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Speeches (Lines) for Benedick
in "Much Ado about Nothing"

Total: 134

# Act, Scene, Line
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Speech text



Leonato. Her mother hath many times told me so.

Benedick. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?



Don 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.

Benedick. If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not
have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as
like him as she is.



Beatrice. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks you.

Benedick. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?



Beatrice. Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come
in her presence.

Benedick. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I
am loved 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.



Beatrice. A dear happiness to women: they would else have
been troubled with a pernicious suitor. 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.

Benedick. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some
gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate
scratched face.



Beatrice. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such
a face as yours were.

Benedick. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.



Beatrice. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Benedick. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God's
name; I have done.



Claudio. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

Benedick. I noted her not; but I looked on her.



Claudio. Is she not a modest young lady?

Benedick. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for
my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak
after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?



Claudio. No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

Benedick. Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high
praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little
for a great praise: only this commendation I can
afford her, that were she other than she is, she
were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I
do not like her.



Claudio. Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me
truly how thou likest her.

Benedick. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?



Claudio. Can the world buy such a jewel?

Benedick. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this
with a sad 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 shall a man take
you, to go in the song?



Claudio. In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I
looked on.

Benedick. I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such
matter: there's her cousin, an she were not
possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty
as the first of May doth the last of December. But I
hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?



Claudio. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Benedick. Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world
one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion?
Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again?
Go to, i' faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck
into a yoke, wear the print of it and sigh away
Sundays. Look Don Pedro is returned to seek you.



Don Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed
not to Leonato's?

Benedick. I would your grace would constrain me to tell.



Don Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Benedick. You hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb
man; I would have you think so; but, on my
allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance. He is
in love. With who? now that is your grace's part.
Mark how short his answer is;—With Hero, Leonato's
short daughter.



Claudio. If this were so, so were it uttered.

Benedick. Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, nor
'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be



Claudio. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

Benedick. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.



Don Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.

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



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

Benedick. That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she
brought me up, I likewise give her most humble
thanks: but that I will have a recheat winded in my
forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick,
all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do
them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the
right to trust none; and the fine is, for the which
I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.



Don Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

Benedick. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord,
not with love: prove that ever I lose 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-house for the sign of
blind Cupid.



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

Benedick. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot
at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on
the shoulder, and called Adam.



Don Pedro. Well, as time shall try: 'In time the savage bull
doth bear the yoke.'

Benedick. The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible
Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns and set
them in my forehead: and let me be vilely painted,
and in such great letters as they write 'Here is
good horse to hire,' let them signify under my sign
'Here you may see Benedick the married man.'



Don Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

Benedick. I look for an earthquake too, then.



Don Pedro. Well, you temporize with the hours. In the
meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to
Leonato's: commend me to him and tell him I will
not fail him at supper; for indeed he hath made
great preparation.

Benedick. I have almost matter enough in me for such an
embassage; and so I commit you—



Don Pedro. The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.

Benedick. Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your
discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and
the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere
you flout old ends any further, examine your
conscience: and so I leave you.



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 laughed at,
strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a
partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
supper that night.
We must follow the leaders.

Benedick. In every good thing.



(stage directions). [Re-enter BENEDICK]

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.



(stage directions). [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.



Don 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 offered 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 whipped.



Don Pedro. To be whipped! What's his fault?

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



Don 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 stolen his birds' nest.



Don 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.



Don Pedro. The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
wronged by you.

Benedick. O, she misused 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 bad left him before
he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have
turned 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.



(stage directions). [Enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO]

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 tooth-picker 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 Pigmies,
rather than hold three words' conference with this
harpy. You have no employment for me?



Don 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.



(stage directions). [Enter BENEDICK]

Benedick. Boy!



Boy. Signior?

Benedick. In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
to me in the orchard.



Boy. I am here already, sir.

Benedick. I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.
[Exit Boy]
I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
another man is a fool when he dedicates his
behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at
such shallow follies in others, become the argument
of his own scorn by failing in love: and such a man
is Claudio. I have known when there was no music
with him but the drum and the fife; and now had he
rather hear the tabour and the pipe: I have known
when he would have walked ten mile a-foot to see a
good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake,
carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to
speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man
and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography; his
words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many
strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with
these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not
be sworn, but love may transform me to an oyster; but
I'll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster
of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman
is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am
well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all
graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in
my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise,
or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her;
fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not
near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good
discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
be of what colour it please God. Ha! the prince and
Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.



(stage directions). [Air]

Benedick. Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it
not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out
of men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when
all's done.



Don Pedro. Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

Benedick. An he had been a dog that should have howled thus,
they would have hanged him: and I pray God his bad
voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the
night-raven, come what plague could have come after



Leonato. No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in
all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

Benedick. Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?



