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

Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

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

Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.

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

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

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

Leon. 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.

Beat. 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 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.

Mess. Is 't possible?
Beat. Very easily possible : he wears his faith


66. his five wits; the five 69. bear it for a difference ; wits' meant sometimes the five in heraldry a difference' was senses, sometimes the five mental the distinguishing mark in the faculties' of 'co mon wit, coat-armour of different branches imagination, fantasy, estima- of the same family. (Cf. 'wear tion, memory.' Beatrice plays your rue with a difference,' upon the latter meaning.

Ham. iv. 5. 183.)

but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.

Mess. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my 80 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 ?

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

Beat. 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 Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a' be cured.

Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Mess. Don Pedro is approached.



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.

Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your grace: for trouble being gone, 100 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. 77. block, shaping model for hats, 'shape.' 82. squarer, roysterer.


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

Leon, Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

D. Pedro. You have it full, Benedick : we may 110 guess by this what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady; for you

, are like an honourable father.

Bene. If Signior 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, Signior Benedick: nobody 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 Signior 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.

Beat. A dear happiness to women : they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. 130 I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour 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.

123. convert, be converted.
129. A dear happiness (to), a singular good fortune (for)


Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a 140 beast of yours.

Bene. 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.

Beat. 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 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. (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.

Leon. Please it your grace lead on?

D. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.

[Exeunt all except Benedick and Claudio. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato ?

Bene. I noted her not ; but I looked on her.
Claud. Is she not a modest young lady?

Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgement; 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 judgement.

Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too


170 180

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: I 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 harefinder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song ?

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 't come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with 200 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


186. to tell us Cupid is a good 200. wear his cap with sushare-finder, etc., i.e. to praise picion, (either) incurring the people, in mockery, for qualities suspicion that he has horns' they notoriously lack ;-Cupid under it, (or) suspecting that being blind, and Vulcan another has worn his (night-) great worker in metal, not in сар.

The ultimate sense is wood.

the same. 188. go in, join with you in. 203. wear the print of it and VOL. III




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