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The Two Gentlemen of Verona


ACT II SCENE IV Milan. The Duke’s palace.
SILVIA Servant!
SPEED Master, Sir Thurio frowns on you.
VALENTINE Ay, boy, it’s for love.
SPEED Not of you.
VALENTINE Of my mistress, then.
SPEED ‘Twere good you knocked him.
SILVIA Servant, you are sad.
VALENTINE Indeed, madam, I seem so.
THURIO Seem you that you are not? 10
THURIO So do counterfeits.
VALENTINE So do you.
THURIO What seem I that I am not?
THURIO What instance of the contrary?
VALENTINE Your folly.
THURIO And how quote you my folly?
VALENTINE I quote it in your jerkin.
THURIO My jerkin is a doublet. 20
VALENTINE Well, then, I’ll double your folly.
SILVIA What, angry, Sir Thurio! do you change colour?
VALENTINE Give him leave, madam; he is a kind of chameleon.
THURIO That hath more mind to feed on your blood than live
in your air.
VALENTINE You have said, sir.
THURIO Ay, sir, and done too, for this time.
VALENTINE I know it well, sir; you always end ere you begin.
SILVIA A fine volley of words, gentlemen, and quickly shot off. 30
VALENTINE ‘Tis indeed, madam; we thank the giver.
SILVIA Who is that, servant?
VALENTINE Yourself, sweet lady; for you gave the fire. Sir
Thurio borrows his wit from your ladyship’s looks,
and spends what he borrows kindly in your company.
THURIO Sir, if you spend word for word with me, I shall
make your wit bankrupt.
VALENTINE I know it well, sir; you have an exchequer of words,
and, I think, no other treasure to give your
followers, for it appears by their bare liveries, 40
that they live by your bare words.
SILVIA No more, gentlemen, no more:–here comes my father.
[Enter DUKE]
DUKE Now, daughter Silvia, you are hard beset.
Sir Valentine, your father’s in good health:
What say you to a letter from your friends
Of much good news?
VALENTINE My lord, I will be thankful.
To any happy messenger from thence.
DUKE Know ye Don Antonio, your countryman?
VALENTINE Ay, my good lord, I know the gentleman 50
To be of worth and worthy estimation
And not without desert so well reputed.
DUKE Hath he not a son?
VALENTINE Ay, my good lord; a son that well deserves
The honour and regard of such a father.
DUKE You know him well?
VALENTINE I know him as myself; for from our infancy
We have conversed and spent our hours together:
And though myself have been an idle truant,
Omitting the sweet benefit of time 60
To clothe mine age with angel-like perfection,
Yet hath Sir Proteus, for that’s his name,
Made use and fair advantage of his days;
His years but young, but his experience old;
His head unmellow’d, but his judgment ripe;
And, in a word, for far behind his worth
Comes all the praises that I now bestow,
He is complete in feature and in mind
With all good grace to grace a gentleman.
DUKE Beshrew me, sir, but if he make this good, 70
He is as worthy for an empress’ love
As meet to be an emperor’s counsellor.
Well, sir, this gentleman is come to me,
With commendation from great potentates;
And here he means to spend his time awhile:
I think ’tis no unwelcome news to you.
VALENTINE Should I have wish’d a thing, it had been he.
DUKE Welcome him then according to his worth.
Silvia, I speak to you, and you, Sir Thurio;
For Valentine, I need not cite him to it: 80
I will send him hither to you presently.
VALENTINE This is the gentleman I told your ladyship
Had come along with me, but that his mistress
Did hold his eyes lock’d in her crystal looks.
SILVIA Belike that now she hath enfranchised them
Upon some other pawn for fealty.
VALENTINE Nay, sure, I think she holds them prisoners still.
SILVIA Nay, then he should be blind; and, being blind
How could he see his way to seek out you?
VALENTINE Why, lady, Love hath twenty pair of eyes. 90
THURIO They say that Love hath not an eye at all.
VALENTINE To see such lovers, Thurio, as yourself:
Upon a homely object Love can wink.
SILVIA Have done, have done; here comes the gentleman.
VALENTINE Welcome, dear Proteus! Mistress, I beseech you,
Confirm his welcome with some special favour.
SILVIA His worth is warrant for his welcome hither,
If this be he you oft have wish’d to hear from.
VALENTINE Mistress, it is: sweet lady, entertain him
To be my fellow-servant to your ladyship. 100
SILVIA Too low a mistress for so high a servant.
PROTEUS Not so, sweet lady: but too mean a servant
To have a look of such a worthy mistress.
VALENTINE Leave off discourse of disability:
Sweet lady, entertain him for your servant.
PROTEUS My duty will I boast of; nothing else.
SILVIA And duty never yet did want his meed:
Servant, you are welcome to a worthless mistress.
PROTEUS I’ll die on him that says so but yourself.
SILVIA That you are welcome? 110
PROTEUS That you are worthless.
[Re-enter THURIO]
THURIO Madam, my lord your father would speak with you.
SILVIA I wait upon his pleasure. Come, Sir Thurio,
Go with me. Once more, new servant, welcome:
I’ll leave you to confer of home affairs;
When you have done, we look to hear from you.
PROTEUS We’ll both attend upon your ladyship.
[Exeunt SILVIA and THURIO]
VALENTINE Now, tell me, how do all from whence you came?
PROTEUS Your friends are well and have them much commended.
VALENTINE And how do yours? 120
PROTEUS I left them all in health.
VALENTINE How does your lady? and how thrives your love?
PROTEUS My tales of love were wont to weary you;
I know you joy not in a love discourse.
VALENTINE Ay, Proteus, but that life is alter’d now:
I have done penance for contemning Love,
Whose high imperious thoughts have punish’d me
With bitter fasts, with penitential groans,
With nightly tears and daily heart-sore sighs;
For in revenge of my contempt of love, 130
Love hath chased sleep from my enthralled eyes
And made them watchers of mine own heart’s sorrow.
O gentle Proteus, Love’s a mighty lord,
And hath so humbled me, as, I confess,
There is no woe to his correction,
Nor to his service no such joy on earth.
Now no discourse, except it be of love;
Now can I break my fast, dine, sup and sleep,
Upon the very naked name of love.
PROTEUS Enough; I read your fortune in your eye. 140
Was this the idol that you worship so?
VALENTINE Even she; and is she not a heavenly saint?
PROTEUS No; but she is an earthly paragon.
VALENTINE Call her divine.
PROTEUS I will not flatter her.
VALENTINE O, flatter me; for love delights in praises.
PROTEUS When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills,
And I must minister the like to you.
VALENTINE Then speak the truth by her; if not divine,
Yet let her be a principality, 150
Sovereign to all the creatures on the earth.
PROTEUS Except my mistress.
VALENTINE Sweet, except not any;
Except thou wilt except against my love.
PROTEUS Have I not reason to prefer mine own?
VALENTINE And I will help thee to prefer her too:
She shall be dignified with this high honour–
To bear my lady’s train, lest the base earth
Should from her vesture chance to steal a kiss
And, of so great a favour growing proud, 160
Disdain to root the summer-swelling flower
And make rough winter everlastingly.
PROTEUS Why, Valentine, what braggardism is this?
VALENTINE Pardon me, Proteus: all I can is nothing
To her whose worth makes other worthies nothing;
She is alone.
PROTEUS Then let her alone.
VALENTINE Not for the world: why, man, she is mine own,
And I as rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl, 170
The water nectar and the rocks pure gold.
Forgive me that I do not dream on thee,
Because thou see’st me dote upon my love.
My foolish rival, that her father likes
Only for his possessions are so huge,
Is gone with her along, and I must after,
For love, thou know’st, is full of jealousy.
PROTEUS But she loves you?
VALENTINE Ay, and we are betroth’d: nay, more, our,
marriage-hour, 180
With all the cunning manner of our flight,
Determined of; how I must climb her window,
The ladder made of cords, and all the means
Plotted and ‘greed on for my happiness.
Good Proteus, go with me to my chamber,
In these affairs to aid me with thy counsel.
PROTEUS Go on before; I shall inquire you forth:
I must unto the road, to disembark
Some necessaries that I needs must use,
And then I’ll presently attend you. 190
VALENTINE Will you make haste?
Even as one heat another heat expels,
Or as one nail by strength drives out another,
So the remembrance of my former love
Is by a newer object quite forgotten.
Is it mine, or Valentine’s praise,
Her true perfection, or my false transgression,
That makes me reasonless to reason thus?
She is fair; and so is Julia that I love– 200
That I did love, for now my love is thaw’d;
Which, like a waxen image, ‘gainst a fire,
Bears no impression of the thing it was.
Methinks my zeal to Valentine is cold,
And that I love him not as I was wont.
O, but I love his lady too too much,
And that’s the reason I love him so little.
How shall I dote on her with more advice,
That thus without advice begin to love her!
‘Tis but her picture I have yet beheld, 210
And that hath dazzled my reason’s light;
But when I look on her perfections,
There is no reason but I shall be blind.
If I can cheque my erring love, I will;
If not, to compass her I’ll use my skill.

