Two Gentlemen of Verona

Author: William Shakespeare

Scene 1

Verona. An open place.


VALENTINECease 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 sluggardized at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
But since thou lovest, love still and thrive therein,
Even as I would when I to love begin.

PROTEUSWilt 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.

VALENTINEAnd on a love-book pray for my success?

PROTEUSUpon some book I love I’ll pray for thee.

VALENTINEThat’s on some shallow story of deep love:
How young Leander cross’d the Hellespont.

PROTEUSThat’s a deep story of a deeper love:
For he was more than over shoes in love.

VALENTINE’Tis true; for you are over boots in love,
And yet you never swum the Hellespont.

PROTEUSOver the boots? nay, give me not the boots.

VALENTINENo, I will not, for it boots thee not.


VALENTINETo 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.

PROTEUSSo, by your circumstance, you call me fool.

VALENTINESo, by your circumstance, I fear you’ll prove.

PROTEUS’Tis love you cavil at: I am not Love.

VALENTINELove is your master, for he masters you:
And he that is so yoked by a fool,
Methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.

PROTEUSYet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
The eating canker dwells, so eating love
Inhabits in the finest wits of all.

VALENTINEAnd 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.

PROTEUSAnd thither will I bring thee, Valentine.

VALENTINESweet 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 likewise will visit thee with mine.

PROTEUSAll happiness bechance to thee in Milan!

VALENTINEAs much to you at home! and so, farewell.


PROTEUSHe 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 metamorphosed 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.


SPEEDSir Proteus, save you! Saw you my master?

PROTEUSBut now he parted hence, to embark for Milan.

SPEEDTwenty to one then he is shipp’d already,
And I have play’d the sheep in losing him.

PROTEUSIndeed, a sheep doth very often stray,
An if the shepherd be a while away.

SPEEDYou conclude that my master is a shepherd, then,
and I a sheep?


SPEEDWhy then, my horns are his horns, whether I wake or sleep.

PROTEUSA silly answer and fitting well a sheep.

SPEEDThis proves me still a sheep.

PROTEUSTrue; and thy master a shepherd.

SPEEDNay, that I can deny by a circumstance.

PROTEUSIt shall go hard but I’ll prove it by another.

SPEEDThe 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.

PROTEUSThe 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 sheep.

SPEEDSuch another proof will make me cry ’baa.’

PROTEUSBut, dost thou hear? gavest thou my letter to Julia?

SPEEDAy 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.

PROTEUSHere’s too small a pasture for such store of muttons.

SPEEDIf the ground be overcharged, you were best stick her.

PROTEUSNay: in that you are astray, ’twere best pound you.

SPEEDNay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for
carrying your letter.

PROTEUSYou mistake; I mean the pound,—a pinfold.

SPEEDFrom a pound to a pin? fold it over and over,
’Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to
your lover.

PROTEUSBut what said she?



PROTEUSNod—Ay—why, that’s noddy.

SPEEDYou mistook, sir; I say, she did nod: and you ask
me if she did nod; and I say, ’Ay.’

PROTEUSAnd that set together is noddy.

SPEEDNow you have taken the pains to set it together,
take it for your pains.

PROTEUSNo, no; you shall have it for bearing the letter.

SPEEDWell, I perceive I must be fain to bear with you.

PROTEUSWhy sir, how do you bear with me?

SPEEDMarry, sir, the letter, very orderly; having nothing
but the word ’noddy’ for my pains.

PROTEUSBeshrew me, but you have a quick wit.

SPEEDAnd yet it cannot overtake your slow purse.

PROTEUSCome come, open the matter in brief: what said she?

SPEEDOpen your purse, that the money and the matter may
be both at once delivered.

PROTEUSWell, sir, here is for your pains. What said she?

SPEEDTruly, sir, I think you’ll hardly win her.

PROTEUSWhy, couldst thou perceive so much from her?

SPEEDSir, 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.

PROTEUSWhat said she? nothing?

SPEEDNo, 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.

PROTEUSGo, go, be gone, to save your ship from wreck,
Which cannot perish having thee aboard,
Being destined 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.


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Chicago: William Shakespeare, "Act 1, Scene 1," Two Gentlemen of Verona in Original Sources, accessed September 30, 2023,

MLA: Shakespeare, William. "Act 1, Scene 1." Two Gentlemen of Verona, in , Original Sources. 30 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: Shakespeare, W, 'Act 1, Scene 1' in Two Gentlemen of Verona. cited in , . Original Sources, retrieved 30 September 2023, from