Before LEONATO'S house.
Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a Messenger.

I learn in this letter that Don Peter
of Arragon comes this night to Messina.

He is very near by this: he was not
three leagues off when I left him.

How many gentlemen have you lost
in this action?

But few of any sort, and none of name.

A victory is twice itself when the
achiever brings home full numbers. I find (10)
here that Don Peter hath bestowed much honor
on a young Florentine called Claudio.

Much deserved on his part and
equally remembered by Don Pedro; he hath
borne himself beyond the promise of his age,
doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a
lion: he hath indeed better bettered expectation
than you must expect of me to tell you how.

He hath an uncle here in Messina
will be very much glad of it. (20)

I have already delivered him letters,
and there appears much joy in him; even so
much that joy could not show itself modest
enough without a badge of bitterness.

Did he break out into tears?

In great measure.

A kind overflow of kindness: there
are no faces truer than those that are so
washed. How much better is it to weep at joy
than to joy at weeping! (30)

I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned
from the wars or no?

I know none of that name, lady:
there was none such in the army of any sort.

What is he that you ask for, niece?

My cousin means Signior Benedick
of Padua.

O, he's returned; and as pleasant as
ever he was.

He set up his bills here in Messina (40)
and challenged Cupid at the flight; and my
uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed
for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt.
I pray you, how many hath he killed and
eaten in these wars? But how many hath he
killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his killing.

Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick
too much; but he'll be meet with you, I
doubt it not.

He hath done good service, lady, in these wars. (50)

You had musty victual, and he hath
holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencherman;
he hath an excellent stomach.

And a good soldier too, lady.

And a good soldier to a lady: but
what is he to a lord?

A lord to a lord, a man to a man;
stuffed with all honorable virtues.

It is so, indeed; he is no less than a
stuffed man: but for the stuffing,—well, we (60)
are all mortal.

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 skirmish of wit between them.

Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our
last conflict four of his five wits went halting
off, and now is the whole man governed with
one: so that if he have wit enough to keep
himself warm, let him bear it for a difference (70)
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.

Is't possible?

Very easily possible: he wears his
faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever
changes with the next block.

I see, lady, the gentleman is not in
your books. (80)

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?

He is most in the company of the
right noble Claudio.

O Lord, he will hang upon him like
a disease: he is sooner caught than the pestilence,
and the taker runs presently mad. God
help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the (90)
Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a' be cured.

I will hold friends with you, lady.

Do, good friend.

You will never run mad, niece.

No, not till a hot January.

Don Pedro is approached. Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and BALTHASAR.

D. Pedro.
Good Signior Leonato, you are
come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the
world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.

Never came trouble to my house in (100)
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.

D. Pedro.
You embrace your charge too
willingly. I think this is your daughter.

Her mother hath many times told me so.

Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?

Signior Benedick, no; for then were
you a child. (110)

D. 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 honorable father.

If Signior Leonato be her father, she
would not have his head on her shoulders for
all Messina, as like him as she is.

I wonder that you will still be talking,
Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.

What, my dear Lady Disdain! are (120)
you yet living?

Is it possible disdain should die
while she hath such meet food to feed it as
Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert
to disdain, if you come in her presence.

Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it
is certain I am loved 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.

A dear happiness to women: they (130)
would else have been troubled with a pernicious
suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I
am of your humor for that: I had rather hear
my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

God keep your ladyship still in that
mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape
a predestinate scratched face.

Scratching could not make it worse,
an 'twere such a face as yours were.

Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. (140)

A bird of my tongue is better than a
beast of yours.

I would my horse had the speed of
your tongue, and so good a continuer. But
keep your way, i' God's name; I have done.

You always end with a jade's trick:
I know you of old.

D. Pedro.
That is the sum of all, Leonato.
Signior Claudio and Signior Benedick, my
dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell (150)
him we shall stay here at the least a month;
and he heartily prays some occasion may detain
us longer. I dare swear he is no hypocrite,
but prays from his heart.

If you swear, my lord, you shall not
be forsworn. [To Don John] Let me bid you
welcome, my lord: being reconciled to the
prince your brother, I owe you all duty.

D. John.
I thank you: I am not of many
words, but I thank you. (160)

Please it your grace lead on?

D. Pedro.
Your hand, Leonato; we will
go together. [Exeunt all except Benedick and Claudio.

Benedick, didst thou note the
daughter of Signior Leonato?

I noted her not; but I looked on her.

Is she not a modest young lady?

Do you question me, as an honest
man should do, for my simple true judgement;
or would you have me speak after my custom, (170)
as being a professed tyrant to their sex?

