The Two Noble Kinsmen - Act 4, scene 2
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Act 4, scene 2
Emilia examines miniature portraits of Palamon and Arcite and is unable to choose between them. Theseus, hearing descriptions of the knights who have arrived from Thebes for the coming battle, is eager to see the men themselves.Enter Emilia alone, with two pictures.
2383 Yet I may bind those wounds up that must open
2384 And bleed to death for my sake else. I’ll choose,
2385 And end their strife. Two such young handsome men
2386 Shall never fall for me; their weeping mothers,
2387 5 Following the dead cold ashes of their sons,
2388 Shall never curse my cruelty.
⌜Looks at one of the pictures.⌝
2389 Good heaven,
2390 What a sweet face has Arcite! If wise Nature,
2391 With all her best endowments, all those beauties
2392 10 She sows into the births of noble bodies,
2393 Were here a mortal woman, and had in her
2394 The coy denials of young maids, yet doubtless
2395 She would run mad for this man. What an eye,
2396 Of what a fiery sparkle and quick sweetness,
2397 15 Has this young prince! Here Love himself sits
2399 Just such another wanton Ganymede
2400 Set ⌜Jove⌝ afire with, and enforced the god
2401 Snatch up the goodly boy and set him by him,
2402 20 A shining constellation. What a brow,
2403 Of what a spacious majesty, he carries,
2404 Arched like the great-eyed Juno’s but far sweeter,
2405 Smoother than Pelops’ shoulder! Fame and Honor,
2406 Methinks, from hence as from a promontory
2407 25 Pointed in heaven, should clap their wings and sing
2408 To all the under world the loves and fights
2409 Of gods and such men near ’em.
⌜Looks at the other picture.⌝
2411 Is but his foil, to him a mere dull shadow;
2412 30 He’s swart and meager, of an eye as heavy
2414 No stirring in him, no alacrity;
2415 Of all this sprightly sharpness not a smile.
2416 Yet these that we count errors may become him;
2417 35 Narcissus was a sad boy but a heavenly.
2418 O, who can find the bent of woman’s fancy?
2419 I am a fool; my reason is lost in me;
2420 I have no choice, and I have lied so lewdly
2421 That women ought to beat me. On my knees
2422 40 I ask thy pardon: Palamon, thou art alone
2423 And only beautiful, and these the eyes,
2424 These the bright lamps of beauty, that command
2425 And threaten love, and what young maid dare cross
2427 45 What a bold gravity, and yet inviting,
2428 Has this brown manly face! O Love, this only
2429 From this hour is complexion. Lie there, Arcite.
⌜She puts aside his picture.⌝
2430 Thou art a changeling to him, a mere gypsy,
2431 And this the noble body. I am sotted,
2432 50 Utterly lost. My virgin’s faith has fled me.
2433 For if my brother but even now had asked me
2434 Whether I loved, I had run mad for Arcite.
2435 Now, if my sister, more for Palamon.
2436 Stand both together. Now, come ask me, brother.
2437 55 Alas, I know not! Ask me now, sweet sister.
2438 I may go look! What a mere child is Fancy,
2439 That, having two fair gauds of equal sweetness,
2440 Cannot distinguish, but must cry for both.
Enter ⌜a⌝ Gentleman.
2441 How now, sir?
GENTLEMAN 2442 60 From the noble duke, your brother,
2443 Madam, I bring you news: the knights are come.
2444 To end the quarrel?
EMILIA 2446 Would I might end first!
2447 65 What sins have I committed, chaste Diana,
2448 That my unspotted youth must now be soiled
2449 With blood of princes, and my chastity
2450 Be made the altar where the lives of lovers—
2451 Two greater and two better never yet
2452 70 Made mothers joy—must be the sacrifice
2453 To my unhappy beauty?
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous and Attendants.
THESEUS, ⌜to Attendant⌝ 2454 Bring ’em in
2455 Quickly, by any means; I long to see ’em.
2456 ⌜To Emilia.⌝ Your two contending lovers are
2457 75 returned,
2458 And with them their fair knights. Now, my fair
2460 You must love one of them.
EMILIA 2461 I had rather both,
2462 80 So neither for my sake should fall untimely.
2463 Who saw ’em?
PIRITHOUS 2464 I awhile.
GENTLEMAN 2465 And I.
Enter ⌜a⌝ Messenger.
2466 From whence come you, sir?
MESSENGER 2467 85 From the knights.
