[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Mess. But few of any sort," and none of name.

Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that don Pedro* hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.

Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.

Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.

Leon. Did he break out into tears?

Mess. In great measure.

Leon. A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping!

Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto1' returned from the wars, or not

Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort.0

Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?

Iieho. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.

Mess. O, he is returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beat. He set up his bills(l) here in Messina, and challenged Cupid at the flight: and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt.(2)—I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.

Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

(*) Old text, Peter.

» but few of any sort, and none of name.] It ir.ny be questionable whether any tort, in this instance, is to be ui der.-trcd in the ordinary in-nse we attach to it, of any kind, Vt drscriptioni or whether it means any of rank, or distinction: but every one acquainted with our early literature is aware that sort was commonly used—a* in a subsequent speech of the same character, "there was none such in the army of any sort"—to imply stoma, degree, quality, Ike. Thus, in Ben Jonson's " Every Man out of his Humour," Act II. Sc. 6 :—" Look you, sir, you presume to be a gentleman of sorts." Again, in the same author's " Every Man in his Humour," Act I. Sc. 1-—"A gentleman of your sort, parts," &c. And in "Ram Alley." Act IV. Sc. 1:—"Her husband is a gentleman of sorts." "A gentleman of sort 1 why, what care it"

b Montanto—] A term borrowed from the Italian schools of

fence:—" your pnnto, your reverse your stoccata, your

imbio'-ata, your passada, your Montant"."~E\eiy Man in his Humour.

c Of any sort.] See note

d His Jtrr wits—J With our early writers the five sers.-s were

Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.

Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.

Beat. And a good soldier to a lady !—But what is he to a lord?

Mess. A lord to u lord, a man to a man: stuffed with all honourable virtues.

Beat. It is so, indeed, he is no less than a stuffed man, but for the stuffing,—Well, tre are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her: they never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit between them.

Beat. Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits* went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse: 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 sworn brother.

Mess. Is it possible? •

Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block/

Mess. I see, 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 squarer* now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?

Mesh, he is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Bi:at. O Lord! he will hang upon him like a disease: he is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, i: will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.

Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.

Beat. Do, good friend.

! usually so called: — " Certes delites been after the appetite the fire wittis; as sight, hereing, smelling, savouring, anc tettcVIng."— The Persones Tale of Chaucer.

"I am callyd Sensuall Apetyte,
All craturs in me delyte;
I comforte the wyttys free,
The tasting, smelling, and herynge;
I refresh the sight and felyngc
To all creatures alyve."

Interlude of The Four Eltmen-.i

"Bear it for a difference—] That is, heraldically, for a ciiiisction. So poor Ophelia, in " Hamlet," Act IV. Sc. 5 :— "You may wear your rue with a difference."

f The next block.] The block was the mould on whirt the ftfc hats of our ancestors were shaped; and, as the mutability of fashion was shown in nothing so much as in the head-stresses e' both sexes, these blocks must have been perpetually chMmpst their form.

e Squarer—] Squarei may perhaps mean quarrelUr, as to*^E«fv is to dispute.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

Bene. Were you in doubt, sir,' that you asked her?

Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

D. Pedro. You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself.* Be happy, lady! for you are like an honourable father.

Bene. If signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders, for all Messina, as like him as she is.

Beat. I wonder that you will stillb be talking, signior Benedick; nobody marks you.

Bene, What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living?

Beat. Is it possible Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.

Bene. Then is courtesy a turn-coat. But it is certain, I am loved 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.

Bkat. A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. 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 swear he loves me.

Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face.

Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were.

Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Bene. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer: but keep your way o' God's name! I have done.

Bkat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you of old.

D. I'Knno. This is the sum of all: Leonato,— signior Claudio, and signior Benedick,—my dear friend L onato hath invited you all. I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays, some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.

Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.—Let me bid you welcome, my lord; being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.

(*) First folio omits, tie.

