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Val. And why not death, rather than living torment? To die is to be banish'd from myself, And Silvia is myself: banish'd from her, Is self from self; a deadly banishment. What light is light, if Silvia be not seen? What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by? Unless it be, to think that she is by, And feed upon the shadow of perfection. Except I be by Silvia in the night, There is no music in the nightingale; Unless I look on Silvia in the day, There is no day for me to look upon. She is my essence; and I leave to be, If I be not by her fair influence Foster'd, illumin’d, cherish’d, kept alive. I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom : Tarry I here, I but attend on death; But, fly I hence, I fly away from life.
Enter PROTEUS and LAUNCE.
Launce. Him we go to find : there's not a hair on's head, but 'tis a Valentine.
Pro. Sirrah, I say, forbear.— Friend Valentine, a
word. Val. My ears are stopp'd, and cannot hear good news, So much of bad already hath possess'd them“.
Pro. Then in dumb silence will I bury mine,
Val. Is Silvia dead ?
Val. No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia !
Pro. No, Valentine.
Val. No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me! What is your news? Launce. Sir, there is a proclamation that you are
vanish’d. Pro. That thou art banish’d: 0! that is the news, From hence, from Silvia, and from me, thy friend.
Val. O! I have fed upon this woe already, And now excess of it will make me surfeit. Doth Silvia know that I am banished ?
Pro. Ay, ay; and she hath offer'd to the doom, (Which, unrevers’d, stands in effectual force) A sea of melting pearl, which some call tears : Those at her father's churlish feet she tender'd, With them, upon her knees, her humble self; Wringing her hands, whose whiteness so became them, As if but now they waxed pale for woe: But neither bended knees, pure hands held up, Sad sighs, deep groans, nor silver-shedding tears, Could penetrate her uncompassionate sire, But Valentine, if he be ta’en, must die. Besides, her intercession chaf'd him so,
So much of bad already hath possess'd them.] Malone would not correct ucho into whom, in the preceding page, “ Whom wouldst thou strike ?” because, he contended, this want of grammar was the “phraseology of the period ;" but he altered hath into have in the line before us, because “news” was plural, though, even in our own day, it is constantly used as a singular noun. The practice was nearly the same in the time of Shakespeare.
When she for thy repeal was suppliant,
Pro. Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,
Val. I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy, Bid him make haste, and meet me at the north-gate.
Pro. Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.
[Exeunt VALENTINE and PROTEUS. Launce. I am but a fool, look you, and yet I have the wit to think, my master is a kind of a knave; but that's all one, if he be but one knave. He lives not now, that knows me to be in love: yet I am in love; but a team of horse shall not pluck that from me, nor who 'tis I love; and yet ’tis a woman: but what woman,
5 — but one knave.] i. e. not a double knave, says Johnson : perhaps Launce is thinking of the four knaves of a pack of cards.
I will not tell myself; and yet ’tis a milk-maid; yet 'tis not a maid, for she hath had gossips: yet ’tis a maid, for she is her master's maid, and serves for wages. She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel, which is much in a bare Christian. Here is the cate-log [ pulling out a paper] of her conditions. Imprimis, “She can fetch and carry.” Why, a horse can do no more: nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only carry; therefore, is she better than a jade. Item, “She can milk,” look you; a sweet virtue in a maid with clean lands.
Enter SPEED. Speed. How now, signior Launce? what news with your mastership?
Launce. With my master's ship? why, it is at sea.
Speed. Well, your old vice still; mistake the word. What news, then, in your paper ?
Launce. The blackest news that ever thou heard'st.
Launce. O, illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother. This proves, that thou canst not read.
Speed. Come, fool, come: try me in thy paper.
o – she hath had gossips.] The meaning seems to be that she has had old women attending her at her lying in. Gossip generally means a sponsor at baptism, and Launce may intend to say, that the progeny of the girl had required gossips.
Launce. And thereof comes the proverb,— Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.
Speed. Item, “ She can sew.”
Launce. What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock??
Speed. Item, “ She can wash and scour.”
Launce. A special virtue; for then she need not be wash'd and scour’d.
Speed. Item, “She can spin.”
Launce. Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living.
Speed. Item, “She hath many nameless virtues.”
Launce. That's as much as to say, bastard virtues ; that, indeed, know not their fathers, and therefore have no names.
Speed. Here follow her vices.
Speed. Item, “She is not to be kissed fastings, in respect of her breath.”
Launce. Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast. Read on.
Speed. Item, “ She hath a sweet mouth'."
Launce. It's no matter for that, so she sleep not in her talk.
Speed. Item, “ She is slow in words."
Launce. O villain ! that set this down among her vices ? To be slow in words is a woman's only virtue:
7- knit him a stock !] i. e. a stocking.
9 - She is not to be kissed fasting,] The old copy reads,—“she is not to be fasting,” &c. The word, kissed, was added by Rowe, perhaps unnecessarily.
1- a sweet mouth.] A sweet mouth, formerly meant a sweet tooth, which is here reckoned among the lady's vices; but Launce turns it to account by understanding the words in their literal sense, and setting her“ sweet mouth" against her “sour breath.”