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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

ACT I.

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SCENE I.-Before Leonato's House. Enter LEONATO,
HERO, BEATRICE, and others, with a Messenger.

Leonato.
I LEARN in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon
comes this night to Messina.

Mess. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.

Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this aclion ?

Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.

Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.

Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro : He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age ; doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion : he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.

Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him ; even so much, that joy could not show itself modest enough, without a badge of bitterness.'

Leon. Did he break out into tears ?
Mess. In great measure.

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[1] This is judiciously expressed. Of all the transports of joy, that which is attended with tears is least offensive; because, carrying with it this mark of pain, it allays the envy that usually attends another's happiness. This he finely calls a modest joy, such a one as did not insult the observer by an indication of happiness tigmixed with pain. WARBURTON.

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Leon. A kind overflow of kindness : There are no faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping ?

Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto returned from the wars, or no ?

Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort.

Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece ?
Ilero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Mess. O, he is returned ; and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challenged Cupid at the flight :: and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. - pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars ? But how many hath he killed ? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.

Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much ; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

Beat. You had musty victual, and he bath holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.

Mess. And a good soldier too, lady. Beat. And a good soldier to a lady ;--But what is he to a lord ?

Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man ; stuffed with all honourable virtues.5

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(2] Montante, in Spanish, is a huge two-handed sword, a title given, with much humour, to one whom the speaker would represent as a boaster or bravado.

WARBURTON. Montando was one of the ancient terms of the fencing-school. So, in The lives of Windsor :

-thy reverse, thy distance, thy montant. STEEVENS. [3] Flight (as M. Douce obserres to me) does not here mean an arrow, but a sort of shooting called roving, or shooting at long lengths. The arrows used at this oport are called flight-arrows; as were those used in battle for great distances.

STEEVENS. [4] The bird-bolt is a short thick arrow without a point, and spreading at the ex* tremity so much, as to leave a flat surface, about the breadth of a shilling. Such are to this day in use to kill rouka with, and are shot from' a cross-bow.

STEEVENS. The meaning of the whole is–Benedick, from a vain conceit of his influence over women, challenged Cupid at roving, (a particular kind of archery, in which flightarrows are used.) In other words, be challenged him to shoot at arts.

The fool, to ridicule this piece of vanity, in his turn challenged Benedick to shoot at crows with the cross bow and bird-bolt; an inferior kind of archery used by fools, who, for obvious reasons, were not permitted to shoot with pointed arrows : Whence the proverb-"A fool's bolt is soon sbot.” DOUCE.

[5] Stuffed, in this first instance, has no ridiculous meaning. Mr. Edwards observes. that Mede, in bis Discourses on Scripture, speaking of Adam, says, "e

Beat. It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man : but for the stuffing, --Well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece : there is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her: they never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit between them.

Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits® went balting off, and now is the whole man governed 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.?

Mess. 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.

Mess. 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 ?

Mess. 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 cured. Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady. Beat. Do, good friend.

whom God had stuffed with so many excellent qualities.". Un homme bien etofe, signifies, in French, a man in good circumstances. STEEVENS.

(6] In our author's time wit was the general term for intellectual powers. The wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses, or the five inIets to ideas. JOHNSON.

(7] i. e, one with wbom be hath sworn (as was anciently the custom among adventurers) to share fortunes. STEEVENS.

(8) To be in a man's books, originally meant to be in the list of his retainers. Sir Joha Mapdeville tells us, “ alle the mynstrelles that comen before the great Chap bęp witholden with him, as of his bousbold, and entred in bis bookes, as for his OWD men." FARMER

A servant and a lover were in Cupid's Vocabulary, synonymous. Hence perhapa the phrase-lo be in a person's books-was applied equally to tbe lover and the merial attendant. MALONE. [9] A squarer I take to be a choleric,

quarrelsome fellow, for in this sense Shakespeare uses the word to square. JOHNSON

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