Study Guide

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing eText - Act II

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Act II

Scene I

[A Hall in Leonato's House]

Enter Leonato; his brother, [Antonio], Hero, his daughter; and Beatrice, his niece and a kinsman.

Enter Prince [Don] Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, [Don] John, [Borachio, Margaret, Ursula, and others, masked.]

[Draws her aside.]

[Takes her aside.]

[They step aside.]

Music for the dance.

Exeunt. [All but Don John, Borachio, and Claudio.]

Exeunt [Don John and Borachio.]

Enter Benedick [unmasked.]

Exit.

Enter [The Prince] Don Pedro.

Enter Claudio, Beatrice, Leonato, and Hero.

Exit.

Exit Beatrice.

Exeunt.

LEONATO:
Was not Count Don John here at supper?
ANTONIO:
I saw him not.
BEATRICE:
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him
but I am heart-burned an hour after.
HERO:
He is of a very melancholy disposition.(5)
BEATRICE:
He were an excellent man that were made just in the
midway between him and Benedick. The one is too like an
image and says nothing, and the other too like my lady's eldest
son, evermore tattling.
LEONATO:
Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count Don(10)
John's mouth, and half Count Don John's melancholy in
Signior Benedick's face—
BEATRICE:
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman in
the world—if 'a could get her good will.(15)
LEONATO:
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband
if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
ANTONIO:
In faith, she's too curst.
BEATRICE:
Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen God's sending
that way, for it is said, ‘God sends a curst cow short(20)
horns’; but to a cow too curst he sends none.
LEONATO:
So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.
BEATRICE:
Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing
I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening.
Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face.(25)
I had rather lie in the woollen!
LEONATO:
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
BEATRICE:
What should I do with him? dress him in my
apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that
hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no(30)
beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth
is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for
him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest of the
bear-ward and lead his apes into hell.
LEONATO:
Well then, go you into hell?(35)
BEATRICE:
No; but to the gate, and there will the devil meet me
like an old cuckold with horns on his head, and say ‘Get
you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven. Here's no
place for you maids.’ So deliver I up my apes, and away
to Saint Peter—for the heavens. He shows me where the(40)
bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is
long.
ANTONIO:
[To Hero] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by
your father.
BEATRICE:
Yes faith. It is my cousin's duty to make courtesy(45)
and say, ‘Father, as it please you.’ But yet for all that,
cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make
another courtesy, and say, ‘Father, as it please me.’
LEONATO:
Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a
husband.(50)
BEATRICE:
Not till God make men of some other metal than
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered
with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her
life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none.
Adam's sons are my brethren, and truly I hold it a sin to(55)
match in my kindred.
LEONATO:
Daughter, remember what I told you. If the prince
do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.
BEATRICE:
The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not
wooed in good time. If the prince be too important, tell(60)
him there is measure in everything, and so dance out the
answer. For, hear me, Hero, wooing, wedding, and
repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a
cinquepace: the first suit is hot and hasty like a Scotch jig—and
full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly modest, as a(65)
measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
repentance and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace
faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
LEONATO:
Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
BEATRICE:
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by(70)
daylight.
LEONATO:
The revellers are entering, brother. Make good room.
DON PEDRO:
Lady, will you walk about with your friend?
HERO:
So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am
yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.(75)
DON PEDRO:
With me in your company?
HERO:
I may say so when I please.
DON PEDRO:
And when please you to say so?
HERO:
When I like your favour, for God defend the lute should
be like the case!(80)
DON PEDRO:
My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is
Jove.
HERO:
Why then, your visor should be thatched.
DON PEDRO:
Speak low if you speak love.
BALTHASAR:
Well, I would you did like me.(85)
MARGARET:
So would not I for your own sake, for I have many ill
qualities.
BALTHASAR:
Which is one?
MARGARET:
I say my prayers aloud.
BALTHASAR:
I love you the better. The hearers may cry Amen.(90)
MARGARET:
God match me with a good dancer!
BALTHASAR:
Amen.
MARGARET:
And God keep him out of my sight when the dance
is done! Answer, clerk.
BALTHASAR:
No more words. The clerk is answered.(95)
URSULA:
I know you well enough. You are Signior Antonio.
ANTONIO:
At a word, I am not.
URSULA:
I know you by the waggling of your head.
ANTONIO:
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
URSULA:
You could never do him so ill-well unless you were the(100)
very man. Here's his dry hand up and down. You are he, you
