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man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. -For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.
Claud. I had well hoped, thou would'st have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double dealer; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
Bene. Come, come, we are friends:-let's have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our hearts, and our wives' heels.
Leon. We'll have dancing afterwards.
Bene. First, o' my word; therefore, play, music.Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife: there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina.
Bene. Think not on him till to-morrow; I'll de vise thee brave punishments for him.-Strike up, pipers.
This play may be justly said to contain two of the most sprightly characters that Shakspeare ever drew. The wit, the humourist, the gentleman, and the soldier, are combined in Benedick. It is to be lamented, indeed, that the first and most splendid of these distinctions, is disgraced by unnecessary profaneness; for the goodness of his heart is hardly sufficient to atone for the licence of his tongue. The too
sarcastic levity, which flashes out in the conversation of Beatrice, may be excused on account of the steadiness and friendship so apparent in her behaviour, when she urges her lover to risque his life by a challenge to Claudio. In the conduct of the fable, however, there is an imperfection similar to that which Dr. Johnson has pointed out in The Merry Wives of Windsor:-the second contrivance is less ingenious than the first:-or, to speak more plainly, the same incident is become stale by repetition. I wish some other method had been found to entrap Beatrice, than that very one which before had been successfully practised on Benedick.
Much Ado About Nothing (as I understand from one of Mr. Vertue's MSS.), formerly passed under the title of Benedick and Beatrix. Heming the player received, on the 20th of May, 1613, the (sum of forty pounds, and twenty pounds more as his majesty's gratuity, for exhibiting six plays at Hampton Court, among which was this comedy.
Theseus, duke of Athens.
Egeus, futher to Hermia.
in love with Hermia.
Philostrate, master of the revels to Theseus.
Quince, the carpenter.
Snug, the joiner.
Bottom, the weaver.
Flute, the bellows-mender.
Snout, the tinker.
Starveling, the tailor.
Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus.
Hermia, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander. Helena, in love with Demetrius.
Oberon, king of the fairies.
Titania, queen of the fairies.
Puck, or Robin-good fellow, a fairy.
Characters in the interlude, performed by the clowns,
Other fairies attending their king and queen.
Scene, Athens, and a wood not far from it.
SCENE I. Athens. A room in the palace of Theseus.
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, and at
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
the Athenian youth to merriments; Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;