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Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare homepage | Much Ado About Nothing | Entire play ACT I SCENE I. Before LEONATO'S house.

   Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a Messenger 

LEONATO

   I learn in this letter that Don Peter of Arragon
   comes this night to Messina.

Messenger

   He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off
   when I left him.

LEONATO

   How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Messenger

   But few of any sort, and none of name.

LEONATO

   A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings
   home full numbers. I find here that Don Peter hath
   bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.

Messenger

   Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by
   Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the
   promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb,
   the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better
   bettered expectation than you must expect of me to
   tell you how.

LEONATO

   He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much
   glad of it.

Messenger

   I have already delivered him letters, and there
   appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could
   not show itself modest enough without a badge of
   bitterness.

LEONATO

   Did he break out into tears?

Messenger

   In great measure.

LEONATO

   A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces
   truer than those that are so washed. How much
   better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!

BEATRICE

   I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
   wars or no?

Messenger

   I know none of that name, lady: there was none such
   in the army of any sort.

LEONATO

   What is he that you ask for, niece?

HERO

   My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.

Messenger

   O, he's returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.

BEATRICE

   He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
   Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading
   the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged
   him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he
   killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath
   he killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his killing.

LEONATO

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

Messenger

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

BEATRICE

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

Messenger

   And a good soldier too, lady.

BEATRICE

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

Messenger

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

BEATRICE

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

LEONATO

   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.

BEATRICE

   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.

Messenger

   Is't possible?

BEATRICE

   Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
   the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
   next block.

Messenger

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

BEATRICE

   No; an he were, I would burn my 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?

Messenger

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

BEATRICE

   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.

Messenger

   I will hold friends with you, lady.

BEATRICE

   Do, good friend.

LEONATO

   You will never run mad, niece.

BEATRICE

   No, not till a hot January.

Messenger

   Don Pedro is approached.
   Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and BALTHASAR

DON PEDRO

   Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your
   trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid
   cost, and you encounter it.

LEONATO

   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.

DON PEDRO

   You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
   is your daughter.

LEONATO

   Her mother hath many times told me so.

BENEDICK

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

LEONATO

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

DON 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
   honourable father.

BENEDICK

   If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not
   have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as
   like him as she is.

BEATRICE

   I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
   Benedick: nobody marks you.

BENEDICK

   What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

BEATRICE

   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.

BENEDICK

   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.

BEATRICE

   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 humour for that: I
   had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man
   swear he loves me.

BENEDICK

   God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some
   gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate
   scratched face.

BEATRICE

   Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such
   a face as yours were.

BENEDICK

   Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

BEATRICE

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

BENEDICK

   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.

BEATRICE

   You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.

DON 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.

LEONATO

   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.

DON JOHN

   I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank
   you.

LEONATO

   Please it your grace lead on?

DON PEDRO

   Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.
   Exeunt all except BENEDICK and CLAUDIO

CLAUDIO

   Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

BENEDICK

   I noted her not; but I looked on her.

CLAUDIO

   Is she not a modest young lady?

BENEDICK

   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?

CLAUDIO

   No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

BENEDICK

   Why, i' faith, methinks she's 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.

CLAUDIO

   Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me
   truly how thou likest her.

BENEDICK

   Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

CLAUDIO

   Can the world buy such a jewel?

BENEDICK

   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?

CLAUDIO

   In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I
   looked on.

BENEDICK

   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?

CLAUDIO

   I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
   contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

BENEDICK

   Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world
   one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion?
   Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score 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

DON PEDRO

   What secret hath held you here, that you followed
   not to Leonato's?

BENEDICK

   I would your grace would constrain me to tell.

DON PEDRO

   I charge thee on thy allegiance.

BENEDICK

   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.

CLAUDIO

   If this were so, so were it uttered.

BENEDICK

   Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, nor
   'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be
   so.'

CLAUDIO

   If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
   should be otherwise.

DON PEDRO

   Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.

CLAUDIO

   You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   By my troth, I speak my thought.

CLAUDIO

   And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

BENEDICK

   And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

CLAUDIO

   That I love her, I feel.

DON PEDRO

   That she is worthy, I know.

BENEDICK

   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.

DON PEDRO

   Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite
   of beauty.

CLAUDIO

   And never could maintain his part but in the force
   of his will.

BENEDICK

   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.

DON PEDRO

   I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

BENEDICK

   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.

DON PEDRO

   Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
   wilt prove a notable argument.

BENEDICK

   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.

DON PEDRO

   Well, as time shall try: 'In time the savage bull
   doth bear the yoke.'

BENEDICK

   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.'

CLAUDIO

   If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

DON PEDRO

   Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
   Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

BENEDICK

   I look for an earthquake too, then.

DON PEDRO

   Well, you temporize with the hours. In the
   meantime, 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.

BENEDICK

   I have almost matter enough in me for such an
   embassage; and so I commit you--

CLAUDIO

   To the tuition of God: From my house, if I had it,--

DON PEDRO

   The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.

BENEDICK

   Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your
   discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and
   the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere
   you flout old ends any further, examine your
   conscience: and so I leave you.
   Exit

CLAUDIO

   My liege, your highness now may do me good.

DON PEDRO

   My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,
   And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
   Any hard lesson that may do thee good.

CLAUDIO

   Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

DON PEDRO

   No child but Hero; she's his only heir.
   Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

CLAUDIO

   O, my lord,
   When you went onward on this ended action,
   I look'd upon her with a soldier's eye,
   That liked, but had a rougher task in hand
   Than to drive liking to the name of love:
   But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts
   Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
   Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
   All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
   Saying, I liked her ere I went to wars.

DON PEDRO

   Thou wilt be like a lover presently
   And tire the hearer with a book of words.
   If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
   And I will break with her and with her father,
   And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end
   That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?

CLAUDIO

   How sweetly you do minister to love,
   That know love's grief by his complexion!
   But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
   I would have salved it with a longer treatise.

DON PEDRO

   What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
   The fairest grant is the necessity.
   Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lovest,
   And I will fit thee with the remedy.
   I know we shall have revelling to-night:
   I will assume thy part in some disguise
   And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
   And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
   And take her hearing prisoner with the force
   And strong encounter of my amorous tale:
   Then after to her father will I break;
   And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
   In practise let us put it presently.
   Exeunt

SCENE II. A room in LEONATO's house.

   Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting 

LEONATO

   How now, brother! Where is my cousin, your son?
   hath he provided this music?

ANTONIO

   He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell
   you strange news that you yet dreamt not of.

LEONATO

   Are they good?

ANTONIO

   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 alley in mine
   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.

LEONATO

   Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?

ANTONIO

   A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and
   question him yourself.

LEONATO

   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.
   Enter Attendants
   Cousins, you know what you have to do. O, I cry you
   mercy, friend; go you with me, and I will use your
   skill. Good cousin, have a care this busy time.
   Exeunt

SCENE III. The same.

   Enter DON JOHN and CONRADE 

CONRADE

   What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out
   of measure sad?

DON JOHN

   There is no measure in the occasion that breeds;
   therefore the sadness is without limit.

CONRADE

   You should hear reason.

DON JOHN

   And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?

CONRADE

   If not a present remedy, at least a patient
   sufferance.

DON JOHN

   I wonder that thou, being, as thou sayest 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 cause and smile
   at no man's jests, eat when I have stomach and wait
   for no man's leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and
   tend on no man's business, laugh when I am merry and
   claw no man in his humour.

CONRADE

   Yea, but you must not make the full show of this
   till you may do it without controlment. You have of
   late stood out against your brother, and he hath
   ta'en you newly into his grace; where it is
   impossible you should take true root but by the
   fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful
   that you frame the season for your own harvest.

DON JOHN

   I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in
   his grace, and it better fits my blood to be
   disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob
   love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to
   be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied
   but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with
   a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I
   have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my
   mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do
   my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and
   seek not to alter me.

CONRADE

   Can you make no use of your discontent?

DON JOHN

   I make all use of it, for I use it only.
   Who comes here?
   Enter BORACHIO
   What news, Borachio?

BORACHIO

   I came yonder from a great supper: the prince your
   brother is royally entertained by Leonato: and I
   can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.

DON JOHN

   Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
   What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
   unquietness?

BORACHIO

   Marry, it is your brother's right hand.

DON JOHN

   Who? the most exquisite Claudio?

BORACHIO

   Even he.

DON JOHN

   A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks
   he?

BORACHIO

   Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.

DON JOHN

   A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?

BORACHIO

   Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a
   musty room, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand
   in hand in sad conference: I whipt me behind the
   arras; and there heard it agreed upon that the
   prince should woo Hero for himself, and having
   obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.

DON JOHN

   Come, come, let us thither: this may prove food to
   my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the
   glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I
   bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?

CONRADE

   To the death, my lord.

DON JOHN

   Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the
   greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were of
   my mind! Shall we go prove what's to be done?

BORACHIO

   We'll wait upon your lordship.
   Exeunt

ACT II SCENE I. A hall in LEONATO'S house.

   Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others 

LEONATO

   Was not Count John here at supper?

ANTONIO

   I saw him not.

BEATRICE

   How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
   him but I am heart-burned an hour after.

HERO

   He is of a very melancholy disposition.

BEATRICE

   He were an excellent man that were made just in the
   midway between him and Benedick: the one is too
   like an image and says nothing, and the other too
   like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.

LEONATO

   Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's
   mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signior
   Benedick's face,--

BEATRICE

   With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
   enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman
   in the world, if a' could get her good-will.

LEONATO

   By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
   husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

ANTONIO

   In faith, she's too curst.

BEATRICE

   Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's
   sending that way; for it is said, 'God sends a curst
   cow short horns;' but to a cow too curst he sends none.

LEONATO

   So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.

BEATRICE

   Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
   blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and
   evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
   beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.

LEONATO

   You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

BEATRICE

   What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel
   and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a
   beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
   beard is less than a man: and he that is more than
   a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a
   man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take
   sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
   apes into hell.

LEONATO

   Well, then, go you into hell?

BEATRICE

   No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet
   me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and
   say 'Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to
   heaven; here's no place for you maids:' so deliver
   I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the
   heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and
   there live we as merry as the day is long.

ANTONIO

   [To HERO] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled
   by your father.

BEATRICE

   Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy
   and say 'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all
   that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else
   make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please
   me.'

LEONATO

   Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

BEATRICE

   Not till God make men of some other metal than
   earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
   overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make
   an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
   No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren;
   and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

LEONATO

   Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince
   do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.

BEATRICE

   The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be
   not wooed in good time: if the prince be too
   important, tell him there is measure in every thing
   and so dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero:
   wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig,
   a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot
   and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as
   fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a
   measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
   repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the
   cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.

LEONATO

   Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

BEATRICE

   I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.

LEONATO

   The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.
   All put on their masks
   Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, DON JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA and others, masked

DON PEDRO

   Lady, will you walk about with your friend?

HERO

   So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
   I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.

DON PEDRO

   With me in your company?

HERO

   I may say so, when I please.

DON PEDRO

   And when please you to say so?

HERO

   When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
   should be like the case!

DON PEDRO

   My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.

HERO

   Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

DON PEDRO

   Speak low, if you speak love.
   Drawing her aside

BALTHASAR

   Well, I would you did like me.

MARGARET

   So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many
   ill-qualities.

BALTHASAR

   Which is one?

MARGARET

   I say my prayers aloud.

BALTHASAR

   I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.

MARGARET

   God match me with a good dancer!

BALTHASAR

   Amen.

MARGARET

   And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is
   done! Answer, clerk.

BALTHASAR

   No more words: the clerk is answered.

URSULA

   I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.

ANTONIO

   At a word, I am not.

URSULA

   I know you by the waggling of your head.

ANTONIO

   To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

URSULA

   You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were
   the very man. Here's his dry hand up and down: you
   are he, you are he.

ANTONIO

   At a word, I am not.

URSULA

   Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your
   excellent wit? can virtue hide itself? Go to,
   mum, you are he: graces will appear, and there's an
   end.

BEATRICE

   Will you not tell me who told you so?

BENEDICK

   No, you shall pardon me.

BEATRICE

   Nor will you not tell me who you are?

BENEDICK

   Not now.

BEATRICE

   That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
   out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales:'--well this was
   Signior Benedick that said so.

BENEDICK

   What's he?

BEATRICE

   I am sure you know him well enough.

BENEDICK

   Not I, believe me.

BEATRICE

   Did he never make you laugh?

BENEDICK

   I pray you, what is he?

BEATRICE

   Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool;
   only his gift is in devising impossible slanders:
   none but libertines delight in him; and the
   commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany;
   for he both pleases men and angers them, and then
   they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in
   the fleet: I would he had boarded me.

BENEDICK

   When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.

BEATRICE

   Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me;
   which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at,
   strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a
   partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
   supper that night.
   Music
   We must follow the leaders.

BENEDICK

   In every good thing.

BEATRICE

   Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
   the next turning.
   Dance. Then exeunt all except DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO

DON JOHN

   Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath
   withdrawn her father to break with him about it.
   The ladies follow her and but one visor remains.

BORACHIO

   And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.

DON JOHN

   Are not you Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO

   You know me well; I am he.

DON JOHN

   Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:
   he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him
   from her: she is no equal for his birth: you may
   do the part of an honest man in it.

CLAUDIO

   How know you he loves her?

DON JOHN

   I heard him swear his affection.

BORACHIO

   So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

DON JOHN

   Come, let us to the banquet.
   Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO

CLAUDIO

   Thus answer I in the name of Benedick,
   But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
   'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
   Friendship is constant in all other things
   Save in the office and affairs of love:
   Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues;
   Let every eye negotiate for itself
   And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
   Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
   This is an accident of hourly proof,
   Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!
   Re-enter BENEDICK

BENEDICK

   Count Claudio?

CLAUDIO

   Yea, the same.

BENEDICK

   Come, will you go with me?

CLAUDIO

   Whither?

BENEDICK

   Even to the next willow, about your own business,
   county. What fashion will you wear the garland of?
   about your neck, like an usurer's chain? or under
   your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear
   it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.

CLAUDIO

   I wish him joy of her.

BENEDICK

   Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they
   sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would
   have served you thus?

CLAUDIO

   I pray you, leave me.

BENEDICK

   Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the
   boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.

CLAUDIO

   If it will not be, I'll leave you.
   Exit

BENEDICK

   Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges.
   But that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not
   know me! The prince's fool! Ha? It may be I go
   under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I
   am apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it
   is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice
   that puts the world into her person and so gives me
   out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.
   Re-enter DON PEDRO

DON PEDRO

   Now, signior, where's the count? did you see him?

BENEDICK

   Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame.
   I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a
   warren: I told him, and I think I told him true,
   that your grace had got the good will of this young
   lady; and I offered him my company to a willow-tree,
   either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or
   to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.

DON PEDRO

   To be whipped! What's his fault?

BENEDICK

   The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
   overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his
   companion, and he steals it.

DON PEDRO

   Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
   transgression is in the stealer.

BENEDICK

   Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,
   and the garland too; for the garland he might have
   worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on
   you, who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest.

DON PEDRO

   I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
   the owner.

BENEDICK

   If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,
   you say honestly.

DON PEDRO

   The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
   gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
   wronged by you.

BENEDICK

   O, she misused me past the endurance of a block!
   an oak but with one green leaf on it would have
   answered her; my very visor began to assume life and
   scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
   myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was
   duller than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest
   with such impossible conveyance upon me that I stood
   like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at
   me. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs:
   if her breath were as terrible as her terminations,
   there were no living near her; she would infect to
   the north star. I would not marry her, though she
   were endowed with all that Adam bad left him before
   he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have
   turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make
   the fire too. Come, talk not of her: you shall find
   her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God
   some scholar would conjure her; for certainly, while
   she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a
   sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose, because they
   would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet, horror
   and perturbation follows her.

DON PEDRO

   Look, here she comes.
   Enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO

BENEDICK

   Will your grace command me any service to the
   world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now
   to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on;
   I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the
   furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of
   Prester John's foot, fetch you a hair off the great
   Cham's beard, do you any embassage to the Pigmies,
   rather than hold three words' conference with this
   harpy. You have no employment for me?

DON PEDRO

   None, but to desire your good company.

BENEDICK

   O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot
   endure my Lady Tongue.
   Exit

DON PEDRO

   Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
   Signior Benedick.

BEATRICE

   Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
   him use for it, a double heart for his single one:
   marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
   therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.

DON PEDRO

   You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.

BEATRICE

   So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I
   should prove the mother of fools. I have brought
   Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

DON PEDRO

   Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?

CLAUDIO

   Not sad, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   How then? sick?

CLAUDIO

   Neither, my lord.

BEATRICE

   The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
   well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
   something of that jealous complexion.

DON PEDRO

   I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;
   though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is
   false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and
   fair Hero is won: I have broke with her father,
   and his good will obtained: name the day of
   marriage, and God give thee joy!

LEONATO

   Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
   fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an
   grace say Amen to it.

BEATRICE

   Speak, count, 'tis your cue.

CLAUDIO

   Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were
   but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as
   you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
   you and dote upon the exchange.

BEATRICE

   Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
   with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.

DON PEDRO

   In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

BEATRICE

   Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on
   the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his
   ear that he is in her heart.

CLAUDIO

   And so she doth, cousin.

BEATRICE

   Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the
   world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
   corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

DON PEDRO

   Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

BEATRICE

   I would rather have one of your father's getting.
   Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your
   father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.

DON PEDRO

   Will you have me, lady?

BEATRICE

   No, my lord, unless I might have another for
   working-days: your grace is too costly to wear
   every day. But, I beseech your grace, pardon me: I
   was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

DON PEDRO

   Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
   becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
   a merry hour.

BEATRICE

   No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
   was a star danced, and under that was I born.
   Cousins, God give you joy!

LEONATO

   Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?

BEATRICE

   I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon.
   Exit

DON PEDRO

   By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.

LEONATO

   There's little of the melancholy element in her, my
   lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps, and
   not ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say,
   she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked
   herself with laughing.

DON PEDRO

   She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

LEONATO

   O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.

DON PEDRO

   She were an excellent wife for Benedict.

LEONATO

   O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married,
   they would talk themselves mad.

DON PEDRO

   County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

CLAUDIO

   To-morrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love
   have all his rites.

LEONATO

   Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just
   seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
   things answer my mind.

DON PEDRO

   Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing:
   but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go
   dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of
   Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signior
   Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of
   affection the one with the other. I would fain have
   it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if
   you three will but minister such assistance as I
   shall give you direction.

LEONATO

   My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
   nights' watchings.

CLAUDIO

   And I, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   And you too, gentle Hero?

HERO

   I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
   cousin to a good husband.

DON PEDRO

   And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
   I know. Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble
   strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I
   will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she
   shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your
   two helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in
   despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he
   shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this,
   Cupid is no longer an archer: hi s glory shall be
   ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me,
   and I will tell you my drift.
   Exeunt

SCENE II. The same.

   Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO 

DON JOHN

   It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
   daughter of Leonato.

BORACHIO

   Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.

DON JOHN

   Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
   medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him,
   and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
   evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?

BORACHIO

   Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no
   dishonesty shall appear in me.

DON JOHN

   Show me briefly how.

BORACHIO

   I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
   I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
   gentlewoman to Hero.

DON JOHN

   I remember.

BORACHIO

   I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night,
   appoint her to look out at her lady's chamber window.

DON JOHN

   What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?

BORACHIO

   The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
   the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that
   he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned
   Claudio--whose estimation do you mightily hold
   up--to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.

