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No text of this play exists earlier than that in the First Folio, and on it the present edition is based. The title is mentioned by Meres in his Palladis Tamia (1598), and the internal evidence points to a still earlier date. Estimates have varied from 1591 to 1595. The metrical evidence is ambiguous. Rimes are not so frequent as in Love's Labour 's Lost and some other early plays; while, on the other hand, the occurrence of doggerel lines, of verses rimed alternately, and of sonnets, points to the earliest group. To these should be added the unskilfulness of the dénouement, and the presence of what appear to be first sketches of characters and devices which are elaborated in later plays. Such are the contrast of the two heroines; the clowns; and the scene in which Julia discusses her suitors with 'ber maid. None of the supposed references to current events or publications is of weight as evidence; and the theory that the play was written at two different times has received little support.

The most important source so far found for the plot is in the story of the shepherdess Felismena in Diana, the famous collection of romances in Spanish by Jorge de Montemayor, published in 1560. No printed English version of Diana appeared before that of Bartholomew Yonge in 1598, but this had existed in manuscript since about 1582. Other manuscript versions were in existence, so there is no great difficulty in supposing that Shakespeare knew the story from this source. Further, it is possible, but by no means certain, that the lost play called Felix and Philiomena, which was acted at Greenwich in 1584, may have dealt with the same theme.

Felismena in Montemayor's romance corresponds to Shakespeare's Julia, and Felix to Proteus ; and it is Julia's part of the plot that is found in the Spanish tale. The courtship of Felismena by Felix is much more minutely described in the novel, but its general character is retained by the dramatist. The scene in which Lucetta offers Proteus's letter to Julia follows closely the action of the corresponding scene in the original. The sending of Proteus to court, Julia's following him in disguise as a man, the scene in which she overhears the serenade to her rival, her taking service with Proteus as a page and being sent to Silvia as a messenger, her expressions of sympathy with her own case in her conversation with Proteus, her discussion of the awkwardness of her position when she is sent to plead with Silvia against her own interest, her report of her own beauty to her rival, and Silvia's distrust of Proteus because of his unfaithfulness to his first love, are the main features in which the play follows the romance. On the other hand, the character of Valentine is completely absent in Montemayor, so that Proteus's treachery in friendship is no part of his character in the novel. Moreover, Celia, who corresponds to Shakespeare's Silvia, falls in love with the disguised Felismena (as Olivia does with Viola in Twelfth Night), and finding her love unreciprocated, voluntarily ends her life. The events by which Felix and Felismena are finally brought together bear no resemblance to the closing scenes of The Two Gentlemen.

A volume of Englische Comedien und Tragedien published in Germany in 1620 contains a play with a strong resemblance to the Silvia plot of the present comedy. It is a crude German reproduction of an English tragedy now lost, which had been performed by English actors in Germany. In it Julius corresponds to Proteus, Romulus to Valentine, and Hippolyta to Silvia. The play ends with the killing of Julius by Romulus, and the suicides of Romulus and Hippolyta. It is quite possible that the original was the Phillipo and Hewpolyto mentioned in Henslowe's diary, and that it formed the source of that part of Shakespeare's plot which deals with the relations of Proteus and Silvia to Valentine.

The alleged reminiscences of Sidney's Arcadia and Brookes's Romeus and Juliet are unim. portant.




SPEED, a clownish servant to Valentine. VALENTINE,

LAUNCE, the like to Proteus.
the two Gentlemen.

PANTHINO, servant to Antonio.
ANTONIO, father to Proteus.
THURIO, a foolish rival to Valentine.

JULIA, beloved of Proteus.
EGLAMOUR, agent for Silvia in her escape.

SILVIA, beloved of Valentine. Host, where Julia lodges.

LUCETTA, waiting woman to Julia. OUTLAWS, with Valentine.

[Servants, Musicians.]




[SCENE: Verona ; Milan; and in a forest on the frontiers of Mantua.]

Coy looks with heart-sore sighs; one fading

moment's mirth SCENE I. (Verona. An open place.] With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights: Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS.

If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain;

If lost, why then a grievous labour won;
Val. Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus. However, but a folly bought with wit,
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits. Or else a wit by folly vanquished.
Were 't not affection chains thy tender days Pro. So, by your circumstance, you call me
To the sweet glances of thy honour'd love,

fool. I rather would entreat thy company

Val. So, by your circumstance, I fear you

'11 To see the wonders of the world abroad

prove. Than, living dully sluggardiz'd at home,

Pro. 'Tis love you cavil at ; I am not Love.
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness. Val. Love is your master, for he masters you;
But since thou lov'st, love still and thrive And he that is so yoked by a fool,

Methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.
Even as I would when I to love begin.

