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Leon. 'Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much ; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mej. He hath done good service, Lady, in these
Beat. You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mes. And a good soldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord ?
Mell. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, ftufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed : (2) he is no less than a stufft man: but for the stuffing, well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my Neice ; 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 went halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd 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.
Mej. Is it possible ?
Beat. Very easily possible; he wears his faith but as The falhion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
(2) he is no less than a fufft man: but for the Stuffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this Passage been all along stop'd, from the very first Edition downwards. If any of the Editors could extract Sense from this Pointing, their Sagacity is a Pitch above mine. I believe, by my Regulation, I have
retriev'd the Poet's true Meaning. Our Poet seems to use the :: Word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Mostellaria ; A&. I. Sc. 3. Nor Veftem amatores mulieris amant, sed Veftis factum.
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 ?
Mell. 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 pounds ere he be cur'd. Mel. I will hold friends with you, Lady. Beat. Do, good friend. Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Neice. Beat. No, not 'till a hot January. Mel. Don Pedro is approach'd. 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 Mould remain ; but when you depart from me, forrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly: Į think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you askt her?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it fuli, Benedick; We may guess by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathers her self; 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 Mefina, as like him as the is.
Beat. I wonder, that you will still be talking, Signior Benedikt; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Difdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it poflible, Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtefie it self must convert to Disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is courtefie 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 am of your Humour for that ; I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.
Bene, God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so fome gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate scratcht face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an '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 horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer ; but keep your way o' God's name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you
Signior Claudio, and Signior 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 swear, he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you swear, my Lord, you shall not be forsworn. – Let me bid You welcome, my lord, being reconciled to the prince your brother ; I owe you all duty A 5
John, thank you.
Jobu. I thank you ; I am not of many words, but I
[Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? or would you have me speak after my cuftom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pr’ythee, speak in sober judgment. Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks, 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 af. ford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome ; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou think'it, I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'st her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire 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 fouting 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, she 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 the were not posseit 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 my self, tho' I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be
wife. Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world
one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion ? Tall I never see a batchelor 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. Re-enter Don Pedro and Don John. 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.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; bụt on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance : in love; with whom? now that is your Grace's part : mark, how short his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's Tort daughter.
Claud. If this were so, fo were it uttered.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.
Claud. If my passion change not Ihortly, God forbid it Tould be otherwise.
Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the Lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my Lord.
Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I [peak mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Bene, That I neither feel how fhe should be loved, nor know how the should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.
Pedro. Thou wast ever an obftinate heretick in the despight 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 ;