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absence of its object, this being so manifestly for his good. — Silvia, though rather thin and unsubstantial, is a goodly, graceful figure. As strong in love perhaps as Julia; of demeanour not quite so pretty, but more becoming; a little more artsul, and withal much more prudent and practical ; though her virtue be far above suspicion, yet she raises a shrewd doubt whether the offers of a second lover would be so greatly unwelcome to her, but that he undertakes to supplant the first, instead of accepting a place beside him in her thoughts. In her disguise and flight there is no such appearance of turning romantic for the sake of romance, as strikes us in the case of Julia.
Proteus, truant to love, and thereby rendered false to friendship, moves little feeling of any sort, as his faults appear to spring from the rank and undisciplined impulses of youth. His passion is evidently of the kind that thinks more of itself than of its object; and his much talking about it breeds in us a secret distrust of its quality from the first, as knowing,
“When the blood burns, how prodigally the soul
for which cause we do not wonder that it betrays him into something of baseness. But, though passion seduces him from truth and
reason, the failure of his undertaking and Julia's heroic constancy recover him to them : love, overmastered in the absence of its object, resumes its sway in her presence; and experience brings him to the discovery of his own weakness, which is the beginning of wisdom, and the first stepping towards virtue. In Valentine we have the rudiments, and something more, of a truly noble and beautiful character. His slowness to take the meaning of Silvia's artful and enigmatical invitations finely exemplifies the innate modesty of a true affection, that is kept from discerning the signs of a return by a sense of its own unworthiness.
And yet, for some cause or other, these persons do not greatly interest or move us ; there being an appearance of art either in the characters themselves or in the delineation of them, that still beats back our sympathies, and keeps us from really feeling as in the presence of nature while with them. Nevertheless, the play, taken as a whole, illustrates with considerable skill the truant fickleness of human passion, and the weakness of human reason when opposed by passion, and at the same time depicts the beauty of maiden truth and constancy. Mr. Hallam sets it down as “ probably the first English comedy in which characters are drawn from social life, at once ideal and true.”
DUKE of MILAN, Father to Silvia.
Gentlemen of Verona.
JULIA, a Lady of Verona, beloved by Proteus. Silvia, the Duke's Daughter, beloved by Valentine. LUCETTA, Waitingwoman to Julia.
SCENE, sometimes in Verona ; sometimes in Milan;
and on the frontiers of MANTUA.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
SCENE I. An open place in Verona.
Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS. Val. CEASE to persuade, my loving Proteus : Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.) Were't not, affection chains thy tender days To the sweet glances of thy honour'd love, I rather would entreat thy company, To see the wonders of the world abroad, Than, living dully sluggardiz'd at home, Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness." But, since thou lov’st, love still, and thrive therein, Even as I would, when I to love begin.
Pro. Wilt thou begone ? Sweet Valentine, adieu ! Think on thy Proteus, when thou, haply, seest Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel : Wish me partaker in thy happiness, When thou dost meet good hap; and in thy danger, If ever danger do environ thee, Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers, For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine. Milton has the same play upon words in his Comus :
• It is for homely features to keep home;
They had their name thence." 2 Idleness is called shapeless, as preventing the shaping of the character and manners.
3 A beadsman, as the word is here used, is one who offers up
Val. And on a love-book
my success. Pro. Upon some book I love, I'll pray for thee.
Val. That's on some shallow story of deep love, How young Leander cross'd the Hellespont.
Pro. That's a deep story of a deeper love ; For he was more than over shoes in love.
Val. 'Tis true ; for you are over boots in love, And yet you never swam the Hellespont.
Pro. Over the boots ? nay, give me not the boots.
groans ; Coy looks, with heart-sore sighs; one fading mo
prayers for another's welfare. Thus we are told that Sir Henry Lee, upon retiring from the office of Champion to Queen Elizabeth, said “ his hands, instead of wielding the lance, should now be held up in prayer for Her Majesty's welfare; and he trusted she would allow him to be her beadsman, now that he had ceased to incur knightly perils in her service.” Bead was the Anglo-Saxon word for prayer, and so gave name to the small wooden balls which were used in numbering prayers, and a string of which was called a rosary. Such appears to have been the origin of the name, if not of the thing, a string of beads.
4 A proverbial expression, now disused, signifying, “ Don't make a laughing-stock of me.” Perhaps deduced from a humourous punishment at harvest-home feasts in Warwickshire.
5 That is, either way; whether “ haply won” or “ lost.” H.
6 We have here a play upon the word circumstance, the first being used for circumlocution, as in Othello : “ He evades them with a bombast circumstunce, horribly stuff?d with epithets of
Pro. 'Tis Love you cavil at : I am not Love.
Val. Love is your master, for he masters you ; And he that is so yoked by a fool, Methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.
Pro. Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud The eating canker dwells, so eating love Inhabits in the finest wits of all.
Val. And writers say, as the most forward bud Is eaten by the canker ere it blow, Even so by love the young and tender wit Is turn'd to folly ; blasting in the bud, Losing his verdure even in the prime, And all the fair effects of future hopes. But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee, That art a votary to fond desire ? Once more, adieu: My father at the road Expects my coming, there to see me shipp’d.
Pro. And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.
Val. Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our leave. To Milan let me hear from thee by letters," Of thy success in love, and what news else Betideth here in absence of thy friend; And I likewise will visit thee with mine.
Pro. All happiness bechance to thee in Milan ! Val. As much to you at home; and so, farewell!
[Erit. Pro. He after honour hunts, I after love : He leaves his friends, to dignify them more; I leave myself, my friends, and all for love. Thou, Julia, thou hast metamorphos'd me; Made me neglect my studies, lose my time, war;” -the second for course of action or conduct. Thus Baret in his Alvearie, published in 1580 : “ To use great circumstance of woordes, to go about the bushe.”
? The construction is, “Let me hear from thee by letters to Milan."