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

Act IV. Scene IV.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Same.

Enter LAUNCE with his dog

Launce.When a man’s servant shall play the cur with him, look you, it goes hard; one that I brought up of a puppy; one that I saved from drowning, when three or four of his blind brothers and sisters went to it. I have taught him, even as one would say precisely, ‘Thus would I teach a dog.’ I was sent to deliver him as a present to Mistress Silvia from my master, and I came no sooner into the dining-chamber but he steps me to her trencher and steals her capon’s leg. O! ’tis a foul thing when a cur cannot keep himself in all companies. I would have, as one should say, one that takes upon him to be a dog indeed, to be, as it were, a dog at all things. If I had not had more wit than he, to take a fault upon me that he did, I think verily he had been hanged for ’t: sure as I live, he had suffered for ’t: you shall judge. He thrusts me himself into the company of three or four gentleman-like dogs under the duke’s table: he had not been there—bless the mark—a pissing-while, but all the chamber smelt him. ‘Out with the dog!’ says one; ‘What cur is that?’ says another; ‘Whip him out,’ says the third; ‘Hang him up,’ says the duke. I, having been acquainted with the smell before, knew it was Crab, and goes me to the fellow that whips the dogs: ‘Friend,’ quoth I, ‘you mean to whip the dog?’ ‘Ay, marry, do I,’ quoth he. ‘You do him the more wrong,’ quoth I; ‘’twas I did the thing you wot of.’ He makes me no more ado, but whips me out of the chamber. How many masters would do this for his servant? Nay, I’ll be sworn, I have sat in the stocks for puddings he hath stolen, otherwise he had been executed; I have stood on the pillory for geese he hath killed, otherwise he had suffered for ’t; thou thinkest not of this now. Nay, I remember the trick you served me when I took my leave of Madam Silvia: did not I bid thee still mark me and do as I do? When didst thou see me heave up my leg and make water against a gentle-woman’s farthingale? Didst thou ever see me do such a trick?

Enter PROTEUS, and JULIA in boy’s clothes.

Pro.Sebastian is thy name? I like thee well

And will employ thee in some service presently.

Jul.In what you please: I will do what I can.

Pro.I hope thou wilt.[To LAUNCE.]How now, you whoreson peasant!

Where have you been these two days loitering?

Launce.Marry, sir, I carried Mistress Silvia the dog you bade me.

Pro.And what says she to my little jewel?

Launce.Marry, she says, your dog was a cur, and tells you, currish thanks is good enough for such a present.

Pro.But she received my dog?

LaunceNo, indeed, did she not: here have I brought him back again.

Pro.What! didst thou offer her this from me?

Launce.Ay, sir: the other squirrel was stolen from me by the hangman boys in the marketplace; and then I offered her mine own, who is a dog as big as ten of yours, and therefore the gift the greater.

Pro.Go, get thee hence, and find my dog again,

Or ne’er return again into my sight.

Away, I say! Stay’st thou to vex me here?

A slave that still an end turns me to shame.[Exit LAUNCE.

Sebastian, I have entertained thee

Partly, that I have need of such a youth,

That can with some discretion do my business,

for ’tis no trusting to yond foolish lout;

But chiefly for thy face and thy behaviour,

Which, if my augury deceive me not,

Witness good bringing up, fortune, and truth:

Therefore, know thou, for this I entertain thee.

Go presently, and take this ring with thee.

Deliver it to Madam Silvia:

She lov’d me well deliver’d it to me.

Jul.It seems, you lov’d not her, to leave her token.

She’s dead, belike?

Pro.Not so: I think, she lives.


Pro.Why dost thou cry ‘alas?’

Jul.I cannot choose

But pity her.

Pro.Wherefore should’st thou pity her?

Jul.Because methinks that she lov’d you as well

As you do love your lady Silvia.

She dreams on him that has forgot her love;

You dote on her, that cares not for your love.

’Tis pity, love should be so contrary;

And thinking on it makes me cry, ‘alas!’

Pro.Well, well, give her that ring and therewithal

This letter: that’s her chamber. Tell my lady

I claim the promise for her heavenly picture.

Your message done, hie home unto my chamber,

Where thou shalt find me sad and solitary.[Exit.

Jul.How many women would do such a message?

Alas, poor Proteus! thou hast entertain’d

A fox to be the shepherd of thy lambs.

Alas, poor fool! why do I pity him

That with his very heart despiseth me?

Because he loves her, he despiseth me;

Because I love him, I must pity him.

