Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare [Craig, Oxford edition]

Part 1 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

by William Shakespeare

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
DON JOHN, his bastard Brother.
CLAUDIO, a young Lord of Florence.
BENEDICK, a young Lord of Padua.
LEONATO, Governor of Messina.
ANTONIO, his Brother.
BALTHAZAR, Servant to Don Pedro.
BORACHIO, follower of Don John.
CONRADE, follower of Don John.
DOGBERRY, a Constable.
VERGES, a Headborough.
FRIAR FRANCIS.
A Sexton.
A Boy.

HERO, Daughter to Leonato.
BEATRICE, Niece to Leonato.
MARGARET, Waiting-gentlewoman attending on Hero.
URSULA, Waiting-gentlewoman attending on Hero.

Messengers, Watch, Attendants, &c.

SCENE. Messina.

Act 1.

Scene I. Before LEONATO'S House.

[Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE and others, with a Messenger.]

LEONATO.
I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night
to Messina.

MESSENGER.
He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left
him.

LEONATO.
How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

MESSENGER.
But few of any sort, and none of name.

LEONATO.
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.

MESSENGER.
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.

LEONATO.
He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

MESSENGER.
I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in
him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without
a badge of bitterness.

LEONATO.
Did he break out into tears?

MESSENGER.
In great measure.

LEONATO.
A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that
are so washed; how much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at
weeping!

BEATRICE.
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no?

MESSENGER.
I know none of that name, lady: there was none such in the army
of any sort.

LEONATO.
What is he that you ask for, niece?

HERO.
My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.

MESSENGER.
O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.

BEATRICE.
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, how many hath he killed
and eaten in these wars?
But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his
killing.

LEONATO.
Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with
you, I doubt it not.

MESSENGER.
He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

BEATRICE.
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it; he is a very
valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.

MESSENGER.
And a good soldier too, lady.

BEATRICE.
And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?

MESSENGER.
A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable
virtues.

BEATRICE.
It is so indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man; but for the
stuffing,--well, we are all mortal.

LEONATO.
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.

BEATRICE.
Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of his five
wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed 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.

MESSENGER.
Is't possible?

BEATRICE.
Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his
hat; it ever changes with the next block.

MESSENGER.
I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

BEATRICE.
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?

MESSENGER.
He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

BEATRICE.
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 a' be cured.

MESSENGER.
I will hold friends with you, lady.

BEATRICE.
Do, good friend.

LEONATO.
You will never run mad, niece.

BEATRICE.
No, not till a hot January.

MESSENGER.
Don Pedro is approached.

[Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR, and
Others.]

DON PEDRO.
Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion
of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.

LEONATO.
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.

DON PEDRO.
You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.

LEONATO.
Her mother hath many times told me so.

BENEDICK.
Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?

LEONATO.
Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

DON 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.

BENEDICK.
If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her
shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.

BEATRICE.
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody
marks you.

BENEDICK.
What! my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?

BEATRICE.
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.

BENEDICK.
Then is courtesy a turncoat. 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.

BEATRICE.
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.

BENEDICK.
God keep your ladyship still in that mind;so some gentleman or other
shallscape a predestinate scratched face.

BEATRICE.
Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours
were.

BENEDICK.
Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

BEATRICE.
A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

BENEDICK.
I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a
continuer. But keep your way, i' God's name; I have done.

BEATRICE.
You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.

DON PEDRO.
That 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 heartly prays some occasion may
detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his
heart.

LEONATO.
If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.
[To DON JOHN]
Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to the prince your
brother, I owe you all duty.

DON JOHN.
I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.

LEONATO.
Please it your Grace lead on?

DON PEDRO.
Your hand, Leonato;we will go together.

[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO.]

CLAUDIO.
Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

BENEDICK.
I noted her not; but I looked on her.

CLAUDIO.
Is she not a modest young lady?

BENEDICK.
Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true
judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a
professed tyrant to their sex?

CLAUDIO.
No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

BENEDICK.
Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown
for a fair praise, and too 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.

