ACT II
Scene 1
 

A hall in Leonato's house.

[Enter Leonato, [Antonio] his Brother, Hero his Daughter, and
Beatrice his Niece, and a Kinsman; [also Margaret and Ursula.]

LEONATO
Was not Count John here at supper?

ANTONIO
I saw him not.

BEATRICE
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am
heart-burn'd an hour after.

HERO
He is of a very melancholy disposition.

BEATRICE
He were an excellent man that were made just in the midway
between him and Benedick. The one is too like an image and says
nothing, and the other too like my lady's eldest son,
evermore tattling.

LEONATO
Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's mouth, and
half Count John's melancholy in Signior Benedick's face--

BEATRICE
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money enough in his
purse, such a man would win any woman in the world--if 'a could
get her good will.

LEONATO
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband if thou be
so shrewd of thy tongue.

ANTONIO
In faith, she's too curst.

BEATRICE
Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen God's sending that
way, for it is said, 'God sends a curst cow short horns,' but to
a cow too curst he sends none.

LEONATO
So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.

BEATRICE
Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing I am at
him upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord, I could not
endure a husband with a beard on his face. I had rather lie in
the woollen!

LEONATO
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

BEATRICE
What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel and make him
my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a
youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that
is more than a youth is not for me; and he that is less than a
man, I am not for him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in
earnest of the berrord and lead his apes into hell.

LEONATO
Well then, go you into hell?

BEATRICE
No; but to the gate, and there will the devil meet me like an old
cuckold with horns on his head, and say 'Get you to heaven,
Beatrice, get you to heaven. Here's no place for you maids.' So
deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter--for the heavens.
He shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry
as the day is long.

ANTONIO
[to Hero] Well, niece, I trust you will be rul'd by your father.

BEATRICE
Yes faith. It is my cousin's duty to make cursy and say, 'Father,
as it please you.' But yet for all that, cousin, let him be a
handsome fellow, or else make another cursy, and say,
'Father, as it please me.'

LEONATO
Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

BEATRICE
Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it
not grieve a woman to be overmaster'd with a piece of valiant
dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
No, uncle, I'll none. Adam's sons are my brethren, and truly I
hold it a sin to match in my kinred.

LEONATO
Daughter, remember what I told you. If the Prince do solicit you
in that kind, you know your answer.

BEATRICE
The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in
good time. If the Prince be too important, tell him there is
measure in everything, and so dance out the answer. For, hear me,
Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a
measure, and a cinque-pace: the first suit is hot and hasty like
a Scotch jig--and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly
modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
Repentance and with his bad legs falls into the cinque-pace
faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.

LEONATO
Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

BEATRICE
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.

LEONATO
The revellers are ent'ring, brother. Make good room.

[Exit Antonio.]

[Enter, [masked,] Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, and Balthasar.
With them enter Antonio, also masked. After them enter
Don John [and Borachio (without masks), who stand aside
and look on during the dance.]

PEDRO
Lady, will you walk a bout with your friend?

HERO
So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am yours
for the walk; and especially when I walk away.

PEDRO
With me in your company?

HERO
I may say so when I please.

PEDRO
And when please you to say so?

HERO
When I like your favour, for God defend the lute should be like
the case!

PEDRO
My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.

HERO
Why then, your visor should be thatch'd.

PEDRO
Speak low if you speak love.

[Takes her aside.]

BALTHASAR
Well, I would you did like me.

MARGARET
So would not I for your own sake, for I have many ill qualities.

BALTHASAR
Which is one?

MARGARET
I say my prayers aloud.

BALTHASAR
I love you the better. The hearers may cry Amen.

MARGARET
God match me with a good dancer!

BALTHASAR
Amen.

MARGARET
And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is done!
Answer, clerk.

BALTHASAR
No more words. The clerk is answered.

[Takes her aside.]

URSULA
I know you well enough. You are Signior Antonio.

ANTONIO
At a word, I am not.

URSULA
I know you by the waggling of your head.

ANTONIO
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

URSULA
You could never do him so ill-well unless you were the very man.
Here's his dry hand up and down. You are he, you are he!

