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yond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better bettir'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Melina will be very much glad of it.
Mel. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him ; even so much, that joy could not shew it self modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness; there are no faces truer than those that are so wash'd; how much berter is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?
Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto return'd from the wars or no.
Meff. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none luch in the army of any Sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, Neice?
Beat. He set up his bills here in Mesina, and chal, leng'd Cupid at the flights and my Uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscrib’d for Cupid, and challeng'd hiin at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hach he kill'd and eaten in these wars ? but how many hath he killid? for, indeed, I promis'd to eat all of his killing
Leon. "Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much ; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mel He hath done good fervice, Lady, in these
Beat. You had musty victuals, and he hath holp to cat it ; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Melli And a good soldier too, Lady.
to a lord ?
Mell. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed: (2) he is no less than a stuft man: but for the stuffing, — well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my Neice; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet, but there's a skirmish of wic 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 govern'd 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.
Mel: 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.
Mel. 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?
Mel. 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 pound ere he be cur'd. (2) - he is no less than a flufft man, but for the Stuffing well
, we are all mortal.] Thus has this Passage been all along flop'd, from
first Edition downwards. "If any of the Editors could extract Sense from this Pointing, their Sagacity is a Pitch above mine. I believe, by my Regulation of the Stops, I have retriev'd the Poet's true Meaning. Our Poet seems to use the Word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Mostellaria ; Act. 1. Sc. 3. Non Veftem amatores mulieris amant, fed Veftis fartum.
Mel. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Mel. Don Pedro is approch'd.
Don John. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid coft, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the like ness of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly: 1 think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you askt her?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no ; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; We may guefs by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathers her self, be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her Father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Meffina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder, that you will still be talking, Signior Benedi&t ; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible, Disdain should die, while the hath such meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtesie it self must convert to Disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is courtesie a turn-coat; but it is cer• tain, I am lov'd 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.
you of old.
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 humour 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 fome gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate scratcht 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 a God's name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know
Pedro. This is the sum of all: Leonato, Sig. nior Claudio, and Signior Benedick, friend Leonato hath invited you all ; I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays, fome occasion may detain us longer: I dare Twear 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.
John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but
[Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio. Claud. Benedick, didit thou note the daughter of Sig. nior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? or would you have
I thank you.
me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pry'thce, speak in sober judgment.
Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks, she is too low for an 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 think'st, I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'st her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire 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 Vulcas a rare carpenter? come, in what key shall a man take you to go in the Song?
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that I ever look'd on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter; there's her Cousin, if the were not pofsest with such a Fury, cxceeds 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 my self, tho' I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is't come to this, in faith?' hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? thall I never see a batchelor of threescore again ? go to, i'faith, if thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays: look, Don Pedro is return’d to seek you.
Re-enter Don Pedro and Don John. Pedro. What Secret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to Leonato's house?
Bene. I would, your Grace would constrain me to tell. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.