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DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
BALTHAZAR, Servant to Don PEDRO.
DOGBERRY, two foolish Officers.
HERO, Daughter to LEONATO.
two Gentlewomen attending on HER o.
A Friar, Messenger, Watch, Town-Clerk, Sexton, and Attendants.
The Story from ARIOSTO, Orl. Fur. 7. 5.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
ACT I. SCENE I.
A Court before Leonato's Houfe.
Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a Messenger.
Learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
Mel. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you loft in this action? Meff. But few of any fort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the atchiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, call'd Claudio.
Meff. Much deferved on his part, and equally remembred by Don Pedro: he hath born himself beyond 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 you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Meffina 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 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 fo wafh'd: how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping!
Beat. I pray you, is fignior Montanto* return'd from the wars,
Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none fuch in the army of any fort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, neice?
Hero. My coufin means fignior Benedick of Padua. Meff. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he was. Beat. He fet up his bills here in Messina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcrib'd for Cupid, and challeng'd him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he kill'd and eaten in these wars? but, how many hath he kill'd? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
Leon. 'Faith, neice, you tax fignior Benedick too much; büt he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Me. 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 ftomach.
Meff. And a good foldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord? Meff. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, ftuft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed, he is no lefs than a ftuft man: but, for the ftuffing! well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, fir, mistake my neice; there is a kind of merry war betwixt fignior Benedick and her; they never meet but there's a fkirmifh of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our laft conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd with one: fo that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse;
• She gives him this name to ridicule in him the character of a blustering foldier, the word Montanto in Spanish fignifying a two-handed sword.
for it is all the wearth' that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? he hath every month a new fworn brother.
Meff. Is it poffible ?
Beat. Very cafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mess. I fee, lady, the gentleman is not in
Beat. No; if he were, I would burn my ftudy. But, I pray you, who is his companion? is there no young fquarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Meff. He is moft 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 peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it will coft him a thousand pound ere it be cur'd.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and Don John. Pedro. Good fignior 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 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 moft willingly: I think, this your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
2 Wearth is an old English word to fignify the wear or wearing of any thing.
Pedro, You have it full, Benedick; we may guefs by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathers herfelf; be happy, lady! for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If fignior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Meffina, as like him as fhe is. Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, fignior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady difdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it poffible disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as fignior Benedick? courtesy 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 coud find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.
Beat. A dear happiness to women! they would elfe have been troubled with a pernicious fuitor. 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 fwear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your ladyship ftill in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other fhall 'scape a predeftinate scratch'd face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, if '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 horfe had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer; but keep your way i'god's name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you of old. Pedro. This is the fum of all: don John, fignior Claudio, and fignior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all; I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare fwear, he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you fwear, my lord, you shall not be forfworn. Let me bid you welcome, my lord; being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty. [To don John. John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I thank you.