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humble thanks : but that I will have a recheat 23 winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle 24 in an invisible baldrick 25, 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 26 is (for the which I may go the finer), I will live a bachelor.
D. Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. 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 27.
Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat 28, and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam 29.
23 That is, wear a horn on my forehead, which the huntsman may blow. A recheat is the sound by which the dogs are called back.
24 i. e. bugle-horn.
25 A belt. The meaning seems to be—'or that I should be compelled to carry a horn on my forehead where there is nothing visible to support it.'
26 The fine is the conclusion. 27 A capital subject for satire.
28 It seems to have been one of the inhuman sports of the time, to enclose a cat in a wooden tub or bottle suspended aloft to be shot at. The practice was, not many years since, kept up at Kelso in Scotland, according to Ebenezer Lazarus, a silly methodist, who has described the whole ceremony in his account of Kelso. He, however, justly stigmatizes it, saying :
• The cat in the barrel exhibits such a farce,
That he who can relish it is worse than an ass.' 29 i. e. Adam Bell, 'a passing good archer,' who, with Clym of the Cloughe and William of Cloudeslie, were outlaws as famous in the north of England, as, Robin Hood and his fellows were in the midland counties.
D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try :
Bene. 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 good horse to hire, let them signify under my sign-Here you may see Benedick the married man.
Claud. If this should ever happen, thou would'st be horn-mad.
D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice 3i, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
Bene. I look for an earthquake too then.
D. Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time, good signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's; commend me to him, and tell him, I will not fail him at supper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation.
Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage: and so I commit you
Claud. To the tuition of God: From my house, (if I had it)—
D. Pedro. The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.
Bene. Nay, mock not, mock not: The body of your discourse is sometime guarded 32 with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither : ere you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience
[Exit BENEDICK. 30 This line is from The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo, &c.; and occurs, with a slight variation, in Watson's Sonnets, 1581.
31 Venice is represented in the same light as Cyprus among the ancients, and it is this character of the people that is here alladed to.
32 Trimmed, ornamented.
33 • Examine if your sarcasms do not touch yourself.' Old ends probably means the conclusions of letters, which were frequently couched in the quaint forms used above.
I leave you.
Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me
good. D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach; teach it
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
do thee good. Claud. Hath Leonato any son, my lord ! D. Pedro. No child but Hero, she's his only
heir; Dost thou affect her, Claudio? Claud.
my When you went onward on this ended action, I look'd
her with a soldier's eye,
D. Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
Claud. How sweetly do you minister to love, That know love's grief by his complexion ! But lest my liking might too sudden seem, I would have salv'd it with a longer treatise. D. Pedro. What need the bridge much broader
than the flood ? The fairest grant is the necessity 34:
34 Mr. Hayley, with great acuteness, proposed to read, “The fairest grant is to necessity ;' i. e, necessitas quod cogit defendit.' The meaning may however be- The fairest or most equitable concession is that which is needful only.'
Look, what will serve, is fit: 'tis once 35, thou lov'st;
SCENE II. A Room in Leonato's House.
Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO. Leon. How now, brother? Where is my cousin, your son? Hath he provided this musick ?
Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet dreamed not of.
Leon. Are they good?
Ant. As the event stamps them; but they have a good cover, they show well outward. The prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached 1 alley in my orchard, were thus much overheard by a man of mine: The prince discovered to Claudio, that he loved my niece your daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present time by the top, and instantly break with you of it. Leon. Hath the fellow any wit, that told you
this? Ant. A good sharp fellow: I will send for him, and question him yourself.
35 i. e. once for all. So, in Coriolanus : * Once if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.' See Comedy of Errors, Act iii. Sc. 1.
Leon. No, no; we will hold it as a dream, till it appear itself:—but I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you, and tell her of it. [Several persons cross the stage.] Cousins”, you know what you have to do.—0, I cry you mercy, friend; you go with me, and I will use your skill :-Good cousins, have a care this busy time.
Another Room in Leonato's House.
Enter Don John and CONRADE. Con. What the good year?, my lord! why are you thus out of measure sad ?
D. John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds it, therefore the sadness is without limit.
Con. You should hear reason.
D. John. And when I have heard it, what blessing bringeth it?
Con. If not a present remedy, yet a patient sufferance.
D. John. I wonder, that thou being (as thou say’st thou art) born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am?: I must be sad when I have
2 Cousins were formerly enrolled among the dependants, if not the domestics of great families, such as that of Leonato. Petruchio, while intent on the subjection of Katharine, calls out in terms imperative for his cousin Ferdinand.
1 The commentators say, that the original form of this exclamation was the gougere, i. e. morbus gallicus; which ultimately became obscure, and was corrupted into the good year, a very opposite form of expression.
2 This is one of Shakspeare's natural touches. An envions and unsocial mind, too proud to give pleasure, and too sullen to receive it, always endeavours to hide its malignity from the world and from itself, under the plainness of simple honesty, or the dignity of haughty independence.