Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Act IV

Act IV, Scene 1

A church.


Leonato. Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain form of marriage, and you shall recount their 1645 particular duties afterwards.

Friar Francis. You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady.

Claudio. No.

Leonato. To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her.

Friar Francis. Lady, you come hither to be married to this count. 1650

Hero. I do.

Friar Francis. If either of you know any inward impediment why you
should not be conjoined, charge you, on your souls,
to utter it.

Claudio. Know you any, Hero? 1655

Hero. None, my lord.

Friar Francis. Know you any, count?

Leonato. I dare make his answer, none.

Claudio. O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily
do, not knowing what they do! 1660

Benedick. How now! interjections? Why, then, some be of
laughing, as, ah, ha, he!

Claudio. Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave:
Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter? 1665

Leonato. As freely, son, as God did give her me.

Claudio. And what have I to give you back, whose worth
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?

Don Pedro. Nothing, unless you render her again.

Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth 1675
Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
Comes not that blood as modest evidence
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows? But she is none: 1680
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

Leonato. What do you mean, my lord?

Claudio. Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton. 1685

Leonato. Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity,—

Claudio. I know what you would say: if I have known her,
You will say she did embrace me as a husband, 1690
And so extenuate the 'forehand sin:
No, Leonato,
I never tempted her with word too large;
But, as a brother to his sister, show'd
Bashful sincerity and comely love. 1695

Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?

Claudio. Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
But you are more intemperate in your blood 1700
Than Venus, or those pamper'd animals
That rage in savage sensuality.

Hero. Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?

Leonato. Sweet prince, why speak not you?

Don Pedro. What should I speak? 1705
I stand dishonour'd, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.

Benedick. This looks not like a nuptial. 1710

Hero. True! O God!

Claudio. Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the prince? is this the prince's brother?
Is this face Hero's? are our eyes our own?

Leonato. All this is so: but what of this, my lord? 1715

Claudio. Let me but move one question to your daughter;
And, by that fatherly and kindly power
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.

Leonato. I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.

Hero. O, God defend me! how am I beset! 1720
What kind of catechising call you this?

Claudio. To make you answer truly to your name.

Hero. Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
With any just reproach?

Claudio. Marry, that can Hero; 1725
Hero itself can blot out Hero's virtue.
What man was he talk'd with you yesternight
Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.

Hero. I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord. 1730

Don Pedro. Why, then are you no maiden. Leonato,
I am sorry you must hear: upon mine honour,
Myself, my brother and this grieved count
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window 1735
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.

Don John. Fie, fie! they are not to be named, my lord,
Not to be spoke of; 1740
There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

Claudio. O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been placed 1745
About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
But fare thee well, most foul, most fair! farewell,
Thou pure impiety and impious purity!
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang, 1750
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.

Leonato. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?

[HERO swoons]

Beatrice. Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down? 1755

Don John. Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.


Benedick. How doth the lady?

Beatrice. Dead, I think. Help, uncle! 1760
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!

Leonato. O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand.
Death is the fairest cover for her shame
That may be wish'd for.

Beatrice. How now, cousin Hero! 1765

Friar Francis. Have comfort, lady.

Leonato. Dost thou look up?

Friar Francis. Yea, wherefore should she not?

Leonato. Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny 1770
The story that is printed in her blood?
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes:
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches, 1775
Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand 1780
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
Who smirch'd thus and mired with infamy,
I might have said 'No part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins'?
But mine and mine I loved and mine I praised 1785
And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her,—why, she, O, she is fallen
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again 1790
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh!

Benedick. Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
I know not what to say. 1795

Beatrice. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!

Benedick. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

Beatrice. No, truly not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

Leonato. Confirm'd, confirm'd! O, that is stronger made 1800
Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.

Friar Francis. Hear me a little; for I have only been 1805
Silent so long and given way unto
This course of fortune [—]
By noting of the lady I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions
To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames 1810
In angel whiteness beat away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear'd a fire,
To burn the errors that these princes hold
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading nor my observations, 1815
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error. 1820

Leonato. Friar, it cannot be.
Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
Is that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury; she not denies it:
Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse 1825
That which appears in proper nakedness?

Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death! 1835

Friar Francis. There is some strange misprision in the princes.

Nor age so eat up my invention, 1845
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
Ability in means and choice of friends, 1850
To quit me of them throughly.

Friar Francis. Pause awhile,
And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead:
Let her awhile be secretly kept in, 1855
And publish it that she is dead indeed;
Maintain a mourning ostentation
And on your family's old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial. 1860

Leonato. What shall become of this? what will this do?

