The Two Gentlemen of Verona

By William Shakespeare.


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Dramatis Personae

Scene: Verona; Milan; the frontiers of Mantua.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Act I

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.

Valentine And on a love-book pray for my success?
Proteus 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.

Proteus Over the boots? nay, give me not the boots.
Valentine No, I will not, for it boots thee not.
Proteus What?

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.

Proteus So, by your circumstance, you call me fool.
Valentine So, by your circumstance, I fear you’ll prove.
Proteus ’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.

Proteus 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 I likewise will visit thee with mine.

Proteus All happiness bechance to thee in Milan!
Valentine As much to you at home! and so, farewell. Exit.

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.

Enter Speed.
Speed Sir Proteus, save you! Saw you my master?
Proteus 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.

Speed You conclude that my master is a shepherd then and I a sheep?
Proteus I do.
Speed Why then, my horns are his horns, whether I wake or sleep.
Proteus A silly answer and fitting well a sheep.
Speed This proves me still a sheep.
Proteus True; and thy master a shepherd.
Speed Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance.
Proteus It shall go hard but I’ll prove it by another.
Speed 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.
Proteus 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.
Speed Such another proof will make me cry “baa.”
Proteus But, dost thou hear? gavest thou my letter to Julia?
Speed 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.
Proteus Here’s too small a pasture for such store of muttons.
Speed If the ground be overcharged, you were best stick her.
Proteus Nay: in that you are astray, ’twere best pound you.
Speed Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for carrying your letter.
Proteus 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 your lover.

Proteus But what said she?
Speed First nodding. Ay.
Proteus Nod⁠—Ay⁠—why, that’s noddy.
Speed You mistook, sir; I say, she did nod: and you ask me if she did nod; and I say, “Ay.”
Proteus And that set together is noddy.
Speed Now you have taken the pains to set it together, take it for your pains.
Proteus No, no; you shall have it for bearing the letter.
Speed Well, I perceive I must be fain to bear with you.
Proteus Why, sir, how do you bear with me?
Speed Marry, sir, the letter, very orderly; having nothing but the word “noddy” for my pains.
Proteus Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit.
Speed And yet it cannot overtake your slow purse.
Proteus Come, come, open the matter in brief: what said she?
Speed Open your purse, that the money and the matter may be both at once delivered.
Proteus Well, sir, here is for your pains. What said she?
Speed Truly, sir, I think you’ll hardly win her.
Proteus Why, couldst thou perceive so much from her?
Speed 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.
Proteus What said she? nothing?
Speed 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. Exit Speed.
I must go send some better messenger:
I fear my Julia would not deign my lines,
Receiving them from such a worthless post. Exit.

Scene II

The same. Garden of Julia’s house.

Enter Julia and Lucetta.

But say, Lucetta, now we are alone,
Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love?

Lucetta 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.

Julia 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.

Julia What think’st thou of the rich Mercatio?
Lucetta Well of his wealth; but of himself, so so.
Julia What think’st thou of the gentle Proteus?
Lucetta Lord, Lord! to see what folly reigns in us!
Julia 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.

Julia Why not on Proteus, as of all the rest?
Lucetta Then thus: of many good I think him best.
Julia Your reason?

I have no other, but a woman’s reason;
I think him so because I think him so.

Julia And wouldst thou have me cast my love on him?
Lucetta Ay, if you thought your love not cast away.
Julia Why he, of all the rest, hath never moved me.
Lucetta Yet he, of all the rest, I think, best loves ye.
Julia His little speaking shows his love but small.
Lucetta Fire that’s closest kept burns most of all.
Julia They do not love that do not show their love.
Lucetta O, they love least that let men know their love.
Julia I would I knew his mind.
Lucetta Peruse this paper, madam.
Julia “To Julia.” Say, from whom?
Lucetta That the contents will show.
Julia Say, say, who gave it thee?

Sir 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.

