Copyright
Charles Lamb.

Tales of Shakespeare online

. (page 6 of 23)
Online LibraryCharles LambTales of Shakespeare → online text (page 6 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


overcame his first anger against his brother; and he drew his sword,
and attacked the lioness, and slew her, and thus preserved his
brother's life both from the venomous snake and from the furious
lioness; but before Orlando could conquer the lioness, she had torn one
of his arms with her sharp claws.

While Orlando was engaged with the lioness, Oliver awaked, and
perceiving that his brother Orlando, whom he had so cruelly treated,
was saving him from the fury of a wild beast at the risk of his own
life, shame and remorse at once seized him, and he repented of his
unworthy conduct, and besought with many tears his brother's pardon for
the injuries he had done him. Orlando rejoiced to see him so penitent,
and readily forgave him: they embraced each other; and from that hour
Oliver loved Orlando with a true brotherly affection, though he had
come to the forest bent on his destruction.

The wound in Orlando's arm having bled very much, he found himself too
weak to go to visit Ganymede, and therefore he desired his brother to
go and tell Ganymede, 'whom,' said Orlando, 'I in sport do call my
Rosalind,' the accident which had befallen him.

Thither then Oliver went, and told to Ganymede and Aliena how Orlando
had saved his life: and when he had finished the story of Orlando's
bravery, and his own providential escape, he owned to them that he was
Orlando's brother, who had so cruelly used him; and then he told them
of their reconciliation.

The sincere sorrow that Oliver expressed for his offences made such a
lively impression on the kind heart of Aliena, that she instantly fell
in love with him; and Oliver observing how much she pitied the distress
he told her he felt for his fault, he as suddenly fell in love with
her. But while love was thus stealing into the hearts of Aliena and
Oliver, he was no less busy with Ganymede, who hearing of the danger
Orlando had been in, and that he was wounded by the lioness, fainted;
and when he recovered, he pretended that he had counterfeited the swoon
in the imaginary character of Rosalind, and Ganymede said to Oliver:
'Tell your brother Orlando how well I counterfeited a swoon.' But
Oliver saw by the paleness of his complexion that he did really faint,
and much wondering at the weakness of the young man, he said: 'Well, if
you did counterfeit, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a man.'
'So I do,' replied Ganymede, truly, 'but I should have been a woman by
right.'

Oliver made this visit a very long one, and when at last he returned
back to his brother, he had much news to tell him; for besides the
account of Ganymede's fainting at the hearing that Orlando was wounded,
Oliver told him how he had fallen in love with the fair shepherdess
Aliena, and that she had lent a favourable ear to his suit, even in
this their first interview: and he talked to his brother, as of a thing
almost settled, that he should marry Aliena, saying, that he so well
loved her, that he would live here as a shepherd, and settle his estate
and house at home upon Orlando.

'You have my consent,' said Orlando. 'Let your wedding be to-morrow,
and I will invite the duke and his friends. Go and persuade your
shepherdess to this: she is now alone, for look, here comes her
brother.' Oliver went to Aliena; and Ganymede, whom Orlando had
perceived approaching, came to inquire after the health of his wounded
friend.

When Orlando and Ganymede began to talk over the sudden love which had
taken place between Oliver and Aliena, Orlando said he had advised his
brother to persuade his fair shepherdess to be married on the morrow,
and then he added how much he could wish to be married on the same day
to his Rosalind.

Ganymede, who well approved of this arrangement, said that if Orlando
really loved Rosalind as well as he professed to do, he should have his
wish; for on the morrow he would engage to make Rosalind appear in her
own person, and also that Rosalind should be willing to marry Orlando.

This seemingly wonderful event, which, as Ganymede was the lady
Rosalind, he could so easily perform, he pretended he would bring to
pass by the aid of magic, which he said he had learnt of an uncle who
was a famous magician.

The fond lover Orlando, half believing and half doubting what he heard,
asked Ganymede if he spoke in sober meaning. 'By my life I do,' said
Ganymede; 'therefore put on your best clothes, and bid the duke and
your friends to your wedding; for if you desire to be married to-morrow
to Rosalind, she shall be here.'

The next morning, Oliver having obtained the consent of Aliena, they
came into the presence of the duke, and with them also came Orlando.

They being all assembled to celebrate this double marriage, and as yet
only one of the brides appearing, there was much of wondering and
conjecture, but they mostly thought that Ganymede was making a jest of
Orlando.