Leonato. I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
against Benedick.

Benedick. I should think this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot,
sure, hide himself in such reverence.



(stage directions). [Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO]

Benedick. [Coming forward] This can be no trick: the
conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of
this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it
seems her affections have their full bent. Love me!
why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured:
they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive
the love come from her; they say too that she will
rather die than give any sign of affection. I did
never think to marry: I must not seem proud: happy
are they that hear their detractions and can put
them to mending. They say the lady is fair; 'tis a
truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous; 'tis
so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving
me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor
no great argument of her folly, for I will be
horribly in love with her. I may chance have some
odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me,
because I have railed so long against marriage: but
doth not the appetite alter? a man loves the meat
in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day!
she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in



Beatrice. Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

Benedick. Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.



Beatrice. I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would
not have come.

Benedick. You take pleasure then in the message?



(stage directions). [Exit]

Benedick. Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
to dinner;' there's a double meaning in that 'I took
no more pains for those thanks than you took pains
to thank me.' that's as much as to say, Any pains
that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do
not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not
love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.



Don Pedro. Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss
of your marriage as to show a child his new coat
and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold
with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown
of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all
mirth: he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's
bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at
him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his
tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his
tongue speaks.

Benedick. Gallants, I am not as I have been.



Don Pedro. Hang him, truant! there's no true drop of blood in
him, to be truly touched with love: if he be sad,
he wants money.

Benedick. I have the toothache.



Don Pedro. Draw it.

Benedick. Hang it!



Leonato. Where is but a humour or a worm.

Benedick. Well, every one can master a grief but he that has



Don Pedro. She shall be buried with her face upwards.

Benedick. Yet is this no charm for the toothache. Old
signior, walk aside with me: I have studied eight
or nine wise words to speak to you, which these
hobby-horses must not hear.



Claudio. O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily
do, not knowing what they do!

Benedick. How now! interjections? Why, then, some be of
laughing, as, ah, ha, he!



Don John. Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.

Benedick. This looks not like a nuptial.



(stage directions). [Exeunt DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, and CLAUDIO]

Benedick. How doth the lady?



Leonato. Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes:
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
Who smirch'd thus and mired with infamy,
I might have said 'No part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins'?
But mine and mine I loved and mine I praised
And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her,—why, she, O, she is fallen
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh!

Benedick. Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
I know not what to say.



Beatrice. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!

Benedick. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?



Friar Francis. There is some strange misprision in the princes.

Benedick. Two of them have the very bent of honour;
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practise of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies.



Friar Francis. Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
Change slander to remorse; that is some good:
But not for that dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth.
She dying, as it must so be maintain'd,
Upon the instant that she was accused,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excused
Of every hearer: for it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack'd and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio:
When he shall hear she died upon his words,
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit,
More moving-delicate and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she lived indeed; then shall he mourn,
If ever love had interest in his liver,
And wish he had not so accused her,
No, though he thought his accusation true.
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levell'd false,
The supposition of the lady's death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
As best befits her wounded reputation,
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds and injuries.

Benedick. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:
And though you know my inwardness and love
Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
As secretly and justly as your soul
Should with your body.



(stage directions). [Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE]

Benedick. Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?



Beatrice. Yea, and I will weep a while longer.

Benedick. I will not desire that.



Beatrice. You have no reason; I do it freely.

Benedick. Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.



Beatrice. Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!

Benedick. Is there any way to show such friendship?



Beatrice. A very even way, but no such friend.

Benedick. May a man do it?



Beatrice. It is a man's office, but not yours.

Benedick. I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is
not that strange?



Beatrice. As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.

Benedick. By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.



Beatrice. Do not swear, and eat it.

Benedick. I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make
him eat it that says I love not you.



Beatrice. Will you not eat your word?

Benedick. With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest
I love thee.



Beatrice. Why, then, God forgive me!

Benedick. What offence, sweet Beatrice?



Beatrice. You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
protest I loved you.

Benedick. And do it with all thy heart.



Beatrice. I love you with so much of my heart that none is
left to protest.

Benedick. Come, bid me do any thing for thee.



Beatrice. Kill Claudio.

Benedick. Ha! not for the wide world.



Beatrice. You kill me to deny it. Farewell.

Benedick. Tarry, sweet Beatrice.



Beatrice. I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
you: nay, I pray you, let me go.

Benedick. Beatrice,—



Beatrice. In faith, I will go.

Benedick. We'll be friends first.



Beatrice. You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.

Benedick. Is Claudio thine enemy?



Beatrice. Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands; and then, with public
accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,
—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
in the market-place.

Benedick. Hear me, Beatrice,—



Beatrice. Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!

Benedick. Nay, but, Beatrice,—



Beatrice. Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.

