The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter the Duke of Milan, Thurio, and Proteus


Sir Thurio, give us leave, I pray, awhile;

We have some secrets to confer about.

Exit Thurio

Now, tell me, Proteus, what's your will with me?


My gracious lord, that which I would discover
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count

The law of friendship bids me to conceal,

But when I call to mind your gracious favours

Done to me, undeserving as I am,

My duty pricks me on to utter that
prick on (v.) incite, urge on, spur on

Which else no worldly good should draw from me.

Know, worthy prince, Sir Valentine, my friend,

This night intends to steal away your daughter;

Myself am one made privy to the plot.
privy 1 privately aware [of], secretly knowledgeable [about]

I know you have determined to bestow her

On Thurio, whom your gentle daughter hates;
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count

And should she thus be stolen away from you,

It would be much vexation to your age.

Thus, for my duty's sake, I rather chose

To cross my friend in his intended drift
cross (v.) 2 contradict, challenge, go against
drift (n.) 1 plan, intention, aim

Than, by concealing it, heap on your head

A pack of sorrows which would press you down,

Being unprevented, to your timeless grave.
timeless (adj.) untimely, premature, ill-timed


Proteus, I thank thee for thine honest care,

Which to requite, command me while I live.

This love of theirs myself have often seen,

Haply when they have judged me fast asleep,
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count
judge (v.) 1 suppose, consider, think

And oftentimes have purposed to forbid
oftentimes (adv.) often, frequently, on many occasions
purpose (v.) 1 intend, plan

Sir Valentine her company and my court;

But, fearing lest my jealous aim might err,
aim (n.) 1 guess, conjecture, surmise
jealous (adj.) 1 suspicious, mistrustful, wary, watchful

And so, unworthily, disgrace the man –

A rashness that I ever yet have shunned –

I gave him gentle looks, thereby to find
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

That which thyself hast now disclosed to me.

And, that thou mayst perceive my fear of this,

Knowing that tender youth is soon suggested,
suggest (v.) 1 tempt, prompt, incite
tender (adj.) 2 immature, undeveloped, inexperienced

I nightly lodge her in an upper tower,

The key whereof myself have ever kept;

And thence she cannot be conveyed away.


Know, noble lord, they have devised a mean
mean (n.) 1 means, way, method

How he her chamber-window will ascend

And with a corded ladder fetch her down;
corded (adj.) made of ropes

For which the youthful lover now is gone,

And this way comes he with it presently;
presently (adv.) 2 after a short time, soon, before long

Where, if it please you, you may intercept him.

But, good my lord, do it so cunningly

That my discovery be not aimed at;
aim (v.) guess, conjecture, surmise
discovery (n.) 1 disclosure, admission, revelation

For, love of you, not hate unto my friend,

Hath made me publisher of this pretence.
pretence (n.) 1 plan, design, intention, purpose
publisher (n.) exposer, divulger, one who makes public


Upon mine honour, he shall never know

That I had any light from thee of this.
light (n.) 4 help, enlightenment, information


Adieu, my lord, Sir Valentine is coming.


Enter Valentine


Sir Valentine, whither away so fast?


Please it your grace, there is a messenger

That stays to bear my letters to my friends,

And I am going to deliver them.


Be they of much import?
import (n.) importance, significance, consequence


The tenor of them doth but signify

My health and happy being at your court.
being (n.) 2 physical existence, life
happy (adj.) 1 fortunate, lucky, favoured


Nay then, no matter; stay with me awhile;

I am to break with thee of some affairs
break (v.) 5 reveal, disclose, impart

That touch me near, wherein thou must be secret.
near (adv.) 1 closely, intimately, seriously
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to

'Tis not unknown to thee that I have sought

To match my friend Sir Thurio to my daughter.