This ring I gave him when he parted from me,

To bind him to remember my good will;

And now am I—unhappy messenger—

To plead for that which I would not obtain,

To carry that which I would have refus’d,

To praise his faith which I would have disprais’d.

I am my master’s true-confirmed love,

But cannot be true servant to my master,

Unless I prove false traitor to myself.

Yet will I woo for him; but yet so coldly

As heaven it knows, I would not have him speed.

Enter SILVIA, attended.

Gentlewoman, good day! I pray you, be my mean

To bring me where to speak with Madam Silvia.

Sil.What would you with her, if that I be she?

Jul.If you be she, I do entreat your patience

To hear me speak the message I am sent on.

Sil.From whom?

Jul.From my master, Sir Proteus, madam.

Sil.O! he sends you for a picture?

Jul.Ay, madam.

Sil.Ursula, bring my picture there.[A picture brought.

Go, give your master this: tell him from me,

One Julia, that his changing thoughts forget,

Would better fit his chamber than this shadow.

Jul.Madam, please you peruse this letter.—

Pardon me, madam, I have unadvis’d

Deliver’d you a paper that I should not:

This is the letter to your ladyship.

Sil.I pray thee, let me look on that again.

Jul.It may not be: good madam, pardon me.

Sil.There, hold.

I will not look upon your master’s lines:

I know, they are stuff’d with protestations

And full of new-found oaths, which he will break

As easily as I do tear his paper.

Jul.Madam, he sends your ladyship this ring.

Sil.The more shame for him that he sends it me;

For, I have heard him say a thousand times,

His Julia gave it him at his departure.

Though his false finger have profan’d the ring,

Mine shall not do his Julia so much wrong.

Jul.She thanks you.

Sil.What say’st thou?

Jul.I thank you, madam, that you tender her.

Poor gentlewoman! my master wrongs her much.

Sil.Dost thou know her?

Jul.Almost as well as I do know myself:

To think upon her woes, I do protest

That I have wept a hundred several times.

Sil.Belike, she thinks, that Proteus hath forsook her.

Jul.I think she doth, and that’s her cause of sorrow.

Sil.Is she not passing fair?

Jul.She hath been fairer, madam, than she is.

When she did think my master lov’d her well,

She, in my judgment, was as fair as you;

But since she did neglect her looking-glass

And threw her sun-expelling mask away,

The air hath starv’d the roses in her cheeks

And pinch’d the lily-tincture of her face,

That now she is become as black as I.

Sil.How tall was she?

Jul.About my stature; for, at Pentecost,

When all our pageants of delight were play’d,

Our youth got me to play the woman’s part,

And I was trimm’d in Madam Julia’s gown,

Which served me as fit, by all men’s judgments,

As if the garment had been made for me:

Therefore I know she is about my height.

And at that time I made her weep agood;

For I did play a lamentable part.

Madam, ’twas Ariadne passioning

For Theseus’ perjury and unjust flight;

Which I so lively acted with my tears

That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,

Wept bitterly, and would I might be dead

If I in thought felt not her very sorrow!

Sil.She is beholding to thee, gentle youth.—

Alas, poor lady, desolate and left!

I weep myself to think upon thy words.

Here, youth, there is my purse: I give thee this

For thy sweet mistress’ sake, because thou lov’st her.


Jul.And she shall thank you for ’t, if e’er you know her.—[Exit SILVIA, with Attendants.

A virtuous gentlewoman, mild and beautiful.

I hope my master’s suit will be but cold,

Since she respects my mistress’ love so much.

Alas, how love can trifle with itself!

Here is her picture: let me see; I think,

If I had such a tire, this face of mine

Were full as lovely as is this of hers;

And yet the painter flatter’d her a little,

Unless I flatter with myself too much.

Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow:

If that be all the difference in his love

I’ll get me such a colour’d periwig.

Her eyes are grey as glass, and so are mine:

Ay, but her forehead’s low, and mine’s as high.

What should it be that he respects in her

But I can make respective in myself,

If this fond Love were not a blinded god?

Come, shadow, come, and take this shadow up,

For ’tis thy rival. O thou senseless form!

Thou shalt be worshipp’d, kiss’d, lov’d, and ador’d,

And, were there sense in his idolatry,

My substance should be statue in thy stead.

I’ll use thee kindly for thy mistress’ sake,

That us’d me so; or else, by Jove I vow,

I should have scratch’d out your unseeing eyes,

To make my master out of love with thee.[Exit.