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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 fine is, (for the which I may go the finer,) I will live a bachelor.
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.
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.
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 a 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.
But now I am return'd, and that war-thoughts
D. Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And 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?
Claud. How sweetly do you minister to love, That know love's grief by his complexion! But lest my liking might too sudden seem, I would have salv'd it with a longer treatise. D. Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds, therefore the sadness is without limit.
Con. You should hear reason.
John. And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?
SCENE II.-A Room in LEONATO's House.
Leon. How now, brother? Where is my cousin, your son? Hath he provided this music?
Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet dreamt 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-pleached 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? 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; go you with me, and I will use your skill.-Good cousin, have a care this busy [Exeunt.
Con. If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.
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 on no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.
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 weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.
John. I had rather be a canker in a hedge, than a rose in his grace; and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all, than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle, and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the mean time, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.
Con. Can you make no use of your discontent? John. I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here? What news, Borachio?
Bora. I came yonder from a great supper: the prince, your brother, is royally entertained by Leonato, and I can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.
John. Will it serve for any model to build mis
chief on? What is he, for a fool, that betroths himself to unquietness?
Bora. Marry, it is your brother's right hand.
John. A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks he?
Bora. Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.
John. A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?
Bora. Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty-room, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference: I whipt me behind the arras, and there heard it agreed upon, that the prince should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to count Claudio.
John. Come, come; let us thither: this may prove food to my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?
Con. To the death, my lord.
John. Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the greater, that I am subdued. 'Would the cook were of my mind!-Shall we go prove what's to be done?
Bora. We'll wait upon your lordship. [Exeunt.
SCENE I.-A Hall in LEONATO's House. Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others.
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-burned an hour after. Hero. He is of a very melancholy disposition. Beat. He were an excellent man, that were made just in the mid-way 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 bear-ward, 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. Well, niece,-[to Hero]-I trust, you will be ruled by your father.
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 woo'd in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him, there is measure in every thing, 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 day-light.
Leon. The revellers are entering, brother. Make good room!
Enter Don PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR; JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and Maskers.
Beat. I am sure you know him well enough.
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 villainy, 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 o two on me; which, peradventure, not marked, o not laughed at, strikes him into melancholy; an then there's a partridge' wing saved, for the for will eat no supper that night.-[Music within We must follow the leaders.
Bene. In every good thing.
Beat. Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will lea them at the next turning.
[Dance. Then, exeunt all but JOHN, BORACH and CLAUDIO.
John. Sure, my brother is amorous on Hero, hath withdrawn her father to break with him ab it. The ladies follow her, and but one visor rema Bora. And that is Claudio: I know him by bearing.
John. Are not you signior Benedick? Claud. You know me well: I am he.
John. Signior, you are very near my brothe his love: he is enamoured on Hero. I pray dissuade him from her; she is no equal fo birth: you may do the part of an honest man Claud. How know you he loves her? John. I heard him swear his affection. Bora. So did I too; and he swore he v marry her to-night.
John. Come, let us to the banquet.
[Exeunt JOHN and BORA Claud. Thus answer I in name of Benedic