Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Much Ado About Nothing

Scene I. A hall in LEONATO'S house.


[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and Others.]


LEONATO.

Was not Count John here at supper?


ANTONIO.

I saw him not.


BEATRICE.

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.


BEATRICE.

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.


LEONATO.

Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's mouth, and half

Count John's melancholy in Signior Benedick's face, -


BEATRICE.

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 ifa' could get her good

will.


LEONATO.

By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be

so shrewd of thy tongue.


ANTONIO.

In faith, she's too curst.


BEATRICE.

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.


LEONATO.

So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns?


BEATRICE.

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.


LEONATO.

You may light on a husband that hath no beard.


BEATRICE.

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-ward, and

lead his apes into hell.


LEONATO.

Well then, go you into hell?


BEATRICE.

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.


ANTONIO.

[To Hero.] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by your father.


BEATRICE.

Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy, and say,

'Father, as it please you:' - but yet for all that, cousin, let him

be a handsome fellow, or else make another curtsy, and say,

'Father, as it please me.'


LEONATO.

Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.


BEATRICE.

Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not

grieve a woman to be over-mastered 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 kinred.


LEONATO.

Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you

in that kind, you know your answer.


BEATRICE.

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

everything, 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.


LEONATO.

Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.


BEATRICE.

I have a good eye, uncle: I can see a church by daylight.


LEONATO.

The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.


[Enter, DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, DON JOHN,

BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and Others, masked.]


DON 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.


DON PEDRO.

With me in your company?


HERO.

I may say so, when I please.


DON PEDRO.

And when please you to say so?


HERO.

When I like your favour; for God defend the lute should be like

the case!


DON PEDRO.

My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.


HERO.

Why, then, your visor should be thatch'd.


DON PEDRO.

Speak low, if you speak love.


[Takes her aside.]


BALTHAZAR.

Well, I would you did like me.


MARGARET.

So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many ill qualities.


BALTHAZAR.

Which is one?


MARGARET.

I say my prayers aloud.


BALTHAZAR.

I love you the better; the hearers may cry Amen.


MARGARET.

God match me with a good dancer!


BALTHAZAR.

Amen.


MARGARET.

And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is done! Answer,

clerk.


BALTHAZAR.

No more words: the clerk is answered.


URSULA.

I know you well enough: you are Signior Antonio.


ANTONIO.

At a word, I am not.


URSULA.

I know you by the waggling of your head.


ANTONIO.

To tell you true, I counterfeit him.


URSULA.

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.


ANTONIO.

At a word, I am not.


URSULA.

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.


BEATRICE.

Will you not tell me who told you so?


BENEDICK.

No, you shall pardon me.


BEATRICE.

Nor will you not tell me who you are?


BENEDICK.

Not now.


BEATRICE.

That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the

'Hundred Merry Tales.' Well, this was Signior Benedick that said so.


BENEDICK.

What's he?


BEATRICE.

I am sure you know him well enough.


BENEDICK.

Not I, believe me.


BEATRICE.

Did he never make you laugh?


BENEDICK.

I pray you, what is he?


BEATRICE.

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 pleases 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!


BENEDICK.

When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.


BEATRICE.

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.


BENEDICK.

In every good thing.


BEATRICE.

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.]


DON 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.


BORACHIO.

And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.


DON JOHN.

Are you not Signior Benedick?


CLAUDIO.

You know me well; I am he.


DON JOHN.

Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamoured

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.


CLAUDIO.

How know you he loves her?


DON JOHN.

I heard him swear his affection.


BORACHIO.

So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.


DON JOHN.

Come, let us to the banquet.


[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]


CLAUDIO.

Thus answer I in name of Benedick,

But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.

'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.

Friendship is constant in all other things

Save in the office and affairs of love:

herefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;

Let every eye negotiate for itself

And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch

Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.

This is an accident of hourly proof,

Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!


[Re-enter Benedick.]


BENEDICK.

Count Claudio?


CLAUDIO.

Yea, the same.


BENEDICK.

Come, will you go with me?


CLAUDIO.

Whither?


BENEDICK.

Even to the next willow, about your own business, count. What fashion

will you wear the garland of? About your neck, like a 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.


CLAUDIO.

I wish him joy of her.


BENEDICK.

Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they sell bullocks.

But did you think the prince would have served you thus?


CLAUDIO.

I pray you, leave me.


BENEDICK.

Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the boy that stole

your meat, and you'll beat the post.


CLAUDIO.

If it will not be, I'll leave you.


[Exit.]


BENEDICK.

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 though

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.]


