Two Gents Full Text



DUKE OF MILAN            Father to Silvia. (DUKE:)

VALENTINE            |

|  the two Gentlemen.

PROTEUS                  |

ANTONIO            Father to Proteus.

THURIO            a foolish rival to Valentine.

EGLAMOUR            Agent for Silvia in her escape.

HOST            where Julia lodges. (Host:)

OUTLAWS            with Valentine.

(First Outlaw:)

(Second Outlaw:)

(Third Outlaw:)

SPEED            a clownish servant to Valentine.

LAUNCE            the like to Proteus.

PANTHINO            Servant to Antonio.

JULIA            beloved of Proteus.

SILVIA            beloved of Valentine.

LUCETTA            waiting-woman to Julia.


Servants, Musicians.


SCENE            Verona; Milan; the frontiers of Mantua.





SCENE I            Verona. An open place.



VALENTINE            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.


PROTEUS            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.


VALENTINE            That’s on some shallow story of deep love:

How young Leander cross’d the Hellespont.


PROTEUS            That’s a deep story of a deeper love:

For he was more than over shoes in love.


VALENTINE            ‘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?


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            Love is your master, for he masters you:

And he that is so yoked by a fool,

Methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.


PROTEUS            Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud

The eating canker dwells, so eating love

Inhabits in the finest wits of all.


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our leave.

To Milan let me hear from thee by letters

Of thy success in love, and what news else

Betideth here in absence of thy friend;

And likewise will visit thee with mine.


PROTEUS            All happiness bechance to thee in Milan!


VALENTINE            As much to you at home! and so, farewell.




PROTEUS            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.


SPEED            Twenty to one then he is shipp’d already,

And I have play’d the sheep in losing him.


PROTEUS            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.


SPEED            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.


PROTEUS            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.














SCENE II            The same. Garden of JULIA’s house.



[Enter JULlA and LUCETTA]


JULIA            But say, Lucetta, now we are alone,

Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love?


LUCETTA            Ay, madam, so you stumble not unheedfully.


JULIA            Of all the fair resort of gentlemen

That every day with parle encounter me,

In thy opinion which is worthiest love?


LUCETTA            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?


LUCETTA            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?


LUCETTA            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?


LUCETTA            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?


LUCETTA            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.


JULIA            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.




JULIA            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?


LUCETTA            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.


LUCETTA            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.


LUCETTA            That I might sing it, madam, to a tune.

Give me a note: your ladyship can set.


JULIA            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!


LUCETTA            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.


LUCETTA            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.


JULIA            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.


LUCETTA            She makes it strange; but she would be best pleased

To be so anger’d with another letter.




JULIA            Nay, would I were so anger’d with the same!

O hateful hands, to tear such loving words!

Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey

And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!

I’ll kiss each several paper for amends.

Look, here is writ ‘kind Julia.’ Unkind Julia!

As in revenge of thy ingratitude,

I throw thy name against the bruising stones,

Trampling contemptuously on thy disdain.

And here is writ ‘love-wounded Proteus.’

Poor wounded name! my bosom as a bed

Shall lodge thee till thy wound be thoroughly heal’d;

And thus I search it with a sovereign kiss.

But twice or thrice was ‘Proteus’ written down.

Be calm, good wind, blow not a word away

Till I have found each letter in the letter,

Except mine own name: that some whirlwind bear

Unto a ragged fearful-hanging rock

And throw it thence into the raging sea!

Lo, here in one line is his name twice writ,

‘Poor forlorn Proteus, passionate Proteus,

To the sweet Julia:’ that I’ll tear away.

And yet I will not, sith so prettily

He couples it to his complaining names.

Thus will I fold them one on another:

Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will.


[Re-enter LUCETTA]


LUCETTA            Madam,

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.


LUCETTA            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.


LUCETTA            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?














SCENE III            The same. ANTONIO’s house.





ANTONIO            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?


PANTHINO                              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.


ANTONIO            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?


PANTHINO            I think your lordship is not ignorant

How his companion, youthful Valentine,

Attends the emperor in his royal court.


ANTONIO            I know it well.


PANTHINO            ‘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.


ANTONIO            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.


PANTHINO            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.


ANTONIO            Good company; with them shall Proteus go:

And, in good time! now will we break with him.




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?


PROTEUS            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.


PROTEUS            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?


PROTEUS            As one relying on your lordship’s will

And not depending on his friendly wish.


ANTONIO            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.


PROTEUS            My lord, I cannot be so soon provided:

Please you, deliberate a day or two.


ANTONIO            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.




