Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Act II

Act II, Scene 1

A hall in LEONATO’S house.


Leonato. Was not Count John here at supper?

Antonio. I saw him not. 400

Beatrice. 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.

Beatrice. He were an excellent man that were made just in the
midway between him and Benedick: the one is too 405
like an image and says nothing, and the other too
like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.

Leonato. Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's
mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signior
Benedick's face,— 410

Beatrice. 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.

Leonato. By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue. 415

Antonio. In faith, she's too curst.

Beatrice. 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.

Leonato. So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns. 420

Beatrice. 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.

Leonato. You may light on a husband that hath no beard. 425

Beatrice. 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 430
man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take
sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
apes into hell.

Leonato. Well, then, go you into hell?

Beatrice. No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet 435
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 440
there live we as merry as the day is long.

Antonio. [To HERO] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled
by your father.

Beatrice. Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy
and say 'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all 445
that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else
make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please

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

Beatrice. Not till God make men of some other metal than 450
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. 455

Leonato. Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince
do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.

Beatrice. 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 460
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 465
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.

Leonato. Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

Beatrice. I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight. 470

Leonato. The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.
[All put on their masks]

Don Pedro. Lady, will you walk about with your friend? 475

Hero. So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.

Don Pedro. With me in your company?

Hero. I may say so, when I please.

Don Pedro. And when please you to say so? 480

Hero. When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
should be like the case!

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

Hero. Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

Don Pedro. Speak low, if you speak love. 485

[Drawing her aside]

Balthasar. Well, I would you did like me.

Margaret. So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many

Balthasar. Which is one? 490

Margaret. I say my prayers aloud.

Balthasar. I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.

Margaret. God match me with a good dancer!

Balthasar. Amen.

Margaret. And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is 495
done! Answer, clerk.

Balthasar. No more words: the clerk is answered.

Ursula. I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.

Antonio. At a word, I am not.

Ursula. I know you by the waggling of your head. 500

Antonio. To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

Ursula. 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.

Antonio. At a word, I am not. 505

Ursula. 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

Beatrice. Will you not tell me who told you so? 510

Benedick. No, you shall pardon me.

Beatrice. Nor will you not tell me who you are?

Benedick. Not now.

Beatrice. That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales:'—well this was 515
Signior Benedick that said so.

Benedick. What's he?

Beatrice. I am sure you know him well enough.

Benedick. Not I, believe me.

Beatrice. Did he never make you laugh? 520

Benedick. I pray you, what is he?

Beatrice. 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; 525
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.

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

Beatrice. Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me; 530
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.
[Music] 535
We must follow the leaders.

Benedick. In every good thing.

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

[Dance. Then exeunt all except DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO]

Don 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.

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

Don John. Are not you Signior Benedick? 545

Claudio. You know me well; I am he.

Don John. 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. 550

Claudio. How know you he loves her?

Don John. I heard him swear his affection.

Borachio. So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

Don John. Come, let us to the banquet.


Claudio. 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: 560
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, 565
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

[Re-enter BENEDICK]

Benedick. Count Claudio?

Claudio. Yea, the same.

Benedick. Come, will you go with me? 570

Claudio. Whither?

Benedick. 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 575
it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.

Claudio. I wish him joy of her.

Benedick. Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they
sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would
have served you thus? 580

Claudio. I pray you, leave me.

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

Claudio. If it will not be, I'll leave you.


Benedick. 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 590
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.

[Re-enter DON PEDRO]

Don Pedro. Now, signior, where's the count? did you see him? 595

Benedick. 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, 600
either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or
to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.

Don Pedro. To be whipped! What's his fault?

Benedick. The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his 605
companion, and he steals it.

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

Benedick. Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,
and the garland too; for the garland he might have 610
worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on
you, who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest.

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

Benedick. If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, 615
you say honestly.

Don Pedro. The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
wronged by you.

Benedick. O, she misused me past the endurance of a block! 620
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 625
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 630
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 635
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 640
and perturbation follows her.

Don Pedro. Look, here she comes.


Benedick. Will your grace command me any service to the
world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now 645
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, 650
rather than hold three words' conference with this
harpy. You have no employment for me?

Don Pedro. None, but to desire your good company.

Benedick. O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot
endure my Lady Tongue. 655


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

Beatrice. Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
him use for it, a double heart for his single one: 660
marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.

Don Pedro. You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.

Beatrice. So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I
should prove the mother of fools. I have brought 665
Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

Don Pedro. Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?

Claudio. Not sad, my lord.

Don Pedro. How then? sick?

Claudio. Neither, my lord. 670

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

Don Pedro. I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;
though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is 675
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!

Leonato. Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my 680
fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an
grace say Amen to it.

Beatrice. Speak, count, 'tis your cue.

Claudio. Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were
but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as 685
you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
you and dote upon the exchange.

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

Don Pedro. In faith, lady, you have a merry heart. 690

Beatrice. 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.

Claudio. And so she doth, cousin.

Beatrice. Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the 695
world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

Don Pedro. Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

Beatrice. I would rather have one of your father's getting.
Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your 700
father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.

Don Pedro. Will you have me, lady?

Beatrice. 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 705
was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

Don Pedro. Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
a merry hour.

Beatrice. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there 710
was a star danced, and under that was I born.
Cousins, God give you joy!

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

Beatrice. I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon.


Don Pedro. By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.

Leonato. 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 720
herself with laughing.

