William Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona in the complete original text.
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Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Act I. Scene I.

Scene I. Verona. An open place.


Val. 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 sluggardiz'd at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
But since thou lov'st, love still, and thrive
Even as I would when I to love begin.
Pro. Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine,
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
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers,
For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine.
Val. And on a love-book pray for my success?
Pro. Upon some book I love I'll pray for
Val. That's on some shallow story of deep
How young Leander cross'd the Hellespont.
Pro. That's a deep story of a deeper love;
For he was more than over shoes in love.
Val. 'Tis true; for you are over boots in love,
And yet you never swum the Hellespont.
Pro. Over the boots? nay, give me not the
Val. No, I will not, for it boots thee not.
Pro. What?
Val. 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.
Pro. So, by your circumstance, you call me
Val. So, by your circumstance, I fear you'll
Pro. 'Tis love you cavil at: I am not Love.
Val. Love is your master, for he masters you;
And he that is so yoked by a fool,
Methinks should not be chronicled for wise.
Pro. Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
The eating canker dwells, so eating love
Inhabits in the finest wits of all.
Val. And writers say, as the most forward bud
Is eaten by the canker ere it blow,
Even so by love the young and tender wit
Is turned to folly; blasting in the bud,
Losing his verdure even in the prime,
And all the fair effects of future hopes.
But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee
That art a votary to fond desire?
Once more adieu! my father at the road
Expects my coming, there to see me shipp'd.
Pro. And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.
Val. Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our
To Milan let me hear from thee by letters
Of thy success in love, and what news else
Betideth here in absence of thy friend;
And I likewise will visit thee with mine.
Pro. All happiness bechance to thee in
Val. As much to you at home! and so,
Pro. 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 metamorphos'd me;—
Made me neglect my studies, lose my time,
War with good counsel, set the world at
Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with

Enter SPEED.
Speed. Sir Proteus, save you! Saw you my
Pro. But now he parted hence, to embark for
Speed. Twenty to one, then, he is shipp'd
And I have play'd the sheep, in losing him.
Pro. 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?
Pro. I do.
Speed. Why then my horns are his hems,
whether I wake or sleep.
Pro. A silly answer, and fitting well a sheep.
Speed. This proves me still a sheep.
Pro. True, and thy master a shepherd.
Speed. Nay, that I can deny by a circum-
Pro. It shall go hard but I'll prove it by
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.
Pro. The sheep for fodder follow the shep-
herd, 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
Pro. 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
Pro. Here's too small a pasture for such
store of muttons.
Speed. If the ground be overcharged, you
were best stick her.
Pro. Nay, in that you are astray; 'twere best
pound you.
Speed. Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve
me for carrying your letter.
Pro. You mistake: I mean the pounds,—a
Speed. From a pound to a pin? fold it over
and over,
'Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to
your lover.
Pro. But what said she? [SPEED nods.] Did
she nod?
Speed. Ay.
Pro. 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.
Pro. And that set together is—noddy.
Speed. Now you have taken the pains to set
it together, take it for your pains.
Pro. No, no; you shall have it for bearing
the letter.
Speed. Well, I perceive I must be fain to bear
with you.
Pro. Why, sir, how do you bear with me?
Speed. Marry, sir, the letter very orderly;
having nothing but the word 'noddy' for my
Pro. Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit.
Speed. And yet it cannot overtake your
slow purse.
Pro. 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 deliver'd.
Pro. Well, sir, here is for your pains [giving
him money]. What said she?
Speed. Truly, sir, I think you'll hardly win her.
Pro. 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.
Pro. 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.
Pro. Go, go, be gone, to save your ship from
Which cannot perish, having thee aboard,
Being destin'd 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.
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