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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 so. 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. Bene. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
D. Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.
Bene. 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.
D. Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.1
Bene. 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 recheat2 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 fine3 is, (for the which I go the finer,) I will live a bachelor.
1 By obstinacy against conviction, alluding to the definition of a heretic in the schools.
2 That is, wear a horn on my forehead, which the huntsman may blow. A recheat is the sound by which the dogs are called back from the scent. 3 The fine is the conclusion.
D. Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. 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.
D. Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.1
Bene. 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.3
D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try:
In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.*
Bene. 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.
Claud. If this should ever happen, thou would'st be horn-mad.
D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
Bene. I look for an earthquake too then.
D. Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time, good seignior 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.
Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage and so I commit you
1 A capital subject for satire.
2 It seems to have been one of the inhuman sports of the time to inclose a cat in a wooden tub or bottle suspended aloft to be shot at.
3 i. e. Adam Bell, "a passing good archer," who, with Clym of the Cloughe and William of Cloudeslie, were outlaws as famous, in the north of England, as Robin Hood and his fellows were in the midland counties. 4 This line is from The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo, &c., and occurs, with a slight variation, in Watson's Sonnets, 1581.
Claud. To the tuition of God: From my house, if I had it)—
D. Pedro. The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.
Bene. 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 BENEDICK. Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me good.
D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach; teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Claud. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
D. Pedro. No child but Hero; she's his only heir; Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
O, my lord,
D. Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And I will break with her, and with her father,
Claud. How sweetly do you minister to love,
D. Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity: 1
Look, what will serve, is fit: 'tis once, thou lov'st; And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night;
I will assume thy part in some disguise,
SCENE II. A Room in Leonato's House.
Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO.
Leon. How now, brother? Where is my cousin, your son? Hath he provided this music?
Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, can tell you strange news that you yet dreamed not of.
Leon. Are they good?
Ant. As the event stamps them; but they have a good cover; they show well outward. The prince and count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleashed3 alley in my 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.
Leon. Hath the fellow any wit, that told you this?
1 Mr. Hayley proposes to read, "The fairest grant is to necessity;" i. e. "necessitas quod cogit defendit."
2 i. e. once for all.
3 Thickly interwoven.
Ant. A good sharp fellow: I will send for him, and question him yourself.
Leon. 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. [Several persons cross the stage.] Cousins, you know what you have to do.-O, I cry you mercy, friend; you go with me, and I will use your skill:-good cousins, have a care this busy time. [Exeunt.
SCENE III. Another Room in Leonato's House.
Enter DON JOHN and CONRADE.
Why are you
Con. What the goodjere, my lord! thus out of measure sad?
D. John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds it, therefore the sadness is without limit.
Con. You should hear reason.
D. John. And when I have heard it, what blessing bringeth it?
Con. If not a present remedy, yet a patient suffer
D. John. I wonder, that thou, being (as thou say'st 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 to no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw1 no man in his humor.
Con. 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