Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - The Two Gentlemen of Verona
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ACT III. - William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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Milan. An anteroom in theDuke’s Palace.
Sir Thurio, give us leave, I pray, awhile;
We have some secrets to confer about.
Now tell me, Proteus, what’s your will with me?
My gracious lord, that which I would discover
The law of friendship bids me to conceal;
But when I call to mind your gracious favours
Done to me, undeserving as I am,
My duty pricks me on to utter that
Which else no worldly good should draw from me.
Know, worthy prince, Sir Valentine, my friend,
This night intends to steal away your daughter:
Myself am one made privy to the plot.
I know you have determin’d to bestow her
On Thurio, whom your gentle daughter hates;
And should she thus be stol’n away from you
It would be much vexation to your age.
Thus, for my duty’s sake, I rather chose
To cross my friend in his intended drift,
Than, by concealing it, heap on your head
A pack of sorrows which would press you down,
Being unprevented, to your timeless grave.
Proteus, I thank thee for thine honest care,
Which to requite, command me while I live.
This love of theirs myself have often seen,
Haply, when they have judg’d me fast asleep,
And oftentimes have purpos’d 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 disclos’d to me.
And, that thou mayst perceive my fear of this,
Knowing that tender youth is soon suggested,
I nightly lodge her in an upper tower,
The key whereof myself have ever kept;
And thence she cannot be convey’d away.
Know, noble lord, they have devis’d a mean
How he her chamber-window will ascend
And with a corded ladder fetch her down;
For which the youthful lover now is gone
And this way comes he with it presently;
Where, if it please you, you may intercept him.
But, good my lord, do it so cunningly
That my discovery be not aimed at;
For love of you, not hate unto my friend,
Hath made me publisher of this pretence.
Upon mine honour, he shall never know
That I had any light from thee of this.
Adieu, my lord: Sir Valentine is coming.
Sir Valentine, whither away so fast?
Please it your Grace, there is a messenger
That stays to bear my letters to my friends,
And I am going to deliver them.
Be they of much import?
The tenour of them doth but signify
My health and happy being at your court.
Nay then, no matter: stay with me awhile;
I am to break with thee of some affairs
That touch me near, wherein thou must be secret.
’Tis not unknown to thee that I have sought
To match my friend Sir Thurio to my daughter.
I know it well, my lord; and sure, the match
Were rich and honourable; besides, the gentleman
Is full of virtue, bounty, worth, and qualities
Beseeming such a wife as your fair daughter.
Cannot your Grace win her to fancy him?
No, trust me: she is peevish, sullen, froward,
Proud, disobedient, stubborn, lacking duty;
Neither regarding that she is my child,
Nor fearing me as if I were her father:
And, may I say to thee this pride of hers,
Upon advice, hath drawn my love from her;
And, where I thought the remnant of mine age
Should have been cherish’d by her child-like duty,
I now am full resolv’d to take a wife
And turn her out to who will take her in:
Then let her beauty be her wedding-dower;
For me and my possessions she esteems not.
What would your Grace have me to do in this?
There is a lady of 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 chang’d,
How and which way I may bestow myself
To be regarded in her sun-bright eye.
Win her with gifts, if she respect not words:
Dumb jewels often in their silent kind
More than quick words do move a woman’s mind.
But she did scorn a present that I sent her.
A woman sometime scorns what best contents her.
Send her another; never give her o’er,
For scorn at first makes after-love the more.
If she do frown, ’tis not in hate of you,
But rather to beget more love in you;
If she do chide, ’tis not to have you gone;
For why the fools are mad if left alone.
Take no repulse, whatever she doth say;
For, ‘get you gone,’ she doth not mean, ‘away!’
Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
Though ne’er so black, say they have angels’ faces.
That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.
But she I mean is promis’d by her friends
Unto a youthful gentleman of worth,
And kept severely from resort of men,
That no man hath access by day to her.
Why then, I would resort to her by night.
Ay, but the doors be lock’d and keys kept safe,
That no man hath recourse to her by night.
What lets but one may enter at her window?
Her chamber is aloft, far from the ground,
And built so shelving that one cannot climb it
Without apparent hazard of his life.
Why then, a ladder quaintly made of cords,
To cast up, with a pair of anchoring hooks,
Would serve to scale another Hero’s tower,
So bold Leander would adventure it.
Now, as thou art a gentleman of blood,
Advise me where I may have such a ladder.
When would you use it? pray, sir, tell me that.
This very night; for Love is like a child,
That longs for every thing that he can come by.
By seven o’clock I’ll get you such a ladder.
But hark thee; I will go to her alone:
How shall I best convey the ladder thither?
It will be light, my lord, that you may bear it
Under a cloak that is of any length.
A cloak as long as thine will serve the turn?
Ay, my good lord.
Then let me see thy cloak:
I’ll get me one of such another length.
