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Leon. A kind overflow of kindness; there are no faces truer than those that are so wash'd : how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping !

Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto* return'd from the wars,

or no?

in the army

Mel. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such

of
any

fort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, neice?
Hero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Mej. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challeng’d Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribd for Cupid, and challeng’d him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he kill'd and eaten in these wars ? but, how many hath he kill’d? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.

Leon. ’Faith, neice, you tax fignior Benedick too much; büt he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Mel. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

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

Mej. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?

Mej. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuft with all honourable virtues.

Beat. It is so, indeed, he is no less than a stuft man: but, for the stuffing! well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my neice; 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 govern' 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;

She gives him this name to ridicule in him the character of a blustering foldier, the word Montanto in Spanish fignifying a two-handed sword.

for

your books.

for it is all the wearth o that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? he hath every month a new sworn brother.

Mej. Is it possible ?

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

Mel. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in

Beat. No; if 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 ?

Mel. 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 it be cur’d.

Mes. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, neice.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
Mej. Don Pedro is approach'd.

SCENE II. Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and Don John.

Pedro. Good fignior Leonato, you are 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.

Pedro. You embrace your charge most willingly: I think, this is your daughter.

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

you ask'd her ?

· Wearth is an old English word to fignify the wear or wearing of any thing. VOL. I.

K k k

Pedro.

Pedro, You have it full, Benedicki;. 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 fhe is.

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

Bené. 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 fignior 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 lov’d of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would, I coud 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 scratch'd face.

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

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 i'god's name, I have done. Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you

of old. Pedro. This is the sum of all: don John, signior Claudio, and fignior 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 fome 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.

[To don John John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Leon.

Leon. Please it your grace lead on?
Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.

[Exeunt all but Benedick, and Claudio.

[blocks in formation]

Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signior Leonato ?

Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Claud. Is she not a modeft 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 profeffed tyrant to their sex?

Claud. No, I pry’thee, speak in sober judgment.

Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks, she is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praife, and too little for a great praise : only this commendation I can afford her; that, were fhe other than she is, she were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.

Claud. Thou think'st, I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik’ft 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 in too : 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 á 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 I ever look'd

Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I fee no such matter : there's her cousin, if she were not possess’d with such a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of may doth the laft of december: but, I hope, you have no intent to turn busband, have you?

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

my
wife.
Kkk 2

Bene.

on.

Bene. Is't come to this, in 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, if thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away sundays: look, don Pedro is return'd to seek you.

SCENE IV.

Re-enter don Pedro. Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to Leonato's house?

Bene. I would, your grace would constrain me to tell.
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 his 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 fo; but, indeed, god forbid it should be fo.

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

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

Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
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 speak mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
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.

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

Claud.

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