The duke, hearing that it was his own daughter that was to be brought
in this strange way, asked Orlando if he believed the shepherd-boy
could really do what he had promised; and while Orlando was answering
that he knew not what to think, Ganymede entered, and asked the duke,
if he brought his daughter, whether he would consent to her marriage
with Orlando. 'That I would,' said the duke, 'if I had kingdoms to give
with her.' Ganymede then said to Orlando: 'And you say you will marry
her if I bring her here.' 'That I would,' said Orlando, 'if I were king
of many kingdoms.'

Ganymede and Aliena then went out together, and Ganymede throwing off
his male attire, and being once more dressed in woman's apparel,
quickly became Rosalind without the power of magic; and Aliena changing
her country garb for her own rich clothes, was with as little trouble
transformed into the lady Celia.

While they were gone, the duke said to Orlando, that he thought the
shepherd Ganymede very like his daughter Rosalind; and Orlando said, he
also had observed the resemblance.

They had no time to wonder how all this would end, for Rosalind and
Celia in their own clothes entered; and no longer pretending that it
was by the power of magic that she came there, Rosalind threw herself
on her knees before her father, and begged his blessing. It seemed so
wonderful to all present that she should so suddenly appear, that it
might well have passed for magic; but Rosalind would no longer trifle
with her father, and told him the story of her banishment, and of her
dwelling in the forest as a shepherd-boy, her cousin Celia passing as
her sister.

The duke ratified the consent he had already given to the marriage; and
Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, were married at the same time.
And though their wedding could not be celebrated in this wild forest
with any of the parade or splendour usual on such occasions, yet a
happier wedding-day was never passed: and while they were eating their
venison under the cool shade of the pleasant trees, as if nothing
should be wanting to complete the felicity of this good duke and the
true lovers, an unexpected messenger arrived to tell the duke the
joyful news, that his dukedom was restored to him.

The usurper, enraged at the flight of his daughter Celia, and hearing
that every day men of great worth resorted to the forest of Arden to
join the lawful duke in his exile, much envying' that his brother
should be so highly respected in his adversity, put himself at the head
of a large force, and advanced towards the forest, intending to seize
his brother, and put him with all his faithful followers to the sword;
but, by a wonderful interposition of Providence, this bad brother was
converted from his evil intention; for just as he entered the skirts of
the wild forest, he was met by an old religious man, a hermit, with
whom he had much talk, and who in the end completely turned his heart
from his wicked design. Thenceforward he became a true penitent, and
resolved, relinquishing his unjust dominion, to spend the remainder of
his days in a religious house. The first act of his newly-conceived
penitence was to send a messenger to his brother (as has been related)
to offer to restore to him his dukedom, which he had usurped so long,
and with it the lands and revenues of his friends, the faithful
followers of his adversity.

This joyful news, as unexpected as it was welcome, came opportunely to
heighten the festivity and rejoicings at the wedding of the princesses.
Celia complimented her cousin on this good fortune which had happened
to the duke, Rosalind's father, and wished her joy very sincerely,
though she herself was no longer heir to the dukedom, but by this
restoration which her father had made, Rosalind was now the heir: so
completely was the love of these two cousins unmixed with anything of
jealousy or of envy.

The duke had now an opportunity of rewarding those true friends who had
stayed with him in his banishment; and these worthy followers, though
they had patiently shared his adverse fortune, were very well pleased
to return in peace and prosperity to the palace of their lawful duke.





THE 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; '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' 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' 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 to
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 exchanged 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.

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 Valentine the welcome news of his friend Proteus' arrival.
Valentine said: 'If I had wished a thing, it would have been to have
seen him 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 ladyship.'

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 so 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 triumph to his friend Proteus. But
'friend' Proteus must be called no longer, for the same all-powerful
deity Love, of whom they were speaking (yea, even while they were
talking of the change he had made in Valentine), was working in the
heart of Proteus; and he, who had till this time been a pattern of true
love and perfect friendship, was now, in one short interview with
Silvia, become a false friend and a faithless lover; for at the first
sight of Silvia all his love for Julia vanished away like a dream, nor
did his long friendship for Valentine deter him from endeavouring to
supplant him in her affections; and although, as it will always be,
when people of dispositions naturally good become unjust, he had many
scruples before he determined to forsake Julia, and become the rival of
Valentine; yet he at length overcame his sense of duty, and yielded
himself up, almost without remorse, to his new unhappy passion.