PROTEUS            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]


PANTHINO            Sir Proteus, your father calls for you:

He is in haste; therefore, I pray you to go.


PROTEUS            Why, this it is: my heart accords thereto,

And yet a thousand times it answers ‘no.’














SCENE I            Milan. The DUKE’s palace.





SPEED            Sir, your glove.


VALENTINE                              Not mine; my gloves are on.


SPEED            Why, then, this may be yours, for this is but one.


VALENTINE            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



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.


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            No, madam; so it stead you, I will write

Please you command, a thousand times as much; And yet–


SILVIA            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?


SILVIA            Yes, yes; the lines are very quaintly writ;

But since unwillingly, take them again.

Nay, take them.


VALENTINE            Madam, they are for you.


SILVIA            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.


SILVIA            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?


SILVIA            Why, if it please you, take it for your labour:

And so, good morrow, servant.




SPEED            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 for 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.


SPEED            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.














SCENE II            Verona. JULIA’S house.





PROTEUS            Have patience, gentle Julia.


JULIA            I must, where is no remedy.


PROTEUS            When possibly I can, I will return.


JULIA            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.


PROTEUS            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.




PANTHINO            Sir Proteus, you are stay’d for.


PROTEUS            Go; I come, I come.

Alas! this parting strikes poor lovers dumb.














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.




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.














SCENE IV            Milan. The DUKE’s palace.





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.




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]


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?


VALENTINE                              My lord, I will be thankful.

To any happy messenger from thence.


DUKE            Know ye Don Antonio, your countryman?


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            Ay, my good lord; a son that well deserves

The honour and regard of such a father.


DUKE            You know him well?


VALENTINE            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.


DUKE            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.


DUKE            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.




VALENTINE            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.


SILVIA            Belike that now she hath enfranchised them

Upon some other pawn for fealty.


VALENTINE            Nay, sure, I think she holds them prisoners still.


SILVIA            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.


VALENTINE            To see such lovers, Thurio, as yourself:

Upon a homely object Love can wink.


SILVIA            Have done, have done; here comes the gentleman.






VALENTINE            Welcome, dear Proteus! Mistress, I beseech you,

Confirm his welcome with some special favour.


SILVIA            His worth is warrant for his welcome hither,

If this be he you oft have wish’d to hear from.


VALENTINE            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.


PROTEUS            Not so, sweet lady: but too mean a servant

To have a look of such a worthy mistress.


VALENTINE            Leave off discourse of disability:

Sweet lady, entertain him for your servant.


PROTEUS            My duty will I boast of; nothing else.


SILVIA            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.


SILVIA            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?


PROTEUS            My tales of love were wont to weary you;

I know you joy not in a love discourse.


VALENTINE            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.


PROTEUS            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.


PROTEUS            When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills,

And I must minister the like to you.


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            Sweet, except not any;

Except thou wilt except against my love.


PROTEUS            Have I not reason to prefer mine own?


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            Pardon me, Proteus: all I can is nothing

To her whose worth makes other worthies nothing;

She is alone.


PROTEUS                              Then let her alone.


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            Ay, and we are betroth’d: nay, more, our,


With all the cunning manner of our flight,

Determined of; how I must climb her window,

The ladder made of cords, and all the means

Plotted and ‘greed on for my happiness.

Good Proteus, go with me to my chamber,

In these affairs to aid me with thy counsel.


PROTEUS            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?


PROTEUS            I will.




Even as one heat another heat expels,

Or as one nail by strength drives out another,

So the remembrance of my former love

Is by a newer object quite forgotten.

Is it mine, or Valentine’s praise,

Her true perfection, or my false transgression,

That makes me reasonless to reason thus?

She is fair; and so is Julia that I love–

That I did love, for now my love is thaw’d;

Which, like a waxen image, ‘gainst a fire,

Bears no impression of the thing it was.

Methinks my zeal to Valentine is cold,

And that I love him not as I was wont.

O, but I love his lady too too much,

And that’s the reason I love him so little.

How shall I dote on her with more advice,

That thus without advice begin to love her!

‘Tis but her picture I have yet beheld,

And that hath dazzled my reason’s light;

But when I look on her perfections,

There is no reason but I shall be blind.

If I can cheque my erring love, I will;

If not, to compass her I’ll use my skill.














SCENE V            The same. A street.



[Enter SPEED and LAUNCE severally]


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.














SCENE VI            The same. The DUKE’S palace.





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 sinned,

Teach me, thy tempted subject, to excuse it!

At first I did adore a twinkling star,

But now I worship a celestial sun.

Unheedful vows may heedfully be broken,

And he wants wit that wants resolved will

To learn his wit to exchange the bad for better.

