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Who, smirched 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-0, 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 !
Bene.

Sir, sir, be patient: For my part

am so attired 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,
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron !
Would the two princes lie ? and Claudio lie?
Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her; let her

die.
Friar. 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 start
Into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear 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.
Leon,

Friar, it cannot be :
Thou see 'st, 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 ?
Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accused

of ? Hero. 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.
Friar. There is some strange misprisicn in the

princes.
Bene. Two of them have the very bert of

honour; 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

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,

a

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.
Friar.

Pause a while,
And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;
Let her a while 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.
Leon. What shall become of this? What will

this do? Friar. 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 be so 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 apparelld 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 levellid 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.
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. Leon.

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

Friar. '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 Friar, Hero, und 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.
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 ?

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 :-I am sorry for my cousin.

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 I will make him eat it that says I love not you.

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.
Beat. Kill Claudio.
Bene. Ha ! not for the wide world.

5

VOL. III.

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