ANTONIO
At a word, I am not.

URSULA
Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your excellent wit?
Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum you are he. Graces will
appear, and there's an end.

[ They step aside.]

BEATRICE
Will you not tell me who told you so?

BENEDICK
No, you shall pardon me.

BEATRICE
Nor will you not tell me who you are?

BENEDICK
Not now.

BEATRICE
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the
'Hundred Merry Tales.' Well, this was Signior Benedick that said
so.

BENEDICK
What's he?

BEATRICE
I am sure you know him well enough.

BENEDICK
Not I, believe me.

BEATRICE
Did he never make you laugh?

BENEDICK
I pray you, what is he?

BEATRICE
Why, he is the Prince's jester, a very dull fool. Only his gift
is in devising impossible slanders. None but libertines delight
in him; and the commendation is not in his wit, but
in his villany; for he both pleases men and angers them, and then
they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in the fleet. I
would he had boarded me.

BENEDICK
When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.

BEATRICE
Do, do. He'll but break a comparison or two on me; which
peradventure, not marked or not laugh'd at, strikes him into
melancholy; and then there's a partridge wing saved, for the
fool will eat no supper that night.

[Music.]

We must follow the leaders.

BENEDICK
In every good thing.

BEATRICE
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next
turning.

[Dance. Exeunt (all but Don John, Borachio, and Claudio].

JOHN
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath withdrawn her father
to break with him about it. The ladies follow her and but one
visor remains.

BORACHIO
And that is Claudio. I know him by his bearing.

JOHN
Are you not Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO
You know me well. I am he.

JOHN
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love. He is
enamour'd on Hero. I pray you dissuade him from her; she is no
equal for his birth. You may do the part of an honest man in it.

CLAUDIO
How know you he loves her?

JOHN
I heard him swear his affection.

BORACHIO
So did I too, and he swore he would marry her tonight.

JOHN
Come, let us to the banquet.

[Exeunt. Manet Claudio.]

CLAUDIO
Thus answer I in name of Benedick
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.

[Unmasks.]

'Tis certain so. The Prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love.
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero!

[Enter Benedick [unmasked]].

BENEDICK
Count Claudio?

CLAUDIO
Yea, the same.

BENEDICK
Come, will you go with me?

CLAUDIO
Whither?

BENEDICK
Even to the next willow, about your own business, County. What
fashion will you wear the garland of? about your neck, like an
usurer's chain? or under your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf?
You must wear it one way, for the Prince hath got your Hero.

CLAUDIO
I wish him joy of her.

BENEDICK
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier. So they sell bullocks.
But did you think the Prince would have served you thus?

CLAUDIO
I pray you leave me.

BENEDICK
Ho! now you strike like the blind man! 'Twas the boy that stole
your meat, and you'll beat the post.

CLAUDIO
If it will not be, I'll leave you.

[Exit.]

BENEDICK
Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges. But, that my
Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The Prince's fool!
Ha! it may be I go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but
so I am apt to do myself wrong. I am not so reputed. It is the
base (though bitter) disposition of Beatrice that puts the world
into her person and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I
may.

[Enter Don Pedro.]

PEDRO
Now, signior, where's the Count? Did you see him?

BENEDICK
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame, I found him
here as melancholy as a lodge in a warren. I told him, and I
think I told him true, that your Grace had got the good will of
this young lady, and I off'red him my company to a willow tree,
either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him
up a rod, as being worthy to be whipt.

PEDRO
To be whipt? What's his fault?

BENEDICK
The flat transgression of a schoolboy who, being overjoyed with
finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.

PEDRO
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in
the stealer.

BENEDICK
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, and the garland
too; for the garland he might have worn himself, and the rod he
might have bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stol'n his
bird's nest.

PEDRO
I will but teach them to sing and restore them to the owner.

BENEDICK
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith you say
honestly.

PEDRO
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The gentleman that
danc'd with her told her she is much wrong'd by you.

