose my time,
War with good counsel, set the world at nought;
Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with thought.
Sir Proteus, save you! Saw you my master?
But now he parted hence, to embark for Milan.
Twenty to one then he is shipp’d already,
And I have play’d the sheep in losing him.
Indeed, a sheep doth very often stray,
An if the shepherd be a while away.
You conclude that my master is a shepherd, then,
and I a sheep?
Why then, my horns are his horns, whether I wake or sleep.
A silly answer and fitting well a sheep.
This proves me still a sheep.
True; and thy master a shepherd.
Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance.
It shall go hard but I’ll prove it by another.
The shepherd seeks the sheep, and not the sheep the
shepherd; but I seek my master, and my master seeks
not me: therefore I am no sheep.
The sheep for fodder follow the shepherd; the
shepherd for food follows not the sheep: thou for
wages followest thy master; thy master for wages
follows not thee: therefore thou art a sheep.
Such another proof will make me cry ‘baa.’
But, dost thou hear? gavest thou my letter to Julia?
Ay sir: I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her,
a laced mutton, and she, a laced mutton, gave me, a
lost mutton, nothing for my labour.
Here’s too small a pasture for such store of muttons.
If the ground be overcharged, you were best stick her.
Nay: in that you are astray, ’twere best pound you.
Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for
carrying your letter.
You mistake; I mean the pound,–a pinfold.
From a pound to a pin? fold it over and over,
‘Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to
But what said she?
Nod–Ay–why, that’s noddy.
You mistook, sir; I say, she did nod: and you ask
me if she did nod; and I say, ‘Ay.’
And that set together is noddy.
Now you have taken the pains to set it together,
take it for your pains.
No, no; you shall have it for bearing the letter.
Well, I perceive I must be fain to bear with you.
Why sir, how do you bear with me?
Marry, sir, the letter, very orderly; having nothing
but the word ‘noddy’ for my pains.
Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit.
And yet it cannot overtake your slow purse.
Come come, open the matter in brief: what said she?
Open your purse, that the money and the matter may
be both at once delivered.
Well, sir, here is for your pains. What said she?
Truly, sir, I think you’ll hardly win her.
Why, couldst thou perceive so much from her?
Sir, I could perceive nothing at all from her; no,
not so much as a ducat for delivering your letter:
and being so hard to me that brought your mind, I
fear she’ll prove as hard to you in telling your
mind. Give her no token but stones; for she’s as
hard as steel.
What said she? nothing?
No, not so much as ‘Take this for thy pains.’ To
testify your bounty, I thank you, you have testerned
me; in requital whereof, henceforth carry your
letters yourself: and so, sir, I’ll commend you to my master.
Go, go, be gone, to save your ship from wreck,
Which cannot perish having thee aboard,
Being destined to a drier death on shore.
I must go send some better messenger:
I fear my Julia would not deign my lines,
Receiving them from such a worthless post.
SCENE II. The same. Garden of JULIA’s house.
Enter JULlA and LUCETTA
But say, Lucetta, now we are alone,
Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love?
Ay, madam, so you stumble not unheedfully.
Of all the fair resort of gentlemen
That every day with parle encounter me,
In thy opinion which is worthiest love?
Please you repeat their names, I’ll show my mind
According to my shallow simple skill.
What think’st thou of the fair Sir Eglamour?
As of a knight well-spoken, neat and fine;
But, were I you, he never should be mine.
What think’st thou of the rich Mercatio?
Well of his wealth; but of himself, so so.
What think’st thou of the gentle Proteus?
Lord, Lord! to see what folly reigns in us!
How now! what means this passion at his name?
Pardon, dear madam: ’tis a passing shame
That I, unworthy body as I am,
Should censure thus on lovely gentlemen.
Why not on Proteus, as of all the rest?
Then thus: of many good I think him best.
I have no other, but a woman’s reason;
I think him so because I think him so.
And wouldst thou have me cast my love on him?
Ay, if you thought your love not cast away.
Why he, of all the rest, hath never moved me.
Yet he, of all the rest, I think, best loves ye.
His little speaking shows his love but small.
Fire that’s closest kept burns most of all.
They do not love that do not show their love.
O, they love least that let men know their love.
I would I knew his mind.
Peruse this paper, madam.
‘To Julia.’ Say, from whom?
That the contents will show.
Say, say, who gave it thee?
Valentine’s page; and sent, I think, from Proteus.
He would have given it you; but I, being in the way,
Did in your name receive it: pardon the
fault I pray.
Now, by my modesty, a goodly broker!
Dare you presume to harbour wanton lines?
To whisper and conspire against my youth?
Now, trust me, ’tis an office of great worth
And you an officer fit for the place.
Or else return no more into my sight.
To plead for love deserves more fee than hate.
Will ye be gone?
That you may ruminate.
And yet I would I had o’erlooked the letter:
It were a shame to call her back again
And pray her to a fault for which I chid her.
What a fool is she, that knows I am a maid,
And would not force the letter to my view!
Since maids, in modesty, say ‘no’ to that
Which they would have the profferer construe ‘ay.’
Fie, fie, how wayward is this foolish love
That, like a testy babe, will scratch the nurse
And presently all humbled kiss the rod!
How churlishly I chid Lucetta hence,
When willingly I would have had her here!
How angerly I taught my brow to frown,
When inward joy enforced my heart to smile!
My penance is to call Lucetta back
And ask remission for my folly past.
What ho! Lucetta!
What would your ladyship?
Is’t near dinner-time?
I would it were,
That you might kill your stomach on your meat
And not upon your maid.
What is’t that you took up so gingerly?
Why didst thou stoop, then?
To take a paper up that I let fall.
And is that paper nothing?
Nothing concerning me.
Then let it lie for those that it concerns.
Madam, it will not lie where it concerns
Unless it have a false interpeter.
Some love of yours hath writ to you in rhyme.
That I might sing it, madam, to a tune.
Give me a note: your ladyship can set.
As little by such toys as may be possible.
Best sing it to the tune of ‘Light o’ love.’
It is too heavy for so light a tune.
Heavy! belike it hath some burden then?
Ay, and melodious were it, would you sing it.
And why not you?
I cannot reach so high.
Let’s see your song. How now, minion!
Keep tune there still, so you will sing it out:
And yet methinks I do not like this tune.
You do not?
No, madam; it is too sharp.
You, minion, are too saucy.
Nay, now you are too flat
And mar the concord with too harsh a descant:
There wanteth but a mean to fill your song.
The mean is drown’d with your unruly bass.
Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus.
This babble shall not henceforth trouble me.
Here is a coil with protestation!
Go get you gone, and let the papers lie:
You would be fingering them, to anger me.
She makes it strange; but she would be best pleased
To be so anger’d with another letter.
Nay, would I were so anger’d with the same!
O hateful hands, to tear such loving words!
Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey
And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!
I’ll kiss each several paper for amends.
Look, here is writ ‘kind Julia.’ Unkind Julia!
As in revenge of thy ingratitude,
I throw thy name against the bruising stones,
Trampling contemptuously on thy disdain.
And here is writ ‘love-wounded Proteus.’
Poor wounded name! my bosom as a bed
Shall lodge thee till thy wound be thoroughly heal’d;
And thus I search it with a sovereign kiss.
But twice or thrice was ‘Proteus’ written down.
Be calm, good wind, blow not a word away
Till I have found each letter in the letter,
Except mine own name: that some whirlwind bear
Unto a ragged fearful-hanging rock
And throw it thence into the raging sea!
Lo, here in one line is his name twice writ,
‘Poor forlorn Proteus, passionate Proteus,
To the sweet Julia:’ that I’ll tear away.
And yet I will not, sith so prettily
He couples it to his complaining names.
Thus will I fold them one on another:
Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will.
Dinner is ready, and your father stays.
Well, let us go.
What, shall these papers lie like tell-tales here?
If you respect them, best to take them up.
Nay, I was taken up for laying them down:
Yet here they shall not lie, for catching cold.
I see you have a month’s mind to them.
Ay, madam, you may say what sights you see;
I see things too, although you judge I wink.
Come, come; will’t please you go?
SCENE III. The same. ANTONIO’s house.
Enter ANTONIO and PANTHINO
Tell me, Panthino, what sad talk was that
Wherewith my brother held you in the cloister?
‘Twas of his nephew Proteus, your son.
Why, what of him?
He wonder’d that your lordship
Would suffer him to spend his youth at home,
While other men, of slender reputation,
Put forth their sons to seek preferment out:
Some to the wars, to try their fortune there;
Some to discover islands far away;
Some to the studious universities.
For any or for all these exercises,
He said that Proteus your son was meet,
And did request me to importune you
To let him spend his time no more at home,
Which would be great impeachment to his age,
In having known no travel in his youth.
Nor need’st thou much importune me to that
Whereon this month I have been hammering.
I have consider’d well his loss of time
And how he cannot be a perfect man,
Not being tried and tutor’d in the world:
Experience is by industry achieved
And perfected by the swift course of time.
Then tell me, whither were I best to send him?
I think your lordship is not ignorant
How his companion, youthful Valentine,
Attends the emperor in his royal court.
I know it well.
‘Twere good, I think, your lordship sent him thither:
There shall he practise tilts and tournaments,
Hear sweet discourse, converse with noblemen.
And be in eye of every exercise
Worthy his youth and nobleness of birth.
I like thy counsel; well hast thou advised:
And that thou mayst perceive how well I like it,
The execution of it shall make known.
Even with the speediest expedition
I will dispatch him to the emperor’s court.
To-morrow, may it please you, Don Alphonso,
With other gentlemen of good esteem,
Are journeying to salute the emperor
And to commend their service to his will.
Good company; with them shall Proteus go:
And, in good time! now will we break with him.
Sweet love! sweet lines! sweet life!
Here is her hand, the agent of her heart;
Here is her oath for love, her honour’s pawn.
