Page images


Leon. Take their examination yourself, and bring it me: I am now in great haste, as may appear unto you.

we would have them this morning examined | Comes not that blood as modest evidence
before your worship.
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 : 40
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
Leon. What do you mean, my lord?

Dogb. It shall be suffigance.

Leon. Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.

[blocks in formation]

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

Claud. Know you any, Hero?
Hero. None, my lord.

Fri. Know you any, count?

Leon. I dare make his answer; none. Claud. O! what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do, not knowing what they do! Bene. How now! Interjections? Why then, some be of laughing, as, ah! ha! he!


Claud. Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your

Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?

Leon. As freely, son, as God did give her me.
Claud. And what have I to give you back,
whose worth

May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
D. Pedro. Nothing, unless you render her again.
Claud. Sweet prince, you learn me noble


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 çunning sin cover itself withal.

Not to be married,

Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.
Leon. Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity,-

Claud. I know what you would say: if I have
known her,

You'll say she did embrace me as a husband,
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.
Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?
Claud. Out on thee! Seeming! will write

[blocks in formation]

Bene. This looks not like a nuptial.

Claud. Leonato, stand I here?

True! O God!

Is this the prince? Is this the prince's brother?
Is this face Hero's? Are our eyes our own? 1
Leon. All this is so; but what of this, my lord?
Claud. Let me but move one question to your

And, by that fatherly and kindly power
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.

Leon. I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
Hero. O God defend me! how am I beset!
What kind of catechising call you this?

Claud. To make you answer truly to your name.
Hero. Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
With any just reproach?

Marry, that can Hero: 81
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

D. Pedro. Why, then are you no maiden.

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, 91
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,

D. John. Fie, fie! they are not to be nam'd, | Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron. my lord,

Not to be spoke of;

Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie,
Who lov'd her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her, let her die.
Fri. Hear me a little ;

There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been placed 101
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.

Leon. Hath no man's dagger here a point for
HERO Swoons.
Beat. Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink
you down?


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

Exeunt Don PEDRO, Don JOHN, and

Bene. How doth the lady?
Dead, I think help, uncle!
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick!

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

Fri. Have comfort, lady.
Leon. Dost thou look up?
Yea; wherefore should she not?
Leon. 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 would'st not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy

Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Griev'd 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 smirched thus, and mir'd with infamy,
I might have said, 'No part of it is mine,
This shame derives itself from unknown loins'?
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
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.

[ocr errors]

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


If I know more of any man alive

How now, cousin Hero! Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father! 180
Prove you that any man with me convers'd
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

Fri. There is some strange misprision in the

Bene. Two of them have the very bent of

And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies.


Leon. I know not. If they speak but truth of her, These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honou

Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,
I know not what to say.

Beat. O! on my soul, my cousin is belied.
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
Beat. No, truly not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
Leon. Confirm'd, confirm'd! O! that is
stronger made


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 tenour 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. 170
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 ?
Fri. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?
Hero. They know that do accuse me, I know

[blocks in formation]

But not for that dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth.
She dying, as it must be so maintain'd,
Upon the instant that she was accus'd,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excus'd
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 liv'd 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, 240
As best befits her wounded reputation,
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.

Bene. 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.
Fri. 'Tis well consented: presently away,
For to strange sores strangely they strain the


Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day Perhaps is but prolong'd: have patience and endure.

Exeunt Friar, HERO, and LEONATO. Bene. Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

Beat. Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
Bene. I will not desire that.

I will make him eat it that says I love not


Beat. Will you not eat your word?


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

Beat. Why then, God forgive me!

Bene. What offence, sweet Beatrice?
Beat. You have stayed me in a happy hour:
I was about to protest I loved you.

Bene. And do it with all thy heart.

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

Bene. Come, bid me do any thing for thee. 290
Beat. Kill Claudio.

Bene. Ha! not for the wide world.

Beat. You kill me to deny it.


Bene. Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

Beat. I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in you: nay, I pray you, let me go. Bene. Beatrice,-

Beat. In faith, I will go.

Bene. We'll be friends first.

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


Bene. Is Claudio thine enemy?

Beat. 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 marketplace.