BENEDICK
O, she misus'd me past the endurance of a block! An oak but with
one green leaf on it would have answered her; my very visor began
to assume life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I
had been myself, that I was the Prince's jester, that I was
duller than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such
impossible conveyance upon me that I stood like a man at a mark,
with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards, and every
word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her terminations,
there were no living near her; she would infect to the North
Star. I would not marry her though she were endowed with all that
Adam had left him before he transgress'd. She would have made
Hercules have turn'd spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make
the fire too. Come, talk not of her. You shall find her the
infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some scholar would
conjure her, for certainly, while she is here, a man may live as
quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose,
because they would go thither; so indeed all disquiet, horror,
and perturbation follows her.

[Enter Claudio and Beatrice, Leonato, Hero.]

PEDRO
Look, here she comes.

BENEDICK
Will your Grace command me any service to the world's end? I will
go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can
devise to send me on; I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the
furthest inch of Asia; bring you the length of Prester John's
foot; fetch you a hair off the great Cham's beard; do you any
embassage to the Pygmies--rather than hold three words'
conference with this harpy. You have no employment for me?

PEDRO
None, but to desire your good company.

BENEDICK
O God, sir, here's a dish I love not! I cannot endure my Lady
Tongue.

[Exit.]

PEDRO
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.

BEATRICE
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him use for
it--a double heart for his single one. Marry, once before he won
it of me with false dice; therefore your Grace may well say I
have lost it.

PEDRO
You have put him down, lady; you have put him down.

BEATRICE
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the
mother of fools. I have brought Count Claudio, whom you sent me
to seek.

PEDRO
Why, how now, Count? Wherefore are you sad?

CLAUDIO
Not sad, my lord.

PEDRO
How then? sick?

CLAUDIO
Neither, my lord.

BEATRICE
The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but
civil count--civil as an orange, and something of that jealous
complexion.

PEDRO
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though I'll be
sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have
wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won. I have broke with her
father, and his good will obtained. Name the day of marriage, and
God give thee joy!

LEONATO
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes. His
Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!

BEATRICE
Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.

CLAUDIO
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy
if I could say how much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours. I
give away myself for you and dote upon the exchange.

BEATRICE
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss and
let not him speak neither.

PEDRO
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

BEATRICE
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy side
of care. My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.

CLAUDIO
And so she doth, cousin.

BEATRICE
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I,
and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry 'Heigh-ho for a
husband!'

PEDRO
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

BEATRICE
I would rather have one of your father's getting. Hath your Grace
ne'er a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if
a maid could come by them.

PEDRO
Will you have me, lady?

BEATRICE
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days: your
Grace is too costly to wear every day. But I beseech your Grace
pardon me. I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

PEDRO
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you,
for out o' question you were born in a merry hour.

BEATRICE
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star
danc'd, and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!

LEONATO
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?

BEATRICE
I cry you mercy, uncle, By your Grace's pardon.

[Exit.]

PEDRO
By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.

LEONATO
There's little of the melancholy element in her, my lord. She is
never sad but when she sleeps, and not ever sad then; for I have
heard my daughter say she hath often dreamt of
unhappiness and wak'd herself with laughing.

PEDRO
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

LEONATO
O, by no means! She mocks all her wooers out of suit.

PEDRO
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.

LEONATO
O Lord, my lord! if they were but a week married, they would talk
themselves mad.

PEDRO
County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

CLAUDIO
To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all his
rites.

LEONATO
Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just sevennight;
and a time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind.

PEDRO
Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing; but I warrant
thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the
interim undertake one of Hercules' labours,
which is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a
mountain of affection th' one with th' other. I would fain have
it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it if you three will
but minister such assistance as I shall give you direction.

LEONATO
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights' watchings.

CLAUDIO
And I, my lord.

PEDRO
And you too, gentle Hero?

HERO
I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good
husband.

PEDRO
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that I know. Thus
far can I praise him: he is of a noble strain, of approved
valour, and confirm'd honesty. I will teach you how to humour
your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I,
[to Leonato and Claudio] with your two helps, will so practise on
Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasy
stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this,
Cupid is no longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we are
the only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift.

[Exeunt.]