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Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better it is to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping !
Beat. I pray you, is seignior Montanto returned from the wars, or no?
Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army
of Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece ? Hero. My cousin means seignior Benedick of Padua. Mess. O, he is returned ; and as pleasant as ever
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.
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax seignior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet ’ with you, I doubt it not.
Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.
Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord ?
Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed“ with all honorable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing,—well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there
1 Montanto was one of the ancient terms of the fencing school; a title humorously given to one whom she would represent as a bravado.
2 Flights were long and light feathered arrows, that went directly to the mark.
is a kind of merry war betwixt seignior Benedick and her : they never meet, but there is 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 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.
Mess. 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.
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 voyage with him to the devil ?
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 pounds ere he be cured.
Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
1 In Shakspeare's time, wit was the general term for intellectual power. The wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses.
2 This is an heraldic term. So, in Hamlet, Ophelia says, “ You may wear your rue with a difference.”
Enter Don Pedro, attended by BALTHAZAR and others,
Don John, Claudio, and BENEDICK. D. Pedro. Good seignior 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.
D. Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
Leon. Seignior Benedick, no; for then were you 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! For you are like an honorable father.
Bene. If seignior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders, for all Messina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, seignior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. 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 seignior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is courtesy a turncoat:- but it is certain, I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.
1 i. e. encumbrance, or, according to Mr. Douce, the person committed to your care.
* This phrase is common in Dorsetshire.“ Jack fathers himself,” is like his father.
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 humor 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 scratched face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an '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 o' God's name; I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know
you of old.
D. Pedro. This is the sum of all : Leonato,—seignior Claudio, and seignior 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, some 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.
D. John. I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Leon. Please it your grace lead on?
D. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together. [Exeunt all but BENEDICK and Claudio.
Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of seignior Leonato ?
Bene. I noted her not; but I looked on her. Claud. Is she not a modest 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 professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment.
Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks she is 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.
Claud. Thou thinkest I am in sport; 1 tell me truly how thou likest 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 into. 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 a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you to go in the
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.
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 the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is it come to this, i'faith ? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion ?3 Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore 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.
1 Do you mean to amuse us with improbable stories? 2 i. e. to join in the song. 3 i. e. subject his head to the disquiet of jealousy.