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ACT II. Scene I. 


A hall in Leonato's house.

Enter Leonato, [Antonio] his Brother, Hero his Daughter, and Beatrice his Niece, and a Kinsman; [also Margaret and Ursula].

 LEON.

Was not Count John here at supper?

 ANT.

I saw him not.

 BEAT.

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

 HERO.

He is of a very melancholy disposition.

 BEAT.

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.

 LEON.

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

 BEAT.

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.

 LEON.

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

 ANT.

In faith, she's too curst.

 BEAT.

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.

 LEON.

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

 BEAT.

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!

 LEON.

You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

 BEAT.

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 berrord and lead his apes into hell.

 LEON.

Well then, go you into hell?

 BEAT.

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.

 ANT.

[to Hero] Well, niece, I trust you will be rul'd by your
father.

 BEAT.

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

 LEON.

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

 BEAT.

Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would
it not grieve a woman to be overmaster'd with a piece 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 kinred.

 LEON.

Daughter, remember what I told you. If the Prince do solicit
you in that kind, you know your answer.

 BEAT.

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 everything, 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.

 LEON.

Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

 BEAT.

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

 LEON.

The revellers are ent'ring, brother. Make good room.

[Exit Antonio.]

 

Enter, [masked,] Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, and Balthasar.

[With them enter Antonio, also masked. After them enter]

Don John [and Borachio (without masks), who stand aside

and look on during the dance].

 PEDRO.

Lady, will you walk a bout 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.

 PEDRO.

With me in your company?

 HERO.

I may say so when I please.

 PEDRO.

And when please you to say so?

 HERO.

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

 PEDRO.

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

 HERO.

Why then, your visor should be thatch'd.

 PEDRO.

Speak low if you speak love
[Takes her aside.]

 BALTH.

Well, I would you did like me.

 MARG.

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

 BALTH.

Which is one?

 MARG.

I say my prayers aloud.

 BALTH.

I love you the better. The hearers may cry Amen.

 MARG.

God match me with a good dancer!

 BALTH.

Amen.

 MARG.

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

 BALTH.

No more words. The clerk is answered.

[Takes her aside.]

 URS.

I know you well enough. You are Signior Antonio.

 ANT.

At a word, I am not.

 URS.

I know you by the waggling of your head.

 ANT.

To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

 URS.

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!

 ANT.

At a word, I am not.

 URS.

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

[ They step aside.]

 BEAT.

Will you not tell me who told you so?

 BENE.

No, you shall pardon me.

 BEAT.

Nor will you not tell me who you are?

 BENE.

Not now.

 BEAT.

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.

 BENE.

What's he?

 BEAT.

I am sure you know him well enough.

 BENE.

Not I, believe me.

 BEAT.

Did he never make you laugh?

 BENE.

I pray you, what is he?

 BEAT.

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.

 BENE.

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

 BEAT.

Do, do. He'll but break a comparison or two on me; which
peradventure, not marked or not laugh'd 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.

 BENE.

In every good thing.

 BEAT.

Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next
turning.

Dance. Exeunt (all but Don John, Borachio, and Claudio].

 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.

 BORA.

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

 JOHN.

Are you not Signior Benedick?

 CLAUD.

You know me well. I am he.

 JOHN.

Signior, you are very near my brother in his love. He is
enamour'd 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.

 CLAUD.

How know you he loves her?

 JOHN.

I heard him swear his affection.

 BORA.

So did I too, and he swore he would marry her tonight.

 JOHN.

Come, let us to the banquet.

Exeunt. Manet Claudio.

 CLAUD.

Thus answer I in name of Benedick
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.

[Unmasks.]

 

'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!

Enter Benedick [unmasked].

 BENE.

Count Claudio?

 CLAUD.

Yea, the same.

 BENE.

Come, will you go with me?

 CLAUD.

Whither?

 BENE.

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.

 CLAUD.

I wish him joy of her.

 BENE.

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

 CLAUD.

I pray you leave me.

 BENE.

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

 CLAUD.

If it will not be, I'll leave you

Exit.

 BENE.

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.

Enter Don Pedro.

 PEDRO.

Now, signior, where's the Count? Did you see him?

 BENE.

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 off'red 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 whipt.

 PEDRO.

To be whipt? What's his fault?

 BENE.

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

 PEDRO.

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

 BENE.

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 stol'n
his bird's nest.

 PEDRO.

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

 BENE.

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

 PEDRO.

The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The gentleman that
danc'd with her told her she is much wrong'd by you.

 BENE.

O, she misus'd 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 had left him before he transgress'd. She would have made
Hercules have turn'd 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.

Enter Claudio and Beatrice, Leonato, Hero.

 PEDRO.

Look, here she comes.

 BENE.

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 toothpicker 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 Pygmies--rather than hold three words'
conference with this harpy. You have no employment for me?

 PEDRO.

None, but to desire your good company.

 BENE.

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

[Exit.]

 PEDRO.

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

 BEAT.

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.

 PEDRO.

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

 BEAT.

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.

 PEDRO.

Why, how now, Count? Wherefore are you sad?

 CLAUD.

Not sad, my lord.

 PEDRO.

How then? sick?

 CLAUD.

Neither, my lord.

 BEAT.

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

 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!

 LEON.

Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes. His
Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!

 BEAT.

Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.

 CLAUD.

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.

 BEAT.

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

 PEDRO.

In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

 BEAT.

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.

 CLAUD.

And so she doth, cousin.

 BEAT.

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!'

 PEDRO.

Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

 BEAT.

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.

 PEDRO.

Will you have me, lady?

 BEAT.

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.

 PEDRO.

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

 BEAT.

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

 LEON.

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

 BEAT.

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

 PEDRO.

By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.

 LEON.

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 dreamt of unhappiness
and wak'd herself with laughing.

 PEDRO.

She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

 LEON.

O, by no means! She mocks all her wooers out of suit.

 PEDRO.

She were an excellent wife for Benedick.

 LEON.

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

 PEDRO.

County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

 CLAUD.

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

 LEON.

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

 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 th' one with th' 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.

 LEON.

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

 CLAUD.

And I, my lord.

 PEDRO.

And you too, gentle Hero?

 HERO.

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

 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 confirm'd honesty. I will teach you how to humour
your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I,
[to Leonato and Claudio] 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; his glory shall be ours, for we are
the only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift.

Exeunt.

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