Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  The Two Gentlemen of Verona

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene VI.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Same.A Room in the DUKE’S Palace.


Pro.To leave my Julia, shall I be forsworn;

To love fair Silvia, shall I be forsworn;

To wrong my friend, I shall be much forsworn;

And even that power which gave me first my oath

Provokes me to this threefold perjury:

Love bade me swear, and Love bids me forswear.

O sweet-suggesting Love! if thou hast sinn’d,

Teach me, thy tempted subject, to excuse it.

At first I did adore a twinkling star,

But now I worship a celestial sun.

Unheedful vows may heedfully be broken;

And he wants wit that wants resolved will

To learn his wit to exchange the bad for better.

Fie, fie, unreverend tongue! to call her bad,

Whose sovereignty so oft thou hast preferr’d

With twenty thousand soul-confirming oaths.

I cannot leave to love, and yet I do;

But there I leave to love where I should love.

Julia I lose and Valentine I lose:

If I keep them, I needs must lose myself;

If I lose them, thus find I by their loss,

For Valentine, myself; for Julia, Silvia.

I to myself am dearer than a friend,

For love is still most precious in itself;

And Silvia—witness heaven that made her fair!—

Shows Julia but a swarthy Ethiope.

I will forget that Julia is alive,

Remembering that my love to her is dead;

And Valentine I’ll hold an enemy,

Aiming at Silvia as a sweeter friend.

I cannot now prove constant to myself

Without some treachery us’d to Valentine:

This night he meaneth with a corded ladder

To climb celestial Silvia’s chamber-window,

Myself in counsel, his competitor.

Now presently, I’ll give her father notice

Of their disguising and pretended flight;

Who, all enrag’d, will banish Valentine;

For Thurio, he intends, shall wed his daughter;

But, Valentine being gone, I’ll quickly cross,

By some sly trick blunt Thurio’s dull proceeding.

Love, lend me wings to make my purpose swift,

As thou hast lent me wit to plot this drift![Exit.