are he!
ANTONIO:
At a word, I am not.
URSULA:
Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your
excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are(105)
he. Graces will appear, and there's an end.
BEATRICE:
Will you not tell me who told you so?
BENEDICK:
No, you shall pardon me.
BEATRICE:
Nor will you not tell me who you are?
BENEDICK:
Not now.(110)
BEATRICE:
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
out of the Hundred Merry Tales—well, this was Signior
Benedick that said so.
BENEDICK:
What's he?
BEATRICE:
I am sure you know him well enough.(115)
BENEDICK:
Not I, believe me.
BEATRICE:
Did he never make you laugh?
BENEDICK:
I pray you, what is he?
BEATRICE:
Why, he is the prince's jester, a very dull fool. Only
his gift is in devising impossible slanders. None but(120)
libertines delight in him; and the commendation is not in
his wit, but in his villainy; for he both pleases men and
angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat him. I
am sure he is in the fleet. I would he had boarded me.
BENEDICK:
When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you(125)
say.
BEATRICE:
Do, do. He'll but break a comparison or two on me;
which peradventure, not marked or not laughed at,
strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a partridge
wing saved, for the fool will eat no supper that night. We(130)
must follow the leaders.
BENEDICK:
In every good thing.
BEATRICE:
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the
next turning.
DON JOHN:
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath(135)
withdrawn her father to break with him about it. The
ladies follow her and but one visor remains.
BORACHIO:
And that is Claudio. I know him by his bearing.
DON JOHN:
Are you not Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO:
You know me well. I am he.(140)
DON JOHN:
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love.
He is enamoured on Hero. I pray you dissuade him from
her; she is no equal for his birth. You may do the part of
an honest man in it.
CLAUDIO:
How know you he loves her?(145)
DON JOHN:
I heard him swear his affection.
BORACHIO:
So did I too, and he swore he would marry her
tonight.
DON JOHN:
Come, let us to the banquet.
CLAUDIO:
Thus answer I in name of Benedick,(150)
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love.
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;(155)
let every eye negotiate for itself,
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero!(160)
BENEDICK:
Count Claudio?
CLAUDIO:
Yea, the same.
BENEDICK:
Come, will you go with me?
CLAUDIO:
Whither?
BENEDICK:
Even to the next willow, about your own business,(165)
county. What fashion will you wear the garland of? about
your neck, like an usurer's chain? or under your arm, like a
lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way, for the prince
hath got your Hero.
CLAUDIO:
I wish him joy of her.(170)
BENEDICK:
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier. So they
sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would have
served you thus?
CLAUDIO:
I pray you leave me.
BENEDICK:
Ho! now you strike like the blind man! 'Twas the boy(175)
that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.
CLAUDIO:
If it will not be, I'll leave you.
BENEDICK:
Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges.
But, that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know
me! The prince's fool! Ha! it may be I go under that title(180)
because I am merry. Yea, but so I am apt to do myself wrong.
I am not so reputed. It is the base though bitter, disposition
of Beatrice that puts the world into her person and so gives
me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.
DON PEDRO:
Now, signior, where's the count? Did you see(185)
him?
BENEDICK:
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady
Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a
warren. I told him, and I think I told him true, that your
grace had got the good will of this young lady, and I(190)
offered him my company to a willow tree, either to make
him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod,
as being worthy to be whipped.
DON PEDRO:
To be whipped? What's his fault?
BENEDICK:
The flat transgression of a schoolboy who, being(195)
overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion,
and he steals it.
DON PEDRO:
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
transgression is in the stealer.
BENEDICK:
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,(200)
and the garland too; for the garland he might have worn
himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on you,
who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest.
DON PEDRO:
I will but teach them to sing and restore them to
the owner.(205)
BENEDICK:
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,
you say honestly.
DON PEDRO:
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
wronged by you.(210)
BENEDICK:
O, she misused me past the endurance of a block!
An oak but with one green leaf on it would have
answered her; my very visor began to assume life and
scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was duller than(215)
a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such
impossible conveyance upon me that I stood like a man at a
mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks
poniards, and every word stabs. If her breath were as
terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her;(220)
she would infect to the North Star. I would not marry her
though she were endowed with all that Adam had left
him before he transgressed. She would have made
Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club
to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her. You shall find(225)
her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God
some scholar would conjure her, for certainly, while she is
