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TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
THERE lived in the city of Verona two young gentlemen, whose names were Valentine and Proteus, between whom a firm and uninterrupted friendship had long subsisted. They pursued their studies together, and their hours of leisure were always passed in each other's company, except when Proteus visited a lady he was in love with ; and these visits to his mistress, and this passion of Proteus for the fair Julia, were the only topics on which these two friends disagreed; for Valentine, not being himself a lover, was sometimes a little weary of hearing his friend for ever talking of his Julia, and then he would laugh at Proteus, and in pleasant terms ridicule the passion of love, and declare that no such idle fancies should ever enter his head, greatly preferring (as he said) the free and happy life he led, to the anxious hopes and fears of the lover Proteus.
One morning Valentine came to Proteus to tell him that they must for a time be separated, for that he was going to Milan. Proteus, unwilling to part with his friend, used many arguments to prevail upon Valentine not to leave him ; but Valentine said, “ Cease to persuade me, my loving Proteus. I will not, like a sluggard, wear out my youth in idleness at home. Home-keeping youths have ever homely wits. If your affection were not chained to the sweet glances of your honoured Julia,
I would entreat you to accompany me, to see the wonders of the world abroad ; but since you are a lover, love on still, and may your love be prosperous !”
They parted with mutual expressions of unalterable friendship. “Sweet Valentine, adieu !” said Proteus ; o think on me, when you see some rare object worthy of notice in your travels, and wish me partaker of your happiness.”
Valentine began his journey that same day towards Milan; and when his friend had left him, Proteus sat down to write a letter to Julia, which he gave to her maid Lucetta to deliver to her mistress.
Julia loved Proteus as well as he did her, but she was a lady of a noble spirit, and she thought it did not become her maiden dignity too easily to be won ; therefore she affected to be insensible of his passion, and gave him much uneasiness in the prosecution of his suit.
And when Lucetta offered the letter to Julia, she would not receive it, and chid her maid for taking letters from Proteus, and ordered her to leave the room. But she so much wished to see what was written in the letter, that she soon called in her maid again ; and when Lucetta returned, she said, “ What o'clock is it?" Lucetta, who knew her mistress more desired to see the letter than to know the time of day, without answering her question, again offered the rejected letter. Julia, angry that her maid should thus take the liberty of seeming to know what she really wanted, tore the letter in pieces, and threw it on the floor, ordering her maid once more out of the room. As Lucetta was retiring, she stopped to pick up the fragments of the torn letter ; but Julia, who meant not so to part with them, said, in pretended anger, “ Go, get you gone, and let the papers lie; you would be fingering them to anger me."
Julia then began to piece together as well as she could the torn fragments. She first made out these words, “ Love-wounded Proteus ;” and lamenting over these and such like loving words, which she made out though they were all torn asunder, or, she said, wounded (the expression “ Love-wounded Proteus.” giving her that idea), she talked to these kind words, telling them she would lodge them in her bosom as in a bed, till their wounds were healed, and that she would kiss each several piece, to make amends.
In this manner she went on talking with a pretty ladylike childishness, till finding herself unable to make out the whole, and vexed at her own ingratitude in destroying such sweet and loving words, as she called them, she wrote a much kinder letter to Proteus than she had ever done before.
Proteus was greatly delighted at receiving this favourable answer to his letter; and while he was reading it, he exclaimed, “Sweet love, sweet lines, sweet life !" In the midst of his raptures he was interrupted by his father. “How now !" said the old gentleman ; " what letter are you reading there ?”
“My lord,” replied Proteus, " it is a letter from my friend Valentine, at Milan.”
“ Lend me the letter," said his father : “ let me see what news.”
" There are no news, my lord,” said Proteus, greatly alarmed, " but that he writes how well beloved he is of the duke of Milan, who daily graces him with favours; and how he wishes me with him, the partner of his fortune.”
" And how stand you affected to his wish ?” asked the father.
"As one relying on your lordship’s will, and not depending on his friendly wish,” said Proteus.