Lucetta To plead for love deserves more fee than hate.
Julia Will ye be gone?
Lucetta That you may ruminate. Exit.

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!

Re-enter Lucetta.
Lucetta What would your ladyship?
Julia Is’t near dinner-time?

I would it were,
That you might kill your stomach on your meat
And not upon your maid.

Julia What is’t that you took up so gingerly?
Lucetta Nothing.
Julia Why didst thou stoop, then?
Lucetta To take a paper up that I let fall.
Julia And is that paper nothing?
Lucetta Nothing concerning me.
Julia Then let it lie for those that it concerns.

Madam, it will not lie where it concerns,
Unless it have a false interpeter.

Julia 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.”

Lucetta It is too heavy for so light a tune.
Julia Heavy! belike it hath some burden then?
Lucetta Ay, and melodious were it, would you sing it.
Julia And why not you?
Lucetta I cannot reach so high.
Julia 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.

Julia You do not?
Lucetta No, madam; it is too sharp.
Julia 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.

Julia The mean is drown’d with your unruly bass.
Lucetta Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus.

This babble shall not henceforth trouble me.
Here is a coil with protestation! Tears the letter.
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. Exit.


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 upon another:
Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will.

Re-enter Lucetta.

Dinner is ready, and your father stays.

Julia Well, let us go.
Lucetta What, shall these papers lie like tell-tales here?
Julia 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.

Julia 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.

Julia Come, come; will’t please you go? Exeunt.

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?

Panthino ’Twas of his nephew Proteus, your son.
Antonio 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.

Antonio 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.

Enter Proteus.

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!

Antonio 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.

Antonio 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.

Antonio 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!

Re-enter Panthino.

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.” Exeunt.

Act II

Scene I

Milan. The Duke’s palace.

Enter Valentine and Speed.
Speed Sir, your glove.
Valentine Not mine; my gloves are on.
Speed 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!

Speed Madam Silvia! Madam Silvia!
Valentine How now, sirrah?
Speed She is not within hearing, sir.
Valentine Why, sir, who bade you call her?
Speed Your worship, sir; or else I mistook.
Valentine Well, you’ll still be too forward.
Speed And yet I was last chidden for being too slow.
Valentine Go to, sir: tell me, do you know Madam Silvia?
Speed She that your worship loves?
Valentine Why, how know you that I am in love?
Speed 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.
Valentine Are all these things perceived in me?
Speed They are all perceived without ye.
Valentine Without me? they cannot.
Speed 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.
Valentine But tell me, dost thou know my lady Silvia?
Speed She that you gaze on so as she sits at supper?
Valentine Hast thou observed that? even she, I mean.
Speed Why, sir, I know her not.
Valentine Dost thou know her by my gazing on her, and yet knowest her not?
Speed Is she not hard-favoured, sir?
Valentine Not so fair, boy, as well-favoured.
Speed Sir, I know that well enough.
Valentine What dost thou know?
Speed That she is not so fair as, of you, well favoured.
Valentine I mean that her beauty is exquisite, but her favour infinite.
Speed That’s because the one is painted and the other out of all count.
Valentine How painted? and how out of count?
Speed Marry, sir, so painted, to make her fair, that no man counts of her beauty.
Valentine How esteemest thou me? I account of her beauty.
Speed You never saw her since she was deformed.
Valentine How long hath she been deformed?
Speed Ever since you loved her.
Valentine I have loved her ever since I saw her; and still I see her beautiful.
Speed If you love her, you cannot see her.
Valentine Why?
Speed 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 ungartered!
Valentine What should I see then?
Speed 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.
Valentine Belike, boy, then, you are in love; for last morning you could not see to wipe my shoes.
Speed 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.
Valentine In conclusion, I stand affected to her.
Speed I would you were set, so your affection would cease.
Valentine Last night she enjoined me to write some lines to one she loves.
Speed And have you?
Valentine I have.
Speed Are they not lamely writ?
Valentine No, boy, but as well as I can do them. Peace! here she comes.
Speed Aside. O excellent motion! O exceeding puppet! Now will he interpret to her.
Enter Silvia.
Valentine Madam and mistress, a thousand good-morrows.
Speed Aside. O, give ye good even! here’s a million of manners.
Silvia Sir Valentine and servant, to you two thousand.
Speed Aside. 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.