THESEUS 2468 Pray
2470 You that have seen them, what they are.
MESSENGER 2471 I will, sir,
2472 90 And truly what I think. Six braver spirits
2473 Than these they have brought, if we judge by the
2476 In the first place with Arcite, by his seeming,
2477 95 Should be a stout man, by his face a prince—
2478 His very looks so say him; his complexion
2479 Nearer a brown than black—stern and yet noble—
2480 Which shows him hardy, fearless, proud of dangers;
2481 The circles of his eyes show ⌜fire⌝ within him,
2482 100 And as a heated lion, so he looks.
2483 His hair hangs long behind him, black and shining
2484 Like ravens’ wings; his shoulders broad and strong,
2485 Armed long and round; and on his thigh a sword
2486 Hung by a curious baldric, when he frowns
2487 105 To seal his will with. Better, o’ my conscience,
2488 Was never soldier’s friend.
2489 Thou hast well described him.
PIRITHOUS 2490 Yet a great
2491 deal short,
2492 110 Methinks, of him that’s first with Palamon.
2493 Pray speak him, friend.
PIRITHOUS 2494 I guess he is a prince too,
2495 And, if it may be, greater; for his show
2496 Has all the ornament of honor in ’t:
2497 115 He’s somewhat bigger than the knight he spoke of,
2498 But of a face far sweeter; his complexion
2499 Is, as a ripe grape, ruddy. He has felt
2500 Without doubt what he fights for, and so apter
2501 To make this cause his own. In ’s face appears
2502 120 All the fair hopes of what he undertakes,
2503 And when he’s angry, then a settled valor,
2504 Not tainted with extremes, runs through his body
2505 And guides his arm to brave things. Fear he cannot;
2506 He shows no such soft temper. His head’s yellow,
2507 125 Hard-haired and curled, thick-twined like ivy ⌜tods,⌝
2508 Not to undo with thunder. In his face
2509 The livery of the warlike maid appears,
2511 And in his rolling eyes sits Victory,
2512 130 As if she ever meant to ⌜crown⌝ his valor.
2513 His nose stands high, a character of honor;
2514 His red lips, after fights, are fit for ladies.
2515 Must these men die too?
PIRITHOUS 2516 When he speaks, his tongue
2517 135 Sounds like a trumpet. All his lineaments
2518 Are as a man would wish ’em, strong and clean.
2519 He wears a well-steeled axe, the staff of gold;
2520 His age some five-and-twenty.
MESSENGER 2521 There’s another—
2522 140 A little man, but of a tough soul, seeming
2523 As great as any; fairer promises
2524 In such a body yet I never looked on.
2525 O, he that’s freckle-faced?
MESSENGER 2526 The same, my lord.
2527 145 Are they not sweet ones?
PIRITHOUS 2528 Yes, they are well.
MESSENGER 2529 Methinks,
2530 Being so few, and well disposed, they show
2531 Great and fine art in nature. He’s white-haired—
2532 150 Not wanton white, but such a manly color
2533 Next to an auburn; tough and nimble-set,
2534 Which shows an active soul. His arms are brawny,
2535 Lined with strong sinews—to the shoulder-piece
2536 Gently they swell, like women new-conceived,
2537 155 Which speaks him prone to labor, never fainting
2538 Under the weight of arms; stout-hearted still,
2539 But when he stirs, a tiger. He’s grey-eyed,
2540 Which yields compassion where he conquers; sharp
2541 To spy advantages, and where he finds ’em,
2542 160 He’s swift to make ’em his. He does no wrongs,
2545 He shows a lover; when he frowns, a soldier.
2546 About his head he wears the winner’s oak,
2547 165 And in it stuck the favor of his lady.
2548 His age some six-and-thirty. In his hand
2549 He bears a charging-staff embossed with silver.
2550 Are they all thus?
PIRITHOUS 2551 They are all the sons of honor.
2552 170 Now, as I have a soul, I long to see ’em.—
2553 Lady, you shall see men fight now.
HIPPOLYTA 2554 I wish it,
2555 But not the cause, my lord. They would show
2556 Bravely about the titles of two kingdoms;
2557 175 ’Tis pity love should be so tyrannous.—
2558 O, my soft-hearted sister, what think you?
2559 Weep not till they weep blood. Wench, it must be.
THESEUS, ⌜to Emilia⌝
2560 You have steeled ’em with your beauty. (⌜To
Pirithous.⌝) 2561 Honored friend,
2562 180 To you I give the field; pray order it
2563 Fitting the persons that must use it.
PIRITHOUS 2564 Yes, sir.
2565 Come, I’ll go visit ’em. I cannot stay—
2566 Their fame has fired me so—till they appear.
2567 185 Good friend, be royal.
PIRITHOUS 2568 There shall want no bravery.
⌜All but Emilia⌝ exit.
2569 Poor wench, go weep, for whosoever wins
2570 Loses a noble cousin for thy sins.