Fie, fie, unreverend tongue! to call her bad,

Whose sovereignty so oft thou hast preferr’d

With twenty thousand soul-confirming oaths.

I cannot leave to love, and yet I do;

But there I leave to love where I should love.

Julia I lose and Valentine I lose:

If I keep them, I needs must lose myself;

If I lose them, thus find I by their loss

For Valentine myself, for Julia Silvia.

I to myself am dearer than a friend,

For love is still most precious in itself;

And Silvia–witness Heaven, that made her fair!–

Shows Julia but a swarthy Ethiope.

I will forget that Julia is alive,

Remembering that my love to her is dead;

And Valentine I’ll hold an enemy,

Aiming at Silvia as a sweeter friend.

I cannot now prove constant to myself,

Without some treachery used to Valentine.

This night he meaneth with a corded ladder

To climb celestial Silvia’s chamber-window,

Myself in counsel, his competitor.

Now presently I’ll give her father notice

Of their disguising and pretended flight;

Who, all enraged, will banish Valentine;

For Thurio, he intends, shall wed his daughter;

But, Valentine being gone, I’ll quickly cross

By some sly trick blunt Thurio’s dull proceeding.

Love, lend me wings to make my purpose swift,

As thou hast lent me wit to plot this drift!














SCENE VII            Verona. JULIA’S house.





JULIA            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!


JULIA            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.


JULIA            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.


LUCETTA            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.


JULIA            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?


JULIA            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.


JULIA            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?


JULIA            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.


LUCETTA            A round hose, madam, now’s not worth a pin,

Unless you have a codpiece to stick pins on.


JULIA            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.


LUCETTA            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.


JULIA            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.


JULIA            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!


JULIA            Now, as thou lovest me, do him not that wrong

To bear a hard opinion of his truth:

Only deserve my love by loving him;

And presently go with me to my chamber,

To take a note of what I stand in need of,

To furnish me upon my longing journey.

All that is mine I leave at thy dispose,

My goods, my lands, my reputation;

Only, in lieu thereof, dispatch me hence.

Come, answer not, but to it presently!

I am impatient of my tarriance.














SCENE I            Milan. The DUKE’s palace.





DUKE            Sir Thurio, give us leave, I pray, awhile;

We have some secrets to confer about.




Now, tell me, Proteus, what’s your will with me?


PROTEUS            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.


DUKE            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.


PROTEUS            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.


DUKE            Upon mine honour, he shall never know

That I had any light from thee of this.


PROTEUS            Adieu, my Lord; Sir Valentine is coming.






DUKE            Sir Valentine, whither away so fast?


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            The tenor of them doth but signify

My health and happy being at your court.


DUKE            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.


VALENTINE            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?


DUKE            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?


DUKE            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.


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            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.


DUKE            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.


DUKE            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?


DUKE            Her chamber is aloft, far from the ground,

And built so shelving that one cannot climb it

Without apparent hazard of his life.


VALENTINE            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.


DUKE            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.


DUKE            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.


DUKE            But, hark thee; I will go to her alone:

How shall I best convey the ladder thither?


VALENTINE            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.


DUKE                              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.


DUKE            How shall I fashion me to wear a cloak?

I pray thee, let me feel thy cloak upon me.

What letter is this same? What’s here? ‘To Silvia’!

And here an engine fit for my proceeding.

I’ll be so bold to break the seal for once.




‘My thoughts do harbour with my Silvia nightly,

And slaves they are to me that send them flying:

O, could their master come and go as lightly,

Himself would lodge where senseless they are lying!

My herald thoughts in thy pure bosom rest them:

While I, their king, that hither them importune,

Do curse the grace that with such grace hath bless’d them,

Because myself do want my servants’ fortune:

I curse myself, for they are sent by me,

That they should harbour where their lord would be.’

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.




VALENTINE            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.




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.


VALENTINE            My ears are stopt and cannot hear good news,

So much of bad already hath possess’d them.


PROTEUS            Then in dumb silence will I bury mine,

For they are harsh, untuneable and bad.


VALENTINE            Is Silvia dead?


PROTEUS            No, Valentine.


VALENTINE            No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia.

Hath she forsworn me?


PROTEUS            No, Valentine.


VALENTINE            No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me.

What is your news?


LAUNCE            Sir, there is a proclamation that you are vanished.


PROTEUS            That thou art banished–O, that’s the news!–

From hence, from Silvia and from me thy friend.


VALENTINE            O, I have fed upon this woe already,

And now excess of it will make me surfeit.

Doth Silvia know that I am banished?