CLAUDIO.
Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me truly how thou
likest her.

BENEDICK.
Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?

CLAUDIO.
Can the world buy such a jewel?

BENEDICK.
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?

CLAUDIO.
In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.

BENEDICK.
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?

CLAUDIO.
I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn to the contrary, if Hero
would be my wife.

BENEDICK.
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.]

DON PEDRO.
What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's?

BENEDICK.
I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.

DON PEDRO.
I charge thee on thy allegiance.

BENEDICK.
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 who? now that is your Grace's part. Mark how short his
answer is: with Hero, Leonato's short daughter.

CLAUDIO.
If this were so, so were it uttered.

BENEDICK.
Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but indeed,
God forbid it should be so.'

CLAUDIO.
If my passion change not shortly. God forbid it should be otherwise.

DON PEDRO.
Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.

CLAUDIO.
You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
By my troth, I speak my thought.

CLAUDIO.
And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

BENEDICK.
And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

CLAUDIO.
That I love her, I feel.

DON PEDRO.
That she is worthy, I know.

BENEDICK.
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.

DON PEDRO.
Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.

CLAUDIO.
And never could maintain his part but in the force of his will.

BENEDICK.
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
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.

DON PEDRO.
I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

BENEDICK.
With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with love: prove
that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get again with
drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen and hang me up at
the door of a brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.

DON PEDRO.
Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable
argument.

BENEDICK.
If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me; and he that
hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder and called Adam.

DON PEDRO.
Well, as time shall try: 'In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.'

BENEDICK.
The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck
off the bull's horns and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely
painted, and in such great letters as they write, 'Here is good horse
to hire,' let them signify under my sign 'Here you may see Benedick
the married man.'

CLAUDIO.
If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

DON PEDRO.
Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake
for this shortly.

BENEDICK.
I look for an earthquake too then.

DON PEDRO.
Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the meantime, good Signior
Benedick, repair to Leonato's: commend me to him and tell him I will
not fail him at supper; for indeed he hath made great preparation.

BENEDICK.
I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I
commit you--

CLAUDIO.
To the tuition of God: from my house, if I had it,--

DON PEDRO.
The sixth of July: your loving friend, Benedick.

BENEDICK.
Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is sometime guarded
with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere
you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience: and so I leave
you.

[Exit.]

CLAUDIO.
My liege, your highness now may do me good.

DON PEDRO.
My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
hard lesson that may do thee good.

CLAUDIO.
Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

DON PEDRO.
No child but Hero;s he's his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

CLAUDIO.
O! my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I looked upon her with a soldier's eye,
That lik'd, but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
But now I am return'd, and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I lik'd her ere I went to wars.

DON PEDRO.
Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her, and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end
That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?

CLAUDIO.
How sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love's grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salv'd it with a longer treatise.

DON PEDRO.
What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lov'st,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night:
I will assume thy part in some disguise,
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio;
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart,
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale:
Then, after to her father will I break;
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently.

[Exeunt.]

Scene II. --A room in LEONATO'S house.

[Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting.]

LEONATO.
How now, brother! Where is my cousin your son? Hath he provided
this music?

ANTONIO.
He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange
news that you yet dreamt not of.

LEONATO.
Are they good?

ANTONIO.
As the event stamps 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 much overheard by a man of mine: the prince
discovered to Claudio that he loved my niece your daughter and meant to
acknowledge it this night in a dance; and if he found her accordant, he
meant to take the present time by the top and instantly break with you
of it.

LEONATO.
Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?

ANTONIO.
A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and question him
yourself.

LEONATO.
No, no; we will hold it as a dream till it appear itself: but I will
acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for
an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you, and tell her of it.

[Several persons cross the stage.]

Cousins, you know what you have to do. O!I cry you mercy, friend; go
you with me, and I will use your skill. Good cousin, have a care this
busy time.

[Exeunt.]

Scene III. --Another room in LEONATO'S house.]

