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Mel. 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 crencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mel. And a good soldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord
Mel. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so indeed: (2) he is no less than a ftufft man : but for the stuffing, -well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Šir, 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.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd 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.
Mel. Is it possible?
Beat. Very easily possible ; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mel. I fee, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
(2) be is no less tban a stufft man : but for the Stuffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this Paffage been all along Pop'd, from the very firft Edition downwards. If any of the Editors could extract Sense from this Pointing, their Sagacity is a Pitch above mine. I believe, by my Regulation, I have retrieved the Poet's true Meaning. Our Poet seems to use the Word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Moftellaria ; Act 1. Sc: 3. Non Veflem amatores mulieris amant, fed Veftis fartum, A 4
Beat. 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 ?
Mes. He is most in the company of the right noble Saudio,
Bear. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease ; he is sooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick ; it will cost him a thousand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Meff. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar and
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 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.
Pedio. You embrace your charge too willingly : I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
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 herself; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Beat. 'If Signior Leonato be her Father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Mefina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder, that you will ftill be talking, Signio" Benedi£t ; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain ! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible, Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick ? Courtesy itself muft convert to Disdain, if you come in her presence.
Beat. Then is courtesy 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 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.
Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other shall escape a predeitinate scratcht face
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such 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 so 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
Pedro. This is the sum of all : Leonato, Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick, my
dear friend Leainato 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 longer: I dare swear, he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you swear, 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.
you of old.
Fohn, I thank you; I am not of many words, but I
Leon. Please it your Grace lead on?
[Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio. Clavd. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Sig. nior Leonato ?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my fimple true judgment ? or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pr’ythee, speak in sober judgment.
Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks, she is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praife, and too little for a great praise ; only this commendation I can "afford her, that were she other than she is, the were unhandsome ; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou think't I am in sport ; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik’it her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire after her ?
Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel ?
Bere. Yea, and a case 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 Song ?
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that I ever look'd on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I fee no fuch matter ; there's her Cousin, if she were not posseft with such a Fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the firit 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, tho? I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene, Is't come to this, in faith i hath not the world
one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion ; Mall I never see a bachelor of threescore 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 seek
Bene. I would, your Grace would constrain me to tell.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as a dumb man, I would have yod 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 short his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's Thort. daughter.
Claud. If this were fo, fo were ít utter'd.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not so, nor 'twas not fo; but, indeed, God forbid it should 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.
Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I fpeak mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she thould be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the fake.
Pedro. Thou waff ever an obftinate heretick in the despight 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: