Milan. Outside the Duke’s palace.
(Launce; Crab; Proteus; Julia; Silvia)
Launce was ordered to bring his dog Crab as a present to Silvia, but the dog disgraced himself, stealing food and urinating against a lady’s dress among other things. Launce, out of sheer love for his dog, claimed he was responsible for all these things, and has been soundly whipped. He bemoans Crab’s ingratitude. Proteus enters with the disguised Julia and rails at Launce for messing up his mission. Proteus gives Julia a ring to deliver to Silvia — the same ring that Julia gave him when they parted. He is rather confused at why the pageboy pities his former love, who he admits is still alive. Despite all this, Julia still loves him. When Silvia comes in, Julia tries to give her the ring; knowing that it was a present from Julia to Proteus, Silvia refuses to accept it. Julia thanks her, and Silvia questions “him” about Proteus’s first love, whom she pities. She gives Julia the portrait of herself that she promised Proteus. Julia considers that she and Silvia are equal in every essential way, and is glad that if Proteus strayed, at least it was for a worthy woman. (164 lines)
Enter Launce with his dog.
When a man’s servant shall play the cur with him, look you, it goes hard: one that I brought up of a puppy; one that I sav’d from drowning, when three or four of his blind brothers and sisters went to it. I have taught him, even as one would say precisely, “Thus I would teach a dog.” I was sent to deliver him as a present to Mistress Silvia from my master; and I came no sooner into the dining-chamber but he steps me to her trencher and steals her capon’s leg. O, ’tis a foul thing when a cur cannot keep himself in all companies! I would have (as one should say) one that takes upon him to be a dog indeed, to be, as it were, a dog at all things. If I had not had more wit than he, to take a fault upon me that he did, I think verily he had been hang’d for’t; sure as I live he had suffer’d for’t. You shall judge: he thrusts me himself into the company of three or four gentleman-like dogs, under the Duke’s table. He had not been there (bless the mark!) a pissing-while, but all the chamber smelt him. “Out with the dog,” says one. “What cur is that?” says another. “Whip him out,” says the third. “Hang him up,” says the Duke. I, having been acquainted with the smell before, knew it was Crab, and goes me to the fellow that whips the dogs: “Friend,” quoth I, “you mean to whip the dog?” “Ay, marry, do I,” quoth he. “You do him the more wrong,” quoth I, “’twas I did the thing you wot of.” He makes me no more ado, but whips me out of the chamber. How many masters would do this for his servant? Nay, I’ll be sworn, I have sat in the stocks for puddings he hath stol’n, otherwise he had been executed; I have stood on the pillory for geese he hath kill’d, otherwise he had suffer’d for’t. Thou think’st not of this now. Nay, I remember the trick you serv’d me, when I took my leave of Madam Silvia. Did not I bid thee still mark me, and do as I do? When didst thou see me heave up my leg and make water against a gentlewoman’s farthingale? Didst thou ever see me do such a trick?
Enter Proteus, Julia disguised as Sebastian.
Sebastian is thy name? I like thee well,
And will employ thee in some service presently.
In what you please; I’ll do what I can.
I hope thou wilt.
How now, you whoreson peasant,
Where have you been these two days loitering?
Marry, sir, I carried Mistress Silvia the dog you bade me.
And what says she to my little jewel?
Marry, she says your dog was a cur, and tells you currish thanks is good enough for such a present.
But she receiv’d my dog?
No indeed did she not; here have I brought him back again.
What, didst thou offer her this from me?
Ay, sir, the other squirrel was stol’n from me by the hangman’s boys in the market-place; and then I offer’d her mine own, who is a dog as big as ten of yours, and therefore the gift the greater.
Go, get thee hence, and find my dog again,
Or ne’er return again into my sight.
Away, I say! Stayest thou to vex me here?
A slave, that still an end turns me to shame!
Sebastian, I have entertained thee,
Partly that I have need of such a youth
That can with some discretion do my business—
For ’tis no trusting to yond foolish lout—
But chiefly for thy face and thy behavior,
Which (if my augury deceive me not)
Witness good bringing up, fortune, and truth:
Therefore know thou, for this I entertain thee.
Go presently, and take this ring with thee,
Deliver it to Madam Silvia—
She lov’d me well deliver’d it to me.
It seems you lov’d not her, to leave her token:
She is dead, belike?
Not so; I think she lives.
Why dost thou cry “alas”?
I cannot choose
But pity her.
Wherefore shouldst thou pity her?
Because methinks that she lov’d you as well
As you do love your lady Silvia:
She dreams on him that has forgot her love;
You dote on her that cares not for your love.
