Page images

leave you now to your gossip-like humor; you break jests as braggarts do their blades, which, God be thanked, hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you; I must discontinue your company. Your brother, the bastard, is fled from Messina; you have, among you, killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my lord Lack-beard, there, he and I shall meet; and till then, peace be with him.


D. Pedro. He is in earnest. Claud. In most profound earnest; and I'll warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.

D. Pedro. And hath challenged thee?

Claud. Most sincerely.

D. Pedro. What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and hose, and leaves off his wit!

Claud. He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a doctor to such a man.

D. Pedro. But, soft you, let be; pluck up, my heart, and be sad! Did he not say, my brother was fled?

Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.

Dogb. Come, you, sir; if justice cannot tame you, she shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance. Nay, and you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to. D. Pedro. How now, two of my brother's men bound! Borachio, one!

Claud. Hearken after their offence, my lord!

D. Pedro. Officers, what offence have these men done? Dogb. Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanderers; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.

D. Pedro. First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what's their offence; sixth and lastly, why they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay to their charge?

Claud. Rightly reasoned, and in his own division; and, by my troth, there's one meaning well suited.

D. Pedro. Whom have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? This learned constable is too cunning to be understood. What's your offence?


Bora. Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer; you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have deceived even your very eyes. What your wisdoms could not dis

cover, these shallow fools have brought to light; who, in the night, overheard me confessing to this man, how don John, your brother, incensed me to slander the lady Hero; how you were brought into the orchard, and saw me court Margaret in Hero's garment; how you disgraced her when you should marry her. My villany they have upon record; which I had rather seal with my death, than repeat over to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my master's false accusation: and, briefly, I desire nothing but the reward of a villain.

D. Pedro. Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?

Claud. I have drunk poison, whiles he uttered it. D. Pedro. But did my brother set thee on to this? Bora. Yea, and paid me richly for the practice of it. D. Pedro. He is composed and framed of treachery;And fled he is upon this villany.

Claud. Sweet Hero! Now thy image doth appear In the rare semblance that I loved it first.

Dogb. Come, bring away the plaintiffs. By this time our sexton hath reformed seignior Leonato of the matter. And, masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass.

Verg. Here, here comes master seignior Leonato, and the sexton too.

Re-enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, with the Sexton. Leon. Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes; That when I note another man like him,

I may avoid him. Which of these is he?

Bora. If you would know your wronger, look on me. Leon. Art thou the slave, that with thy breath hast killed

Mine innocent child?


Yea, even I alone.

Leon. No, not so, villain; thou bely'st thyself. Here stand a pair of honorable men,

A third is filed that had a hand in it.

I thank you, princes, for my daughter's death.
Record it with your high and worthy deeds;
'Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.

Claud. I know not how to pray your patience;
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention.
Can lay upon my sin. Yet sinned I not,
But in mistaking.

D. Pedro.

By my soul, nor I; And yet, to satisfy this good old man, I would bend under any heavy weight That he'll enjoin me to.

Leon. I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
That were impossible; but, I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here

How innocent she died; and, if your love
Can labor aught in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,

And sing it to her bones. Sing it to-night.-
To-morrow morning come you to my house;
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that's dead;

And she alone is heir to both of us :

Give her the right you should have given her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.


O, noble sir,

Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!

I do embrace your offer; and dispose

For henceforth of poor Claudio.

Leon. To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
To-night, I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,

Who, I believe, was packed in all this wrong,
Hired to it by your brother.

No, by my soul, she was not;
Nor knew not what she did, when she spoke to me;
But always hath been just and virtuous,

In any thing that I do know by her.

Dogb. Moreover, sir, (which, indeed, is not under white and black,) this plaintiff here, the offender, did call me ass. I beseech you, let it be remembered in his punishment; and also, the watch heard them talk of one Deformed: they say, he wears a key in his ear, and a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God's name; the which he hath used so long, and never paid, that now men grow hard-hearted, and will lend nothing for God's sake. Pray you, examine him upon that point.

Leon. I thank thee for thy care and honest pains. Dogb. Your worship speaks like a most thankful and reverend youth; and I praise God for you.

Leon. There's for thy pains.

Dogb. God save the foundation.

Leon. Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.

Dogb. I leave an errant knave with your worship; which, I beseech your worship, to correct yourself, for the example of others. God keep your worship; I wish your worship well; God restore you to health; I humbly give you leave to depart; and if a merry meeting may be wished, God prohibit it.Come, neighbor.

[Exeunt DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Watch. Leon. Until to-morrow morning, lords, fare well. Ant. Farewell, my lords; we look for you to-morrow. D. Pedro. We will not fail.


To-night I'll mourn with Hero. [Exeunt DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO.

Leon. Bring you these fellows on; we'll talk with Mar


How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow. [Exeunt.

SCENE II. Leonato's Garden.

Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting.

Bene. Pray thee, sweet mistress Margaret, deserve well at my hands, by helping me to the speech of Beatrice. Marg. Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?

Bene. In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou deservest it.

Marg. To have no man come over me? Why, shall I always keep below stairs?

Bene. Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth; it catches.

Marg. And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit, but hurt not.

Bene. A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman; and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice. I give thee the


Marg. Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own. Bene. If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids. Marg. Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who, I think, hath legs. [Exit MARGARET.

Bene. And therefore will come.

The god of love,

That sits above,

And knows me, and knows me,

How pitiful I deserve,


I mean, in singing; but in loving,-Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and a whole book full of these quondam carpet-mongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and over as my poor self, in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried; I can find out no rhyme to lady but baby, an innocent rhyme; for scorn, horn, a hard rhyme; for school, fool, a babbling rhyme; very ominous endings. No, I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.—


Sweet Beatrice, would'st thou come when I called thee? Beat. Yea, seignior, and depart when you bid me. Bene. O, stay but till then!

Beat. Then, is spoken; fare you well now. And yet, ere I go, let me go with that I came for, which is, with knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.

Bene. Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee. Beat. Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome: therefore I will depart unkissed.

Bene. Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But, I must tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge; and either I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And, Ĩ thee now, tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?


Beat. For them all together; which maintained so politic a state of evil, that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?

Bene. Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love, indeed, for I love thee against my will.

Beat. In spite of your heart, I think. Alas! poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.

Bene. Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

Beat. It appears not in this confession. There's not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.

Bene. An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the time of good neighbors. If a man do not erect in this age. his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument, than the bell rings, and the widow weeps.

Beat. And how long is that, think you?

Bene. Question!-Why, an hour in clamor, and a quar

« PreviousContinue »