O, that our fathers would applaud our loves,
To seal our happiness with their consents!
O heavenly Julia!
How now! what letter are you reading there?
May’t please your lordship, ’tis a word or two
Of commendations sent from Valentine,
Deliver’d by a friend that came from him.
Lend me the letter; let me see what news.
There is no news, my lord, but that he writes
How happily he lives, how well beloved
And daily graced by the emperor;
Wishing me with him, partner of his fortune.
And how stand you affected to his wish?
As one relying on your lordship’s will
And not depending on his friendly wish.
My will is something sorted with his wish.
Muse not that I thus suddenly proceed;
For what I will, I will, and there an end.
I am resolved that thou shalt spend some time
With Valentinus in the emperor’s court:
What maintenance he from his friends receives,
Like exhibition thou shalt have from me.
To-morrow be in readiness to go:
Excuse it not, for I am peremptory.
My lord, I cannot be so soon provided:
Please you, deliberate a day or two.
Look, what thou want’st shall be sent after thee:
No more of stay! to-morrow thou must go.
Come on, Panthino: you shall be employ’d
To hasten on his expedition.
Exeunt ANTONIO and PANTHINO
Thus have I shunn’d the fire for fear of burning,
And drench’d me in the sea, where I am drown’d.
I fear’d to show my father Julia’s letter,
Lest he should take exceptions to my love;
And with the vantage of mine own excuse
Hath he excepted most against my love.
O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away!
Sir Proteus, your father calls for you:
He is in haste; therefore, I pray you to go.
Why, this it is: my heart accords thereto,
And yet a thousand times it answers ‘no.’
SCENE I. Milan. The DUKE’s palace.
Enter VALENTINE and SPEED
Sir, your glove.
Not mine; my gloves are on.
Why, then, this may be yours, for this is but one.
Ha! let me see: ay, give it me, it’s mine:
Sweet ornament that decks a thing divine!
Ah, Silvia, Silvia!
Madam Silvia! Madam Silvia!
How now, sirrah?
She is not within hearing, sir.
Why, sir, who bade you call her?
Your worship, sir; or else I mistook.
Well, you’ll still be too forward.
And yet I was last chidden for being too slow.
Go to, sir: tell me, do you know Madam Silvia?
She that your worship loves?
Why, how know you that I am in love?
Marry, by these special marks: first, you have
learned, like Sir Proteus, to wreathe your arms,
like a malecontent; to relish a love-song, like a
robin-redbreast; to walk alone, like one that had
the pestilence; to sigh, like a school-boy that had
lost his A B C; to weep, like a young wench that had
buried her grandam; to fast, like one that takes
diet; to watch like one that fears robbing; to
speak puling, like a beggar at Hallowmas. You were
wont, when you laughed, to crow like a cock; when you
walked, to walk like one of the lions; when you
fasted, it was presently after dinner; when you
looked sadly, it was for want of money: and now you
are metamorphosed with a mistress, that, when I look
on you, I can hardly think you my master.
Are all these things perceived in me?
They are all perceived without ye.
Without me? they cannot.
Without you? nay, that’s certain, for, without you
were so simple, none else would: but you are so
without these follies, that these follies are within
you and shine through you like the water in an
urinal, that not an eye that sees you but is a
physician to comment on your malady.
But tell me, dost thou know my lady Silvia?
She that you gaze on so as she sits at supper?
Hast thou observed that? even she, I mean.
Why, sir, I know her not.
Dost thou know her by my gazing on her, and yet
knowest her not?
Is she not hard-favoured, sir?
Not so fair, boy, as well-favoured.
Sir, I know that well enough.
What dost thou know?
That she is not so fair as, of you, well-favoured.
I mean that her beauty is exquisite, but her favour infinite.
That’s because the one is painted and the other out
of all count.
How painted? and how out of count?
Marry, sir, so painted, to make her fair, that no
man counts of her beauty.
How esteemest thou me? I account of her beauty.
You never saw her since she was deformed.
How long hath she been deformed?
Ever since you loved her.
I have loved her ever since I saw her; and still I
see her beautiful.
If you love her, you cannot see her.
Because Love is blind. O, that you had mine eyes;
or your own eyes had the lights they were wont to
have when you chid at Sir Proteus for going
What should I see then?
Your own present folly and her passing deformity:
for he, being in love, could not see to garter his
hose, and you, being in love, cannot see to put on your hose.
Belike, boy, then, you are in love; for last
morning you could not see to wipe my shoes.
True, sir; I was in love with my bed: I thank you,
you swinged me for my love, which makes me the
bolder to chide you for yours.
In conclusion, I stand affected to her.
I would you were set, so your affection would cease.
Last night she enjoined me to write some lines to
one she loves.
And have you?
Are they not lamely writ?
No, boy, but as well as I can do them. Peace!
here she comes.
O excellent motion! O exceeding puppet!
Now will he interpret to her.
Madam and mistress, a thousand good-morrows.
O, give ye good even! here’s a million of manners.
Sir Valentine and servant, to you two thousand.
He should give her interest and she gives it him.
As you enjoin’d me, I have writ your letter
Unto the secret nameless friend of yours;
Which I was much unwilling to proceed in
But for my duty to your ladyship.
I thank you gentle servant: ’tis very clerkly done.
Now trust me, madam, it came hardly off;
For being ignorant to whom it goes
I writ at random, very doubtfully.
Perchance you think too much of so much pains?
No, madam; so it stead you, I will write
Please you command, a thousand times as much; And yet–
A pretty period! Well, I guess the sequel;
And yet I will not name it; and yet I care not;
And yet take this again; and yet I thank you,
Meaning henceforth to trouble you no more.
And yet you will; and yet another ‘yet.’
What means your ladyship? do you not like it?
Yes, yes; the lines are very quaintly writ;
But since unwillingly, take them again.
Nay, take them.
Madam, they are for you.
Ay, ay: you writ them, sir, at my request;
But I will none of them; they are for you;
I would have had them writ more movingly.
Please you, I’ll write your ladyship another.
And when it’s writ, for my sake read it over,
And if it please you, so; if not, why, so.
If it please me, madam, what then?
Why, if it please you, take it for your labour:
And so, good morrow, servant.
O jest unseen, inscrutable, invisible,
As a nose on a man’s face, or a weathercock on a steeple!
My master sues to her, and she hath
taught her suitor,
He being her pupil, to become her tutor.
O excellent device! was there ever heard a better,
That my master, being scribe, to himself should write
How now, sir? what are you reasoning with yourself?
Nay, I was rhyming: ’tis you that have the reason.
To do what?
To be a spokesman for Madam Silvia.
To yourself: why, she wooes you by a figure.
By a letter, I should say.
Why, she hath not writ to me?
What need she, when she hath made you write to
yourself? Why, do you not perceive the jest?
No, believe me.
No believing you, indeed, sir. But did you perceive
She gave me none, except an angry word.
Why, she hath given you a letter.
That’s the letter I writ to her friend.
And that letter hath she delivered, and there an end.
I would it were no worse.
I’ll warrant you, ’tis as well:
For often have you writ to her, and she, in modesty,
Or else for want of idle time, could not again reply;
Or fearing else some messenger that might her mind discover,
Herself hath taught her love himself to write unto her lover.
All this I speak in print, for in print I found it.
Why muse you, sir? ’tis dinner-time.
I have dined.
Ay, but hearken, sir; though the chameleon Love can
feed on the air, I am one that am nourished by my
victuals, and would fain have meat. O, be not like
your mistress; be moved, be moved.
SCENE II. Verona. JULIA’S house.
Enter PROTEUS and JULIA
Have patience, gentle Julia.
I must, where is no remedy.
When possibly I can, I will return.
If you turn not, you will return the sooner.
Keep this remembrance for thy Julia’s sake.
Giving a ring
Why then, we’ll make exchange; here, take you this.
And seal the bargain with a holy kiss.
Here is my hand for my true constancy;
And when that hour o’erslips me in the day
Wherein I sigh not, Julia, for thy sake,
The next ensuing hour some foul mischance
Torment me for my love’s forgetfulness!
My father stays my coming; answer not;
The tide is now: nay, not thy tide of tears;
That tide will stay me longer than I should.
What, gone without a word?
Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak;
For truth hath better deeds than words to grace it.
Sir Proteus, you are stay’d for.
Go; I come, I come.
Alas! this parting strikes poor lovers dumb.
SCENE III. The same. A street.
Enter LAUNCE, leading a dog
Nay, ’twill be this hour ere I have done weeping;
all the kind of the Launces have this very fault. I
have received my proportion, like the prodigious
son, and am going with Sir Proteus to the Imperial’s
court. I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured
dog that lives: my mother weeping, my father
wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat
wringing her hands, and all our house in a great
perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed
one tear: he is a stone, a very pebble stone, and
has no more pity in him than a dog: a Jew would have
wept to have seen our parting; why, my grandam,
having no eyes, look you, wept herself blind at my
parting. Nay, I’ll show you the manner of it. This
shoe is my father: no, this left shoe is my father:
no, no, this left shoe is my mother: nay, that
cannot be so neither: yes, it is so, it is so, it
hath the worser sole. This shoe, with the hole in
it, is my mother, and this my father; a vengeance
on’t! there ’tis: now, sit, this staff is my
sister, for, look you, she is as white as a lily and
as small as a wand: this hat is Nan, our maid: I
am the dog: no, the dog is himself, and I am the
dog–Oh! the dog is me, and I am myself; ay, so,
so. Now come I to my father; Father, your blessing:
now should not the shoe speak a word for weeping:
now should I kiss my father; well, he weeps on. Now
come I to my mother: O, that she could speak now
like a wood woman! Well, I kiss her; why, there
’tis; here’s my mother’s breath up and down. Now
come I to my sister; mark the moan she makes. Now
the dog all this while sheds not a tear nor speaks a
word; but see how I lay the dust with my tears.