Pro. Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
Pro. Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, The eating canker dwells, so eating love
adieu !

Inhabits in the finest wits of all.
Think on thy Proteus, when thou haply seest Val. And writers say, as the most forward
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel.

bud Wish me partaker in thy happiness

Is eaten by the canker ere it blow, When thou dost meet good hap; and in thy Even so by love the young and tender wit danger,

Is turn'd to folly, blasting in the bud, If ever danger do environ thee,

Losing his verdure even in the prime Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers, And all the fair effects of future hopes. For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine.

But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee Val. And on a love-book pray for my suc- That art a votary to fond desire ?

Once more adieu! My father at the road Pro. Upon some book I love I'll pray for Expects my coming, there to see me shipp'd. thee.

Pro. And thither will I bring thee, Valen. Val. That's on some shallow story of deep

tine. love,

Val. Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our How young Leander cross'd the Hellespont.

leave. Pro. That's a deep story of a deeper love, To Milan let me hear from thee by letters For he was more than over shoes in love.

Of thy success in love, and what news else Val. 'Tis true ; for you are over boots in Betideth here in absence of thy friend ; love,

And I likewise will visit thee with mine. And yet you never swam the Hellespont.

Pro. All happiness bechance to thee in Pro. Over the boots ? Nay, give me not the

Milan! boots.

Val. As much to you at home! and so fareVal. No, I will not, for it boots thee not,


[Exit. Pro.

What? Pro. He after honour hunts, I after love. Val. To be in love, where scorn is bought He leaves his friends to dignify them more ; with groans ;

I leave myself, my friends, and all, for love. 65


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Thou, Julia, thou hast metamorphos'd 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? Pro. 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.

Pro. 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?

Pro, I do. Speed. Why then, my horns are his horns, whether I wake or sleep.

Pro. A silly answer, and fitting well a sheep.
Speed. This proves me still a sheep.
Pro. True; and thy master a shepherd.

Speed. Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance.

Pro. 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.

Pro. 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."

Pro. But, dost thou hear ? gav'st thou my letter to Julia ?

Speed. Ay, sir; I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her, a lac'd mutton, and she, a lac'd mutton, gave me, a lost mutton, nothing for my labour.

Pro. Here's too small a pasture for such store of muttons.

Speed. If the ground be overcharg'd, you were best stick her.

Pro. Nay, in that you are astray ; 't were best pound you.

Speed. Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for carrying your letter.

Pro. You mistake; I mean the pound, pinfold.

Speed. From a pound to a pin? Fold it over 'Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to

your lover,
Pro. But what said she ?
Speed. (Nodding.] Ay.
Pro. Nod-ay; -- why, that's noddy.

Speed. You mistook, sir. I say, she did nod; and you ask me if she did nod, and I say, (121

Pro. And that set together is noddy.

Speed. Now you have taken the pains to set it together, take it for your pains.

Pro. No, no; you shall have it for bearing the letter.

Speed. Well, I perceive I must be fain to bear with you.

Pro. Why, sir, how do you bear with me?

Speed. Marry, sir, the letter, very orderly ; having nothing but the word "noddy" for my pains.

Pro. Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit.

Speed. And yet it cannot overtake your slow purse.

Pro. Come, come, open the matter in brief. What said she ?

Speed. Open your purse, that the money and the matter may be both at once delivered.

Pro. Well, sir, here is for your pains. What said she ?

Speed. Truly, sir, I think you 'll hardly win her.

Pro. Why, couldst thou perceive so much from her ?

Speed. Sir, I could perceive nothing at all from her, no, not so much as a ducat for [145 delivering your letter; and being so hard to me that brought your mind, I fear she 'll prove as hard to you in telling your mind. Give her no token but stones, for she's as hard as steel.

Pro. What said she ? Nothing ?

Speed. No, not so much as "Take this for thy pains." To testify your bounty, I thank you, you have testern'd me ; in requital whereof, henceforth carry your letters yourself: and so, sir, I'll commend you to my master. Pro. Go, go, be gone, to save your ship from

wreck, Which cannot perish having thee aboard, Being destin'd to a drier death on shore.

(Erit Speed.) I must go send some better messenger. I fear my Julia would not deign my lines, Receiving them from such a worthless post.