Bene. Hear me, Beatrice,

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

Bene. Nay, but, Beatrice,

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

Bene. Beat

Beat. 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.

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

Beat. You have no reason; I do it freely. Bene. Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.


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

Bene. Is there any way to show such friendship?
Beat. A very even way, but no such friend.
Bene. May a man do it?

Beat. It is a man's office, but not yours. Bene. I do love nothing in the world so well as you is not that strange? 269 Beat. 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. Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; I am sorry for my cousin,

SCENE II.-A Prison.

Bene. By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
Beat. Do not swear by it, and eat it.
Bene. I will swear by it that you love me

and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.
Dogb. Is our whole dissembly appeared?
Verg. O a stool and a cushion for the sexton.

; and

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


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

Beat. Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul. Bene. 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. Exeunt. 310

Sexton. Which be the malefactors? Dogb. Marry, that am I and my partner. Verg. 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.

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


Bora. Borachio.

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

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

Dogb. Write down Master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do you serve God?

Con., Bora. Yea, sir, we hope.


Dogb. Write down, that they hope they serve God and write God first; for God defend but God should go 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?

Con. Marry, sir, we say we are none.

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


Bora. Sir, I say to you we are none. Dogb. Well, stand aside. 'Fore God, they are both in a tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?

[blocks in formation]

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

Con. Away! you are an ass; you are an ass. Dogb. 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 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 in 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! Exeunt.


SCENE I.--Before LEONATO's House. Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO.

Ant. If you go on thus, you will kill yourself; And 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief Against yourself. Leon. I 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 lov'd 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 20
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.

Ant. Therein do men from children nothing differ.

Leon. I pray thee, peace! I will be flesh and blood;


For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the tooth-ache patiently
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Ant. Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
Make those that do offend you suffer too,

Leon. 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.

Enter Don PEDRO and CLAUDIO.
Ant. Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.
D. Pedro. Good den, good den.
Good day to both of you.

Leon. Hear you, my lords,-
D. Pedro. We have some haste, Leonato.
Leon. Some haste, my lord! well, fare you
well, my lord:

Are you so hasty now? well, all is one.
D. Pedro. Nay, do not quarrel with us, good
old man.


Ant. If he could right himself with quarrelling, Some of us would lie low.


Who wrongs him? Leon. 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.
Leon. Tush, tush, man! never fleer and jest at



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

Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me
That I am forc'd 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

And she lies buried with her ancestors;
O! in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, fram'd by thy villany.
Claud. My villany?

Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.
D. Pedro. 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 practice,
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.

Claud. Away! I will not have to do with you.
Leon. Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast
kill'd my child:

If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.

Ant. He shall kill two of us, and men indeed: But that's no matter; let him kill one first; 81 Win me and wear me; let him answer me. Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me.

Ant. Hold you content. What, man! I know
them, yea,

And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple:
Scambling, outfacing, fashion-mong'ring 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
And this is all!

Leon. But, brother Antony.-

Come, 'tis no matter:
Do not you meddle, let me deal in this.
D. Pedro. Gentlemen both, we will not wake
your patience.

My heart is sorry for your daughter's death;
But, on my honour, she was charg'd with nothing
But what was true and very full of proof.
Leon. My lord, my lord,-
D. Pedro.

I will not hear you.

Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.

Come, brother, away.
Ant. And shall, or

Leon. Brother,

Ant. Content yourself. God knows I lov'd

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!
Brother Antony,-



D. Pedro. Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part almost a fray.

Claud. We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth.

D. Pedro. Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.

Bene. In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came to seek you both.


Claud. 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 70 thy wit?


I will be heard. me of us will smart for it. Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO,

[blocks in formation]

Bene. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.

Claud. Nay then, give him another staff: this last was broke cross.

D. Pedro. By this light, he changes more and more: I think he be angry indeed.


Claud. If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.

Bene. Shall I speak a word in your ear? Claud. God bless me from a challenge! Bene. 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.



Bene. It is in my scabbard; shall I draw it? D. Pedro. Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side? Claud. 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.

D. Pedro. As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou sick, or angry?


Claud. What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.

« PreviousContinue »