I learn in this letter that Don Peter of Arragon
comes this night to Messina.
He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off
when I left him.
How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
But few of any sort, and none of name.
A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings
home full numbers. I find here that Don Peter hath
bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.
Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by
Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the
promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb,
the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better
bettered expectation than you must expect of me to
tell you how.
He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much
glad of it.
I have already delivered him letters, and there
appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could
not show itself modest enough without a badge of
Did he break out into tears?
In great measure.
A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces
truer than those that are so washed. How much
better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
wars or no?
I know none of that name, lady: there was none such
in the army of any sort.
What is he that you ask for, niece?
My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
O, he's returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.
He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading
the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged
him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he
killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath
he killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his killing.
Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much;
but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it:
he is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
And a good soldier too, lady.
And a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord?
A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all
It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:
but for the stuffing,--well, we are all mortal.
You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a
kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her:
they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit
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.
Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
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?
He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: 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 a' be cured.
I will hold friends with you, lady.
Do, good friend.
You will never run mad, niece.
No, not till a hot January.
Don Pedro is approached.
Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your
trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid
cost, and you encounter it.
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.
You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.
Her mother hath many times told me so.
Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
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
If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not
have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as
like him as she is.
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks you.
What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
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.
Then is courtesy a turncoat. 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.
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.
God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some
gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate
Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such
a face as yours were.
Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God's
name; I have done.
You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.
That 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.
If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.
[To DON JOHN]
Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to
the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.
I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank
Please it your grace lead on?
Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.
Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
I noted her not; but I looked on her.
Is she not a modest young lady?
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?
No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.
Why, i' faith, methinks she's 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 unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I
do not like her.
Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me
truly how thou likest her.
Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?
Can the world buy such a jewel?
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?
In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I
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?
I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world
one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion?
Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again?
Go to, i' faith; an 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.
What secret hath held you here, that you followed
not to Leonato's?
I would your grace would constrain me to tell.
I charge thee on thy allegiance.
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
If this were so, so were it uttered.
Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, nor
'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be
If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
should be otherwise.
Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
By my troth, I speak my thought.
And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
That I love her, I feel.
That she is worthy, I know.
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.
Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite
And never could maintain his part but in the force
of his will.
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 recheat 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.
I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
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
Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
wilt prove a notable argument.
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.
Well, as time shall try: 'In time the savage bull
doth bear the yoke.'
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.'
If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
I look for an earthquake too, then.
Well, you temporize with the hours. In the
meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to
Leonato's: commend me to him and tell him I will
not fail him at supper; for indeed he hath made
I have almost matter enough in me for such an
embassage; and so I commit you--
To the tuition of God: From my house, if I had it,--
The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.
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.
My liege, your highness now may do me good.
My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
No child but Hero; she's his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
O, my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I look'd upon her with a soldier's eye,
That liked, but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love:
But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I liked her ere I went to wars.
Thou wilt be like a lover presently
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
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?
How sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love's grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lovest,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night:
I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale:
Then after to her father will I break;
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practise let us put it presently.
How now, brother! Where is my cousin, your son?
hath he provided this music?
He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell
you strange news that you yet dreamt not of.
Are they good?
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 mine
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.
Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and
question him yourself.
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.
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 time.
What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out
of measure sad?
There is no measure in the occasion that breeds;
therefore the sadness is without limit.
You should hear reason.
And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?
If not a present remedy, at least a patient
I wonder that thou, being, as thou sayest 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.
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.
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
mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do
my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and
seek not to alter me.
Can you make no use of your discontent?
I make all use of it, for I use it only.
Who comes here?
What news, Borachio?
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.
Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
Marry, it is your brother's right hand.
Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks
Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.
A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?
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.
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?
To the death, my lord.
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?
We'll wait upon your lordship.
Was not Count John here at supper?
I saw him not.
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
him but I am heart-burned an hour after.
He is of a very melancholy disposition.
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.
Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's
mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signior
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.
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
In faith, she's too curst.
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.
So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.
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.
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
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.
Well, then, go you into hell?
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.
[To HERO] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled
by your father.
Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy
and say 'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all
that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else
make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please
Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
Not till God make men of some other metal than
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
overmastered with a pierce 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 kindred.
Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince
do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.
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 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.
Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.
The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.
[All put on their masks]
[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR,]
DON JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA and others, masked]
Lady, will you walk about with your friend?
So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.
With me in your company?
I may say so, when I please.
And when please you to say so?
When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
should be like the case!