DON PEDRO.

Now, signior, where's the count? Did you see him?


BENEDICK.

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.


DON PEDRO.

To be whipped! What's his fault?


BENEDICK.

The flat transgression of a school-boy, who, being overjoy'd with

finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.


DON PEDRO.

Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in

the stealer.


BENEDICK.

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.


DON PEDRO.

I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.


BENEDICK.

If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, you say honestly.


DON PEDRO.

The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the gentleman that danced

with her told her she is much wronged by you.


BENEDICK.

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 at me.

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 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.]


DON PEDRO.

Look! here she comes.


BENEDICK.

Will your Grace command me any 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 furthest 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 Pygmies,

rather than hold three words' conference with this harpy. You have no

employment for me?


DON PEDRO.

None, but to desire your good company.


BENEDICK.

O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.


[Exit.]


DON PEDRO.

Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.


BEATRICE.

Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a

double heart for a single one: marry, once before he won it of me with

false dice, therefore your Grace may well say I have lost it.


DON PEDRO.

You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.


BEATRICE.

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.


DON PEDRO.

Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?


CLAUDIO.

Not sad, my lord.


DON PEDRO.

How then? Sick?


CLAUDIO.

Neither, my lord.


BEATRICE.

The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but civil

count, civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.


DON 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!


LEONATO.

Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes: his

Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!


BEATRICE.

Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.


CLAUDIO.

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I

could say how much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for

you and dote upon the exchange.


BEATRICE.

Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let

not him speak neither.


DON PEDRO.

In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.


BEATRICE.

Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of care.

My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.


CLAUDIO.

And so she doth, cousin.


BEATRICE.

Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I

am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!


DON PEDRO.

Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.


BEATRICE.

I would rather have one of your father's getting. Hath your Grace ne'er

a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could

come by them.


DON PEDRO.

Will you have me, lady?


BEATRICE.

No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days: your Grace

is too costly to wear every day. But, I beseech your Grace, pardon me;

I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.


DON PEDRO.

Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for out

of question, you were born in a merry hour.


BEATRICE.

No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced,

and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!


LEONATO.

Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?


BEATRICE.

I cry you mercy, uncle. By your Grace's pardon.


[Exit.]


DON PEDRO.

By my troth, a pleasant spirited lady.


LEONATO.

There's little of the melancholy element in her, my lord: she is never

sad but when she sleeps; and not ever sad then, for I have heard my

daughter say, she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself

with laughing.


DON PEDRO.

She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.


LEONATO.

O! by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.


DON PEDRO.

She were an excellent wife for Benedick.


LEONATO.

O Lord! my lord, if they were but a week married, they would talk

themselves mad.


DON PEDRO.

Count Claudio, when mean you to go to church?


CLAUDIO.

To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all his rites.


LEONATO.

Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just seven-night; and a

time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind.


DON PEDRO.

Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing; but, I warrant thee,

Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim

undertake one of Hercules' labours, which is, to bring Signior Benedick

and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection the one with the

other. I would fain have it a match; and I doubt not but to fashion it,

if you three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you

direction.


LEONATO.

My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights' watchings.


CLAUDIO.

And I, my lord.


DON PEDRO.

And you too, gentle Hero?


HERO.

I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good

husband.


DON PEDRO.

And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that I know. Thus far

can I praise him; he is of a noble strain, of approved valour, and

confirmed honesty. I will teach you how to humour your cousin, that

she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your two helps, will

so practise on Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his

queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do

this, Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be ours, for we

are the only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift.


[Exeunt.]



Scene 2. Another room in LEONATO'S house.


[Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]


DON JOHN.

It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of Leonato.


BORACHIO.

Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.


DON JOHN.

Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable to me: I am

sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his affection

ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?


BORACHIO.

Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no dishonesty shall appear

in me.


DON JOHN.

Show me briefly how.


BORACHIO.

I think I told your lordship, a year since, how much I am in the

favour of Margaret, the waiting-gentlewoman to Hero.


DON JOHN.

I remember.


BORACHIO.

I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, appoint her to look

out at her lady's chamber window.


DON JOHN.

What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?


BORACHIO.

The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to the prince your

brother; spare not to tell him, that he hath wronged his honour in

marrying the renowned Claudio, - whose estimation do you mightily hold

up, - to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.


DON JOHN.

What proof shall I make of that?


BORACHIO.

Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio, to undo Hero,

and kill Leonato. Look you for any other issue?


DON JOHN.

Only to despite them, I will endeavour anything.


BORACHIO.

