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The Two Gentlemen of Verona

William Shakespeare

  Act 3 Scene 1

page Act 3 Scene 1 Page 11

Original Text

Modern Text

Here is the catalog of her condition. “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 hands.
Here is a list of all her traits. “In the first place, she can fetch and carry.” Why, a horse can’t do more. No, a horse can’t fetch. It can only carry. Therefore, she is better than a horse. “Also: she can milk.” Look at that! What a sweet virtue for a maid with clean hands.
Enter SPEED
SPEED enters.

SPEED

How now, Signor Lance, what news with your mastership?

SPEED

How goes it, Signor Lance? Any news of your mastership?

LANCE

265With my master’s ship? Why, it is at sea.

LANCE

About my master’s ship? Well, it’s at sea.

SPEED

Well, your old vice still: mistake the word. What news, then, in your paper?

SPEED

There you go again—you misunderstand me. What news is that, then, on your piece of paper?

LANCE

The black’st news that ever thou heardest.

LANCE

The darkest news that you’ve ever heard.

SPEED

Why, man, how black?

SPEED

Why, man, how dark?

LANCE

Why, as black as ink.

LANCE

Well, as dark as ink.

SPEED

270Let me read them.

SPEED

Let me read it.

LANCE

Fie on thee, jolt-head! Thou canst not read.

LANCE

Get away, you blockhead! You can’t read.

SPEED

Thou liest. I can.

SPEED

You lie. I can.

LANCE

I will try thee. Tell me this: who begot thee?

LANCE

I’ll test you. Tell me: who conceived you?

SPEED

Marry, the son of my grandfather.

SPEED

The son of my grandfather, of course.

LANCE

275O, illiterate loiterer! It was the son of thy grandmother. This proves that thou canst not read.

LANCE

Oh, illiterate loafer! It was the son of your grandmother. This proves that you cannot read.

SPEED

Come, fool, come. Try me in thy paper.

SPEED

Come on, fool, come on. Test me with the paper.

LANCE

There, [giving him the paper] and Saint Nicholas be thy speed!

LANCE

SPEED

[Reads.] “Imprimis, She can milk.”

SPEED

(reads) “In the first place, she can milk.”

LANCE

Ay, that she can.

LANCE

Yes, that she can.

SPEED

280“Item: She brews good ale.”

SPEED

“Also: she can brew good beer.”

LANCE

And thereof comes the proverb: “Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.”

LANCE

And that’s where the proverb comes in—“Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.”

SPEED

“Item: She can sew.”

SPEED

“Also: she can sew.”

LANCE

That’s as much as to say “Can she so?”

LANCE

To that I say, “Can she so?”

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