[Enter DON JOHN and CONRADE.]

CONRADE.
What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out of measure sad?

DON JOHN.
There is no measure in the occasion that breeds; therefore the sadness
is without limit.

CONRADE.
You should hear reason.

DON JOHN.
And when I have heard it, what blessings brings it?

CONRADE.
If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.

DON JOHN.
I wonder that thou, being, -as thou say'st thou art,--born under
Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief.
I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at
no man's jests; eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man's leisure;
sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no man's business; laugh when I am
merry, and claw no man in his humour.

CONRADE.
Yea; but you must not make the full show of this till you may do it
without controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother,
and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you
should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself:
it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.

DON JOHN.
I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace; and it
better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage
to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a
flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing
villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog;
therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I
would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime,
let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.

CONRADE.
Can you make no use of your discontent?

DON JOHN.
I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here?

[Enter Borachio.]

What news, Borachio?

BORACHIO.
I came yonder from a great supper: the prince your brother is royally
entertained by Leonato; and I can give you intelligence of an
intended marriage.

DON JOHN.
Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he for a
fool that betroths himself to unquietness?

BORACHIO.
Marry, it is your brother's right hand.

DON JOHN.
Who? the most exquisite Claudio?

BORACHIO.
Even he.

DON JOHN.
A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks he?

BORACHIO.
Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.

DON JOHN.
A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?

BORACHIO.
Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty room, comes
me the prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference: I whipt me
behind the arras, and there heard it agreed upon that the prince should
woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.

DON JOHN.
Come, come; let us thither: this may prove food to my displeasure. That
young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him
any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?

CONRADE.
To the death, my lord.

DON JOHN.
Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the greater that I am
subdued. Would the cook were of my mind! Shall we go to prove what's
to be done?

BORACHIO.
We'll wait upon your lordship.

[Exeunt.]

ACT 2.

Scene I. A hall in LEONATO'S house.

[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and Others.]

LEONATO.
Was not Count John here at supper?

ANTONIO.
I saw him not.

BEATRICE.
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am
heart-burned an hour after.

HERO.
He is of a very melancholy disposition.

BEATRICE.
He were an excellent man that were made just in the mid-way between
him and Benedick: the one is too like an image, and says nothing; and
the other too like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.

LEONATO.
Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's mouth, and half
Count John's melancholy in Signior Benedick's face,--

BEATRICE.
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money enough in his purse,
such a man would win any woman in the world ifa' could get her good
will.

LEONATO.
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be
so shrewd of thy tongue.

ANTONIO.
In faith, she's too curst.

BEATRICE.
Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's sending that way;
for it is said, 'God sends a curst cow short horns;' but to a cow too
curst he sends none.

LEONATO.
So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns?

BEATRICE.
Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing I am at him
upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord! I could not endure a
husband with a beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.

LEONATO.
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

BEATRICE.
What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel and make him my
waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and
he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a
youth is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for him:
therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and
lead his apes into hell.

LEONATO.
Well then, go you into hell?

BEATRICE.
No; but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old
cuckold, with horns on his head, and say, 'Get you to heaven, Beatrice,
get you to heaven; here's no place for you maids: 'so deliver I up my
apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens; he shows me where the
bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.

ANTONIO.
[To Hero.] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by your father.

BEATRICE.
Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy, and say,
'Father, as it please you:'-- but yet for all that, cousin, let him
be a handsome fellow, or else make another curtsy, and say,
'Father, as it please me.'

LEONATO.
Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

BEATRICE.
Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not
grieve a woman to be over-mastered with a piece of valiant dust? to
make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle,
I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; and truly, I hold it a sin
to match in my kinred.

LEONATO.
Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you
in that kind, you know your answer.

BEATRICE.
The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good
time: if the prince be too important, tell him there is measure in
everything, and so dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero: wooing,
wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque-
pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as
fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure, full of state
and ancientry; and then comes Repentance, and with his bad legs, falls
into the cinque-pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.

