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(For such is a friend now,) treacherous man!
Pro. My shame and guilt confound me.-
Then I am paid ;
[Faints. Pro. Look to the boy.
Val. Why, boy! why, wag! how now? what is the matter ? Look up; speak.
Jul. O good sir, my master charged me to deliver a ring to madam Silvia; which, out of my neglect, was never done.
Pro. Where is that ring, boy?
[Gives a ring Pro. How ! let me see: why, this is the ring I gave to Julia.
Jul. O, cry you mercy, sir ; I have mistook; this is the ring you sent to Silvia. [Shows another ring.
Pro. But, how cam'st thou by this ring? at my depart, I gave this unto Julia.
Jul. And Julia herself did give it me;
Pro. How! Julia !
Jul. Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths, And entertained them deeply in her heart : How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root !1 O Proteus, let this habit make thee blush! Be thou ashamed, that I have took upon me Such an immodest raiment; if shame live In a disguise of love: It is the lesser blot modesty finds, Women to change their shapes, than men their minds. Pro. Than men their minds? 'tis true: O heaven!
were man But constant, he were perfect: that one error Fills him with faults; makes him run through all
the sins ;
Val. Come, come, a hand from either :
Pro. Bear witness, heaven, I have my wish forever. Jul. And I mine.
Enter Outlaws, with Duke and THURIO. Out. A prize, a prize, a prize!
Val. Forbear, forbear, I say; it is my lord the duke.
Sir Valentine !
Val. Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy death;
Thu. Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I ;
1 i. e. of her heart: the allusion to archery is continued, and to cleaving the pin in shooting at the butts.
I hold him but a fool, that will endanger
Duke. The more degenerate and base art thou,
Val. These banished men, that I have kept withal,
Val. And, as we walk along, 1 dare be bold
blushes. Val. I warrant you, my lord ; more grace than boy. Duke. What mean you by that saying ? Val. Please you, I'll tell you as we pass along, That you will wonder what hath fortuned. Come, Proteus; 'tis your penance, but to hear The story of your loves discovered: That done, our day of marriage shall be yours; One feast, one house, one mutual happiness. [Exeunt
1 Include is here used for conclude. 2 Triumphs are pageants.
In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versification is often excellent, the allusions are learned and just; but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country; he places the emperor at Milan, and sends his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more; he makes Proteus, after an interview with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture ; and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel, which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot.
That this play is rightly attributed to Shakspeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Andronicus ; and it will be found more credible, that Shakspeare might sometimes sink below his highest flights, than that any other should rise up to his lowest.
Johnson's general remarks on this play are just, except that part in which he arraigns the conduct of the poet, for making Proteus say he had only seen the picture of Silvia, when it appears that he had had a personal interview with her. This, however, is not a blunder of Shakspeare's, but a mistake of Johnson's, who considers the passage alluded to in a more literal sense than the author intended it. Sir Proteus, it is true, had seen Silvia for a few moments; but though he could form from thence some idea of her person, he was still unacquainted with her temper, manners, and the qualities of her mind. He therefore considers himself as having seen her picture only. The thought is just, and elegantly expressed.—So, in The Scornful Lady, the elder Loveless says to her,
I was mad once, when I loved pictures ;