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Bene. How now! interjections? why then, some be of laughing, as, ha, ha, he! Claud. Stand thee by, friar: father, by your leave;
with free and unconstrained soul Give me this maid your daughter?
Leon. As freely, son, as god did give her me.
Claud. And what have I to give you back, whose worth May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
Pedro. Nothing, unless you render her again,
Claud. Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness :
There, Leonato, take her back again;
Give not this rotten orange to your friend :
She's but the sign and femblance of her honour:
Behold, how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal !
Comes not that blood, as modest evidence,
To witness simple virtue? would you not swear,
that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows ? but she is none :
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
Leon. What do you mean, my lord ?
Claud. Not to be marry’d; Not knit
my soul to an approv'd wanton. Leon. Dear my lord, if
your own approof Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth, And made defeat of her virginity
Claud. I know what you would say: if I have known her, You'll say, she did embrace me as a husband, And so extenuate the forehand fin. No, Leonato, I never tempted her with word too large ; But, as a brother to his fifter, show'd Bashful fincerity, and comely love. Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?
Claud. Out on thy seeming! I will write against it:
You seem'd to me as Dian in her orb;
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown :
But you are more intemperate in
Than Venus, or those pamper'd animals
That rage in savage sensuality.
Hero. Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide ?
Leon. Sweet prince, why speak not you?
Pedro. What should I speak ?
I stand dishonour'd, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common ftale.
Leon. Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
John. Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
Bene. This looks not like a nuptial.
Hero. True! o god!
Claud. Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the prince? Is this the prince's brother?
Is this face Hero's? are our eyes our own?
Leon. All this is so; but what of this, my lord ?
Claud. Let me but move one question to your daughter; And, by that fatherly and kindly power That
you have in her, bid her answer truly. Leon. I charge thee do so, as thou art my
child. Hero. O god defend me! how am I beset ! What kind of catechizing call
this? Leon. To make you answer truly to your name.
Hero. Is it not Hero? who can blot that name
With any just reproach?
Claud. Marry, that can Hero;
Hero herself can blot out Hero's virtue.
What man was he talk'd with you yesternight
Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
Hero. I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord.
Pedro. Why, then you are no maiden. Leonato,
I am sorry you must hear; upon mine honour,
Myself, my brother, and this grieved count,
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;
Who hath, indeed, like an illiberal villain,
Confess’d the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.
John. Fie! they are
Not to be nam’d, my lord, not to be spoken of;
There is not chastity enough in language,
Without offence, to utter them: thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadft thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been plac’d
About the thoughts and counsels of thy heart !
But, fare thee well, most foul, most fair ! farewel,
Thou pure impiety, and impious purity !
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.
Leon. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me? [Hero swoons.
Beat. Why, how now, cousin, wherefore sink you
down? John. Come, let us go; these things, come thus to light, Smother her spirits up.
[Exe. D. Pedro, D. John, and Claud.
Bene. How doth the lady?
Beat. Dead, I think; help, uncle.
Hero! why, Hero! uncle I lignior Benedick ! friar
Leon. O fate, take not away thy heavy hand I
Death is the fairest cover for her shame,
That may be wish'd for.
Beat. How now, cousin Hero?
Friar. Have comfort, lady.
Leon. Doft thou look up?
Friar. Yea; wherefore should she not?
Leon. Wherefore? why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood ?
Do not live, Hero, do not
For did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger that thy shames,
Myself would on the rereward of reproaches
Strike at thy life. Griev'd I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's hand ?
I've one too much by thee. Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes ?"
Why had not I, with charitable hand,
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates ?
Who smeared thus, and mir'd with infamy,
I might have said, no part of it is mine,
shame derives itself from unknown loins :
But mine, and mine I lov’d, and mine I prais’d,
And mine that I was proud on; mine fo much,
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, the, o, she is fallin
Into a pit of ink! that the wide fea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
And salt too little which may feafon give
To her foul tainted flesh.
Bene. Sir, sir, be patient;
For my part, I am so attir’d in wonder,
I know not what to say.
Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is bely'd !
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
Beat. No, truly, not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
Leon. Confirm’d, confirm’d! o, that is stronger made,
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron.
Would the prince lie? and Claudio would he lie,
Who lov’d her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears ? hence from her, let her die.
Friar. Hear me a little ;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions
To start into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes ;
And in her eye there hath appear’d a fire
To burn the errours that these princes hold
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool,
Trust not my reading, nor my observation,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenour of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting errour.
Leon. It cannot be;
Thou seest, that all the grace, that she hath left,
Is, that she will not add to her damnation
A fin of perjury; she not denies it:
Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears
Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of ?
Hero. They know that do accuse me; I know none:
If I know more of any man alive
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my fins lack mercy! O my father,
any man with me convers'd
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
Friar. There is some strange misprision in the princes.
Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour;
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,