Verona. A room in Julia’s house.
Julia, pining for Proteus, decides to visit him and asks Lucetta for advice. The maid is appalled at the idea, as the trip to Milan is both long and dangerous, especially for a young woman, but Julia announces that she will dress herself as a pageboy. She is somewhat concerned for her reputation, but decides it is worth the risk. Lucetta warns her that Proteus might not be overly pleased, but Julia does not care, and dismisses Lucetta’s worries that he may not be faithful. (90 lines)
Enter Julia and Lucetta.
Counsel, Lucetta; gentle girl, assist me;
And ev’n in kind love I do conjure thee,
Who art the table wherein all my thoughts
Are visibly character’d and engrav’d,
To lesson me and tell me some good mean
How with my honor I may undertake
A journey to my loving Proteus.
Alas, the way is wearisome and long.
A true-devoted pilgrim is not weary
To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps;
Much less shall she that hath Love’s wings to fly,
And when the flight is made to one so dear,
Of such divine perfection, as Sir Proteus.
Better forbear till Proteus make return.
O, know’st thou not his looks are my soul’s food?
Pity the dearth that I have pined in,
By longing for that food so long a time.
Didst thou but know the inly touch of love,
Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow
As seek to quench the fire of love with words.
I do not seek to quench your love’s hot fire,
But qualify the fire’s extreme rage,
Lest it should burn above the bounds of reason.
The more thou dam’st it up, the more it burns:
The current that with gentle murmur glides,
Thou know’st, being stopp’d, impatiently doth rage;
But when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes sweet music with th’ enamell’d stones,
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;
And so by many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport to the wild ocean.
Then let me go, and hinder not my course:
I’ll be as patient as a gentle stream,
And make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last step have brought me to my love,
And there I’ll rest, as after much turmoil
A blessed soul doth in Elysium.
But in what habit will you go along?
Not like a woman, for I would prevent
The loose encounters of lascivious men:
Gentle Lucetta, fit me with such weeds
As may beseem some well-reputed page.
Why then your ladyship must cut your hair.
No, girl, I’ll knit it up in silken strings,
With twenty odd-conceited true-love knots:
To be fantastic may become a youth
Of greater time than I shall show to be.
What fashion, madam, shall I make your breeches?
That fits as well as “Tell me, good my lord,
What compass will you wear your farthingale?”
Why, ev’n what fashion thou best likes, Lucetta.
You must needs have them with a codpiece, madam.
Out, out, Lucetta, that will be ill-favor’d.
A round hose, madam, now’s not worth a pin,
Unless you have a codpiece to stick pins on.
Lucetta, as thou lov’st me, let me have
What thou think’st meet, and is most mannerly.
But tell me, wench, how will the world repute me
For undertaking so unstaid a journey?
I fear me it will make me scandaliz’d.
If you think so, then stay at home and go not.
Nay, that I will not.
Then never dream on infamy, but go.
If Proteus like your journey when you come,
No matter who’s displeas’d when you are gone:
I fear me he will scarce be pleas’d withal.
That is the least, Lucetta, of my fear:
A thousand oaths, an ocean of his tears,
And instances of infinite of love,
Warrant me welcome to my Proteus.
All these are servants to deceitful men.
Base men, that use them to so base effect!
But truer stars did govern Proteus’ birth:
His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles,
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate,
His tears pure messengers sent from his heart,
His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth.
Pray heav’n he prove so when you come to him!
Now, as thou lov’st me, do him not that wrong,
To bear a hard opinion of his truth:
Only deserve my love by loving him,
And presently go with me to my chamber,
To take a note of what I stand in need of,
To furnish me upon my longing journey.
All that is mine I leave at thy dispose,
My goods, my lands, my reputation;
Only, in lieu thereof, dispatch me hence.
Come; answer not; but to it presently,
I am impatient of my tarriance.