’Tis pity love should be so contrary;
And thinking on it makes me cry “alas!”
Well, give her that ring and therewithal
This letter; that’s her chamber. Tell my lady
I claim the promise for her heavenly picture.
Your message done, hie home unto my chamber,
Where thou shalt find me sad and solitary.
How many women would do such a message?
Alas, poor Proteus, thou hast entertain’d
A fox to be the shepherd of thy lambs.
Alas, poor fool, why do I pity him
That with his very heart despiseth me?
Because he loves her, he despiseth me;
Because I love him, I must pity him.
This ring I gave him when he parted from me,
To bind him to remember my good will;
And now am I (unhappy messenger)
To plead for that which I would not obtain,
To carry that which I would have refus’d,
To praise his faith which I would have disprais’d.
I am my master’s true confirmed love;
But cannot be true servant to my master,
Unless I prove false traitor to myself.
Yet will I woo for him, but yet so coldly
As, heaven it knows, I would not have him speed.
Enter Silvia attended.
Gentlewoman, good day; I pray you be my mean
To bring me where to speak with Madam Silvia.
What would you with her, if that I be she?
If you be she, I do entreat your patience
To hear me speak the message I am sent on.
From my master, Sir Proteus, madam.
O, he sends you for a picture?
Ursula, bring my picture there.
Go give your master this. Tell him from me,
One Julia, that his changing thoughts forget,
Would better fit his chamber than this shadow.
Madam, please you peruse this letter—
Pardon me, madam, I have unadvis’d
Deliver’d you a paper that I should not:
This is the letter to your ladyship.
I pray thee let me look on that again.
It may not be; good madam, pardon me.
I will not look upon your master’s lines;
I know they are stuff’d with protestations,
And full of new-found oaths, which he will break
As easily as I do tear his paper.
Madam, he sends your ladyship this ring.
The more shame for him that he sends it me;
For I have heard him say a thousand times
His Julia gave it him at his departure:
Though his false finger have profan’d the ring,
Mine shall not do his Julia so much wrong.
She thanks you.
What say’st thou?
I thank you, madam, that you tender her.
Poor gentlewoman, my master wrongs her much.
Dost thou know her?
Almost as well as I do know myself.
To think upon her woes I do protest
That I have wept a hundred several times.
Belike she thinks that Proteus hath forsook her?
I think she doth; and that’s her cause of sorrow.
Is she not passing fair?
She hath been fairer, madam, than she is:
When she did think my master lov’d her well,
She, in my judgment, was as fair as you;
But since she did neglect her looking-glass,
And threw her sun-expelling mask away,
The air hath starv’d the roses in her cheeks,
And pinch’d the lily-tincture of her face,
That now she is become as black as I.
How tall was she?
About my stature; for at Pentecost,
When all our pageants of delight were play’d,
Our youth got me to play the woman’s part,
And I was trimm’d in Madam Julia’s gown,
Which served me as fit, by all men’s judgments,
As if the garment had been made for me;
Therefore I know she is about my height.
And at that time I made her weep agood,
For I did play a lamentable part.
Madam, ’twas Ariadne passioning
For Theseus’ perjury and unjust flight;
Which I so lively acted with my tears
That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,
Wept bitterly; and would I might be dead
If I in thought felt not her very sorrow.
She is beholding to thee, gentle youth.
Alas, poor lady, desolate and left!
I weep myself to think upon thy words.
Here, youth, there is my purse; I give thee this
For thy sweet mistress’ sake, because thou lov’st her.
And she shall thank you for’t, if e’er you know her.
Exit Silvia with Attendants.
A virtuous gentlewoman, mild and beautiful!
I hope my master’s suit will be but cold,
Since she respects my mistress’ love so much.
Alas, how love can trifle with itself!
Here is her picture: let me see; I think
If I had such a tire, this face of mine
Were full as lovely as is this of hers;
And yet the painter flatter’d her a little,
Unless I flatter with myself too much.
Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow:
If that be all the difference in his love,
I’ll get me such a color’d periwig.
Her eyes are grey as glass, and so are mine;
Ay, but her forehead’s low, and mine’s as high.
What should it be that he respects in her,
But I can make respective in myself,
If this fond Love were not a blinded god?
Come, shadow, come, and take this shadow up,
For ’tis thy rival. O thou senseless form,
Thou shalt be worshipp’d, kiss’d, lov’d, and ador’d;
And were there sense in his idolatry,
My substance should be statue in thy stead.
I’ll use thee kindly for thy mistress’ sake
That us’d me so; or else, by Jove I vow,
I should have scratch’d out your unseeing eyes,
To make my master out of love with thee.