DON JOHN

   What proof shall I make of that?

BORACHIO

   Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,
   to undo Hero and kill Leonato. Look you for any
   other issue?

DON JOHN

   Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing.

BORACHIO

   Go, then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and
   the Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know
   that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the
   prince and Claudio, as,--in love of your brother's
   honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's
   reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the
   semblance of a maid,--that you have discovered
   thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial:
   offer them instances; which shall bear no less
   likelihood than to see me at her chamber-window,
   hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me
   Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night
   before the intended wedding,--for in the meantime I
   will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be
   absent,--and there shall appear such seeming truth
   of Hero's disloyalty that jealousy shall be called
   assurance and all the preparation overthrown.

DON JOHN

   Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put
   it in practise. Be cunning in the working this, and
   thy fee is a thousand ducats.

BORACHIO

   Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
   shall not shame me.

DON JOHN

   I will presently go learn their day of marriage.
   Exeunt

SCENE III. LEONATO'S orchard.

   Enter BENEDICK 

BENEDICK

   Boy!
   Enter Boy

Boy

   Signior?

BENEDICK

   In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
   to me in the orchard.

Boy

   I am here already, sir.

BENEDICK

   I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.
   Exit Boy
   I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
   another man is a fool when he dedicates his
   behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at
   such shallow follies in others, become the argument
   of his own scorn by failing in love: and such a man
   is Claudio. I have known when there was no music
   with him but the drum and the fife; and now had he
   rather hear the tabour and the pipe: I have known
   when he would have walked ten mile a-foot 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 orthography; 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. Ha! the prince and
   Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.
   Withdraws
   Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO

DON PEDRO

   Come, shall we hear this music?

CLAUDIO

   Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
   As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!

DON PEDRO

   See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

CLAUDIO

   O, very well, my lord: the music ended,
   We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
   Enter BALTHASAR with Music

DON PEDRO

   Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.

BALTHASAR

   O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
   To slander music any more than once.

DON PEDRO

   It is the witness still of excellency
   To put a strange face on his own perfection.
   I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.

BALTHASAR

   Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;
   Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
   To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
   Yet will he swear he loves.

DON PEDRO

   Now, pray thee, come;
   Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
   Do it in notes.

BALTHASAR

   Note this before my notes;
   There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.

DON PEDRO

   Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
   Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing.
   Air

BENEDICK

   Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it
   not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out
   of men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when
   all's done.
   The Song

BALTHASAR

   Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
   Men were deceivers ever,
   One foot in sea and one on shore,
   To one thing constant never:
   Then sigh not so, but let them go,
   And be you blithe and bonny,
   Converting all your sounds of woe
   Into Hey nonny, nonny.
   Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
   Of dumps so dull and heavy;
   The fraud of men was ever so,
   Since summer first was leafy:
   Then sigh not so, & c.

DON PEDRO

   By my troth, a good song.

BALTHASAR

   And an ill singer, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

BENEDICK

   An he had been a dog that should have howled thus,
   they would have hanged him: and I pray God his bad
   voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the
   night-raven, come what plague could have come after
   it.

DON PEDRO

   Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee,
   get us some excellent music; for to-morrow night we
   would have it at the Lady Hero's chamber-window.

BALTHASAR

   The best I can, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   Do so: farewell.
   Exit BALTHASAR
   Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
   to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
   Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO

   O, ay: stalk on. stalk on; the fowl sits. I did
   never think that lady would have loved any man.

LEONATO

   No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
   should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in
   all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

BENEDICK

   Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?

LEONATO

   By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
   of it but that she loves him with an enraged
   affection: it is past the infinite of thought.

DON PEDRO

   May be she doth but counterfeit.

CLAUDIO

   Faith, like enough.

LEONATO

   O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
   passion came so near the life of passion as she
   discovers it.

DON PEDRO

   Why, what effects of passion shows she?

CLAUDIO

   Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.

LEONATO

   What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard
   my daughter tell you how.

CLAUDIO

   She did, indeed.

DON PEDRO

   How, how, pray you? You amaze me: I would have I
   thought her spirit had been invincible against all
   assaults of affection.

LEONATO

   I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
   against Benedick.

BENEDICK

   I should think this a gull, but that the
   white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot,
   sure, hide himself in such reverence.

CLAUDIO

   He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.

DON PEDRO

   Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

LEONATO

   No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.

CLAUDIO

   'Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: 'Shall
   I,' says she, 'that have so oft encountered him
   with scorn, write to him that I love him?'

LEONATO

   This says she now when she is beginning to write to
   him; for she'll be up twenty times a night, and
   there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a
   sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.

CLAUDIO

   Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
   pretty jest your daughter told us of.

LEONATO

   O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
   found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?

CLAUDIO

   That.

LEONATO

   O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
   railed at herself, that she should be so immodest
   to write to one that she knew would flout her; 'I
   measure him,' says she, 'by my own spirit; for I
   should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I
   love him, I should.'

CLAUDIO

   Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
   beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; 'O
   sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'

LEONATO

   She doth indeed; my daughter says so: and the
   ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter
   is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage
   to herself: it is very true.

DON PEDRO

   It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
   other, if she will not discover it.

CLAUDIO

   To what end? He would make but a sport of it and
   torment the poor lady worse.

DON PEDRO

   An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an
   excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion,
   she is virtuous.

CLAUDIO

   And she is exceeding wise.

DON PEDRO

   In every thing but in loving Benedick.

LEONATO

   O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
   a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath
   the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just
   cause, being her uncle and her guardian.

DON PEDRO

   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 a' will say.

LEONATO

   Were it good, think you?

CLAUDIO

   Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she
   will die, if he love her not, and she will die, ere
   she make her love known, and she will die, if he woo
   her, rather than she will bate one breath of her
   accustomed crossness.

DON PEDRO

   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.

CLAUDIO

   He is a very proper man.

DON PEDRO

   He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

CLAUDIO

   Before God! and, in my mind, very wise.

DON PEDRO

   He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

CLAUDIO

   And I take him to be valiant.

DON PEDRO

   As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of
   quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he
   avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes
   them with a most Christian-like fear.

LEONATO

   If he do fear God, a' must necessarily keep peace:
   if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a
   quarrel with fear and trembling.

DON PEDRO

   And so will he do; for the man doth fear God,
   howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests
   he will make. Well I am sorry for your niece. Shall
   we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?

CLAUDIO

   Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with
   good counsel.

LEONATO

   Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.

DON PEDRO

   Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter:
   let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I
   could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see
   how much he is unworthy so good a lady.

LEONATO

   My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.

CLAUDIO

   If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
   trust my expectation.

DON PEDRO

   Let there be the same net spread for her; and that
   must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The
   sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of
   another's dotage, and no such matter: that's the
   scene that I would see, which will be merely a
   dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.
   Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO

BENEDICK

   [Coming forward] 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 would
   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.
   Enter BEATRICE

BEATRICE

   Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

BENEDICK

   Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

BEATRICE

   I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
   pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would
   not have come.

BENEDICK

   You take pleasure then in the message?

BEATRICE

   Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's
   point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach,
   signior: fare you well.
   Exit

BENEDICK

   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 took 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; if I do not
   love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.
   Exit

ACT III SCENE I. LEONATO'S garden.

   Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA 

HERO

   Good Margaret, run thee to the parlor;
   There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
   Proposing with the prince and Claudio:
   Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula
   Walk in the orchard and our whole discourse
   Is all of her; say that thou overheard'st us;
   And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
   Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
   Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,
   Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
   Against that power that bred it: there will she hide her,
   To listen our purpose. This is thy office;
   Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.

MARGARET

   I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
   Exit

HERO

   Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
   As we do trace this alley up and down,
   Our talk must only be of Benedick.
   When I do name him, let it be thy part
   To praise him more than ever man did merit:
   My talk to thee must be how Benedick
   Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
   Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
   That only wounds by hearsay.
   Enter BEATRICE, behind
   Now begin;
   For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
   Close by the ground, to hear our conference.

URSULA

   The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
   Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
   And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
   So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
   Is couched in the woodbine coverture.
   Fear you not my part of the dialogue.

HERO

   Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
   Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.
   Approaching the bower
   No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
   I know her spirits are as coy and wild
   As haggerds of the rock.

URSULA

   But are you sure
   That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

HERO

   So says the prince and my new-trothed lord.

URSULA

   And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?

HERO

   They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
   But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
   To wish him wrestle with affection,
   And never to let Beatrice know of it.

URSULA

   Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
   Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
   As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

HERO

   O god of love! I know he doth deserve
   As much as may be yielded to a man:
   But Nature never framed a woman's heart
   Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
   Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
   Misprising what they look on, and her wit
   Values itself so highly that to her
   All matter else seems weak: she cannot love,
   Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
   She is so self-endeared.

URSULA

   Sure, I think so;
   And therefore certainly it were not good
   She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.

HERO

   Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
   How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
   But she would spell him backward: if fair-faced,
   She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
   If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,
   Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
   If low, an agate very vilely cut;
   If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
   If silent, why, a block moved with none.
   So turns she every man the wrong side out
   And never gives to truth and virtue that
   Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

URSULA

   Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

HERO

   No, not to be so odd and from all fashions
   As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable:
   But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
   She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
   Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
   Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire,
   Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
   It were a better death than die with mocks,
   Which is as bad as die with tickling.

URSULA

   Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.

HERO

   No; rather I will go to Benedick
   And counsel him to fight against his passion.
   And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
   To stain my cousin with: one doth not know
   How much an ill word may empoison liking.

URSULA

   O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
   She cannot be so much without true judgment--
   Having so swift and excellent a wit
   As she is prized to have--as to refuse
   So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.

HERO

   He is the only man of Italy.
   Always excepted my dear Claudio.

URSULA

   I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
   Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
   For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
   Goes foremost in report through Italy.

HERO

   Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.

URSULA

   His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
   When are you married, madam?

HERO

   Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
   I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
   Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.

