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Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no

faces truer than those that are so wash'd. How
much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at

Beat. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto return'd from

the wars or no? Mess. I know none of that name, lady. There was

none such in the army of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of

Mess. O, he's return'd; and as pleasant as ever he

Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina and

challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's
fool, reading the challenge, subscrib'd for Cupid,
and challeng'd him at the bird-bolt. I pray you,

hath he kill'd and eaten in these wars?
But how many hath he kill'd? for indeed I prom-

ised to eat all of his killing. Leon. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too

much; but he 'll be meet with you, I doubt it

Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat

it. He is a very valiant trencher-man; he hath an
excellent stomach.




26. kind - natural. Various instances. 'Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,' Lucr. 1423.

kind (with quibble). 'A little more than kin, and less than kind,' Hml. i.2.65. 'Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly, Lear i.5.15.

shall not myself, One of their kind, be kindlier mov'd than thou art?' Temp. v.1.23.

27. washed. Probably with quibble on wash cosmetic. 'And when was he wont to wash his face? .... Yea, or to paint himself?' Ado iii. 2.56. (There is a figure drawn from the laying on of colors in Wint. v.3.49.)

faces truer (with quibble). But there is never a fair woman has a true face,' Ant. ii . 6. 104.

30. Mountanto. An ironical appellation, from a fencing term. 'To see thee fight, to see thee foin, to see thee pass thy punto, thy stock, thy reverse, thy distance, thy montant,' Wiv. ii.3.24.

33. sort. See line 7 above and note.
34. what = who. Frequent. Ado ii. 1.137, 141, etc.
37. pleasant = facetious. Frequent

..... pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection,' LLL v.1.4. 39. bill document, placard. 'Three proper young men

With bills on their necks, “Be it known unto all men by these presents, As i. 2. 129. Etc. Beatrice's


2H4 iv.5.84

All'si. 1.54

H8 v.3.175


27] Warwick. Washing with kindly tears his

gentle cheeks.

[Of Prince Henry mourning for his father.]
Lafeu. Your commendations, madam, get from her

Countess. 'T is the best brine a maiden can season

her praise in
28] King. Good man, those joyful tears show thy true

43-52] Helena. . You must needs be born under Mars.

Parolles. When he was predominant.
Helena. When he was retrograde, I think, rather.
Parolles. Why think you so ?

Helena. You go so much backward when you fight. 43-45] Rambures. He longs to eat the English.

Constable. I think he will eat all he kills.
51] Talbot. For soldiers' stomachs always serve them

Constable. they have only stomachs to eat

[blocks in formation]

and none to fight.

H5 iii.7.165

speech as a whole presents difficulties. The early commentators appear to have assumed an actual setting up of bills. Furness rightly declared this to be absurd, saying that Benedick had simply “aired his assurance that he was loved of all women." But he had to admit that "this does not account for the Court Fool.” It has seemed to me just possible that by 'my uncle's fool Beatrice means herself, in her generally recog. nized capacity as a 'pleasant-spirited lady' (ii. 1.355; she calls her heart 'poor fool,' 1.1.326). She had certainly led Benedick into a merry war. It is more probable, however, that she has dragged the fool into her pleasant fiction for the sake of the witticism about the bird-bolt, which, she intimates, is the only kind of shaft that Benedick is capable of handling. See note on bird-bolt below.

40. Aight=flight-shooting (with light, long-distance arrows). Here only; but compare : .... when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the self-same flight The self-same way, Merch. i.1.140.

42. bird-bolt = a short, blunt arrow, allowed to boys ("Cupid's butt-shaft,' LLL 1.2.181; Rom. ii .4.16); metaphorical for pointless, harmless wit—the “fool's bolt” of the proverb, “A fool's bolt is soon shot.” Twice elsewhere. Biron, discovering the King to be love-smitten, says, 'Shot, by heaven! Proceed, sweet Cupid : thou hast thump'd him with thy bird-bolt under the left pap,' LLL iv.3.23. In the other instance, we have the metaphorical sense: 'To be generous, guiltless and of free disposition, is to take those things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon-bullets: there is no slander in an allow'd fool,' Twel. i.5.98. 46. tax = inveigh against, reproach. Frequent.

she 'll tax him home,' Hml. iii. 3.29. ! . . . so many giddy offences as he hath generally tax'd their whole sex withal,' As iii . 2.366.

47. meet with = even with. Here only. 50. victual. Singular form here only.

51. trencher-man. Here only. Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some Dick,' LLL v.2.464. 'You fools of fortune, trencher-friends, time's flies, Cap-andknee slaves, vapours, and minute-jacks !' Tim. iii. 6.106.



Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady. But what is he

to a lord ?
Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuff'd with

all honourable virtues. Beat. It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuff'd

man. But for the stuffing, — well, we are all

Leon. 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 between them.
Beat. Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last con-

flict four of his five wits went halting off, and
now is the whole man govern'd 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



54. to = in comparison with (to a is a strained pun on too preceding). Various instances. 'Laura to his lady was a kitchen-wench,' Rom. ii .4.41. Cp. Ado v.1.205. (For the whole passage, cp. Barry's Ram Alley iv: 2, "What is he for a man ?Nothing for a man, but much for a beast.") The poor jest here, in which to a reports for the ear the too plus a slight pause in the preceding speech, might be called the "jest of misconstruction.” Cp. Dost thou hear, my honest friend ?—No, I hear not your honest friend; I hear you,' Oth. iii .1.22; etc.

59. stuffing. Noun here only. Beatrice proceeds at once to give the words stuff and stuffing their contemptuous connotation, and by stuffed man almost certainly means a mere stuffed figure or form of man (compare, though in a very different connection, 'Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form,' John iii. 4.97). So Theobald and Furness understand it. Wright's reference of stuffing back to the idea in trencherman detracts from the nimbleness of Beatrice's wit.

62. a kind of merry war. '. ... This kind of merry fooling,' Temp. ii. 1.177.

63. a skirmish of wit. 'This civil war of wits,' LLL ï.1.226. '.... this keen encounter of wits,' R3 i.2. 115.

skirmish. Elsewhere only in [116 1.2.34; i.4.69).

66. five wits. Rom. 1.4.47; ii.4.78; Lear iïi. 4.58; ïïi.6.60. 'But my five wits nor my five senses can Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,' Sonn. 141.9. ‘Alas, sir, how fell you besides your five wits?' Twel. iv.2.92.

halting off. Once elsewhere. 'To serve bravely is to come halting off, you know,' 2H4 ii.4.54.

69. difference distinguishing mark (perhaps as in heraldry). 'O, you must wear your rue with a difference,' Hml. iv.5.183.

70. wealth. Hammer changed to wearth, but compare: 'Wilt thou show the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant?' Merch. iii . 5.61.


All's ii.3.201

54–56] Lafeu. Are you companion to the Count Rousillon?

Parolles. To any count, to all counts, to what is man. 56] Capulet. A gentleman of noble parentage,

Rom. iii. 5.181

Stuff'd, as they say, with honourable parts.
First Gentleman.

... I do not think

Cym. i.1.22 So fair an outward and such [sc. noble] stuff


Endows a man but he. 59-60] Portia. God made him, and therefore let him pass Merch. i. 2.60

for a man.
Robin Goodfellow. Lord, what fools these mortals Mids. iii. 2.115

Anne. What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid ? R3 i.2.43

Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal.
[This, though without Beatrice's raillery, comes

nearest her insinuation of cowardice.] 68] Petruchio. Am I not wise?

Shrew ii. 1.267
Katherina. Yes; keep you warm.
Bottom. ....if I had wit enough to get out of this Mids. iii. 1.152

wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.
Maria. . . . . If I do not gull him into a nayword, Twel, ii.3. 144

and make him a common recreation, do not
think I have wit enough to lie straight in my bed.

Thersites. I say, this Ajax .... Has not so much Troil. ii. 1.85

wit .... As will stop the eye of Helen's needle. Thersites. I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holi- Troil. ii.1.17

ness; but I think thy horse will sooner con an

oration than thou learn a prayer without book.
Achilles. Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him Troil. ii. 3.307

Thersites. Let me carry another to his horse; for

that's the more capable creature. 71] Autolycus. My clown, who wants but something to Wint. iv. 4.615

be a reasonable man.


71. to be known= by which to be known. A not uncommon ellipsis. ': ... has he with him to Supply his life,' Tim. iv .2.46.

reasonable creature = man. Cp. Overbury (Characters, “A Wise Man"): "The true definition of man, that is, a reasonable creature.



companion now? He hath every month a new

sworn brother. Mess. Is 't possible? Beat. Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as

the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the

next block. Mess. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your

Beat. 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 ?
Mess. He is most in the company of the right noble

Beat. 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 pounds ere 'a be cur'd.
Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Mess. Don Pedro is approach'd.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and

John the Bastard.




73. sworn brother. Alluding to the fratres jurati of chivalry. Various instances. .... they shook hands and swore brothers,' As v.4.107.

77. block. Once elsewhere in this sense. 'This a good block,' Lear iv.6.187. "The blocke for his [the Englishman's] heade alters faster than the Feltmaker can

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