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ACT I.

SCENE I.

A court before Leonato's houfe.

Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a messenger.

Leon.

LEARN in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Meffina.

Me. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him. Leon. How many gentlemen have you loft in this action?

Me. But few of any fort, and none of name.

Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the atchiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pe dro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.

The ftory from Ariofo, Orl. Fur. 1. 5. Mr Pope. VOL. II.

A

Mef.

Me. Much deferved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promife of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better better'd expectation, than you muft 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 itfelf modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.

Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Mef. In great measure.

Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that are fo washed. 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?

Me. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none fuch in the army of any fort.

Leon. What is he that you afk for, niece?
Hero. My coufin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
Me. O, he's return'd, and as pleafant as ever he

was.

Beat. He fet up his bills here in Messina, and challenge'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 thefe 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.

Me. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in thefe 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."

88

Me. And a good foldier too, Lady.

She gives him this name, to ridicule in him the character of a bluffering foldier, the word montante in Spanish fignifying a two-handed Jword.

Beat.

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, mistake my niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior 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 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.

Mess. 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?"

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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 Claudio, 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.

Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Mef. Don Pedro is approach'd.

A 2

SCENE

SCENE

Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and Don John.

II.

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 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 afk'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 shoulders for all Messina, as like him as fhe is.

Beat. I wonder that you will fill 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 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 harð 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.

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