Friar Francis. Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
Change slander to remorse; that is some good:
But not for that dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth. 1865
She dying, as it must so be maintain'd,
Upon the instant that she was accused,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excused
Of every hearer: for it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth 1870
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack'd and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio:
When he shall hear she died upon his words, 1875
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit,
More moving-delicate and full of life, 1880
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she lived indeed; then shall he mourn,
If ever love had interest in his liver,
And wish he had not so accused her,
No, though he thought his accusation true. 1885
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levell'd false,
The supposition of the lady's death 1890
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
As best befits her wounded reputation,
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds and injuries. 1895

Benedick. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:
And though you know my inwardness and love
Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
As secretly and justly as your soul 1900
Should with your body.

Leonato. Being that I flow in grief,
The smallest twine may lead me.

Friar Francis. 'Tis well consented: presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure. 1905
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day
Perhaps is but prolong'd: have patience and endure.

[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE]

Benedick. Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

Beatrice. Yea, and I will weep a while longer. 1910

Benedick. I will not desire that.

Beatrice. You have no reason; I do it freely.

Benedick. Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

Beatrice. Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!

Benedick. Is there any way to show such friendship? 1915

Beatrice. A very even way, but no such friend.

Benedick. May a man do it?

Beatrice. As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.

Benedick. By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me. 1925

Beatrice. Do not swear, and eat it.

Benedick. I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make
him eat it that says I love not you.

Beatrice. Will you not eat your word?

Benedick. With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest 1930
I love thee.

Beatrice. Why, then, God forgive me!

Benedick. What offence, sweet Beatrice?

Beatrice. You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
protest I loved you. 1935

Benedick. And do it with all thy heart.

Beatrice. I love you with so much of my heart that none is
left to protest.

Beatrice. You kill me to deny it. Farewell.

Benedick. Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

Beatrice. You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.

Benedick. Is Claudio thine enemy? 1950

Beatrice. Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands; and then, with public
accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour, 1955
—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
in the market-place.

Benedick. Hear me, Beatrice,—

Beatrice. Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!

Benedick. Nay, but, Beatrice,— 1960

Beatrice. Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.

Benedick. Beat—

Beatrice. Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I 1965
had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a 1970
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.

Benedick. Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.

Beatrice. Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.

Benedick. Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?

Beatrice. Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul. 1975

Benedick. Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him. I will
kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,
Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you
hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your
cousin: I must say she is dead: and so, farewell. 1980


Act IV, Scene 2

A prison.

[Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and] [p]the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO]

Dogberry. Is our whole dissembly appeared?

Verges. O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton. 1985

Sexton. Which be the malefactors?

Dogberry. Marry, that am I and my partner.

Verges. Nay, that's certain; we have the exhibition to examine.

Sexton. But which are the offenders that are to be
examined? let them come before master constable. 1990

Dogberry. Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your
name, friend?

Borachio. Borachio.

Dogberry. Pray, write down, Borachio. Yours, sirrah?

Conrade. I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade. 1995

Dogberry. Write down, master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do
you serve God?

Conrade. [with Borachio] Yea, sir, we hope.

Dogberry. Write down, that they hope they serve God: and
write God first; for God defend but God should go 2000
before such villains! Masters, it is proved already
that you are little better than false knaves; and it
will go near to be thought so shortly. How answer
you for yourselves?

Conrade. Marry, sir, we say we are none. 2005

Dogberry. A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you: but I
will go about with him. Come you hither, sirrah; a
word in your ear: sir, I say to you, it is thought
you are false knaves.

Borachio. Sir, I say to you we are none. 2010

Dogberry. Well, stand aside. 'Fore God, they are both in a
tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?

Sexton. Master constable, you go not the way to examine:
you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.

Dogberry. Yea, marry, that's the eftest way. Let the watch 2015
come forth. Masters, I charge you, in the prince's
name, accuse these men.

First Watchman. This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince's
brother, was a villain.

Dogberry. Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat 2020
perjury, to call a prince's brother villain.

Borachio. Master constable,—

Dogberry. Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look,
I promise thee.

Sexton. What heard you him say else? 2025

Dogberry. Flat burglary as ever was committed.

Verges. Yea, by mass, that it is.

Sexton. What else, fellow? 2030

First Watchman. And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to
disgrace Hero before the whole assembly. and not marry her.

Dogberry. O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting
redemption for this.

Sexton. What else? 2035

Watchman. This is all.

Sexton. And this is more, masters, than you can deny.
Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away;
Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner
refused, and upon the grief of this suddenly died. 2040
Master constable, let these men be bound, and
brought to Leonato's: I will go before and show
him their examination.


Dogberry. Come, let them be opinioned. 2045

Verges. Let them be in the hands—

Conrade. Off, coxcomb!

Dogberry. God's my life, where's the sexton? let him write
down the prince's officer coxcomb. Come, bind them.
Thou naughty varlet! 2050

Conrade. Away! you are an ass, you are an ass.

Dogberry. Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not
suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not 2055
that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of
piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness.
I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer,
and, which is more, a householder, and, which is
more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in 2060
Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a
rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath
had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every
thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
I had been writ down an ass! 2065


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