LEONATO.
Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

BEATRICE.
I have a good eye, uncle: I can see a church by daylight.

LEONATO.
The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.

[Enter, DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, DON JOHN,
BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and Others, masked.]

DON PEDRO.
Lady, will you walk about with your friend?

HERO.
So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am yours
for the walk; and especially when I walk away.

DON PEDRO.
With me in your company?

HERO.
I may say so, when I please.

DON PEDRO.
And when please you to say so?

HERO.
When I like your favour; for God defend the lute should be like
the case!

DON PEDRO.
My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.

HERO.
Why, then, your visor should be thatch'd.

DON PEDRO.
Speak low, if you speak love.

[Takes her aside.]

BALTHAZAR.
Well, I would you did like me.

MARGARET.
So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many ill qualities.

BALTHAZAR.
Which is one?

MARGARET.
I say my prayers aloud.

BALTHAZAR.
I love you the better; the hearers may cry Amen.

MARGARET.
God match me with a good dancer!

BALTHAZAR.
Amen.

MARGARET.
And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is done! Answer,
clerk.

BALTHAZAR.
No more words: the clerk is answered.

URSULA.
I know you well enough: you are Signior Antonio.

ANTONIO.
At a word, I am not.

URSULA.
I know you by the waggling of your head.

ANTONIO.
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

URSULA.
You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were the very man.
Here's his dry hand up and down: you are he, you are he.

ANTONIO.
At a word, I am not.

URSULA.
Come, come; do you think I do not know you by your excellent wit?
Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are he: graces will appear,
and there's an end.

BEATRICE.
Will you not tell me who told you so?

BENEDICK.
No, you shall pardon me.

BEATRICE.
Nor will you not tell me who you are?

BENEDICK.
Not now.

BEATRICE.
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the
'Hundred Merry Tales.' Well, this was Signior Benedick that said so.

BENEDICK.
What's he?

BEATRICE.
I am sure you know him well enough.

BENEDICK.
Not I, believe me.

BEATRICE.
Did he never make you laugh?

BENEDICK.
I pray you, what is he?

BEATRICE.
Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool; only his gift is
in devising impossible slanders: none but libertines delight in him;
and the commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany; for he
both pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat
him. I am sure he is in the fleet: I would he had boarded me!

BENEDICK.
When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.

BEATRICE.
Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me; which,
peradventure not marked or not laughed at, strikes him into melancholy;
and then there's a partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
supper that night.
[Music within.] We must follow the leaders.

BENEDICK.
In every good thing.

BEATRICE.
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next turning.

[Dance. Then exeunt all but DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO.]

DON JOHN.
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father
to break with him about it. The ladies follow her and but one visor
remains.

BORACHIO.
And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.

DON JOHN.
Are you not Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO.
You know me well; I am he.

DON JOHN.
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamoured
on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him from her; she is no equal for his
birth: you may do the part of an honest man in it.

CLAUDIO.
How know you he loves her?

DON JOHN.
I heard him swear his affection.

BORACHIO.
So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

DON JOHN.
Come, let us to the banquet.

[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]

CLAUDIO.
Thus answer I in name of Benedick,
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
herefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

[Re-enter Benedick.]

BENEDICK.
Count Claudio?

CLAUDIO.
Yea, the same.

BENEDICK.
Come, will you go with me?

CLAUDIO.
Whither?

BENEDICK.
Even to the next willow, about your own business, count. What fashion
will you wear the garland of? About your neck, like a usurer's chain?
or under your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way,
for the prince hath got your Hero.

CLAUDIO.
I wish him joy of her.

BENEDICK.
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they sell bullocks.
But did you think the prince would have served you thus?

CLAUDIO.
I pray you, leave me.

BENEDICK.
Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the boy that stole
your meat, and you'll beat the post.

CLAUDIO.
If it will not be, I'll leave you.

[Exit.]

BENEDICK.
Alas! poor hurt fowl. Now will he creep into sedges. But, that my
Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The prince's fool! Ha!
it may be I go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am
apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it is the base though
bitter disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person,
and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.