I know it well, my lord; and, sure, the match

Were rich and honourable; besides, the gentleman

Is full of virtue, bounty, worth, and qualities
quality (n.) 2 accomplishment, capacity, ability

Beseeming such a wife as your fair daughter.
beseem (v.) befit, be fitting [for], be seemly [for]

Cannot your grace win her to fancy him?
fancy (v.) like, love, admire


No, trust me; she is peevish, sullen, froward,
froward (adj.) 1 perverse, obstinate, wilful, ungovernable
peevish (adj.) 2 obstinate, perverse, self-willed [contrast modern sense of ‘irritable, morose’]

Proud, disobedient, stubborn, lacking duty;

Neither regarding that she is my child,
regard (v.) 1 take note of, pay heed to, value

Nor fearing me as if I were her father;

And, may I say to thee, this pride of hers,

Upon advice, hath drawn my love from her;
advice (n.) 1 consideration, reflection, deliberation

And where I thought the remnant of mine age
age (n.) 1 whole life, lifetime, days

Should have been cherished by her child-like duty,

I now am full resolved to take a wife

And turn her out to who will take her in.

Then let her beauty be her wedding-dower;
dower (n.) dowry, property or wealth given with a wife

For me and my possessions she esteems not.


What would your grace have me to do in this?


There is a lady of Verona here

Whom I affect; but she is nice, and coy,
affect (v.) 2 love, like, be fond of
coy (adj.) 2 unresponsive, distant, standoffish, disdainful
nice (adj.) 1 fastidious, particular, fussy, overscrupulous

And naught esteems my aged eloquence.

Now, therefore, would I have thee to my tutor –

For long agone I have forgot to court;
agone (adv.) ago, past

Besides, the fashion of the time is changed –

How and which way I may bestow myself
bestow (v.) 8 carry, bear, acquit, conduct

To be regarded in her sun-bright eye.


Win her with gifts, if she respect not words;
respect (v.) 1 pay attention to, heed

Dumb jewels often in their silent kind
kind (n.) 1 nature, reality, character, disposition

More than quick words do move a woman's mind.
quick (adj.) 2 lively, animated, vivacious


But she did scorn a present that I sent her.


A woman sometimes scorns what best contents her.
content (v.) 1 please, gratify, delight, satisfy

Send her another; never give her o'er;

For scorn at first makes after-love the more.
after-love (n.) later gratitude, future loyalty

If she do frown, 'tis not in hate of you,

But rather to beget more love in you;
beget (v.), past form begot 2 produce, engender, give rise to

If she do chide, 'tis not to have you gone,
chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove See Topics: Frequency count

For why, the fools are mad if left alone.

Take no repulse, whatever she doth say;

For ‘ Get you gone,’ she doth not mean ‘ Away!’

Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
commend (v.) 4 praise, admire, extol

Though ne'er so black, say they have angels' faces.
black (adj.) 1 dark-complexioned, swarthy

That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,

If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.


But she I mean is promised by her friends

Unto a youthful gentleman of worth;

And kept severely from resort of men,
resort (n.) 1 visits, visitings, approaches

That no man hath access by day to her.


Why then, I would resort to her by night.


Ay, but the doors be locked, and keys kept safe,

That no man hath recourse to her by night.
recourse (n.) 1 opportunity of going, means of access


What lets but one may enter at her window?
let (v.) 1 hinder, prevent, stand in the way


Her chamber is aloft, far from the ground,

And built so shelving that one cannot climb it
shelving (adv.) slopingly, projecting out, with an overhang

Without apparent hazard of his life.
apparent (adj.) 2 certain, inevitable, evident
hazard (n.) 1 risk, peril, danger


Why then, a ladder, quaintly made of cords,
quaintly (adv.) 1 subtly, skilfully, ingeniously

To cast up with a pair of anchoring hooks,

Would serve to scale another Hero's tower,

So bold Leander would adventure it.
adventure (v.) venture, dare, chance, risk


Now, as thou art a gentleman of blood,
blood (n.) 4 spirit, vigour, mettle

Advise me where I may have such a ladder.
advise, avise (v.) 3 inform, be aware, apprise


When would you use it? Pray, sir, tell me that.


This very night; for Love is like a child,

That longs for every thing that he can come by.


By seven o'clock I'll get you such a ladder.


But, hark thee; I will go to her alone;

How shall I best convey the ladder thither?


It will be light, my lord, that you may bear it

Under a cloak that is of any length.


A cloak as long as thine will serve the turn?


Ay, my good lord.


                         Then let me see thy cloak;

I'll get me one of such another length.


