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All's Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 3 (Countess & Helena)

Even so it was with me when I was young.
If ever we are nature’s, these are ours. This thorn
Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;
Our blood to us, this to our blood is born.
It is the show and seal of nature’s truth,
Where love’s strong passion is impress’d in youth.
By our remembrances of days foregone,
Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
Her eye is sick on’t; I observe her now.

What is your pleasure, madam?
You know, Helen,
I am a mother to you.

Mine honorable mistress.

Nay, a mother,
Why not a mother? When I said “a mother,”
Methought you saw a serpent. What’s in “mother,”
That you start at it? I say I am your mother,
And put you in the catalogue of those
That were enwombed mine. ’Tis often seen
Adoption strives with nature, and choice breeds
A native slip to us from foreign seeds.
You ne’er oppress’d me with a mother’s groan,
Yet I express to you a mother’s care.
God’s mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood
To say I am thy mother? What’s the matter,
That this distempered messenger of wet,
The many-color’d Iris, rounds thine eye?
—Why, that you are my daughter?

That I am not.

I say I am your mother.

Pardon, madam;
The Count Rossillion cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honored name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble.
My master, my dear lord he is, and I
His servant live, and will his vassal die.
He must not be my brother.

Nor I your mother?

You are my mother, madam; would you were—
So that my lord your son were not my brother—
Indeed my mother! Or were you both our mothers,
I care no more for than I do for heaven,
So I were not his sister. Can’t no other,
But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?

Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law.
God shield you mean it not! “daughter” and “mother”
So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?
My fear hath catch’d your fondness! Now I see
The myst’ry of your loneliness, and find
Your salt tears’ head, now to all sense ’tis gross:
You love my son. Invention is asham’d,
Against the proclamation of thy passion,
To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true,
But tell me then ’tis so; for look, thy cheeks
Confess it, t’ one to th’ other, and thine eyes
See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors
That in their kind they speak it. Only sin
And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
That truth should be suspected. Speak, is’t so?
If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;
If it be not, forswear’t; howe’er, I charge thee,
As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
To tell me truly.

Good madam, pardon me!

Do you love my son?

Your pardon, noble mistress!

Love you my son?

Do not you love him, madam?

Go not about; my love hath in’t a bond
Whereof the world takes note. Come, come, disclose
The state of your affection, for your passions
Have to the full appeach’d.

Then I confess
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is lov’d of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still. Thus Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honor cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely, and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Had you not lately an intent—speak truly—
To go to Paris?

Madam, I had.

Wherefore? tell true.

I will tell truth, by grace itself I swear.
You know my father left me some prescriptions
Of rare and prov’d effects, such as his reading
And manifest experience had collected
For general sovereignty; and that he will’d me
In heedfull’st reservation to bestow them,
As notes whose faculties inclusive were
More than they were in note. Amongst the rest,
There is a remedy, approv’d, set down,
To cure the desperate languishings whereof
The King is render’d lost.

This was your motive
For Paris, was it? speak.

My lord your son made me to think of this;
Else Paris, and the medicine, and the King,
Had from the conversation of my thoughts
Happily been absent then.

But think you, Helen,
If you should tender your supposed aid,
He would receive it? He and his physicians
Are of a mind; he, that they cannot help him,
They, that they cannot help. How shall they credit
A poor unlearned virgin, when the schools,
Embowell’d of their doctrine, have left off
The danger to itself?

There’s something in’t
More than my father’s skill, which was the great’st
Of his profession, that his good receipt
Shall for my legacy be sanctified
By th’ luckiest stars in heaven, and would your honor
But give me leave to try success, I’d venture
The well-lost life of mine on his Grace’s cure
By such a day, an hour.
Dost thou believe’t?

Ay, madam, knowingly.

Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love,
Means and attendants, and my loving greetings
To those of mine in court. I’ll stay at home
And pray God’s blessing into thy attempt.
Be gone tomorrow, and be sure of this,
What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.


As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2 (Celia & Rosalind)

Didst thou hear these verses?

O yes, I heard them all, and more too, for some of them had in them more feet than the verses would bear.

That’s no matter; the feet might bear the verses.

Ay, but the feet were lame, and could not bear themselves without the verse, and therefore stood lamely in the verse.

But didst thou hear without wondering how thy name should be hang’d and carv’d upon these trees?

I was seven of the nine days out of the wonder before you came; for look here what I found on a palm tree. I was never so berhym’d since Pythagoras’ time, that I was an Irish rat, which I can hardly remember.

Trow you who hath done this?

Is it a man?

And a chain, that you once wore, about his neck. Change you color?

I prithee who?