[Re-enter Don Pedro.]

DON PEDRO.
Now, signior, where's the count? Did you see him?

BENEDICK.
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. I found him here
as melancholy as a lodge in a warren. I told him, and I think I told
him true, that your Grace had got the good will of this young lady;
and I offered him my company to a willow tree, either to make him a
garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy
to be whipped.

DON PEDRO.
To be whipped! What's his fault?

BENEDICK.
The flat transgression of a school-boy, who, being overjoy'd with
finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.

DON PEDRO.
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in
the stealer.

BENEDICK.
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, and the garland too;
for the garland he might have worn himself, and the rod he might have
bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stolen his bird's nest.

DON PEDRO.
I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.

BENEDICK.
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, you say honestly.

DON PEDRO.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the gentleman that danced
with her told her she is much wronged by you.

BENEDICK.
O! she misused me past the endurance of a block: an oak but with one
green leaf on it, would have answered her: my very visor began to
assume life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was duller than a great
thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance upon me,
that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me.
She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as
terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would
infect to the north star. I would not marry her, though she were
endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed: she
would have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club
to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the
infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some scholar would conjure
her, for certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell
as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose because they would go
thither; so indeed, all disquiet, horror and perturbation follow her.

[Re-enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO.]

DON PEDRO.
Look! here she comes.

BENEDICK.
Will your Grace command me any service to the world's end? I will go
on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to
send me on; I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch
of Asia; bring you the length of Prester John's foot; fetch you a hair
off the Great Cham's beard; do you any embassage to the Pygmies,
rather than hold three words' conference with this harpy. You have no
employment for me?

DON PEDRO.
None, but to desire your good company.

BENEDICK.
O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.

[Exit.]

DON PEDRO.
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.

BEATRICE.
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a
double heart for a single one: marry, once before he won it of me with
false dice, therefore your Grace may well say I have lost it.

DON PEDRO.
You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.

BEATRICE.
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother
of fools. I have brought Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

DON PEDRO.
Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?

CLAUDIO.
Not sad, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
How then? Sick?

CLAUDIO.
Neither, my lord.

BEATRICE.
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but civil
count, civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.

DON PEDRO.
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though, I'll be sworn,
if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy
name, and fair Hero is won; I have broke with her father, and, his good
will obtained; name the day of marriage, and God give thee joy!

LEONATO.
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes: his
Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!

BEATRICE.
Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.

CLAUDIO.
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I
could say how much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
you and dote upon the exchange.

BEATRICE.
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let
not him speak neither.

DON PEDRO.
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

BEATRICE.
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of care.
My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.

CLAUDIO.
And so she doth, cousin.

BEATRICE.
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I
am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

DON PEDRO.
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

BEATRICE.
I would rather have one of your father's getting. Hath your Grace ne'er
a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could
come by them.

DON PEDRO.
Will you have me, lady?

BEATRICE.
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days: your Grace
is too costly to wear every day. But, I beseech your Grace, pardon me;
I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

DON PEDRO.
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for out
of question, you were born in a merry hour.

BEATRICE.
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced,
and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!

LEONATO.
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?

BEATRICE.
I cry you mercy, uncle. By your Grace's pardon.

[Exit.]

DON PEDRO.
By my troth, a pleasant spirited lady.

LEONATO.
There's little of the melancholy element in her, my lord: she is never
sad but when she sleeps; and not ever sad then, for I have heard my
daughter say, she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself
with laughing.

DON PEDRO.
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

LEONATO.
O! by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.

DON PEDRO.
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.

LEONATO.
O Lord! my lord, if they were but a week married, they would talk
themselves mad.

DON PEDRO.
Count Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

CLAUDIO.
To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all his rites.

LEONATO.
Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just seven-night; and a
time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind.

