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LEONATOI learn in this letter that Don Peter of Arragon
comes this night to Messina.
MessengerHe is very near by this: he was not three leagues off
when I left him.
LEONATOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 5How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
MessengerBut few of any sort, and none of name.
LEONATOA 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.
MessengerAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 10Much 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 15tell you how.
LEONATOHe hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much
glad of it.
MessengerI have already delivered him letters, and there
appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 20not show itself modest enough without a badge of
LEONATODid he break out into tears?
MessengerIn great measure.
LEONATOA kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 25truer than those that are so washed. How much
better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
BEATRICEI pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
wars or no?
MessengerI know none of that name, lady: there was none such
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 30in the army of any sort.
LEONATOWhat is he that you ask for, niece?
HEROMy cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
MessengerO, he's returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.
BEATRICEHe set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 35Cupid 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.
LEONATOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 40Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much;
but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
MessengerHe hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
BEATRICEYou had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it:
he is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 45excellent stomach.
MessengerAnd a good soldier too, lady.
BEATRICEAnd a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord?
MessengerA lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all
BEATRICEAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 50It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:
but for the stuffing, — well, we are all mortal.
LEONATOYou 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 55between them.
BEATRICEAlas! 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 60bear 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.
BEATRICEAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 65Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
MessengerI see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
BEATRICENo; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 70you, who is his companion? Is there no young
squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
MessengerHe is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
BEATRICEO Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: he
is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 75runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if
he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a
thousand pound ere a' be cured.
MessengerI will hold friends with you, lady.
BEATRICEDo, good friend.
LEONATOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 80You will never run mad, niece.
BEATRICENo, not till a hot January.
MessengerDon Pedro is approached.
DON PEDROGood Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your
trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 85cost, and you encounter it.
LEONATONever 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 PEDROAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 90You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.
LEONATOHer mother hath many times told me so.
BENEDICKWere you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
LEONATOSignior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
DON PEDROAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 95You 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
BENEDICKIf Signior Leonato be her father, she would not
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 100have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as
like him as she is.
BEATRICEI wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks you.
BENEDICKWhat, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
BEATRICEAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 105Is 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.
BENEDICKThen is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 110am 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.
BEATRICEA dear happiness to women: they would else have
been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 115and 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.
BENEDICKGod keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some
gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 120scratched face.
BEATRICEScratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such
a face as yours were.
BENEDICKWell, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
BEATRICEA bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
BENEDICKAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 125I 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.
BEATRICEYou always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.
DON PEDROThat is the sum of all, Leonato. Signior Claudio
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 130and 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.
LEONATOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 135If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.
Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to
the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.
DON JOHNI thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank
LEONATOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 140Please it your grace lead on?
DON PEDROYour hand, Leonato; we will go together.
CLAUDIOBenedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
BENEDICKI noted her not; but I looked on her.
CLAUDIOIs she not a modest young lady?
BENEDICKAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 145Do 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?
CLAUDIONo; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.
BENEDICKWhy, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 150praise, 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.
CLAUDIOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 155Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me
truly how thou likest her.
BENEDICKWould you buy her, that you inquire after her?
CLAUDIOCan the world buy such a jewel?
BENEDICKYea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 160with 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?
CLAUDIOIn mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 165looked on.
BENEDICKI 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 170hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?
CLAUDIOI would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
BENEDICKIs't come to this? In faith, hath not the world
one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion?
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 175Shall 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.
DON PEDROWhat secret hath held you here, that you followed
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 180not to Leonato's?
BENEDICKI would your grace would constrain me to tell.
DON PEDROI charge thee on thy allegiance.
BENEDICKYou hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb
man; I would have you think so; but, on my
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 185allegiance, 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
CLAUDIOIf this were so, so were it uttered.
BENEDICKAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 190Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, nor
'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be
CLAUDIOIf my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
should be otherwise.
DON PEDROAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 195Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
CLAUDIOYou speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
DON PEDROBy my troth, I speak my thought.
CLAUDIOAnd, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
BENEDICKAnd, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
CLAUDIOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 200That I love her, I feel.
DON PEDROThat she is worthy, I know.
BENEDICKThat 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 PEDROAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 205Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite
CLAUDIOAnd never could maintain his part but in the force
of his will.
BENEDICKThat a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 210brought 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 215right to trust none; and the fine is, for the which
I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.
DON PEDROI shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
BENEDICKWith anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord,
not with love: prove that ever I lose more blood
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 220with 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
DON PEDROWell, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 225wilt prove a notable argument.
BENEDICKIf 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 PEDROWell, as time shall try: 'In time the savage bull
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 230doth bear the yoke.'
BENEDICKThe 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 235good horse to hire,' let them signify under my sign
'Here you may see Benedick the married man.'
CLAUDIOIf this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
DON PEDRONay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
BENEDICKAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 240I look for an earthquake too, then.
DON PEDROWell, 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 245great preparation.
BENEDICKI have almost matter enough in me for such an
embassage; and so I commit you —
CLAUDIOTo the tuition of God: From my house, if I had it, —
DON PEDROThe sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.
BENEDICKAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 250Nay, 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.
CLAUDIOAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 255My liege, your highness now may do me good.
DON PEDROMy 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.
CLAUDIOHath Leonato any son, my lord?
DON PEDROAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 260No child but Hero; she's his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
CLAUDIOO, my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I look'd upon her with a soldier's eye,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 265That 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,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 270All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I liked her ere I went to wars.
DON PEDROThou wilt be like a lover presently
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 275And 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?
CLAUDIOHow sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love's grief by his complexion!
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 280But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
DON PEDROWhat need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lovest,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 285And 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
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 290And 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.