Why, any cloak will serve the turn, my lord.
How shall I fashion me to wear a cloak?
I pray thee, let me feel thy cloak upon me.
What letter is this same? What’s here?—To Silvia!
And here an engine fit for my proceeding!
I’ll be so bold to break the seal for once.
Silvia, this night I will enfranchise thee
’Tis so; and here’s the ladder for the purpose.
Why, Phaethon,—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, basc 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 borc my daughter or thyself.
Be gone! I will not hear thy vain excuse;
But, as thou lov’st thy life, make speed from hence.
And why not death rather than living torment?
To die is to be banish’d from myself;
And Silvia is myself: banish’d from her
Is self from self,—a deadly banishment!
What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection.
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon.
She is my essence; and I leave to be,
If I be not by her fair influence
Foster’d, illumin’d, 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.
Run, boy; run, run, and seek him out.
What seest thou?
Him we go to find: there’s not a hair on’s head but ’tis a Valentine.
Who then? his spirit?
Can nothing speak? Master, shall I strike?
Who would’st thou strike?
Why, sir, I’ll strike nothing: I pray you,—
Sirrah, I say, forbear.—Friend Valentine, a word.
My ears are stopp’d and cannot hear good news,
So much of bad already hath possess’d them.
Then in dumb silence will I bury mine,
For they are harsh, untuneable and bad.
Is Silvia dead?
No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia!
Hath she forsworn me?
No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me!
What is your news?
Sir, there is a proclamation that you are vanished.
That thou art banished, O, that’s the news,
From hence, from Silvia, and from me thy friend.
O, I have fed upon this woe already,
And now excess of it will make me surfeit.
Doth Silvia know that I am banished?
Ay, ay; and she hath offer’d to the doom—
Which, unrevers’d, 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 chaf’d him so,
When she for thy repeal was suppliant,
That to close prison he commanded her,
With many bitter threats of biding there.
No more; unless the next word that thou speak’st
Have some malignant power upon my life:
If so, I pray thee, breathe it in mine ear,
As ending anthem of my endless dolour.
Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,
And study help for that which thou lament’st.
Time is the nurse and breeder of all good.
Here if thou stay, thou canst not see thy love;
Besides, thy staying will abridge thy life.
Hope is a lover’s staff; walk hence with that
And manage it against despairing thoughts.
Thy letters may be here, though thou art hence;
Which, being writ to me, shall be deliver’d
Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.
The time now serves not to expostulate:
Come, I’ll convey thee through the city-gate,
And, ere I part with thee, confer at large
Of all that may concern thy love-affairs.
As thou lov’st Silvia, though not for thyself,
Regard thy danger, and along with me!
I pray thee, Launce, and if thou seest my boy,
Bid him make haste and meet me at the North-gate.
Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.
O my dear Silvia! hapless Valentine!
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 catelog of her condition. Imprimis, She can fetch and carry. Why, a horse can do no more: nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only carry; therefore, is she better than a jade. Item, She can milk; look you, a sweet virtue in a maid with clean hands.
How now, Signior Launce! what news with your mastership?
With my master’s ship? why, it is at sea.
Well, your old vice still; mistake the word. What news, then, in your paper?
The blackest news that ever thou heardest.
Why, man, how black?
Why, as black as ink.
Let me read them.
Fie on thee, jolthead! thou canst not read.
Thou liest; I can.
I will try thee. Tell me this: who begot thee?
Marry, the son of my grandfather.
O, illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother. This proves that thou canst not read.
Come, fool, come: try me in thy paper.
There; and Saint Nicholas be thy speed!
Imprimis, She can milk.
Ay, that she can.
Item, She brews good ale.
And thereof comes the proverb, ‘Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.’
Item, She can sew.
That’s as much as to say, Can she so?
Item, She can knit.
What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock?
Item, She can wash and scour.
A special virtue; for then she need not be washed and scoured.
Item, She can spin.
Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living.
Item, She hath many nameless virtues.
That’s as much as to say, bastard virtues; that, indeed, know not their fathers, and therefore have no names.
Here follow her vices.
Close at the heels of her virtues.
Item, She is not to be kissed fasting, in respect of her breath.
Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast. Read on.
Item, She hath a sweet mouth.
That makes amends for her sour breath.
Item, She doth talk in her sleep.
It’s no matter for that, so she sleep not in her talk.
Item, She is slow in words.
O villain, that set this down among her vices! To be slow in words is a woman’s only virtue: I pray thee, out with’t, and place it for her chief virtue.
Item, She is proud.
Out with that too: it was Eve’s legacy, and cannot be ta’en from her.
Item, She hath no teeth.
I care not for that neither, because I love crusts.
Item, She is curst.
Well; the best is, she hath no teeth to bite.
Item, She will often praise her liquor.
