Explanatory notes for Act 1, Scene 1
From The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society.
Dramatis Persons, 'The names of all the actors' are given at
the end of the play in the Folios; the form 'Protheus' is invariably used for 'Proteus,' 'Anthonio' for 'Antonio' and ' Panthion' for 'Panthino.'
2. Milton has a like play upon words in his Comus: -
"It is for homely features to keep home;
They had their name thence."
8. Idleness is called shapeless, as preventing the shaping of the
character and manners.
18. A beadsman, as the word is here used, is one who is pledged
to pray on behalf of another. Thus we are told that Sir Henry
Lee, upon retiring from the office of Champion to Queen Elizabeth, said "his hands, instead of wielding the lance, should now
be held up in prayer for Her Majesty's welfare; and he trusted
she would allow him to be her beadsman, now that he had ceased
to incur knightly perils in her service." Bead is Anglo-Saxon
for prayer, and for the small wooden balls used in numbering
prayers, a string of which is called a rosary. Such the origin of
the name, if not of the thing, "a string of beads."
19. On a love-book pray for my success; an allusion to
the Roman Catholic custom of placing the beads on the prayer-book, and of counting the beads with the prayers. 'The love-book' is in this case to take the place of the prayer-book; some have supposed that Shakespeare is here referring to Marlowe's
Hero and Leander, which, however, though entered on the Stationers' Registers in 1593, was not printed till 1598, after which
date many references occur to it in contemporary literature; Shakespeare directly quotes from it in As You Like It, IV. i. 100.
114. that's noddy: - The poor quibble is more apparent in the
original, where, according to the mode of that time, the affirmative
particle, ay, is printed I. Noddy was a game at cards: applied to
a person, the word meant fool; Noddy being the name of what is
commonly called the Jack.
138-141. being so hard, etc.: - The meaning apparently is, "Since she has been so hard to me, the bearer of your mind, I fear she
will be equally hard to you whose mind I bore, when you yourself address her." Malone points out the antithesis between brought
145. testerned: - "You have given me a testern." Testern, now
called tester, was the name of a coin of sixpence value, so named
from having a teste, that is, a head, stamped upon it. It was
originally valued at eighteen pence.
150. Being destined, etc.: - "It is worthy of remark," says
Clarke, "that Speed's flippancy exceeds the licensed pertness of
a jester, and degenerates into impertinence when speaking with
Proteus; thus subtly conveying the dramatist's intention in the
character itself. Had Proteus not been the mean, unworthy man
he is, as gentleman and lover, Speed had not dared to twit him so
broadly with his reluctant recompense, or to speak
in such free terms of the lady Proteus addresses."
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society, 1901. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/two_1_1.html >.