Launce, away, away, aboard! thy master is shipped
and thou art to post after with oars. What’s the
matter? why weepest thou, man? Away, ass! You’ll
lose the tide, if you tarry any longer.
It is no matter if the tied were lost; for it is the
unkindest tied that ever any man tied.
What’s the unkindest tide?
Why, he that’s tied here, Crab, my dog.
Tut, man, I mean thou’lt lose the flood, and, in
losing the flood, lose thy voyage, and, in losing
thy voyage, lose thy master, and, in losing thy
master, lose thy service, and, in losing thy
service,–Why dost thou stop my mouth?
For fear thou shouldst lose thy tongue.
Where should I lose my tongue?
In thy tale.
In thy tail!
Lose the tide, and the voyage, and the master, and
the service, and the tied! Why, man, if the river
were dry, I am able to fill it with my tears; if the
wind were down, I could drive the boat with my sighs.
Come, come away, man; I was sent to call thee.
Sir, call me what thou darest.
Wilt thou go?
Well, I will go.
SCENE IV. Milan. The DUKE’s palace.
Enter SILVIA, VALENTINE, THURIO, and SPEED
Master, Sir Thurio frowns on you.
Ay, boy, it’s for love.
Not of you.
Of my mistress, then.
‘Twere good you knocked him.
Servant, you are sad.
Indeed, madam, I seem so.
Seem you that you are not?
Haply I do.
So do counterfeits.
So do you.
What seem I that I am not?
What instance of the contrary?
And how quote you my folly?
I quote it in your jerkin.
My jerkin is a doublet.
Well, then, I’ll double your folly.
What, angry, Sir Thurio! do you change colour?
Give him leave, madam; he is a kind of chameleon.
That hath more mind to feed on your blood than live
in your air.
You have said, sir.
Ay, sir, and done too, for this time.
I know it well, sir; you always end ere you begin.
A fine volley of words, gentlemen, and quickly shot off.
‘Tis indeed, madam; we thank the giver.
Who is that, servant?
Yourself, sweet lady; for you gave the fire. Sir
Thurio borrows his wit from your ladyship’s looks,
and spends what he borrows kindly in your company.
Sir, if you spend word for word with me, I shall
make your wit bankrupt.
I know it well, sir; you have an exchequer of words,
and, I think, no other treasure to give your
followers, for it appears by their bare liveries,
that they live by your bare words.
No more, gentlemen, no more:–here comes my father.
Now, daughter Silvia, you are hard beset.
Sir Valentine, your father’s in good health:
What say you to a letter from your friends
Of much good news?
My lord, I will be thankful.
To any happy messenger from thence.
Know ye Don Antonio, your countryman?
Ay, my good lord, I know the gentleman
To be of worth and worthy estimation
And not without desert so well reputed.
Hath he not a son?
Ay, my good lord; a son that well deserves
The honour and regard of such a father.
You know him well?
I know him as myself; for from our infancy
We have conversed and spent our hours together:
And though myself have been an idle truant,
Omitting the sweet benefit of time
To clothe mine age with angel-like perfection,
Yet hath Sir Proteus, for that’s his name,
Made use and fair advantage of his days;
His years but young, but his experience old;
His head unmellow’d, but his judgment ripe;
And, in a word, for far behind his worth
Comes all the praises that I now bestow,
He is complete in feature and in mind
With all good grace to grace a gentleman.
Beshrew me, sir, but if he make this good,
He is as worthy for an empress’ love
As meet to be an emperor’s counsellor.
Well, sir, this gentleman is come to me,
With commendation from great potentates;
And here he means to spend his time awhile:
I think ’tis no unwelcome news to you.
Should I have wish’d a thing, it had been he.
Welcome him then according to his worth.
Silvia, I speak to you, and you, Sir Thurio;
For Valentine, I need not cite him to it:
I will send him hither to you presently.
This is the gentleman I told your ladyship
Had come along with me, but that his mistress
Did hold his eyes lock’d in her crystal looks.
Belike that now she hath enfranchised them
Upon some other pawn for fealty.
Nay, sure, I think she holds them prisoners still.
Nay, then he should be blind; and, being blind
How could he see his way to seek out you?
Why, lady, Love hath twenty pair of eyes.
They say that Love hath not an eye at all.
To see such lovers, Thurio, as yourself:
Upon a homely object Love can wink.
Have done, have done; here comes the gentleman.
Welcome, dear Proteus! Mistress, I beseech you,
Confirm his welcome with some special favour.
His worth is warrant for his welcome hither,
If this be he you oft have wish’d to hear from.
Mistress, it is: sweet lady, entertain him
To be my fellow-servant to your ladyship.
Too low a mistress for so high a servant.
Not so, sweet lady: but too mean a servant
To have a look of such a worthy mistress.
Leave off discourse of disability:
Sweet lady, entertain him for your servant.
My duty will I boast of; nothing else.
And duty never yet did want his meed:
Servant, you are welcome to a worthless mistress.
I’ll die on him that says so but yourself.
That you are welcome?
That you are worthless.
Madam, my lord your father would speak with you.
I wait upon his pleasure. Come, Sir Thurio,
Go with me. Once more, new servant, welcome:
I’ll leave you to confer of home affairs;
When you have done, we look to hear from you.
We’ll both attend upon your ladyship.
Exeunt SILVIA and THURIO
Now, tell me, how do all from whence you came?
Your friends are well and have them much commended.
And how do yours?
I left them all in health.
How does your lady? and how thrives your love?
My tales of love were wont to weary you;
I know you joy not in a love discourse.
Ay, Proteus, but that life is alter’d now:
I have done penance for contemning Love,
Whose high imperious thoughts have punish’d me
With bitter fasts, with penitential groans,
With nightly tears and daily heart-sore sighs;
For in revenge of my contempt of love,
Love hath chased sleep from my enthralled eyes
And made them watchers of mine own heart’s sorrow.
O gentle Proteus, Love’s a mighty lord,
And hath so humbled me, as, I confess,
There is no woe to his correction,
Nor to his service no such joy on earth.
Now no discourse, except it be of love;
Now can I break my fast, dine, sup and sleep,
Upon the very naked name of love.
Enough; I read your fortune in your eye.
Was this the idol that you worship so?
Even she; and is she not a heavenly saint?
No; but she is an earthly paragon.
Call her divine.
I will not flatter her.
O, flatter me; for love delights in praises.
When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills,
And I must minister the like to you.
Then speak the truth by her; if not divine,
Yet let her be a principality,
Sovereign to all the creatures on the earth.
Except my mistress.
Sweet, except not any;
Except thou wilt except against my love.
Have I not reason to prefer mine own?
And I will help thee to prefer her too:
She shall be dignified with this high honour–
To bear my lady’s train, lest the base earth
Should from her vesture chance to steal a kiss
And, of so great a favour growing proud,
Disdain to root the summer-swelling flower
And make rough winter everlastingly.
Why, Valentine, what braggardism is this?
Pardon me, Proteus: all I can is nothing
To her whose worth makes other worthies nothing;
She is alone.
Then let her alone.
Not for the world: why, man, she is mine own,
And I as rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
The water nectar and the rocks pure gold.
Forgive me that I do not dream on thee,
Because thou see’st me dote upon my love.
My foolish rival, that her father likes
Only for his possessions are so huge,
Is gone with her along, and I must after,
For love, thou know’st, is full of jealousy.
But she loves you?
Ay, and we are betroth’d: nay, more, our,
With all the cunning manner of our flight,
Determined of; how I must climb her window,
The ladder made of cords, and all the means
Plotted and ‘greed on for my happiness.
Good Proteus, go with me to my chamber,
In these affairs to aid me with thy counsel.
Go on before; I shall inquire you forth:
I must unto the road, to disembark
Some necessaries that I needs must use,
And then I’ll presently attend you.
Will you make haste?
Even as one heat another heat expels,
Or as one nail by strength drives out another,
So the remembrance of my former love
Is by a newer object quite forgotten.
Is it mine, or Valentine’s praise,
Her true perfection, or my false transgression,
That makes me reasonless to reason thus?
She is fair; and so is Julia that I love–
That I did love, for now my love is thaw’d;
Which, like a waxen image, ‘gainst a fire,
Bears no impression of the thing it was.
Methinks my zeal to Valentine is cold,
And that I love him not as I was wont.
O, but I love his lady too too much,
And that’s the reason I love him so little.
How shall I dote on her with more advice,
That thus without advice begin to love her!
‘Tis but her picture I have yet beheld,
And that hath dazzled my reason’s light;
But when I look on her perfections,
There is no reason but I shall be blind.
If I can cheque my erring love, I will;
If not, to compass her I’ll use my skill.
SCENE V. The same. A street.
Enter SPEED and LAUNCE severally
Launce! by mine honesty, welcome to Milan!
Forswear not thyself, sweet youth, for I am not
welcome. I reckon this always, that a man is never
undone till he be hanged, nor never welcome to a
place till some certain shot be paid and the hostess
Come on, you madcap, I’ll to the alehouse with you
presently; where, for one shot of five pence, thou
shalt have five thousand welcomes. But, sirrah, how
did thy master part with Madam Julia?
Marry, after they closed in earnest, they parted very
fairly in jest.
But shall she marry him?
How then? shall he marry her?
What, are they broken?
No, they are both as whole as a fish.
Why, then, how stands the matter with them?
Marry, thus: when it stands well with him, it
stands well with her.
What an ass art thou! I understand thee not.
What a block art thou, that thou canst not! My
staff understands me.
What thou sayest?
Ay, and what I do too: look thee, I’ll but lean,
and my staff understands me.
It stands under thee, indeed.
Why, stand-under and under-stand is all one.
But tell me true, will’t be a match?
Ask my dog: if he say ay, it will! if he say no,
it will; if he shake his tail and say nothing, it will.
The conclusion is then that it will.
