Act I - Act I, Scene 1
SCENE I. Verona. An open place
[Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS.]
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.
Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, adieu!
Think on thy Proteus, when thou haply seest
Some rare noteworthy 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 headsman, Valentine.
And on a love-book pray for my success?
Upon some book I love I'll pray for thee.
That's on some shallow story of deep love,
How young Leander cross'd the Hellespont.
That's a deep story of a deeper love;
For he was more than over shoes in love.
'Tis true; for you are over boots in love,
And yet you never swum the Hellespont.
Over the boots? Nay, give me not the boots.
No, I will not, for it boots thee not.
To be in love, where scorn is bought with groans;
Coy looks with heart-sore sighs; one fading moment's mirth
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights:
If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain;
If lost, why then a grievous labour won:
However, but a folly bought with wit,
Or else a wit by folly vanquished.
So, by your circumstance, you call me fool.
So, by your circumstance, I fear you'll prove.
'Tis love you cavil at: I am not Love.
Love is your master, for he masters you;
And he that is so yoked by a fool,
Methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.
Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
The eating canker dwells, so eating love
Inhabits in the finest wits of all.
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 turned 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.
And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.
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.
All happiness bechance to thee in Milan!
As much to you at home! and so farewell!
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 with good counsel, set the world at nought;
Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with thought.
Sir Proteus, save you! Saw you my master?
But now he parted hence to embark for Milan.
Twenty to one then he is shipp'd already,
And I have play'd the sheep in losing him.
Indeed a sheep doth very often stray,
An if the shepherd be a while away.
You conclude that my master is a shepherd then, and
I a sheep?
Why then, my horns are his horns, whether I wake or sleep.
A silly answer, and fitting well a sheep.
This proves me still a sheep.
True; and thy master a shepherd.
Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance.
It shall go hard but I'll prove it by another.
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.
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
Such another proof will make me cry 'baa.'
But, dost thou hear? gavest thou my letter to Julia?
Ay, sir; I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her, a laced
mutton; and she, a laced mutton, gave me, a lost mutton, nothing
for my labour.
Here's too small a pasture for such store of muttons.
If the ground be overcharged, you were best stick her.
Nay, in that you are astray: 'twere best pound you.
Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for carrying your
You mistake; I mean the pound,--a pinfold.
From a pound to a pin? fold it over and over,
'Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to your lover.
But what said she? [SPEED nods.] Did she nod?
PROTEUS. 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, Ay.
And that set together is--noddy.
Now you have taken the pains to set it together, take it for
No, no; you shall have it for bearing the letter.
Well, I perceive I must be fain to bear with you.
Why, sir, how do you bear with me?
Marry, sir, the letter, very orderly; having nothing but the
word 'noddy' for my pains.
Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit.
And yet it cannot overtake your slow purse.
Come, come; open the matter; in brief: what said she?
Open your purse, that the money and the matter may be both
at once delivered.
Well, sir, here is for your pains [giving him money]. What said
Truly, sir, I think you'll hardly win her.
Why, couldst thou perceive so much from her?
Sir, I could perceive nothing at all from her; no, not so
much as a ducat for 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.
What! said she nothing?
No, not so much as 'Take this for thy pains.' To testify
your bounty, I thank you, you have testerned me; in requital
whereof, henceforth carry your letters yourself; and so, sir,
I'll commend you to my master.
Go, go, be gone, to save your ship from wrack;
Which cannot perish, having thee aboard,
Being destin'd to a drier death on shore.--
I must go send some better messenger.
I fear my Julia would not deign my lines,
Receiving them from such a worthless post.
— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Valentine and Proteus, the titular gentlemen of Verona, are having a conversation before Valentine leaves for Milan. Proteus has decided to stay because he is madly in love with Julia. In this passage, Valentine makes fun of Proteus, teasing him that his love has made him weak and lightheaded—with "votary" referring to Proteus as a devoted worshipper and "fond" meaning foolish. Ironically, Valentine himself shortly falls prey to a similar kind of passion in Milan.