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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act V. Scene IV.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Another Part of the Forest.


Val.How use doth breed a habit in a man!

This shadowy desart, unfrequented woods,

I better brook than flourishing peopled towns.

Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,

And to the nightingale’s complaining notes

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!

Repair me with thy presence, Silvia!

Thou gentle nymph, cherish thy forlorn swain![Noise within.

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.

They love me well; yet I have much to do

To keep them from uncivil outrages.

Withdraw thee, Valentine: who’s this comes here?[Steps aside.


Pro.Madam, this service I have done for you—

Though you respect not aught your servant doth—

To hazard life and rescue you from him

That would have forc’d 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.

Val.[Aside.]How like a dream is this I see and hear!

Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile.

Sil.O, miserable, unhappy that I am!

Pro.Unhappy were you, madam, ere I came;

But by my coming I have made you happy.

Sil.By thy approach thou mak’st me most unhappy.

Jul.[Aside.]And me, when he approacheth to your presence.

Sil.Had I been seized by a hungry lion,

I would have been a breakfast to the beast,

Rather than have false Proteus rescue me.

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 perjur’d Proteus.

Therefore be gone, solicit me no more.

Pro.What dangerous action, stood it next to death,

Would I not undergo for one calm look!

O, ’tis the curse in love, and still approv’d,

When women cannot love where they’re belov’d!

Sil.When Proteus cannot love where he’s belov’d.

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,

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!

Pro.In love

Who respects friend?

Sil.All men but Proteus.

Pro.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.

Sil.O heaven!

Pro.I’ll force thee yield to my desire.

Val.[Coming forward.]Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch;

Thou friend of an ill fashion!


Val.Thou common friend, that’s without faith or love—

For such is a friend now—treach’rous man!

Thou hast beguil’d my hopes: naught but mine eye

Could have persuaded me. Now I dare not say

I have one friend alive: thou wouldst disprove me.

Who should be trusted now, when one’s right hand

Is perjur’d 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 deep’st. O time most curst!

’Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!

Pro.My shame and guilt confound me.

Forgive me, Valentine. If hearty sorrow

Be a sufficient ransom for offence,

I tender ’t here: I do as truly suffer

As e’er I did commit.

Val.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 pleas’d.

By penitence the Eternal’s wrath’s appeas’d:

And, that my love may appear plain and free,

All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.

Jul.O me unhappy![Swoons.

Pro.Look to the boy.

Val.Why, boy! why, wag! how now! what’s the matter?

Look up; speak.

Jul.O good sir, my master charg’d me

To deliver a ring to Madam Silvia,

Which out of my neglect was never done.

Pro.Where is that ring, boy?

Jul.Here ’tis: this is it.[Gives a ring.

Pro.How! let me see.

Why this is the ring I gave to Julia.

Jul.O, cry you mercy, sir; I have mistook:

This is the ring you sent to Silvia.[Shows another ring.

Pro.But how cam’st thou by this ring?

At my depart I gave this unto Julia.

Jul.And Julia herself did give it me;

And Julia herself hath brought it hither.

Pro.How! Julia!

Jul.Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths,

And entertain’d them deeply in her heart:

How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root!

O Proteus! let this habit make thee blush.

Be thou asham’d that I have took upon me

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.

Pro.Than men their minds! ’tis true. 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

More fresh in Julia’s with a constant eye?

Val.Come, come, a hand from either.

Let me be blest to make this happy close:

’Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.

Pro.Bear witness, heaven, I have my wish, for ever.

Jul.And I mine.

Enter Outlaws with DUKE and THURIO.

Out.A prize! a prize! a prize!

Val.Forbear, forbear, I say; it is my lord the duke.

Your Grace is welcome to a man disgrac’d,

Banished Valentine.

Duke.Sir Valentine!

Thu.Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia’s mine.

Val.Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy death;

Come not within the measure of my wrath;

Do not name Silvia thine; if once again,

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.

Thu.Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I.

I hold him but a fool that will endanger

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.

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,

Plead a new state in thy unrivall’d merit,

To which I thus subscribe: Sir Valentine,

Thou art a gentleman and well deriv’d;

Take thou thy Silvia, for thou hast deserv’d her.

Val.I thank your Grace; the gift hath made me happy.

I now beseech you, for your daughter’s sake,

To grant one boon that I shall ask of you.

Duke.I grant it, for thine own, whate’er it be.

Val.These banish’d men, that I have kept withal

Are men endu’d with worthy qualities:

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:

Dispose of them as thou know’st their deserts.

Come, let us go: we will include all jars

With triumphs, mirth, and rare solemnity.

Val.And as we walk along, I dare be bold

With our discourse to make your Grace to smile.

What think you of this page, my lord?

Duke.I think the boy hath grace in him: he blushes.

Val.I warrant you, my lord, more grace than boy.

Duke.What mean you by that saying?

Val.Please you, I’ll tell you as we pass along,

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.[Exeunt.