Silvia 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.

Silvia 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.

Speed Aside. And yet you will; and yet another “yet.”
Valentine 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.

Valentine 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.

Valentine 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.

Valentine If it please me, madam, what then?

Why, if it please you, take it for your labour:
And so, good morrow, servant. Exit.


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 the letter?

Valentine How now, sir? what are you reasoning with yourself?
Speed Nay, I was rhyming: ’tis you that have the reason.
Valentine To do what?
Speed To be a spokesman from Madam Silvia.
Valentine To whom?
Speed To yourself: why, she wooes you by a figure.
Valentine What figure?
Speed By a letter, I should say.
Valentine Why, she hath not writ to me?
Speed What need she, when she hath made you write to yourself? Why, do you not perceive the jest?
Valentine No, believe me.
Speed No believing you, indeed, sir. But did you perceive her earnest?
Valentine She gave me none, except an angry word.
Speed Why, she hath given you a letter.
Valentine That’s the letter I writ to her friend.
Speed And that letter hath she delivered, and there an end.
Valentine 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.

Valentine I have dined.
Speed 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. Exeunt.

Scene II

Verona. Julia’s house.

Enter Proteus and Julia.
Proteus Have patience, gentle Julia.
Julia I must, where is no remedy.
Proteus 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.

Proteus Why then, we’ll make exchange; here, take you this.
Julia 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.
Julia, farewell! Exit Julia. What, gone without a word?
Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak;
For truth hath better deeds than words to grace it.

Enter Panthino.
Panthino Sir Proteus, you are stay’d for.

Go; I come, I come.
Alas! this parting strikes poor lovers dumb. Exeunt.

Scene III

The same. A street.

Enter Launce, leading a dog.
Launce 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.
Enter Panthino.
Panthino 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.
Launce It is no matter if the tied were lost; for it is the unkindest tied that ever any man tied.
Panthino What’s the unkindest tide?
Launce Why, he that’s tied here, Crab, my dog.
Panthino 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?
Launce For fear thou shouldst lose thy tongue.
Panthino Where should I lose my tongue?
Launce In thy tale.
Panthino In thy tail!
Launce 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.
Panthino Come, come away, man; I was sent to call thee.
Launce Sir, call me what thou darest.
Panthino Wilt thou go?
Launce Well, I will go. Exeunt.

Scene IV

Milan. The Duke’s palace.

Enter Silvia, Valentine, Thurio, and Speed.
Silvia Servant!
Valentine Mistress?
Speed Master, Sir Thurio frowns on you.
Valentine Ay, boy, it’s for love.
Speed Not of you.
Valentine Of my mistress, then.
Speed ’Twere good you knocked him. Exit.
Silvia Servant, you are sad.
Valentine Indeed, madam, I seem so.
Thurio Seem you that you are not?
Valentine Haply I do.
Thurio So do counterfeits.
Valentine So do you.
Thurio What seem I that I am not?
Valentine Wise.
Thurio What instance of the contrary?
Valentine Your folly.
Thurio And how quote you my folly?
Valentine I quote it in your jerkin.
Thurio My jerkin is a doublet.
Valentine Well, then, I’ll double your folly.
Thurio How?
Silvia What, angry, Sir Thurio! do you change colour?
Valentine Give him leave, madam; he is a kind of chameleon.
Thurio That hath more mind to feed on your blood than live in your air.
Valentine You have said, sir.
Thurio Ay, sir, and done too, for this time.
Valentine I know it well, sir; you always end ere you begin.
Silvia A fine volley of words, gentlemen, and quickly shot off.
Valentine ’Tis indeed, madam; we thank the giver.
Silvia Who is that, servant?
Valentine 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.
Thurio Sir, if you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit bankrupt.
Valentine 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.
Silvia No more, gentlemen, no more: here comes my father.
Enter Duke.

