Page images
PDF
EPUB

In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.

Leon. Tush, tush, man, never fleer and jest at me: I speak not like a dotard, nor a fool; As, under privilege of age, to brag What I have done being young, or what would do, Were I not old : Know, Claudio, to thy head, Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me, That I am forc'd to lay my reverence by ; And, with gray hairs, and bruise of many days, Do challenge thee to trial of a man.

say, thou hast belied mine innocent child; Thy slander hath gone through and through her

heart,
And she lies buried with her ancestors :
0! in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of her's fram'd by thy villany.

Claud. My villany?
Leon.

Thine, Claudio; thine I say.
D. Pedro. You say not right, old man.
Leon.

My lord, my lord, I'll prove it on his body,

he dare;
Despite his nice fence, and his active practice,
His May of youth, and bloom of lustyhood.

Claud. Away, I will not have to do with you.
Leon. Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill'd

my child ;

If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.

Ant. He shall kill two of us, and men indeed :
But that's no matter; let him kill one first :-
Win me and wear me,-let him answer me,
Come, follow me, boy ; come, boy, follow me :-
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining2 fence ;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.

Leon. Brother,-
Ant. Content yourself: God knows, I lov'd my

niece; And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains; That dare as well answer a man, indeed,

(1) Skill in fencing. (2) Thrusting

As I dare take a serpent by the tongue :
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops !--
Leon.

Brother Antony, -
Ant. "Hold you content; What, man! I know

them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple:
Scrambling, out-facing, fashion-mong'ring boys,
That lie, and cog, and fout, deprave and slander,
Go anticly, and show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst,
And this is all.

Leon. But, brother Antony,-
Ant.

Come, 'tis no matter ;
Do not you meddle, let me deal in this.
D. Pedro. Gentlemen both, we will not wake

your patience. My heart is sorry for your daughter's death ; But, on my honour, she was charg'd with nothing But what was true, and very full of proof. Leon. My lord, my lord,

D Pedro.

I will not hear you. Leon.

No? Brother, away :- I will be heard ;Ant.

And shall, Or some of us will smart for it.

(Exeunt Leonato and Antonio.

Enter Benedick. D. Pedro. See, see, here comes the man we went to seek.

Claud. Now, signior! what news ?
Bene. Good day, my lord.

D. Pedro. Welcome, signior : You are almost come to part almost a fray.

Claud. We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth.

D. Pedro. Leonato and his brother: What think'st thou ? Had we fought, I doubt, we should bave been too young for them.

Bene. In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came to seek you both.

Claud. We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high-proof melancholy, and would fain have it beaten away : Wilt thou use thy wit?

Bene. It is in my scabbard; shall I draw it?
D. Pedro. Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side ?

Claud. Never any did so, though very many have been beside their wit.-I will bid thee draw as we do the minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.

D. Pedro. As I am an honest man, he looks pale : Art thou sick or angry?

Claud. What! courage, man! What though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill

[ocr errors]

care.

Bene. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it against me:- I pray you, choose another subject.

Claud. Nay, then give him another staff; this last was broke cross.

D. Pedro. By this light, he changes more and more : I think, he be angry indeed.

Claud. If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.!
Bene. Shall I speak a word in your ear?
Claud. God bless me from a challenge!

Bene. You are a villain; I jest not :- I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare :--Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you: Let me hear from you.

Claud. Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.

D. Pedro. What, a feast? a feast?

Claud l'faith, I thank him ; he hath bida me to a calf's-head and a capon; the which if I do not carve most curiously, say, my knife's naught.-Shall I not find a woodcock too?

[ocr errors]

(1) To give a challenge.

(2) Invited.

Bene. Sir, your wit ambles well ; it goes easily.

D. Pedro. I'll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the other day : I said, thou hadst a fine wit'; True,

says she, a fine little one : No, said I, a great wit ; Right, says she, a great gross one : Nay, said. 1, a good wit : Just, said she, it hurts nobody : Nay, said I, the gentleman is wise; Certain, said she, a wise gentleman: Nay, said I, he hath the tongues ; That I believe, said she, for he swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning,

there's a double tongue ; there's two tongues. Thus did she, an hour together, trans-shape thy particular virtues; yet, at last, she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man in Italy.

Claud. For the which she wept heartily, and said, she cared not.

D. Pedro. Yea, that she did ; but yet, for all that, an if she did not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly : the old man's daughter told us all.

Claud. All, all ; and moreover, God saw him when he was hid in the garden.

D. Pedro. But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on the sensible Benedick's head?

Claud. Yea, and text underneath, Here dwells Benedick the married man.

Bene. Fare you well, boy ; you know my mind; I will leave you now to your gossip-like humour: you break jests as braggarts do their blades, which, God be thanked, hurt not.—My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you: I must discontinue your company ; your brother, the bastard, is fled from Messina : you have, among you, killed a sweet and innocent lady: for my lord Lack-beard, there, he and I shall meet; and till then, peace be with him.

[Exit Benedick. D. Pedro. He is in earnest.

Claud. In most profound earnest; and, I'll warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.

D. Pedro. And hath challenged thee ?

Claud. Most sincerely.

D. Pedro. What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and hose, and leaves off his wit! Enter Dogberry, Verges, and the Watch, with

Conrade and Borachio. Claud. He is then a giant to an ape : but then is an ape a doctor to such a man.

D. Pedro. But, soft you, let be; pluck up, my heart, and be sad ! Did he not say my brother was fled ?

Dogb. Come, you, sir; if justice cannot tame you, she shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance; nay, an you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.

D. Pedro. How now, two of my brother's men bound! Borachio, one!

Claud. Hearken to their offence, my lord!

D. Pedro. Officers, what offence have these men done?

Dogb. Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders ; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady ; thirdly, they have verified unjust things: and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.

D. Pedro. First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what's their offence; sixth and lastly, why they are committed ; and, to conclude, what you lay to their charge?

Claud. Rightly reasoned, and in his own division; and, by my troth, there's one meaning well suited.

D. Pedro. Whom have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? this learned constable is too cunning to be understood : What's your offence?

Bora. Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer; do you hear me, and let this count

(1) Serious.

« PreviousContinue »