1595 The Two Gentlemen Of Verona
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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.
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 lov'st 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 Northgate.
PROTEUS. Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.
VALENTINE. O my dear Silvia! Hapless Valentine!
Exeunt VALENTINE and PROTEUS
LAUNCE. I am but a fool, look you, and yet I have the wit to think
my master is a kind of a knave; but that's all one if he be but
one knave. He lives not now that knows me to be in love; yet I am
in love; but a team of horse shall not pluck that from me; nor
who 'tis I love; and yet 'tis a woman; but what woman I will not
tell myself; and yet 'tis a milkmaid; yet 'tis not a maid, for
she hath had gossips; yet 'tis a maid, for she is her master's
maid and serves for wages. She hath more qualities than a
water-spaniel- which is much in a bare Christian. Here is the
cate-log [Pulling out a paper] of her condition. 'Inprimis: 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.
SPEED. How now, Signior Launce! What news with your mastership?
LAUNCE. With my master's ship? Why, it is at sea.
SPEED. Well, your old vice still: mistake the word. What news,
then, in your paper?
LAUNCE. The black'st news that ever thou heard'st.
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. [Handing over the paper] There; and Saint Nicholas be thy
SPEED. [Reads] 'Inprimis: 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 wash'd and
SPEED. 'Item: She can spin.'
LAUNCE. Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for
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 kiss'd fasting, in respect of her
LAUNCE. Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast.
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
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; an if it be a match, as nothing is impossible-
SPEED. What then?
LAUNCE. Why, then will I tell thee- that thy master stays for thee
at the Northgate.
SPEED. For me?
LAUNCE. For thee! ay, who art thou? He hath stay'd for a better man
SPEED. And must I go to him?
LAUNCE. Thou must run to him, for thou hast stay'd 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 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. Exit
Milan. 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 despis'd 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,