Milan. A room in the Duke’s palace.
(Valentine; Silvia; Thurio; Speed; Duke; Proteus)
Valentine and his rival Thurio clash in Silvia’s presence, but Valentine comes out best of the battle of wits. The Duke, Silvia’s father, comes in to ask Valentine about Proteus, who he reveals is coming to Milan. Valentine is delighted and praises Proteus to the Duke. Silvia presumes that Julia has spurned him, but Valentine expresses doubt as to this. Proteus arrives, and Valentine presents him to Silvia. The new arrival compliments her very prettily, and Silvia is quite charmed. She leaves with Thurio to allow the two friends to get caught up. Valentine is soon asking about Julia; Proteus, knowing that Valentine does not care for love discourse, says little, but Valentine tells him that all that is changed: he too is now in love, with Silvia. Proteus makes fun of him a little, dealing out the same treatment Valentine gave him over Julia. Valentine takes it well, and explains that the Duke prefers Thurio as a suitor because he is richer, but that he and Silvia are secretly engaged. That night, he is going to sneak her out of her room by the window, with the help of a rope ladder, and asks Proteus to aid him. Proteus agrees, but when Valentine leaves, he realizes that he himself has fallen completely for Silvia and that he has almost forgotten about Julia. He resolves to try and get his feelings under control, but admits that if he cannot he will try to gain Silvia’s love. (207 lines)
Enter Valentine, Silvia, Thurio, Speed.
Master, Sir Thurio frowns on you.
Ay, boy, it’s for love.
Not of you.
Of my mistress then.
’Twere good you knock’d him.
Servant, you are sad.
Indeed, madam, I seem so.
Seem you that you are not?
Happ’ly I do.
So do counterfeits.
So do you.
What seem I that I am not?
What instance of the contrary?
And how quote you my folly?
I quote it in your jerkin.
My jerkin is a doublet.
Well then I’ll double your folly.
What, angry, Sir Thurio? Do you change color?
Give him leave, madam, he is a kind of chameleon.
That hath more mind to feed on your blood than live in your air.
You have said, sir.
Ay, sir, and done too—for this time.
I know it well, sir; you always end ere you begin.
A fine volley of words, gentlemen, and quickly shot off.
’Tis indeed, madam, we thank the giver.
Who is that, servant?
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.
Sir, if you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit bankrupt.
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 that they live by your bare words.
No more, gentlemen, no more; here comes my father.
Now, daughter Silvia, you are hard beset.
Sir Valentine, your father is in good health:
What say you to a letter from your friends
Of much good news?
My lord, I will be thankful
To any happy messenger from thence.
Know ye Don Antonio, your countryman?
Ay, my good lord, I know the gentleman
To be of worth and worthy estimation,
And not without desert so well reputed.
Hath he not a son?
Ay, my good lord, a son that well deserves
The honor and regard of such a father.
You know him well?
I knew him as myself: for from our infancy
We have convers’d and spent our hours together,
And though myself have been an idle truant,
Omitting the sweet benefit of time
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 unmellowed, 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.
Beshrew me, sir, but if he make this good,
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 a while.
I think ’tis no unwelcome news to you.
Should I have wish’d a thing, it had been he.
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.
I will send him hither to you presently.
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.
Belike that now she hath enfranchis’d them
Upon some other pawn for fealty.
Nay sure, I think she holds them prisoners still.
Nay then he should be blind, and being blind,
How could he see his way to seek out you?
Why, lady, Love hath twenty pair of eyes.
They say that Love hath not an eye at all.
To see such lovers, Thurio, as yourself:
Upon a homely object Love can wink.
Have done, have done; here comes the gentleman.
Welcome, dear Proteus! Mistress, I beseech you
Confirm his welcome with some special favor.
His worth is warrant for his welcome hither,
If this be he you oft have wish’d to hear from.
Mistress, it is: sweet lady, entertain him
To be my fellow-servant to your ladyship.
Too low a mistress for so high a servant.
Not so, sweet lady, but too mean a servant
To have a look of such a worthy mistress.
Leave off discourse of disability.
Sweet lady, entertain him for your servant.
My duty will I boast of, nothing else.
And duty never yet did want his meed.
Servant, you are welcome to a worthless mistress.
I’ll die on him that says so but yourself.
That you are welcome?
That you are worthless.
Madam, my lord your father would speak with you.
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.
We’ll both attend upon your ladyship.
Exeunt Silvia and Thurio.
Now tell me: how do all from whence you came?
Your friends are well and have them much commended.
And how do yours?
I left them all in health.
How does your lady, and how thrives your love?
My tales of love were wont to weary you;
I know you joy not in a love-discourse.
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,
Love hath chas’d 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.
Enough; I read your fortune in your eye.
Was this the idol that you worship so?
Even she; and is she not a heavenly saint?
No; but she is an earthly paragon.
Call her divine.
I will not flatter her.
O, flatter me; for love delights in praises.
When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills,
And I must minister the like to you.
Then speak the truth by her; if not divine,
Yet let her be a principality,
Sovereign to all the creatures on the earth.
Except my mistress.
Sweet, except not any,
Except thou wilt except against my love.
Have I not reason to prefer mine own?
And I will help thee to prefer her too:
She shall be dignified with this high honor—
To bear my lady’s train, lest the base earth
Should from her vesture chance to steal a kiss,
And of so great a favor growing proud,
Disdain to root the summer-swelling flow’r,
And make rough winter everlastingly.
Why, Valentine, what braggadism is this?
Pardon me, Proteus, all I can is nothing
To her, whose worth makes other worthies nothing:
She is alone.
Then let her alone.
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,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold.
Forgive me, that I do not dream on thee,
Because thou seest 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.
But she loves you?
Ay, and we are betroth’d: nay more, our marriage hour,
With all the cunning manner of our flight,
Determin’d 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.
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.
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 eye, or Valentinus’ 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
(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,
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 check my erring love, I will;
If not, to compass her I’ll use my skill.