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.

Duke 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.

Duke Hath he not a son?

Ay, my good lord; a son that well deserves
The honour and regard of such a father.

Duke 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.

Valentine 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. Exit.


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.

Valentine 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?

Valentine Why, lady, Love hath twenty pair of eyes.
Thurio They say that Love hath not an eye at all.

To see such lovers, Thurio, as yourself:
Upon a homely object Love can wink.

Silvia Have done, have done; here comes the gentleman.
Enter Proteus. Exit Thurio.

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.

Silvia 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.

Proteus My duty will I boast of; nothing else.

And duty never yet did want his meed:
Servant, you are welcome to a worthless mistress.

Proteus I’ll die on him that says so but yourself.
Silvia That you are welcome?
Proteus That you are worthless.
Re-enter Thurio.
Thurio 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.

Proteus We’ll both attend upon your ladyship. Exeunt Silvia and Thurio.
Valentine Now, tell me, how do all from whence you came?
Proteus Your friends are well and have them much commended.
Valentine And how do yours?
Proteus I left them all in health.
Valentine 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?

Valentine Even she; and is she not a heavenly saint?
Proteus No; but she is an earthly paragon.
Valentine Call her divine.
Proteus I will not flatter her.
Valentine 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.

Proteus Except my mistress.

Sweet, except not any;
Except thou wilt except against my love.

Proteus 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.

Proteus 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.

Proteus 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.

Proteus But she loves you?

Ay, and we are betroth’d: nay, more, our marriage-hour,
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.

Valentine Will you make haste?

I will. Exit Valentine.
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 check my erring love, I will;
If not, to compass her I’ll use my skill. Exit.

Scene V

The same. A street.

Enter Speed and Launce severally.
Speed Launce! by mine honesty, welcome to Milan!
Launce 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 say “Welcome!”
Speed 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?
Launce Marry, after they closed in earnest, they parted very fairly in jest.
Speed But shall she marry him?
Launce No.
Speed How then? shall he marry her?
Launce No, neither.
Speed What, are they broken?
Launce No, they are both as whole as a fish.
Speed Why, then, how stands the matter with them?
Launce Marry, thus; when it stands well with him, it stands well with her.
Speed What an ass art thou! I understand thee not.
Launce What a block art thou, that thou canst not! My staff understands me.
Speed What thou sayest?
Launce Ay, and what I do too: look thee, I’ll but lean, and my staff understands me.
Speed It stands under thee, indeed.
Launce Why, stand-under and under-stand is all one.
Speed But tell me true, will’t be a match?
Launce 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.
Speed The conclusion is then that it will.
Launce Thou shalt never get such a secret from me but by a parable.
Speed ’Tis well that I get it so. But, Launce, how sayest thou, that my master is become a notable lover?
Launce I never knew him otherwise.
Speed Than how?
Launce A notable lubber, as thou reportest him to be.
Speed Why, thou whoreson ass, thou mistakest me.
Launce Why, fool, I meant not thee; I meant thy master.
Speed I tell thee, my master is become a hot lover.
Launce 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.
Speed Why?
Launce Because thou hast not so much charity in thee as to go to the ale with a Christian. Wilt thou go?
Speed At thy service. Exeunt.

Scene VI

The same. The Duke’s palace.

Enter Proteus.

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 sinn’d,
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! Exit.

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.

Lucetta 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.

Lucetta 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.

Lucetta 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.

Lucetta 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.

Lucetta 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.

Lucetta You must needs have them with a codpiece, madam.
Julia 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.

Lucetta If you think so, then stay at home and go not.
Julia 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.

