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Leon. A kind overflow of kindnefs; there are no faces truer than those that are fo wafh'd: how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping!

Beat. I pray you, is fignior Montanto* return'd from the wars,

or no?

Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none fuch in the army of any sort.

Leon. What is he that you ask for, neice?

Hero. My coufin means fignior Benedick of Padua. Mes. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he was. Beat. He fet up his bills here in Meffina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubscrib'd for Cupid, and challeng'd 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 promised to eat all of his killing. Leon. 'Faith, neice, you tax fignior Benedick too much; büt he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars. Beat. You had musty 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? Meff. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, ftuft with all

honourable virtues.

Beat. It is fo, indeed, he is no less than a stuft man: but, for the stuffing! well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, fir, mistake my neice; there is a kind of merry war betwixt fignior Benedick and her; they never meet but there's a fkirmish 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 warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse;

• She gives him this name to ridicule in him the character of a blustering foldier, the word Montanto in Spanish fignifying a two-handed sword.


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for it is all the wearth' that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? he hath every month a new fworn brother.

Meff. Is it poffible?

Beat. Very cafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.

Mess. I fee, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beat. No; if 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?

Meff. 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 prefently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it will coft him a thousand pound ere it be cur'd.

Meff. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.

Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, neice.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
Meff. Don Pedro is approach'd.


Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and Don John. Pedro. Good fignior 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 most willingly: I think, this is your daughter.

Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
Bene. Were you in doubt, that you ask'd her?

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

2 Wearth is an old English word to fignify the wear or wearing of any thing.




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 fignior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her fhoulders for all Meffina, as like him as the is. Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, fignior Benedick; no body marks you.

Bene. What, my dear lady disdain! are you yet living?

Beat. Is it poffible difdain should die, while fhe hath fuch meet food to feed it, as fignior 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 coud 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 swear he loves me.

Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other fhall 'fcape a predeftinate scratch'd face. Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, if 'twere fuch a face as yours were.

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

Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours. Bene. I would, my horfe had the speed of your tongue, and fo good a continuer; but keep your way i'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: don John, fignior Claudio, and fignior 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 fome occafion may detain us 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. [To don John. John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I thank

you. Leon.

Leon. Please 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 fignior 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 man fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their sex?

Claud. No, I pry'thee, speak in fober judgment.

Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks, fhe is too low for an high praise, 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 she is, she were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do 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 in too: but fpeak 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 fhall a man take you, to go in the fong?


Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the sweetest lady that I ever look'd

Bene. I can fee yet without fpectacles, and I fee no fuch matter: there's her coufin, if the 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 busband, have you?

Claud. I would fcarce truft myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

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Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? shall I never see a bachelor of threefcore again? go to, i'faith, if thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and figh away fundays: look, don Pedro is return'd to seek you.


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 constrain 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 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 fhort his answer 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 'twas not fo; but, indeed, god forbid it fhould be fo.

Claud. If my paffion change not shortly, god forbid it should be otherwise.

Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.

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

Pedro. By my troth, I fpeak my thought.

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

Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I speak mine. Claud. That I love her, I feel.

Pedro. That he 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.

Pedro. Thou waft ever an obftinate heretick in the despite of beauty.


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