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Mr. Planché, the contributor of this head of illustration to the "Pictorial" SHAKESPEARE, applies to this play his sensible rule that, "in affixing by the costume a particular period to any of Shakespeare's plays which are not historical, care should be taken to select one as near as possible to the time at which it was written. The comedy of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Commences with the return of certain Italian and Spanish noblemen to Sicily, after the wars. Now, the last war in which the Italians, under Spanish dominion, were concerned, previous to the production of this comedy, was terminated by the peace of Cambray, called 'La Paix des Dames,' in consequence of its being signed (August 3d, 1529) by Margaret of Austria, in the name of the Emperor Charles V., and by the Duchesse d'Angoulême, in that of her son Francis I. This peace secured to Charles the crown of Naples and Sicily; and, after vanquishing the Saracens at Tunis, he made triumphal entries into Palermo and Messina, in the autumn of 1535." Of the costume of this period, some illustrations will be found in the Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA; and elsewhere in this edition.
SCENE I.-Before LEONATO's House.
Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others, with a Messenger.
Leon. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
Mess. He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left him. Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in
Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name. Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina 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 badge of bitterness. joy could not show itself modest enough without a
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Mess. In great measure.
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are
Hero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Mess. O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challenged Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt.—I pray you,
Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mess. I see, 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?
Mess. 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 pound ere he be cured. Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Enter Don PEDRO, JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR, and others.
D. 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, sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
D. Pedro. You embrace your charge too will-high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too ingly. I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford 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 thinkest, 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?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
D. 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 Messina, 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 loved 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.
D. 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 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.
John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Leon. Please it your grace lead on?
D. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato: we will go together.
[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signior Leonato ?
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 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 ever I looked on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an she were not possessed with 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 my wife.
Bene. Is't come to this, i'faith? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i'faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look; Don Pedro is returned to seek you.
Re-enter DON PEDRO.
D. Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's!
Bene. I would your grace would constrain me to tell.
D. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance. 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 so, so 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. That I love her, I feel.
D. 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.
D. Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic 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 she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will have a recheat