Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare

Two Gentlemen of Verona

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

Description

Two friends, Valentino and Proteus, move temporarily from Verona to Milan for their studies and their development towards adulthood. Valentino has barely arrived in Milan as he falls in love with Silvia, the daughter of the local duke. Proteus dwells still in Verona, where he has sworn eternal fidelity to his beloved Julia. But when Proteus also arrives in Milan, his heart also melts for Silvia. What is he to do: be unfaithful to Julia, win Silvia for himself and rob his best friend Valentino of his love? Commonly agreed to be Shakespeare’s first comedy, and probably his first play.


72 pages, with a reading time of ~2.25 hours (18,139 words), and first published in 1601. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

Verona. An open place.

[Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS]

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.

[Exit]

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?