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Thou pure impiety, and impious purity!
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eye-lids shall conjecture1 hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.2

Leon. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?3 [HERO Swoons. Beat. Why, how now, cousin? wherefore sink you


D. John. Come, let us go: these things, come thus to


Smother her spirits up.

[Exeunt D. PEDRO, D. JOHN, and CLAUD.

Bene. How doth the lady?


Dead, I think;-Help, uncle ;

Hero! why, Hero!-Uncle!-Signior Benedick!-friar!
Leon. O fate, take not away thy heavy hand!
Death is the fairest cover for her shame,

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Yea; Wherefore should she not?

Leon. Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly thing Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny The story that is printed in her blood?"— Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes: For did I think thou would'st not quickly die, Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,


conjecture-] Conjecture is here used for suspicion.


2 And never shall it more be gracious.] i. e. lovely, attractive.


So, in King John: "There was not such a gracious creature born." Steevens. 3 Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?] So, in Venice Pre


"A thousand daggers, all in honest hands!

"And have not I a friend to stick one here?" Steevens. 4 Dost thou look up?] The metre is here imperfect. Perhaps our author wrote-Dost thou still look up? Steevens.

5 The story that is printed in her blood.] That is, the story which her blushes discover to be true. Johnson.

Myself would, on the rereward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Griev'd I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?"
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not, with charitable hand,
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates;
Who smirched thus, and mired with infamy,
I might have said, No part of it is mine,
This shame derives itself from unknown loins?
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on; mine so much,

Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?] Frame is contrivance, order, disposition of things. So, in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1603:

"And therefore seek to set each thing in frame.” Again, in Holinshed's Chronicle, p. 555: “

man that studied to bring the unrulie to frame." Again, in Daniel's Verses on Montaigne:

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extracts of men,

There was no

"Though in a troubled frame confus'dly set." Again, in this play:

"Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies." Steevens.

It seems to me, that by frugal nature's frame, Leonato alludes to the particular formation of himself, or of Hero's mother, rather than to the universal system of things. Frame means here framing, as it does where Benedick says of John, that

"His spirits toil in frame of villainies."

Thus Richard says of Prince Edward, that he was "Fram'd in the prodigality of nature."

And, in All's well that ends well, the King says to Bertram: "Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,

"Hath well compos'd thee."

But Leonato, dissatisfied with his own frame, was wont to complain of the frugality of nature.

M. Mason.

The meaning, I think, is,-Grieved I at nature's being so frugal as to have framed for me only one child? Malone.

7 Who smirched thus, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio reads-" smeared." To smirch is to daub, to sully. So, in King Henry V:

"Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd," &c.

8 But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,


And mine that I was proud on;] The sense requires that we should read, as in these three places. The reasoning of the speak er stands thus-Had this been my adopted child, her shame would not have rebounded on me. But this child was mine, as mine I lov'd her,

That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, she-O, she is fallen
Into a pit of ink! that the wide sea

Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;9
And salt too little, which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh!1


Sir, sir, be patient:

For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,

I know not what to say.

Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
Beat. No, truly, not; although until last night,

I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

Leon. Confirm'd, confirm'd! O, that is stronger made,
Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie?

Who lov'd her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her; let her die.
Friar. Hear me a little;

For I have only been silent so long,

And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions start
Into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear'd a fire,
To burn the errors that these princes hold

praised her, was proud of her: consequently, as I claimed the glory, I must needs be subject to the shame, &c. Warburton.

Even of this small alteration there is no need. The speaker utters his emotion abruptly. But mine, and mine that I lov'd, &c. by an ellipsis frequent, perhaps too frequent, both in verse and prose. Johnson.


the wide sea

Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;] The same thought is repeated in Macbeth:

"Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood

"Clean from my hand?”

1 which may season give


To her foul tainted flesh!] The same metaphor from the kitchen occurs in Twelfth Night:


all this to season "A brother's dead love."


Against her maiden truth:-Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading, nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenour of my book;3 trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,

If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.


Friar it cannot be:

Thou seest, that all the grace that she hath left,
Is, that she will not add to her damnation

A sin of perjury; she not denies it:

Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse

That which appears

in proper nakedness?

Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?* Hero. They know, that do accuse me; I know none: If I know more of any man alive,

Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy!-O my father,
Prove you that any man with me convers'd
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain❜d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

Friar. There is some strange misprision in the princes.
Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour;5

2 To burn the errors] The same idea occurs in Romeo and Juliet:

"Transparent hereticks be burnt for liars." Steevens.
of my book;] i. e. of what I have read.

3 Malone. 4 Friar. what man is he you are accus'd of?] The friar had just before boasted his great skill in fishing out the truth. And, indeed, he appears by this question to be no fool. He was by, all the while at the accusation, and heard no name mentioned. Why then should he ask her what man she was accused of? But in this lay the subtilty of his examination. For, had Hero been guilty, it was very probable that in that hurry and confusion of spirits, into which the terrible insult of her lover had thrown her, she would never have observed that the man's name was not mentioned; and so, on this question, have betrayed herself by naming the person she was conscious of an affair with. The Friar observed this, and so concluded that were she guilty, she would probably fall into the trap he laid for her.-I only take notice of this to show how admirably well Shakspeare knew how to sustain his characters. Warburton.


bent of honour;] Bent is used by our author for the utmost degree of any passion, or mental quality. In this play be

And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.

Leon. I know not; If they speak but truth of her, These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour, The proudest of them shall well hear of it. Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,

Nor age so eat up my invention,

Nor fortune made such havock of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awak'd in such a kind,
Both strength of limb, and policy of mind,
Ability in means, and choice of friends,
To quit me of them throughly.


Pause a while,

And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;
Let her awhile be secretly kept in.

And publish it, that she is dead indeed:
Maintain a mourning ostentation;7
And on your family's old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rites

That appertain unto a burial.


Leon. What shall become of this? What will this do? Friar. Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf Change slander to remorse; that is some good:

But not for that, dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth.

She dying, as it must be so maintain❜d,

fore, Benedick says of Beatrice, her affection has its full bent. The expression is derived from archery; the bow has its bent, when it is drawn as far as it can be. Johnson.

6 Your daughter here the princes left for dead;] In former copies, Your daughter here the princess (left for dead;)

But how comes Hero to start up a princess here? We have no intimation of her father being a prince; and this is the first and only time she is complimented with this dignity. The remotion of a single letter, and of the parenthesis, will bring her to her own rank, and the place to its true meaning:

Your daughter here the princes left for dead; i.e. Don Pedro, prince of Arragon; and his bastard brother, who is likewise called a prince." Theobald.

7 · ostentation;] Show, appearance. Johnson.

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