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Leon. 'Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not. Meff. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in these
Beat. You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent ftomach.
Meff. And a good foldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?
Meff. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, ftufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed: (2) he is no less than a stufft man: but for the ftuffing, well, we are all mortal. Leon. You must not, Sir, miftake my Neice; ther 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 laft conflict, 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 horfe; 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 fworn brother.
Me. Is it poffible?
Beat. Very eafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
(2) he is no less than a stufft man: but for the Stuffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this Paffage been all along ftop'd, from the very firft Edition downwards. If any of the Editors could extract Senfe from this Pointing, their Sagacity is a Pitch above mine. I believe, by my Regulation, I have retriev'd the Poet's true Meaning. Our Poet feems to use the Word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Moftellaria; Act. 1. Sc. 3.
Non Veftem amatores mulieris amant, fed Veftis fartum.
Me. I fee, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my Study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? is there no young fquarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Meff. He is moft in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease ; he is fooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will coft him a thoufand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Meff. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Neice.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
Meff. Don Pedro is approach'd.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar and Don John.
Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my houfe in the likeness of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, forrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly: I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you askt her? Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; We may guefs by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathers her felf; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her Father, fhe would not have his head on her shoulders for all Melina, as like him as fhe is. Beat.
Beat. I wonder, that you will ftill be talking, Signior Benedict; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Difdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it poffible, Disdain fhould die, while she hath fuch meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtefie it self must convert to Difdain, if you come in her prefence.
Bene. Then is courtefie a turn-coat; but it is certain, I am lov'd 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.
Beat. A dear happinefs to women; they would elfe have been troubled with a pernicious fuitor. 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 fwear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your ladyfhip ftill in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other shall scape a predeftinate fcratcht face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere fuch a face as yours were.
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beaft of yours.
Bene. I would, my horfe had the speed of your tongue, and fo good a continuer; but keep your way o' God's name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you of old.
Pedro. This is the fum of all: Claudio, and Signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all; I tell him, we fhall ftay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays, fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare fwear, he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you fwear, my Lord, you fhall not be forfworn. Let me bid You welcome, my lord, being reconciled to the prince your brother; I owe you alī duty.
John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Leon. Please it your Grace lead on?
Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together. [Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio. Claud. Benedick, didft thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Claud. Is fhe not a modeft young lady?
Bene. Do you question me, as an honeft man fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me fpeak after my cuftom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their fex?
Claud. No, I pr'ythee, fpeak in fober judgment.
Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks, fhe is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praife; only this commendation I can afford her, that were the other than fhe is, fhe were unhandsome; and being no other but as fhe is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou think'ft, I am in fport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'ft her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?
Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?
Bene. Yea, and a cafe to put it into; but fpeak you this with a fad 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 fhall a man take you to go in the Song?
Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the sweetest lady that I ever look'd on.
Bene. I can fee yet without fpectacles, and I fee no fuch matter; there's her Coufin, if he were not poffest with fuch a Fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the laft of December: but I hope, you have no intent to turn husband, have you?
Claud. I would scarce truft my felf, tho' I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world
one man, but he will wear his cap with fufpicion? shall I never fee a batchelor of threescore again? go to, i'faith, if thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and figh away Sundays: look, Don Pedro is return'd to feek you.
Re-enter Don Pedro and Don John.
Pedro. What Secret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to Leonato's houfe?
Bene. I would, your Grace would constrain me to tell.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be fecret as a dumb man, I would have you think fo; but on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance:
he is in love; with whom? now that is your Grace's part: mark, how fhort his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's fhort daughter.
Claud. If this were fo, fo were it uttered.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not fo, nor 'twas not fo; but, indeed, God forbid it should be fo. Claud. If my paffion change not fhortly, God forbid it fhould be otherwife.
Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the Lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You fpeak this to fetch me in, my Lord.
Claud. And, in faith, my Lord, I spoke mine. Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I fpeak mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Pedro. That he is worthy, I know.
Bene. That I neither feel how fhe fhould be loved, nor know how fhe fhould be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the flake.
Pedro. Thou waft ever an obftinate heretick in the defpight of beauty.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.
Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her;