ACT V SCENE IV

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The Two Gentlemen of Verona

 

ACT V SCENE IV Another part of the forest.
VALENTINE How use doth breed a habit in a man!
This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods,
I better brook than flourishing peopled towns:
Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
And to the nightingale’s complaining notes 5
Tune my distresses and record my woes.
O thou that dost inhabit in my breast,
Leave not the mansion so long tenantless,
Lest, growing ruinous, the building fall
And leave no memory of what it was! 10
Repair me with thy presence, Silvia;
Thou gentle nymph, cherish thy forlorn swain!
What halloing and what stir is this to-day?
These are my mates, that make their wills their law,
Have some unhappy passenger in chase. 15
They love me well; yet I have much to do
To keep them from uncivil outrages.
Withdraw thee, Valentine: who’s this comes here?
[Enter PROTEUS, SILVIA, and JULIA]
PROTEUS Madam, this service I have done for you,
Though you respect not aught your servant doth, 20
To hazard life and rescue you from him
That would have forced your honour and your love;
Vouchsafe me, for my meed, but one fair look;
A smaller boon than this I cannot beg
And less than this, I am sure, you cannot give. 25
VALENTINE [Aside] How like a dream is this I see and hear!
Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile.
SILVIA O miserable, unhappy that I am!
PROTEUS Unhappy were you, madam, ere I came;
But by my coming I have made you happy. 30
SILVIA By thy approach thou makest me most unhappy.
JULIA [Aside] And me, when he approacheth to your presence.
SILVIA Had I been seized by a hungry lion,
I would have been a breakfast to the beast,
Rather than have false Proteus rescue me. 35
O, Heaven be judge how I love Valentine,
Whose life’s as tender to me as my soul!
And full as much, for more there cannot be,
I do detest false perjured Proteus.
Therefore be gone; solicit me no more. 40
PROTEUS What dangerous action, stood it next to death,
Would I not undergo for one calm look!
O, ’tis the curse in love, and still approved,
When women cannot love where they’re beloved!
SILVIA When Proteus cannot love where he’s beloved. 45
Read over Julia’s heart, thy first best love,
For whose dear sake thou didst then rend thy faith
Into a thousand oaths; and all those oaths
Descended into perjury, to love me.
Thou hast no faith left now, unless thou’dst two; 50
And that’s far worse than none; better have none
Than plural faith which is too much by one:
Thou counterfeit to thy true friend!
PROTEUS In love
Who respects friend? 55
SILVIA All men but Proteus.
PROTEUS Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
I’ll woo you like a soldier, at arms’ end,
And love you ‘gainst the nature of love,–force ye. 60
SILVIA O heaven!
PROTEUS I’ll force thee yield to my desire.
VALENTINE Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,
Thou friend of an ill fashion!
PROTEUS Valentine! 65
VALENTINE Thou common friend, that’s without faith or love,
For such is a friend now; treacherous man!
Thou hast beguiled my hopes; nought but mine eye
Could have persuaded me: now I dare not say
I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me. 70
Who should be trusted, when one’s own right hand
Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus,
I am sorry I must never trust thee more,
But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
The private wound is deepest: O time most accurst, 75
‘Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!
PROTEUS My shame and guilt confounds me.
Forgive me, Valentine: if hearty sorrow
Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender ‘t here; I do as truly suffer 80
As e’er I did commit.
VALENTINE Then I am paid;
And once again I do receive thee honest.
Who by repentance is not satisfied
Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are pleased. 85
By penitence the Eternal’s wrath’s appeased:
And, that my love may appear plain and free,
All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.
JULIA O me unhappy!
[Swoons]
PROTEUS Look to the boy. 90
VALENTINE Why, boy! why, wag! how now! what’s the matter?
Look up; speak.
JULIA O good sir, my master charged me to deliver a ring
to Madam Silvia, which, out of my neglect, was never done.
PROTEUS Where is that ring, boy? 95
JULIA Here ’tis; this is it.
PROTEUS How! let me see:
Why, this is the ring I gave to Julia.
JULIA O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook:
This is the ring you sent to Silvia. 100
PROTEUS But how camest thou by this ring? At my depart
I gave this unto Julia.
JULIA And Julia herself did give it me;
And Julia herself hath brought it hither.
PROTEUS How! Julia! 105
JULIA Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths,
And entertain’d ’em deeply in her heart.
How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root!
O Proteus, let this habit make thee blush!
Be thou ashamed that I have took upon me 110
Such an immodest raiment, if shame live
In a disguise of love:
It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,
Women to change their shapes than men their minds.
PROTEUS Than men their minds! ’tis true. 115
O heaven! were man
But constant, he were perfect. That one error
Fills him with faults; makes him run through all the sins:
Inconstancy falls off ere it begins.
What is in Silvia’s face, but I may spy 120
More fresh in Julia’s with a constant eye?
VALENTINE Come, come, a hand from either:
Let me be blest to make this happy close;
‘Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.
PROTEUS Bear witness, Heaven, I have my wish for ever. 125
JULIA And I mine.
[Enter Outlaws, with DUKE and THURIO]
Outlaws A prize, a prize, a prize!
VALENTINE Forbear, forbear, I say! it is my lord the duke.
Your grace is welcome to a man disgraced,
Banished Valentine. 130
DUKE Sir Valentine!
THURIO Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia’s mine.
VALENTINE Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy death;
Come not within the measure of my wrath;
Do not name Silvia thine; if once again, 135
Verona shall not hold thee. Here she stands;
Take but possession of her with a touch:
I dare thee but to breathe upon my love.
THURIO Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I;
I hold him but a fool that will endanger 140
His body for a girl that loves him not:
I claim her not, and therefore she is thine.
DUKE The more degenerate and base art thou,
To make such means for her as thou hast done
And leave her on such slight conditions. 145
Now, by the honour of my ancestry,
I do applaud thy spirit, Valentine,
And think thee worthy of an empress’ love:
Know then, I here forget all former griefs,
Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again, 150
Plead a new state in thy unrivall’d merit,
To which I thus subscribe: Sir Valentine,
Thou art a gentleman and well derived;
Take thou thy Silvia, for thou hast deserved her.
VALENTINE I thank your grace; the gift hath made me happy. 155
I now beseech you, for your daughter’s sake,
To grant one boom that I shall ask of you.
DUKE I grant it, for thine own, whate’er it be.
VALENTINE These banish’d men that I have kept withal
Are men endued with worthy qualities: 160
Forgive them what they have committed here
And let them be recall’d from their exile:
They are reformed, civil, full of good
And fit for great employment, worthy lord.
DUKE Thou hast prevail’d; I pardon them and thee: 165
Dispose of them as thou know’st their deserts.
Come, let us go: we will include all jars
With triumphs, mirth and rare solemnity.
VALENTINE And, as we walk along, I dare be bold
With our discourse to make your grace to smile. 170
What think you of this page, my lord?
DUKE I think the boy hath grace in him; he blushes.
VALENTINE I warrant you, my lord, more grace than boy.
DUKE What mean you by that saying?
VALENTINE Please you, I’ll tell you as we pass along, 175
That you will wonder what hath fortuned.
Come, Proteus; ’tis your penance but to hear
The story of your loves discovered:
That done, our day of marriage shall be yours;
One feast, one house, one mutual happiness. 180
[Exeunt]