Why, any cloak will serve the turn, my lord.


How shall I fashion me to wear a cloak?
fashion (v.) 1 form, shape, make [into]

I pray thee, let me feel thy cloak upon me.

He lifts Valentine's cloak and finds a letter and a


What letter is this same? What's here? To Silvia!

And here an engine fit for my proceeding.
engine (n.) 1 plot, device, means, instrument
proceeding (n.) 1 course of action, measures

I'll be so bold to break the seal for once.

(He opens the letter and reads)
harbour (v.) lodge, stay, shelter

My thoughts do harbour with my Silvia nightly,

And slaves they are to me, that send them flying.

O, could their master come and go as lightly,
lightly (adv.) 1 readily, easily

Himself would lodge where, senseless, they are lying!
senseless (adj.) 2 unconscious, insensible, oblivious

My herald thoughts in thy pure bosom rest them,
herald (adj.) message-bearing, acting as a herald

While I, their king, that thither them importune,
importune (v.) 1 urge, press

Do curse the grace that with such grace hath blessed them,
grace (n.) 1 honour, favour, recognition, respect
grace (n.) 7 success, favourable outcome, fortune

Because myself do want my servants' fortune.
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

I curse myself, for they are sent by me,

That they should harbour where their lord should be.
harbour (v.) lodge, stay, shelter

What's here?

Silvia, this night I will enfranchise thee.
enfranchise (v.) set free, liberate

'Tis so; and here's the ladder for the purpose.

Why, Phaeton – for thou art Merops' son –

Wilt thou aspire to guide the heavenly car,
car (n.) carriage, cart, chariot [often of the sun god]

And with thy daring folly burn the world?

Wilt thou reach stars, because they shine on thee?

Go, base intruder, overweening slave,
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count
overweening (adj.) arrogant, overambitious, high and mighty

Bestow thy fawning smiles on equal mates;

And think my patience, more than thy desert,
desert, desart (n.) 1 deserving, due recompense, right

Is privilege for thy departure hence.

Thank me for this more than for all the favours

Which, all too much, I have bestowed on thee.

But if thou linger in my territories

Longer than swiftest expedition
expedition (n.) 1 haste, speedy action, prompt dispatch

Will give thee time to leave our royal court,

By heaven, my wrath shall far exceed the love

I ever bore my daughter or thyself.

Be gone; I will not hear thy vain excuse,

But, as thou lovest thy life, make speed from hence.



And why not death, rather than living torment?

To die is to be banished from myself,

And Silvia is myself; banished from her

Is self from self – a deadly banishment.

What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?

What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?

Unless it be to think that she is by,

And feed upon the shadow of perfection.
shadow (n.) 4 illusion, unreal image, delusion

Except I be by Silvia in the night,

There is no music in the nightingale;

Unless I look on Silvia in the day,

There is no day for me to look upon.

She is my essence, and I leave to be,
essence (n.) very life, foundation of being
leave (v.) 1 cease, stop, give up

If I be not by her fair influence

Fostered, illumined, cherished, kept alive.

I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom:

Tarry I here, I but attend on death;
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count
tarry (v.) 1 stay, remain, linger

But fly I hence, I fly away from life.

Enter Proteus and Launce


Run, boy, run, run, and seek him out.


So-ho, so-ho!


What seest thou?


Him we go to find: there's not a hair on's head

but 'tis a Valentine.






Who then? His spirit?




What then?




Can nothing speak? Master, shall I strike?


Who wouldst thou strike?




Villain, forbear.
forbear (v.) 1 stop, cease, desist See Topics: Frequency count


Why, sir, I'll strike nothing. I pray you –


Sirrah, I say forbear. Friend Valentine, a word.


My ears are stopped and cannot hear good news,

So much of bad already hath possessed them.


Then in dumb silence will I bury mine,

For they are harsh, untuneable, and bad.
untuneable (adj.) unsuitable, disagreeable; or: unmelodious


Is Silvia dead?


No, Valentine.


No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia.
sacred (adj.) 2 revered, respected [as if a holy thing]

Hath she forsworn me?
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 2 abandon, renounce, reject, give up See Topics: Frequency count


No, Valentine.


