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Like one
Who having into truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie.

      — The Tempest, Act I Scene 2

Much Ado about Nothing

Act II

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Scene 1. A hall in LEONATO’S house.

Scene 2. The same.

Scene 3. LEONATO’S orchard.

---
       

Act II, Scene 1

A hall in LEONATO’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others]

  • Leonato. Was not Count John here at supper?
  • 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 405
    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,— 410
  • 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. 415
  • 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. 420
  • 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. 425
  • 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 430
    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 435
    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 440
    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 445
    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 450
    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. 455
  • 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 460
    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 465
    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. 470
  • 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? 475
  • Hero. So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
    I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.
  • Hero. I may say so, when I please.
  • Don Pedro. And when please you to say so? 480
  • 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.

[Drawing her aside]

  • Margaret. So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many
    ill-qualities.
  • Balthasar. I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.
  • Margaret. God match me with a good dancer!
  • Margaret. And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is 495
    done! Answer, clerk.
  • Balthasar. No more words: the clerk is answered.
  • Ursula. I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.
  • Ursula. I know you by the waggling of your head. 500
  • 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.
  • 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? 510
  • Beatrice. Nor will you not tell me who you are?
  • Beatrice. That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
    out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales:'—well this was 515
    Signior Benedick that said so.
  • Beatrice. I am sure you know him well enough.
  • Beatrice. Did he never make you laugh? 520
  • 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; 525
    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; 530
    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] 535
    We must follow the leaders.
  • 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? 545
  • 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. 550
  • 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.

[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: 560
    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, 565
    Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

[Re-enter BENEDICK]

  • Benedick. Come, will you go with me? 570
  • 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 575
    it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.
  • Benedick. Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they
    sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would
    have served you thus? 580
  • 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 590
    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? 595
  • 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, 600
    either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or
    to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.
  • Benedick. The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
    overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his 605
    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 610
    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, 615
    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! 620
    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 625
    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 630
    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 635
    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 640
    and perturbation follows her.

[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 645
    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, 650
    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. 655

[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: 660
    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 665
    Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.
  • Don Pedro. Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?
  • 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 675
    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 680
    fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an
    grace say Amen to it.
  • Claudio. Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were
    but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as 685
    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. 690
  • 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.
  • Beatrice. Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the 695
    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 700
    father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
  • 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 705
    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 710
    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 720
    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, 725
    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 730
    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 735
    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 740
    shall give you direction.
  • Leonato. My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
    nights' watchings.
  • 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 750
    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, 755
    Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be
    ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me,
    and I will tell you my drift.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

The same.

      next scene .
---

[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, 765
    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.
  • Borachio. I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
    I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
    gentlewoman to Hero.
  • Borachio. I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, 775
    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 780
    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 785
    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 790
    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: 795
    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 800
    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 805
    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. 810

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

LEONATO’S orchard.

       
---

[Enter BENEDICK]

[Enter Boy]

  • Boy. Signior? 815
  • 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] 820
    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 825
    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, 830
    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 835
    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 840
    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 845
    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]

  • 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? 855
  • 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 860
    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; 865
    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, 870
    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. 875

[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. 880

[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: 885
    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, 890
    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. 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 900
    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. 905
  • 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 910
    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 915
    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. 920
  • Leonato. O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
    passion came so near the life of passion as she
    discovers it. 925
  • 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.
  • 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. 935
  • 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? 940
  • 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 945
    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. 950
  • Leonato. O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
    found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?
  • Leonato. O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
    railed at herself, that she should be so immodest 955
    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, 960
    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 965
    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. 970
  • 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. 975
  • 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 980
    have daffed all other respects and made her half
    myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear
    what a' will say.
  • Claudio. Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she 985
    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 990
    love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the
    man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
  • Don Pedro. He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
  • Claudio. Before God! and, in my mind, very wise. 995
  • 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 1000
    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, 1005
    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. 1010
  • 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. 1015
  • 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 1020
    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: 1030
    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 1035
    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 1040
    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. 1045
    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! 1050
    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. 1055
  • 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 1060
    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 1065
    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. 1070

[Exit]

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