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A hall in LEONATO'S house.

Was not Count John here at supper?

I saw him not.

How tartly that gentleman looks! I
never can see him but I am heart-burned an
hour after.

He is of a very melancholy disposition.

He were an excellent man that were
made just in the midway between him and
Benedick: the one is too like an image and (10)
says nothing, and the other too like my lady's
eldest son, evermore tattling.

Then half Signior Benedick's tongue
in Count John's mouth, and half Count John's
melancholy in Signior Benedick's face,—

With a good leg and a good foot,
uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a
man would win any woman in the world, if
a' could get her good-will.

By my troth, niece, thou wilt never (20)
get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of
thy tongue.

In faith, she's too curst.

Too curst is more than curst: I shall
lessen God's sending that way; for it is said,
'God sends a curst cow short horns;' but to
a cow too curst he sends none.

So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.

Just, if he send me no husband; for
the which blessing I am at him upon my knees (30)
every morning and evening. Lord, I could not
endure a husband with a beard on his face:
I had rather lie in the woollen.

You may light on a husband that
hath no beard.

What should I do with him? dress
him in my apparel and make him my waiting-
gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more
than a youth, and he that hath no beard is
less than a man: and he that is more than a (40)
youth is not for me, and he that is less than
a man, I am not for him: therefore I will
even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward,
and lead his apes into hell.

Well, then, go you into hell?

No, but to the gate; and there will
the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with
horns on his head, and say 'Get you to
heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here's
no place for you maids:' so deliver I up my (50)
apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens;
he shows me where the bachelors sit, and
there live we as merry as the day is long.

[To Hero]
Well, niece, I trust you
will be ruled by your father.

Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to
make curtsy and say 'Father, as it please
you.' But yet for all that, cousin, let him be
a handsome fellow, or else make another
curtsy and say 'Father, as it please me.' (60)

Well, niece, I hope to see you one
day fitted with a husband.

Not till God make men of some other
metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman
to be overmastered with a piece of valiant
dust? to make an account of her life to a clod
of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none:
Adam's sons are my brethren; and, truly, I
hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

Daughter, remember what I told (70)
you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind,
you know your answer.

The fault will be in the music, cousin,
if you be not wooed in good time: if the
prince be too important, tell him there is measure
in every thing and so dance out the answer.
For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding,
and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure,
and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot and
hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; (80)
the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure,
full of state and ancientry; and then comes
repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into
the cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink
into his grave.

Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

I have a good eye, uncle; I can see
a church by daylight.

The revellers are entering, brother:
make good room. [All put on their masks. Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, DON JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and others, masked.

D. Pedro.
Lady, will you walk about with your friend?

So you walk softly and look sweetly
and say nothing, I am yours for the walk; and
especially when I walk away.

D. Pedro.
With me in your company?

I may say so, when I please.

D. Pedro.
And when please you to say so?

When I like your favor; for God
defend the lute should be like the case!

D. Pedro.
My visor is Philemon's roof; (100)
within the house is Jove.

Why, then, your visor should be

D. Pedro.
Speak low, if you speak love. [Drawing her aside.

Well, I would you did like me.

So would not I, for your own sake;
for I have many ill qualities.

Which is one?

I say my prayers aloud.

I love you the better: the hearers (110)
may cry, Amen.

God match me with a good dancer!


And God keep him out of my sight
when the dance is done! Answer, clerk.

No more words: the clerk is answered.

I know you well enough; you are
Signior Antonio.

At a word, I am not.

I know you by the waggling of your (120)

To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

You could never do him so ill-well,
unless you were the very man. Here's his dry
hand up and down: you are he, you are he.

At a word, I am not.

Come, come, do you think I do not
know you by your excellent wit? can virtue
hide itself? Go to, mum, you are he: graces
will appear, and there's an end. (130)

Will you not tell me who told you so?

No, you shall pardon me.

Nor will you not tell me who you are?

Not now.

That I was disdainful, and that I had
my good wit out of the 'Hundred Merry
Tales:'—well, this was Signior Benedick that said so.

What's he?

I am sure you know him well enough.

Not I, believe me. (140)

Did he never make you laugh?

I pray you, what is he?

