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SCENE I.-Before LEONATO's House.

ACT I.

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Leon. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.

Gent. He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left him.

Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Gent. But few of any sort, and none of name. Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.

Gent. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.

Leon. He hath an uncle, here in Messina, will be very much glad of it.

Gent. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bit

terness.

Leon. Did he break out into tears?

Gent. In great measure.

Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that are so washed: how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping? Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto returned from the wars, or no?

Gent. I know none of that name, lady: there was none such in the army of any sort.

Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Hero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Gent. O he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he

was.

Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and chal

lenged Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt.-I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.

Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not. Gent. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it he is a very valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.

Gent. And a good soldier too, lady.

Beat. And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?

Gent. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues.

Beat. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuffed man; but for the stuffing,-Well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her: they never meet, but there's a skirmish of wit between them.

Beat. Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature.-Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.

Gent. Is't possible?

Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.

Gent. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?

H

Gent. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Beat. O Lord! he will hang upon him like a disease he is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.

Gent. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.

Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Gent. Don Pedro is approached.

Enter Don PEDRO, JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BAL-
THAZAR, and others.

D. Pedro. Good signior Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble? the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.

Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain, but when you depart from me, sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.

D Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think, this is your daughter.

Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her? Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

D. Pedro. You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this what you are, being a man.—Truly, the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.

Bene. If signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.

Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, signior Benedick no body marks you.

Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living?

Beat. Is it possible disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.

Bene. Then is courtesy a turn-coat. But it is certain, I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for, truly, I love none.

Beat. A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God, and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.

Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind; so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face.

Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours.

Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Bene. I would, my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way o' God's name; I have done.

Beat. You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.

D. Pedro. That is the sum of all.-Leonato,-signior Claudio, and signior Benedick,-my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the least a month, and he heartily prays some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.

Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.-Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty. John. I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Leon. Please it your grace, lead on?

D. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato: we will go together. [Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signior Leonato?

Bene. I noted her not; but I looked on her.
Claud. Is she not a modest young lady?

Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?

Claud. No; I pray thee, speak in sober judgment. Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her; that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.

Claud. Thou thinkest, I am in sport: I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'st her.

Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her? Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?

Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow, or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?

Claud. In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.

Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope, you have no intent to turn husband, have you?

Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Bene. Is't come to this, i' faith? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion ? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i' faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look; Don Pedro is returned to seek you. Re-enter Don PEDRO.

D. Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's?

Bene. I would your grace would constrain me to

tell.

D. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Bene. You hear, count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; but on my allegiance,―mark you this, on my allegiance.-He is in love. With whom?-now that is your grace's part. Mark, how short the answer is -with Hero, Leonato's short daughter.

Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.

Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.

Claud. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.

D. Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.

Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
D. Pedro. By my troth, I speak my thought.
Claud. And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

Claud. That I love her, I feel.

D. Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.

Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake.

D. Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.

Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.

Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her: that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, (for the which I may go the finer) I will live a bachelor.

D. Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

Bene. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with love: prove, that ever I lose more blood with love, than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.

D. Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.

Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me; and he that first hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.

D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try: "In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke."

Bene. The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns, and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write, "Here is good horse to hire," let them signify under my sign,-" Here you may see Benedick the married man.' Claud. If this should ever happen, thou would'st be horn-mad.

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D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

Bene. I look for an earthquake too, then. D. Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time, good signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's: commend me to him, and tell him, I will not fail him at supper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation.

Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I commit you

Claud. To the tuition of God: from my house, if I had it.

D. Pedro. The sixth of July: your loving friend, Benedick.

Bene. Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any farther, examine your conscience, and so I leave you. [Exit BENEDICK. Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me good. D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,

And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
Claud. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

D. Pedro. No child but Hero, she's his only heir. Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

O! my lord,

Claud.
When you went onward on this ended action,
I look'd upon her with a soldier's eye,
That lik'd, but had a rougher task in hand,
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
But now I am return'd, and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I lik'd her ere I went to wars-

D. Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her, and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end,
That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?
Claud. How sweetly do you minister to love,
That know love's grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salv'd it with a longer treatise.
D. Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than
the flood?

The fairest ground is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lovest,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night:
I will assume thy part in some disguise,
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio;
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart,
And take her hearing prisoner with the force,
And strong encounter of my amorous tale :
Then, after, to her father will I break;
And, the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II-A Room in LEONATO's House. Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO. Leon. How now, brother? Where is my cousin, your son? Hath he provided this music?

Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet dreamt not of. Leon. Are they good?

Ant. As the event stamps them; but they have a good cover; they show well outward. The prince and count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached alley in my orchard, were thus much overheard by a man of mine: the prince discovered to Claudio that he loved my niece, your daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present time by the top, and instantly break with you of it.

Leon. Hath the fellow any wit, that told you this? Ant. A good sharp fellow: I will send for him, and question him yourself.

Leon. No, no: we will hold it as a dream, till it appear itself; but I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you, and tell her of it. [Several persons cross the stage.] Cousins, you know what you have to do.-O! I cry you mercy, friend; go you with me, and I will use your skill.-Good cousin, have a care this busy time. [Exeunt. SCENE III.-Another Room in LEONATO's House.

Enter JOHN and CONRADE.

Con. What the good year, my lord! why are you thus out of measure sad?

John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds it, therefore the sadness is without limit. Con. You should hear reason.

John. And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?

Con. If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.

:

John. I wonder, that thou being (as thou say'st thou art) born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man's jests; eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.

Con. Yea; but you must not make the full show of this, till you may do it without controlment. You have, till of late, stood out against your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root, but by the fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.

John. I had rather be a canker in a hedge, than a rose in his grace; and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all, than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle, and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the mean time, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.