O Lord, Lord, it is a hard matter for friends to meet; but mountains may be remov’d with earthquakes, and so encounter.

Nay, but who is it?

Is it possible?

Nay, I prithee now, with most petitionary vehemence, tell me who it is.

O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping!

Good my complexion, dost thou think, though I am caparison’d like a man, I have a doublet and hose in my disposition? One inch of delay more is a South-sea of discovery. I prithee tell me who is it quickly, and speak apace. I would thou couldst stammer, that thou mightst pour this conceal’d man out of thy mouth, as wine comes out of a narrow-mouth’d bottle, either too much at once, or none at all. I prithee take the cork out of thy mouth that I may drink thy tidings.

So you may put a man in your belly.

Is he of God’s making? What manner of man? Is his head worth a hat? or his chin worth a beard?

Nay, he hath but a little beard.

Why, God will send more, if the man will be thankful. Let me stay the growth of his beard, if thou delay me not the knowledge of his chin.

It is young Orlando, that tripp’d up the wrastler’s heels, and your heart, both in an instant.

Nay, but the devil take mocking. Speak sad brow and true maid.

I’ faith, coz, ’tis he.



Alas the day, what shall I do with my doublet and hose? What did he when thou saw’st him? What said he? How look’d he? Wherein went he? What makes he here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he? How parted he with thee? And when shalt thou see him again? Answer me in one word.

You must borrow me Gargantua’s mouth first; ’tis a word too great for any mouth of this age’s size. To say ay and no to these particulars is more than to answer in a catechism.

But doth he know that I am in this forest and in man’s apparel? Looks he as freshly as he did the day he wrastled?

It is as easy to count atomies as to resolve the propositions of a lover. But take a taste of my finding him, and relish it with good observance. I found him under a tree, like a dropp’d acorn.

It may well be call’d Jove’s tree, when it drops such fruit.

Give me audience, good madam.


There lay he, stretch’d along, like a wounded knight.

Though it be pity to see such a sight, it well becomes the ground.

Cry “holla” to thy tongue, I prithee; it curvets unseasonably. He was furnish’d like a hunter.

O ominous! he comes to kill my heart.

I would sing my song without a burden; thou bring’st me out of tune.

Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must speak. Sweet, say on.

You bring me out. Soft, comes he not here?

’Tis he. Slink by, and note him.

Comedy of Errors, Act 2, Scene 1 (Adriana & Luciana)

Neither my husband nor the slave return’d,
That in such haste I sent to seek his master?
Sure, Luciana, it is two a’ clock.

Perhaps some merchant hath invited him,
And from the mart he’s somewhere gone to dinner.
Good sister, let us dine, and never fret;
A man is master of his liberty:
Time is their master, and when they see time,
they’ll go or come; if so, be patient, sister.

Why should their liberty than ours be more?

Because their business still lies out a’ door.

Look when I serve him so, he takes it ill.

O, know he is the bridle of your will.

There’s none but asses will be bridled so.

Why, headstrong liberty is lash’d with woe:
There’s nothing situate under heaven’s eye
But hath his bound in earth, in sea, in sky.
The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls
Are their males’ subjects and at their controls:
Man, more divine, the master of all these,
Lord of the wide world and wild wat’ry seas,
Indu’d with intellectual sense and souls,
Of more pre-eminence than fish and fowls,
Are masters to their females, and their lords:
Then let your will attend on their accords.

This servitude makes you to keep unwed.

Not this, but troubles of the marriage-bed.

But, were you wedded, you would bear some sway.

Ere I learn love, I’ll practice to obey.

How if your husband start some other where?

Till he come home again, I would forbear.

Patience unmov’d! no marvel though she pause—
They can be meek that have no other cause:
A wretched soul, bruis’d with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burd’ned with like weight of pain,
As much, or more, we should ourselves complain:
So thou, that hast no unkind mate to grieve thee,
With urging helpless patience would relieve me;
But if thou live to see like right bereft,
This fool-begg’d patience in thee will be left.

Well, I will marry one day, but to try.
Here comes your man, now is your husband nigh.


Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 2 (Portia & Nerissa)

By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a-weary of this great world.

You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are; and yet for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness therefore to be seated in the mean: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.

Good sentences, and well pronounc’d.

They would be better if well follow’d.

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree—such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word choose! I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curb’d by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?

Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations; therefore the lott’ry that he hath devis’d in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly but one who you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?

I pray thee over-name them, and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and according to my description level at my affection.

First, there is the Neapolitan prince.

Ay, that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse, and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my lady his mother play’d false with a smith.

Then is there the County Palentine.