Why, he is the prince's jester: a very
dull fool; only his gift is in devising impossible
slanders: none but libertines delight in
him; and the commendation is not in his wit,
but in his villany; for he both pleases men
and angers them, and then they laugh at him
and beat him. I am sure he is in the fleet: I
would he had boarded me. (150)

When I know the gentleman, I'll tell
him what you say.

Do, do: he'll but break a comparison
or two on me; which, peradventure not
marked or not laughed at, strikes him into
melancholy; and then there's a partridge wing
saved, for the fool will eat no supper that
night. [Music.] We must follow the leaders.

In every good thing.

Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will (160)
leave them at the next turning. [Dance. Then exeunt all except Don John, Borachio, and Claudio.

D. John.
Sure my brother is amorous on
Hero and hath withdrawn her father to break
with him about it. The ladies follow her and
but one visor remains.

And that is Claudio: I know him by
his bearing.

D. John.
Are not you Signior Benedick?

You know me well; I am he.

D. John.
Signior, you are very near my (170)
brother in his love: he is enamored on Hero;
I pray you, dissuade him from her: she is no
equal for his birth: you may do the part of
an honest man in it.

How know you he loves her?

D. John.
I heard him swear his affection.

So did I too; and he swore he would
marry her to-night.

D. John.
Come, let us to the banquet. [Exeunt Don John and Borachio.

Thus answer I in name of Benedick, (180)

But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.

'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.

Friendship is constant in all other things

Save in the office and affairs of love:

Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues;

Let every eye negotiate for itself

And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch

Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.

This is an accident of hourly proof,

Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero! Re-enter BENEDICK.

Count Claudio?

Yea, the same.

Come, will you go with me?


Even to the next willow, about your
own business, county. What fashion will you
wear the garland of? about your neck, like
an usurer's chain? or under your arm, like a
lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way,
for the prince hath got your Hero. (200)

I wish him joy of her.

Why, that's spoken like an honest
drovier: so they sell bullocks. But did you
think the prince would have served you thus?

I pray you, leave me,

Ho! now you strike like the blind
man: 'twas the boy that stole your meat, and
you'll beat the post.

If it will not be, I'll leave you. [Exit.

Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he (210)
creep into sedges. But that my Lady Beatrice
should know me, and not know me! The
prince's fool! Ha? It may be I go under that
title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am
apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed:
it is the base, though bitter, disposition of
Beatrice that puts the world into her person,
and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may. Re-enter DON PEDRO.

D. Pedro.
Now, signior, where's the count?
did you see him? (220)

Troth, my lord, I have played the
part of Lady Fame. I found him here as melancholy
as a lodge in a warren: I told him,
and I think I told him true, that your grace
had got the good will of this young lady; and
I offered him my company to a willow-tree,
either to make him a garland, as being forsaken,
or to bind him up a rod, as being
worthy to be whipped.

D. Pedro.
To be whipped! What's his fault? (230)

The flat transgression of a school-boy,
who, being overjoyed with finding a birds'
nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.

D. Pedro.
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression?
The transgression is in the stealer.

Yet it had not been amiss the rod
had been made, and the garland too; for the
garland he might have worn himself, and the
rod he might have bestowed on you, who, as
I take it, have stolen his birds' nest. (240)

D. Pedro.
I will but teach them to sing, and
restore them to the owner.

If their singing answer your saying,
by my faith, you say honestly.

D. Pedro.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel
to you: the gentleman that danced with
her told her she is much wronged by you.

O, she misused me past the endurance
of a block! an oak but with one green
leaf on it would have answered her; my very
visor began to assume life and scold with her. (250)
She told me, not thinking I had been myself,
that I was the prince's jester, that I was duller
than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest
with such impossible conveyance upon me
that I stood like a man at a mark, with a
whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards,
and every word stabs: if her breath
were as terrible as her terminations, there
were no living near her; she would infect to
the north star. I would not marry her, though (260)
she were endowed with all that Adam had
left him before he transgressed: she would
have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and
have cleft his club to make the fire too. Come,
talk not of her: you shall find her the infernal
Ate in good apparel. I would to God some
scholar would conjure her; for certainly, while
she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as
in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose,
because they would go thither; so, indeed, all (270)
disquiet, horror and perturbation follows her.

