Page images

man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but in that* thou art like to be ng kiosman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.

Claud. I had well hoped, thou would'st have de nied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double dealer; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.

Bene. Come, come, we are friends :- let's have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our hearts, and our wives' heels.

Leon. We'll have dancing afterwards.

Bene. First, o'my word; therefore, play, music.Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee 2 wife; there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.

Enter a Messenger. Mess. Mylord, your brother John is ta'en iu flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina.

Bene. Think not on him till tomorrow; I'll de. vise thee brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers.

(Dance: [Ereunt.

# Because,

This play may be justly said to contain two of the most sprightly characters that Shakspeare ever drew. The wit, the humourist, the gentleman, and the sol. dier, are combined in Benedick. It is to be lamented, indeed, that the first and most splendid of these distinctions, is disgraced by unnecessary profaneness; for the goodness of his heart is hardly suffi. cient to atone for the licence of his tongue. The too

sarcastic levity, which flashes out in the conversa.
tion of Beatrice, may be excused on account of the
steadiness and friendship so apparent in her beha•
viour, when she urges her lover to risque his life by a
challenge to Claudio. In the conduct of the fable,
however, there is an imperfection similar to that
which Dr. Johnson has pointed out in The Merry
Wives of Windsor :-the second contrivance is less
ingenious than the first:-or, to speak more plainly,
the same incident is become stale by repetition. I
wish some other method had been found to entrap
Beatrice, than that very one which before had been
successfully practised on Benedick,

Much Ado About Nothing (as I understand from
one of Mr. Vertue's MSS.), formerly passed under
the title of Benedick and Beatrix, Heming the
player received, on the 20th of May, 1613, the sum
of forty pounds, and twenty pounds more as his ma-
jesty's gratuity, for exhibiting six plays at Hampton
Court, among which was thiş comedy,



[ocr errors]




Theseus, duke of Athens.
Egeus, futher to Hermia.

in love with Hermia.


, }


Philostrate, master of the revels to Theseus.
Quince, the carpenter.
Snug, the joiner.
Bottom, the weaver.
Flute, the bellows-mender.
Snout, the tinker.
Starveling, the tailor.
Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, betrothed to

Hermia, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander.
Heleda, in love with Demetrius.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Oberon, king of the fairies.
Titania, queen of the fairies.
Puck, or Robin-good fellow, a fairy.

Mustard seed,

Characters in the interlude, per-

formed by the clowns,
Other fairies attending their king and queen.

Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta.
Scene, Athens, and a wood not far from it.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



SCENE I. Athens. A room in the palace of


Enter. Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, and at.


Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, oh, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Hip. Four days will quickly steep themselves in

nights ;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »