Act 1: Scene 1
[Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a Messenger]
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.
[Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and BALTHASAR]
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.
[Exeunt all except BENEDICK and CLAUDIO]
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.
[Re-enter DON PEDRO]
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.
Act 2: Scene 1
[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others]
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.
[Drawing her aside]
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.
At a word, I am not.
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.
At a word, I am not.
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.
[Dance. Then exeunt all except DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO]
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.
[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO]
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.
[Re-enter DON PEDRO]
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.
[Enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO]
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.
Act 3: Scene 1
[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA]
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.
[Exeunt HERO and URSULA]
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.
Act 4: Scene 1
Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain
form of marriage, and you shall recount their
particular duties afterwards.
You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady.
To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her.
Lady, you come hither to be married to this count.
If either of you know any inward impediment why you
should not be conjoined, charge you, on your souls,
to utter it.
Know you any, Hero?
None, my lord.
Know you any, count?
I dare make his answer, none.
O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily
do, not knowing what they do!
How now! interjections? Why, then, some be of
laughing, as, ah, ha, he!
Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave:
Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?
As freely, son, as God did give her me.
And what have I to give you back, whose worth
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
Nothing, unless you render her again.
Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour.
Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth
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:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
What do you mean, my lord?
Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.
Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish’d the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity,–
I know what you would say: if I have known her,
You will say she did embrace me as a husband,
And so extenuate the ‘forehand sin:
I never tempted her with word too large;
But, as a brother to his sister, show’d
Bashful sincerity and comely love.
And seem’d I ever otherwise to you?
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
Than Venus, or those pamper’d animals
That rage in savage sensuality.
Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?
Sweet prince, why speak not you?
What should I speak?
I stand dishonour’d, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.
Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
This looks not like a nuptial.
True! O God!
Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the prince? is this the prince’s brother?
Is this face Hero’s? are our eyes our own?
All this is so: but what of this, my lord?
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.
I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
O, God defend me! how am I beset!
What kind of catechising call you this?
To make you answer truly to your name.
Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
With any just reproach?
Marry, that can Hero;
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.
I talk’d with no man at that hour, my lord.
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
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess’d the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.
Fie, fie! they are not to be named, my lord,
Not to be spoke of;
There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been placed
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,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.
Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?
Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down?
Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.
[Exeunt DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, and CLAUDIO]
How doth the lady?
Dead, I think. Help, uncle!
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand.
Death is the fairest cover for her shame
That may be wish’d for.
How now, cousin Hero!
Have comfort, lady.
Dost thou look up?
Yea, wherefore should she not?
Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
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,
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
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
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
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh!
Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
I know not what to say.
O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
No, truly not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made
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.
Hear me a little; for I have only been
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
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,
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.
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
That which appears in proper nakedness?
Lady, what man is he you are accused of?
They know that do accuse me; I know none:
If I know more of any man alive
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father,
Prove you that any man with me conversed
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!
There is some strange misprision in the princes.
Two of them have the very bent of honour;
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practise of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies.
I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
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,
To quit me of them throughly.
And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead:
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
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.
What shall become of this? what will this do?
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.
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
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,
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,
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.
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
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.
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
Should with your body.
Being that I flow in grief,
The smallest twine may lead me.
‘Tis well consented: presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day
Perhaps is but prolong’d: have patience and endure.
[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE]
Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
I will not desire that.
You have no reason; I do it freely.
Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!
Is there any way to show such friendship?
A very even way, but no such friend.
May a man do it?
It is a man’s office, but not yours.
I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is
not that strange?
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.
By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
Do not swear, and eat it.
I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make
him eat it that says I love not you.
Will you not eat your word?
With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest
I love thee.
Why, then, God forgive me!
What offence, sweet Beatrice?
You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
protest I loved you.
And do it with all thy heart.
I love you with so much of my heart that none is
left to protest.
Come, bid me do any thing for thee.
Ha! not for the wide world.
You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
you: nay, I pray you, let me go.
In faith, I will go.
We’ll be friends first.
You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.
Is Claudio thine enemy?
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,
–O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
in the market-place.
Hear me, Beatrice,–
Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!
Nay, but, Beatrice,–
Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.
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
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
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.
Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.
Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.
Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?
Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.
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.
[Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and]
the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO]
Act 5: Scene 1
[Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO]
If you go on thus, you will kill yourself:
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
As water in a sieve: give not me counsel;
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine.
Bring me a father that so loved his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm’d like mine,
And bid him speak of patience;
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form:
If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
Bid sorrow wag, cry ‘hem!’ when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk
With candle-wasters; bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.
But there is no such man: for, brother, men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air and agony with words:
No, no; ’tis all men’s office to speak patience
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel:
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood;
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
There thou speak’st reason: nay, I will do so.
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied;
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince
And all of them that thus dishonour her.
Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.
[Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO]
Good den, good den.
Good day to both of you.
Hear you. my lords,–
We have some haste, Leonato.
Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord:
Are you so hasty now? well, all is one.
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
If he could right himself with quarreling,
Some of us would lie low.
Who wrongs him?
Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou:–
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
I fear thee not.
Marry, beshrew my hand,
If it should give your age such cause of fear:
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.
Tush, tush, man; never fleer and jest at me:
I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
As under privilege of age to brag
What I have done being young, or what would do
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wrong’d mine innocent child and me
That I am forced to lay my reverence by
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child;
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
And she lies buried with her ancestors;
O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, framed by thy villany!
Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.
You say not right, old man.
My lord, my lord,
I’ll prove it on his body, if he dare,
Despite his nice fence and his active practise,
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
Away! I will not have to do with you.
Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill’d my child:
If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
He shall kill two of us, and men indeed:
But that’s no matter; let him kill one first;
Win me and wear me; let him answer me.
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me:
Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Content yourself. God knows I loved my niece;
And she is dead, slander’d to death by villains,
That dare as well answer a man indeed
As I dare take a serpent by the tongue:
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!
Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,–
Scrambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go anticly, show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
And this is all.
But, brother Antony,–
Come, ’tis no matter:
Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.
Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter’s death:
But, on my honour, she was charged with nothing
But what was true and very full of proof.
My lord, my lord,–
I will not hear you.
No? Come, brother; away! I will be heard.
And shall, or some of us will smart for it.
[Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO]
See, see; here comes the man we went to seek.
Now, signior, what news?
Good day, my lord.
Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part
almost a fray.
We had like to have had our two noses snapped off
with two old men without teeth.
Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had
we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.
In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came
to seek you both.
We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are
high-proof melancholy and would fain have it beaten
away. Wilt thou use thy wit?
It is in my scabbard: shall I draw it?
Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?
Never any did so, though very many have been beside
their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the
minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.
As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
sick, or angry?
What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat,
thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you
charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.
Nay, then, give him another staff: this last was
By this light, he changes more and more: I think
he be angry indeed.
If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
Shall I speak a word in your ear?
God bless me from a challenge!
[Aside to CLAUDIO] You are a villain; I jest not:
I will make it good how you dare, with what you
dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will
protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet
lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me
hear from you.
Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.
What, a feast, a feast?
I’ faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a calf’s
head and a capon; the which if I do not carve most
curiously, say my knife’s naught. Shall I not find
a woodcock too?
Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
I’ll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the
other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit: ‘True,’
said she, ‘a fine little one.’ ‘No,’ said I, ‘a
great wit:’ ‘Right,’ says she, ‘a great gross one.’
‘Nay,’ said I, ‘a good wit:’ ‘Just,’ said she, ‘it
hurts nobody.’ ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘the gentleman
is wise:’ ‘Certain,’ said she, ‘a wise gentleman.’
‘Nay,’ said I, ‘he hath the tongues:’ ‘That I
believe,’ said she, ‘for he swore a thing to me on
Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning;
there’s a double tongue; there’s two tongues.’ Thus
did she, an hour together, transshape thy particular
virtues: yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou
wast the properest man in Italy.
For the which she wept heartily and said she cared
Yea, that she did: but yet, for all that, an if she
did not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly:
the old man’s daughter told us all.
All, all; and, moreover, God saw him when he was
hid in the garden.
But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns on
the sensible Benedick’s head?
Yea, and text underneath, ‘Here dwells Benedick the
Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave
you now to your gossip-like humour: you break jests
as braggarts do their blades, which God be thanked,
hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank
you: I must discontinue your company: your brother
the bastard is fled from Messina: you have among
you killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord
Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet: and, till
then, peace be with him.
He is in earnest.
In most profound earnest; and, I’ll warrant you, for
the love of Beatrice.
And hath challenged thee.
What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!
He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a
doctor to such a man.
But, soft you, let me be: pluck up, my heart, and
be sad. Did he not say, my brother was fled?
[Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO]
Come you, sir: if justice cannot tame you, she
shall ne’er weigh more reasons in her balance: nay,
an you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.
How now? two of my brother’s men bound! Borachio
Hearken after their offence, my lord.
Officers, what offence have these men done?
Marry, sir, they have committed false report;
moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily,
they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have
belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust
things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.
First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I
ask thee what’s their offence; sixth and lastly, why
they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay
to their charge.
Rightly reasoned, and in his own division: and, by
my troth, there’s one meaning well suited.
Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus
bound to your answer? this learned constable is
too cunning to be understood: what’s your offence?
Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine answer:
do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have
deceived even your very eyes: what your wisdoms
could not discover, these shallow fools have brought
to light: who in the night overheard me confessing
to this man how Don John your brother incensed me
to slander the Lady Hero, how you were brought into
the orchard and saw me court Margaret in Hero’s
garments, how you disgraced her, when you should
marry her: my villany they have upon record; which
I had rather seal with my death than repeat over
to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my
master’s false accusation; and, briefly, I desire
nothing but the reward of a villain.
Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
I have drunk poison whiles he utter’d it.
But did my brother set thee on to this?
Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.
He is composed and framed of treachery:
And fled he is upon this villany.
Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I loved it first.
Come, bring away the plaintiffs: by this time our
sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter:
and, masters, do not forget to specify, when time
and place shall serve, that I am an ass.
Here, here comes master Signior Leonato, and the
[Re-enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, with the Sexton]
Which is the villain? let me see his eyes,
That, when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him: which of these is he?
If you would know your wronger, look on me.
Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill’d
Mine innocent child?
Yea, even I alone.
No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself:
Here stand a pair of honourable men;
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death:
Record it with your high and worthy deeds:
‘Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.
I know not how to pray your patience;
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn’d I not
But in mistaking.
By my soul, nor I:
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he’ll enjoin me to.
I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
That were impossible: but, I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour ought in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb
And sing it to her bones, sing it to-night:
To-morrow morning come you to my house,
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew: my brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,
And she alone is heir to both of us:
Give her the right you should have given her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.
O noble sir,
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
I do embrace your offer; and dispose
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
Who I believe was pack’d in all this wrong,
Hired to it by your brother.
No, by my soul, she was not,
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
But always hath been just and virtuous
In any thing that I do know by her.
Moreover, sir, which indeed is not under white and
black, this plaintiff here, the offender, did call
me ass: I beseech you, let it be remembered in his
punishment. And also, the watch heard them talk of
one Deformed: they say be wears a key in his ear and
a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God’s
name, the which he hath used so long and never paid
that now men grow hard-hearted and will lend nothing
for God’s sake: pray you, examine him upon that point.
I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.
Your worship speaks like a most thankful and
reverend youth; and I praise God for you.
There’s for thy pains.
God save the foundation!
Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.
I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I
beseech your worship to correct yourself, for the
example of others. God keep your worship! I wish
your worship well; God restore you to health! I
humbly give you leave to depart; and if a merry
meeting may be wished, God prohibit it! Come, neighbour.
[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES]
Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.
Farewell, my lords: we look for you to-morrow.
We will not fail.
To-night I’ll mourn with Hero.
[To the Watch] Bring you these fellows on. We’ll
talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.