William Shakespeare: Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III
Enter Duke, Thurio, and Proteus
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 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.
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.
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.
Please it your grace, there is a messenger That stays to bear my letters to my friends, And I am going to deliver them.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enter Proteus and Launce
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, 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.
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 lovest Silvia, though not for thyself, Regard thy danger, and along with me!
I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy, Bid him make haste and meet me at the North-gate.
Exeunt Valentine and Proteus
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.
O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother: this proves that thou canst not read.
That's as much as to say, bastard virtues; that, indeed, know not their fathers and therefore have no names.
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.
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.
Stop there; I'll have her: she was mine, and not mine, twice or thrice in that last article. Rehearse that once more.
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?
Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well, I'll have her; and if it be a match, as nothing is impossible,—
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.