My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.
Why, then, your visor should be thatched.
Speak low, if you speak love.
Well, I would you did like me.
So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many
Which is one?
I say my prayers aloud.
I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.
God match me with a good dancer!
And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is
done! Answer, clerk.
No more words: the clerk is answered.
I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.
I know you by the waggling of your head.
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
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.
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
Will you not tell me who told you so?
No, you shall pardon me.
Nor will you not tell me who you are?
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.
I am sure you know him well enough.
Not I, believe me.
Did he never make you laugh?
I pray you, what is he?
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.
When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.
Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me;
which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at,
strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a
partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
supper that night.
We must follow the leaders.
In every good thing.
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
the next turning.
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.
And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.
Are not you Signior Benedick?
You know me well; I am he.
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:
he is enamoured 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.
How know you he loves her?
I heard him swear his affection.
So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.
Come, let us to the banquet.
Thus answer I in the name of Benedick,
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'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!
Yea, the same.
Come, will you go with me?
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.
I wish him joy of her.
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they
sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would
have served you thus?
I pray you, leave me.
Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the
boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.
If it will not be, I'll leave you.
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.
Now, signior, where's the count? did you see him?
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.
To be whipped! What's his fault?
The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his
companion, and he steals it.
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
transgression is in the stealer.
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 birds' nest.
I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,
you say honestly.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
wronged by you.
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 bad 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 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.
Look, here she comes.
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 tooth-picker 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 Pigmies,
rather than hold three words' conference with this
harpy. You have no employment for me?
None, but to desire your good company.
O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot
endure my Lady Tongue.
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
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.
You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.
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.
Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?
Not sad, my lord.
How then? sick?
Neither, my lord.
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.
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!
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an
grace say Amen to it.
Speak, count, 'tis your cue.
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.
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
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.
And so she doth, cousin.
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!
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
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.
Will you have me, lady?
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.
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
a merry hour.
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!
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon.
By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
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 dreamed of unhappiness and waked
herself with laughing.
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.
She were an excellent wife for Benedict.
O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married,
they would talk themselves mad.
County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?
To-morrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love
have all his rites.
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.
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 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 you direction.
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
And I, my lord.
And you too, gentle Hero?
I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
cousin to a good husband.
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 confirmed honesty. I
will teach you how to humour 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.
It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
daughter of Leonato.
Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.
Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him,
and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?
Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no
dishonesty shall appear in me.
Show me briefly how.
I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
gentlewoman to Hero.
I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night,
appoint her to look out at her lady's chamber window.
What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?
The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that
he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned
Claudio--whose estimation do you mightily hold
up--to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
What proof shall I make of that?
Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,
to undo Hero and kill Leonato. Look you for any
Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing.
Go, then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and
the Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know
that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the
prince and Claudio, as,--in love of your brother's
honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's
reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the
semblance of a maid,--that you have discovered
thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial:
offer them instances; which shall bear no less
likelihood than to see me at her chamber-window,
hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me
Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night
before the intended wedding,--for in the meantime I
will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be
absent,--and there shall appear such seeming truth
of Hero's disloyalty that jealousy shall be called
assurance and all the preparation overthrown.
Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put
it in practise. Be cunning in the working this, and
thy fee is a thousand ducats.
Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
shall not shame me.
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.
In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
to me in the orchard.
I am here already, sir.
I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.
I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
another man is a fool when he dedicates his
behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at
such shallow follies in others, become the argument
of his own scorn by failing in love: and such a man
is Claudio. I have known when there was no music
with him but the drum and the fife; and now had he
rather hear the tabour and the pipe: I have known
when he would have walked ten mile a-foot to see a
good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake,
carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to
speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man
and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography; his
words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many
strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with
these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not
be sworn, but love may transform me to an oyster; but
I'll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster
of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman
is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am
well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all
graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in
my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise,
or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her;
fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not
near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good
discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
be of what colour it please God. Ha! the prince and
Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.
Come, shall we hear this music?
Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!
See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
O, very well, my lord: the music ended,
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.
O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.
It is the witness still of excellency
To put a strange face on his own perfection.
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.
Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet will he swear he loves.
Now, pray thee, come;
Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.
Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing.
Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it
not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out
of men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never:
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leafy:
Then sigh not so, &c.
By my troth, a good song.
And an ill singer, my lord.
Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.
An he had been a dog that should have howled thus,
they would have hanged him: and I pray God his bad
voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the
night-raven, come what plague could have come after
Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee,
get us some excellent music; for to-morrow night we
would have it at the Lady Hero's chamber-window.