URSULA

   She's limed, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.

HERO

   If it proves so, then loving goes by haps:
   Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
   Exeunt HERO and URSULA

BEATRICE

   [Coming forward]
   What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
   Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?
   Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
   No glory lives behind the back of such.
   And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
   Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:
   If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
   To bind our loves up in a holy band;
   For others say thou dost deserve, and I
   Believe it better than reportingly.
   Exit

SCENE II. A room in LEONATO'S house

   Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and LEONATO 

DON PEDRO

   I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and
   then go I toward Arragon.

CLAUDIO

   I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you'll
   vouchsafe me.

DON PEDRO

   Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss
   of your marriage as to show a child his new coat
   and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold
   with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown
   of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all
   mirth: he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's
   bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at
   him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his
   tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his
   tongue speaks.

BENEDICK

   Gallants, I am not as I have been.

LEONATO

   So say I methinks you are sadder.

CLAUDIO

   I hope he be in love.

DON PEDRO

   Hang him, truant! there's no true drop of blood in
   him, to be truly touched with love: if he be sad,
   he wants money.

BENEDICK

   I have the toothache.

DON PEDRO

   Draw it.

BENEDICK

   Hang it!

CLAUDIO

   You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.

DON PEDRO

   What! sigh for the toothache?

LEONATO

   Where is but a humour or a worm.

BENEDICK

   Well, every one can master a grief but he that has
   it.

CLAUDIO

   Yet say I, he is in love.

DON PEDRO

   There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be
   a fancy that he hath to strange disguises; as, to be
   a Dutchman today, a Frenchman to-morrow, or in the
   shape of two countries at once, as, a German from
   the waist downward, all slops, and a Spaniard from
   the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a fancy
   to this foolery, as it appears he hath, he is no
   fool for fancy, as you would have it appear he is.

CLAUDIO

   If he be not in love with some woman, there is no
   believing old signs: a' brushes his hat o'
   mornings; what should that bode?

DON PEDRO

   Hath any man seen him at the barber's?

CLAUDIO

   No, but the barber's man hath been seen with him,
   and the old ornament of his cheek hath already
   stuffed tennis-balls.

LEONATO

   Indeed, he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a beard.

DON PEDRO

   Nay, a' rubs himself with civet: can you smell him
   out by that?

CLAUDIO

   That's as much as to say, the sweet youth's in love.

DON PEDRO

   The greatest note of it is his melancholy.

CLAUDIO

   And when was he wont to wash his face?

DON PEDRO

   Yea, or to paint himself? for the which, I hear
   what they say of him.

CLAUDIO

   Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into
   a lute-string and now governed by stops.

DON PEDRO

   Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him: conclude,
   conclude he is in love.

CLAUDIO

   Nay, but I know who loves him.

DON PEDRO

   That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows him not.

CLAUDIO

   Yes, and his ill conditions; and, in despite of
   all, dies for him.

DON PEDRO

   She shall be buried with her face upwards.

BENEDICK

   Yet is this no charm for the toothache. Old
   signior, walk aside with me: I have studied eight
   or nine wise words to speak to you, which these
   hobby-horses must not hear.
   Exeunt BENEDICK and LEONATO

DON PEDRO

   For my life, to break with him about Beatrice.

CLAUDIO

   'Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this
   played their parts with Beatrice; and then the two
   bears will not bite one another when they meet.
   Enter DON JOHN

DON JOHN

   My lord and brother, God save you!

DON PEDRO

   Good den, brother.

DON JOHN

   If your leisure served, I would speak with you.

DON PEDRO

   In private?

DON JOHN

   If it please you: yet Count Claudio may hear; for
   what I would speak of concerns him.

DON PEDRO

   What's the matter?

DON JOHN

   [To CLAUDIO] Means your lordship to be married
   to-morrow?

DON PEDRO

   You know he does.

DON JOHN

   I know not that, when he knows what I know.

CLAUDIO

   If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it.

DON JOHN

   You may think I love you not: let that appear
   hereafter, and aim better at me by that I now will
   manifest. For my brother, I think he holds you
   well, and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect
   your ensuing marriage;--surely suit ill spent and
   labour ill bestowed.

DON PEDRO

   Why, what's the matter?

DON JOHN

   I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances
   shortened, for she has been too long a talking of,
   the lady is disloyal.

CLAUDIO

   Who, Hero?

DON PEDRO

   Even she; Leonato's Hero, your Hero, every man's Hero:

CLAUDIO

   Disloyal?

DON JOHN

   The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I
   could say she were worse: think you of a worse
   title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not till
   further warrant: go but with me to-night, you shall
   see her chamber-window entered, even the night
   before her wedding-day: if you love her then,
   to-morrow wed her; but it would better fit your honour
   to change your mind.

CLAUDIO

   May this be so?

DON PEDRO

   I will not think it.

DON JOHN

   If you dare not trust that you see, confess not
   that you know: if you will follow me, I will show
   you enough; and when you have seen more and heard
   more, proceed accordingly.

CLAUDIO

   If I see any thing to-night why I should not marry
   her to-morrow in the congregation, where I should
   wed, there will I shame her.

DON PEDRO

   And, as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join
   with thee to disgrace her.

DON JOHN

   I will disparage her no farther till you are my
   witnesses: bear it coldly but till midnight, and
   let the issue show itself.

DON PEDRO

   O day untowardly turned!

CLAUDIO

   O mischief strangely thwarting!

DON JOHN

   O plague right well prevented! so will you say when
   you have seen the sequel.
   Exeunt

SCENE III. A street.

   Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch 

DOGBERRY

   Are you good men and true?

VERGES

   Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
   salvation, body and soul.

DOGBERRY

   Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if
   they should have any allegiance in them, being
   chosen for the prince's watch.

VERGES

   Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

DOGBERRY

   First, who think you the most desertless man to be
   constable?

First Watchman

   Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can
   write and read.

DOGBERRY

   Come hither, neighbour Seacole. God hath blessed
   you with a good name: to be a well-favoured man is
   the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.

Second Watchman

   Both which, master constable,--

DOGBERRY

   You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well,
   for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make
   no boast of it; and for your writing and reading,
   let that appear when there is no need of such
   vanity. You are thought here to be the most
   senseless and fit man for the constable of the
   watch; therefore bear you the lantern. This is your
   charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are
   to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.

Second Watchman

   How if a' will not stand?

DOGBERRY

   Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and
   presently call the rest of the watch together and
   thank God you are rid of a knave.

VERGES

   If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none
   of the prince's subjects.

DOGBERRY

   True, and they are to meddle with none but the
   prince's subjects. You shall also make no noise in
   the streets; for, for the watch to babble and to
   talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.

Watchman

   We will rather sleep than talk: we know what
   belongs to a watch.

DOGBERRY

   Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet
   watchman; for I cannot see how sleeping should
   offend: only, have a care that your bills be not
   stolen. Well, you are to call at all the
   ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

Watchman

   How if they will not?

DOGBERRY

   Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if
   they make you not then the better answer, you may
   say they are not the men you took them for.

Watchman

   Well, sir.

DOGBERRY

   If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue
   of your office, to be no true man; and, for such
   kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them,
   why the more is for your honesty.

Watchman

   If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay
   hands on him?

DOGBERRY

   Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they
   that touch pitch will be defiled: the most peaceable
   way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him
   show himself what he is and steal out of your company.

VERGES

   You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

DOGBERRY

   Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more
   a man who hath any honesty in him.

VERGES

   If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call
   to the nurse and bid her still it.

Watchman

   How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

DOGBERRY

   Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake
   her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her
   lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.

VERGES

   'Tis very true.

DOGBERRY

   This is the end of the charge:--you, constable, are
   to present the prince's own person: if you meet the
   prince in the night, you may stay him.

VERGES

   Nay, by'r our lady, that I think a' cannot.

DOGBERRY

   Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows
   the statutes, he may stay him: marry, not without
   the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought
   to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a
   man against his will.

VERGES

   By'r lady, I think it be so.

DOGBERRY

   Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be
   any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your
   fellows' counsels and your own; and good night.
   Come, neighbour.

Watchman

   Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here
   upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed.

DOGBERRY

   One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you watch
   about Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being
   there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night.
   Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.
   Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES
   Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE

BORACHIO

   What Conrade!

Watchman

   [Aside] Peace! stir not.

BORACHIO

   Conrade, I say!

CONRADE

   Here, man; I am at thy elbow.

BORACHIO

   Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a
   scab follow.

CONRADE

   I will owe thee an answer for that: and now forward
   with thy tale.

BORACHIO

   Stand thee close, then, under this pent-house, for
   it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard,
   utter all to thee.

Watchman

   [Aside] Some treason, masters: yet stand close.

BORACHIO

   Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.

CONRADE

   Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?

BORACHIO

   Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any
   villany should be so rich; for when rich villains
   have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what
   price they will.

CONRADE

   I wonder at it.

BORACHIO

   That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that
   the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is
   nothing to a man.

CONRADE

   Yes, it is apparel.

BORACHIO

   I mean, the fashion.

CONRADE

   Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

BORACHIO

   Tush! I may as well say the fool's the fool. But
   seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion
   is?

Watchman

   [Aside] I know that Deformed; a' has been a vile
   thief this seven year; a' goes up and down like a
   gentleman: I remember his name.

BORACHIO

   Didst thou not hear somebody?

CONRADE

   No; 'twas the vane on the house.

BORACHIO

   Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this
   fashion is? how giddily a' turns about all the hot
   bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty?
   sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers
   in the reeky painting, sometime like god Bel's
   priests in the old church-window, sometime like the
   shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry,
   where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?

CONRADE

   All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears
   out more apparel than the man. But art not thou
   thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
   shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion?