Lucetta 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.

Lucetta 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. Exeunt.


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. Exit Thurio.
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.

Proteus Adieu, my Lord; Sir Valentine is coming. Exit.
Enter Valentine.
Duke 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.

Duke Be they of much import?

The tenour 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.

Valentine 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.

Duke 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.

Valentine 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.

Valentine 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.

Valentine 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.

Valentine 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.

Duke A cloak as long as thine will serve the turn?
Valentine Ay, my good lord.

Then let me see thy cloak:
I’ll get me one of such another length.

Valentine 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. Reads.

“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.”

What’s here?

“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. Exit.


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.
Proteus Run, boy, run, run, and seek him out.
Launce Soho, soho!
Proteus What seest thou?
Launce Him we go to find: there’s not a hair on’s head but ’tis a Valentine.
Proteus Valentine?
Valentine No.
Proteus Who then? his spirit?
Valentine Neither.
Proteus What then?
Valentine Nothing.
Launce Can nothing speak? Master, shall I strike?
Proteus Who wouldst thou strike?
Launce Nothing.
Proteus Villain, forbear.
Launce Why, sir, I’ll strike nothing: I pray you⁠—
Proteus 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.

Valentine Is Silvia dead?
Proteus No, Valentine.

No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia.
Hath she forsworn me?

Proteus No, Valentine.

No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me.
What is your news?

Launce 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.

Proteus Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.
Valentine O my dear Silvia! Hapless Valentine! Exeunt Valentine and Proteus.
Launce 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. Pulling out a paper. 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.
Enter Speed.
Speed How now, Signior Launce! what news with your mastership?
Launce With my master’s ship? why, it is at sea.
Speed Well, your old vice still; mistake the word. What news, then, in your paper?
Launce The blackest news that ever thou heardest.
Speed Why, man, how black?
Launce Why, as black as ink.
Speed Let me read them.
Launce Fie on thee, jolt-head! thou canst not read.
Speed Thou liest; I can.
Launce I will try thee. Tell me this: who begot thee?
Speed Marry, the son of my grandfather.
Launce O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother: this proves that thou canst not read.
Speed Come, fool, come; try me in thy paper.
Launce There; and Saint Nicholas be thy speed!
Speed Reads. “Imprimis: She can milk.”
Launce Ay, that she can.
Speed “Item: She brews good ale.”
Launce And thereof comes the proverb: “Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.”
Speed “Item: She can sew.”
Launce That’s as much as to say, Can she so?
Speed “Item: She can knit.”
Launce What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock?
Speed “Item: She can wash and scour.”
Launce A special virtue; for then she need not be washed and scoured.
Speed “Item: She can spin.”
Launce Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living.
Speed “Item: She hath many nameless virtues.”
Launce That’s as much as to say, bastard virtues; that, indeed, know not their fathers and therefore have no names.
Speed “Here follow her vices.”
Launce Close at the heels of her virtues.
Speed “Item: She is not to be kissed fasting, in respect of her breath.”
Launce Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast. Read on.
Speed “Item: She hath a sweet mouth.”
Launce That makes amends for her sour breath.
Speed “Item: She doth talk in her sleep.”
Launce It’s no matter for that, so she sleep not in her talk.
Speed “Item: She is slow in words.”
Launce 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.
Speed “Item: She is proud.”
Launce Out with that too; it was Eve’s legacy, and cannot be ta’en from her.
Speed “Item: She hath no teeth.”
Launce I care not for that neither, because I love crusts.
Speed “Item: She is curst.”
Launce Well, the best is, she hath no teeth to bite.
Speed “Item: She will often praise her liquor.”
Launce If her liquor be good, she shall: if she will not, I will; for good things should be praised.
Speed “Item: She is too liberal.”
Launce 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.
Speed “Item: She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults.”
Launce Stop there; I’ll have her: she was mine, and not mine, twice or thrice in that last article. Rehearse that once more.
Speed “Item: She hath more hair than wit,”⁠—
Launce 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?
Speed “And more faults than hairs,”⁠—
Launce That’s monstrous: O, that that were out!
Speed “And more wealth than faults.”
Launce Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well, I’ll have her: and if it be a match, as nothing is impossible⁠—
Speed What then?
Launce Why, then will I tell thee⁠—that thy master stays for thee at the North-gate.
Speed For me?
Launce For thee! ay, who art thou? he hath stayed for a better man than thee.
Speed And must I go to him?
Launce Thou must run to him, for thou hast stayed so long that going will scarce serve the turn.
Speed Why didst not tell me sooner? pox of your love letters! Exit.
Launce 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. Exit.

