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care for his niece's welfare, as to carry on a plot like this for idle and even mischievous diversion.
Once persuaded of her passion for himself, the revulsion of Benedick's feelings towards the woman whom he had every other predisposition to love, becomes inevitable: but they receive additional stimulus from the other side of the expedient which his friends employ against him. They flatter his self-love by commending his personal qualifications:
Claud. He is a very proper man.
Don Ped. He doth, indeed, shew some sparks that are like wit.
Leon. And I take him to be valiant.
Don Ped. As Hector, I assure you, &c. And these very praises give the greater keenness to their reflections upon his alleged disdainfulness :
Leon. .. .. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
Don Ped. I would she had bestowed this dotage on me; I would have daffed all other respects, and made her half myself : I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what he will say.
Leon. Were it good, think you?
Claud. Hero thinks surely, she will die; for she says, she will die if he love her not; and she will die ere she makes her love known; and she will die, if he woo her, rather than 'bate one breath of her accustomed crossness.
Don Ped. She doth well : if she should make tender of her love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
But his friends know too well both his general manliness of character and his particular predilection for Beatrice, to apprehend in reality that he would spurn her affection. Thus, although Claudio himself, in the course of this same colloquy, has said in Benedick's hearing, that, if informed of her attachment, "he would but make a sport of it, and torment the poor lady worse,” yet we find him, at the end of it, whispering to his companions—"If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my expectation."
To perceive this revulsion of feeling in all its force, we should first revert to that soliloquy of Benedick's just before he retreats into the arbour, which, at the moment when, to repeat Don Pedro's expression, he had been finally “put down” by the only woman for whom he had felt any decided inclination, has exhibited him to us less matrimonially disposed than
I do much wonder, that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviour to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn, by falling in love: and such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and fife; and now had he rather hear the tabor and the pipe : I have known when he would have walked ten mile afoot, to see a good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is he turned orthographer; his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted, and see with these eyes! I cannot tell; I think not: I will not be sworn, but love may transform me to an oyster ; but I'll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair; yet I am well : another is wise; yet I am well: another virtuous; yet I am well : but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace.
Rich she shall be, that's certain ; wise, or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her ; fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not near me, noble, or not I for an angel ; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be-of what colour it please God.
It is, in truth, no less amusing than it is interesting and instructive, to mark the sudden transition from this full profession of such easy indifference, made by our hero just before his concealment in the arbour, to that other rumination of his, on coming out of it, wherein we find the primary feeling to be, his eagerness to respond freely and generously to the alleged affection on the part of his fair tormentor,-while the endeavour to reconcile such public declaration with the saving of his own self-love from mortifying ridicule, finds only the second place in his thoughts:
This can be no trick : the conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady; it seems her affections have their full bent. Love me! why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured : they say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive the love come from her: they say, too, that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they that hear their detractions, and can put them to mending. They say the lady is fair; 'tis a truth, I can bear them witness : —and virtuous ; 'tis so, I cannot reprove it :-and wise, but for loving me. By my troth, it is no addition to her wit-nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her! I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against marriage. But doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips, and sentences, and these paper bullets of the brain, awe a man from the career of his humour ? No: the world must be peopled. When I said I should die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.-- Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she's a fair lady. I do spy some marks of love in her.
No wonder that, in the little scene which follows, he should attribute the lady's perseverance in her hostile tone to that resolution of hers, in spite of her love, which he has just heard Claudio alleging—that “she will die, if he woo her, rather than she will 'bate one breath of her accustomed crossness." suasion of our hero's here produces one of the most exquisite morsels of genuine comedy that occur throughout this “pleasant-spirited” play:
Beat. Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
Ben. Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.
Beat. I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful I would not have
Ben. You take pleasure in the message ?
Beat. Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point, and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior? -fare
| Exit. Ben. Ha! Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner—there's a double meaning in that. I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me—that's as much as to say, Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks !If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain !-İf I do not love her, I am a Jew!- I will go get her picture!
So far, Benedick is the only deluded party. Let
. us now turn to consider the parallel revolution worked in the feelings of the heroine by the like stratagem, practised upon her by the lady Hero and her female attendants. Here, as we should expect, we find the motives appealed to in the breast of Beatrice to be just the same, and holding the same relation to one another, as those which we have seen acted upon in the mind of Benedick. Her fair entrappers flatter her admiration of the signior's high qualities :
Ursula. Doth not the gentleman
Hero. O God of love! I know he doth deserve
Urs. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
Urs. His excellence did earn it ere he had it. The brevity with which Hero and her gentlewoman speak of Benedick's alleged passion, and the ready credence which it nevertheless obtains in the inind of Beatrice, as contrasted with the more hesitating admittance which Benedick yields to the story of Beatrice's “enraged affection” for himself, results with perfect nature and propriety from the very different character of the source from which the pretended information comes. Benedick might well
, in the first instance, have suspected that the talk which he heard going on upon this matter between the Prince and Claudio--so accustomed to pass their jests upon him, especially on that very point-might be, as he says, "a gull,” in which it was just possible they might have induced the old gentleman to take part, for the sake of humouring their momentary diversion. But when we consider the quiet, modest, simple character of Hero, and the relation of sisterly intimacy and
affection so long established between her and Beatrice, we see it to be utterly impossible that the idea should once enter the apprehension of the latter, that her cousin might be engaged in a plot of this nature, however innocent, upon herself. Mrs. Jameson, indeed, tells us :—“The immediate success of the trick is a most natural consequence of the self-assurance and magnanimity of her character: she is so accustomed to assert dominion over the spirits of others, that she cannot suspect the possibility of a plot laid against herself.”. We must, however, observe that any such notion on our heroine's part, of an impossibility that she should be plotted against in any quarter, would have argued habitual simplicity in her, much rather than habitual penetration; while the fact that no such suspicion once occurs to her respecting her gentle cousin, certainly implies in her neither weakness of discernment nor strength of presumption. The following brief colloquy, then, may well suffice to carry conviction to her mind. for her to imagine her simple-hearted cousin not only inventing the fact itself, but feigning the conference upon it between herself, her betrothed husband, and the Prince ?
But are you sure
Hero. So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.
Hero. They did entreat me to acquaint her of it :
Here, as in the case of Benedick, the first grand appeal is made to the affections of the individual played upon, by assuring her that the seemingly violent aversion of the man whom she likes on ail other accounts, has masked a really passionate devotion. The second and decisive appeal in this case, too, as in the former, is made, not to the “vanity” of the character, as we find even Coleridge contending