BORACHIO

   Not so, neither: but know that I have to-night
   wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the
   name of Hero: she leans me out at her mistress'
   chamber-window, bids me a thousand times good
   night,--I tell this tale vilely:--I should first
   tell thee how the prince, Claudio and my master,
   planted and placed and possessed by my master Don
   John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable encounter.

CONRADE

   And thought they Margaret was Hero?

BORACHIO

   Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the
   devil my master knew she was Margaret; and partly
   by his oaths, which first possessed them, partly by
   the dark night, which did deceive them, but chiefly
   by my villany, which did confirm any slander that
   Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore
   he would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning
   at the temple, and there, before the whole
   congregation, shame her with what he saw o'er night
   and send her home again without a husband.

First Watchman

   We charge you, in the prince's name, stand!

Second Watchman

   Call up the right master constable. We have here
   recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that
   ever was known in the commonwealth.

First Watchman

   And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a'
   wears a lock.

CONRADE

   Masters, masters,--

Second Watchman

   You'll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.

CONRADE

   Masters,--

First Watchman

   Never speak: we charge you let us obey you to go with us.

BORACHIO

   We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken
   up of these men's bills.

CONRADE

   A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.
   Exeunt

SCENE IV. HERO's apartment.

   Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA 

HERO

   Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire
   her to rise.

URSULA

   I will, lady.

HERO

   And bid her come hither.

URSULA

   Well.
   Exit

MARGARET

   Troth, I think your other rabato were better.

HERO

   No, pray thee, good Meg, I'll wear this.

MARGARET

   By my troth, 's not so good; and I warrant your
   cousin will say so.

HERO

   My cousin's a fool, and thou art another: I'll wear
   none but this.

MARGARET

   I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair
   were a thought browner; and your gown's a most rare
   fashion, i' faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan's
   gown that they praise so.

HERO

   O, that exceeds, they say.

MARGARET

   By my troth, 's but a night-gown in respect of
   yours: cloth o' gold, and cuts, and laced with
   silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves,
   and skirts, round underborne with a bluish tinsel:
   but for a fine, quaint, graceful and excellent
   fashion, yours is worth ten on 't.

HERO

   God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is
   exceeding heavy.

MARGARET

   'Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man.

HERO

   Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?

MARGARET

   Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? Is not
   marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord
   honourable without marriage? I think you would have
   me say, 'saving your reverence, a husband:' and bad
   thinking do not wrest true speaking, I'll offend
   nobody: is there any harm in 'the heavier for a
   husband'? None, I think, and it be the right husband
   and the right wife; otherwise 'tis light, and not
   heavy: ask my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes.
   Enter BEATRICE

HERO

   Good morrow, coz.

BEATRICE

   Good morrow, sweet Hero.

HERO

   Why how now? do you speak in the sick tune?

BEATRICE

   I am out of all other tune, methinks.

MARGARET

   Clap's into 'Light o' love;' that goes without a
   burden: do you sing it, and I'll dance it.

BEATRICE

   Ye light o' love, with your heels! then, if your
   husband have stables enough, you'll see he shall
   lack no barns.

MARGARET

   O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.

BEATRICE

   'Tis almost five o'clock, cousin; tis time you were
   ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill: heigh-ho!

MARGARET

   For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?

BEATRICE

   For the letter that begins them all, H.

MARGARET

   Well, and you be not turned Turk, there's no more
   sailing by the star.

BEATRICE

   What means the fool, trow?

MARGARET

   Nothing I; but God send every one their heart's desire!

HERO

   These gloves the count sent me; they are an
   excellent perfume.

BEATRICE

   I am stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.

MARGARET

   A maid, and stuffed! there's goodly catching of cold.

BEATRICE

   O, God help me! God help me! how long have you
   professed apprehension?

MARGARET

   Even since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?

BEATRICE

   It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your
   cap. By my troth, I am sick.

MARGARET

   Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus,
   and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm.

HERO

   There thou prickest her with a thistle.

BEATRICE

   Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in
   this Benedictus.

MARGARET

   Moral! no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I
   meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think perchance
   that I think you are in love: nay, by'r lady, I am
   not such a fool to think what I list, nor I list
   not to think what I can, nor indeed I cannot think,
   if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you
   are in love or that you will be in love or that you
   can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and
   now is he become a man: he swore he would never
   marry, and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats
   his meat without grudging: and how you may be
   converted I know not, but methinks you look with
   your eyes as other women do.

BEATRICE

   What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?

MARGARET

   Not a false gallop.
   Re-enter URSULA

URSULA

   Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior
   Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the
   town, are come to fetch you to church.

HERO

   Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.
   Exeunt

SCENE V. Another room in LEONATO'S house.

   Enter LEONATO, with DOGBERRY and VERGES 

LEONATO

   What would you with me, honest neighbour?

DOGBERRY

   Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you
   that decerns you nearly.

LEONATO

   Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with me.

DOGBERRY

   Marry, this it is, sir.

VERGES

   Yes, in truth it is, sir.

LEONATO

   What is it, my good friends?

DOGBERRY

   Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the
   matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so
   blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but,
   in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.

VERGES

   Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any man living
   that is an old man and no honester than I.

DOGBERRY

   Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.

LEONATO

   Neighbours, you are tedious.

DOGBERRY

   It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the
   poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part,
   if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in
   my heart to bestow it all of your worship.

LEONATO

   All thy tediousness on me, ah?

DOGBERRY

   Yea, an 'twere a thousand pound more than 'tis; for
   I hear as good exclamation on your worship as of any
   man in the city; and though I be but a poor man, I
   am glad to hear it.

VERGES

   And so am I.

LEONATO

   I would fain know what you have to say.

VERGES

   Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your
   worship's presence, ha' ta'en a couple of as arrant
   knaves as any in Messina.

DOGBERRY

   A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they
   say, when the age is in, the wit is out: God help
   us! it is a world to see. Well said, i' faith,
   neighbour Verges: well, God's a good man; an two men
   ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest
   soul, i' faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever
   broke bread; but God is to be worshipped; all men
   are not alike; alas, good neighbour!

LEONATO

   Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.

DOGBERRY

   Gifts that God gives.

LEONATO

   I must leave you.

DOGBERRY

   One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed
   comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would
   have them this morning examined before your worship.

LEONATO

   Take their examination yourself and bring it me: I
   am now in great haste, as it may appear unto you.

DOGBERRY

   It shall be suffigance.

LEONATO

   Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.
   Enter a Messenger

Messenger

   My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to
   her husband.

LEONATO

   I'll wait upon them: I am ready.
   Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger

DOGBERRY

   Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis Seacole;
   bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we
   are now to examination these men.

VERGES

   And we must do it wisely.

DOGBERRY

   We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here's
   that shall drive some of them to a non-come: only
   get the learned writer to set down our
   excommunication and meet me at the gaol.
   Exeunt

ACT IV SCENE I. A church.

   Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, LEONATO, FRIAR FRANCIS, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, HERO, BEATRICE, and Attendants 

LEONATO

   Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain
   form of marriage, and you shall recount their
   particular duties afterwards.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady.

CLAUDIO

   No.

LEONATO

   To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Lady, you come hither to be married to this count.

HERO

   I do.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   If either of you know any inward impediment why you
   should not be conjoined, charge you, on your souls,
   to utter it.

CLAUDIO

   Know you any, Hero?

HERO

   None, my lord.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Know you any, count?

LEONATO

   I dare make his answer, none.

CLAUDIO

   O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily
   do, not knowing what they do!

BENEDICK

   How now! interjections? Why, then, some be of
   laughing, as, ah, ha, he!

CLAUDIO

   Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave:
   Will you with free and unconstrained soul
   Give me this maid, your daughter?

LEONATO

   As freely, son, as God did give her me.

CLAUDIO

   And what have I to give you back, whose worth
   May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?

DON PEDRO

   Nothing, unless you render her again.

CLAUDIO

   Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
   There, Leonato, take her back again:
   Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
   She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.
   Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
   O, what authority and show of truth
   Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
   Comes not that blood as modest evidence
   To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
   All you that see her, that she were a maid,
   By these exterior shows? But she is none:
   She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
   Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

LEONATO

   What do you mean, my lord?

CLAUDIO

   Not to be married,
   Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.

LEONATO

   Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
   Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth,
   And made defeat of her virginity,--

CLAUDIO

   I know what you would say: if I have known her,
   You will say she did embrace me as a husband,
   And so extenuate the 'forehand sin:
   No, Leonato,
   I never tempted her with word too large;
   But, as a brother to his sister, show'd
   Bashful sincerity and comely love.

HERO

   And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?

CLAUDIO

   Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:
   You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
   As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
   But you are more intemperate in your blood
   Than Venus, or those pamper'd animals
   That rage in savage sensuality.

HERO

   Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?

LEONATO

   Sweet prince, why speak not you?

DON PEDRO

   What should I speak?
   I stand dishonour'd, that have gone about
   To link my dear friend to a common stale.

LEONATO

   Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?

DON JOHN

   Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.

BENEDICK

   This looks not like a nuptial.

HERO

   True! O God!

CLAUDIO

   Leonato, stand I here?
   Is this the prince? is this the prince's brother?
   Is this face Hero's? are our eyes our own?

LEONATO

   All this is so: but what of this, my lord?

CLAUDIO

   Let me but move one question to your daughter;
   And, by that fatherly and kindly power
   That you have in her, bid her answer truly.

LEONATO

   I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.

HERO

   O, God defend me! how am I beset!
   What kind of catechising call you this?

CLAUDIO

   To make you answer truly to your name.

HERO

   Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
   With any just reproach?

CLAUDIO

   Marry, that can Hero;
   Hero itself can blot out Hero's virtue.
   What man was he talk'd with you yesternight
   Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
   Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.

HERO

   I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   Why, then are you no maiden. Leonato,
   I am sorry you must hear: upon mine honour,
   Myself, my brother and this grieved count
   Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
   Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window
   Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
   Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
   A thousand times in secret.