The best I can, my lord.
Do so: farewell.
Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
O, ay: stalk on. stalk on; the fowl sits. I did
never think that lady would have loved any man.
No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in
all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.
Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought.
May be she doth but counterfeit.
Faith, like enough.
O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
passion came so near the life of passion as she
Why, what effects of passion shows she?
Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.
What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard
my daughter tell you how.
She did, indeed.
How, how, pray you? You amaze me: I would have I
thought her spirit had been invincible against all
assaults of affection.
I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
I should think this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot,
sure, hide himself in such reverence.
He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.
Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?
No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.
'Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: 'Shall
I,' says she, 'that have so oft encountered him
with scorn, write to him that I love him?'
This says she now when she is beginning to write to
him; for she'll be up twenty times a night, and
there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a
sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.
Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
pretty jest your daughter told us of.
O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?
O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
railed at herself, that she should be so immodest
to write to one that she knew would flout her; 'I
measure him,' says she, 'by my own spirit; for I
should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I
love him, I should.'
Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; 'O
sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'
She doth indeed; my daughter says so: and the
ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter
is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage
to herself: it is very true.
It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
other, if she will not discover it.
To what end? He would make but a sport of it and
torment the poor lady worse.
An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an
excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion,
she is virtuous.
And she is exceeding wise.
In every thing but in loving Benedick.
O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath
the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just
cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
I would she had bestowed this dotage on me: I would
have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear
what a' will say.
Were it good, think you?
Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she
will die, if he love her not, and she will die, ere
she make her love known, and she will die, if he woo
her, rather than she will bate one breath of her
She doth well: if she should make tender of her
love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the
man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
He is a very proper man.
He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
Before God! and, in my mind, very wise.
He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.
And I take him to be valiant.
As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of
quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he
avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes
them with a most Christian-like fear.
If he do fear God, a' must necessarily keep peace:
if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a
quarrel with fear and trembling.
And so will he do; for the man doth fear God,
howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests
he will make. Well I am sorry for your niece. Shall
we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?
Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with
Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.
Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter:
let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I
could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see
how much he is unworthy so good a lady.
My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.
If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
trust my expectation.
Let there be the same net spread for her; and that
must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The
sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of
another's dotage, and no such matter: that's the
scene that I would see, which will be merely a
dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.
[Coming forward] This can be no trick: the
conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of
this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it
seems her affections have their full bent. Love me!
why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured:
they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive
the love come from her; they say too that she will
rather die than give any sign of affection. I did
never think to marry: I must not seem proud: happy
are they that hear their detractions and can put
them to mending. They say the lady is fair; 'tis a
truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous; 'tis
so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving
me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor
no great argument of her folly, for I will be
horribly in love with her. I may chance have some
odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me,
because I have railed so long against marriage: but
doth not the appetite alter? a man loves the meat
in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day!
she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in
Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.
I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would
not have come.
You take pleasure then in the message?
Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's
point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach,
signior: fare you well.
Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
to dinner;' there's a double meaning in that 'I took
no more pains for those thanks than you took pains
to thank me.' that's as much as to say, Any pains
that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do
not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not
love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.
Good Margaret, run thee to the parlor;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio:
Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say that thou overheard'st us;
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it: there will she hide her,
To listen our purpose. This is thy office;
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.
I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit:
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.
[Enter BEATRICE, behind]
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture.
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.
[Approaching the bower]
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggerds of the rock.
But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
So says the prince and my new-trothed lord.
And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.
Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man:
But Nature never framed a woman's heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly that to her
All matter else seems weak: she cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.
Sure, I think so;
And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.
Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
But she would spell him backward: if fair-faced,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
No, not to be so odd and from all fashions
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable:
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.
Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.
No; rather I will go to Benedick
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with: one doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment--
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is prized to have--as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
He is the only man of Italy.
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.
Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?
Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.
She's limed, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.
If it proves so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.
I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and
then go I toward Arragon.
I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you'll
Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss
of your marriage as to show a child his new coat
and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold
with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown
of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all
mirth: he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's
bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at
him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his
tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his
Gallants, I am not as I have been.
So say I. methinks you are sadder.
I hope he be in love.
Hang him, truant! there's no true drop of blood in
him, to be truly touched with love: if he be sad,
he wants money.
I have the toothache.
You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
What! sigh for the toothache?
Where is but a humour or a worm.