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Mel. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuff?d with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuff'd man: but for the stuffing, well, we are all mortal.
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 went halting off, and now is the whole man govern’d with one: fo that, if he have wit enough to keep himself from harm, 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.
Mel. Is it poflible?
Beat. Very easily possible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mef. I fee, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books,
No; an he were, I would burn my ftudy. “ But, I pray you, who is his companion?' is there no
young squarer now that will make a voyage with him " to the devil?»
Mf. 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 peftilence, 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.
Mell. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
SCENE II. 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 should remain; but when you depart from me, forrow abides, and happiacfs takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly; I think this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
ask'd her? Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; we may guess by this what you are, being a man: truly the lady fathers herself; 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 Meflina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior 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 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 some gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate fcratch'd face.
B at. “ Scratching could not make it worfe, an 'twere « such a face as yours were.”
Bere. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Bent. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Bene. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and fo 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 of old
Pedro. This is the sum of all: Leonato,—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 some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart. Leon. If you
shall not be forfworn. Let me bid you welcome, my Lord, being reconciled to the Prince your brother; I owe you all duty.
John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I
Leon. Please it
Grace lead on? Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will
go together. [Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio.
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you
have Ine speak after my custom, as being a profetied 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 før a great praise; only this commendation I can afford
“ her, that were the other than she is, she were unhand“ fome: and being no other but as she is, I do not like « her.”
Claud. Thou think?ft I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'st her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her ?
Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into; but speak you this with a sad 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 shall a man take you to go in the song?
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that I ever
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter; there's her cousin, if she were not possess’d 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 myself, though 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 fufpicion? Thail 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 Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is return’d to seek you.
SCENE IV. 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.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret 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 short daughter.
Claud. If this were fo, fo were it uttered.
'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.
Claud. If my paffion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.
Pedr). Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
Cloud You speak this to fetch me in, my Lord.
Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I fpeak mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
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 wast ever an obftinate heretic 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; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will have a recheate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldric, 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 shall see 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 lose more « blood with love, than I will get again with drink“ ing, pick out mine
and “ hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the
fign of blind Cupid.”
Pedro. Well, if ever thou doit 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 clapt on the shoulder and call'd Adam *.
Alluding to one Adam Bell, a famous archer of old.