DON JOHN

   Fie, fie! they are not to be named, my lord,
   Not to be spoke of;
   There is not chastity enough in language
   Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
   I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

CLAUDIO

   O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been,
   If half thy outward graces had been placed
   About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
   But fare thee well, most foul, most fair! farewell,
   Thou pure impiety and impious purity!
   For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
   And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
   To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
   And never shall it more be gracious.

LEONATO

   Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?
   HERO swoons

BEATRICE

   Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down?

DON JOHN

   Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
   Smother her spirits up.
   Exeunt DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, and CLAUDIO

BENEDICK

   How doth the lady?

BEATRICE

   Dead, I think. Help, uncle!
   Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!

LEONATO

   O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand.
   Death is the fairest cover for her shame
   That may be wish'd for.

BEATRICE

   How now, cousin Hero!

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Have comfort, lady.

LEONATO

   Dost thou look up?

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Yea, wherefore should she not?

LEONATO

   Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
   Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
   The story that is printed in her blood?
   Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes:
   For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
   Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
   Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
   Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?
   Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?
   O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
   Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
   Why had I not with charitable hand
   Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
   Who smirch'd thus and mired with infamy,
   I might have said 'No part of it is mine;
   This shame derives itself from unknown loins'?
   But mine and mine I loved and mine I praised
   And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
   That I myself was to myself not mine,
   Valuing of her,--why, she, O, she is fallen
   Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
   Hath drops too few to wash her clean again
   And salt too little which may season give
   To her foul-tainted flesh!

BENEDICK

   Sir, sir, be patient.
   For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
   I know not what to say.

BEATRICE

   O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!

BENEDICK

   Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

BEATRICE

   No, truly not; although, until last night,
   I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

LEONATO

   Confirm'd, confirm'd! O, that is stronger made
   Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
   Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
   Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
   Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Hear me a little;
   For I have only been silent so long
   And given way unto this course of fortune.
   ...
   By noting of the lady I have mark'd
   A thousand blushing apparitions
   To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames
   In angel whiteness beat away those blushes;
   And in her eye there hath appear'd a fire,
   To burn the errors that these princes hold
   Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;
   Trust not my reading nor my observations,
   Which with experimental seal doth warrant
   The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
   My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
   If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
   Under some biting error.

LEONATO

   Friar, it cannot be.
   Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
   Is that she will not add to her damnation
   A sin of perjury; she not denies it:
   Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse
   That which appears in proper nakedness?

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Lady, what man is he you are accused of?

HERO

   They know that do accuse me; I know none:
   If I know more of any man alive
   Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
   Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father,
   Prove you that any man with me conversed
   At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
   Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
   Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!

FRIAR FRANCIS

   There is some strange misprision in the princes.

BENEDICK

   Two of them have the very bent of honour;
   And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
   The practise of it lives in John the bastard,
   Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies.

LEONATO

   I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
   These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
   The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
   Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
   Nor age so eat up my invention,
   Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
   Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
   But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
   Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
   Ability in means and choice of friends,
   To quit me of them throughly.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Pause awhile,
   And let my counsel sway you in this case.
   Your daughter here the princes left for dead:
   Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
   And publish it that she is dead indeed;
   Maintain a mourning ostentation
   And on your family's old monument
   Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
   That appertain unto a burial.

LEONATO

   What shall become of this? what will this do?

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
   Change slander to remorse; that is some good:
   But not for that dream I on this strange course,
   But on this travail look for greater birth.
   She dying, as it must so be maintain'd,
   Upon the instant that she was accused,
   Shall be lamented, pitied and excused
   Of every hearer: for it so falls out
   That what we have we prize not to the worth
   Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack'd and lost,
   Why, then we rack the value, then we find
   The virtue that possession would not show us
   Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio:
   When he shall hear she died upon his words,
   The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
   Into his study of imagination,
   And every lovely organ of her life
   Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit,
   More moving-delicate and full of life,
   Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
   Than when she lived indeed; then shall he mourn,
   If ever love had interest in his liver,
   And wish he had not so accused her,
   No, though he thought his accusation true.
   Let this be so, and doubt not but success
   Will fashion the event in better shape
   Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
   But if all aim but this be levell'd false,
   The supposition of the lady's death
   Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
   And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
   As best befits her wounded reputation,
   In some reclusive and religious life,
   Out of all eyes, tongues, minds and injuries.

BENEDICK

   Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:
   And though you know my inwardness and love
   Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,
   Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
   As secretly and justly as your soul
   Should with your body.

LEONATO

   Being that I flow in grief,
   The smallest twine may lead me.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   'Tis well consented: presently away;
   For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
   Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day
   Perhaps is but prolong'd: have patience and endure.
   Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE

BENEDICK

   Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

BEATRICE

   Yea, and I will weep a while longer.

BENEDICK

   I will not desire that.

BEATRICE

   You have no reason; I do it freely.

BENEDICK

   Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

BEATRICE

   Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!

BENEDICK

   Is there any way to show such friendship?

BEATRICE

   A very even way, but no such friend.

BENEDICK

   May a man do it?

BEATRICE

   It is a man's office, but not yours.

BENEDICK

   I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is
   not that strange?

BEATRICE

   As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
   possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
   you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
   confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.

BENEDICK

   By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.

BEATRICE

   Do not swear, and eat it.

BENEDICK

   I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make
   him eat it that says I love not you.

BEATRICE

   Will you not eat your word?

BENEDICK

   With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest
   I love thee.

BEATRICE

   Why, then, God forgive me!

BENEDICK

   What offence, sweet Beatrice?

BEATRICE

   You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
   protest I loved you.

BENEDICK

   And do it with all thy heart.

BEATRICE

   I love you with so much of my heart that none is
   left to protest.

BENEDICK

   Come, bid me do any thing for thee.

BEATRICE

   Kill Claudio.

BENEDICK

   Ha! not for the wide world.

BEATRICE

   You kill me to deny it. Farewell.

BENEDICK

   Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

BEATRICE

   I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
   you: nay, I pray you, let me go.

BENEDICK

   Beatrice,--

BEATRICE

   In faith, I will go.

BENEDICK

   We'll be friends first.

BEATRICE

   You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.

BENEDICK

   Is Claudio thine enemy?

BEATRICE

   Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
   hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
   that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
   come to take hands; and then, with public
   accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,
   --O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
   in the market-place.

BENEDICK

   Hear me, Beatrice,--

BEATRICE

   Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!

BENEDICK

   Nay, but, Beatrice,--

BEATRICE

   Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.

BENEDICK

   Beat--

BEATRICE

   Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
   a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
   surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I
   had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
   manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
   compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
   trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
   that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a
   man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.

BENEDICK

   Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.

BEATRICE

   Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.

BENEDICK

   Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?

BEATRICE

   Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.

BENEDICK

   Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him. I will
   kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,
   Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you
   hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your
   cousin: I must say she is dead: and so, farewell.
   Exeunt

SCENE II. A prison.

   Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO 

DOGBERRY

   Is our whole dissembly appeared?

VERGES

   O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton.

Sexton

   Which be the malefactors?

DOGBERRY

   Marry, that am I and my partner.

VERGES

   Nay, that's certain; we have the exhibition to examine.

Sexton

   But which are the offenders that are to be
   examined? let them come before master constable.

DOGBERRY

   Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your
   name, friend?

BORACHIO

   Borachio.

DOGBERRY

   Pray, write down, Borachio. Yours, sirrah?

CONRADE

   I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade.

DOGBERRY

   Write down, master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do
   you serve God?

CONRADE BORACHIO

   Yea, sir, we hope.

DOGBERRY

   Write down, that they hope they serve God: and
   write God first; for God defend but God should go
   before such villains! Masters, it is proved already
   that you are little better than false knaves; and it
   will go near to be thought so shortly. How answer
   you for yourselves?

CONRADE

   Marry, sir, we say we are none.

DOGBERRY

   A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you: but I
   will go about with him. Come you hither, sirrah; a
   word in your ear: sir, I say to you, it is thought
   you are false knaves.

BORACHIO

   Sir, I say to you we are none.

DOGBERRY

   Well, stand aside. 'Fore God, they are both in a
   tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?

Sexton

   Master constable, you go not the way to examine:
   you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.

DOGBERRY

   Yea, marry, that's the eftest way. Let the watch
   come forth. Masters, I charge you, in the prince's
   name, accuse these men.

First Watchman

   This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince's
   brother, was a villain.

DOGBERRY

   Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat
   perjury, to call a prince's brother villain.

BORACHIO

   Master constable,--

DOGBERRY

   Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look,
   I promise thee.

Sexton

   What heard you him say else?

Second Watchman

   Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of
   Don John for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.

DOGBERRY

   Flat burglary as ever was committed.

VERGES

   Yea, by mass, that it is.

Sexton

   What else, fellow?

First Watchman

   And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to
   disgrace Hero before the whole assembly. and not marry her.

DOGBERRY

   O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting
   redemption for this.

Sexton

   What else?

Watchman

   This is all.

Sexton

   And this is more, masters, than you can deny.
   Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away;
   Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner
   refused, and upon the grief of this suddenly died.
   Master constable, let these men be bound, and
   brought to Leonato's: I will go before and show
   him their examination.
   Exit

DOGBERRY

   Come, let them be opinioned.

VERGES

   Let them be in the hands--

CONRADE

   Off, coxcomb!

DOGBERRY

   God's my life, where's the sexton? let him write
   down the prince's officer coxcomb. Come, bind them.
   Thou naughty varlet!

CONRADE

   Away! you are an ass, you are an ass.

DOGBERRY

   Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not
   suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
   down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
   ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not
   that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of
   piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness.
   I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer,
   and, which is more, a householder, and, which is
   more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in
   Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a
   rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath
   had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every
   thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
   I had been writ down an ass!
   Exeunt

ACT V SCENE I. Before LEONATO'S house.

   Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO 

ANTONIO

   If you go on thus, you will kill yourself:
   And 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief
   Against yourself.

