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DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
Benedick, a young Lord of Padua, favour'd likewife by
Balthazar, Servant to Don Pedro.
} two foolish Officers.
Hero, Daughter to Leonato.
two Gentlewomen, attending on Hero.
A Friar, Meffenger, Watch, Town-Clerk, Sexton, and
SCENE, Mefina in Sicily.
I MUCH ADO about NOTHING.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a Messenger.
Learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of
Mell. 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?
Meff. But few of any Sort, and none of Name. Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the atchiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pedro hath beftowed much honour on a young Florentine, call'd Claudio.
Meff. Much deferved 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 bet
1 The Story from Arioflo, Orl. Fur. 1. 5.
ter'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Melfina 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 modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Meff. In great measure.
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than thofe that are fo wafh'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?
Mell. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none fuch in the army of any Sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, Neice?
Beat. He fet up his bills here in Melina, 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 thefe wars? but how many
2 joy could not fhew it felf modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.] This is judiciously exprefs'd. Of all the tranfports of Joy, that which is attended with tears is leaft offenfive; because carrying with it this mark of pain, it allays the envy that ufually attends another's happiness. This he finely calls a modeft joy, fuch a one as did not infult the obferver by an indication of happinefs unmixed with pain.
3 is Signior Montanto return'd] Montánte, in Spanish, is a buge two-handed fword, given, with much humour, to one, the speaker would reprefent as a Boafter or Bravado.
4 there was none fuch in the army of any Sort] Not meaning there was none fuch of any order or degree whatever, but that there was none fuch of any quality above the common.
"hath he kill'd? for, indeed, I promis'd to eat all of his killing."
Leon. Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it
Mess. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in these
"Beat. You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp "to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath "an excellent ftomach."
Meff. 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: he is no less than a stuffc man: but for the ftuffing,-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's a skirmish 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 from harm, 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 fworn brother.
wit enough to keep himself WARM,] But how would that make a difference between him and his horfe? We fhould read, Wit enough to keep himself FROM HARM. This fuits the fatirical turn of her fpeech, in the character fhe would give of Benedick; and this would make the difference spoken of. For 'tis the nature of horfes, when wounded, to run upon the point of the weapon.
Mel. Is it poffible?
Beat. Very eafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
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?
Meff. 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 presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick, it will coft him a thousand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Me. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Neice.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and
Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fafhion of the world is to avoid coft, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my houfe in the likenefs of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort
he wears his faith] Not religious Profeffion, but Profef fion of friendship; for the fpeaker gives it as the reafon of her asking, who was now his Companion? that he had every month a new fuorn brother.