He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, “And you will not have me, choose.” He hears merry tales and smiles not. I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a death’s-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God defend me from these two!

How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?

God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker, but he! why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than the Count Palentine; he is every man in no man. If a throstle sing, he falls straight a-cap’ring. He will fence with his own shadow. If I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. If he would despise me, I would forgive him, for if he love me to madness, I shall never requite him.

What say you then to Falconbridge, the young baron of England?

You know I say nothing to him, for he understands not me, nor I him. He hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and you will come into the court and swear that I have a poor pennyworth in the English. He is a proper man’s picture, but alas, who can converse with a dumb show? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior every where.

What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbor?

That he hath a neighborly charity in him, for he borrow’d a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again when he was able. I think the Frenchman became his surety and seal’d under for another.

How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony’s nephew?

Very vildly in the morning, when he is sober, and most vildly in the afternoon, when he is drunk. When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast. And the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without him.

If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket, you should refuse to perform your father’s will, if you should refuse to accept him.

Therefore for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket, for if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a spunge.

You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations, which is indeed to return to their home, and to trouble you with no more suit, unless you may be won by some other sort than your father’s imposition depending
on the caskets.

If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtain’d by the manner of my father’s will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair departure.

Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquis of Montferrat?

Yes, yes, it was Bassanio—as I think, so was he call’d.

True, madam; he, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes look’d upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.

I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise.


Othello, Act 4, Scene 3 (Emilia & Desdemona)

How goes it now? He looks gentler than he did.

He says he will return incontinent,
And hath commanded me to go to bed,
And bid me to dismiss you.

Dismiss me?

It was his bidding; therefore, good Emilia,
Give me my nightly wearing, and adieu.
We must not now displease him.

I would you had never seen him!

So would not I. My love doth so approve him,
That even his stubbornness, his checks, his frowns—
Prithee unpin me—have grace and favor in them.

I have laid those sheets you bade me on the bed.

All’s one. Good faith, how foolish are our minds!
If I do die before thee, prithee shroud me
In one of these same sheets.

Come, come; you talk.

My mother had a maid call’d Barbary;
She was in love, and he she lov’d prov’d mad,
And did forsake her. She had a song of “Willow,”
An old thing ’twas, but it express’d her fortune,
And she died singing it. That song tonight
Will not go from my mind; I have much to do
But to go hang my head all at one side
And sing it like poor Barbary. Prithee dispatch.

Shall I go fetch your night-gown?

No, unpin me here.
This Lodovico is a proper man.

A very handsome man.

He speaks well.

I know a lady in Venice would have walk’d barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip.

“The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all a green willow;
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing willow, willow, willow.
The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur’d her moans,
Sing willow, willow, willow;
Her salt tears fell from her, and soft’ned the stones,
Sing willow”—
Lay by these—
“— willow, willow”—
Prithee hie thee; he’ll come anon—
“Sing all a green willow must be my garland.
Let nobody blame him, his scorn I approve”—
Nay, that’s not next. Hark, who is’t that knocks?

It’s the wind.

“I call’d my love false love; but what said he then?
Sing willow, willow, willow;
If I court moe women, You’ll couch with moe men.”—
So get thee gone, good night. Mine eyes do itch;
Doth that bode weeping?

’Tis neither here nor there.

I have heard it said so. O, these men, these men!
Dost thou in conscience think—tell me, Emilia—
That there be women do abuse their husbands
In such gross kind?

There be some such, no question.

Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?

Why, would not you?

No, by this heavenly light!

Nor I neither by this heavenly light;
I might do’t as well i’ th’ dark.

Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?

The world’s a huge thing; it is a great price
For a small vice.

Good troth, I think thou wouldst not.

By my troth, I think I should, and undo’t when I had done’t. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty exhibition; but, for all the whole world—’ud’s pity, who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for’t.

Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong
For the whole world.

Why, the wrong is but a wrong i’ th’ world; and having the world for your labor, ’tis a wrong in your own world, and you might quickly make it right.

I do not think there is any such woman.

Yes, a dozen; and as many to th’ vantage as would store the world they play’d for.
But I do think it is their husbands’ faults
If wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties,
And pour our treasures into foreign laps;
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite:
Why, we have galls; and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them; they see, and smell,
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is. And doth affection breed it?
I think it doth. Is’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too. And have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well; else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.

Good night, good night. God me such uses send,
Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend.

Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5 (Juliet & Nurse)

The clock strook nine when I did send the nurse;
In half an hour she promised to return.
Perchance she cannot meet him—that’s not so.
O, she is lame! Love’s heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glides than the sun’s beams,
Driving back shadows over low’ring hills;
Therefore do nimble-pinion’d doves draw Love,
And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings.
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks—many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
Enter Nurse.
O God, she comes! O honey nurse, what news?
Hast thou met with him? Send thy man away.

