Augustus Leopold Egg, Launce's Substitute for Proteus's Dog (1849)

Oil on canvas, size 22 x 32 inches, Leicestershire Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, England.


To curry favor with Silvia, Proteus sends her a little dog, but Launce, his servant, loses the dog on his way. He substitutes his own mangy dog Crab and relates what happens when he tries to give the dog to Silvia. Crab took food from her plate and then wet the floor under the table.
I was sent to deliver him as a present to Mistress Silvia from my master; and I came no sooner into the dining-chamber but he steps me to her trencher and steals her capon's leg: O, 'tis a foul thing when a cur cannot keep himself in all companies! I would have, as one should say, one that takes upon him to be a dog indeed, to be, as it were, a dog at all things. If I had not had more wit than he, to take a fault upon me that he did, I think verily he had been hanged for't; sure as I live, he had suffered for't; you shall judge. He thrusts me himself into the company of three or four gentlemanlike dogs under the duke's table: he had not been there--bless the mark!--a pissing while, but all the chamber smelt him.

It comes as no surprise when Silvia refuses the present and Launce and Crab are sent packing.

When Proteus asks about Silvia's reaction to his gift of a "little jewel" of a dog and is told she rejected it, Launce says he substituted his own dog Crab and defends himself by saying, "Ay, sir: the other squirrel was stolen from me by the hangman boys in the market-place: and then I offered her mine own, who is a dog as big as ten of yours, and therefore the gift the greater." This is of course not an acceptable excuse and Proteus says, "Go, get thee hence, and find my dog again, / Or ne'er return again into my sight. / Away, I say!"


Shakespeare's World | Home | Artists | Plays | Bibliography


Emory University | Emory College | Department of English | Harry Rusche
Copyright 2003 Emory University