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Mess. 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. 30 Mess. O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged 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.
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. 74 Mess. 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.
Mess. 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 Toyage with him to the devil? 84 Mess. 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 a' be
Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Mess. Don Pedro is approached.
Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENE
DICK, BALTHAZAR, and Others. D. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it. 100 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 105 D. Pedro. You embrace your charge too villingly. I think this is your daughter. Leon. Her mother hath many times told
Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you
I asked her?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then you were 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, you are like an honourable father. Bene. I noted her not; but I looked on her. Bene. If Signior Leonato be her father, she Claud. Is she not a modest young lady? 172 would not have his head on her shoulders for all Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man Messina, as like him as she is. 120 should do, for my simple true judgment; or
Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex? 176 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. 184 Claud. Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her? 188
Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel? Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into. 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. 197 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 to the contrary, if Hero would be my wife. 206 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 three score 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. 217
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 who? now that is your Grace's part. Mark how short his answer is: with Hero, Leonato's short daughter.
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. 245 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. 256 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 balladmaker'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 hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam. D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try: 270 '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 wouldst be horn-mad.
D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered. quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly. Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, Bene. I look for an earthquake too then. nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it D. Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the should be so.' 228 hours. In the meantime, good Signior Benedick,
repair to Leonato's: commend me to him and And the conclusion is, she shall be thine. tell him I will not fail him at supper; for indeed In practice let us put it presently. he hath made great preparation.
Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I commit youClaud. 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 further, examine your conscience: and so I leave you. [Exit.
Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me good. 300
D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
O! my lord,
When you I went onward on this ended action, I looked 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 312 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? 321 Claud. How sweetly do you minister to love, That know love's grief by his complexion! But lest my liking might too sudden seem, 324 I would have salv'd it with a longer treatise. D. Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the flood? The fairest grant is the necessity. Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lov'st, And I will fit thee with the remedy.
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,
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. 17 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.
D. 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 meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me. 39 Con. Can you make no use of your discontent? D. John. I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here?
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.
47 D. 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. D. John. Who? the most exquisite Claudio? Bora. Even he. 53
D. John. A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks he?
Bora. Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato. 57 D. 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.
D. 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?