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ON Pedro, Prince of Arragon.
Leonato, Governor of Messina. Don John, Bastard-Brother to Don Pedro. Claudio, a young Lord of Florence, Favourite to
wife by Don Pedro.
two foolish Officers.
Innogen, Wife to Leonato.
two Gentlewomen attending on Hero. Ursula,
A Frier, Messenger, Watch, and other Attendants.
SCEN E Mesina.
Enter Leonato, Innogen, Hero and Beatrice, with
L E O N AT 0. Learn in this Letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this Night to Messina,
Mes. 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?
Leon. A Vi&ory is twice it felf, when the Atchiever brings home full number; I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much Honour on a young Florentine, callid Claudio.
Mell. Much deservd on his Part, and equally remembred by Don Pedro, he hath born 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 must expe&t of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an Uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
Mell. I have already delivered him Letters, and there apo pears much Joy in him, even so much, that Joy could not Thew it felf modest enough, without a Badge of Bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into Tears?
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 Mountanto return'd from the Wars, or no?
Mell. I know none of that Name, Lady, there was none such in the Army of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, Neice?
Beat. He set up his Bills here in Messina, and challeng'd Capid at the flight; and my Uncle's Fool reading the Challenge, subscribd for Cupid, and challeng’d him at the Bure bolt. I pray you, how many hath he kill'd and eaten in these Wars? But how many hath he killd? for indeed I promise to eat all of his killing.
on. 'Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much, but he'll meet with you, I doubt it not.
Meff. He hath done good Service, Lady, in those Wars.
Beat. You had musty Viduals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant Trencher-man, he hath an excellent Stomach.
Mef. And a good Soldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good Soldier to a Lady: But what is he to a Lord ?
Mel: A Lord to a Lord, a Man to a Man, stuft with all honourable Virtues.
Beat. It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuft Man: but for the stuffing well; we are all Mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my Neice; 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 Corfli&, ! 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.
Melf. Is it possible? Beat. Very easily posible; he wears his Faith but as the fashion of his Hat, it ever changes with the next Block.
Mel. I see, Lady, the Gentleman is not in your Books.
Beat. No, and 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?
Meff. He is most in the Company of the right noble Claudio.
Bear. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a Disease; he is sooner caught than the Pestilence, and the taker runs prefently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand Pound e'er it be cur'd.
Meff. I will hold Friends with you, Lady.
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 House in the likeness of your Grace; for, Trouble being gone, Comfort should remain: But when you depare from me, Sorrow abides, and Happiness takes his Leave.
Pedro. You embrace your Charge most willingly: I think this is your Daughter.
Leon. Her Morher hath many times told me so.' }
Pedro. You have it full Benedick, we may guess by this what you are, being a Man, truly the Lady Fathers her self; 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 Meflina, as like him
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Be-nedick, no Body marks you.
Bene. What my dear Lady Disdain! are you get living?
as she is.
Beat. Is it possible Disdain should die, while she hath such meet Food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtefie it felf must convert to Disdain, if you come in her Presence.
Bene. Then is Courtesie a Turn-coat, but it is certain I am lovd of all Ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my Heart that I had not an hard Heart, for truly I love none.
Beat. A dear Happiness to Women, they would else have been troubled with a pernicious Sutor. 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 Ladiship still in that Mind, so fome Gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate scratcht Face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a Face as yours were.
Bene. Well you are a rare Parrat 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 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 sum of all: Leonato, Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick; my dear Friend Leonato hath invited you all, I tell you we shall stay here at the least a Month, and he heartily prays fome Occasion 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 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 thank you.
Leon. Please it your Grace lead on?
Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio. Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the Daughter of Sig. nior Leonato.
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.