Peter, stay at the gate.

Now, good sweet nurse—O Lord, why lookest thou sad?
Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily;
If good, thou shamest the music of sweet news
By playing it to me with so sour a face.

I am a-weary, give me leave a while.
Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunce have I!

I would thou hadst my bones, and I thy news.
Nay, come, I pray thee speak, good, good nurse, speak.

Jesu, what haste! Can you not stay a while?
Do you not see that I am out of breath?

How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath
To say to me that thou art out of breath?
The excuse that thou dost make in this delay
Is longer than the tale thou dost excuse.
Is thy news good or bad? Answer to that.
Say either, and I’ll stay the circumstance.
Let me be satisfied, is’t good or bad?

Well, you have made a simple choice, you know not how to choose a man. Romeo! no, not he. Though his face be better than any man’s, yet his leg excels all men’s, and for a hand and a foot and a body, though they be not to be talk’d on, yet they are past compare. He is not the flower of courtesy, but I’ll warrant him, as gentle as a lamb. Go thy ways, wench, serve God. What, have you din’d at home?

No, no! But all this did I know before.
What says he of our marriage? what of that?

Lord, how my head aches! What a head have I!
It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces.
My back a’ t’ other side—ah, my back, my back!
Beshrew your heart for sending me about
To catch my death with jauncing up and down!

I’ faith, I am sorry that thou art not well.
Sweet, sweet, sweet nurse, tell me, what says my love?

Your love says, like an honest gentleman,
An’ a courteous, and a kind, and a handsome,
And, I warrant, a virtuous—Where is your mother?

Where is my mother! why, she is within,
Where should she be? How oddly thou repliest!
“Your love says, like an honest gentleman,
‘Where is your mother?’”

O God’s lady dear!
Are you so hot? Marry, come up, I trow;
Is this the poultice for my aching bones?
Henceforward do your messages yourself.

Here’s such a coil! Come, what says Romeo?

Have you got leave to go to shrift today?

I have.

Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence’ cell,
There stays a husband to make you a wife.
Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks,
They’ll be in scarlet straight at any news.
Hie you to church, I must another way,
To fetch a ladder, by the which your love
Must climb a bird’s nest soon when it is dark.
I am the drudge, and toil in your delight;
But you shall bear the burden soon at night.
Go, I’ll to dinner, hie you to the cell.

Hie to high fortune! Honest nurse, farewell.


Romeo & Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5 (Juliet & Lady Capulet)

Ho, daughter, are you up?

Who is’t that calls? It is my lady mother.
Is she not down so late, or up so early?
What unaccustom’d cause procures her hither?
She goeth down from the window. Enter Mother, Lady Capulet.

Why, how now, Juliet?

Madam, I am not well.

Evermore weeping for your cousin’s death?
What, wilt thou wash him from his grave with tears?
And if thou couldst, thou couldst not make him live;
Therefore have done. Some grief shows much of love,
But much of grief shows still some want of wit.

Yet let me weep for such a feeling loss.

So shall you feel the loss, but not the friend
Which you weep for.

Feeling so the loss,
I cannot choose but ever weep the friend.

Well, girl, thou weep’st not so much for his death,
As that the villain lives which slaughter’d him.

What villain, madam?

That same villain Romeo.

Villain and he be many miles asunder.—
God pardon him! I do with all my heart;
And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart.

That is because the traitor murderer lives.

Ay, madam, from the reach of these my hands.
Would none but I might venge my cousin’s death!

We will have vengeance for it, fear thou not.
Then weep no more. I’ll send to one in Mantua,
Where that same banish’d runagate doth live,
Shall give him such an unaccustom’d dram
That he shall soon keep Tybalt company;
And then I hope thou wilt be satisfied.

Indeed I never shall be satisfied
With Romeo, till I behold him—dead—
Is my poor heart, so for a kinsman vex’d.
Madam, if you could find out but a man
To bear a poison, I would temper it,
That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,
Soon sleep in quiet. O how my heart abhors
To hear him nam’d, and cannot come to him
To wreak the love I bore my cousin
Upon his body that hath slaughter’d him!

Find thou the means, and I’ll find such a man.
But now I’ll tell thee joyful tidings, girl.

And joy comes well in such a needy time.
What are they, beseech your ladyship?

Well, well, thou hast a careful father, child,
One who, to put thee from thy heaviness,
Hath sorted out a sudden day of joy,
That thou expects not, nor I look’d not for.

