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virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her: fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not near me;' noble, or not I for an angel ; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her * hair shall be of what colour it please God: Ha! the Prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour. (Withdraws.
Enter Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio, and Balthazar.
evening is, As hulh'd on purpose to grace harmony!
Pedro. See you were Benedick hath hid himself? Claud. O very well, my lord; the music ended, We'll fit the hid fox with a penny-worth.
Pedro. Come, Balthazar, we'll hear that Song again.
Balth. O good my lord, tax not so bad a voice To slander music any more than once.
Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency, To put a strange face on his own perfection ; I pray thee, sing; and let me woo no more.
Balth. Because you talk of wooing, I will fing;
Pedro. Nay, pray thee, come ;
notes, There's not a note of mine, that's worth the noting.
Pedro. Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks, Note, notes, forsooth, and noting.
* and her hair shall be of what colour it please Godo] i. e. She shall not discolour it; hinting at the Fashion of discolouring their Hair, by Art, when it was not of the Colour in esteem, Vol. II,
Bene. Now, divine air; now is his soul ravish'd! is it not ftrange, that sheeps guts fhould hale fouls out of men's bodies?, well, a horn for my money, when all's done.
The S O N G.
Men were deceivers ever ;
To one thing constant never:
And be you blith and bonny;
sounds of woe
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
Since summer was first leafy:
Pedro. Ha, no; no, faith; thou fing'st well enough for a shift.
Bene. If he had been a dog, that should have howl'd thus, they would have hang'd him; and, I pray God, his bad voice bode no mischief: I had as sief' have heard the night-raven, come what plague could have come after it.
Pedro. Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some excellent music : for tomorrow night we would have it at the lady Hero's chamber-window. Balth. The best I can, my
lord. Exit Balthazar. Pedro. Do fo : farewel.
Come hither, Leonato;
Italk on, the fowl fits. I did never think, that lady would have loved any
Leon. No, nor I neither; but most wonderful, that she should so doat on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seem'd ever to abhor. Bene. Is't possible, fits the wind in that corner?
[Aside. Leon. By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it; but that she loves him with an inraged affe&ion,-it is past the definite of thought.
Pedro. May be, she doth but counterfeit.
Leon. O God! counterfeit? there was never coun. terfeit of passion came so near the life of passion, as The discovers it.
Pedro. Why, what effects of passion shews she?
[Aside. Leon. What effects, my lord ? she will fit you, you heard my daughter tell you how.
Claud. She did, indeed.
Pedro. How, how, I pray you? you amaze me : I would have thought, her fpirit had been invincible against all assaults of affedion.
Leon. I would have sworn, it had, my lord; especially against Benedick.
Bene. [Aside.] I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it; knavery cannot, fure, hide himself in such reverence. Claud. He hath ta'en th' infection, hold it up,
(Afide. Pedro. Hath she made her affection known to Benedick ?
Leon. No, and swears she never will; that's her torment.
Claud. 'Tis true, indeed, so your daughter says: shall I, says she, that have so oft encounter'd him with scorn, write to him that I love him?
Leon. This says she now, when she is beginning to write to him ; for she'll be up twenty times a night,
and there will she fit in her smock, 'till she have writ a sheet of paper; my daughter tells us all.
Claud. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of.
Leon. O, when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet.
Leon. * 0, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence; rail'd at herself, that she should be so immodeft, to write to one that, she knew, wou'd flout her: I measure him, says she, by my own Spirit, for I should flout him if he writ to me; yea, though I love him, I should.
Claud. Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; O sweet Benedick ! God give me patience!
Leon. She doth, indeed, my daughter says so; and the ecstasy hath so much overborne her, that my daughter is sometime afraid, she will do desperate outrage to herself; it is very true.
Pedro. It were good, that Benedick knew of it by some other, if she will not discover it.
Claud. To what end? he would but make a sport of it, and torment the poor lady worse.
Pedro. If he should, it were an Alms to hang him; she’s an excellent sweet lady, and (out of all suspicion) she is virtuous.
Claud. And she is exceeding wise.
Leon. O my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one, that blood hath the vi&ory; I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
Pedro. I would, she had bestow'd this dotage on me; I would have dafft all.other respects, and made
* 0, she tore the letter into a thousand half-pence ;] i. e. into a thoufand Pieces of the same Bigness.
her half myself; I pray you,
teli Benedick of it ; and hear what he will say.
Leon. Were it good, think you?
Claud. Hero thinks, surely she will die; for she says, she will die if he love her not, and she will die ere she make her love known; and she will die if he woo her, rather than she will bate one breath of her accustom'd croflness.
Pedro. She doth well; if she should make tender of her love, 'tis very possible, he'll scorn it; for the man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
Claud. He is a very proper man.
Pedro. He doth, indeed, shew some sparks that are like wit.
Leon. And I take him to be valiant.
Pedro. As Hektor, I assure you ; and in the managing of quarrels you may say he is wife; for either he avoids with great discretion, or undertakes them with a christian-like fear.
Leon. If he do fear God, he must necessarily keep peace ; if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling,
Pedro. And so will he do, for the man doth fear God, howsoever it seems not in him, by some large jefts he will make. Well, I am sorry for your Neice: shall we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?
Claud. Never tell him, my lord; let her wear it with good counsel.
Leon. Nay, that's impossible, she may wear her heart out first.
Pedro. Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter; let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I could wish he would modestly examine himfelf, to see how much he is unworthy to have so good a lady: Leon. My Lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.