Thou shalt never get such a secret from me but by a parable.
‘Tis well that I get it so. But, Launce, how sayest
thou, that my master is become a notable lover?
I never knew him otherwise.
A notable lubber, as thou reportest him to be.
Why, thou whoreson ass, thou mistakest me.
Why, fool, I meant not thee; I meant thy master.
I tell thee, my master is become a hot lover.
Why, I tell thee, I care not though he burn himself
in love. If thou wilt, go with me to the alehouse;
if not, thou art an Hebrew, a Jew, and not worth the
name of a Christian.
Because thou hast not so much charity in thee as to
go to the ale with a Christian. Wilt thou go?
At thy service.
SCENE VI. The same. The DUKE’S palace.
To leave my Julia, shall I be forsworn;
To love fair Silvia, shall I be forsworn;
To wrong my friend, I shall be much forsworn;
And even that power which gave me first my oath
Provokes me to this threefold perjury;
Love bade me swear and Love bids me forswear.
O sweet-suggesting Love, if thou hast sinned,
Teach me, thy tempted subject, to excuse it!
At first I did adore a twinkling star,
But now I worship a celestial sun.
Unheedful vows may heedfully be broken,
And he wants wit that wants resolved will
To learn his wit to exchange the bad for better.
Fie, fie, unreverend tongue! to call her bad,
Whose sovereignty so oft thou hast preferr’d
With twenty thousand soul-confirming oaths.
I cannot leave to love, and yet I do;
But there I leave to love where I should love.
Julia I lose and Valentine I lose:
If I keep them, I needs must lose myself;
If I lose them, thus find I by their loss
For Valentine myself, for Julia Silvia.
I to myself am dearer than a friend,
For love is still most precious in itself;
And Silvia–witness Heaven, that made her fair!–
Shows Julia but a swarthy Ethiope.
I will forget that Julia is alive,
Remembering that my love to her is dead;
And Valentine I’ll hold an enemy,
Aiming at Silvia as a sweeter friend.
I cannot now prove constant to myself,
Without some treachery used to Valentine.
This night he meaneth with a corded ladder
To climb celestial Silvia’s chamber-window,
Myself in counsel, his competitor.
Now presently I’ll give her father notice
Of their disguising and pretended flight;
Who, all enraged, will banish Valentine;
For Thurio, he intends, shall wed his daughter;
But, Valentine being gone, I’ll quickly cross
By some sly trick blunt Thurio’s dull proceeding.
Love, lend me wings to make my purpose swift,
As thou hast lent me wit to plot this drift!
SCENE VII. Verona. JULIA’S house.
Enter JULIA and LUCETTA
Counsel, Lucetta; gentle girl, assist me;
And even in kind love I do conjure thee,
Who art the table wherein all my thoughts
Are visibly character’d and engraved,
To lesson me and tell me some good mean
How, with my honour, I may undertake
A journey to my loving Proteus.
Alas, the way is wearisome and long!
A true-devoted pilgrim is not weary
To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps;
Much less shall she that hath Love’s wings to fly,
And when the flight is made to one so dear,
Of such divine perfection, as Sir Proteus.
Better forbear till Proteus make return.
O, know’st thou not his looks are my soul’s food?
Pity the dearth that I have pined in,
By longing for that food so long a time.
Didst thou but know the inly touch of love,
Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow
As seek to quench the fire of love with words.
I do not seek to quench your love’s hot fire,
But qualify the fire’s extreme rage,
Lest it should burn above the bounds of reason.
The more thou damm’st it up, the more it burns.
The current that with gentle murmur glides,
Thou know’st, being stopp’d, impatiently doth rage;
But when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes sweet music with the enamell’ed stones,
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage,
And so by many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport to the wild ocean.
Then let me go and hinder not my course
I’ll be as patient as a gentle stream
And make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last step have brought me to my love;
And there I’ll rest, as after much turmoil
A blessed soul doth in Elysium.
But in what habit will you go along?
Not like a woman; for I would prevent
The loose encounters of lascivious men:
Gentle Lucetta, fit me with such weeds
As may beseem some well-reputed page.
Why, then, your ladyship must cut your hair.
No, girl, I’ll knit it up in silken strings
With twenty odd-conceited true-love knots.
To be fantastic may become a youth
Of greater time than I shall show to be.
What fashion, madam shall I make your breeches?
That fits as well as ‘Tell me, good my lord,
What compass will you wear your farthingale?’
Why even what fashion thou best likest, Lucetta.
You must needs have them with a codpiece, madam.
Out, out, Lucetta! that would be ill-favour’d.
A round hose, madam, now’s not worth a pin,
Unless you have a codpiece to stick pins on.
Lucetta, as thou lovest me, let me have
What thou thinkest meet and is most mannerly.
But tell me, wench, how will the world repute me
For undertaking so unstaid a journey?
I fear me, it will make me scandalized.
If you think so, then stay at home and go not.
Nay, that I will not.
Then never dream on infamy, but go.
If Proteus like your journey when you come,
No matter who’s displeased when you are gone:
I fear me, he will scarce be pleased withal.
That is the least, Lucetta, of my fear:
A thousand oaths, an ocean of his tears
And instances of infinite of love
Warrant me welcome to my Proteus.
All these are servants to deceitful men.
Base men, that use them to so base effect!
But truer stars did govern Proteus’ birth
His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles,
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate,
His tears pure messengers sent from his heart,
His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth.
Pray heaven he prove so, when you come to him!
Now, as thou lovest me, do him not that wrong
To bear a hard opinion of his truth:
Only deserve my love by loving him;
And presently go with me to my chamber,
To take a note of what I stand in need of,
To furnish me upon my longing journey.
All that is mine I leave at thy dispose,
My goods, my lands, my reputation;
Only, in lieu thereof, dispatch me hence.
Come, answer not, but to it presently!
I am impatient of my tarriance.
SCENE I. Milan. The DUKE’s palace.
Enter DUKE, THURIO, and PROTEUS
Sir Thurio, give us leave, I pray, awhile;
We have some secrets to confer about.
Now, tell me, Proteus, what’s your will with me?
My gracious lord, that which I would discover
The law of friendship bids me to conceal;
But when I call to mind your gracious favours
Done to me, undeserving as I am,
My duty pricks me on to utter that
Which else no worldly good should draw from me.
Know, worthy prince, Sir Valentine, my friend,
This night intends to steal away your daughter:
Myself am one made privy to the plot.
I know you have determined to bestow her
On Thurio, whom your gentle daughter hates;
And should she thus be stol’n away from you,
It would be much vexation to your age.
Thus, for my duty’s sake, I rather chose
To cross my friend in his intended drift
Than, by concealing it, heap on your head
A pack of sorrows which would press you down,
Being unprevented, to your timeless grave.
Proteus, I thank thee for thine honest care;
Which to requite, command me while I live.
This love of theirs myself have often seen,
Haply when they have judged me fast asleep,
And oftentimes have purposed to forbid
Sir Valentine her company and my court:
But fearing lest my jealous aim might err
And so unworthily disgrace the man,
A rashness that I ever yet have shunn’d,
I gave him gentle looks, thereby to find
That which thyself hast now disclosed to me.
And, that thou mayst perceive my fear of this,
Knowing that tender youth is soon suggested,
I nightly lodge her in an upper tower,
The key whereof myself have ever kept;
And thence she cannot be convey’d away.
Know, noble lord, they have devised a mean
How he her chamber-window will ascend
And with a corded ladder fetch her down;
For which the youthful lover now is gone
And this way comes he with it presently;
Where, if it please you, you may intercept him.
But, good my Lord, do it so cunningly
That my discovery be not aimed at;
For love of you, not hate unto my friend,
Hath made me publisher of this pretence.
Upon mine honour, he shall never know
That I had any light from thee of this.
Adieu, my Lord; Sir Valentine is coming.
Sir Valentine, whither away so fast?
Please it your grace, there is a messenger
That stays to bear my letters to my friends,
And I am going to deliver them.
Be they of much import?
The tenor of them doth but signify
My health and happy being at your court.
Nay then, no matter; stay with me awhile;
I am to break with thee of some affairs
That touch me near, wherein thou must be secret.
‘Tis not unknown to thee that I have sought
To match my friend Sir Thurio to my daughter.
I know it well, my Lord; and, sure, the match
Were rich and honourable; besides, the gentleman
Is full of virtue, bounty, worth and qualities
Beseeming such a wife as your fair daughter:
Cannot your Grace win her to fancy him?
No, trust me; she is peevish, sullen, froward,
Proud, disobedient, stubborn, lacking duty,
Neither regarding that she is my child
Nor fearing me as if I were her father;
And, may I say to thee, this pride of hers,
Upon advice, hath drawn my love from her;
And, where I thought the remnant of mine age
Should have been cherish’d by her child-like duty,
I now am full resolved to take a wife
And turn her out to who will take her in:
Then let her beauty be her wedding-dower;
For me and my possessions she esteems not.
What would your Grace have me to do in this?
There is a lady in Verona here
Whom I affect; but she is nice and coy
And nought esteems my aged eloquence:
Now therefore would I have thee to my tutor–
For long agone I have forgot to court;
Besides, the fashion of the time is changed–
How and which way I may bestow myself
To be regarded in her sun-bright eye.
Win her with gifts, if she respect not words:
Dumb jewels often in their silent kind
More than quick words do move a woman’s mind.
But she did scorn a present that I sent her.
A woman sometimes scorns what best contents her.
Send her another; never give her o’er;
For scorn at first makes after-love the more.
If she do frown, ’tis not in hate of you,
But rather to beget more love in you:
If she do chide, ’tis not to have you gone;
For why, the fools are mad, if left alone.
Take no repulse, whatever she doth say;
For ‘get you gone,’ she doth not mean ‘away!’
Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
Though ne’er so black, say they have angels’ faces.
That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.