LEONATO

   I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
   Which falls into mine ears as profitless
   As water in a sieve: give not me counsel;
   Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
   But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine.
   Bring me a father that so loved his child,
   Whose joy of her is overwhelm'd like mine,
   And bid him speak of patience;
   Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine
   And let it answer every strain for strain,
   As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
   In every lineament, branch, shape, and form:
   If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
   Bid sorrow wag, cry 'hem!' when he should groan,
   Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk
   With candle-wasters; bring him yet to me,
   And I of him will gather patience.
   But there is no such man: for, brother, men
   Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
   Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,
   Their counsel turns to passion, which before
   Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
   Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
   Charm ache with air and agony with words:
   No, no; 'tis all men's office to speak patience
   To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
   But no man's virtue nor sufficiency
   To be so moral when he shall endure
   The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel:
   My griefs cry louder than advertisement.

ANTONIO

   Therein do men from children nothing differ.

LEONATO

   I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood;
   For there was never yet philosopher
   That could endure the toothache patiently,
   However they have writ the style of gods
   And made a push at chance and sufferance.

ANTONIO

   Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
   Make those that do offend you suffer too.

LEONATO

   There thou speak'st reason: nay, I will do so.
   My soul doth tell me Hero is belied;
   And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince
   And all of them that thus dishonour her.

ANTONIO

   Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.
   Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO

DON PEDRO

   Good den, good den.

CLAUDIO

   Good day to both of you.

LEONATO

   Hear you. my lords,--

DON PEDRO

   We have some haste, Leonato.

LEONATO

   Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord:
   Are you so hasty now? well, all is one.

DON PEDRO

   Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.

ANTONIO

   If he could right himself with quarreling,
   Some of us would lie low.

CLAUDIO

   Who wrongs him?

LEONATO

   Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou:--
   Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
   I fear thee not.

CLAUDIO

   Marry, beshrew my hand,
   If it should give your age such cause of fear:
   In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.

LEONATO

   Tush, tush, man; never fleer and jest at me:
   I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
   As under privilege of age to brag
   What I have done being young, or what would do
   Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
   Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me
   That I am forced to lay my reverence by
   And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
   Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
   I say thou hast belied mine innocent child;
   Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
   And she lies buried with her ancestors;
   O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,
   Save this of hers, framed by thy villany!

CLAUDIO

   My villany?

LEONATO

   Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.

DON PEDRO

   You say not right, old man.

LEONATO

   My lord, my lord,
   I'll prove it on his body, if he dare,
   Despite his nice fence and his active practise,
   His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.

CLAUDIO

   Away! I will not have to do with you.

LEONATO

   Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill'd my child:
   If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.

ANTONIO

   He shall kill two of us, and men indeed:
   But that's no matter; let him kill one first;
   Win me and wear me; let him answer me.
   Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me:
   Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
   Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.

LEONATO

   Brother,--

ANTONIO

   Content yourself. God knows I loved my niece;
   And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains,
   That dare as well answer a man indeed
   As I dare take a serpent by the tongue:
   Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!

LEONATO

   Brother Antony,--

ANTONIO

   Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,
   And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,--
   Scrambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,
   That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
   Go anticly, show outward hideousness,
   And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
   How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
   And this is all.

LEONATO

   But, brother Antony,--

ANTONIO

   Come, 'tis no matter:
   Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.

DON PEDRO

   Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
   My heart is sorry for your daughter's death:
   But, on my honour, she was charged with nothing
   But what was true and very full of proof.

LEONATO

   My lord, my lord,--

DON PEDRO

   I will not hear you.

LEONATO

   No? Come, brother; away! I will be heard.

ANTONIO

   And shall, or some of us will smart for it.
   Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO

DON PEDRO

   See, see; here comes the man we went to seek.
   Enter BENEDICK

CLAUDIO

   Now, signior, what news?

BENEDICK

   Good day, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part
   almost a fray.

CLAUDIO

   We had like to have had our two noses snapped off
   with two old men without teeth.

DON PEDRO

   Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had
   we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.

BENEDICK

   In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came
   to seek you both.

CLAUDIO

   We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are
   high-proof melancholy and would fain have it beaten
   away. Wilt thou use thy wit?

BENEDICK

   It is in my scabbard: shall I draw it?

DON PEDRO

   Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?

CLAUDIO

   Never any did so, though very many have been beside
   their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the
   minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.

DON PEDRO

   As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
   sick, or angry?

CLAUDIO

   What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat,
   thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.

BENEDICK

   Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you
   charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.

CLAUDIO

   Nay, then, give him another staff: this last was
   broke cross.

DON PEDRO

   By this light, he changes more and more: I think
   he be angry indeed.

CLAUDIO

   If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.

BENEDICK

   Shall I speak a word in your ear?

CLAUDIO

   God bless me from a challenge!

BENEDICK

   [Aside to CLAUDIO] You are a villain; I jest not:
   I will make it good how you dare, with what you
   dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will
   protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet
   lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me
   hear from you.

CLAUDIO

   Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.

DON PEDRO

   What, a feast, a feast?

CLAUDIO

   I' faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a calf's
   head and a capon; the which if I do not carve most
   curiously, say my knife's naught. Shall I not find
   a woodcock too?

BENEDICK

   Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.

DON PEDRO

   I'll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the
   other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit: 'True,'
   said she, 'a fine little one.' 'No,' said I, 'a
   great wit:' 'Right,' says she, 'a great gross one.'
   'Nay,' said I, 'a good wit:' 'Just,' said she, 'it
   hurts nobody.' 'Nay,' said I, 'the gentleman
   is wise:' 'Certain,' said she, 'a wise gentleman.'
   'Nay,' said I, 'he hath the tongues:' 'That I
   believe,' said she, 'for he swore a thing to me on
   Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning;
   there's a double tongue; there's two tongues.' Thus
   did she, an hour together, transshape thy particular
   virtues: yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou
   wast the properest man in Italy.

CLAUDIO

   For the which she wept heartily and said she cared
   not.

DON PEDRO

   Yea, that she did: but yet, for all that, an if she
   did not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly:
   the old man's daughter told us all.

CLAUDIO

   All, all; and, moreover, God saw him when he was
   hid in the garden.

DON PEDRO

   But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on
   the sensible Benedick's head?

CLAUDIO

   Yea, and text underneath, 'Here dwells Benedick the
   married man'?

BENEDICK

   Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave
   you now to your gossip-like humour: you break jests
   as braggarts do their blades, which God be thanked,
   hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank
   you: I must discontinue your company: your brother
   the bastard is fled from Messina: you have among
   you killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord
   Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet: and, till
   then, peace be with him.
   Exit

DON PEDRO

   He is in earnest.

CLAUDIO

   In most profound earnest; and, I'll warrant you, for
   the love of Beatrice.

DON PEDRO

   And hath challenged thee.

CLAUDIO

   Most sincerely.

DON PEDRO

   What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
   doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!

CLAUDIO

   He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a
   doctor to such a man.

DON PEDRO

   But, soft you, let me be: pluck up, my heart, and
   be sad. Did he not say, my brother was fled?
   Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO

DOGBERRY

   Come you, sir: if justice cannot tame you, she
   shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance: nay,
   an you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.

DON PEDRO

   How now? two of my brother's men bound! Borachio
   one!

CLAUDIO

   Hearken after their offence, my lord.

DON PEDRO

   Officers, what offence have these men done?

DOGBERRY

   Marry, sir, they have committed false report;
   moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily,
   they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have
   belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust
   things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.

DON PEDRO

   First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I
   ask thee what's their offence; sixth and lastly, why
   they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay
   to their charge.

CLAUDIO

   Rightly reasoned, and in his own division: and, by
   my troth, there's one meaning well suited.

DON PEDRO

   Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus
   bound to your answer? this learned constable is
   too cunning to be understood: what's your offence?

BORACHIO

   Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine answer:
   do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have
   deceived even your very eyes: what your wisdoms
   could not discover, these shallow fools have brought
   to light: who in the night overheard me confessing
   to this man how Don John your brother incensed me
   to slander the Lady Hero, how you were brought into
   the orchard and saw me court Margaret in Hero's
   garments, how you disgraced her, when you should
   marry her: my villany they have upon record; which
   I had rather seal with my death than repeat over
   to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my
   master's false accusation; and, briefly, I desire
   nothing but the reward of a villain.

DON PEDRO

   Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?

CLAUDIO

   I have drunk poison whiles he utter'd it.

DON PEDRO

   But did my brother set thee on to this?

BORACHIO

   Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.

DON PEDRO

   He is composed and framed of treachery:
   And fled he is upon this villany.

CLAUDIO

   Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear
   In the rare semblance that I loved it first.

DOGBERRY

   Come, bring away the plaintiffs: by this time our
   sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter:
   and, masters, do not forget to specify, when time
   and place shall serve, that I am an ass.

VERGES

   Here, here comes master Signior Leonato, and the
   Sexton too.
   Re-enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, with the Sexton

LEONATO

   Which is the villain? let me see his eyes,
   That, when I note another man like him,
   I may avoid him: which of these is he?

BORACHIO

   If you would know your wronger, look on me.

LEONATO

   Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill'd
   Mine innocent child?

BORACHIO

   Yea, even I alone.

LEONATO

   No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself:
   Here stand a pair of honourable men;
   A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
   I thank you, princes, for my daughter's death:
   Record it with your high and worthy deeds:
   'Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.

CLAUDIO

   I know not how to pray your patience;
   Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
   Impose me to what penance your invention
   Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn'd I not
   But in mistaking.

DON PEDRO

   By my soul, nor I:
   And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
   I would bend under any heavy weight
   That he'll enjoin me to.

LEONATO

   I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
   That were impossible: but, I pray you both,
   Possess the people in Messina here
   How innocent she died; and if your love
   Can labour ought in sad invention,
   Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb
   And sing it to her bones, sing it to-night:
   To-morrow morning come you to my house,
   And since you could not be my son-in-law,
   Be yet my nephew: my brother hath a daughter,
   Almost the copy of my child that's dead,
   And she alone is heir to both of us:
   Give her the right you should have given her cousin,
   And so dies my revenge.