No; I pray thee speak in sober judgement.

Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low
for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise
and too little for a great praise: only this
commendation I can afford her, that were she
other than she is, she were unhandsome;
and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.

Thou thinkest I am in sport: I
pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her. (180)

Would you buy her, that you inquire
after her?

Can the world buy such a jewel?

Yea, and a case to put it into. But
speak you this with a sad 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 shall a man take you, to
go in the song?

In mine eye she is the sweetest lady (190)
that ever I looked on.

I can see yet without spectacles and
I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an
she were not possessed with 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?

I would scarce trust myself, though
I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Is't come to this? In faith, hath not (200)
the world one man but he will wear his cap
with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor
of threescore again? Go to, i' faith; an thou
wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear
the print of it and sigh away Sundays. Look;
Don Pedro is returned to seek you. Re-enter DON PEDRO.

D. Pedro.
What secret hath held you here,
that you followed not to Leonato's?

I would your grace would constrain
me to tell. (210)

D. Pedro.
I charge thee on thy allegiance.

You hear, Count Claudio: I can be
secret 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 who?
now that is your grace's part. Mark how short
his answer is;—With Hero, Leonato's short daughter.

If this were so, so were it uttered.

Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is
not so, nor 'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid (220)
it should be so.

If my passion change not shortly,
God forbid it should be otherwise.

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

You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

D. Pedro.
By my troth, I speak my thought.

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

And, by my two faiths and troths,
my lord, I spoke mine. (230)

That I love her, I feel.

D. Pedro.
That she is worthy, I know.

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.

D. Pedro.
Thou wast ever an obstinate
heretic in the despite of beauty.

And never could maintain his part
but in the force of his will. (240)

That a woman conceived me, I thank
her; that she brought me up, I likewise give
her most humble thanks: but that I will have
a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my
bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall
pardon me. Because I will not do them the
wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the
right to trust none; and the fine is, for the
which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.

D. Pedro.
I shall see thee, ere I die, look (250)
pale with love.

With anger, with sickness, or with
hunger, 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-house for the sign of blind Cupid.

D. Pedro.
Well, if ever thou dost fall from
this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.

If I do, hang me in a bottle like a (260)
cat and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let
him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.

D. Pedro.
Well, as time shall try:
'In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.'

The savage bull may; but if ever
the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the
bull's horns and set them in my forehead:
and let me be vilely painted, and in such great
letters as they write 'Here is a good horse to
hire,' let them signify under my sign 'Here (270)
you may see Benedick the married man.'

If this should ever happen, thou
wouldst be horn-mad.

D. Pedro.
Nay, if Cupid have not spent all
his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

I look for an earthquake too, then.

D. Pedro.
Well, you will temporize with
the hours. In the meantime, good Signior
Bendick, repair to Leonato's: commend me
to him and tell him I will not fail him at supper; (280)
for indeed he hath made great preparation.

I have almost matter enough in me
for such an embassage; and so I commit you—

To the tuition of God: From my
house, if I had it,—

D. Pedro.
The sixth of July: Your loving
friend, Benedick.

Nay, mock not, mock not. The body
of your discourse is sometime guarded with
fragments, and the guards are but slightly (290)
basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any
further, examine your conscience: and so I leave you. [Exit.

My liege, your highness now may do me good.

D. Pedro.
My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,

And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn

Any hard lesson that may do thee good.

Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

D. Pedro.
No child but Hero; she's his only heir.

Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

O, my lord,

When you went onward on this ended action, (300)

I look'd upon her with a soldier's eye,

That liked, but had a rougher task in hand

Than to drive liking to the name of love:

But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts

Have left their places vacant, in their rooms

Come thronging soft and delicate desires,

All prompting me how fair young Hero is,

Saying, I liked her ere I went to wars.

D. Pedro.
Thou wilt be like a lover presently

And tire the hearer with a book of words. (310)

If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,

And I will break with her and with her father,

And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end

That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?

How sweetly you do minister to love,

That know love's grief by his complexion!

But lest my liking might too sudden seem,

I would have salved it with a longer treatise.

D. Pedro.
What need the bridge much broader than the flood?

The fairest grant is the necessity. (320)

Look, what will serve is fit; 'tis once, thou lovest,

And I will fit thee with the remedy.

I know we shall have revelling to-night:

I will assume thy part in some disguise

And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,

And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart

And take her hearing prisoner with the force

And strong encounter of my amorous tale:

Then after to her father will I break;

And the conclusion is, she shall be thine. (330)

In practice let us put it presently. [Exeunt.

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