But she I mean is promised by her friends
Unto a youthful gentleman of worth,
And kept severely from resort of men,
That no man hath access by day to her.
Why, then, I would resort to her by night.
Ay, but the doors be lock’d and keys kept safe,
That no man hath recourse to her by night.
What lets but one may enter at her window?
Her chamber is aloft, far from the ground,
And built so shelving that one cannot climb it
Without apparent hazard of his life.
Why then, a ladder quaintly made of cords,
To cast up, with a pair of anchoring hooks,
Would serve to scale another Hero’s tower,
So bold Leander would adventure it.
Now, as thou art a gentleman of blood,
Advise me where I may have such a ladder.
When would you use it? pray, sir, tell me that.
This very night; for Love is like a child,
That longs for every thing that he can come by.
By seven o’clock I’ll get you such a ladder.
But, hark thee; I will go to her alone:
How shall I best convey the ladder thither?
It will be light, my lord, that you may bear it
Under a cloak that is of any length.
A cloak as long as thine will serve the turn?
Ay, my good lord.
Then let me see thy cloak:
I’ll get me one of such another length.
Why, any cloak will serve the turn, my lord.
How shall I fashion me to wear a cloak?
I pray thee, let me feel thy cloak upon me.
What letter is this same? What’s here? ‘To Silvia’!
And here an engine fit for my proceeding.
I’ll be so bold to break the seal for once.
‘My thoughts do harbour with my Silvia nightly,
And slaves they are to me that send them flying:
O, could their master come and go as lightly,
Himself would lodge where senseless they are lying!
My herald thoughts in thy pure bosom rest them:
While I, their king, that hither them importune,
Do curse the grace that with such grace hath bless’d them,
Because myself do want my servants’ fortune:
I curse myself, for they are sent by me,
That they should harbour where their lord would be.’
‘Silvia, this night I will enfranchise thee.’
‘Tis so; and here’s the ladder for the purpose.
Why, Phaeton,–for thou art Merops’ son,–
Wilt thou aspire to guide the heavenly car
And with thy daring folly burn the world?
Wilt thou reach stars, because they shine on thee?
Go, base intruder! overweening slave!
Bestow thy fawning smiles on equal mates,
And think my patience, more than thy desert,
Is privilege for thy departure hence:
Thank me for this more than for all the favours
Which all too much I have bestow’d on thee.
But if thou linger in my territories
Longer than swiftest expedition
Will give thee time to leave our royal court,
By heaven! my wrath shall far exceed the love
I ever bore my daughter or thyself.
Be gone! I will not hear thy vain excuse;
But, as thou lovest thy life, make speed from hence.
And why not death rather than living torment?
To die is to be banish’d from myself;
And Silvia is myself: banish’d from her
Is self from self: a deadly banishment!
What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon;
She is my essence, and I leave to be,
If I be not by her fair influence
Foster’d, illumined, cherish’d, kept alive.
I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom:
Tarry I here, I but attend on death:
But, fly I hence, I fly away from life.
Enter PROTEUS and LAUNCE
Run, boy, run, run, and seek him out.
What seest thou?
Him we go to find: there’s not a hair on’s head
but ’tis a Valentine.
Who then? his spirit?
Can nothing speak? Master, shall I strike?
Who wouldst thou strike?
Why, sir, I’ll strike nothing: I pray you,–
Sirrah, I say, forbear. Friend Valentine, a word.
My ears are stopt and cannot hear good news,
So much of bad already hath possess’d them.
Then in dumb silence will I bury mine,
For they are harsh, untuneable and bad.
Is Silvia dead?
No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia.
Hath she forsworn me?
No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me.
What is your news?
Sir, there is a proclamation that you are vanished.
That thou art banished–O, that’s the news!–
From hence, from Silvia and from me thy friend.
O, I have fed upon this woe already,
And now excess of it will make me surfeit.
Doth Silvia know that I am banished?
Ay, ay; and she hath offer’d to the doom–
Which, unreversed, stands in effectual force–
A sea of melting pearl, which some call tears:
Those at her father’s churlish feet she tender’d;
With them, upon her knees, her humble self;
Wringing her hands, whose whiteness so became them
As if but now they waxed pale for woe:
But neither bended knees, pure hands held up,
Sad sighs, deep groans, nor silver-shedding tears,
Could penetrate her uncompassionate sire;
But Valentine, if he be ta’en, must die.
Besides, her intercession chafed him so,
When she for thy repeal was suppliant,
That to close prison he commanded her,
With many bitter threats of biding there.
No more; unless the next word that thou speak’st
Have some malignant power upon my life:
If so, I pray thee, breathe it in mine ear,
As ending anthem of my endless dolour.
Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,
And study help for that which thou lament’st.
Time is the nurse and breeder of all good.
Here if thou stay, thou canst not see thy love;
Besides, thy staying will abridge thy life.
Hope is a lover’s staff; walk hence with that
And manage it against despairing thoughts.
Thy letters may be here, though thou art hence;
Which, being writ to me, shall be deliver’d
Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.
The time now serves not to expostulate:
Come, I’ll convey thee through the city-gate;
And, ere I part with thee, confer at large
Of all that may concern thy love-affairs.
As thou lovest Silvia, though not for thyself,
Regard thy danger, and along with me!
I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy,
Bid him make haste and meet me at the North-gate.
Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.
O my dear Silvia! Hapless Valentine!
Exeunt VALENTINE and PROTEUS
I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to
think my master is a kind of a knave: but that’s
all one, if he be but one knave. He lives not now
that knows me to be in love; yet I am in love; but a
team of horse shall not pluck that from me; nor who
’tis I love; and yet ’tis a woman; but what woman, I
will not tell myself; and yet ’tis a milkmaid; yet
’tis not a maid, for she hath had gossips; yet ’tis
a maid, for she is her master’s maid, and serves for
wages. She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel;
which is much in a bare Christian.
Here is the cate-log of her condition.
‘Imprimis: She can fetch and carry.’ Why, a horse
can do no more: nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only
carry; therefore is she better than a jade. ‘Item:
She can milk;’ look you, a sweet virtue in a maid
with clean hands.
How now, Signior Launce! what news with your
With my master’s ship? why, it is at sea.
Well, your old vice still; mistake the word. What
news, then, in your paper?
The blackest news that ever thou heardest.
Why, man, how black?
Why, as black as ink.
Let me read them.
Fie on thee, jolt-head! thou canst not read.
Thou liest; I can.
I will try thee. Tell me this: who begot thee?
Marry, the son of my grandfather.
O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy
grandmother: this proves that thou canst not read.
Come, fool, come; try me in thy paper.
There; and St. Nicholas be thy speed!
‘Imprimis: She can milk.’
Ay, that she can.
‘Item: She brews good ale.’
And thereof comes the proverb: ‘Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.’
‘Item: She can sew.’
That’s as much as to say, Can she so?
‘Item: She can knit.’
What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when
she can knit him a stock?
‘Item: She can wash and scour.’
A special virtue: for then she need not be washed
‘Item: She can spin.’
Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can
spin for her living.
‘Item: She hath many nameless virtues.’
That’s as much as to say, bastard virtues; that,
indeed, know not their fathers and therefore have no names.
‘Here follow her vices.’
Close at the heels of her virtues.
‘Item: She is not to be kissed fasting in respect
of her breath.’
Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast. Read on.
‘Item: She hath a sweet mouth.’
That makes amends for her sour breath.
‘Item: She doth talk in her sleep.’
It’s no matter for that, so she sleep not in her talk.
‘Item: She is slow in words.’
O villain, that set this down among her vices! To
be slow in words is a woman’s only virtue: I pray
thee, out with’t, and place it for her chief virtue.
‘Item: She is proud.’
Out with that too; it was Eve’s legacy, and cannot
be ta’en from her.
‘Item: She hath no teeth.’
I care not for that neither, because I love crusts.
‘Item: She is curst.’
Well, the best is, she hath no teeth to bite.
‘Item: She will often praise her liquor.’
If her liquor be good, she shall: if she will not, I
will; for good things should be praised.
‘Item: She is too liberal.’
Of her tongue she cannot, for that’s writ down she
is slow of; of her purse she shall not, for that
I’ll keep shut: now, of another thing she may, and
that cannot I help. Well, proceed.
‘Item: She hath more hair than wit, and more faults
than hairs, and more wealth than faults.’
Stop there; I’ll have her: she was mine, and not
mine, twice or thrice in that last article.
Rehearse that once more.
‘Item: She hath more hair than wit,’–
More hair than wit? It may be; I’ll prove it. The
cover of the salt hides the salt, and therefore it
is more than the salt; the hair that covers the wit
is more than the wit, for the greater hides the
less. What’s next?
‘And more faults than hairs,’–
That’s monstrous: O, that that were out!
‘And more wealth than faults.’
Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well,
I’ll have her; and if it be a match, as nothing is
Why, then will I tell thee–that thy master stays
for thee at the North-gate.
For thee! ay, who art thou? he hath stayed for a
better man than thee.
And must I go to him?
Thou must run to him, for thou hast stayed so long
that going will scarce serve the turn.
Why didst not tell me sooner? pox of your love letters!
Now will he be swinged for reading my letter; an
unmannerly slave, that will thrust himself into
secrets! I’ll after, to rejoice in the boy’s correction.
SCENE II. The same. The DUKE’s palace.
Enter DUKE and THURIO
Sir Thurio, fear not but that she will love you,
Now Valentine is banish’d from her sight.
Since his exile she hath despised me most,
Forsworn my company and rail’d at me,
That I am desperate of obtaining her.
This weak impress of love is as a figure
Trenched in ice, which with an hour’s heat
Dissolves to water and doth lose his form.
A little time will melt her frozen thoughts
And worthless Valentine shall be forgot.
How now, Sir Proteus! Is your countryman
According to our proclamation gone?
Gone, my good lord.
My daughter takes his going grievously.
