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Enter DON PEDRO, attended by BALTHAZAR and others, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, and BENEDICK.
D. Pedro. Good seignior 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 house in 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.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her? Leon. Seignior Benedick, no; for then were you a
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.
Bene. If seignior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders, for all Messina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, seignior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain!—Are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it as seignior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. 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.
1 i. e. encumbrance, or, according to Mr. Douce, the person committed to your care.
2 This phrase is common in Dorsetshire. "Jack fathers himself," is like his father.
Beat. A dear happiness to women; they 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.
Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were.
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Bene. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue; and so good a continuer: but keep your way o' God's name; I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you of old.
D. Pedro. This is the sum of all: Leonato,-seignior Claudio, and seignior Benedick,-my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell 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.
Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.-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.
Leon. Please it your grace lead on?
D. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together. [Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of seignior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not; but I looked on her.
Bene. Do you question me as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? Or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment. Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks she is 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.
Claud. Thou thinkest I am in sport; 1 pray thee, tell me truly how thou likest her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her? Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?
Bene. 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?2
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.
Bene. 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? Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is it come to this, i'faith? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion 23 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?
Bene. I would your grace would constrain to tell.
1 Do you mean to amuse us with improbable stories?
2 i. e. to join in the song.
3 i. e. subject his head to the disquiet of jealousy.
D. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Bene. 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.
Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so. Claud. 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.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord. D. Pedro. By my troth, I speak my thought. Claud. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine. Bene. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
D. Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.
Bene. 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.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.'
Bene. 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.
1 By obstinacy against conviction, alluding to the definition of a heretic in the schools.
2 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 from the scent. 3 The fine is the conclusion.
D. Pedro. 1 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.1
Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.3
D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try:
In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.*
Bene. The savage bull may; but if ever the sensi ble 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, 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 seignior 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
1 A capital subject for satire.
2 It seems to have been one of the inhuman sports of the time to inclose a cat in a wooden tub or bottle suspended aloft to be shot at.
3 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. 4 This line is from The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo, &c., and occurs, with a slight variation, in Watson's Sonnets, 1581.