Madam, in happy time, what day is that?

Marry, my child, early next Thursday morn,
The gallant, young, and noble gentleman,
The County Paris, at Saint Peter’s Church,
Shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.

Now, by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too,
He shall not make me there a joyful bride.
I wonder at this haste, that I must wed
Ere he that should be husband comes to woo.
I pray you tell my lord and father, madam,
I will not marry yet, and when I do, I swear
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
Rather than Paris. These are news indeed!

Here comes your father, tell him so yourself;
And see how he will take it at your hands.


Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 5 (Olivia & Viola)

The honorable lady of the house, which is she?

Speak to me, I shall answer for her. Your will?

Most radiant, exquisite, and unmatchable beauty—I pray you tell me if this be the lady of the house, for I never saw her. I would be loath to cast away my speech; for besides that it is excellently well penn’d, I have taken great pains to con it. Good beauties, let me sustain no scorn; I am very comptible, even to the least sinister usage.

Whence came you, sir?

I can say little more than I have studied, and that question’s out of my part. Good gentle one, give me modest assurance if you be the lady of the house, that I may proceed in my speech.

Are you a comedian?

No, my profound heart; and yet (by the very fangs of malice I swear) I am not that I play. Are you the lady of the house?

If I do not usurp myself, I am.

Most certain, if you are she, you do usurp yourself; for what is yours to bestow is not yours to reserve. But this is from my commission; I will on with my speech in your praise, and then show you the heart of my message.

Come to what is important in’t. I forgive you the praise.

Alas, I took great pains to study it, and ’tis poetical.

It is the more like to be feign’d, I pray you keep it in. I heard you were saucy at my gates, and allow’d your approach rather to wonder at you than to hear you. If you be not mad, be gone. If you have reason, be brief. ’Tis not that time of moon with me to make one in so skipping a dialogue.

I bring no overture of war, no taxation of homage; I hold the olive in my hand; my words are as full of peace as matter.

Yet you began rudely. What are you? What would you?

The rudeness that hath appear’d in me have I learn’d from my entertainment. What I am, and what I would, are as secret as maidenhead: to your ears, divinity; to any other’s, profanation.

Now, sir, what is your text?

Most sweet lady—

A comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it. Where lies your text?

In Orsino’s bosom.

In his bosom? In what chapter of his bosom?

To answer by the method, in the first of his heart.

O, I have read it; it is heresy. Have you no more to say?

Good madam, let me see your face.

Have you any commission from your lord to negotiate with my face? You are now out of your text; but we will draw the curtain, and show you the picture. Look you, sir, such a one I was this present.
Is’t not well done?

Excellently done, if God did all.

’Tis in grain, sir, ’twill endure wind and weather.

’Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white
Nature’s own sweet and cunning hand laid on.
Lady, you are the cruell’st she alive
If you will lead these graces to the grave,
And leave the world no copy.

O, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted; I will give out divers schedules of my beauty. It shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labell’d to my will: as, item, two lips, indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. Were you sent hither to praise me?

I see you what you are, you are too proud;
But if you were the devil, you are fair.
My lord and master loves you. O, such love
Could be but recompens’d, though you were crown’d
The nonpareil of beauty.

How does he love me?

With adorations, fertile tears,
With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.

Your lord does know my mind, I cannot love him,
Yet I suppose him virtuous, know him noble,
Of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth;
In voices well divulg’d, free, learn’d, and valiant,
And in dimension, and the shape of nature,
A gracious person. But yet I cannot love him.
He might have took his answer long ago.

If I did love you in my master’s flame,
With such a suff’ring, such a deadly life,
In your denial I would find no sense,
I would not understand it.

Why, what would you?

Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love,
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Hallow your name to the reverberate hills,
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out “Olivia!” O, you should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth
But you should pity me!

You might do much.
What is your parentage?

Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.

Get you to your lord.
I cannot love him; let him send no more—
Unless (perchance) you come to me again
To tell me how he takes it. Fare you well.
I thank you for your pains. Spend this for me.

I am no fee’d post, lady; keep your purse;
My master, not myself, lacks recompense.
Love make his heart of flint that you shall love,
And let your fervor like my master’s be
Plac’d in contempt! Farewell, fair cruelty.

“What is your parentage?”
“Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.” I’ll be sworn thou art;
Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions, and spirit
Do give thee fivefold blazon. Not too fast! soft, soft!
Unless the master were the man. How now?
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections
With an invisible and subtle stealth
To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be.


Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 1 (Olivia & Viola)

Most excellent accomplish’d lady, the heavens rain odors on you! My matter hath no voice, lady, but to your own most pregnant and vouchsafed ear.