DON PEDRO.
Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing; but, I warrant thee,
Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim
undertake one of Hercules' labours, which is, to bring Signior Benedick
and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection the one with the
other. I would fain have it a match; and I doubt not but to fashion it,
if you three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you
direction.

LEONATO.
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights' watchings.

CLAUDIO.
And I, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
And you too, gentle Hero?

HERO.
I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good
husband.

DON PEDRO.
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that I know. Thus far
can I praise him; he is of a noble strain, of approved valour, and
confirmed honesty. I will teach you how to humour your cousin, that
she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your two helps, will
so practise on Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his
queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do
this, Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be ours, for we
are the only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift.

[Exeunt.]

Scene 2. Another room in LEONATO'S house.

[Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]

DON JOHN.
It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of Leonato.

BORACHIO.
Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.

DON JOHN.
Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable to me: I am
sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his affection
ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?

BORACHIO.
Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no dishonesty shall appear
in me.

DON JOHN.
Show me briefly how.

BORACHIO.
I think I told your lordship, a year since, how much I am in the
favour of Margaret, the waiting-gentlewoman to Hero.

DON JOHN.
I remember.

BORACHIO.
I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, appoint her to look
out at her lady's chamber window.

DON JOHN.
What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?

BORACHIO.
The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to the prince your
brother; spare not to tell him, that he hath wronged his honour in
marrying the renowned Claudio,--whose estimation do you mightily hold
up,--to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.

DON JOHN.
What proof shall I make of that?

BORACHIO.
Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio, to undo Hero,
and kill Leonato. Look you for any other issue?

DON JOHN.
Only to despite them, I will endeavour anything.

BORACHIO.
Go then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the Count Claudio
alone: tell them that you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of
zeal both to the prince and Claudio, as--in love of your brother's
honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's reputation, who is
thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid,--that you have
discovered thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer
them instances, which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at
her chamber-window, hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me
Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended
wedding: for in the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero
shall be absent; and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero's
disloyalty, that jealousy shall be called assurance, and all the
preparation overthrown.

DON JOHN.
Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put it in practice.
Be cunning in the working this, and thy fee is a thousand ducats.

BORACHIO.
Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning shall not shame me.

DON JOHN.
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.

[Exeunt.]

Scene 3.--LEONATO'S Garden.

[Enter Benedick.]

BENEDICK.
Boy!

[Enter a Boy.]

BOY.
Signior?

BENEDICK.
In my chamber-window lies a book; bring it hither to me in the
orchard.

BOY.
I am here already, sir.

BENEDICK.
I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.
[Exit Boy.]
I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool
when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed
at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own
scorn by falling in love: and such a man is Claudio. I have known,
when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife; and now had
he rather hear the tabor and the pipe: I have known when he would have
walked ten mile afoot to see a good armour; and now will he lie ten
nights awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to
speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and
now is he turned orthography; his words are a very fantastical
banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted, and see
with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not be sworn but
love may transform me to an oyster; but I'll take my oath on it, till
he have made an oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One
woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another
virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman
shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise, or
I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her; fair, or I'll never
look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel;
of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what
colour it please God. Ha! the prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me
in the arbour.
[Withdraws.]

[Enter DON PEDRO, LEONATO, and CLAUDIO, followed by BALTHAZAR and
Musicians.]

DON PEDRO.
Come, shall we hear this music?

CLAUDIO.
Yea, my good lord.
How still the evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!

DON PEDRO.
See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

CLAUDIO.
O! very well, my lord: the music ended,
We'll fit the kid-fox with a penny-worth.

DON PEDRO.
Come, Balthazar, we'll hear that song again.

BALTHAZAR.
O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.

DON PEDRO.
It is the witness still of excellency,
To put a strange face on his own perfection.
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.

BALTHAZAR.
Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy; yet he wooes;
Yet will he swear he loves.

DON PEDRO.
Nay, pray thee come;
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.

BALTHAZAR.
Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.

DON PEDRO.
Why these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing!

[Music.]