Next: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2, Scene 5

Explanatory notes for Act 2, Scene 4
From The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society.

20. My jerkin is a doublet: — “The jerkin, or jacket,” observes Knight, “was generally worn over the doublet; but occasionally the doublet was worn alone, and, in many instances, is confounded with the jerkin. Either had sleeves or not, as the wearer fancied; for by the inventories and wardrobe accounts of the time, we find that the sleeves were frequently separate articles of dress, and attached to the doublet, jerkin, coat, or even woman’s gown, by laces or ribbands, at the pleasure of the wearer. A ‘doblet jaquet’ and hose of blue velvet, cut upon cloth of gold, embroidered, and a ‘doblet hose and jaquet’ of purple velvet, embroidered, and cut upon cloth of gold, and lined with black satin, are entries in an inventory of the wardrobe of Henry VIII. In 1535, a jerkin of purple velvet, with purple satin sleeves, embroidered all over with Venice gold, was presented to the king by Sir Richard Cromwell; and another jerkin of crimson velvet, with wide sleeves of the same coloured satin, is mentioned in the same inventory.”

68. He is complete in feature: — Feature, originally meaning form, making, was applied by Shakespeare and his contemporaries to the whole person. Thus in Heywood’s Helen to Paris, 1609: —

“Three goddesses stripp’d naked to your eye,
* * * * * * *
I scarce believe those high immortal creatures
Would to your eye expose their naked features.”

So also Spenser: “Which the fair feature of her limbs did hide.”

135. There is no woe to, etc. :— That is, no misery in comparison with that inflicted by love; a form of speech formerly not unusual. Thus an old ballad: “There is no comfort in the world to women that are kind.”

210. ‘Tis but her picture:— Dr. Johnson criticized the Poet for making Proteus say he has but seen the picture of Silvia, when he has just been talking with the lady herself. But the blunder was the critic’s, not Shakespeare’s. Proteus wants to get deeper in love with Silvia, and so resorts to the argument that the little he has seen of her is as though he had but seen her picture. The figure is not more apt for his purpose than beautiful in itself.


How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society, 1901.