A little time, my lord, will kill that grief.
So I believe; but Thurio thinks not so.
Proteus, the good conceit I hold of thee–
For thou hast shown some sign of good desert–
Makes me the better to confer with thee.
Longer than I prove loyal to your grace
Let me not live to look upon your grace.
Thou know’st how willingly I would effect
The match between Sir Thurio and my daughter.
I do, my lord.
And also, I think, thou art not ignorant
How she opposes her against my will
She did, my lord, when Valentine was here.
Ay, and perversely she persevers so.
What might we do to make the girl forget
The love of Valentine and love Sir Thurio?
The best way is to slander Valentine
With falsehood, cowardice and poor descent,
Three things that women highly hold in hate.
Ay, but she’ll think that it is spoke in hate.
Ay, if his enemy deliver it:
Therefore it must with circumstance be spoken
By one whom she esteemeth as his friend.
Then you must undertake to slander him.
And that, my lord, I shall be loath to do:
‘Tis an ill office for a gentleman,
Especially against his very friend.
Where your good word cannot advantage him,
Your slander never can endamage him;
Therefore the office is indifferent,
Being entreated to it by your friend.
You have prevail’d, my lord; if I can do it
By ought that I can speak in his dispraise,
She shall not long continue love to him.
But say this weed her love from Valentine,
It follows not that she will love Sir Thurio.
Therefore, as you unwind her love from him,
Lest it should ravel and be good to none,
You must provide to bottom it on me;
Which must be done by praising me as much
As you in worth dispraise Sir Valentine.
And, Proteus, we dare trust you in this kind,
Because we know, on Valentine’s report,
You are already Love’s firm votary
And cannot soon revolt and change your mind.
Upon this warrant shall you have access
Where you with Silvia may confer at large;
For she is lumpish, heavy, melancholy,
And, for your friend’s sake, will be glad of you;
Where you may temper her by your persuasion
To hate young Valentine and love my friend.
As much as I can do, I will effect:
But you, Sir Thurio, are not sharp enough;
You must lay lime to tangle her desires
By wailful sonnets, whose composed rhymes
Should be full-fraught with serviceable vows.
Much is the force of heaven-bred poesy.
Say that upon the altar of her beauty
You sacrifice your tears, your sighs, your heart:
Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity:
For Orpheus’ lute was strung with poets’ sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Make tigers tame and huge leviathans
Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.
After your dire-lamenting elegies,
Visit by night your lady’s chamber-window
With some sweet concert; to their instruments
Tune a deploring dump: the night’s dead silence
Will well become such sweet-complaining grievance.
This, or else nothing, will inherit her.
This discipline shows thou hast been in love.
And thy advice this night I’ll put in practise.
Therefore, sweet Proteus, my direction-giver,
Let us into the city presently
To sort some gentlemen well skill’d in music.
I have a sonnet that will serve the turn
To give the onset to thy good advice.
About it, gentlemen!
We’ll wait upon your grace till after supper,
And afterward determine our proceedings.
Even now about it! I will pardon you.
SCENE I. The frontiers of Mantua. A forest.
Enter certain Outlaws
Fellows, stand fast; I see a passenger.
If there be ten, shrink not, but down with ‘em.
Enter VALENTINE and SPEED
Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about ye:
If not: we’ll make you sit and rifle you.
Sir, we are undone; these are the villains
That all the travellers do fear so much.
That’s not so, sir: we are your enemies.
Peace! we’ll hear him.
Ay, by my beard, will we, for he’s a proper man.
Then know that I have little wealth to lose:
A man I am cross’d with adversity;
My riches are these poor habiliments,
Of which if you should here disfurnish me,
You take the sum and substance that I have.
Whither travel you?
Whence came you?
Have you long sojourned there?
Some sixteen months, and longer might have stay’d,
If crooked fortune had not thwarted me.
What, were you banish’d thence?
For what offence?
For that which now torments me to rehearse:
I kill’d a man, whose death I much repent;
But yet I slew him manfully in fight,
Without false vantage or base treachery.
Why, ne’er repent it, if it were done so.
But were you banish’d for so small a fault?
I was, and held me glad of such a doom.
Have you the tongues?
My youthful travel therein made me happy,
Or else I often had been miserable.
By the bare scalp of Robin Hood’s fat friar,
This fellow were a king for our wild faction!
We’ll have him. Sirs, a word.
Master, be one of them; it’s an honourable kind of thievery.
Tell us this: have you any thing to take to?
Nothing but my fortune.
Know, then, that some of us are gentlemen,
Such as the fury of ungovern’d youth
Thrust from the company of awful men:
Myself was from Verona banished
For practising to steal away a lady,
An heir, and near allied unto the duke.
And I from Mantua, for a gentleman,
Who, in my mood, I stabb’d unto the heart.
And I for such like petty crimes as these,
But to the purpose–for we cite our faults,
That they may hold excus’d our lawless lives;
And partly, seeing you are beautified
With goodly shape and by your own report
A linguist and a man of such perfection
As we do in our quality much want–
Indeed, because you are a banish’d man,
Therefore, above the rest, we parley to you:
Are you content to be our general?
To make a virtue of necessity
And live, as we do, in this wilderness?
What say’st thou? wilt thou be of our consort?
Say ay, and be the captain of us all:
We’ll do thee homage and be ruled by thee,
Love thee as our commander and our king.
But if thou scorn our courtesy, thou diest.
Thou shalt not live to brag what we have offer’d.
I take your offer and will live with you,
Provided that you do no outrages
On silly women or poor passengers.
No, we detest such vile base practises.
Come, go with us, we’ll bring thee to our crews,
And show thee all the treasure we have got,
Which, with ourselves, all rest at thy dispose.
SCENE II. Milan. Outside the DUKE’s palace, under SILVIA’s chamber.
Already have I been false to Valentine
And now I must be as unjust to Thurio.
Under the colour of commending him,
I have access my own love to prefer:
But Silvia is too fair, too true, too holy,
To be corrupted with my worthless gifts.
When I protest true loyalty to her,
She twits me with my falsehood to my friend;
When to her beauty I commend my vows,
She bids me think how I have been forsworn
In breaking faith with Julia whom I loved:
And notwithstanding all her sudden quips,
The least whereof would quell a lover’s hope,
Yet, spaniel-like, the more she spurns my love,
The more it grows and fawneth on her still.
But here comes Thurio: now must we to her window,
And give some evening music to her ear.
Enter THURIO and Musicians
How now, Sir Proteus, are you crept before us?
Ay, gentle Thurio: for you know that love
Will creep in service where it cannot go.
Ay, but I hope, sir, that you love not here.
Sir, but I do; or else I would be hence.
Ay, Silvia; for your sake.
I thank you for your own. Now, gentlemen,
Let’s tune, and to it lustily awhile.
Enter, at a distance, Host, and JULIA in boy’s clothes
Now, my young guest, methinks you’re allycholly: I
pray you, why is it?
Marry, mine host, because I cannot be merry.
Come, we’ll have you merry: I’ll bring you where
you shall hear music and see the gentleman that you asked for.
But shall I hear him speak?
Ay, that you shall.
That will be music.
Is he among these?
Ay: but, peace! let’s hear ‘em.
Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.
Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness,
And, being help’d, inhabits there.
Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.
How now! are you sadder than you were before? How
do you, man? the music likes you not.
You mistake; the musician likes me not.
Why, my pretty youth?
He plays false, father.
How? out of tune on the strings?
Not so; but yet so false that he grieves my very
You have a quick ear.
Ay, I would I were deaf; it makes me have a slow heart.
I perceive you delight not in music.
Not a whit, when it jars so.
Hark, what fine change is in the music!
Ay, that change is the spite.
You would have them always play but one thing?
I would always have one play but one thing.
But, host, doth this Sir Proteus that we talk on
Often resort unto this gentlewoman?
I tell you what Launce, his man, told me: he loved
her out of all nick.
Where is Launce?
Gone to seek his dog; which tomorrow, by his
master’s command, he must carry for a present to his lady.
Peace! stand aside: the company parts.
Sir Thurio, fear not you: I will so plead
That you shall say my cunning drift excels.
Where meet we?
At Saint Gregory’s well.
Exeunt THURIO and Musicians
Enter SILVIA above
Madam, good even to your ladyship.
I thank you for your music, gentlemen.
Who is that that spake?
One, lady, if you knew his pure heart’s truth,
You would quickly learn to know him by his voice.
Sir Proteus, as I take it.
Sir Proteus, gentle lady, and your servant.
What’s your will?
That I may compass yours.
You have your wish; my will is even this:
That presently you hie you home to bed.
Thou subtle, perjured, false, disloyal man!
Think’st thou I am so shallow, so conceitless,
To be seduced by thy flattery,
That hast deceived so many with thy vows?
Return, return, and make thy love amends.
For me, by this pale queen of night I swear,
I am so far from granting thy request
That I despise thee for thy wrongful suit,
And by and by intend to chide myself
Even for this time I spend in talking to thee.
I grant, sweet love, that I did love a lady;
But she is dead.
‘Twere false, if I should speak it;
For I am sure she is not buried.
Say that she be; yet Valentine thy friend
Survives; to whom, thyself art witness,
I am betroth’d: and art thou not ashamed
To wrong him with thy importunacy?
I likewise hear that Valentine is dead.
And so suppose am I; for in his grave
Assure thyself my love is buried.
Sweet lady, let me rake it from the earth.
Go to thy lady’s grave and call hers thence,
Or, at the least, in hers sepulchre thine.
He heard not that.
Madam, if your heart be so obdurate,
Vouchsafe me yet your picture for my love,
The picture that is hanging in your chamber;
To that I’ll speak, to that I’ll sigh and weep:
For since the substance of your perfect self
Is else devoted, I am but a shadow;
And to your shadow will I make true love.
If ’twere a substance, you would, sure,
And make it but a shadow, as I am.
