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Leon. Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all, Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves; And, when I send for you, come hither mask'd: The prince and Claudio promis'd by this hour To visit me:–You know your office, brother; You must be father to your brother's daughter, And give her to young Claudio. [Ereunt Ladies. Ant. Which I will do with confirm'd countenance. Bene. Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think. Friar. To do what, signior Bene. To bind me, or undo me, one of them.— Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior, Your niece regards me with an eye of favour. Leon. That eye my daughter lent her; 'Tis most true. Bene. And I do with an eye of love requite her. Leon. The sight whereof, I think, you had from me. From Claudio, and the prince ; But what’s your will ? Bene. Your answer, sir, is enigmatical : But, for my will, my will is, your good will May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin'd In the estate of honourable marriage; In which, good friar, I shall desire your help. Leon. My heart is with your liking. Friar. And my help. Here comes the prince, and Claudio.
Enter Don PE dro and CLAUDio, with Attendants.
D. Pedro. Good morrow to this fair assembly. Leon. Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio; We here attend you ; Are you yet determin'd To-day to marry with my brother's daughter Claud. I’ll hold my mind, where she an Ethiope. Leon. Call her forth, brother, here's the friar ready. [Erit AN to Nio. D. Pedro. Good morrow, Benedick: Why, what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?
Claud. I think, he thinks upon the savage bull:—"
Bene. Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low ;
Re-enter ANto Nio, with the Ladies masked.
Claud. For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings. Which is the lady I must seize upon 2 Ant. This same is she, and I do give you her. Claud. Why, then she's mine: Sweet, let me see your Leon. No, that you shall not, till you take her hand [face. Before this friar, and swear to marry her. Claud. Give me your hand before this holy friar; I am your husband, if you like of me. Hero. And when I liv'd, I was your other wife: [Unmasking. And when you loved, you were my other husband. Claud. Another Hero ! Hero. Nothing certainer: One Hero died defil’d ; but I do live, And surely as I live, I am a maid. D. Pedro. The former Hero ! Hero that is dead Leon. She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived. Friar. All this amazement can I qualify; When after that the holy rites are ended, I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death: Mean time, let wonder seem familiar, And to the chapel let us presently. Bene. Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice? Beat. I answer to that name; [unmasking] What is your Bene. Do not you love me? [will? Beat. Why no, no more than reason. Bene. Why, then your uncle, and the prince, and ClauHave been deceived; for they swore you did. [dio, Beat. Do not you love me? Bene. Troth no, no more than reason. Beat. Why then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula, Are much deceiv'd ; for they did swear, you did. Bene. They swore that you were almost sick for me. Beat. They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me. Bene. "Tis no such matter:-Then, you do not love me? Beat. No, truly, but in friendly recompense. Leon. Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman. Claud. And I’ll be sworn upon’t, that he loves her; For here's a paper, written in his hand, A halting sonnet of his own pure brain, Fashion'd to Beatrice. Hero. And here’s another. Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket, Containing her affection unto Benedick. Bene. A miracle ! here's our own hands against our hearts —Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity. Beat. I would not deny you :-but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion; and, partly, to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption. Bene. Peace, I will stop your mouth. [Kissing her. D. Pedro. How dost thou, Benedick the married man? Bene. I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of witcrackers cannot flout me out of my humour: Dost thou think, I care for a satire, or an epigram 7 No: if a man will be beaten with brains, he shall wear nothing handsome about him: In brief, since I do propose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy, thing, and this is my conclusion.—For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin. Claud. I had well hoped, thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double dealer: which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee, Bene. Come, come, we are friends :-let's have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts, and our wives' heels. Leon. We’ll have dancing afterwards. Bene. First, o' my word; therefore play, music.—Prince, thou art sad ; get thee a wife, get thee a wife : there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.”
* — the savage bull:—] Alluding to the passage quoted in act. 1. scene 1. from Kyd's Hieronymo.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina. Bene. Think not on him till to-morrow; I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.—Strike up, pipers. [Dance. Ereunt.”
p no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.] Mr. Steevens, to assist future editors to an explanation of these words which he declares himself unable to furnish, has given several quotations to prove that a staff tipped with horn was the weapon used by the parties in the ancient trial by wager of battle.—It may be so; but may not the allusion here be to the common horn headed walking sticks carried by old and reverend men?
* This play may be justly said to contain two of the most sprightly characters that Shakspeare ever drew. The wit, the humourist, the gentleman, and the soldier, are combined in Benedick. It is to be lamented, indeed, that the first and most splendid of these distinctions, is disgraced by unnecessary profaneness; for the goodness of his heart is hardly sufficient to atone for the licence of his tongue. The too sarcastic levity, which flashes out in the conversation of Beatrice, may be excused on account of the steadiness and friendship so apparent in her behaviour, when she urges her lover to risk his life by a challenge to Claudio. In the conduct of the fable, however, there is an imperfection similar to that which Dr. Johnson has pointed out in The Merry Wives of Windsor:—the second contrivance is less ingenious than the first – or, to speak more plainly, the same incident is become stale by repetition. I wish some other method had been found to entrap Beatrice, than that very one which before had been successfully practised on Benedick.-STEEve Ns.
To this last observation of Steevens's, M. Schlegel replies, “Je ne sais qui a blåmé cette répétition du mème moyen pour les enlacer, mais il me semble que le plaisant de la chose consiste précisement dans la symetrie des illusion.”— The following remark is original and just. “Leurs ames s'attribuent toute la gloire de leurs défaite, mais la direction exclusive des plaisanteries de tous deux vers un seul objet, etait déjà le germe d'une inclination cachee.—Cours des Literature Dramatique, vol. iii. 20.
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM.
This play was entered at Stationers' Hall, Oct. 8, 1600.-And there were two editions of it published in quarto in that year. Mr. Malone supposes it to have been written in 1594. It is distinguished by one of the strongest characteristics of our author's early plays—the recurrence of passages and scenes in rhyme.