Valentine imparted to him in confidence the whole history of his love,
and how carefully they had concealed it from the duke her father, and
told him, that, despairing of ever being able to obtain his consent, he
had prevailed upon Silvia to leave her father's palace that night, and
go with him to Mantua; then he showed Proteus a ladder of ropes, by
help of which he meant to assist Silvia to get out of one of the
windows of the palace after it was dark.

Upon hearing this faithful recital of his friend's dearest secrets, it
is hardly possible to be believed, but so it was, that Proteus resolved
to go to the duke, and disclose the whole to him.

This false friend began his tale with many artful speeches to the duke,
such as that by the laws of friendship he ought to conceal what he was
going to reveal, but that the gracious favour the duke had shown him,
and the duty he owed his grace, urged him to tell that which else no
worldly good should draw from him. He then told all he had heard from
Valentine, not omitting the ladder of ropes, and the manner in which
Valentine meant to conceal them under a long cloak.

The duke thought Proteus quite a miracle of integrity, in that he
preferred telling his friend's intention rather than he would conceal
an unjust action, highly commended him, and promised him not to let
Valentine know from whom he had learnt this intelligence, but by some
artifice to make Valentine betray the secret himself. For this purpose
the duke awaited the coming of Valentine in the evening, whom he soon
saw hurrying towards the palace, and he perceived somewhat was wrapped
within his cloak, which he concluded was the rope-ladder.

The duke upon this stopped him, saying: 'Whither away so fast,
Valentine?' 'May it please your grace,' said Valentine, 'there is a
messenger that stays to bear my letters to my friends, and I am going
to deliver them.' Now this falsehood of Valentine's had no better
success in the event than the untruth Proteus told his father.

'Be they of much import?' said the duke.

'No more, my lord,' said Valentine, 'than to tell my father I am well
and happy at your grace's court.'

'Nay then,' said the duke, 'no matter; stay with me a while. I wish
your counsel about some affairs that concern me nearly.' He then told
Valentine an artful story, as a prelude to draw his secret from him,
saying that Valentine knew he wished to match his daughter with Thurio,
but that she was stubborn and disobedient to his commands, 'neither
regarding,' said he, 'that she is my child, nor fearing me as if I were
her father. And I may say to thee, this pride of hers has drawn my love
from her. I had thought my age should have been cherished by her
childlike duty. I now am resolved to take a wife, and turn her out to
whosoever will take her in. Let her beauty be her wedding dower, for me
and my possessions she esteems not.'

Valentine, wondering where all this would end, made answer: 'And what
would your grace have me do in all this?'

'Why,' said the duke, 'the lady I would wish to marry is nice and coy,
and does not much esteem my aged eloquence. Besides, the fashion of
courtship is much changed since I was young; now I would willingly have
you to be my tutor to instruct me how I am to woo.'

Valentine gave him a general idea of the modes of courtship then
practiced by young men, when they wished to win a fair lady's love,
such as presents, frequent visits, and the like.

The duke replied to this, that the lady did refuse a present which he
sent her, and that she was so strictly kept by her father, that no man
might have access to her by day.

'Why then,' said Valentine, 'you must visit her by night.'

'But at night,' said the artful duke, who was now coming to the drift
of his discourse, 'her doors are fast locked.'

Valentine then unfortunately proposed that the duke should go into the
lady's chamber at night by means of a ladder of ropes, saying he would
procure him one tatting for that purpose; and in conclusion advised him
to conceal this ladder of ropes under such a cloak as that which he now
wore. 'Lend me your cloak,' said the duke, who had feigned this long
story on purpose to have a presence to get off the cloak; so upon
saying these words, he caught hold of Valentine's cloak, and throwing
it back, he discovered not only the ladder of ropes, but also a letter
of Silvia's, which he instantly opened and read; and this letter
contained a full account of their intended elopement. The duke, after
upbraiding Valentine for his ingratitude in thus returning the favour
he had shown him, by endeavouring to steal away his daughter, banished
him from the court and city of Milan for ever; and Valentine was forced
to depart that night, without even seeing Silvia.

While Proteus at Milan was thus injuring Valentine, Julia at Verona was
regretting the absence of Proteus; and her regard for him at last so
far overcame her sense of propriety, that she resolved to leave Verona,
and seek her lover at Milan; and to secure herself from danger on the
road, she dressed her maiden Lucetta and herself in men's clothes, and
they set out in this disguise, and arrived at Milan soon after
Valentine was banished from that city through the treachery of Proteus.

Julia entered Milan about noon, and she took up her abode at an inn;


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryCharles LambTales of Shakespeare → online text (page 6 of 23)