Don Pedro. She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

Leonato. O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.

Don Pedro. She were an excellent wife for Benedict.

Leonato. O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, 725
they would talk themselves mad.

Don Pedro. County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

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

Leonato. Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just 730
seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
things answer my mind.

Don 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 735
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 740
shall give you direction.

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

Claudio. And I, my lord.

Don Pedro. And you too, gentle Hero? 745

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

Don 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 confirmed honesty. I 750
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, 755
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.


Act II, Scene 2

The same.


Don John. It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
daughter of Leonato.

Borachio. Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.

Don John. Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him, 765
and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?

Borachio. Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no
dishonesty shall appear in me.

Don John. Show me briefly how. 770

Borachio. I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
gentlewoman to Hero.

Don John. I remember.

Borachio. I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, 775
appoint her to look out at her lady's chamber window.

Don John. What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?

Borachio. 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 780
Claudio—whose estimation do you mightily hold
up—to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.

Don John. What proof shall I make of that?

Borachio. Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,
to undo Hero and kill Leonato. Look you for any 785
other issue?

Don John. Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing.

Borachio. 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 790
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: 795
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 800
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.

Don John. Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put 805
it in practise. Be cunning in the working this, and
thy fee is a thousand ducats.

Borachio. Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
shall not shame me.

Don John. I will presently go learn their day of marriage. 810


Act II, Scene 3

LEONATO’S orchard.


Benedick. Boy!

[Enter Boy]

Boy. Signior? 815

Benedick. In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
to me in the orchard.

Boy. I am here already, sir.

Benedick. I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.
[Exit Boy] 820
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 825
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, 830
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 835
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 840
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 845
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.



Don Pedro. Come, shall we hear this music?

Claudio. Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!

Don Pedro. See you where Benedick hath hid himself? 855

Claudio. O, very well, my lord: the music ended,
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

[Enter BALTHASAR with Music]

Don Pedro. Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.

Balthasar. O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice 860
To slander music any more than once.

Don Pedro. 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.

Balthasar. Because you talk of wooing, I will sing; 865
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet will he swear he loves.

Don Pedro. Now, pray thee, come;
Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument, 870
Do it in notes.

Balthasar. Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.

Don Pedro. Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing. 875


Benedick. 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
all's done. 880

[The Song]

Balthasar. Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never: 885
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, 890
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leafy:
Then sigh not so, &c.

Don Pedro. By my troth, a good song. 895

Balthasar. And an ill singer, my lord.

Don Pedro. Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

Benedick. 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 900
night-raven, come what plague could have come after

Don Pedro. 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. 905

Balthasar. The best I can, my lord.

Don Pedro. Do so: farewell.
Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with 910
Signior Benedick?

Claudio. O, ay: stalk on. stalk on; the fowl sits. I did
never think that lady would have loved any man.

Leonato. No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in 915
all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

Benedick. Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?

Leonato. 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. 920

Don Pedro. May be she doth but counterfeit.

Claudio. Faith, like enough.

Leonato. O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
passion came so near the life of passion as she
discovers it. 925

Don Pedro. Why, what effects of passion shows she?

Claudio. Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.

Leonato. What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard
my daughter tell you how.

Claudio. She did, indeed. 930

Don Pedro. How, how, pray you? You amaze me: I would have I
thought her spirit had been invincible against all
assaults of affection.

Leonato. I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
against Benedick. 935

Benedick. I should think this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot,
sure, hide himself in such reverence.

Claudio. He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.

Don Pedro. Hath she made her affection known to Benedick? 940

Leonato. No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.

Claudio. '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?'

Leonato. This says she now when she is beginning to write to 945
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.

Claudio. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
pretty jest your daughter told us of. 950

Leonato. O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?

Claudio. That.

Leonato. O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
railed at herself, that she should be so immodest 955
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.'

Claudio. Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, 960
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; 'O
sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'

Leonato. 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 965
to herself: it is very true.

Don Pedro. It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
other, if she will not discover it.

Claudio. To what end? He would make but a sport of it and
torment the poor lady worse. 970

Don Pedro. An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an
excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion,
she is virtuous.

Claudio. And she is exceeding wise.

Don Pedro. In every thing but in loving Benedick. 975

Leonato. 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.

Don Pedro. I would she had bestowed this dotage on me: I would 980
have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear
what a' will say.

Leonato. Were it good, think you?

Claudio. Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she 985
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
accustomed crossness.

Don Pedro. She doth well: if she should make tender of her 990
love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the
man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.

Claudio. He is a very proper man.

Don Pedro. He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

Claudio. Before God! and, in my mind, very wise. 995

Don Pedro. He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

Claudio. And I take him to be valiant.

Don Pedro. 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 1000
them with a most Christian-like fear.

Leonato. 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.

Don Pedro. And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, 1005
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?

Claudio. Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with
good counsel. 1010

Leonato. Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.

Don Pedro. 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. 1015

Leonato. My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.

Claudio. If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
trust my expectation.

Don Pedro. Let there be the same net spread for her; and that
must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The 1020
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.


Benedick. [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: 1030
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 1035
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 1040
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. 1045
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! 1050
she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in


Beatrice. Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

Benedick. Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains. 1055

Beatrice. 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.

Benedick. You take pleasure then in the message?

Beatrice. Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's 1060
point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach,
signior: fare you well.


Benedick. Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
to dinner;' there's a double meaning in that 'I took 1065
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. 1070


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