Con. Can you make no use of your discontent? John. I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here? What news, Borachio?

Enter BORACHIO. Bora. I came yonder from a great supper: the prince, your brother, is royally entertained by Leonato, and I can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.

John. Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he, for a fool, that betroths himself to unquietness?

Bora. Marry, it is your brother's right hand.
John. Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
Bora. Even he.

John. A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks he?

Bora. Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.

John. A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?

Bora. Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty-room, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference: I whipt me behind the arras, and there heard it agreed upon, that the prince should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to count Claudio.

John. Come, come; let us thither: this may prove food to my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?

Con. To the death, my lord.

John. Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the greater, that I am subdued. 'Would the cook were of my mind!-Shall we go prove what's to be done? Bora. We'll wait upon your lordship. [Exeunt.

ACT II.

SCENE I.-A Hall in LEONATO'S House. Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others.

Leon. Was not count John here at supper?
Ant. I saw him not.

Beat. How tartly that gentleman looks: I never can see him, but I am heart-burned an hour after. Hero. He is of a very melancholy disposition. Beat. He were an excellent man, that were made just in the mid-way between him and Benedick: the one is too like an image, and says nothing; and the other too like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.

Leon. Then, half signior Benedick's tongue in count John's mouth, and half count John's melancholy in signior Benedick's face,

Beat. With a good leg, and a good foot, uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman in the world,-if a' could get her good will.

Leon. By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

Ant. In faith, she's too curst.

Beat. Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's sending that way, for it is said, "God sends a curst cow short horns;" but to a cow too curst he sends none.

Leon. So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns?

Beat. Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing, I am at him upon my knees every

morning and evening. Lord! I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.

Leon. You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

Beat. What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel, and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me; and he that is less than a man I am not for him: therefore, I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell.

Leon. Well then, go you into hell?

Beat. No; but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and say, "Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here's no place for you maids:" so, deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens: he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.

Ant. Well, niece, I trust, you will be ruled by your father. [To Hero.

Beat. Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make courtesy, and say, "Father, as it please you:" but yet for all that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make another courtesy, and say, "Father, as it please me."

Leon. Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

Beat. Not till God make men of some other metal

than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be over

mastered with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; and truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

Leon. Daughter, remember, what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your

answer.

Beat. The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not woo'd in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him, there is measure in every thing, and so dance out the answer: for, hear me, Hero; wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque-pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly, modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance, and with his bad legs falls into the cinque-pace faster and faster, till he sink a-pace into his grave.

Leon. Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly. Beat. I have a good eye, uncle: I can see a church by day-light.

Leon. The revellers are entering, brother. Make good room!

Enter Don PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR; JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and maskers. D. Pedro. Lady, will you walk about with your friend?

Hero. So you walk softly, and look sweetly, and say nothing, I am yours for the walk; and, especially, when I walk away.

D. Pedro. With me in your company?
Hero. I may say so, when I please.

D. Pedro. And when please you to say so? Hero. When I like your favour; for God defend, the lute should be like the case!

D. Pedro. My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.

Hero. Why, then your visor should be thatched. D. Pedro. Speak low, if you speak love. [Takes her aside.

Bene. Well, I would you did like me.

Marg. So would not I, for your own sake; for I

have many ill qualities.

Bene. Which is one?

Marg. I say my prayers aloud.

good wit out of the "Hundred merry Tales."-Well,
this was signior Benedick that said so.
Bene. What's he?

Beat. I am sure, you know him well enough.
Bene. Not I, believe me.

Beat. Did he never make you laugh?
Bene. I pray you, what is he?

Beat. Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool, only his gift is in devising impossible slanders: none but libertines delight in him; and the commendation is not in his wit, but in his villainy, for he both pleases men, and angers them, and then they laugh at him, and beat him. I am sure, he is in the fleet; I would he had boarded me!

Bene. When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.

Beat. Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me; which, peradventure, not marked, or not laughed at, strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a partridge' wing saved, for the fool will eat no supper that night. [Music within.] We must follow the leaders.

Bene. In every good thing.

Beat. Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next turning.

[Dance. Then, exeunt all but JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO.

John. Sure, my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to break with him about it. The ladies follow her, and but one visor remains. Bora. And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.

John. Are not you signior Benedick?
Claud. You know me well: I am he.

John. Signior, you are very near my brother in his love he is enamoured on Hero. I pray you, dissuade him from her; she is no equal for his birth: you may do the part of an honest man in it.

Claud. How know you he loves her? John. I heard him swear his affection. Bora. So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night. John. Come, let us to the banquet.

[Exeunt JOHN and BORACHIO. Claud. Thus answer I in name of Benedick,

Bene. I love you the better; the hearers may cry But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio. Amen.

Marg. God match me with a good dancer! Bene. Amen.

'Tis certain so:-the prince woos for himself. Friendship is constant in all other things, Save in the office and affairs of love:

Marg. And God keep him out of my sight, when Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues; the dance is done!-Answer, clerk.

Bene. No more words: the clerk is answered.
Urs. I know you well enough: you are signior
Antonio.

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Let every eye negotiate for itself,

And trust no agent, for beauty is a witch,
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,

Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, then, Hero!
Re-enter BENEDICK.
Bene. Count Claudio?
Claud. Yea, the same.

Bene. Come, will you go with me?
Claud. Whither?

Bene. Even to the next willow, about your own business, county. What fashion will you wear the garland of? About your neck, like an usurer's chain, or under your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.

Claud. I wish him joy of her.

Bene. Why, that's spoken like an honest drover: so they sell bullocks. But did you think, the prince would

Beat. That I was disdainful, and that I had my have served you thus?

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