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.

Enter Proteus.

How now, Sir Proteus! Is your countryman
According to our proclamation gone?

Proteus Gone, my good lord.
Duke My daughter takes his going grievously.
Proteus 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.

Proteus I do, my lord.

And also, I think, thou art not ignorant
How she opposes her against my will

Proteus 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.

Duke 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.

Duke 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 aught 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.

Duke This discipline shows thou hast been in love.

And thy advice this night I’ll put in practice.
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.

Duke About it, gentlemen!

We’ll wait upon your grace till after supper,
And afterward determine our proceedings.

Duke Even now about it! I will pardon you. Exeunt.

Act IV

Scene I

The frontiers of Mantua. A forest.

Enter certain Outlaws.
First Outlaw Fellows, stand fast; I see a passenger.
Second Outlaw If there be ten, shrink not, but down with ’em.
Enter Valentine and Speed.
Third Outlaw

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.

Valentine My friends⁠—
First Outlaw That’s not so, sir: we are your enemies.
Second Outlaw Peace! we’ll hear him.
Third Outlaw 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.

Second Outlaw Whither travel you?
Valentine To Verona.
First Outlaw Whence came you?
Valentine From Milan.
Third Outlaw Have you long sojourned there?

Some sixteen months, and longer might have stay’d,
If crooked fortune had not thwarted me.

First Outlaw What, were you banish’d thence?
Valentine I was.
Second Outlaw 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.

First Outlaw

Why, ne’er repent it, if it were done so.
But were you banish’d for so small a fault?

Valentine I was, and held me glad of such a doom.
Second Outlaw Have you the tongues?

My youthful travel therein made me happy,
Or else I often had been miserable.

Third Outlaw

By the bare scalp of Robin Hood’s fat friar,
This fellow were a king for our wild faction!

First Outlaw We’ll have him. Sirs, a word.
Speed Master, be one of them; it’s an honourable kind of thievery.
Valentine Peace, villain!
Second Outlaw Tell us this: have you any thing to take to?
Valentine Nothing but my fortune.
Third Outlaw

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.

Second Outlaw

And I from Mantua, for a gentleman,
Who, in my mood, I stabb’d unto the heart.

First Outlaw

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—

Second Outlaw

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?

Third Outlaw

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.

First Outlaw But if thou scorn our courtesy, thou diest.
Second Outlaw 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.

Third Outlaw

No, we detest such vile base practices.
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. Exeunt.

Scene II

Milan. Outside the Duke’s palace, under Silvia’s chamber.

Enter Proteus.

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.
Thurio 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.

Thurio Ay, but I hope, sir, that you love not here.
Proteus Sir, but I do; or else I would be hence.
Thurio Who? Silvia?
Proteus 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.
Host Now, my young guest, methinks you’re allycholly: I pray you, why is it?
Julia Marry, mine host, because I cannot be merry.
Host Come, we’ll have you merry: I’ll bring you where you shall hear music and see the gentleman that you asked for.
Julia But shall I hear him speak?
Host Ay, that you shall.
Julia That will be music. Music plays.
Host Hark, hark!
Julia Is he among these?
Host 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.

