« PreviousContinue »
yond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better better'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Meffina will be very much glad of it.
Me. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even fo much, that joy could not fhew itself modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than thofe that are fo wafhed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping!
Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto * returned from the wars, or no?
Meff. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none fuch in the army of any fort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Me. Oh, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he
Beat. He fet up his bills here in Meffina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. "" I pray you, how many hath "he kill'd and eaten in these wars? but how many "hath he kill'd? for indeed I promis'd to eat all of "his killing."
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not. Mef. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in these wars. Beat. "You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp "to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath "an excellent ftomach."
Meff. And a good foldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?
*She gives him this name, to ridicule in him the character of a bluftering foldier, the word montante in Spanish signifying a two-handed jword.
Me. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, ftuff'd with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed: he is no less than a fluff'd man : but for the ftuffing,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 fkırmifh of wit between them.
-- Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our laft 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 fworn brother.
Me. Is it poffible?
Beat. Very eafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Me. 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 fquarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Me. He is moft in the company of the Right Noble Claudio.
Beat. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is fooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the Noble Ciaudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will coft him a thoufand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Me. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, niece.
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 coft 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 happiness 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. Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you ask'd her? Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; we may guefs 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, fhe would not have his head on her fhoulders for all Meffina, as like him as fhe is.
Beat. I wonder that you will ftill be talking, Signior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear Lady Difdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it poffible Difdain should die, while the hath fuch meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtefy itself must convert to Difdain, if you come in her prefence.
Bene. Then is Courtefy a turn-coat; but it is cer-tain 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 elfe have been troubled with a pernicious fuitor. 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 fwear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your Ladyfhip ftill in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other fhall fcape a predeftinate fcratch'd face.
Scratching could not make it worse, an " 'twere fuch a face as your's were."
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of your's.
Bene. I would my horfe 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 fum of all: Leonato,-Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick,-my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all; I tell him, we fhall stay here at the leaft a month; and he heartily prays fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare fwear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you fwear, my Lord, 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 thank you.
Leon. Pleafe it your Grace lead on?
Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together. [Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio.
Claud. Benedick, didft thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato ?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Claud. Is the not a modeft young lady?
Bene. Do you queftion me, as an honeft mán fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me fpeak after my cuftom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their fex?
Claud. No, I pr'ythee, fpeak in fober judgment.
Bene. Why, i' faith, me thinks fhe is too low for an high praife, too brown for a fair praife, and too little for a great praife; only this commendation I can "afford
"her, that were fhe other than fhe is, fhe were unhandsome; and being no other but as fhe is, I do 66 not like her."
Claud. Thou think'ft I am in fport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'ft her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?
Claud. Can the world buy fuch a jewel.
Bene. Yea, and a cafe to put it into: but speak you this with a fad 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 fong?
Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the fweeteft lady that I ever look'd on.
Bene. I can fee yet without spectacles, and I fee no fuch matter; there's her coufin, if he were not poffefs'd with fuch a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the firft of May doth the laft of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you ?
Claud. I would fcarce truft myself, though I had fworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with fufpicion ? fhall I never fee a bachelor of threefcore again? Go to, 'faith, if thou wilt needs thruft thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and figh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is return'd to feek you.
SCENE IV. Re-enter Don Pedro.
Pedro. What fecret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to Leonato's house ?
Bene. I would your Grace would conftrain me to tell. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance. Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be fecret as a dumb man, I would have you think fo; but on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance
in love with whom? now that is your Grace's part: mark, how fhort his anfwer is, with Hero, Leonato's fhort daughter.
Claud. If this were fo, fo were it uttered.
Bene. Like the old tale, my Lord, it is not fo, nor