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"The Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA ' was first printed in the folio collection of Shakspere's plays, edited by John Heminge and Henry Condell, and published in 1623, seven years after his death. The text is singularly correct. There are not more than half a dozen passages of any real importance upon which a doubt can be entertained, if printed according to the original. It is, in all probability, a play written very early in Shakspere's life.
The scene of this play is, in the first act, at Verona, and afterwards chiefly at Milan. The action is not founded upon any historical event. The one historical fact mentioned in this play is that of the emperor holding his court at Milan, which was under the government of a duke, who was a vassal of the empire. Assuming that this fact prescribes a limit to the period of the action, we must necessarily place that period at least half a century before the date of the composition of this drama.
Pope calls the style of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona' ?“ simple and unaffected.” It was opposed to Shakspere's later style, which is teeming with allusion upon allusion. With the exception of the few obsolete words, and the unfamiliar application of words still in use, this comedy has a very modern air. The thoughts are natural and obvious, the images familiar and general. The most celebrated passages have a character of grace rather than of beauty; the elegance of a youthful poet aiming to be correct. Johnson considered this comedy to be wa ng in “diversity of character.” The action, it must be observed, is mainly sustained by Proteus and Valentine, and by Julia and Silvia; and the conduct of the plot is relieved by the familiar scenes in which Speed and Launce appear. The other actors are very subordinate, and we scarcely demand any great diversity of character amongst them ; but it appears to us, with regard to Proteus and Valentine, Julia and Silvia, Speed and Launce, that the characters are exhibited, as it were, in pairs, upon a principle of very defined though delicate contrast.
Duke, father to Silvia. Appears, Act II. sc. 4. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act V. sc. 2. ; sc. 4.
VALENTINE. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 4.
Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 4.
Act III. sc. I.
PROTEUS. Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 4; sc. 6. Act III. sc. 1; se, 2. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2; sc. 4.
ANTONIO, father to Proteus.
Appears, Act I. sc. 3.
THURIO, rival to Valentine. Appears, Act II. sc. 4. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 2.
Act V. sc. 2; sc. 4.
EGLAMOUR, agent for Silvia in her escape.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 3. Act V. sc. 1.
SPEED, servant to Valentine. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act 11. sc. 1; sc. 4; sc.5.
Act IV. sc. 1.
Act III, sc. 1.
LAUNCE, servant to Proteus. Appears, Act II. sc. 3; sc. 5. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 4.
PANTHINO, servant to Antonio.
Host, with whom Julia lodges.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 2.
OUTLaws with Valentine.
Julia, beloved of Proteus. Appears, Act I. sc.2. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 7. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 4
Act V. sc. 2; sc. 4.
Silvia, beloved of Valentine. Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 4.
Act V. sc. 1 ; sc. 3; sc. 4.
LUCETTA, waiting-woman to Julia.
Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 7.
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 be gone? 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. Val. And on a love-book
pray for 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.