First To Thine Own Self (Episode 2.20)

Executive Producer Frank Price
Producer Don Ingalls
Written by Les Crutchfield
Directed by Earl Bellamy

No, Betsy, you have to remember it right.

Episode scene:

(This episode introduces Randy Boone as Randy Benton to the cast.) Betsy has discovered the hiding place of a drifter named Randy, who is suspected of killing a man and stealing his gold. She believes Randy is innocent and wants to help him, but is not sure whether she should follow her heart or her head. Because her father is away, she consults the Virginian, and tells him she needs to talk to him about something her father believes in, “first to thine own self be true.” But the Virginian corrects her and quotes Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet “This above all, - to thine ownself be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Quotations from the book:

(Chapter 12):
Molly and her Virginian sat at a certain spring where he had often ridden with her. On this day he was bidding her farewell before undertaking the most important trust which Judge Henry had as yet given him. For this journey she had provided him with Sir Walter Scott’s Kenilworth. Shakespeare he had returned to her. He had bought Shakespeare for himself.

(Chapter 18):
“The apt to be a big man in them Shakespeare plays. Kings take talk from him they’d not stand from anybody else; and he talks fine, frequently. About the bees, for instance, when Henry is going to fight France. He tells him a beehive is similar to a kingdon. I learned that piece...

Where some, like magistrates, correct at home ...
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Made loot upon the summer’s velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor:
He, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold.”

Additional comments:

  1. James Drury projects sensitivity and warmth as the Virginian tries to guide Betsy through a difficult decision. He patiently listens, counsels, and consoles her, giving her the space she needs to be “true” to herself. He is the epitome of Owen Wister’s “trustworthy man” taking on the responsibility of his employer’s teenage daughter, as well as his ranch.
  2. In It Tolls For Thee we learn from Molly that the Virginian has “taken a fancy to John Donne.”
  3. In The Small Parade the Virginian is familiar Charles Dickens.
  4. In A Love To Remember the Virginian mentions that Sitting Bull was an artist-reporter (Note: I was not able to confirm this on the internet.) Mrs. Grainger tells her guest that the Virginian “keeps well up on his reading,” to which he retorts “We get some long winters out here.”

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(Compilation © 2002 by Alice Munzo. All rights reserved.)