Let the garden door be shut, and leave me to my hearing. Give me your hand, sir.

My duty, madam, and most humble service.

What is your name?

Cesario is your servant’s name, fair princess.

My servant, sir? ’Twas never merry world
Since lowly feigning was call’d compliment.
Y’ are servant to the Count Orsino, youth.

And he is yours, and his must needs be yours:
Your servant’s servant is your servant, madam.

For him, I think not on him. For his thoughts,
Would they were blanks, rather than fill’d with me.

Madam, I come to whet your gentle thoughts
On his behalf.

O, by your leave, I pray you:
I bade you never speak again of him;
But would you undertake another suit,
I had rather hear you to solicit that
Than music from the spheres.

Dear lady—

Give me leave, beseech you. I did send,
After the last enchantment you did here,
A ring in chase of you; so did I abuse
Myself, my servant, and I fear me you.
Under your hard construction must I sit,
To force that on you in a shameful cunning
Which you knew none of yours. What might you think?
Have you not set mine honor at the stake,
And baited it with all th’ unmuzzled thoughts
That tyrannous heart can think? To one of your receiving
Enough is shown; a cypress, not a bosom,
Hides my heart. So let me hear you speak.

I pity you.

That’s a degree to love.

No, not a grize; for ’tis a vulgar proof
That very oft we pity enemies.

Why then methinks ’tis time to smile again.
O world, how apt the poor are to be proud!
If one should be a prey, how much the better
To fall before the lion than the wolf!
Clock strikes.
The clock upbraids me with the waste of time.
Be not afraid, good youth, I will not have you,
And yet when wit and youth is come to harvest,
Your wife is like to reap a proper man.
There lies your way, due west.

Then westward-ho!
Grace and good disposition attend your ladyship!
You’ll nothing, madam, to my lord by me?

I prithee tell me what thou think’st of me.

That you do think you are not what you are.

If I think so, I think the same of you.

Then think you right: I am not what I am.

I would you were as I would have you be.

Would it be better, madam, than I am?
I wish it might, for now I am your fool.

O, what a deal of scorn looks beautiful
In the contempt and anger of his lip!
A murd’rous guilt shows not itself more soon
Than love that would seem hid: love’s night is noon.—
Cesario, by the roses of the spring,
By maidhood, honor, truth, and every thing,
I love thee so, that maugre all thy pride,
Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide.
Do not extort thy reasons from this clause,
For that I woo, thou therefore hast no cause;
But rather reason thus with reason fetter:
Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.

By innocence I swear, and by my youth,
I have one heart, one bosom, and one truth,
And that no woman has, nor never none
Shall mistress be of it, save I alone.
And so adieu, good madam, never more
Will I my master’s tears to you deplore.

Yet come again; for thou perhaps mayst move
That heart which now abhors, to like his love.


Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 1, Scene 2 (Julia & Lucetta)

But say, Lucetta, now we are alone,
Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love?

Ay, madam, so you stumble not unheedfully.

Of all the fair resort of gentlemen
That every day with parle encounter me,
In thy opinion which is worthiest love?

Please you repeat their names, I’ll show my mind
According to my shallow simple skill.

What think’st thou of the fair Sir Eglamour?

As of a knight well-spoken, neat, and fine;
But were I you, he never should be mine.

What think’st thou of the rich Mercatio?

Well of his wealth; but of himself, so, so.

What think’st thou of the gentle Proteus?

Lord, Lord! to see what folly reigns in us!

How now? what means this passion at his name?

Pardon, dear madam, ’tis a passing shame
That I (unworthy body as I am)
Should censure thus on lovely gentlemen.

Why not on Proteus, as of all the rest?

Then thus: of many good I think him best.

Your reason?

I have no other but a woman’s reason:
I think him so, because I think him so.

And wouldst thou have me cast my love on him?

Ay—if you thought your love not cast away.

Why, he, of all the rest, hath never mov’d me.

Yet he, of all the rest, I think best loves ye.

His little speaking shows his love but small.

Fire that’s closest kept burns most of all.

They do not love that do not show their love.

O, they love least that let men know their love.

I would I knew his mind.

Peruse this paper, madam.

“To Julia”—say, from whom?

That the contents will show.

Say, say; who gave it thee?

Sir Valentine’s page; and sent, I think, from Proteus.
He would have given it you, but I, being in the way,
Did in your name receive it; pardon the fault, I pray.

Now, by my modesty, a goodly broker!
Dare you presume to harbor wanton lines?
To whisper and conspire against my youth?
Now trust me, ’tis an office of great worth,
And you an officer fit for the place.
There! take the paper; see it be return’d,
Or else return no more into my sight.

