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Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady ;-But what is he to a lord ?
Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man ; stuffed with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuffed man : but for the stuffing,–Well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her : they never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse ; for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature.-Who is his companion now ? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
Mess. Is it possible ?
Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mess. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beat. No, an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion ? Is there no young squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil ?
Mess. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O Lord! he will hang upon him like a disease:
6 young squarer -] A squarer I take to be a cholerick, quarrelsome fellow, for in this sense Shakspeare uses the word to square. So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, it is said of Oberon and Titania, that they never meet but they square. So the sense may be, Is there no hot-blooded youth that will keep him company through all his mad pranks ? Johnson.
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 he be cured.
Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Enter Don Pedro, attended by BALTHAZAR and others,
Don John, CLAUDIO, and BENEDICK, D. Pedro. Good signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your grace ; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain ; but, when you depart from me, sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
D. Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly.I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so.
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
D. 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. · Bene. If signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders, for all Messina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder, that you will still be talking, signior Benedick; no body marks you.
7 — fathers herself :] This phrase is common in Dorsetshire : “ Jack fathers himself;" i. e. is like his father.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living ?
Beat. Is it possible, disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as signior Benedick ? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is courtesy a turn-coat :-But it is certain, I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart: for, truly, I love none.
Beat. A dear happiness to women; they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God, and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that; I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, 'an 'twere such a face as yours were.
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Bene. I would, my horse had the speed of your tongue; and so good a continuer: But keep your way o' God's name; I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade’s trick; I know you of old.
D. Pedro. This is the sum of all: Leonato,-signior Claudio, and signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays, some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.—Let me bid you welcome, my lord : being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.
D. John. I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Leon. Please it your grace lead on?
[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signior Leonato ?
Bene. I noted her not ; but I looked on her.
Bene. 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?
Claud. No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment.
Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks she is 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 unbandsome ; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou thinkest, I am in sport ; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou likest her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her ? Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel ?
Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack"; to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter ? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song ?
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope, you have no intent to turn husband; have you?
8 — the flouting Jack;] Jack, in our author's time, was a term of contempt.
Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is it come to this, i'faith ? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspiciono? Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again ? Go to, i’faith ; and 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. D. Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's ?
Bene. I would, your grace would constrain me to tell. D. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Bene. 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.
Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered'.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: “it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be sot."
Claud. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.
D. Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord. D. Pedro. By my troth, I speak my thought. Claud. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine. 9- wear his cap with suspicion ?] That is, subject his head to the disquiet of jealousy.
Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.] i. e. If I had really confided such a secret to him, he would have blabbed it in this manner.
+ These were the words used in a tragic nursery tale, common in Sbakspeare's days and since.