I am very loath to be your idol, sir;
But since your falsehood shall become you well
To worship shadows and adore false shapes,
Send to me in the morning and I’ll send it:
And so, good rest.
As wretches have o’ernight
That wait for execution in the morn.
Exeunt PROTEUS and SILVIA severally
Host, will you go?
By my halidom, I was fast asleep.
Pray you, where lies Sir Proteus?
Marry, at my house. Trust me, I think ’tis almost
Not so; but it hath been the longest night
That e’er I watch’d and the most heaviest.
SCENE III. The same.
This is the hour that Madam Silvia
Entreated me to call and know her mind:
There’s some great matter she’ld employ me in.
Enter SILVIA above
Your servant and your friend;
One that attends your ladyship’s command.
Sir Eglamour, a thousand times good morrow.
As many, worthy lady, to yourself:
According to your ladyship’s impose,
I am thus early come to know what service
It is your pleasure to command me in.
O Eglamour, thou art a gentleman–
Think not I flatter, for I swear I do not–
Valiant, wise, remorseful, well accomplish’d:
Thou art not ignorant what dear good will
I bear unto the banish’d Valentine,
Nor how my father would enforce me marry
Vain Thurio, whom my very soul abhors.
Thyself hast loved; and I have heard thee say
No grief did ever come so near thy heart
As when thy lady and thy true love died,
Upon whose grave thou vow’dst pure chastity.
Sir Eglamour, I would to Valentine,
To Mantua, where I hear he makes abode;
And, for the ways are dangerous to pass,
I do desire thy worthy company,
Upon whose faith and honour I repose.
Urge not my father’s anger, Eglamour,
But think upon my grief, a lady’s grief,
And on the justice of my flying hence,
To keep me from a most unholy match,
Which heaven and fortune still rewards with plagues.
I do desire thee, even from a heart
As full of sorrows as the sea of sands,
To bear me company and go with me:
If not, to hide what I have said to thee,
That I may venture to depart alone.
Madam, I pity much your grievances;
Which since I know they virtuously are placed,
I give consent to go along with you,
Recking as little what betideth me
As much I wish all good befortune you.
When will you go?
This evening coming.
Where shall I meet you?
At Friar Patrick’s cell,
Where I intend holy confession.
I will not fail your ladyship. Good morrow, gentle lady.
Good morrow, kind Sir Eglamour.
SCENE IV. The same.
Enter LAUNCE, with his his Dog
When a man’s servant shall play the cur with him,
look you, it goes hard: one that I brought up of a
puppy; one that I saved from drowning, when three or
four of his blind brothers and sisters went to it.
I have taught him, even as one would say precisely,
‘thus I would teach a dog.’ I was sent to deliver
him as a present to Mistress Silvia from my master;
and I came no sooner into the dining-chamber but he
steps me to her trencher and steals her capon’s leg:
O, ’tis a foul thing when a cur cannot keep himself
in all companies! I would have, as one should say,
one that takes upon him to be a dog indeed, to be,
as it were, a dog at all things. If I had not had
more wit than he, to take a fault upon me that he did,
I think verily he had been hanged for’t; sure as I
live, he had suffered for’t; you shall judge. He
thrusts me himself into the company of three or four
gentlemanlike dogs under the duke’s table: he had
not been there–bless the mark!–a pissing while, but
all the chamber smelt him. ‘Out with the dog!’ says
one: ‘What cur is that?’ says another: ‘Whip him
out’ says the third: ‘Hang him up’ says the duke.
I, having been acquainted with the smell before,
knew it was Crab, and goes me to the fellow that
whips the dogs: ‘Friend,’ quoth I, ‘you mean to whip
the dog?’ ‘Ay, marry, do I,’ quoth he. ‘You do him
the more wrong,’ quoth I; ”twas I did the thing you
wot of.’ He makes me no more ado, but whips me out
of the chamber. How many masters would do this for
his servant? Nay, I’ll be sworn, I have sat in the
stocks for puddings he hath stolen, otherwise he had
been executed; I have stood on the pillory for geese
he hath killed, otherwise he had suffered for’t.
Thou thinkest not of this now. Nay, I remember the
trick you served me when I took my leave of Madam
Silvia: did not I bid thee still mark me and do as I
do? when didst thou see me heave up my leg and make
water against a gentlewoman’s farthingale? didst
thou ever see me do such a trick?
Enter PROTEUS and JULIA
Sebastian is thy name? I like thee well
And will employ thee in some service presently.
In what you please: I’ll do what I can.
I hope thou wilt.
How now, you whoreson peasant!
Where have you been these two days loitering?
Marry, sir, I carried Mistress Silvia the dog you bade me.
And what says she to my little jewel?
Marry, she says your dog was a cur, and tells you
currish thanks is good enough for such a present.
But she received my dog?
No, indeed, did she not: here have I brought him
What, didst thou offer her this from me?
Ay, sir: the other squirrel was stolen from me by
the hangman boys in the market-place: and then I
offered her mine own, who is a dog as big as ten of
yours, and therefore the gift the greater.
Go get thee hence, and find my dog again,
Or ne’er return again into my sight.
Away, I say! stay’st thou to vex me here?
A slave, that still an end turns me to shame!
Sebastian, I have entertained thee,
Partly that I have need of such a youth
That can with some discretion do my business,
For ’tis no trusting to yond foolish lout,
But chiefly for thy face and thy behavior,
Which, if my augury deceive me not,
Witness good bringing up, fortune and truth:
Therefore know thou, for this I entertain thee.
Go presently and take this ring with thee,
Deliver it to Madam Silvia:
She loved me well deliver’d it to me.
It seems you loved not her, to leave her token.
She is dead, belike?
Not so; I think she lives.
Why dost thou cry ‘alas’?
I cannot choose
But pity her.
Wherefore shouldst thou pity her?
Because methinks that she loved you as well
As you do love your lady Silvia:
She dreams of him that has forgot her love;
You dote on her that cares not for your love.
‘Tis pity love should be so contrary;
And thinking of it makes me cry ‘alas!’
Well, give her that ring and therewithal
This letter. That’s her chamber. Tell my lady
I claim the promise for her heavenly picture.
Your message done, hie home unto my chamber,
Where thou shalt find me, sad and solitary.
How many women would do such a message?
Alas, poor Proteus! thou hast entertain’d
A fox to be the shepherd of thy lambs.
Alas, poor fool! why do I pity him
That with his very heart despiseth me?
Because he loves her, he despiseth me;
Because I love him I must pity him.
This ring I gave him when he parted from me,
To bind him to remember my good will;
And now am I, unhappy messenger,
To plead for that which I would not obtain,
To carry that which I would have refused,
To praise his faith which I would have dispraised.
I am my master’s true-confirmed love;
But cannot be true servant to my master,
Unless I prove false traitor to myself.
Yet will I woo for him, but yet so coldly
As, heaven it knows, I would not have him speed.
Gentlewoman, good day! I pray you, be my mean
To bring me where to speak with Madam Silvia.
What would you with her, if that I be she?
If you be she, I do entreat your patience
To hear me speak the message I am sent on.
From my master, Sir Proteus, madam.
O, he sends you for a picture.
Ursula, bring my picture here.
Go give your master this: tell him from me,
One Julia, that his changing thoughts forget,
Would better fit his chamber than this shadow.
Madam, please you peruse this letter.–
Pardon me, madam; I have unadvised
Deliver’d you a paper that I should not:
This is the letter to your ladyship.
I pray thee, let me look on that again.
It may not be; good madam, pardon me.
I will not look upon your master’s lines:
I know they are stuff’d with protestations
And full of new-found oaths; which he will break
As easily as I do tear his paper.
Madam, he sends your ladyship this ring.
The more shame for him that he sends it me;
For I have heard him say a thousand times
His Julia gave it him at his departure.
Though his false finger have profaned the ring,
Mine shall not do his Julia so much wrong.
She thanks you.
What say’st thou?
I thank you, madam, that you tender her.
Poor gentlewoman! my master wrongs her much.
Dost thou know her?
Almost as well as I do know myself:
To think upon her woes I do protest
That I have wept a hundred several times.
Belike she thinks that Proteus hath forsook her.
I think she doth; and that’s her cause of sorrow.
Is she not passing fair?
She hath been fairer, madam, than she is:
When she did think my master loved her well,
She, in my judgment, was as fair as you:
But since she did neglect her looking-glass
And threw her sun-expelling mask away,
The air hath starved the roses in her cheeks
And pinch’d the lily-tincture of her face,
That now she is become as black as I.
How tall was she?
About my stature; for at Pentecost,
When all our pageants of delight were play’d,
Our youth got me to play the woman’s part,
And I was trimm’d in Madam Julia’s gown,
Which served me as fit, by all men’s judgments,
As if the garment had been made for me:
Therefore I know she is about my height.
And at that time I made her weep agood,
For I did play a lamentable part:
Madam, ’twas Ariadne passioning
For Theseus’ perjury and unjust flight;
Which I so lively acted with my tears
That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,
Wept bitterly; and would I might be dead
If I in thought felt not her very sorrow!
She is beholding to thee, gentle youth.
Alas, poor lady, desolate and left!
I weep myself to think upon thy words.
Here, youth, there is my purse; I give thee this
For thy sweet mistress’ sake, because thou lovest her.
Exit SILVIA, with attendants
And she shall thank you for’t, if e’er you know her.
A virtuous gentlewoman, mild and beautiful
I hope my master’s suit will be but cold,
Since she respects my mistress’ love so much.
Alas, how love can trifle with itself!
Here is her picture: let me see; I think,
If I had such a tire, this face of mine
Were full as lovely as is this of hers:
And yet the painter flatter’d her a little,
Unless I flatter with myself too much.
Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow:
If that be all the difference in his love,
I’ll get me such a colour’d periwig.
Her eyes are grey as glass, and so are mine:
Ay, but her forehead’s low, and mine’s as high.