D. Pedro.
Look, here she comes. Re-enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO.

Will your grace command me any
service to the world's end? I will go on the
slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you
can devise to send me on; I will fetch you a
tooth-picker now from the furthest inch of
Asia, bring you the length of Prester John's
foot, fetch you a hair off the great Cham's
beard, do you any embassage to the Pigmies, (280)
rather than hold three words' conference with
this harpy. You have no employment for me?

D. Pedro.
None, but to desire your good company.

O God, sir, here's a dish I love not:
I cannot endure my Lady Tongue. [Exit.

D. Pedro.
Come, lady, come; you have
lost the heart of Signior Benedick.

Indeed, my lord, he lent it me
awhile; and I gave him use for it, a double
heart for his single one: marry, once before (290)
he won it of me with false dice, therefore your
grace may well say I have lost it.

D. Pedro.
You have put him down, lady,
you have put him down.

So I would not he should do me, my
lord, lest I should prove the mother of fools.
I have brought Count Claudio, whom you sent
me to seek.

D. Pedro.
Why, how now, count! wherefore
are you sad? (300)

Not sad, my lord.

D. Pedro.
How then? sick?

Neither, my lord.

The count is neither sad, nor sick,
nor merry, nor well; but civil count, civil as
an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.

D. Pedro.
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon
to be true; though, I'll be sworn, if he be so,
his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have
wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won: I (310)
have broke with her father, and his good will
obtained: name the day of marriage, and God
give thee joy!

Count, take of me my daughter, and
with her my fortunes: his grace hath made
the match, and all grace say Amen to it.

Speak, count, 'tis your cue.

Silence is the perfectest herald of
joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how
much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I (320)
give away myself for you and dote upon the exchange.

Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot,
stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him
speak neither.

D. Pedro.
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool,
it keeps on the windy side of care. My cousin
tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.

And so she doth, cousin.

Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes (330)
every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt;
I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho
for a husband!

D. Pedro.
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

I would rather have one of your
father's getting. Hath your grace ne'er a
brother like you? Your father got excellent
husbands, if a maid could come by them.

D. Pedro.
Will you have me, lady?

No, my lord, unless I might have (340)
another for working-days: your grace is too
costly to wear every day. But, I beseech your
grace, pardon me: I was born to speak all
mirth and no matter.

D. Pedro.
Your silence most offends me,
and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of
question, you were born in a merry hour.

No, sure, my lord, my mother cried;
but then there was a star danced, and under
that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy! (350)

Niece, will you look to those things
I told you of?

I cry you mercy, uncle. By your
grace's pardon. [Exit.

D. Pedro.
By my troth, a pleasant-spirited

There's little of the melancholy element
in her, my lord: she is never sad but
when she sleeps, and not ever sad then; for I
have heard my daughter say, she hath often (360)
dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself
with laughing.

D. Pedro.
She cannot endure to hear tell
of a husband.

O, by no means: she mocks all her
wooers out of suit.

D. Pedro.
She were an excellent wife for

O Lord, my lord, if they were but a
week married, they would talk themselves mad. (370)

D. Pedro.
County Claudio, when mean you
to go to church?

To-morrow, my lord: time goes on
crutches till love have all his rites.

Not till Monday, my dear son, which
is hence a just seven-night; and a time too
brief, too, to have all things answer my mind.

D. Pedro.
Come, you shake the head at so
long a breathing: but, I warrant thee, Claudio,
the time shall not go dully by us. I will (380)
in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labors;
which is, to bring Signior Benedick and
the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection
the one with the other. I would fain have it a
match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if
you three will but minister such assistance as
I shall give you direction.

My lord, I am for you, though it cost
me ten nights' watchings.

And I, my lord. (390)

D. Pedro.
And you too, gentle Hero?

I will do any modest office, my lord,
to help my cousin to a good husband.

D. Pedro.
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest
husband that I know. Thus far can I
praise him; he is of a noble strain, of approved
valor and confirmed honesty. I will
teach you how to humor your cousin, that she
shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with
your two helps, will so practise on Benedick
that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasy
stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice.
If we can do this, Cupid is no longer an
archer: his glory shall be ours, for we are the
only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell
you my drift. [Exeunt.

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