No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me.

What is your news?


Sir, there is a proclamation that you are vanished.


That thou art banished – O, that's the news! –

From hence, from Silvia, and from me thy friend.


O, I have fed upon this woe already,

And now excess of it will make me surfeit.
surfeit (v.) 2 become sick through having too much

Doth Silvia know that I am banished?


Ay, ay; and she hath offered to the doom –
doom (n.) 1 judgement, sentence, decision

Which, unreversed, stands in effectual force –
effectual (adj.) 3 effective, actual, with full effect

A sea of melting pearl, which some call tears;

Those at her father's churlish feet she tendered;

With them, upon her knees, her humble self,

Wringing her hands, whose whiteness so became them
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count

As if but now they waxed pale for woe.

But neither bended knees, pure hands held up,

Sad sighs, deep groans, nor silver-shedding tears,
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy

Could penetrate her uncompassionate sire –

But Valentine, if he be ta'en, must die.

Besides, her intercession chafed him so,
chafe (v.) 2 enrage, irritate, anger

When she for thy repeal was suppliant,
repeal (n.) recall, return from banishment

That to close prison he commanded her,
close (adj.) 2 private, secluded, sequestered

With many bitter threats of biding there.
bide (v.) 3 remain, persist, continue in being


No more; unless the next word that thou speakest

Have some malignant power upon my life;
power (n.) 7 control, influence, sway

If so, I pray thee breathe it in mine ear,

As ending anthem of my endless dolour.
anthem (n.) song of mourning, hymn of grief
dolour (n.) sorrow, grief, lamentation
ending (adj.) dying, near one's end


Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,

And study help for that which thou lamentest.
study (v.) 1 deliberate, meditate, reflect [on]

Time is the nurse and breeder of all good;

Here, if thou stay, thou canst not see thy love;

Besides, thy staying will abridge thy life.
abridge (v.) 1 shorten, cut short

Hope is a lover's staff; walk hence with that,

And manage it against despairing thoughts.
manage (v.) 1 wield, handle, use

Thy letters may be here, though thou art hence,

Which, being writ to me, shall be delivered

Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.

The time now serves not to expostulate.
expostulate (v.) 1 expound, debate, discourse

Come I'll convey thee through the city gate;

And, ere I part with thee, confer at large

Of all that may concern thy love affairs.

As thou lovest Silvia, though not for thyself,

Regard thy danger, and along with me.
regard (v.) 1 take note of, pay heed to, value


I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy,

Bid him make haste and meet me at the Northgate.


Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.


O my dear Silvia! Hapless Valentine!

Exeunt Valentine and Proteus


I am but a fool, look you, and yet I have the wit to
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

think my master is a kind of a knave; but that's all one
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

if he be but one knave. He lives not now that knows me

to be in love; yet I am in love; but a team of horse shall

not pluck that from me; nor who 'tis I love; and yet 'tis

a woman; but what woman I will not tell myself; and

yet 'tis a milkmaid; yet 'tis not a maid, for she hath had

gossips; yet 'tis a maid, for she is her master's maid and
gossip (n.) 1 godparent, baptismal sponsor

serves for wages. She hath more qualities than a
quality (n.) 2 accomplishment, capacity, ability

water-spaniel – which is much in a bare Christian.

He produces a paper
cate-log (n.) [idiosyncratic pronunciation of] catalogue, inventory, register
condition (n.) 2 quality, behaviour, attribute, habit
imprimis (adv.) in the first place

Here is the cate-log of her condition. Imprimis: She can

fetch and carry. Why, a horse can do no more; nay, a

horse cannot fetch, but only carry; therefore is she better

than a jade. Item: She can milk. Look you, a sweet
item (n.) 2 [legal] particular point
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag

virtue in a maid with clean hands.

Enter Speed


How now, Signior Launce? What news with your

mastership (n.) [ironic use] senior citizen, leading light


With my master's ship? Why, it is at sea.


Well, your old vice still: mistake the word. What
still (adv.) 2 ever, now [as before]

news, then, in your paper?


The blackest news that ever thou heardest.


Why, man? How black?


Why, as black as ink.


Let me read them.


