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Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a Messenger.
Learn in this letter, that Don Pedra of Arragon comes this night to Melina.
Mef. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you loft in this action?
Me. But few of any fort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itfelf, when the atchiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine call'd Claudio.
(1) Much Ado about Nothing.] Innogen, (the mother of Hero) in the oldeft Quarto that I have feen of this play, printed in 1600, is mention'd to enter in two feveral fcenes. The fucceeding editions have all continued her name in the Dramatis Perfona. But I have ventur'd to expunge it, there being no mention of her through the play, no one fpeech addrefs'd to her, nor one fyllable spoken by her. Neither is there any one paffage, from which we have any reafon to determine that Hero's mother was living. It feems, as if the poet had in his first plan defigned fuch a character; which, on a furvey of it, he found would be fuperfluous; and therefore he left it out.
Meff. Much deferved on his part, and equally remembred by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promife of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion he hath, indeed, better better'd 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.
Me. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even fo much that joy could not fhew itself modest enough, without a badge of bitternefs.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Me. In great measure.
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.
Meff. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none fuch in the army of any fort.
Leon. What is he that you afk for, Niece?
Hero. My Coufin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Meff. O, he's return'd, and as pleafant as ever he was. Beat. He fet up his bills here in Melfina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my Uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcrib'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.
Me. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in these wars. Beat. You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent ftomach.
Me. And a good foldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a Lady? but what is he to a Lord?
Meff. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed: (2) he is no less than a ftufft man: but for the ftaffing,--well, we 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's a fkirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our laft 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 horfe; 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.
Meff. Is it poffible?
Beat. Very eafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next
Meff. 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 fquarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Me. He is moft in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is fooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs prefently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will coft him a thousand pound ere he be cur'd.
Me. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Niece.
(2) be is no less than a flufft man: but for the fluffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this passage been all along stop'd, from the very first edition downwards. If any of the editors could extract fenfe from this pointing, their fagacity is a pitch above mine. I believe, by my regulation of the ftops, I have retriev'd the poet's true meaning. Our poet feems to use the word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Moftellaria: A&t 1. Sc. 3.
Non veftem amatores mulieris amant, fed veftis fartum.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
Melf. 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 encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my houfe in the likenefs of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort fhould remain; but when you depart from me, forrow 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 fo.
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 guefs by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathers herfelf; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her Father, fhe would not have his head on her fhoulders for all Melina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will ftill be talking, Signior. Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear Lady Difdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it poflible, Difdain fhould die, while fhe hath fuch meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain, if you come in her prefence.
Bene. Then is courtesy a turn-coat; but it is certain, 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 elfe have been troubled with a pernicious fuitor 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 fwear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other hall scape a predeftinate
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere fuch 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
Bene. I would, my horse had the speed of your tongue, and to 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 you of old.
Pedro. This is the fum of all: Leonato, Claudio, and Signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all; I tell him, we shall stay here at the leaft a month; and he heartily prays, fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite; but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you fwear, my lord, you shall not be forfworn. -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 L thank you.
Leon. Please it your 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 fhe not a modeft young lady?
Bene. Do you queftion me," as an honeft man fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me fpeak after my cuftom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their fex?
Claud. No, I pr'ythee, fpeak in fober judgment. Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks fhe is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a