Page images

great praife; only this commendation I can afford her, that were fhe other than fhe is, fhe were unhandsome; and being no other but as fhe is, I do not like her.

Claud. Thou think'ft, I am in fport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik❜ft her.

Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire after her ?
Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?

Bene. Yea, and a cafe to put it into; but fpeak you this with a fad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter? come, in what key fhall a man take go in the fong?

you to

Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the fweeteft lady that I ever look'd on.

Bene. I can fee yet without fpectacles, and I fee no fuch matter; there's her Cousin, if she were not poffeft with fuch a Fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the laft of December: but i hope, you have no intent to turn hufband, have you?

Claud. I would fcarce truft myself, tho' I had fworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with fufpicion? fhall I never see a bachelor of threefcore again? go to, i' faith, if thou wilt needs thruft thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and figh away Sundays: look, Don Pedro is return'd to feek you.

Re-enter Don Pedro and Don John.

Pedro. What fecret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to Leonato's houfe?

Bene. I would, your Grace would constrain me to tell. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be fecret as a dumb man, I would have you think fo; but on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance :-he is in love with whom? now that is your Grace's part: mark, how short his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's fhort daughter.


Claud. If this were fo, fo were it uttered.

Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not fo, nor 'twas not fo; but, indeed, God forbid it fhould be fo.

Claud. If my paffion change not fhortly, God forbid it fhould be otherwise.

Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the Lady is very well worthy.

Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my Lord.
Pedro. By my troth, I fpeak my thought.

Claud. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine. Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I speak mine.

Claud. That I love her, I feel.

Pedro. That he is worthy, I know.

Bene. That I neither feel how the fhould be loved, nor know how the fhould be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.

Pedro. Thou waft ever an obftinate heretick in the defpight of beauty.

Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.

Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that he brought me up, I likewife give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invifible baldrick, all women fhall pardon me; because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to truft none; and the fine is, (for the which I may go the finer,) I will live a bachelor.

Pedro. I fhall fee thee, ere I die, look pale with love. Bene. With anger, with fickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love: prove that ever I lofe 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-houfe for the Sign of blind Cupid.

Pedro. Well, if ever thou doft fall from this faith,. thou wilt prove a notable argument.

Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and


fhoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapt on the fhoulder, and call'd Adam. (3)

Pedro. Well, as time fhall try; in time the favage bull doth bear the yoke.

Bene. The favage bull may, but if ever the fenfible Benedick, bear it, pluck off the bull's-horns, and iet them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted; and in fuch great letters as they write, Here is good Horfe to hire, let them fignify under my fign, Here you may fee Benedick the marry'd man.

Claud. If this fhould ever happen, thou would'st be horn-mad.

(3) And be that bits me, let him be clap'd on the fhoulder, and call'd Adam.] But why fhould he therefore be call'd Adam? Perhaps, by a quotation or two we may be able to trace the poet's allufion here. In Law-Tricks, or, Who wouli bave thought it, (a Comedy written by John Day, and printed in 1608) I find this fpeech.

I bave heard, Old Adam was an bone win, and a good Gardiner ; lov'd Leance well, Salads and Cabage reafonable well, yet no Tobacco;Again, Adam Bell, a fubftantial Outlar, and a passing good Archer, yet no Tobe cconist.

By this it appears, that Ad m Bell at that time of day was of repu tation for his fkill at the bow. I find him again mention'd in a burlefque poem of Sir William Davenani's, call'd, The long Vacation in London.

Now lean Attorney that his cheese

Ne'er par'd, nor verses took for fees,
An aged Proctor, that controuls
The feats of Punk in court of Pauls,
Do each with folemn oath agree
To meet in fields of Fifb ry:
With loins in canvas bow-cafe tied,
Where arrows stick with mickle pride;
With hats pinn'd up, and bow in hand,
All day moft fiercely there they ftand,
Like ghofts of Aam, Fell, and Clymne;
Sol fes, for fear they'll fhoct at him.

By the paffage, which I have above quoted foam Law-Tricks, 'tis plain, Sir William's editor has talíely ponted the last line but one; we muft correct it thus;

Like ghofts of Adar Bell, and Cl, mme;

'Tis this wight, no doubt, whom our author here alludes to : and had I the convenience of confulting Afcham's Toxophilus, I might probably grow better acquainted with his history.


Pedro. Nay, if Cupid hath not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this fhortly.

Bene. I look for an earthquake too then.

Pedro. Well you will temporize with the hours; in the mean time, good Signior Benedick, repair to Lecnato's, commend me to him, and tell him I will not fail him at fupper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation. Bene. I have almoft matter enough in me for fuch an embaffage, and fo I commit you

Claud. To the tuition of God; From my house, if I had it

Pedro. The fixth of July, your loving friend, Benedick. Bene. Nay, mock not, mock not; the body of your difcourfe is fometime guarded with fragments, a d the guards are but flightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any further, examine your confcience, and so I leave you.

[Exit. Claud. My liege, your Highness now may do me good. Pedro. My love is thine to teach, teach it but how, And thou fhait fee how apt it is to learn

Any hard leffon that may do thee good.
Claud. Hath Leonato ary fon, my lord?

Pedro. No child but Ilero, fhe's his only heir:
Doft thou affe&t her, Claudio?

Claud. O my lord,

When you went onward on this ended action,
I look'd upon her with a foldier's eye;
That lik'd, but had a tougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
But now I am return'd, and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant; in their rooms
Come thronging foft and delicate Defires,
All prompting me how fair young atero is;
Saying, I lik'd her ere I went to wars.

Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And tire the hearer with a book of words:
If thou doft love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her

and with her father, And thou shalt have her: was't not to this end, That thou began'ft to twist so fine a story?


Claud. How fweetly do you minifter to love,
That know love's grief by his complection!
But left my liking might too fudden seem,
I would have falv'd it with a longer treatise.

Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the The fairest grant is the neceffity;

[flood Look, what will ferve, 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 affume thy part in fome diguife,
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio;
And in her bofom I'll unclafp my heart,
And take her hearing prifoner with the force
And ftrong encounter of my amorous tale:
Then, after, to her father will I break :
And the conclufion is, the fhall be thine;
In practice let us put it presently.

Re-enter Leonato and Antonio.


Leon. How now, brother, where is my Coufin your fon? hath he provided this mufick?

Ant. He is very bufy about it; but, brother, I can‹ tell you news that you yet dream'd not of.

Leon. Are they good?

Ant. As the event ftamps them, but they have a good: cover; they fhow well outward. The Prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached alley in my orchard, were thus overheard by a man of mine: The Prince discover'd to Claudio, that he lov'd 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 fharp fellow; I will fend for him, and question him yourself.

[ocr errors]

Leon. No, no; we will hold it as a dream, 'till it appear itself: but I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for anfwer, if peradventure this be true; go you and tell her of it:


« PreviousContinue »