Host How now! are you sadder than you were before? How do you, man? the music likes you not.
Julia You mistake; the musician likes me not.
Host Why, my pretty youth?
Julia He plays false, father.
Host How? out of tune on the strings?
Julia Not so; but yet so false that he grieves my very heart-strings.
Host You have a quick ear.
Julia Ay, I would I were deaf; it makes me have a slow heart.
Host I perceive you delight not in music.
Julia Not a whit, when it jars so.
Host Hark, what fine change is in the music!
Julia Ay, that change is the spite.
Host 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?

Host I tell you what Launce, his man, told me: he loved her out of all nick.
Julia Where is Launce?
Host Gone to seek his dog; which to-morrow, by his master’s command, he must carry for a present to his lady.
Julia Peace! stand aside: the company parts.

Sir Thurio, fear not you: I will so plead
That you shall say my cunning drift excels.

Thurio Where meet we?
Proteus At Saint Gregory’s well.
Thurio Farewell. Exeunt Thurio and Musicians.
Enter Silvia above.
Proteus 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.

Silvia Sir Proteus, as I take it.
Proteus Sir Proteus, gentle lady, and your servant.
Silvia What’s your will?
Proteus 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.


Aside. ’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?

Proteus I likewise hear that Valentine is dead.

And so suppose am I; for in his grave
Assure thyself my love is buried.

Proteus 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.

Julia Aside. 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.


Aside. If ’twere a substance, you would, sure, deceive it,
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.

Julia Host, will you go?
Host By my halidom, I was fast asleep.
Julia Pray you, where lies Sir Proteus?
Host Marry, at my house. Trust me, I think ’tis almost day.

Not so; but it hath been the longest night
That e’er I watch’d and the most heaviest. Exeunt.

Scene III

The same.

Enter Eglamour.

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.
Madam, madam!

Enter Silvia above.
Silvia Who calls?

Your servant and your friend;
One that attends your ladyship’s command.

Silvia 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?

Silvia This evening coming.
Eglamour Where shall I meet you?

At Friar Patrick’s cell,
Where I intend holy confession.

Eglamour I will not fail your ladyship. Good morrow, gentle lady.
Silvia Good morrow, kind Sir Eglamour. Exeunt severally.

Scene IV

The same.

Enter Launce, with his Dog.
Launce 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.

Julia In what you please: I’ll do what I can.

I hope thou wilt. To Launce. How now, you whoreson peasant!
Where have you been these two days loitering?

Launce Marry, sir, I carried Mistress Silvia the dog you bade me.
Proteus And what says she to my little jewel?
Launce Marry, she says your dog was a cur, and tells you currish thanks is good enough for such a present.
Proteus But she received my dog?
Launce No, indeed, did she not: here have I brought him back again.
Proteus What, didst thou offer her this from me?
Launce 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? Exit Launce.
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 behaviour,
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?

Proteus Not so; I think she lives.
Julia Alas!
Proteus Why dost thou cry “alas”?

I cannot choose
But pity her.

Proteus 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. Exit.


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.

Enter Silvia, attended.

Gentlewoman, good day! I pray you, be my mean
To bring me where to speak with Madam Silvia.

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.

Silvia From whom?
Julia From my master, Sir Proteus, madam.
Silvia O, he sends you for a picture.
Julia Ay, madam.

Ursula, bring my picture there.
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.

Silvia I pray thee, let me look on that again.
Julia It may not be; good madam, pardon me.

There, hold!
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.

Julia 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.

Julia She thanks you.
Silvia What say’st thou?

I thank you, madam, that you tender her.
Poor gentlewoman! my master wrongs her much.

Silvia 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.

Silvia Belike she thinks that Proteus hath forsook her.
Julia I think she doth; and that’s her cause of sorrow.
Silvia 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.

Silvia 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.
Farewell. 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! Exit.

Act V

Scene I

Milan. An abbey.

Enter Eglamour.

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.

Enter Silvia.
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. Exeunt.