» The lady fathers herself.] This phrase, Steevens observes, is still common in Dorsetshire. "Jack fathers himself," is like his father. There was* a French saying to the same effect, older than Shakespeare's time :—" II pourtrnitfort bien a son pere."

b Still be talking,—] Always be talking.

c To tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare car

D. John, I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Leon. Please it your grace lead on?

D. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.

\_Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio.

Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signior Leonato?

Bene. I noted her not, but I looked on her.

Claud. Is she not a modest young lady?

Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?

Claud. So, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment.

Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is. she were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.

Claud. Thou thinkest, I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou likest her.

Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?

Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good harefinder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter ?c Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?

Claud. In mine'eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.

Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?

Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Bene, ls't come to this? in faith, hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i'faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it. and sigh away Sundays. Look, don Pedro is returned to seek you.

pentertj This, which has so puzzled all the commentator*, is nothing more than an example of what Puttenham tenr.s "Aniiphrasis, or the Broad fitinte" "Or when we deride by plaine and flat contradiction, as he that saw a dwarfe po in the streete said to his companion that walked with him; Sec ycader gyant; and to a Negro or woman blackcmoore. In good sooth ye are a faire one."— The Arte of Engtith Poerie. 1589.

Re-enter Don Pedro.

you here,

D. Pedro. What secret hath held that you followed not to Leonato's?

Dene. I would your grace would constrain me to tell.

D. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Bene. You hear, count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; but on my allegiance,—mark you this, on my alleyiance :—he is in love. With who?—now that is your grace's part.—Mark, how short his answer is: — With Uero. Leonato's short daughter.

Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.

Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: it is not so, Nor 't was not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be w.(3)

Claud. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.

D. Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.

Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

D. Pedro. By my troth, I speak my thought.

Claud. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

Bene. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke* mine.

Claud. That I love her, I feel.

D. Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.

Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion, that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.

D. Pedro, Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite 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; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick,* all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fineb is, (for the which I may go the finer,) I will live a bachelor.

D. Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

Bene. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love: prove that ever I lose

(*) First folio, speake.

a But that I wilt have a recheal winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldiick,—] A rec'ient wai a note upon the horn, usually employed to recal the dogs from the wrong scent. Benedick's meaning appears to be, I will neither be a wittol, glorying in my shame, nor the poor cuckold who must endure and conceal it.

o The fine—] The conclusion.

■- Hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me;] This way, one of the barbarous sports of former times. The practice was to enclose a cat in a suspended coop of open bars, and shoot at it

more blood with love, than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothelhouse, for the sign of blind Cupid.

D. Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.

Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat,c and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.(l)

I). Pedro. Well, as time shall try:
Iu time, the saeaye bull doth bear the yoke.A

Bene. The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns, and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted; and in such great letters as they write, Here is good horse to hire, let them signify under my sign,—Here you may bee Benedick the married man.

Claud. If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

Bene. I look for an earthquake too, then.

D. Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time, good signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's; commend me to him, and tell him, I will not fail him at supper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation.

Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I commit you—

Claud. To the tuition of God. From my house, (if I had it,)—

D. Pedro. The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick*

Bene. Nay, mock not, mock not: the body of your discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience; and so I leave you.

[Exit Benedick.

Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me [but how,

D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach; teach it And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn Any hard lesson that may do thee good.

Claud. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

D. Pedro. No child but Hero, she 's his only heir. Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

with arrows till the poor animal was killed :—" arrowes

flew faster than they did at a catte in a btukt, when Prince Arthur, or the Duke of Shoreditch, strut ke up druinnie in field." Warm; or, The Peace u Broken, a black-letter tracts, quoted by Steevens.

d In time, arc] A line from the old stage butt. " The Spanish Tragedy," by Thomas Kyd; but which originally occurs in Watson's " Passionate Celiturie of Love," prifted in 15>2.

*> Your loving friend, Benedick.] The "old ends," here ridiculed, were the formal conclusions of letters in the ]it:et's time, which usually ran, " And so, wishing you health, I commend you to the tuition of God," &c. &c.

« VorigeDoorgaan »