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Leon. Please it your grace lead on?
Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.
Claud. Benedick, didft thou note the daughter of fignior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Claud. Is the not a modeft young lady?
Bene. Do you question me, as an honeft man fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me speak after my cuftom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pry'thee, speak in fober judgment.
Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks, fhe is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praife, and too little for a great praife: only this commendation I can afford her; that, were fhe other than she is, fhe were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou think'ft, I am in fport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'ft her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her ?
Claud. Can the world buy fuch a jewel?
Bene. Yea, and a cafe to put it in too: but fpeak you this with a fad 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 fhall a man take you, to go in the fong?
Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the fweeteft lady that I ever look'd
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I fee no fuch matter: there's her coufin, if fhe were not poffefs'd with fuch a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the firft of may doth
the laft of december: but, I hope, you have no intent to turn bufband, have you?
Claud. I would fcarce truft myself, though I had fworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
K kk 2
Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with fufpicion? fhall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? go to, i'faith, if thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and figh away fundays: look, don Pedro is return'd to seek you.
Re-enter don Pedro.
Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to Leonato's house?
Bene. I would, your grace would constrain me to tell.
Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Bene. You hear, count Claudio; I can be fecret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; but on my 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.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not fo, nor 'twas not fo; but, indeed, god forbid it should be fo.
Claud. If my paffion change not shortly, god forbid it should be otherwife.
Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my
Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I speak mine. Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.
Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.
Pedro. Thou waft ever an obftinate heretick in the despite of beauty.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.
Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that fhe brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me; because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.
Pedro. I fhall fee thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. With anger, with fickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love: prove that ever I lofe more blood with love, than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a balladmaker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the fign of blind Cupid.
Pedro. Well, if ever thou doft fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.
Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle, like a cat, and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clap'd on the shoulder, and call'd Adam.a
Pedro. Well, as time shall try; in time the favage bull doth bear the yoke.
Bene. The favage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns, and fet them on my forehead, and let me be vilely painted; and in fuch great letters as they write, Here is good horfe to hire, let them fignify under my fign, Here you may fee Benedick the marry'd man.
Claud. If this fhould ever happen, thou would'st be horn-mad. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid hath not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this fhortly.
Bene. I look for an earthquake too then.
Alluding to one Adam Bell a famous archer of old..
Befides that Venice is as remarkable for freedoms in amorous intrigues as Cyprus was of old, there may be a farther conjecture why this expreffion is here used: the Italians give to each of their principal cities a particular diftinguishing title, as, Roma la fanta, Napoli la gentile, Genoua la fuperba, &c. and among the reft it is, Venetia la ricca, Venice the wealthy: a farcasm therefore seems to be hereimplied that money governs love..
Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours: in the mean time, good fignior Benedick, repair to Leonato's, commend me to him, and tell him, I will not fail him at fupper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation.
Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embasfage, and fo I commit you
Claud. To the tuition of god. From my house, if I had it, Pedro. The fixth of July, your loving friend, Benedick. Bene. Nay mock not, mock not; the body of your discourse is fometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but flightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience, and so I leave you. [Exit.
Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me good.
Claud. Hath Leonato any fon, my lord?
Pedro. No child but Hero, fhe's his only heir: Doft thou affect her, Claudio?
Claud. O my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action
Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
That thou began'ft to twist so fine a story?
Claud. How fweetly do you minifter to love,
Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the flood!
The fairest plea is the neceffity;
Look, what will ferve, is fit; 'tis once, thou loveft,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know, we shall have revelling to-night;
I will affume thy part in fome difguife,
Re-enter Leonato, and Antonio..
Leon. How now, brother, where is my coufin your fon? hath he provided this musick?
Ant. He is very bufy about it; but, brother, I can tell you' news that you yet dream'd not of.
Leon. Are they good?
Ant. As the event ftamps them, but they have a good cover; they show well outward. The prince and count Claudio, walking in a thick pleached alley in my orchard, were thus over-heard by a man of mine: the prince difcover'd to Claudio that he lov'd my neice your daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if he found her accordant, meant to take the present time by the top, and instantly break with you of it. Leon. Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
Ant. A good fharp fellow. I will fend for him, and question him yourself.
Leon. No, no; we will hold it as a dream, 'till it appear itself: