(1) Much Ado about NOTHING,

A C T I.

SCENE, a Court before Leonato's House.

Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a Messenger.


LEONATO. Learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Melfina.

Mel. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.

Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Mef. But few of any fort, and none of name.

Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the atchiever brings home full numbers ; I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine callid Claudio,

(1) Much Ado about Nothing. ] Innogen, (the mother of Hero) in the oldest Quarto that I have leen of this play, printed in 1600, is mention’d to enter in two several scenes. The succeeding editions have all continued her name in the Dramatis Perfone.. But I have ventur'd to expunge it, there being no mention of her through the play, no one fpeech address’d to her, nor one syllable spoken by her. Neither is there any one paffage, from which we have any reason to determine that Hero's mother was living. It feems, as if the poet had in his first plan designed such a character ; which, on a furvey of it, he found would be superfluous; and therefore he left it out.


A 3

Mef. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembred 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 better'd expectation, than you muft expect of me to tell you

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

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

Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Mell. In great meafure.

Leon. A kind overflow of kindness; there are no faces truer than those that are so wash'd; how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?

Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto return'd from the wars or no, s

Mel. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none such in the


fort. Leon. What is he that you ask for, Niece? Hero. My Cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Mel: 0, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beat. He set up his bills here in Melina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my Uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscrib'd for Cupid, and challeng'd him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he kill'd and eaten in these wars ? but how many hath he kill'd ? for, indeed, I promis'd 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.

Beat. You had musty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an. excellent ftomach.

Mej. And a good soldier too, Lady.

Beat. And a good soldier to a Lady? but what is he to a Lord :

Mell. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stufft with all honourable virtues.


of any

Beat. It is fo, indeed : (2) he is no less than a stufft man: but for the staffing, ---well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my Niece; there is a kind of meşry war betwixt Signjor. Benedick and her; they never meet, but there's 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 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 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.

Mel. Is it possible?

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

Mel. 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 squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?

Mel. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Beat. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cur'd.

Mell. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Niece.

be is no less than a sufft man: but for the stuffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this pafiage been all along ftopd, from

first edition downwards. If any of the editors could extract sense from this pointing, their fagacity is a pitch above mine. I believe, by my regulation of the stops, I have retriev'd the poet's true meaning. Our poet seems to use the word S:uffing here much as Plautus does in his Moflellaria : Act 1. Sc. 3. Non veftem amatores, mulieris amant, fed veftis fartum.


[ocr errors]



A 4

Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.

Mel. 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 encoun:er it.

Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the like. nefs of your Grace ; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain ; but when you depart from me, sorrow 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 so.
Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you ask'd her?

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

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 Mefina, as like him as she is.

Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick; no body marks you.

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

Beat. Is it poslible, Disdain should die, while the 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 cer. tain, 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 happiness to women; they would elle have been troubled with a pernicious suitor I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that :

[ocr errors]

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 than scape a predeftinate fcratcht 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 10 good a continuer; but keep your way a God's name, I have done.

Beat. You always end with a jade's trick ; I know Pedro. This is the sum of all: Leonato, —- Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick,


dear friend Leonato 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 nis 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.

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

you of old.

thank you.

Leon. Please it yoar 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 Sig. nior Leonato?

Bene. I 'noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Claud. Is she not a modeft young lady?

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

Claud. No, pr'ythee, speak in sober judgment.

Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks she is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a



« VorigeDoorgaan »