Scene II

The same. The Duke’s palace.

Enter Thurio, Proteus, and Julia.
Thurio 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.

Thurio What, that my leg is too long?
Proteus No; that it is too little.
Thurio I’ll wear a boot, to make it somewhat rounder.
Julia Aside. But love will not be spurr’d to what it loathes.
Thurio What says she to my face?
Proteus She says it is a fair one.
Thurio 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.


Aside. ’Tis true; such pearls as put out ladies’ eyes;
For I had rather wink than look on them.

Thurio How likes she my discourse?
Proteus Ill, when you talk of war.
Thurio But well, when I discourse of love and peace?
Julia Aside. But better, indeed, when you hold your peace.
Thurio What says she to my valour?
Proteus O, sir, she makes no doubt of that.
Julia Aside. She needs not, when she knows it cowardice.
Thurio What says she to my birth?
Proteus That you are well derived.
Julia Aside. True; from a gentleman to a fool.
Thurio Considers she my possessions?
Proteus O, ay; and pities them.
Thurio Wherefore?
Julia Aside. That such an ass should owe them.
Proteus That they are out by lease.
Julia Here comes the duke.
Enter Duke.

How now, Sir Proteus! how now, Thurio!
Which of you saw Sir Eglamour of late?

Thurio Not I.
Proteus Nor I.
Duke Saw you my daughter?
Proteus Neither.

Why then,
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. Exit.


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. Exit.


And I will follow, more for Silvia’s love
Than hate of Eglamour that goes with her. Exit.


And I will follow, more to cross that love
Than hate for Silvia that is gone for love. Exit.

Scene III

The frontiers of Mantua. The forest.

Enter Outlaws with Silvia.
First Outlaw

Come, come,
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.

Second Outlaw Come, bring her away.
First Outlaw Where is the gentleman that was with her?
Third Outlaw

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.

First Outlaw

Come, I must bring you to our captain’s cave:
Fear not; he bears an honourable mind,
And will not use a woman lawlessly.

Silvia O Valentine, this I endure for thee! Exeunt.

Scene IV

Another part of the forest.

Enter Valentine.

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.


Aside. How like a dream is this I see and hear!
Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile.

Silvia O miserable, unhappy that I am!

Unhappy were you, madam, ere I came;
But by my coming I have made you happy.

Silvia By thy approach thou makest me most unhappy.
Julia Aside. 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!


In love
Who respects friend?

Silvia 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.

Silvia O heaven!
Proteus I’ll force thee yield to my desire.

Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,
Thou friend of an ill fashion!

Proteus Valentine!

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.

Julia O me unhappy! Swoons.
Proteus Look to the boy.
Valentine Why, boy! why, wag! how now! what’s the matter? Look up; speak.
Julia O good sir, my master charged me to deliver a ring to Madam Silvia, which, out of my neglect, was never done.
Proteus Where is that ring, boy?
Julia 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.

Proteus How! Julia!

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.

Proteus Bear witness, Heaven, I have my wish for ever.
Julia And I mine.
Enter Outlaws, with Duke and Thurio.
Outlaws A prize, a prize, a prize!

Forbear, forbear, I say! it is my lord the duke.
Your grace is welcome to a man disgraced,
Banished Valentine.

Duke Sir Valentine!
Thurio 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 unrival’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.

Duke 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?

Duke I think the boy hath grace in him; he blushes.
Valentine I warrant you, my lord, more grace than boy.
Duke 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. Exeunt.


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The Two Gentlemen of Verona
was published in 1594 by
William Shakespeare.

This ebook was produced for
Standard Ebooks
Emma Sweeney,
and is based on a transcription produced in 1993 by
Jeremy Hylton
for the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and on digital scans available at the
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The cover page is adapted from
Two Gentlemen of Verona, Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus,
a painting completed in 1851 by
William Holman Hunt.
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League Spartan and Sorts Mill Goudy
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