Go then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the Count Claudio

alone: tell them that you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of

zeal both to the prince and Claudio, as - in love of your brother's

honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's reputation, who is

thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid, - that you have

discovered thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer

them instances, which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at

her chamber-window, hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me

Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended

wedding: for in the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero

shall be absent; and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero's

disloyalty, that jealousy shall be called assurance, and all the

preparation overthrown.


DON JOHN.

Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put it in practice.

Be cunning in the working this, and thy fee is a thousand ducats.


BORACHIO.

Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning shall not shame me.


DON JOHN.

I will presently go learn their day of marriage.


[Exeunt.]


Scene 3. - LEONATO'S Garden.


[Enter Benedick.]


BENEDICK.

Boy!


[Enter a Boy.]


BOY.

Signior?


BENEDICK.

In my chamber-window lies a book; bring it hither to me in the

orchard.


BOY.

I am here already, sir.


BENEDICK.

I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.

[Exit Boy.]

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool

when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed

at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own

scorn by falling in love: and such a man is Claudio. I have known,

when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife; and now had

he rather hear the tabor and the pipe: I have known when he would have

walked ten mile afoot to see a good armour; and now will he lie ten

nights awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to

speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and

now is he turned orthography; his words are a very fantastical

banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted, and see

with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not be sworn but

love may transform me to an oyster; but I'll take my oath on it, till

he have made an oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One

woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another

virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman

shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise, or

I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her; fair, or I'll never

look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel;

of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what

colour it please God. Ha! the prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me

in the arbour.

[Withdraws.]


[Enter DON PEDRO, LEONATO, and CLAUDIO, followed by BALTHAZAR and

Musicians.]


DON PEDRO.

Come, shall we hear this music?


CLAUDIO.

Yea, my good lord.

How still the evening is,

As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!


DON PEDRO.

See you where Benedick hath hid himself?


CLAUDIO.

O! very well, my lord: the music ended,

We'll fit the kid-fox with a penny-worth.


DON PEDRO.

Come, Balthazar, we'll hear that song again.


BALTHAZAR.

O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice

To slander music any more than once.


DON PEDRO.

It is the witness still of excellency,

To put a strange face on his own perfection.

I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.


BALTHAZAR.

Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;

Since many a wooer doth commence his suit

To her he thinks not worthy; yet he wooes;

Yet will he swear he loves.


DON PEDRO.

Nay, pray thee come;

Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,

Do it in notes.


BALTHAZAR.

Note this before my notes;

There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.


DON PEDRO.

Why these are very crotchets that he speaks;

Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing!


[Music.]


BENEDICK.

Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not strange that

sheep's gutsshould hale souls out of men's bodies? Well, a horn for

my money, when all's done.


[Balthasar sings.]

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,

Men were deceivers ever;

One foot in sea, and one on shore,

To one thing constant never.

Then sigh not so,

But let them go,

And be you blithe and bonny,

Converting all your sounds of woe

Into Hey nonny, nonny.


Sing no more ditties, sing no mo

Of dumps so dull and heavy;

The fraud of men was ever so,

Since summer first was leavy.

Then sigh not so,

But let them go,

And be you blithe and bonny,

Converting all your sounds of woe

Into Hey nonny, nonny.


DON PEDRO.

By my troth, a good song.


BALTHAZAR.

And an ill singer, my lord.


DON PEDRO.

Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.


BENEDICK.

[Aside.] An he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would

have hanged him; and I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had

as lief have heard the night-raven, come what plague could have come

after it.


DON PEDRO.

Yea, marry; dost thou hear, Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some

excellent music, for to-morrow night we would have it at the Lady

Hero's chamber-window.


BALTHAZAR.

The best I can, my lord.


DON PEDRO.

Do so: farewell.


[Exeunt BALTHAZAR and Musicians.]


Come hither, Leonato: what was it you told me of to-day, that your

niece Beatrice was in love with Signior Benedick?


CLAUDIO.

O! ay: -

[Aside to DON PEDRO] Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits. I did never

think that lady would have loved any man.


LEONATO.

No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she should so dote on

Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seemed ever

to abhor.


BENEDICK.

[Aside.] Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?


LEONATO.

By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it but that she

loves him with an enraged affection: it is past the infinite of thought.


DON PEDRO.

May be she doth but counterfeit.


CLAUDIO.

Faith, like enough.


LEONATO.

O God! counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of passion came so near

the life of passion as she discovers it.


DON PEDRO.

Why, what effects of passion shows she?


CLAUDIO.

[Aside.] Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.