(Exit. SCENE II. (The same. Garden of Julia's house.)

Jul. But say, Lucetta, now we are alone,
Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love ?
Luc. Ay, madam, so you stumble not un-

Jul. Of all the fair resort of gentlemen
That every day with parle encounter ine,
In thy opinion which is worthiest love?

Luc. Please you repeat their names, I 'll show
According to my shallow simple skill.
Jul. What think'st thou of the fair Sir Efla-

mour ? Luc. As of a knight well-spoken, neat, and

fine ; But, were I you, he never should be mine.

Jul. What think'st thou of the rich Mercatio ? Luc. Well of his wealth ; but of himself, so








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How churlishly I chid Lucetta hence,
When willingly I would have had her here !
How angerly I taught my brow to frown,
When inward joy enforc'd my heart to smile !
My penance is to call Lucetta back
And ask remission for my folly past.
What ho! Lucetta!

(Re-enter LUCETTA.)

What would your ladyship?
Jul. Is 't near dinner-time?

I would it were,
That you might kill your stomach on your

And not upon your maid.

Jul. What is 't that you took up so gingerly?
Luc. Nothing:
Jul. Why didst thou stoop, then ?
Luc. To take a paper up that I let fall.
Jul. And is that paper nothing?
Luc. Nothing concerning me.
Jui. Then let it lie for those that it concerns.
Luc. Madam, it will not lie where it con-
Unless it have a false interpreter.
Jul. Some love of yours hath writ to you in

Luc. That I might sing it, madam, to a tune.
Give me a note; your ladyship can set.
Jul. As little by such toys as may be possi-

Best sing it to the tune of “Light o' love."
Luc. It is too heavy for so light a tune.
Jul. Heavy! belike it hath some burden

Luc. Ay, and melodious were it, would you

sing it.
Jul. And why not you ?

I cannot reach so high.
Jul. Let's see your song. How now, minion !
Luc. Keep tune there still, so you will sing it

And yet methinks I do not like this tune.

Jut. You do not?

No, madam; it is too sharp.
Jul. You, minion, are too saucy.

Lu. Nay, now you are too flat,
And mar the concord with too harsh a descant.
There wanteth but a mean to fill your song. "
Jul. The mean is drown'd with your unruly

Luc. Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus.

Jul. This babble shall not henceforth trouble
Here is a coil with protestation!

(Tears the letter.)
Go get you gone, and let the papers lie.
You would be fingering them, to anger me.
Luc. She makes it strange ; but she would be

best pleas'd
To be so ang'red with another letter. (Erit.]
Jul. Nay, would I were so ang’red with the

O hateful hands, to tear such loving words ! 105
Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey
And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!
I'll kiss each several paper for amends.

Jul. What think'st thou of the gentle Pro

teus ? Luc. Lord, Lord ! to see what folly reigns in

us! Jul. How now! what means this passion at

his name? Luc. Pardon, dear madam; 't is a passing

That I, unworthy body as I am,
Should censure thus on lovely gentlemen.

Jul. Why not on Proteus, as of all the rest ?
Luc. Then thus: of many good I think him

Jul. Your reason ?

Luc. I have no other but a woman's reason :
I think him so because I think him so.
Jul. And wouldst thou have me cast my love

on him?
Luc. Ay, if you thought your love not cast

away. Jul. Why he, of all the rest, hath never

mov'd me. Luc. Yet he, of all the rest, I think, best

loves ye. Jul. His little speaking shows his love but

small. Luc. Fire that's closest kept burns most of

all. Jul. They do not love that do not show their

Luc. O, they love least that let men know

their love.
Jul. I would I knew his mind.
Luc. Peruse this paper, madam.
Jul. “To Julia." Say, from whom?
Luc. That the contents will show.
Jul. Say, say, who gave it thee ?
Luc. Sir Valentine's page ; and sent, I think,

from Proteus.
He would have given it you; but I, being in
Did in your name receive it. Pardon the fault,


Jul. Now, by my modesty, a goodly broker!
Dare you presume to harbour wanton lines ?
To whisper and conspire against my youth?
Now, trust me, 't is an office of great worth
And you an officer fit for the place.
There, take the paper; see it be return'd,
Or else return no more into my sight.
Luc. To plead for love deserves more fee

than hate.
Jul. Will ye be gone?

That you may ruminate.