Fie on thee, jolt-head; thou canst not read.
jolthead, jolt-head (n.) blockhead, dolt, numskull


Thou liest; I can.


I will try thee. Tell me this: who begot thee?
beget (v.), past form begot 1 give birth to, father, conceive


Marry, the son of my grandfather.


O illiterate loiterer! It was the son of thy grandmother.
loiterer (n.) idler, layabout, vagabond

This proves that thou canst not read.


Come, fool, come; try me in thy paper.


There; and Saint Nicholas be thy speed!
speed (n.) 2 assistance, aid, protector

He hands over the paper from which Speed reads


Imprimis: She can milk.


Ay, that she can.


Item: She brews good ale.


And thereof comes the proverb: ‘ Blessing of

your heart, you brew good ale.’


Item: She can sew.


That's as much as to say, ‘ Can she so?’


Item: She can knit.


What need a man care for a stock with a wench,
stock (n.) 5 dowry, wedding endowment
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count

when she can knit him a stock?
stock (n.) 3 stocking See Topics: Clothing


Item: She can wash and scour.


A special virtue; for then she need not be

washed and scoured.


Item: She can spin.


Then may I set the world on wheels, when she
wheels, on running smoothly, providing an easy life

can spin for her living.


Item: She hath many nameless virtues.
nameless (adj.) 1 inexpressible, beyond words; or: too small to be worth describing


That's as much as to say, bastard virtues; that
bastard (adj.) 2 inferior, low, of little value

indeed know not their fathers, and therefore have no



Here follow her vices.


Close at the heels of her virtues.


Item: She is not to be kissed fasting, in respect of her
respect of, in (prep.) 2 on account of



Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast.

Read on.


Item: She hath a sweet mouth.
sweet (adj.) 4 wanton, lecherous; or: with a sweet tooth


That makes amends for her sour breath.


Item: She doth talk in her sleep.


It's no matter for that; so she sleep not in her



Item: She is slow in words.


O villain, that set this down among her vices!

To be slow in words is a woman's only virtue. I pray

thee, out with't, and place it for her chief virtue.


Item: She is proud.


Out with that too; it was Eve's legacy, and cannot

be ta'en from her.


Item: She hath no teeth.


I care not for that neither, because I love crusts.


Item: She is curst.
curst (adj.) 1 bad-tempered, quarrelsome, shrewish, cross


Well, the best is, she hath no teeth to bite.


Item: She will often praise her liquor.
praise (v.) 1 appraise, test, try out


If her liquor be good, she shall; if she will not,

I will; for good things should be praised.


Item: She is too liberal.
liberal (adj.) 1 overgenerous, licentious


Of her tongue she cannot, for that's writ down

she is slow of; of her purse, she shall not, for that I'll

keep shut. Now, of another thing she may, and that

cannot I help. Well, proceed.


Item: She hath more hair than wit, and more faults
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

than hairs, and more wealth than faults.


Stop there; I'll have her; she was mine and not

mine twice or thrice in that last article. Rehearse that
rehearse (v.) 3 repeat, recite, say over again

once more.


Item: She hath more hair than wit


More hair than wit? It may be I'll prove it: the

cover of the salt hides the salt, and therefore it is more

than the salt; the hair that covers the wit is more than

the wit, for the greater hides the less. What's next?


And more faults than hairs –


That's monstrous. O, that that were out!


And more wealth than faults.


Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well,
gracious (adj.) 9 delightful, lovely, charming

I'll have her; an if it be a match, as nothing is

impossible –


What then?


Why, then will I tell thee – that thy master stays

for thee at the Northgate.


For me?


For thee! Ay, who art thou? He hath stayed for

a better man than thee.


And must I go to him?


Thou must run to him, for thou hast stayed so
stay (v.) 2 linger, tarry, delay

long that going will scarce serve the turn.
going (n.) walking, going at one's usual pace


Why didst not tell me sooner? Pox of your love


He returns the paper to Launce. Exit
swinge (v.) beat, thrash, flog


Now will he be swinged for reading my letter.

An unmannerly slave, that will thrust himself into

secrets! I'll after, to rejoice in the boy's correction.
correction (n.) punishment, retribution, rebuke


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