BENEDICK.
Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not strange that
sheep's gutsshould hale souls out of men's bodies? Well, a horn for
my money, when all's done.

[Balthasar sings.]
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

DON PEDRO.
By my troth, a good song.

BALTHAZAR.
And an ill singer, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

BENEDICK.
[Aside.] An he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would
have hanged him; and I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had
as lief have heard the night-raven, come what plague could have come
after it.

DON PEDRO.
Yea, marry; dost thou hear, Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some
excellent music, for to-morrow night we would have it at the Lady
Hero's chamber-window.

BALTHAZAR.
The best I can, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
Do so: farewell.

[Exeunt BALTHAZAR and Musicians.]

Come hither, Leonato: what was it you told me of to-day, that your
niece Beatrice was in love with Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO.
O! ay:--
[Aside to DON PEDRO] Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits. I did never
think that lady would have loved any man.

LEONATO.
No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she should so dote on
Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seemed ever
to abhor.

BENEDICK.
[Aside.] Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?

LEONATO.
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it but that she
loves him with an enraged affection: it is past the infinite of thought.

DON PEDRO.
May be she doth but counterfeit.

CLAUDIO.
Faith, like enough.

LEONATO.
O God! counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of passion came so near
the life of passion as she discovers it.

DON PEDRO.
Why, what effects of passion shows she?

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.

LEONATO.
What effects, my lord? She will sit you; [To Claudio.] You heard
my daughter tell you how.

CLAUDIO.
She did, indeed.

DON PEDRO.
How, how, I pray you? You amaze me: I would have thought her spirit
had been invincible against all assaults of affection.

LEONATO.
I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially against Benedick.

BENEDICK.
[Aside] I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded
fellow speaks it: knavery cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.

DON PEDRO.
Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

LEONATO.
No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.

CLAUDIO.
Tis true, indeed;so your daughter says: 'Shall I,' says she, 'that
have so oft encountered him with scorn, write to him that I love him?'

LEONATO.
This says she now when she is beginning to write to him; for she'll
be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till
she have writ a sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.

CLAUDIO.
Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your
daughter told us of.

LEONATO.
O! when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found
Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?

CLAUDIO.
That.

LEONATO.
O! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence; railed at herself,
that she should be so immodest to write to one that she knew would
flout her: 'I measure him,' says she, 'by my own spirit; for I should
flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I love him, I should.'

CLAUDIO.
Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears
her hair, prays, curses; 'O sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'

LEONATO.
She doth indeed; my daughter says so; and the ecstasy hath so much
overborne her, that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will do a
desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.

DON PEDRO.
It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other, if she will
not discover it.

CLAUDIO.
To what end? he would make but a sport of it and torment the poor
lady worse.

DON PEDRO.
An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an excellent sweet
lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.

CLAUDIO.
And she is exceeding wise.

DON PEDRO.
In everything but in loving Benedick.

LEONATO.
O! my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender a body, we have
ten proofs to one that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as
I have just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.

DON PEDRO.
I would she had bestowed this dotage on me; I would have daffed all
other respects and made her half myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of
it, and hear what a' will say.

LEONATO.
Were it good, think you?

CLAUDIO.
Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she will die if he love
her not, and she will die ere she make her love known, and she will die
if he woo her, rather than she will bate one breath of her accustomed
crossness.

DON PEDRO.
She doth well: if she should make tender of her love, 'tis very
possible he'll scorn it; for the man,--as you know all,--hath a
contemptible spirit.

CLAUDIO.
He is a very proper man.

DON PEDRO.
He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

CLAUDIO.
Fore God, and in my mind, very wise.

DON PEDRO.
He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

CLAUDIO.
And I take him to be valiant.

DON PEDRO.
As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of quarrels you may say
he is wise; for either he avoids them with great discretion, or
undertakes them with a most Christian-like fear.

LEONATO.
If he do fear God, a' must necessarily keep peace: if he break the
peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.

DON PEDRO.
And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, howsoever it seems not
in him by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for your
niece. Shall we go seek Benedick and tell him of her love?