CLAUDIO

   O noble sir,
   Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
   I do embrace your offer; and dispose
   For henceforth of poor Claudio.

LEONATO

   To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
   To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
   Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
   Who I believe was pack'd in all this wrong,
   Hired to it by your brother.

BORACHIO

   No, by my soul, she was not,
   Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
   But always hath been just and virtuous
   In any thing that I do know by her.

DOGBERRY

   Moreover, sir, which indeed is not under white and
   black, this plaintiff here, the offender, did call
   me ass: I beseech you, let it be remembered in his
   punishment. And also, the watch heard them talk of
   one Deformed: they say be wears a key in his ear and
   a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God's
   name, the which he hath used so long and never paid
   that now men grow hard-hearted and will lend nothing
   for God's sake: pray you, examine him upon that point.

LEONATO

   I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.

DOGBERRY

   Your worship speaks like a most thankful and
   reverend youth; and I praise God for you.

LEONATO

   There's for thy pains.

DOGBERRY

   God save the foundation!

LEONATO

   Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.

DOGBERRY

   I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I
   beseech your worship to correct yourself, for the
   example of others. God keep your worship! I wish
   your worship well; God restore you to health! I
   humbly give you leave to depart; and if a merry
   meeting may be wished, God prohibit it! Come, neighbour.
   Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES

LEONATO

   Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.

ANTONIO

   Farewell, my lords: we look for you to-morrow.

DON PEDRO

   We will not fail.

CLAUDIO

   To-night I'll mourn with Hero.

LEONATO

   [To the Watch] Bring you these fellows on. We'll
   talk with Margaret,
   How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.
   Exeunt, severally

SCENE II. LEONATO'S garden.

   Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting 

BENEDICK

   Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at
   my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.

MARGARET

   Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?

BENEDICK

   In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living
   shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou
   deservest it.

MARGARET

   To have no man come over me! why, shall I always
   keep below stairs?

BENEDICK

   Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth; it catches.

MARGARET

   And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit,
   but hurt not.

BENEDICK

   A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
   woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give
   thee the bucklers.

MARGARET

   Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own.

BENEDICK

   If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the
   pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.

MARGARET

   Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.

BENEDICK

   And therefore will come.
   Exit MARGARET
   Sings
   The god of love,
   That sits above,
   And knows me, and knows me,
   How pitiful I deserve,--
   I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good
   swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
   a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers,
   whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
   blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned
   over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I
   cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find
   out no rhyme to 'lady' but 'baby,' an innocent
   rhyme; for 'scorn,' 'horn,' a hard rhyme; for,
   'school,' 'fool,' a babbling rhyme; very ominous
   endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet,
   nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
   Enter BEATRICE
   Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?

BEATRICE

   Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.

BENEDICK

   O, stay but till then!

BEATRICE

   'Then' is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere
   I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with
   knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.

BENEDICK

   Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.

BEATRICE

   Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
   foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I
   will depart unkissed.

BENEDICK

   Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense,
   so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee
   plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge; and either
   I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe
   him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me for
   which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?

BEATRICE

   For them all together; which maintained so politic
   a state of evil that they will not admit any good
   part to intermingle with them. But for which of my
   good parts did you first suffer love for me?

BENEDICK

   Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love
   indeed, for I love thee against my will.

BEATRICE

   In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart!
   If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
   yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.

BENEDICK

   Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

BEATRICE

   It appears not in this confession: there's not one
   wise man among twenty that will praise himself.

BENEDICK

   An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in
   the lime of good neighbours. If a man do not erect
   in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live
   no longer in monument than the bell rings and the
   widow weeps.

BEATRICE

   And how long is that, think you?

BENEDICK

   Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in
   rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the
   wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no
   impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his
   own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for
   praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
   praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your cousin?

BEATRICE

   Very ill.

BENEDICK

   And how do you?

BEATRICE

   Very ill too.

BENEDICK

   Serve God, love me and mend. There will I leave
   you too, for here comes one in haste.
   Enter URSULA

URSULA

   Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder's old
   coil at home: it is proved my Lady Hero hath been
   falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily
   abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is
   fed and gone. Will you come presently?

BEATRICE

   Will you go hear this news, signior?

BENEDICK

   I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be
   buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with
   thee to thy uncle's.
   Exeunt

SCENE III. A church.

   Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and three or four with tapers 

CLAUDIO

   Is this the monument of Leonato?

Lord

   It is, my lord.

CLAUDIO

   [Reading out of a scroll]
   Done to death by slanderous tongues
   Was the Hero that here lies:
   Death, in guerdon of her wrongs,
   Gives her fame which never dies.
   So the life that died with shame
   Lives in death with glorious fame.
   Hang thou there upon the tomb,
   Praising her when I am dumb.
   Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.
   SONG.
   Pardon, goddess of the night,
   Those that slew thy virgin knight;
   For the which, with songs of woe,
   Round about her tomb they go.
   Midnight, assist our moan;
   Help us to sigh and groan,
   Heavily, heavily:
   Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
   Till death be uttered,
   Heavily, heavily.

CLAUDIO

   Now, unto thy bones good night!
   Yearly will I do this rite.

DON PEDRO

   Good morrow, masters; put your torches out:
   The wolves have prey'd; and look, the gentle day,
   Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
   Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey.
   Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.

CLAUDIO

   Good morrow, masters: each his several way.

DON PEDRO

   Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds;
   And then to Leonato's we will go.

CLAUDIO

   And Hymen now with luckier issue speed's
   Than this for whom we render'd up this woe.
   Exeunt

SCENE IV. A room in LEONATO'S house.

   Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, BENEDICK, BEATRICE, MARGARET, URSULA, FRIAR FRANCIS, and HERO 

FRIAR FRANCIS

   Did I not tell you she was innocent?

LEONATO

   So are the prince and Claudio, who accused her
   Upon the error that you heard debated:
   But Margaret was in some fault for this,
   Although against her will, as it appears
   In the true course of all the question.

ANTONIO

   Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.

BENEDICK

   And so am I, being else by faith enforced
   To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.

LEONATO

   Well, daughter, and you gentle-women all,
   Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
   And when I send for you, come hither mask'd.
   Exeunt Ladies
   The prince and Claudio promised 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.

ANTONIO

   Which I will do with confirm'd countenance.

BENEDICK

   Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   To do what, signior?

BENEDICK

   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.

LEONATO

   That eye my daughter lent her: 'tis most true.

BENEDICK

   And I do with an eye of love requite her.

LEONATO

   The sight whereof I think you had from me,
   From Claudio and the prince: but what's your will?

BENEDICK

   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 state of honourable marriage:
   In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.

LEONATO

   My heart is with your liking.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   And my help.
   Here comes the prince and Claudio.
   Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, and two or three others

DON PEDRO

   Good morrow to this fair assembly.

LEONATO

   Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:
   We here attend you. Are you yet determined
   To-day to marry with my brother's daughter?

CLAUDIO

   I'll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope.

LEONATO

   Call her forth, brother; here's the friar ready.
   Exit ANTONIO

DON PEDRO

   Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter,
   That you have such a February face,
   So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?

CLAUDIO

   I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
   Tush, fear not, man; we'll tip thy horns with gold
   And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
   As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
   When he would play the noble beast in love.

BENEDICK

   Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low;
   And some such strange bull leap'd your father's cow,
   And got a calf in that same noble feat
   Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.

CLAUDIO

   For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings.
   Re-enter ANTONIO, with the Ladies masked
   Which is the lady I must seize upon?

ANTONIO

   This same is she, and I do give you her.

CLAUDIO

   Why, then she's mine. Sweet, let me see your face.

LEONATO

   No, that you shall not, till you take her hand
   Before this friar and swear to marry her.

CLAUDIO

   Give me your hand: before this holy friar,
   I am your husband, if you like of me.

HERO

   And when I lived, I was your other wife:
   Unmasking
   And when you loved, you were my other husband.

CLAUDIO

   Another Hero!

HERO

   Nothing certainer:
   One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
   And surely as I live, I am a maid.

DON PEDRO

   The former Hero! Hero that is dead!

LEONATO

   She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.

FRIAR FRANCIS

   All this amazement can I qualify:
   When after that the holy rites are ended,
   I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death:
   Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
   And to the chapel let us presently.

BENEDICK

   Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?

BEATRICE

   [Unmasking] I answer to that name. What is your will?

BENEDICK

   Do not you love me?

BEATRICE

   Why, no; no more than reason.

BENEDICK

   Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio
   Have been deceived; they swore you did.

BEATRICE

   Do not you love me?

BENEDICK

   Troth, no; no more than reason.

BEATRICE

   Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula
   Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.

BENEDICK

   They swore that you were almost sick for me.

BEATRICE

   They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

BENEDICK

   'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?

BEATRICE

   No, truly, but in friendly recompense.

LEONATO

   Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.

CLAUDIO

   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.

BENEDICK

   A miracle! here's our own hands against our hearts.
   Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take
   thee for pity.

BEATRICE

   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.

BENEDICK

   Peace! I will stop your mouth.
   Kissing her

DON PEDRO

   How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

BENEDICK

   I'll tell thee what, prince; a college of
   wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humour. Dost
   thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No:
   if a man will be beaten with brains, a' shall wear
   nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do
   purpose 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.

CLAUDIO

   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
   exceedingly narrowly to thee.

BENEDICK

   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.

LEONATO

   We'll have dancing afterward.

BENEDICK

   First, of 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.
   Enter a Messenger

Messenger

   My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight,
   And brought with armed men back to Messina.

BENEDICK

   Think not on him till to-morrow:
   I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.
   Strike up, pipers.
   Dance
   Exeunt

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