What should it be that he respects in her
But I can make respective in myself,
If this fond Love were not a blinded god?
Come, shadow, come and take this shadow up,
For ’tis thy rival. O thou senseless form,
Thou shalt be worshipp’d, kiss’d, loved and adored!
And, were there sense in his idolatry,
My substance should be statue in thy stead.
I’ll use thee kindly for thy mistress’ sake,
That used me so; or else, by Jove I vow,
I should have scratch’d out your unseeing eyes
To make my master out of love with thee!
SCENE I. Milan. An abbey.
The sun begins to gild the western sky;
And now it is about the very hour
That Silvia, at Friar Patrick’s cell, should meet me.
She will not fail, for lovers break not hours,
Unless it be to come before their time;
So much they spur their expedition.
See where she comes.
Lady, a happy evening!
Amen, amen! Go on, good Eglamour,
Out at the postern by the abbey-wall:
I fear I am attended by some spies.
Fear not: the forest is not three leagues off;
If we recover that, we are sure enough.
SCENE II. The same. The DUKE’s palace.
Enter THURIO, PROTEUS, and JULIA
Sir Proteus, what says Silvia to my suit?
O, sir, I find her milder than she was;
And yet she takes exceptions at your person.
What, that my leg is too long?
No; that it is too little.
I’ll wear a boot, to make it somewhat rounder.
But love will not be spurr’d to what
What says she to my face?
She says it is a fair one.
Nay then, the wanton lies; my face is black.
But pearls are fair; and the old saying is,
Black men are pearls in beauteous ladies’ eyes.
‘Tis true; such pearls as put out
For I had rather wink than look on them.
How likes she my discourse?
Ill, when you talk of war.
But well, when I discourse of love and peace?
But better, indeed, when you hold your peace.
What says she to my valour?
O, sir, she makes no doubt of that.
She needs not, when she knows it cowardice.
What says she to my birth?
That you are well derived.
True; from a gentleman to a fool.
Considers she my possessions?
O, ay; and pities them.
That such an ass should owe them.
That they are out by lease.
Here comes the duke.
How now, Sir Proteus! how now, Thurio!
Which of you saw Sir Eglamour of late?
Saw you my daughter?
She’s fled unto that peasant Valentine;
And Eglamour is in her company.
‘Tis true; for Friar Laurence met them both,
As he in penance wander’d through the forest;
Him he knew well, and guess’d that it was she,
But, being mask’d, he was not sure of it;
Besides, she did intend confession
At Patrick’s cell this even; and there she was not;
These likelihoods confirm her flight from hence.
Therefore, I pray you, stand not to discourse,
But mount you presently and meet with me
Upon the rising of the mountain-foot
That leads towards Mantua, whither they are fled:
Dispatch, sweet gentlemen, and follow me.
Why, this it is to be a peevish girl,
That flies her fortune when it follows her.
I’ll after, more to be revenged on Eglamour
Than for the love of reckless Silvia.
And I will follow, more for Silvia’s love
Than hate of Eglamour that goes with her.
And I will follow, more to cross that love
Than hate for Silvia that is gone for love.
SCENE III. The frontiers of Mantua. The forest.
Enter Outlaws with SILVIA
Be patient; we must bring you to our captain.
A thousand more mischances than this one
Have learn’d me how to brook this patiently.
Come, bring her away.
Where is the gentleman that was with her?
Being nimble-footed, he hath outrun us,
But Moyses and Valerius follow him.
Go thou with her to the west end of the wood;
There is our captain: we’ll follow him that’s fled;
The thicket is beset; he cannot ‘scape.
Come, I must bring you to our captain’s cave:
Fear not; he bears an honourable mind,
And will not use a woman lawlessly.
O Valentine, this I endure for thee!
SCENE IV. Another part of the forest.
How use doth breed a habit in a man!
This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods,
I better brook than flourishing peopled towns:
Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
And to the nightingale’s complaining notes
Tune my distresses and record my woes.
O thou that dost inhabit in my breast,
Leave not the mansion so long tenantless,
Lest, growing ruinous, the building fall
And leave no memory of what it was!
Repair me with thy presence, Silvia;
Thou gentle nymph, cherish thy forlorn swain!
What halloing and what stir is this to-day?
These are my mates, that make their wills their law,
Have some unhappy passenger in chase.
They love me well; yet I have much to do
To keep them from uncivil outrages.
Withdraw thee, Valentine: who’s this comes here?
Enter PROTEUS, SILVIA, and JULIA
Madam, this service I have done for you,
Though you respect not aught your servant doth,
To hazard life and rescue you from him
That would have forced your honour and your love;
Vouchsafe me, for my meed, but one fair look;
A smaller boon than this I cannot beg
And less than this, I am sure, you cannot give.
How like a dream is this I see and hear!
Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile.
O miserable, unhappy that I am!
Unhappy were you, madam, ere I came;
But by my coming I have made you happy.
By thy approach thou makest me most unhappy.
And me, when he approacheth to your presence.
Had I been seized by a hungry lion,
I would have been a breakfast to the beast,
Rather than have false Proteus rescue me.
O, Heaven be judge how I love Valentine,
Whose life’s as tender to me as my soul!
And full as much, for more there cannot be,
I do detest false perjured Proteus.
Therefore be gone; solicit me no more.
What dangerous action, stood it next to death,
Would I not undergo for one calm look!
O, ’tis the curse in love, and still approved,
When women cannot love where they’re beloved!
When Proteus cannot love where he’s beloved.
Read over Julia’s heart, thy first best love,
For whose dear sake thou didst then rend thy faith
Into a thousand oaths; and all those oaths
Descended into perjury, to love me.
Thou hast no faith left now, unless thou’dst two;
And that’s far worse than none; better have none
Than plural faith which is too much by one:
Thou counterfeit to thy true friend!
Who respects friend?
All men but Proteus.
Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
I’ll woo you like a soldier, at arms’ end,
And love you ‘gainst the nature of love,–force ye.
I’ll force thee yield to my desire.
Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,
Thou friend of an ill fashion!
Thou common friend, that’s without faith or love,
For such is a friend now; treacherous man!
Thou hast beguiled my hopes; nought but mine eye
Could have persuaded me: now I dare not say
I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me.
Who should be trusted, when one’s own right hand
Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus,
I am sorry I must never trust thee more,
But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
The private wound is deepest: O time most accurst,
‘Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!
My shame and guilt confounds me.
Forgive me, Valentine: if hearty sorrow
Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender ‘t here; I do as truly suffer
As e’er I did commit.
Then I am paid;
And once again I do receive thee honest.
Who by repentance is not satisfied
Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are pleased.
By penitence the Eternal’s wrath’s appeased:
And, that my love may appear plain and free,
All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.
O me unhappy!
Look to the boy.
Why, boy! why, wag! how now! what’s the matter?
Look up; speak.
O good sir, my master charged me to deliver a ring
to Madam Silvia, which, out of my neglect, was never done.
Where is that ring, boy?
Here ’tis; this is it.
How! let me see:
Why, this is the ring I gave to Julia.
O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook:
This is the ring you sent to Silvia.
But how camest thou by this ring? At my depart
I gave this unto Julia.
And Julia herself did give it me;
And Julia herself hath brought it hither.
Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths,
And entertain’d ‘em deeply in her heart.
How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root!
O Proteus, let this habit make thee blush!
Be thou ashamed that I have took upon me
Such an immodest raiment, if shame live
In a disguise of love:
It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,
Women to change their shapes than men their minds.
Than men their minds! ’tis true.
O heaven! were man
But constant, he were perfect. That one error
Fills him with faults; makes him run through all the sins:
Inconstancy falls off ere it begins.
What is in Silvia’s face, but I may spy
More fresh in Julia’s with a constant eye?
Come, come, a hand from either:
Let me be blest to make this happy close;
‘Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.
Bear witness, Heaven, I have my wish for ever.
And I mine.
Enter Outlaws, with DUKE and THURIO
A prize, a prize, a prize!
Forbear, forbear, I say! it is my lord the duke.
Your grace is welcome to a man disgraced,
Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia’s mine.
Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy death;
Come not within the measure of my wrath;
Do not name Silvia thine; if once again,
Verona shall not hold thee. Here she stands;
Take but possession of her with a touch:
I dare thee but to breathe upon my love.
Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I;
I hold him but a fool that will endanger
His body for a girl that loves him not:
I claim her not, and therefore she is thine.
The more degenerate and base art thou,
To make such means for her as thou hast done
And leave her on such slight conditions.
Now, by the honour of my ancestry,
I do applaud thy spirit, Valentine,
And think thee worthy of an empress’ love:
Know then, I here forget all former griefs,
Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again,
Plead a new state in thy unrivall’d merit,
To which I thus subscribe: Sir Valentine,
Thou art a gentleman and well derived;
Take thou thy Silvia, for thou hast deserved her.
I thank your grace; the gift hath made me happy.
I now beseech you, for your daughter’s sake,
To grant one boom that I shall ask of you.
I grant it, for thine own, whate’er it be.
These banish’d men that I have kept withal
Are men endued with worthy qualities:
Forgive them what they have committed here
And let them be recall’d from their exile:
They are reformed, civil, full of good
And fit for great employment, worthy lord.
Thou hast prevail’d; I pardon them and thee:
Dispose of them as thou know’st their deserts.
Come, let us go: we will include all jars
With triumphs, mirth and rare solemnity.
And, as we walk along, I dare be bold
With our discourse to make your grace to smile.
What think you of this page, my lord?
I think the boy hath grace in him; he blushes.
I warrant you, my lord, more grace than boy.
What mean you by that saying?
Please you, I’ll tell you as we pass along,
That you will wonder what hath fortuned.
Come, Proteus; ’tis your penance but to hear
The story of your loves discovered:
That done, our day of marriage shall be yours;
One feast, one house, one mutual happiness.