LEONATO.

What effects, my lord? She will sit you; [To Claudio.] You heard

my daughter tell you how.


CLAUDIO.

She did, indeed.


DON PEDRO.

How, how, I pray you? You amaze me: I would have thought her spirit

had been invincible against all assaults of affection.


LEONATO.

I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially against Benedick.


BENEDICK.

[Aside] I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded

fellow speaks it: knavery cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.


CLAUDIO.

[Aside.] He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.


DON PEDRO.

Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?


LEONATO.

No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.


CLAUDIO.

Tis true, indeed;so your daughter says: 'Shall I,' says she, 'that

have so oft encountered him with scorn, write to him that I love him?'


LEONATO.

This says she now when she is beginning to write to him; for she'll

be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till

she have writ a sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.


CLAUDIO.

Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your

daughter told us of.


LEONATO.

O! when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found

Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?


CLAUDIO.

That.


LEONATO.

O! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence; railed at herself,

that she should be so immodest to write to one that she knew would

flout her: 'I measure him,' says she, 'by my own spirit; for I should

flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I love him, I should.'


CLAUDIO.

Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears

her hair, prays, curses; 'O sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'


LEONATO.

She doth indeed; my daughter says so; and the ecstasy hath so much

overborne her, that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will do a

desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.


DON PEDRO.

It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other, if she will

not discover it.


CLAUDIO.

To what end? he would make but a sport of it and torment the poor

lady worse.


DON PEDRO.

An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an excellent sweet

lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.


CLAUDIO.

And she is exceeding wise.


DON PEDRO.

In everything but in loving Benedick.


LEONATO.

O! my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender a body, we have

ten proofs to one that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as

I have just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.


DON PEDRO.

I would she had bestowed this dotage on me; I would have daffed all

other respects and made her half myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of

it, and hear what a' will say.


LEONATO.

Were it good, think you?


CLAUDIO.

Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she will die if he love

her not, and she will die ere she make her love known, and she will die

if he woo her, rather than she will bate one breath of her accustomed

crossness.


DON PEDRO.

She doth well: if she should make tender of her love, 'tis very

possible he'll scorn it; for the man, - as you know all, - hath a

contemptible spirit.


CLAUDIO.

He is a very proper man.


DON PEDRO.

He hath indeed a good outward happiness.


CLAUDIO.

Fore God, and in my mind, very wise.


DON PEDRO.

He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.


CLAUDIO.

And I take him to be valiant.


DON PEDRO.

As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of quarrels you may say

he is wise; for either he avoids them with great discretion, or

undertakes them with a most Christian-like fear.


LEONATO.

If he do fear God, a' must necessarily keep peace: if he break the

peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.


DON PEDRO.

And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, howsoever it seems not

in him by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for your

niece. Shall we go seek Benedick and tell him of her love?


CLAUDIO.

Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with good counsel.


LEONATO.

Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.


DON PEDRO.

Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter: let it cool the

while. I love Benedick well, and I could wish he would modestly

examine himself, to see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.


LEONATO.

My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.


CLAUDIO.

[Aside.] If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my

expectation.


DON PEDRO.

[Aside.] Let there be the same net spread for her; and that must your

daughter and her gentle-woman carry. The sport will be, when they hold

one an opinion of another's dotage, and no such matter: that's the

scene that I would see, which will be merely a dumb-show. Let us send

her to call him in to dinner.


[Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO.]


BENEDICK.

[Advancing from the arbour.] This can be no trick: the conference was

sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity

the lady: it seems her affections have their full bent. Love me! why,

it must be requited. I hear how I am censured: they say I will bear

myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from her;they say too that

she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think

to marry: I must not seem proud: happy are they that hear their

detractions, and can put them to mending. They say the lady is fair:

'tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: 'tis so, I cannot

reprove it; and wise, but for loving me: by my troth, it is no

addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be

horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and

remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against

marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his

youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and

these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his

humour? No; the world must be peopled. When I said I would die a

bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. Here comes

Beatrice. By this day! she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love

in her.


[Enter BEATRICE.]


BEATRICE.

Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.


BENEDICK.

Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.


BEATRICE.

I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me:

if it had been painful, I would not have come.


BENEDICK.

You take pleasure then in the message?


BEATRICE.

Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point, and choke

a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior: fare you well.


[Exit.]


BENEDICK.

Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner,'

there's a double meaning in that. 'I took no more pains for those

thanks than you took pains to thank me,' that's as much as to say,

Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do not take

pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. I

will go get her picture.


[Exit.]

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