The frontiers of Mantua. Another part of the forest between Milan and Verona.
(Valentine; Proteus; Silvia; Julia; Duke; Thurio; Outlaws)
Valentine considers how much life in the forest suits him, particularly as it allows him to moon about over Silvia without anyone seeing. He hears the noise of a struggle and thinks that his outlaws have once against infringed his orders not to attack the helpless. What he sees in fact is Proteus and the disguised Julia, who have just rescued Silvia from the bandits. Proteus insists that she now owes him, though she protests still about his betraying his love for Julia, not to mention Valentine. Proteus response, in essence, is that all’s fair in love and war, and when she still refuses him he throws himself on her to rape her. Valentine steps forward at this, stops him, and denounces him. Proteus, thunderstruck, begs for pardon, and Valentine, seeing him repentant, forgives him. To prove the depth of his friendship, Valentine offers to give up Silvia to him, a thought that makes Julia faint. As they attempt to revive the “boy”, they discover that she is in fact Julia, and seeing her again Proteus falls for her once more, and completely forgets about Silvia. The outlaws come in, cheering at having captured Thurio and the Duke. Thurio gives up his claim on Silvia, no being willing to risk his life for something as unimportant as a woman. The Duke is disgusted at this cowardice and decides that Valentine has deserved to marry Silvia. At the young man’s request he pardons the outlaws all their crimes, and they all leave for Milan. (177 lines)
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
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.
What hallowing and what stir is this today?
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?
Enter Proteus, Silvia, Julia disguised as Sebastian.
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 honor 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.
How like a dream is this! I see, and hear:
Love, lend me patience to forbear a while.
O miserable, unhappy that I am!
Unhappy were you, madam, ere I came;
But by my coming I have made you happy.
By thy approach thou mak’st me most unhappy.
And me, when he approacheth to your presence.
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.
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!
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!
Who respects friend?
All men but 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 arm’s end,
And love you ’gainst the nature of love—force ye.
I’ll force thee yield to my desire.
Ruffian! Let go that rude uncivil touch,
Thou friend of an ill fashion!
Thou common friend, that’s without faith or love,
For such is a friend now! Treacherous man,
Thou hast beguil’d my hopes! Nought 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, when one’s 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!
’Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!
My shame and guilt confounds me.
Forgive me, Valentine; if hearty sorrow
Be a sufficient ransom for offense,
I tender’t here: I do as truly suffer
As e’er I did commit.
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 th’ Eternal’s wrath’s appeas’d:
And that my love may appear plain and free,
All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.
O me unhappy!
Look to the boy.
Why, boy! Why, wag! How now? What’s the matter? Look up; speak.
O good sir, my master charg’d me to deliver a ring to Madam Silvia, which (out of my neglect) was never done.
Where is that ring, boy?
Here ’tis; this is it.
Shows a ring.
How? Let me see.
Why, this is the ring I gave to Julia.
O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook;
This is the ring you sent to Silvia.
Shows another ring.
But how cam’st thou by this ring? At my depart
I gave this unto Julia.
And Julia herself did give it me,
And Julia herself hath brought it hither.
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 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.
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 th’ 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?
Come, come, a hand from either.
Let me be blest to make this happy close;
’Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.
Bear witness, heaven, I have my wish forever.
And I mine.
Enter Duke, Thurio, Outlaws.
A prize, a prize, a prize!
Forbear, forbear, I say; it is my lord the Duke.
Your Grace is welcome to a man disgrac’d,
Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia’s mine.
Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy death;
Come not within the measure of my wrath.
Do not name Silvia thine; if once again,
Milan shall not hold thee. Here she stands,
Take but possession of her with a touch:
I dare thee but to breathe upon my love.
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.
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 honor 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.
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.
I grant it (for thine own) what e’er it be.
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.
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.
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?
I think the boy hath grace in him; he blushes.
I warrant you, my lord—more grace than boy.
What mean you by that saying?
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.