Now it had happened that Proteus's father had just been talking with a friend on this very subject; his friend had said, he wondered his lordship suffered his son to spend his youth at home, while most men were sending their sons to seek preferment abroad; "some," said he, “ to the wars, to try their fortunes there, and some to discover islands far away, and some to study in foreign universities ; and there is his companion Valentine, he is gone to the duke of Milan's court. Your son is fit for any of these things, and it will be a great disadvantage to him in his riper age not to have travelled in his youth."
Proteus's father thought the advice of his friend was very good, and upon Proteus telling him that Valentine " wished him with him, the partner of his fortune," he at once determined to send his son to Milan; and without giving Proteus any reason for this sudden resolution, it being the usual habit of this positive old gentleman tó command his son, not reason with him, he said, “ My will is the same as Valentine's wish ;" and seeing his son look astonished, he added, “ Look not amazed, that I so suddenly resolve you shall spend some time in the duke of Milan's court; for what I will I will, and there is an end. To-morrow be in readiness to go. Make no excuses ; for I am peremptory.”
Proteus knew it was of no use to make objections to his father, who never suffered him to dispute his will ; and he blamed himself for telling his father an untruth about Julia's letter, which had brought upon him the sad necessity of leaving her.
Now that Julia found she was going to lose Proteus for so long a time, she no longer pretended indifference ; and they bade each other a mournful farewell, with many vows of love and constancy. Proteus and Julia ex. changed rings, which they both promised to keep for ever in remembrance of each other; and thus, taking a sorrowful leave, Proteus set out on his journey to Milan, the abode of his friend Valentine.*
Valentine was in reality what Proteus had feigned to his father, in high favour with the duke of Milan; and another event had happened to him, of which Proteus did not even dream, for Valentine had given up the freedom of which he used so much to boast, and was become as passionate a lover as Proteus.
She who had wrought this wondrous change in Valentine, was the lady Silvia, daughter of the duke of Milan, and she also loved him; but they concealed their love from the duke, because although he showed much kindness for Valentine, and invited him every day to his palace, yet he designed to marry his daughter to a young courtier whose name was Thurio. Silvia despised this Thurio, for he had none of the fine sense and excellent qualities of Valentine.
a Proteus had a servant Launce, a comical fellow, who accompanied him on his journey. Extract II. shows the feelings of Launce when he is leaving home.-ED.
These two rivals, Thurio and Valentine, were one day on a visit to Silvia, and Valentine was entertaining Silvia with turning everything Thurio said into ridicule, when the duke himself entered the room, and told Vac !entine the welcome news of his friend Proteus's arrival. Valentine said, “ If I had wished a thing, it would have been to have seen hiin here !" and then he highly praised Proteus to the duke, saying, “ My lord, though I have been a truant of my time, yet hath my friend made use and fair advantage of his days, and is complete in person and in mind, in all good grace to grace a gentleman.”
“Welcome him then according to his worth,” said the duke. “Silvia, I speak to you, and you, Sir Thurio; for Valentine, I need not bid him do so." They were here interrupted by the entrance of Proteus, and Valentine introduced him to Silvia, saying, “Sweet lady, entertain him to be my fellow-servant to your ladyshin."
When Valentine and Proteus had ended their visit, and were alone together, Valentine said, “ Now tell me how all does from whence you came? How does your lady, and how thrives your love ?” Proteus replied, “My tales of love used to weary you. I know you joy not in a love discourse.”
“Ay, Proteus,” returned Valentine, “but that life is altered now. I have done penance for condemning love. For in revenge of my contempt of Love, Love has chased sleep from my enthralled eyes. O gentle Proteus, Love is a mighty lord, and hath so humbled me, that I confess there is no woe like his correction, nor no such joy on earth as in his service. I now like no discourse except it be of love. Now I can break my fast, dine, sup, and sleep, upon the very name of love.”
This acknowledgment of the change which love had made in the disposition of Valentine was a great triumpb to his friend Proteus. But " friend ” Proteus must be