Two Gentlemen of Verona By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 4

Ay, Proteus, but that life is alter'd now;
I have done penance for contemning Love;
Whose high imperious thoughts have punish'd me
With bitter fasts, with penitential groans,
With nightly tears, and daily heart-sore sighs;
For, in revenge of my contempt of love,
Love hath chas'd sleep from my enthralled eyes
And made them watchers of mine own heart's sorrow.
O, gentle Proteus! Love's a mighty lord,
And hath so humbled me as I confess,
There is no woe to his correction,
Nor to his service no such joy on earth.
Now no discourse, except it be of love;
Now can I break my fast, dine, sup, and sleep,
Upon the very naked name of love.

Enough; I read your fortune in your eye.
Was this the idol that you worship so?

Even she; and is she not a heavenly saint?

No; but she is an earthly paragon.

Call her divine.

I will not flatter her.

O! flatter me; for love delights in praises.

When I was sick you gave me bitter pills,
And I must minister the like to you.

Then speak the truth by her; if not divine,
Yet let her be a principality,
Sovereign to all the creatures on the earth.

Except my mistress.

Sweet, except not any,
Except thou wilt except against my love.

Have I not reason to prefer mine own?

And I will help thee to prefer her too:
She shall be dignified with this high honour, —
To bear my lady's train, lest the base earth
Should from her vesture chance to steal a kiss,
And, of so great a favour growing proud,
Disdain to root the summer-swelling flower
And make rough winter everlastingly.

Why, Valentine, what braggardism is this?

Pardon me, Proteus; all I can is nothing
To her, whose worth makes other worthies nothing;
She is alone.

Then, let her alone.

Not for the world: why, man, she is mine own;
And I as rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold.
Forgive me that I do not dream on thee,
Because thou see'st me dote upon my love.
My foolish rival, that her father likes
Only for his possessions are so huge,
Is gone with her along; and I must after,
For love, thou know'st, is full of jealousy.

But she loves you?

Ay, and we are betroth'd; nay more, our marriage-hour,
With all the cunning manner of our flight,
Determin'd of: how I must climb her window,
The ladder made of cords, and all the means
Plotted and 'greed on for my happiness.
Good Proteus, go with me to my chamber,
In these affairs to aid me with thy counsel.

Go on before; I shall enquire you forth:
I must unto the road to disembark
Some necessaries that I needs must use;
And then I'll presently attend you.

Will you make haste?

I will.


Even as one heat another heat expels
Or as one nail by strength drives out another,
So the remembrance of my former love
Is by a newer object quite forgotten.
Is it my mind, or Valentinus' praise,
Her true perfection, or my false transgression,
That makes me reasonless to reason thus?
She is fair; and so is Julia that I love, —
That I did love, for now my love is thaw'd;
Which like a waxen image 'gainst a fire
Bears no impression of the thing it was.
Methinks my zeal to Valentine is cold,
And that I love him not as I was wont.
O! but I love his lady too-too much,
And that's the reason I love him so little.
How shall I dote on her with more advice
That thus without advice begin to love her?
'Tis but her picture I have yet beheld,
And that hath dazzled my reason's light;
But when I look on her perfections,
There is no reason but I shall be blind.
If I can check my erring love, I will;
If not, to compass her I'll use my skill.


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