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Beat. Will you not tell me who told you so ?
Beat. That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the Hundred merry Tales ; 1_Well, this was seignior 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.
Beat. Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next turning.
[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 Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to break with him about it: the ladies follow her, and but one visor remains.
i This was a term for a jest-book in Shakspeare's time, from a popular collection of that name, about which the commentators were much puzzled, until a large fragment was discovered in 1815, by the Rev. J. Conybeare, Professor of Poetry in Oxford. VOL. I.
Bora. And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.
D. John. Are not you seignior Benedick?
D. John. Seignior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamored on Hero ; I
, 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.
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.
1 Blood signifies amorous heat or passion
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
Claud. If it will not be, I'll leave you. [Exit. 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.
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 transgression 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.
1 A parallel thought occurs in Isaiah, c. i., where the prophet, in describing the desolation of Judah, says, “ The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers," &c. It appears that these lonely buildings were necessary, as the cucumbers, &c. were obliged to be constantly watched and watered, and that as soon as the crop was gathered they were forsaken.
Ď. Pedro. I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.
Bene. If their singing answer your saying, by my faith you say honestly.
D. Pedro. The lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you; the gentleman, that danced with her, told her, she is much wronged by you.
Bene. O, she misused me past the endurance of a block; an oak, but with one green leaf on it, would have answered her; my very visor began to assume life, and scold with her: She told me, not thinking I had been myself, that I was the prince's jester: that I was duller than a great thaw: huddling jest upon jest, with such impossible conveyance upon me, that I stood like a man at a mark with a whole army shooting
She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star. I would not marry her, though she were endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed; she would have made Hercules have turned spit; yea, and have cleft his club to make the fire too.
Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the infernal Ate 1 in good apparel. I would to God, some scholar would conjure her; for, certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell, as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose, because they would go thither : so, indeed, all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follow her.
Re-enter Claudio, BEATRICE, Hero, and LEONATO.
service to the world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the antipodes, that you can devise to send me on; I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the farthest inch of Asia; bring you the length of Prester John's foot ; fetch you a hair off the great Cham's beard : do you any embassage to the Pigmies, rather than hold three words' conference with this harpy: you have no employment for me?
1 The goddess of discord.
D. Pedro. None, but to desire your good company.
Bene. O God, sir, here's a dish I love not; I cannot endure my lady Tongue.
[Exit. D. Pedro. Come, lady, come: you have lost the heart of seignior Benedick.
Beat. Indeed, my lord, he lent it me a while; and I give him use" for it, a double heart for his single one: marry, once before, he won it of me with false dice; therefore your grace may well say,
I have lost it.
D. Pedro. You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.
Beat. So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother of fools. I have brought count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.
D. Pedro. Why, how now, count? Wherefore are
Claud. Not sad, my lord. .
Beat. The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well: but civil, count; civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.
D. Pedro. I'faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true, though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won; I have broke with her father, and his good will obtained : name the day of marriage, and God give thee joy!
Leon. Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes: his
hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!
Beat. Speak, count, 'tis your cue.
Claud. Silence is the perfectest herald of joy; I were but little happy, if I could say how much.