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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 better'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
Mej. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not thew itself modest enough, hout 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 washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping !
Beat. I pray you, is Signior Miontanto * returned from the wars, or no ?
Mel. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none such in the army of
fort. Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece? Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Mej. Oh, he's return’d, and as pleasant as ever he
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt.
“ I pray you,
hath " he kill'd and eaten in these wars ? but how many “ hath he kill'd? for indeed I promis’d 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.
Mel. He hath done good service, Lady, in these wars.
Beat. “ You had musty victuals, and he hath holp “ to eat it ; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath
an excellent stomach.”
to a lord?
* She gives him this name, to ridicule in him the character of a bluistering foldier, the word montanto in Spanish signifying a two-landed word.
Mel. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffd with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed : he is no less than a stuff'd 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's a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, 'ho gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governd with one: fo that, it he have wit enough to keep himself from harm, 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 fworn brother. Mell. Is it posible ?
Beat. Very easily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mel. I fee, 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 ?
Mes. He is most in the company of the Right Noble Claudio.
Beet. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the Noble Ciaudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will cost him a thoufand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Mel. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
S CE N E II. Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and
Don John. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble : the fashion of the world is to avoid cost and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of
your Grace: for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, forrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly; I think this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; we may guess by this what you are, being a man : truly the lady fathers herself; 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 Meflina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible Disdain should die, while she hath such meet fjod to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtefy itself must convert to Disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is Courtesy a turn-coat; but it is certain 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.
Beat. A dear happiness to women; they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I of
; I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.
; keep your way
Bene. God keep your Ladyship still in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other shall "scape a predestinate scratch'd face.
Beat. " Scratching could not make it worse, an “ 'twere such a face as your's were.”
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of your's.
Bene. I would my horse had the fpeed of your tongue, and so good name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know
Pedro. This is the sum of all : Leonato,-Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick,
-my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all ; I tell him, we fhall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays fome occafion' may detain us longer : I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you swear, my Lord, you shall not be forfworn. - -Let me bid you welcome, my Lord, being reconciled to the Prince your brother ; I owe you
you of old.
John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but
I thank you.
Leon. Pleafe it your Grace lead on?
[Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio.
S C Ε Ν Ε III. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato ? Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her. Claud, Is she not a modest young lady?
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest mán should do, for my fimple true judgment ? or would you have me speāk after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pr’ythee, fpeak in sober judgment,
Bene. Why, i' faith, me thinks 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 un“ handsome; 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 inquire 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 Vulcan a rare carpenter ? Come, in what key shall a man take you to go in the song ?
Claud. In mine eye, fhe 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 she were not possess’d with such a fury, exceeds 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 myself, though 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 ? shall I never see å bachelor 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.
SC EN E IV. Re-enter Don Pedro. Pedro, What secret hath held you here, that
follow'd not to Leonato's house ?
Bene. I would your Grace would constrain me to tell. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Bone. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; but on iny allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance :- he is in love; with whom ? now that is your Grace's part: mark, how short his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's fhort daughter.
Claud. If this were fo, fo were it uttered.