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Hero. My Coufin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Meff. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he
Beat. He fet up his bills here in Messina, 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 these wars? but how many hath he kill'd? for, indeed, I promis'd to eat all of his killing, da
Leon. Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not, Melf. He hath done good service, 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.
Mell. And a good foldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?
Mell. 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 stufft man: but for the ftuffing, well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, miftake my Niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet, but there's a fkirmifh of Wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by That. In our laft
challeng'd Cupid at the flight; the ditufe of the bow makes this paffage obfcure. Benedick is reprefented as challenging Cupid at archery. To challenge at the flight is, I believe, to wager who shall shoot the arrow furtheft without any particular mark. To challenge at the
bird-bolt, feems to mean the fame as to challenge at children's archery, with mall arrows fuch as are difcharged at birds. In Twelfth Night, Lady Olivia oppoles a bird-bolt to a cannon bullet, the lightest to the heaviest of miflive weapons.
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 warm, 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.
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.
Mell. I fee, Lady', the gentleman is not in your
Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my Study.
7-four of his five wits] In our author's time, wit was the general, term for intellectual powers. So Davies on the Soul, Wit, feeking truth, from cause to caufe afcends,
And never refts till it the first
Will, Seeking good, finds many middle ends,
But never ftays till it the last do gain.
And in another part,
But if a phrenzy do poffefs the brain,
It fo difturbs and blots the form of things,
As fantoly proves altogether
vain, And to the wit no true relation brings.
Then doth the wit, admitting all
for true, Build fond conclufions on thofe idle grounds;
The wits feem to have reckon ed five, by analogy to the five fenfes, or the five inlets of ideas.
8 wit enough to keep himself WARM,] But how would that make a difference between him and his horfe? We should 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 horses, when wounded, to run upon the point of the WARBURTON. he wears his faith] Not religious Profeffion, but Pro feffion of friendship; for the speaker gives it as the reafon of her afking, who was now his Companion? that he had every month a new fworn brother.
But, I pray you, who is his companion? is there no young, fquarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Mess. He is moft in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O lord, he will hang upon him like a difeafe 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 cost him a thoufand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Meff. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Neice.
Meff. Don Pedro is approach'd.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and Don John.
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 troublé to my houfe in the likenefs of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort fhould remain; but when you depart from me, forrow-abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly: I think this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.
young Squarer-] A Squarer I take to be a choleric, quarrelfome fellow, for in this fenfe Shakespeare uses the word to Square. So in Midfummer Night's, Dream it is faid of Oberon and Titanir, that they never meet but
they fquare. So the fenfe may be, Is there no hot-blooded youth that will keep him company through all his mad pranks?
3 You embrace your charge-] That is, your burthen, your encumbrance.
Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you afkt her? Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; we may guess by this what you are, being a man: truly the lady fathers herself; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her father, fhe would not have his head on her fhoulders for all Meffina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder, that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Difdain! are you yet living?
Beat, Is it poffible, Difdain fhould die, while she hath fuch meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtefie itself must convert to Difdain, if you come in her prefence.
Bene. Then is courtefie a turncoat; but it is certain, I am lov'd of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.
Beat. A dear happiness to women; they would else have been troubled with a pernicious fuitor. 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 fwear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind ! fo fome gentleman or other fhall fcape a predeftinate fcratcht face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere fuch a face as yours were.
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Bene. I would, my horfe had the fpeed of your tongue, and fo good a continuer; but keep your way o'God's name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you of old.
Pedro. This is the fum of all: Leonato,-Signior Claudio, and Signir Benedick,my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all; I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays, fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare fwear, he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you fwear, my Lord, you fhall not be forfworn. -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?
Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together. [Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio.
Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Bene. Do you queftion me, as an honest man should do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me speak after my cuftom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their sex ?
Claud. No, I pr'ythee, speak in fober judgment.
Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks, fhe is too low for an high praife, too brown for a fair praife; and too little for a great praise; only this commendation I can afford her, that were fhe other than fhe is, fhe were unhandsome; and being no other but as she 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. N 2