here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and
people sin upon purpose, because they would go thither; so
indeed all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follows her.(230)
DON PEDRO:
Look, here she comes.
BENEDICK:
Will your Grace command me any service to the
world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the
Antipodes that you can devise to send me on; I will fetch
you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch of Asia; bring(235)
you the length of Prester Don John's foot; fetch you a hair
off the great Cham's beard; do you any embassage to the
Pygmies—rather than hold three words' conference with
this harpy. You have no employment for me?
DON PEDRO:
None, but to desire your good company.(240)
BENEDICK:
O God, my lord, here's a dish I love not! I cannot
endure my Lady Tongue.
DON PEDRO:
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior
Benedick.
BEATRICE:
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him(245)
use for it—a double heart for his single one. Marry, once
before he won it of me with false dice; therefore your Grace
may well say I have lost it.
DON PEDRO:
You have put him down, lady; you have put him
down.(250)
BEATRICE:
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should
prove the mother of fools. I have brought Count Claudio,
whom you sent me to seek.
DON PEDRO:
Why, how now, count? Wherefore are you sad?
CLAUDIO:
Not sad, my lord.(255)
DON PEDRO:
How then? sick?
CLAUDIO:
Neither, my lord.
BEATRICE:
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well;
but civil count—civil as an orange, and something of that
jealous complexion.(260)
DON PEDRO:
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though
I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio,
I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won. I have broke
with her father, and his good will obtained. Name the day of
marriage, and God give thee joy!(265)
LEONATO:
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
fortunes. His Grace hath made the match, and all grace
say Amen to it!
BEATRICE:
Speak, count, 'tis your cue.
CLAUDIO:
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little(270)
happy if I could say how much. Lady, as you are mine,
I am yours. I give away myself for you and dote upon the
exchange.
BEATRICE:
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
with a kiss and let not him speak neither.(275)
DON PEDRO:
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
BEATRICE:
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the
windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his ear that he
is in her heart.
CLAUDIO:
And so she doth, cousin.(280)
BEATRICE:
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the
world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner
and cry ‘Heigh-ho for a husband!’
DON PEDRO:
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
BEATRICE:
I would rather have one of your father's getting.(285)
Hath your Grace ne'er a brother like you? Your father got
excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
DON PEDRO:
Will you have me, lady?
BEATRICE:
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working
days: your Grace is too costly to wear every day. But I(290)
beseech your Grace pardon me. I was born to speak all
mirth and no matter.
DON PEDRO:
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry
best becomes you, for out o' question you were born in a
merry hour.(295)
BEATRICE:
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
was a star danced, and under that was I born. Cousins,
God give you joy!
LEONATO:
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
BEATRICE:
I cry you mercy, uncle, By your Grace's pardon.(300)
DON PEDRO:
By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
LEONATO:
There's little of the melancholy element in her, my
lord. She is never sad but when she sleeps; and not ever
sad then; for I have heard my daughter say she hath often
dreamt of unhappiness and waked herself with laughing.(305)
DON PEDRO:
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
LEONATO:
O, by no means! She mocks all her wooers out of suit.
DON PEDRO:
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
LEONATO:
O Lord, my lord! if they were but a week married, they
would talk themselves mad.(310)
DON PEDRO:
County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?
CLAUDIO:
To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love
have all his rites.
LEONATO:
Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence just
sevennight; and a time too brief too, to have all things(315)
answer my mind.
DON PEDRO:
Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing;
but I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by
us. I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labours,
which is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice(320)
into a mountain of affection the one with the other. I would
fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it if you
three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you
direction.
LEONATO:
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights'(325)
watchings.
CLAUDIO:
And I, my lord.
DON PEDRO:
And you too, gentle Hero?
HERO:
I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to
a good husband.(330)
DON PEDRO:
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of a noble strain, of
approved valour, and confirmed honesty. I will teach you
how to humour your cousin, that she shall fall in love with
Benedick; and I, [To Leonato and Claudio] with your two(335)
helps, will so practice on Benedick that, in despite of his
quick wit and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with
Beatrice. If we can do this Cupid is no longer an archer; his
glory shall be ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with
me, and I will tell you my drift.(340)