If her liquor be good, she shall: if she will not, I will; for good things should be praised.
Item, She is too liberal.
Of her tongue she cannot, for that’s writ down she is slow of: of her purse she shall not, for that I’ll keep shut: now, of another thing she may, and that cannot I help. Well, proceed.
Item, She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults.
Stop there; I’ll have her: she was mine, and not mine, twice or thrice in that last article. Rehearse that once more.
Item, She hath more hair than wit.—
More hair than wit it may be; I’ll prove it: the cover of the salt hides the salt, and therefore it is more than the salt; the hair, that covers the wit is more than the wit, for the greater hides the less. What’s next?
And more faults than hairs.—
That’s monstrous! O, that that were out!
And more wealth than faults.
Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well, I’ll have her; and if it be a match, as nothing is impossible,—
Why, then will I tell thee,—that thy master stays for thee at the North-gate.
For thee! ay; who art thou? he hath stayed for a better man than thee.
And must I go to him?
Thou must run to him, for thou hast stayed so long that going will scarce serve the turn.
Why didst not tell me sooner? pox of your love-letters!
Now will he be swing’d for reading my letter. An unmannerly slave, that will thrust himself into secrets. I’ll after, to rejoice in the boy’s correction.
The Same. A Room in theDuke’sPalace.
Sir Thurio, fear not but that she will love you,
Now Valentine is banish’d from her sight.
Since his exile she hath despis’d me most,
Forsworn my company and rail’d at me,
That I am desperate of obtaining her.
This weak impress of love is as a figure
Trenched in ice, which with an hour’s heat
Dissolves to water and doth lose his form.
A little time will melt her frozen thoughts,
And worthless Valentine shall be forgot.
How now, Sir Proteus! Is your countryman
According to our proclamation gone?
Gone, my good lord.
My daughter takes his going grievously.
A little time, my lord, will kill that grief.
So I believe; but Thurio thinks not so.
Proteus, the good conceit I hold of thee,—
For thou hast shown some sign of good desert,—
Makes me the better to confer with thee.
Longer than I prove loyal to your Grace
Let me not live to look upon your Grace.
Thou know’st how willingly I would effect
The match between Sir Thurio and my daughter.
I do, my lord.
And also, I think, thou art not ignorant
How she opposes her against my will.
She did, my lord, when Valentine was here.
Ay, and perversely she persevers so.
What might we do to make the girl forget
The love of Valentine, and love Sir Thurio?
The best way is to slander Valentine
With falsehood, cowardice, and poor descent,
Three things that women highly hold in hate.
Ay, but she’ll think that it is spoke in hate.
Ay, if his enemy deliver it:
Therefore it must with circumstance be spoken
By one whom she esteemeth as his friend.
Then you must undertake to slander him.
And that, my lord, I shall be loath to do:
’Tis an ill office for a gentleman,
Especially against his very friend.
Where your good word cannot advantage him,
Your slander never can endamage him:
Therefore the office is indifferent,
Being entreated to it by your friend.
You have prevail’d, my lord. If I can do it,
By aught that I can speak in his dispraise,
She shall not long continue love to him.
But say this weed her love from Valentine,
It follows not that she will love Sir Thurio.
Therefore, as you unwind her love from him,
Lest it should ravel and be good to none,
You must provide to bottom it on me;
Which must be done by praising me as much
As you in worth dispraise Sir Valentine.
And, Proteus, we dare trust you in this kind,
Because we know, on Valentine’s report,
You are already Love’s firm votary
And cannot soon revolt and change your mind.
Upon this warrant shall you have access
Where you with Silvia may confer at large;
For she is lumpish, heavy, melancholy,
And, for your friend’s sake, will be glad of you;
Where you may temper her, by your persuasion
To hate young Valentine and love my friend.
As much as I can do I will effect.
But you, Sir Thurio, are not sharp enough;
You must lay lime to tangle her desires
By wailful sonnets, whose composed rimes
Should be full-fraught with serviceable vows.
Much is the force of heaven-bred poesy.
Say that upon the altar of her beauty
You sacrifice your tears, your sighs, your heart.
Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity:
For Orpheus’ lute was strung with poets’ sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Make tigers tame and huge leviathans
Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.
After your dire-lamenting elegies,
Visit by night your lady’s chamber-window
With some sweet consort: to their instruments
Tune a deploring dump; the night’s dead silence
Will well become such sweet-complaining grievance.
This, or else nothing, will inherit her.
This discipline shows thou hast been in love.
And thy advice this night I’ll put in practice.
Therefore, sweet Proteus, my direction-giver,
Let us into the city presently
To sort some gentlemen well skill’d in music.
I have a sonnet that will serve the turn
To give the onset to thy good advice.
About it, gentlemen!
We’ll wait upon your grace till aftersupper,
And afterward determine our proceedings.
Even now about it! I will pardon you.