PROTEUS            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.


VALENTINE            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.


PROTEUS            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!


VALENTINE            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!




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



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 St. 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



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!




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.














SCENE II            The same. The DUKE’s palace.



[Enter DUKE and THURIO]


DUKE            Sir Thurio, fear not but that she will love you,

Now Valentine is banish’d from her sight.


THURIO            Since his exile she hath despised me most,

Forsworn my company and rail’d at me,

That I am desperate of obtaining her.


DUKE            This weak impress of love is as a figure

Trenched in ice, which with an hour’s heat

Dissolves to water and doth lose his form.

A little time will melt her frozen thoughts

And worthless Valentine shall be forgot.




How now, Sir Proteus! Is your countryman

According to our proclamation gone?


PROTEUS            Gone, my good lord.


DUKE            My daughter takes his going grievously.


PROTEUS            A little time, my lord, will kill that grief.


DUKE            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.


PROTEUS            Longer than I prove loyal to your grace

Let me not live to look upon your grace.


DUKE            Thou know’st how willingly I would effect

The match between Sir Thurio and my daughter.


PROTEUS            I do, my lord.


DUKE            And also, I think, thou art not ignorant

How she opposes her against my will


PROTEUS            She did, my lord, when Valentine was here.


DUKE            Ay, and perversely she persevers so.

What might we do to make the girl forget

The love of Valentine and love Sir Thurio?


PROTEUS            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.


PROTEUS            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.


PROTEUS            And that, my lord, I shall be loath to do:

‘Tis an ill office for a gentleman,

Especially against his very friend.


DUKE            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.


PROTEUS            You have prevail’d, my lord; if I can do it

By ought that I can speak in his dispraise,

She shall not long continue love to him.

But say this weed her love from Valentine,

It follows not that she will love Sir Thurio.


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.


DUKE            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.


PROTEUS            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.


DUKE            Ay,

Much is the force of heaven-bred poesy.


PROTEUS            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.


THURIO            And thy advice this night I’ll put in practise.

Therefore, sweet Proteus, my direction-giver,

Let us into the city presently

To sort some gentlemen well skill’d in music.

I have a sonnet that will serve the turn

To give the onset to thy good advice.


DUKE            About it, gentlemen!


PROTEUS            We’ll wait upon your grace till after supper,

And afterward determine our proceedings.


DUKE            Even now about it! I will pardon you.














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.




Third Outlaw            Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about ye:

If not: we’ll make you sit and rifle you.


SPEED            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.


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            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 practises.

Come, go with us, we’ll bring thee to our crews,

And show thee all the treasure we have got,

Which, with ourselves, all rest at thy dispose.














SCENE II            Milan. Outside the DUKE’s palace, under SILVIA’s chamber.





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?


PROTEUS            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.


THURIO            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



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?


JULIA            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 tomorrow, by his

master’s command, he must carry for a present to his lady.


JULIA            Peace! stand aside: the company parts.


PROTEUS            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.


SILVIA            I thank you for your music, gentlemen.

Who is that that spake?


PROTEUS            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.


SILVIA            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.


PROTEUS            I grant, sweet love, that I did love a lady;

But she is dead.


JULIA            [Aside]        ‘Twere false, if I should speak it;

For I am sure she is not buried.


SILVIA            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.


SILVIA            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.


SILVIA            Go to thy lady’s grave and call hers thence,

Or, at the least, in hers sepulchre thine.


JULIA            [Aside]  He heard not that.


PROTEUS            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.


JULIA            [Aside]  If ’twere a substance, you would, sure,

deceive it,

And make it but a shadow, as I am.


SILVIA            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.


PROTEUS                              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



JULIA            Not so; but it hath been the longest night

That e’er I watch’d and the most heaviest.














SCENE III            The same.





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?


EGLAMOUR            Your servant and your friend;

One that attends your ladyship’s command.


SILVIA            Sir Eglamour, a thousand times good morrow.


EGLAMOUR            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.


SILVIA            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.


EGLAMOUR            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?


SILVIA            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 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?




PROTEUS            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.


PROTEUS            I hope thou wilt.




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.


PROTEUS            Go get thee hence, and find my dog again,

Or ne’er return again into my sight.

Away, I say! stay’st thou to vex me here?




A slave, that still an end turns me to shame!

Sebastian, I have entertained thee,

Partly that I have need of such a youth

That can with some discretion do my business,

For ’tis no trusting to yond foolish lout,

But chiefly for thy face and thy behavior,

Which, if my augury deceive me not,

Witness good bringing up, fortune and truth:

Therefore know thou, for this I entertain thee.