To plead for love deserves more fee than hate.

Will ye be gone?

That you may ruminate.

And yet I would I had o’erlook’d the letter;
It were a shame to call her back again,
And pray her to a fault for which I chid her.
What ’fool is she, that knows I am a maid,
And would not force the letter to my view!
Since maids, in modesty, say “no” to that
Which they would have the profferer construe “ay.”
Fie, fie, how wayward is this foolish love,
That (like a testy babe) will scratch the nurse
And presently, all humbled, kiss the rod!
How churlishly I chid Lucetta hence,
When willingly I would have had her here!
How angerly I taught my brow to frown,
When inward joy enforc’d my heart to smile!
My penance is, to call Lucetta back
And ask remission for my folly past.
What ho! Lucetta!
Enter Lucetta.

What would your ladyship?

Is’t near dinner-time?

I would it were,
That you might kill your stomach on your meat,
And not upon your maid.

What is’t that you
Took up so gingerly?


Why didst thou stoop then?

To take a paper up that I let fall.

And is that paper nothing?

Nothing concerning me.

Then let it lie for those that it concerns.

Madam, it will not lie where it concerns
Unless it have a false interpreter.

Some love of yours hath writ to you in rhyme.

That I might sing it, madam, to a tune:
Give me a note, your ladyship can set.

As little by such toys as may be possible:
Best sing it to the tune of “Light o’ love.”

It is too heavy for so light a tune.

Heavy? belike it hath some burden then?

Ay; and melodious were it, would you sing it.

And why not you?

I cannot reach so high.

Let’s see your song.
Takes the letter.
How now, minion?

Keep tune there still, so you will sing it out.
And yet methinks I do not like this tune.

You do not?

No, madam, ’tis too sharp.

You, minion, are too saucy.

Nay, now you are too flat,
And mar the concord with too harsh a descant:
There wanteth but a mean to fill your song.

The mean is drown’d with your unruly bass.

Indeed I bid the base for Proteus.

This babble shall not henceforth trouble me.
Here is a coil with protestation!
Tears the letter.
Go, get you gone; and let the papers lie:
You would be fing’ring them, to anger me.

She makes it strange, but she would be best pleas’d
To be so ang’red with another letter.

Nay, would I were so ang’red with the same.
O hateful hands, to tear such loving words!
Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey,
And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!
I’ll kiss each several paper for amends.
Look, here is writ “kind Julia.” Unkind Julia,
As in revenge of thy ingratitude,
I throw thy name against the bruising stones,
Trampling contemptuously on thy disdain.
And here is writ “love-wounded Proteus.”
Poor wounded name: my bosom as a bed
Shall lodge thee till thy wound be throughly heal’d;
And thus I search it with a sovereign kiss.
But twice, or thrice, was “Proteus” written down:
Be calm, good wind, blow not a word away
Till I have found each letter in the letter,
Except mine own name; that, some whirlwind bear
Unto a ragged, fearful, hanging rock,
And throw it thence into the raging sea.
Lo, here in one line is his name twice writ,
“Poor forlorn Proteus, passionate Proteus:
To the sweet Julia”—that I’ll tear away—
And yet I will not, sith so prettily
He couples it to his complaining names.
Thus will I fold them one upon another;
Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will.
Enter Lucetta.

Dinner is ready, and your father stays.

Well, let us go.

What, shall these papers lie like tell-tales here?

If you respect them, best to take them up.

Nay, I was taken up for laying them down;
Yet here they shall not lie, for catching cold.

I see you have a month’s mind to them.

Ay, madam, you may say what sights you see;
I see things too, although you judge I wink.

Come, come, will’t please you go?

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 4, Scene 4 (Silvia & Julia)

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 whom?

From my master, Sir Proteus, madam.

O, he sends you for a picture?

Ay, madam.

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.

There, hold!
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.


Male & Female

All's Well That Ends Well, Act 4, Scene 2 (Bertram & Diana)

They told me that your name was Fontibell.

No, my good lord, Diana.

Titled goddess,
And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul,
In your fine frame hath love no quality?
If the quick fire of youth light not your mind,
You are no maiden, but a monument.
When you are dead, you should be such a one
As you are now; for you are cold and stern,
And now you should be as your mother was
When your sweet self was got.
She then was honest.

So should you be.

My mother did but duty, such, my lord,
As you owe to your wife.

No more a’ that.
I prithee do not strive against my vows.
I was compell’d to her, but I love thee
By love’s own sweet constraint, and will for ever
Do thee all rights of service.

Ay, so you serve us
Till we serve you; but when you have our roses,
You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves,
And mock us with our bareness.