Return to: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Scenes
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Explanatory notes for Act 5, Scene 4
From The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society.

6. record:– Commonly used as meaning to sing. So in Drayton’s Eclogues:-

“Fair Philomel, night-music of the spring,
Sweetly records her tuneful harmony.”

Cotgrave and others speak of the birds recording, that is, warbling.

88. All that was mine, etc.:- This is a strange passage. Many commentators have tried hard, in different ways, to make it look reasonable; but there is an extravagance about it that will not yield to editorial skill. Here is a remark upon it in Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from the Plays of Shakespeare: “Proteus expressed such a lively sorrow for the injuries he had done to Valentine, that Valentine, whose nature was noble and generous even to a romantic degree, not only forgave and restored him to his former place in his friendship, but in a sudden flight of heroism he said, ‘I freely do forgive you; and all the interest I have in Silvia I give it up to you!” Dyce, speaking of “this over-strained and too generous act of friendship,” no doubt more correctly says: “Nor would Shakespeare probably, if the play had been written in his maturer years, have made Valentine give way to such ‘a sudden flight of heroism’: but was undoubtedly an early production of the Poet; and in stories popular during his youth he may have found similar instances of romantic generosity.” White’s remark is: “Much of little worth has been written upon this singular passage. But it appears to be uncorrupted, and it has a plain meaning. Comment upon it, therefore, seems to be the function, not of the editor of Shakespeare’s works, but of the philosophical critic upon his poetry and dramatic art. It is proper to remark, however, that Valentine displays a similar overstrained generosity when, on the arrival of Proteus (II. iv.) he twice earnestly entreats Silvia to receive his friend as her lover, on equal terms with him – as his ‘fellow-servant’ to her.”

99. cry you mercy:– That is, ask your pardon.

106-108. gave aim, etc.:- Allusion to archery. That which gave aim was the mark at which the archer shot. The root means the pin, to cleave which was to hit the centre of the mark.

111, 112. if shame live, etc.:– That is, if it be any shame to wear a disguise in such a cause.

136. Verona shall not hold thee:– “To Valentine’s apprehension,” says White, “the whole party were on their way from Milan to Verona, as he was when the Outlaws stayed him; and therefore his threat to Thurio that he shall never reach his destination. Theobald, not perceiving this, and seeing only that ‘Thurio is a Milanese, and has no concern, as it appears, with Verona,’ in his perplexity reads ‘ Milan shall not behold thee.’ This is cutting the knot, with a vengeance.’ But the difficulty and the solution have, with too little thought, been accepted by succeeding editors. Mr. Singer even adds that ‘the Scene, too, is between the confines of Milan and Mantua,’ as support for the rejection of any allusion to Verona. This, however, is not the case, as appears from the fact that Silvia takes flight before sunset in Sc. i. of this Act, is pursued immediately, as we see by the Duke’s speech in Sc. ii., is seized by the Outlaws in the next scene, and is rescued in the next. The events evidently pass with great rapidity; and the same safety from pursuit which Sir Eglamour promised Silvia in the forest ‘not three leagues’ from Milan, had been previously found there by the Outlaws.

159. men that I have kept withal:– That is, that I have been living with. Shakespeare often uses kept for lived or dwelt.

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