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SCENE I. A Hall in Leonato's House.
Leon. Was not count John here at supper?
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 seignior Benedick's tongue in count John's mouth, and half count John's melancholy in seignior 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 he 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 is 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 upon 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-herd, 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, [To HERO.] I trust you will be ruled by your father.
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 çourtesy, 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 overmastered 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 wooed 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 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;
Don John, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and others masked. 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. When I like your favor; 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.
[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. And God keep him out of my sight, when the dance is done! — Answer, clerk.
Balth. No more words; the clerk is answered.
Urs. You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were the very man: here's his dry hand up and down; you are he, you are he. · Ant. At a word, I am not. · Urs. Come, come; do you think I do not know you by your excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are he; graces will appear, and there's an end.
Beat. Will you not tell me who told you so ? · Bene. No, you shall pardon me
Beat. Nor will you not tell me who you are ?
Beat. That I was disdainful, — and that I had my good wit out of the Hundred merry Tales ; — Well, this was seig. nior Benedick that said so.
Bene. What's 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 villany; for he both pleaseth 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.
he next turn
Dance. Boracamorous hout it:
Dance. Then exeunt all but Don John,
BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO. D. 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.
D. John. Seignior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamored 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 ?
Bora. So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night. D. John. Come, let us to the banquet.
Exeunt Don John and BORACHIO.
Beatriceso reputeout so; Il
Bene. Come, will you go with me?
Bene. Even to the next willow, about your own business, count. 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 have served you thus?
Claud. I pray you, leave me.
Bene. Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post. Claud. If it will not be, I'll leave you.
[Erit. Bene. Alas, poor hurt fowl! Now will he creep into sedges. — But, that my lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The prince's fool !-Ha! it may be, I go under that title, because I am merry. — Yea; but so; I am apt to do myself wrong: I am not so reputed: it is the base, the bitter disposition of Beatrice, that puts the world into her person, and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.
Re-enter Don PEDRO. D. Pedro. Now, seignior, where's the count? Did you see him ?
Bene. Troth, my lord, I have played the part of lady Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a warren; I told him, and, I think, I told him true, that your grace had got the good will of this young lady; and I offered him my company to a willow tree, either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.
D. Pedro. To be whipped! What's his fault?
Bene. The flat transgression of a schoolboy; who, being overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.
D. Pedro. Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The trangression is in the stealer.
Bene. Yet it had not been amiss, the rod had been made, and the garland too; for the garland he might have worn himself; and the rod he might have bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stolen his bird's nest.
D. Pedro. I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.