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humble thanks: but that I will have a recheat* winded in my forehead, or hang my buglet 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 fine 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 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 brothel-house, 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, and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam§.
D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try:
In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.
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 see Benedick the married man.
Claud. If this should ever happen, thou would'st 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,
* The tune sounded to call off the dogs.
§ The name of a famous archer.
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
D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach; teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
D. Pedro. No child but Hero, she's his only heir: Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
D. Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And thou shalt have her: Was't not to this end,
Claud. How sweetly do you miuister to love,
D. Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity:
Look, what will serve, is fit: 'tis once*, thou lov'st; And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know, we shall have revelling to-night;
I will assume thy part in some disguise,
A room in Leonato's house.
Enter Leonato and Antonio.
Leon. How now, brother? where is my cousin, your son? Hath he provided this musick?
Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet dreamed not of.
Leon. Are they good?
Ant. As the event stamps them; but they have a good cover, they show well outward. The prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleachedt
* Once for all.
alley in my orchard, were thus much overheard by a man of mine: The prince discovered to Claudio, that he loved my niece your daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present time by the top, and instantly break with you of it.
Leon. Hath the fellow any wit, that told you this? Ant. A good sharp fellow: I will send for him, and question him yourself.
Leon. No, no; we will hold it as a dream, till it appears itself:-but I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you, and tell her of it. [Several persons cross the stage.] Cousins, you know what you have to do.-O, 1 cry you mercy, friend; you go with me, and I will use your skill-Good cousins, have a care this busy time. [Exeunt.
Another room in Leonato's house.
Enter Don John and Conrade.
Con. What the goujere*, my lord! why are you thus out of measure sad?
D. John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds it, therefore the sadness is without limit.
Con. You should hear reason.
D. John. And when I have heard it, what blessing bringeth it?
Con. If not a present remedy, yet a patient sufferance.
D. John. I wonder that thou being (as thou say'st thou art) born under Saturn, goest about to apply a
*The venereal disease.
moral medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man's jests; eat when I have a stomach, and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend to no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw* no man in his humour.
Con. Yea, but you must not make the full show of this, till you may do it without controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root, but by the fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.
D. John. I had rather be a cankert in a hedge, than a rose in his grace; and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all, than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied that I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle, and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage: if I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the mean time, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.
Con. Can you make no use of your discontent? D. John. I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here? What news, Borachio.
Bora. I came yonder from a great supper; the prince, your brother, is royally entertained by Leonato; and I can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.
D. John. Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he for a fool, that betroths himself to unquietness?
Bora. Marry, it is your brother's right hand.