How have I sworn!

’Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vow’d true.
What is not holy, that we swear not by,
But take the High’st to witness. Then pray you tell me,
If I should swear by Jove’s great attributes
I lov’d you dearly, would you believe my oaths
When I did love you ill? This has no holding,
To swear by Him whom I protest to love
That I will work against Him; therefore your oaths
Are words and poor conditions, but unseal’d—
At least in my opinion.

Change it, change it!
Be not so holy-cruel. Love is holy,
And my integrity ne’er knew the crafts
That you do charge men with. Stand no more off,
But give thyself unto my sick desires,
Who then recovers. Say thou art mine, and ever
My love, as it begins, shall so persever.

I see that men make rope’s in such a scarre,
That we’ll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.

I’ll lend it thee, my dear; but have no power
To give it from me.

Will you not, my lord?

It is an honor ’longing to our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ th’ world
In me to lose.

Mine honor’s such a ring,
My chastity’s the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ th’ world
In me to lose. Thus your own proper wisdom
Brings in the champion Honor on my part,
Against your vain assault.

Here, take my ring!
My house, mine honor, yea, my life, be thine,
And I’ll be bid by thee.

When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window;
I’ll order take my mother shall not hear.
Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
When you have conquer’d my yet maiden bed,
Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me.
My reasons are most strong, and you shall know them
When back again this ring shall be deliver’d;
And on your finger in the night I’ll put
Another ring, that what in time proceeds
May token to the future our past deeds.
Adieu till then, then fail not. You have won
A wife of me, though there my hope be done.

A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.

For which live long to thank both heaven and me!
You may so in the end.
My mother told me just how he would woo,
As if she sate in ’s heart. She says all men
Have the like oaths. He had sworn to marry me
When his wife’s dead; therefore I’ll lie with him
When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid,
Marry that will, I live and die a maid.
Only in this disguise I think’t no sin
To cozen him that would unjustly win.

All's Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 1 (Parolles & Helena)

O, were that all! I think not on my father,
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
I have forgot him; my imagination
Carries no favour in’t but Bertram’s.
I am undone; there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away; ’twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
Th’ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must die for love. ‘Twas pretty, though plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart’s table – heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.
But now he’s gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?
One that goes with him; I love him for his sake,
And yet I know him a notorious liar,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
Yet these fix’d evils sit so fit in him
That they take place, when virtue’s steely bones
Look bleak i’ th’ cold wind; withal, full oft we see
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.

Save you, fair queen!

And you, monarch!

And no.

Are you meditating on virginity?

Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you; let me
ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how
may we barricado it against him?

Keep him out.

But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant,
in the defence yet is weak. Unfold to us some
warlike resistance.

There is none. Man setting down before you will
undermine you and blow you up.

Bless our poor virginity from underminers and
blowers-up! Is there no military policy, how
virgins might blow up men?

Virginity being blown down man will quicklier be
blown up; marry, in blowing him down again, with
the breach yourselves made you lose your city. It
is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to
preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational
increase and there was never virgin got till
virginity was first lost. That you were made of is
mettle to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost,
may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is
ever lost. ‘Tis too cold a companion. Away with ‘t!

I will stand for ‘t a little, though therefore I die a virgin.

There’s little can be said in ‘t; ’tis against the
rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity
is to accuse your mothers, which is most infallible
disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin;
virginity murthers itself, and should be buried in
highways out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate
offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites,
much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very
paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach.
Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of
self-love which is the most inhibited sin in the
canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but loose
by’t. Out with ‘t! Within ten year it will make
itself two, which is a goodly increase; and the
principal itself not much the worse. Away with ‘t!

How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?

Let me see. Marry, ill, to like him that ne’er it
likes. ‘Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with
lying; the longer kept, the less worth. Off with’t
while ’tis vendible; answer the time of request.
Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out
of fashion, richly suited, but unsuitable: just
like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not
now. Your date is better in your pie and your
porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity,
your old virginity, is like one of our French
withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry,
’tis a withered pear; it was formerly better;
marry, yet ’tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?

Not my virginity; yet…
There shall your master have a thousand loves,
A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,
A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,
A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;
His humble ambition, proud humility,
His jarring concord, and his discord-dulcet,
His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world
Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms
That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he–
I know not what he shall. God send him well!
The court’s a learning-place, and he is one–

What one, i’ faith?

That I wish well. ‘Tis pity–

What’s pity?

That wishing well had not a body in’t
Which might be felt, that we, the poorer born,
Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,
Might with effects of them follow our friends,
And show what we alone must think, which never
Return us thanks.


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