Go presently and take this ring with thee,

Deliver it to Madam Silvia:

She loved me well deliver’d it to me.


JULIA            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’?


JULIA            I cannot choose

But pity her.


PROTEUS                              Wherefore shouldst thou pity her?


JULIA            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!’


PROTEUS            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.




JULIA            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?


JULIA            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.


SILVIA            Ursula, bring my picture here.

Go give your master this: tell him from me,

One Julia, that his changing thoughts forget,

Would better fit his chamber than this shadow.


JULIA            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.


SILVIA            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.


SILVIA            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?


JULIA            I thank you, madam, that you tender her.

Poor gentlewoman! my master wrongs her much.


SILVIA            Dost thou know her?


JULIA            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?


JULIA            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?


JULIA            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!


SILVIA            She is beholding to thee, gentle youth.

Alas, poor lady, desolate and left!

I weep myself to think upon thy words.

Here, youth, there is my purse; I give thee this

For thy sweet mistress’ sake, because thou lovest her.



[Exit SILVIA, with attendants]


JULIA            And she shall thank you for’t, if e’er you know her.

A virtuous gentlewoman, mild and beautiful

I hope my master’s suit will be but cold,

Since she respects my mistress’ love so much.

Alas, how love can trifle with itself!

Here is her picture: let me see; I think,

If I had such a tire, this face of mine

Were full as lovely as is this of hers:

And yet the painter flatter’d her a little,

Unless I flatter with myself too much.

Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow:

If that be all the difference in his love,

I’ll get me such a colour’d periwig.

Her eyes are grey as glass, and so are mine:

Ay, but her forehead’s low, and mine’s as high.

What should it be that he respects in her

But I can make respective in myself,

If this fond Love were not a blinded god?

Come, shadow, come and take this shadow up,

For ’tis thy rival. O thou senseless form,

Thou shalt be worshipp’d, kiss’d, loved and adored!

And, were there sense in his idolatry,

My substance should be statue in thy stead.

I’ll use thee kindly for thy mistress’ sake,

That used me so; or else, by Jove I vow,

I should have scratch’d out your unseeing eyes

To make my master out of love with thee!














SCENE I            Milan. An abbey.





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!


SILVIA            Amen, amen! Go on, good Eglamour,

Out at the postern by the abbey-wall:

I fear I am attended by some spies.


EGLAMOUR            Fear not: the forest is not three leagues off;

If we recover that, we are sure enough.














SCENE II            The same. The DUKE’s palace.





THURIO            Sir Proteus, what says Silvia to my suit?


PROTEUS            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.


PROTEUS            But pearls are fair; and the old saying is,

Black men are pearls in beauteous ladies’ eyes.


JULIA            [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]


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.


DUKE            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.




THURIO            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.




PROTEUS            And I will follow, more for Silvia’s love

Than hate of Eglamour that goes with her.




JULIA            And I will follow, more to cross that love

Than hate for Silvia that is gone for love.














SCENE III            The frontiers of Mantua. The forest.



[Enter Outlaws with SILVIA]


First Outlaw            Come, come,

Be patient; we must bring you to our captain.


SILVIA            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!














SCENE IV            Another part of the forest.





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?




PROTEUS            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.


VALENTINE            [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!


PROTEUS            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.


SILVIA            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.


PROTEUS            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!


SILVIA            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!


PROTEUS            In love

Who respects friend?


SILVIA            All men but Proteus.


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.


VALENTINE            Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,

Thou friend of an ill fashion!


PROTEUS            Valentine!


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!


PROTEUS            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.


VALENTINE            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!




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.


PROTEUS            How! let me see:

Why, this is the ring I gave to Julia.


JULIA            O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook:

This is the ring you sent to Silvia.


PROTEUS            But how camest thou by this ring? At my depart

I gave this unto Julia.


JULIA            And Julia herself did give it me;

And Julia herself hath brought it hither.


PROTEUS            How! Julia!


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.


PROTEUS            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?


VALENTINE            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!


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            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.


THURIO            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.


DUKE            The more degenerate and base art thou,

To make such means for her as thou hast done

And leave her on such slight conditions.

Now, by the honour of my ancestry,

I do applaud thy spirit, Valentine,

And think thee worthy of an empress’ love:

Know then, I here forget all former griefs,

Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again,

Plead a new state in thy unrivall’d merit,

To which I thus subscribe: Sir Valentine,

Thou art a gentleman and well derived;

Take thou thy Silvia, for thou hast deserved her.


VALENTINE            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.


VALENTINE            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.


DUKE            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.


VALENTINE            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?


VALENTINE            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.