CLAUDIO.
Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with good counsel.

LEONATO.
Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.

DON PEDRO.
Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter: let it cool the
while. I love Benedick well, and I could wish he would modestly
examine himself, to see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.

LEONATO.
My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my
expectation.

DON PEDRO.
[Aside.] Let there be the same net spread for her; and that must your
daughter and her gentle-woman carry. The sport will be, when they hold
one an opinion of another's dotage, and no such matter: that's the
scene that I would see, which will be merely a dumb-show. Let us send
her to call him in to dinner.

[Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO.]

BENEDICK.
[Advancing from the arbour.] This can be no trick: the conference was
sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity
the lady: it seems her affections have their full bent. Love me! why,
it must be requited. I hear how I am censured: they say I will bear
myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from her;they say too that
she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think
to marry: I must not seem proud: happy are they that hear their
detractions, and can put them to mending. They say the lady is fair:
'tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: 'tis so, I cannot
reprove it; and wise, but for loving me: by my troth, it is no
addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be
horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and
remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against
marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his
youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and
these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his
humour? No; the world must be peopled. When I said I would die a
bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. Here comes
Beatrice. By this day! she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love
in her.

[Enter BEATRICE.]

BEATRICE.
Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

BENEDICK.
Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

BEATRICE.
I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me:
if it had been painful, I would not have come.

BENEDICK.
You take pleasure then in the message?

BEATRICE.
Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point, and choke
a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior: fare you well.

[Exit.]

BENEDICK.
Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner,'
there's a double meaning in that. 'I took no more pains for those
thanks than you took pains to thank me,' that's as much as to say,
Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do not take
pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. I
will go get her picture.

[Exit.]

ACT 3.

Scene I. Leonato's Garden.

[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.]

HERO.
Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio:
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursala
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say that thou overheard'st us,
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honey-suckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter; like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it. There will she hide her,
To listen our propose. This is thy office;
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.

MARGARET.
I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.

[Exit.]

HERO.
Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick:
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice: of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.

[Enter BEATRICE, behind.]

Now begin;
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.

URSULA.
The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture.
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.

HERO.
Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.

[They advance to the bower.]

No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggards of the rock.

URSULA.
But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

HERO.
So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.

URSULA.
And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?

HERO.
They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
But I persuaded them, if they lov'd Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.

URSULA.
Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

HERO.
O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man;
But nature never fram'd a woman's heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endear'd.

URSULA.
Sure I think so; And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.

HERO.
Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur'd,
But she would spell him backward: if fair-fac'd,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out,
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

URSULA.
Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

HERO.
No; not to be so odd, and from all fashions,
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable.
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air: O! she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.

URSULA.
Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.

HERO.
No; rather I will go to Benedick,
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.

URSULA.
O! do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment,--
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is priz'd to have,--as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.

HERO.
He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.

URSULA.
I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.

HERO.
Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.

URSULA.
His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?

HERO.
Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.

URSULA.
She's lim'd, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.

HERO.
If it prove so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

[Exeunt HERO and URSULA.]

BEATRICE.
[Advancing.] What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.

[Exit.]

Scene 2. A Room in LEONATO'S House.

[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and LEONATO.]

DON PEDRO.
I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and then go I
toward Arragon.

CLAUDIO.
I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you'll vouchsafe me.

DON PEDRO.
Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss of your marriage,
as to show a child his new coat and forbid him to wear it. I will only
be bold with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown of his head
to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth; he hath twice or thrice cut
Cupid's bowstring, and the little hangman dare not shoot at him. He
hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for
what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.

BENEDICK.
Gallants, I am not as I have been.

LEONATO.
So say I: methinks you are sadder.

CLAUDIO.
I hope he be in love.

DON PEDRO.
Hang him, truant! there's no true drop of blood in him, to be truly
touched with love. If he be sad, he wants money.

BENEDICK.
I have the tooth-ache.

DON PEDRO.
Draw it.

Book of the day: