« PreviousContinue »
representation of the contrast and contradic- | somewhat hastily we think,—“Any other tion between life in its real essence and the less ingeniously absurd watchmen and nightaspect which it presents to those who are constables would have answered the mere engaged in its struggle."
necessities of the action." Surely not. The Much Ado about Nothing' was Make Dogberry in the slightest degree less acted under the name of 'Benedick and self-satisfied, loquacious, full of the official Beatrice,' even during the life of its author. stuff of which functionaries are still cut out, These two characters absorb very much of and the action breaks down before the rejecthe acting interest of the play; but they tion of Hero by her lover. For it is not cannot be separated from the play without the ingenious absurdity that prevents the being liable to misconstruction. The cha- detection of the plot against Hero; it is the raeter of Beatrice cannot be understood, ex. absurdity which prevents the prompt disclocept in connection with the injuries done to sure of it after the detection. Truly did Hero; and except we view it, as well as the Don Pedro say, “ This learned constable is characters of all the other agents in the scene, too cunning to be understood.” The wise with reference to the one leading idea, that fellow, and the rich fellow, and the fellow there is a real aspect of things which is to be that hath had losses, and one that hath two seen by the audience and not seen by the gowns, and everything handsome about him, agents. The character of Don John, for exam. nevertheless holds his prisoners fast; and ple, and the characters of his loose confede- when he comes to the Prince, with “Marry, rates, are understood by the spectators; and sir, they have committed false report ; moretheir villainy is purposely transparent. With over, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, out Don John the plot could not move. He is they are slanders ; sixth and lastly, they not a rival in Claudio's love, as the “wicked have belied a lady; thirdly, they have veriduke” of Ariosto : he is simply a moody, fied unjust things; and, to conclude, they ill-conditioned, spiteful rascal ; such a one as are lying knaves,”—though his method be ordinarily takes to backbiting and hinting not logical, his matter is all-sufficient. The away character. Shakspere gets rid of him passionate lover, the calm and sagacious as soon as he can : he fires the train and dis- prince, the doting father, were the dupes of appears. He would be out of harmony with a treachery, not well compact, and carried the happiness which he has suspended, but through by dangerous instruments. They not destroyed; and so he passes from the make no effort to detect what would not stage, with
have been difficult of detection: they are “ Think not on him till to-morrow." satisfied to quarrel and to lament. Accident But his instrumentality has been of the discovers what intelligence could not peneutmost importance. It has given us that trate; and the treacherous slander is manibeautiful altar-scene, that would be almost fest in all its blackness to the wise Dog. too tragical if we did not know that the berry :"Much Ado" was "about Nothing." But “ Flat burglary as ever was committed." that maiden's sorrows, and that father's pas- Here is the crowning irony of the philosion, are real aspects of life, however unreal sophical poet. The players of the game of be the cause of them. The instrumentality, life see nothing, or see minute parts only; too, of the bateful Don John has given us but the dullest by-stander has glimpses of Dogberry and Verges. Coleridge has said, something more.
DOGBERRY, a city officer.
Act V. sc. 1.
Act V. sc. 1.
HERO, daughter to Leonato.
Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 4.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3.
Hero. Appears, Act II. sc. 1. Act III. sc. l; sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2. URSULA, a gentlewoman attending on Hero. Appears, Act II. sc. 1. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 4.
Act V. sc. 2; sc. 4.
Messengers, Watch, and Attendants.
Don PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 3 ; sc. 4.
Act III. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1.
of Don Pedro.
Act IV. sc. l. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 4. BENEDICK, a young lord of Padua, favourite
likewise of Don Pedro. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. l; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2.
Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 4.
LEONATO, Governor of Messina.
ANTONIO, brother to Leonato.
BALTHAZAR, servant to Don Pedro.
BORACHIO, follower of Don John.
Act IV. sc. 2. Act V. sc. 1.
Act V. sc. I,
Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others, with a Messenger LEON. 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 action? Mess. But few of any sortb, and none of name.
'In the stage-direction of the early copies we have “ Enter Leonato, governor of Messina, Innogen, his wife,” &c. But the matron takes no part in the action or dialogue. She appears again in the stage-direction of the first scene of Act II.
Any sort. The obvious meaning here is, of any condition. There can be no doubt of this, for the Messenger adds, " and none of name." Yet Steevens tells us, “sort is rank, distinction.” He inclines, however, to M. Mason's explanation, that “sort means of any kind whatsoever.” The word occurs again, and is used by the same speaker: “there was none such in the army of
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 Floren
tine, 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 measurea. 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 weep
ing! 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 ?
and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt? I 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 d, I doubt it not. Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars. Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he's a very valiant
trencherman, 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 e with all honourable virtues. Beat. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing,
Well, we are all mortal. any sort.” Here the commentators adopt Warburton's explanation: "there was none such of any quality above the common.” But why this difference? The Messenger knew “
none of that name"-none in any rank. • In great measure—abundantly.
Montanto. Beatrice thus nicknames Benedick, after a term of the fencing-school. • See previous note on Any sort. He'll be meet with you—he 'll be even with you. So in · The Tempest:'
“ We must prepare to meet with Caliban.' Stuffed—stored, furnished.
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! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits a
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 b 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 't possible? Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith e 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 d. Beat. No: an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his
companion? Is there no young squarere 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.
· Five wits. Shakspere here uses the term wits in the sense of intellectual powers. In his 141st Sonnet he distinguishes between the five wits and the five senses :
But my five wits, nor my five senses, can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee.” By the early writers the five wits was used synonymously with the five senses; as in Chaucer (* The Persones Tale'), “Certes delites ben after the appetites of the five wittis : as, sight, hering, snelling, savouring, and touching.” Johnson says, “ The wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses, or the five inlets of ideas."
Bear it for a difference-for a distinction—as in heraldry. • His faith—his belief generally-here, his confidence in a friend.
In your books. The meaning of this expression, which we retain to the present day, is generally understood. He who is in your books-or, as we sometimes say, in your good books—is he whom you think well of—whom you trust. It appears tolerably obvious, then, that the phrase has a commercial origin; and that, as he who has obtained credit, buys upon trust, is in his creditor's books, so he who has obtained in any way the confidence of another is said to be in his books. None of the commentators, however, have suggested this explanation. Johnson says it means " to be in one's codicils or will;" Steevens, that it is to be in one's visiting-book,-or in the books of a university, or in the books of the Herald's Office; Farmer, and Douce, that it is to be in the list of a great man's retainers, because the names of such were entered in a book. This is the most received explanation. Our view of the matter is more homely, and for that reason it appears to us more true.
* Squarer-quarreller. To square is to dispute—to confront hostilely. So in ‘A MidsummerNight's Dream:'
“And now they never meet in grove, or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,