Jul. And yet I would I had o'erlook'd the

It were a shame to call her back again
And pray her to a fault for which I chid her.
What'fool is she, that knows I am a maid,
And would not force the letter to my view!
Since maids, in modesty, say

to that
Which they would have the profferer construe

Fie, fie, how wayward is this foolish love,
That, like a testy babe, will scratch the nurse
And presently, all humbled, kiss the rod !



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Ant. Nor need'st thou much importune me to

that Whereon this month I have been hammering. I have consider'd well his loss of time And how he cannot be a perfect man, Not being tried and tutor'd in the world. Experience is by industry achiev'd, And perfected by the swift course of time. Then tell me, whither were I best to send him?

Pan. I think your lordship is not ignorant 25 How his companion, youthful Valentine, Attends the Emperor in his royal court.

Ant. I know it well.
Pan. 'T were good, I think, your lordship

sent him thither.
There shall he practise tilts and tournaments, 30
Hear sweet discourse, converse with noblemen,
And be in eye of every exercise
Worthy his youth and nobleness of birth.
Ant. I like thy counsel; well hast thou

advis'd; And that thou mayst perceive how well I like

it The execution of it shall make known. Even with the speediest expedition, I will dispatch him to the Emperor's court. Pan. To-morrow, may it please you, Don

Alphonso With other gentlemen of good esteem Are journeying to salute the Emperor, And to commend their service to his will. Ant. Good company; with them shall Pro

teus go, And - In good time! Now will we break with him.

(Enter PROTEUS.) Pro. Sweet love! sweet lines ! sweet life ! « Here is her hand, the agent of her heart ; Here is her oath for love, her honour's pawn. O, that our fathers would applaud our loves, To seal our happiness with their consents! O heavenly Julia ! Ant. How now! what letter are you reading

there? Pro. May 't please your lordship, 't is a word

or two Of commendations sent from Valentine, Deliver'd by a friend that came from him.

Ant. Lend me the letter. Let me see what



Look, here is writ "kind Julia." Unkind

Julia! As in revenge of tby ingratitude, I throw thy name against the bruising stones, Trampling contemptuously on thy disdain. And here is writ love-wounded Proteus." Poor wounded name! my bosom as a bed Shall lodge thee till thy wound be throughly

heal'd; And thus I search it with a sovereign kiss. But twice or thrice was “Proteus " written

Be calm, good wind, blow not a word away
Till I have found each letter in the letter,
Except mine own name; that some whirlwind

Unto a ragged, fearful, hanging rock
And throw it thence into the raging sea!
Lo, here in one line is his name twice writ,

Poor forlorn Proteus, passionate Proteus,
To the sweet Julia,” That I'll tear away;
And yet I will not, sith so prettily
He couples it to his complaining names.
Thus will I fold them one upon another.
Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will.

(Re-enter LUCETTA.] Luc. Madam, Dianer is ready, and your father stays. Ju. Well, let us go. Luc. What, shall these papers lie like tell

tales here? Jul. If yon respect them, best to take them

up. Luc. Nay, I was taken up for laying them

down; Yet here they shall not lie, for catching cold.

Jul. I see you have a month's mind to them. Luc. Ay, madam, you may say what sights

you see ; I see things too, although you judge I wink. Jul. Come, come; will 't please you go ? 140

(Creunt. SCENE III. (The same. Antonio's house.]

Ant. Tell me, Panthino, what sad talk was

that Wherewith my brother held you in the cloister?

Pan. 'Twas of his nephew Proteus, your
Ant. Why, what of him?

Pan. He wond'red that your lordship
Would suffer him to spend his youth at home, 8
While other men, of slender reputation,
Put forth their sons to seek preferment out,
Some to the wars, to try their fortune there ;
Some to discover islands far away;
Some to the studious universities.
For any or for all these exercises
He said that Proteus your son was meet,
And did request me to importune you
To let him spend his time no more at home,
Which would be great impeachment to his

age, In having known no travel in his youth.


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Pro. There is no news, my lord, but that he

writes How happily he lives, how well belov'd And daily graced by the Emperor ;. Wishing me with him, partner of his fortune.

Ant. And how stand you affected to his wish

Pro. As one relying on your lordship’s will And not depending on his friendly wish. Ant. My will is something sorted with his

wish. Muse not that I thus suddenly proceed, For what I will, I will, and there an end. I am resolv'd that thou shalt spend some time With Valentinus in the Emperor's court. What maintenance he from his friends receives, Like exhibition thou shalt have from me.


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