Scene II

[A Hall in Leonato's House]

Enter [Don] John and Borachio.

[Exeunt.]

DON JOHN:
It is so. The Count Claudio shall marry the daughter
of Leonato.
BORACHIO:
Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.
DON JOHN:
Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me. I am sick in displeasure to him, and(5)
whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with
mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?
BORACHIO:
Not honestly, my lord, but so covertly that no
dishonesty shall appear in me.
DON JOHN:
Show me briefly how.(10)
BORACHIO:
I think I told your lordship, a year since, how
much I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
gentlewoman to Hero.
DON JOHN:
I remember.
BORACHIO:
I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night,(15)
appoint her to look out at her lady's chamber window.
DON JOHN:
What life is in that to be the death of this
marriage?
BORACHIO:
The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that he hath(20)
wronged his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio
whose estimation do you mightily hold up, to a
contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
DON JOHN:
What proof shall I make of that?
BORACHIO:
Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,(25)
to undo Hero, and kill Leonato. Look you for any other
issue?
DON JOHN:
Only to despite them I will endeavour anything.
BORACHIO:
Go then; find a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and
the Count Claudio alone; tell them that you know that(30)
Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the prince
and Claudio, as—in love of your brother's honour, who
hath made this match, and his friend's reputation, who is
thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid—
that you have discovered thus. They will scarcely believe(35)
this without trial. Offer them instances; which shall bear
no less likelihood than to see me at her chamber window,
hear me call Margaret, Hero, hear Margaret term me
Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before
the intended wedding—for in the meantime I will so fashion(40)
the matter that Hero shall be absent—and there shall appear
such seeming truth of Hero's disloyalty that jealousy shall be
called assurance and all the preparation overthrown.
DON JOHN:
Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put it in
practice. Be cunning in the working this, and thy fee is a(45)
thousand ducats.
BORACHIO:
Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
shall not shame me.
DON JOHN:
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.

Scene III

[Leonato's Garden]

Enter Benedick alone.

[Hides.]

Enter Prince [Don Pedro], Leonato, Claudio.

Enter Balthasar with Music.

[Air]

Exit Balthasar

Exeunt [Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato.]

Enter Beatrice.

Exit.

Exit.

