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Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?
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 stuff'd man: but for the ftuffing,—well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, miftake my niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet, but there's a fkirmifh 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 poflible?
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 fudy.. "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 difeafe; 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 thou→ ̈ fand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Me. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
·A· 2 ·
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 cost, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my houfe in the likeness of your Grace: for trouble being gone, comfort fhould remain; but when you depart from me, forrow abides,. and happinefs 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 guess by this what you are, being a man: truly the lady fathers herfelf; 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 Messina, 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 fhould die, while fhe 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 certain 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 happinefs 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 beaft 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 ftay here at the least 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 fhall 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.
Bene. Do you question me, as an honeft man should do, for my fimple true judgement? or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their fex ?
Claud. No, I pr'ythee, speak in fober judgement. Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks 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 "not like her."
Claud. Thou think'ft I am in fport; I pray thee tell me truly how thou lik'ft her.
Bene. Wou'd 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 fhall a man take you to go in the fong?
Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the sweetest 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 fhe were not poffefs'd with fuch 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 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 see a batchelor 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 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 followed 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 fo; 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 fhould be otherwife.
Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You fpeak this to fetch me in, my Lord.
Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, 1 speak mine,
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Pedro. That fhe is worthy, I know.
Bene. That I neither feel how the should be loved, nor know how the fhould 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 heretic in the defpight 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 the brought me up, I likewife give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invifible baldric, all women shall pardon me; because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myfelf the right to truft none; and the fine is, (for the which I may go the finer), I will live a bachelor.
Pedro. I fhall fee thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. "With anger, with fickness, or with hunger, se 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-houfe for "the fign of blind Cupid."
Pedro. Well, if ever thou doft fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.
Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and fhoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapt on the fhoulder, and call'd Adam *.
Alluding to one Adam Bell, a famous archer of old.