The Two Gentlemen of Verona
¥ I.1 [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 honored 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 lov'st, 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 noteworthy object in thy travel.
Wish me partaker in thy happiness
When thou dost meet good hap; and in thy danger,
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers,
For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine.
And on a love book pray for my success?
Upon some book I love I'll pray for thee.
That's on some shallow story of deep love,
How young Leander crossed the Hellespont.
That's a deep story of a deeper love,
For he was more than over shoes in love.
'Tis true, for you are over boots in love,
And yet you never swum the Hellespont.
Over the boots? Nay, give me not the boots.
No, I will not, for it boots thee not.
To be in love, where scorn is bought with groans,
Coy looks with heartsore 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 labor won;
However, but a folly bought with wit,
Or else a wit by folly vanquishd.
So, by your circumstance, you call me fool.
So, by your circumstance, I fear you'll prove.
'Tis Love you cavil at; I am not Love.
Love is your master, for he masters you;
And he that is so yokd 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 turned 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 shipped.
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.
All happiness bechance to thee in Milan!
As much to you at home! And so farewell.Exit.
He after honor 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.
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 shipped already,
And I have played the sheep in losing him.
Indeed, a sheep doth very often stray,
And if the shepherd be awhile 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? Gav'st 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 labor.
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 [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 [Giving him money] 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 wrack,
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.
¥ I.2 Enter Julia and Lucetta.
But say, Lucetta, now we are alone,
Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love?
Ay, madam, so you stumble not unheedfully.
Of all the fair resort of gentlemen
That every day with parle encounter me,
In thy opinion which is worthiest love?
Please you repeat their names, I'll show my mind
According to my shallow simple skill.
What think'st thou of the fair Sir Eglamour?
As of a knight well-spoken, neat and fine;
But were I you, he never should be mine.
What think'st thou of the rich Mercatio?
Well of his wealth, but of himself, so-so.
What think'st thou of the gentle Proteus?
Lord, Lord, to see what folly reigns in us!
How now? What means this passion at his name?
Pardon, dear madam, 'tis a passing shame
That I, unworthy body as I am,
Should censure thus on lovely gentlemen.
Why not on Proteus, as of all the rest?
Then thus: of many good I think him best.
I have no other but a woman's reason:
I think him so because I think him so.
And wouldst thou have me cast my love on him?
Ay, if you thought your love not cast away.
Why, he, of all the rest, hath never moved me.
Yet he, of all the rest, I think best loves ye.
His little speaking shows his love but small.
Fire that's closest kept burns most of all.
They do not love that do not show their love.
O, they love least that let men know their love.
I would I knew his mind.
Peruse this paper, madam.
[Gives a letter.]
"To Julia"-say from whom.
That the contents will show.
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 harbor 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.
There, take the paper. See it be returned,
Or else return no more into my sight.
To plead for love deserves more fee than hate.
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 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!
lucetta What would your ladyship?
Is't near dinnertime?
lucetta I would it were,
That you might kill your stomach on your meat,
And not upon your maid.
What is't that you took up so gingerly?
Why didst thou stoop then?
To take a paper up that I let fall.
And is that paper nothing?
Nothing concerning me.
Then let it lie for those that it concerns.
Madam, it will not lie where it concerns,
Unless it have a false interpreter.
Some love of yours hath writ to you in rhyme.
That I might sing it, madam, to a tune.
Give me a note; your ladyship can set-
As little by such toys as may be possible.
Best sing it to the tune of "Light o' Love."
It is too heavy for so light a tune.
Heavy? Belike it hath some burden then?
Ay, and melodious were it, would you sing it.
And why not you?
lucetta I cannot reach so high.
Let's see your song. [Takes the letter.] How now, minion?
Keep tune there still, so you will sing it out.
And yet methinks I do not like this tune.
You do not?
No, madam; 'tis too sharp.
You, minion, are too saucy.
Nay, now you are too flat,
And mar the concord with too harsh a descant.
There wanteth but a mean to fill your song.
The mean is drowned with your unruly bass.
Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus.
This babble shall not henceforth trouble me.
Here is a coil with protestation!
[Tears the letter and throws it down.]
Go, get you gone, and let the papers lie-
You would be fing'ring them to anger me.
She makes it strange, but she would be best pleased
To be so angered with another letter.[Exit.]
Nay, would I were so angered 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 throughly healed,
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.
Madam, dinner is ready, and your father stays.
Well, let us go.
What, shall these papers lie like telltales here?
If you respect them, best to take them up.
Nay, I was taken up for laying them down.
Yet here they shall not lie, for catching cold.
Copyright © 2018 by William Shakespeare. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.