BENEDICK:
[Enter Boy.] Boy!
BOY:
Signior?
BENEDICK:
In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it hither to
me in the orchard.
BOY:
I am here already, my lord.(5)
BENEDICK:
I know that, but I would have thee hence and here
again. [Exit Boy.] I do much wonder that one man, seeing
how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his
behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow
follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn(10)
by falling in love; and such a man is Claudio. I have known
when there was no music with him but the drum and the
fife; and now had he rather hear the tabor and the pipe.
I have known when he would have walked ten mile afoot to
see a good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake(15)
carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to
speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a
soldier; and now is he turned orthography; his words are a
very fantastical banquet—just so many strange dishes. May
I be so converted and see with these eyes? I cannot tell; I(20)
think not. I will not be sworn but love may transform me to
an oyster; but I'll take my oath on it, till he have made an
oyster of me he shall never make me such a fool. One
woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am
well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be(25)
in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace.
Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise, or I'll none; 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(30)
hair shall be of what colour it please God. Ha, the prince
and Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.
DON PEDRO:
Come, shall we hear this music?
CLAUDIO:
Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is, as
hushed on purpose to grace harmony!(35)
DON PEDRO:
See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
CLAUDIO:
O, very well, my lord. The music ended, We'll fit the
kid-fox with a pennyworth.
DON PEDRO:
Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.
BALTHASAR:
O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice(40)
To slander music any more than once.
DON 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.
BALTHASAR:
Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;(45)
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet he will swear he loves.
DON PEDRO:
Nay, pray thee, come;
Or, if thou wilt hold no longer argument,(50)
Do it in notes.
BALTHASAR:
Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth noting.
DON PEDRO:
Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing.(55)
BENEDICK:
Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not
strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out of men's
bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all's done.
BALTHASAR:
The Song.
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,(60)
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never:
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,(65)
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heavey;
The fraud of men was ever so,(70)
Since summer first was leavy:
Then sigh not so,&c.
DON PEDRO:
By my troth, a good song.
BALTHASAR:
And an ill singer, my lord.
DON PEDRO:
Ha, no, no, faith! Thou singest well enough for a(75)
shift.
BENEDICK:
[Aside] An he had been a dog that should have
howled thus, they would have hanged him; and I pray God
his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as live have heard the
night raven, come what plague could have come after it.(80)
DON PEDRO:
Yea, marry. Dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee get
us some excellent music; for to-morrow night we would
have it at the Lady Hero's chamber window.
BALTHASAR:
The best I can, my lord.
DON PEDRO:
Do so. Farewell. Come hither, Leonato. What was(85)
it you told me of to-day? that your niece Beatrice was in love
with Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO:
O, ay! [Aside to Don Pedro] Stalk on, stalk on; the
fowl sits.—I did never think that lady would have loved
any man.(90)
LEONATO:
No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all
outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor.
BENEDICK:
[Aside] Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?
LEONATO:
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it,(95)
but that she loves him with an enraged affection. It is past
the infinite of thought.
DON PEDRO:
May be she doth but counterfeit.
CLAUDIO:
Faith, like enough.
LEONATO:
O God, counterfeit? There was never counterfeit of
passion came so near the life of passion as she discovers(100)
it.
DON PEDRO:
Why, what effects of passion shows she?
CLAUDIO:
[Aside] Bait the hook well! This fish will bite.
LEONATO:
What effects, my lord? She will sit you—you heard(105)
my daughter tell you how.
CLAUDIO:
She did indeed.
DON PEDRO:
How, how, I pray you? You amaze me. I would
have thought her spirit had been invincible against all
assaults of affection.(110)
LEONATO:
I would have sworn it had, my lord—especially
against Benedick.
BENEDICK:
[Aside] I should think this a gull but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot, sure,
hide himself in such reverence.(115)
CLAUDIO:
[Aside] He hath ta'en th' infection. Hold it up.
DON PEDRO:
Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?
LEONATO:
No, and swears she never will. That's her torment.
CLAUDIO:
'Tis true indeed. So your daughter says. ‘Shall I,’ says
she, ‘that have so oft encountered him with scorn, write(120)
to him that I love him?’”
LEONATO:
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 sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper. My
daughter tells us all.(125)
CLAUDIO:
Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
pretty jest your daughter told us of.
LEONATO:
O, when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she
found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?
CLAUDIO:
That.(130)
LEONATO:
O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,
railed at herself that she should be so immodest to write
to one that she knew would 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.’(135)
CLAUDIO:
Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses—O sweet
Benedick! God give me patience!'
LEONATO:
She doth indeed; my daughter says so. And the
ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter is(140)
sometime afeard she will do a desperate outrage to herself. It
is very true.
DON PEDRO:
It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other,
if she will not discover it.
CLAUDIO:
To what end? He would make but a sport of it and torment(145)
the poor lady worse.
DON PEDRO:
An he should, it were an alms to hang him! She's an
excellent sweet lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is
virtuous.
CLAUDIO:
And she is exceeding wise.(150)
DON PEDRO:
In everything but in loving Benedick.
LEONATO:
O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath the victory.
I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle and
her guardian.(155)
DON PEDRO:
I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I
would have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you tell Benedick of it and hear what 'a will
say.
LEONATO:
Were it good, think you?(160)
CLAUDIO:
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 accustomed crossness.
DON PEDRO:
She doth well. If she should make tender of her
love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the man, as you(165)
know all hath a contemptible spirit.
CLAUDIO:
He is a very proper man.
DON PEDRO:
He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
CLAUDIO:
Before God! and in my mind, very wise.(170)
DON PEDRO:
He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.
CLAUDIO:
And I take him to be valiant.
DON PEDRO:
As Hector, I assure you; and in the managing of
quarrels you may say he is wise, for either he avoids them
with great discretion, or undertakes them with a most(175)
Christianlike fear.
LEONATO:
If he do fear God, 'a must necessarily keep peace. If he
break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear
and trembling.
DON PEDRO:
And so will he do; for the man doth fear God,(180)
howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests he will make.
Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go seek Benedick
and tell him of her love?
CLAUDIO:
Never tell him, my lord. Let her wear it out with
good counsel.(185)
LEONATO:
Nay, that's impossible; she may wear her heart out
first.
DON 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 himself to see how(190)
much he is unworthy so good a lady.
LEONATO:
My lord, will you walk? Dinner is ready.
CLAUDIO:
If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust
my expectation.
DON PEDRO:
Let there be the same net spread for her, and that(195)
must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The
sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of another's
dotage, and no such matter. That's the scene that I would
see, which will be merely a dumb show. Let us send her
to call him in to dinner.(200)
BENEDICK:
This can be no trick. The conference was sadly
borne; they have the truth of this from Hero; they seem
to pity the lady. It seems her affections have their full
bent. Love me? Why, it must be requited. I hear how I am
censured. They say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive(205)
the love come from her. They say too that she will
rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never
think to marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they
that hear their detractions and can put them to mending.
They say the lady is fair—'tis a truth, I can bear them witness;(210)
and virtuous—'tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise,
but for loving me—by my troth, it is no addition to her
wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly
in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks
and remnants of wit broken on me because I have railed(215)
so long against marriage. But doth not the appetite alter?
A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure
in his age. Shall quips and sentences and these paper
bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his
humour? No, the world must be peopled. When I said
I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I(220)
were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day! she's a
fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in her.
BEATRICE:
Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to
dinner.
BENEDICK:
Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.(225)
BEATRICE:
I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I would not have
come.
BENEDICK:
You take pleasure then in the message?
BEATRICE:
Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point,(230)
and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior?
Fare you well.
BENEDICK:
Ha! ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to
dinner.’ There's a double meaning in that. ‘I took no more
pains for those thanks than you took pains to thank me.’(235)
That's as much as to say, ‘Any pains that I take for you is as
easy as thanks.’ If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if
I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.