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Bene. Why, that's spoken like an honest drover; 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
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, the bitter disposition of Beatrice, that puts the world into her person, and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.
Re-enter Don PEDRO. D. Pedro. Now, seignior, 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 offered 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 whipped.
D. Pedro. To be whipped! 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.
D. 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 stolen his bird's nest.
1 A parallel thought occurs in Isaiah, c. i., where the prophet, in describing the desolation of Judah, says, “ The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,” &c. It appears that these lonely buildings were necessary, as the cucumbers, &c. were obliged to be constantly watched and watered, and that as soon as the crop was gathered they were forsaken.
D. 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.
D. Pedro. The lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you; the gentleman, that danced with her, told her, she is much wronged by you.
Bene. O, she misused 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 transgressed; she would have made Hercules have turned spit; yea, and have cleft his club to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the infernal Atelin 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 follow her.
Re-enter Claudio, BEATRICE, Hero, and LEONATO. D. 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 farthest 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 Pigmies, rather than hold three words' conference with this harpy : you have no employment for me?
1 The goddess of discord.
D. Pedro. None, but to desire your good company
Bene. O God, sir, here's a dish I love not; I can not endure my lady Tongue.
[Exit D. Pedro. Come, lady, come: you have lost the heart of seignior Benedick.
Beat. Indeed, my lord, he lent it me a while; and I give him use 1 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.
D. 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.
D. Pedro. Why, how now, count? Wherefore are
you sad ?
Claud. Not sad, my lord.
. D. 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.
D. 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 him not speak neither.
D. 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 sun-burned; I may sit in the corner, and cry, heigh ho! for a husband
D. Pedro. Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
Beat. I would rather have one of getting. Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
D. 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.
D. Pedro. Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour.
Beat. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.—Cousins, God give you joy!
Leon. Niece, will you look to those things I told
Beat. I cry you mercy, uncle.-By your grace's pardon.
[Exit. D. 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
she hath often dreamed of unhappiness, and waked herself with laughing.
D. Pedro. She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
Leon. O, by no means; she mocks all her wooers out of suit.
D. 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.
D. Pedro. Count 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 seven-night; and a time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind.
D. 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' labors; which is, to bring seignior Benedick and the lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection, the one with the 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
Leon. My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights’ watching
Claud. And I, my lord.
Hero. I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good husband.
D. Pedro. And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that I know: thus far can 1 praise him; he is of a noble strain,' of approved valor, and confirmed honesty. I will teach you how to humor your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick and I, 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.
1 The same as strene, descent, lineage.