Benedick. Beat—



Beatrice. Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I
had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.

Benedick. Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.



Beatrice. Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.

Benedick. Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?



Beatrice. Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.

Benedick. Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him. I will
kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,
Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you
hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your
cousin: I must say she is dead: and so, farewell.



Claudio. Now, signior, what news?

Benedick. Good day, my lord.



Don Pedro. Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had
we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.

Benedick. In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came
to seek you both.



Claudio. We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are
high-proof melancholy and would fain have it beaten
away. Wilt thou use thy wit?

Benedick. It is in my scabbard: shall I draw it?



Claudio. What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat,
thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.

Benedick. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you
charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.



Claudio. If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.

Benedick. Shall I speak a word in your ear?



Claudio. God bless me from a challenge!

Benedick. [Aside to CLAUDIO] You are a villain; I jest not:
I will make it good how you dare, with what you
dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will
protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet
lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me
hear from you.



Claudio. I' faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a calf's
head and a capon; the which if I do not carve most
curiously, say my knife's naught. Shall I not find
a woodcock too?

Benedick. Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.



Claudio. Yea, and text underneath, 'Here dwells Benedick the
married man'?

Benedick. Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave
you now to your gossip-like humour: you break jests
as braggarts do their blades, which God be thanked,
hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank
you: I must discontinue your company: your brother
the bastard is fled from Messina: you have among
you killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord
Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet: and, till
then, peace be with him.



(stage directions). [Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting]

Benedick. Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at
my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.



Margaret. Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?

Benedick. In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living
shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou
deservest it.



Margaret. To have no man come over me! why, shall I always
keep below stairs?

Benedick. Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth; it catches.



Margaret. And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit,
but hurt not.

Benedick. A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give
thee the bucklers.



Margaret. Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own.

Benedick. If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the
pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.



Margaret. Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.

Benedick. And therefore will come.
The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,—
I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good
swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers,
whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned
over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I
cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find
out no rhyme to 'lady' but 'baby,' an innocent
rhyme; for 'scorn,' 'horn,' a hard rhyme; for,
'school,' 'fool,' a babbling rhyme; very ominous
endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet,
nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?



Beatrice. Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.

Benedick. O, stay but till then!



Beatrice. 'Then' is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere
I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with
knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.

Benedick. Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.



Beatrice. Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I
will depart unkissed.

Benedick. Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense,
so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee
plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge; and either
I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe
him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me for
which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?



Beatrice. For them all together; which maintained so politic
a state of evil that they will not admit any good
part to intermingle with them. But for which of my
good parts did you first suffer love for me?

Benedick. Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love
indeed, for I love thee against my will.



Beatrice. In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart!
If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.

Benedick. Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.



Beatrice. It appears not in this confession: there's not one
wise man among twenty that will praise himself.

Benedick. An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in
the lime of good neighbours. If a man do not erect
in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live
no longer in monument than the bell rings and the
widow weeps.



Beatrice. And how long is that, think you?

Benedick. Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in
rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the
wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no
impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his
own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for
praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your cousin?



Beatrice. Very ill.

Benedick. And how do you?



Beatrice. Very ill too.

Benedick. Serve God, love me and mend. There will I leave
you too, for here comes one in haste.



Beatrice. Will you go hear this news, signior?

Benedick. I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be
buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with
thee to thy uncle's.



Antonio. Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.

Benedick. And so am I, being else by faith enforced
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.



Antonio. Which I will do with confirm'd countenance.

Benedick. Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.



Friar Francis. To do what, signior?

Benedick. To bind me, or undo me; one of them.
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.



Leonato. That eye my daughter lent her: 'tis most true.

Benedick. And I do with an eye of love requite her.



Leonato. The sight whereof I think you had from me,
From Claudio and the prince: but what's your will?

Benedick. Your answer, sir, is enigmatical:
But, for my will, my will is your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin'd
In the state of honourable marriage:
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.



Claudio. I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
Tush, fear not, man; we'll tip thy horns with gold
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
When he would play the noble beast in love.

Benedick. Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low;
And some such strange bull leap'd your father's cow,
And got a calf in that same noble feat
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.



Friar Francis. All this amazement can I qualify:
When after that the holy rites are ended,
I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death:
Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.

Benedick. Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?



Beatrice. [Unmasking] I answer to that name. What is your will?

Benedick. Do not you love me?



Beatrice. Why, no; no more than reason.

Benedick. Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio
Have been deceived; they swore you did.



Beatrice. Do not you love me?

Benedick. Troth, no; no more than reason.



Beatrice. Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula
Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.

Benedick. They swore that you were almost sick for me.



Beatrice. They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

Benedick. 'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?



Hero. And here's another
Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket,
Containing her affection unto Benedick.

Benedick. A miracle! here's our own hands against our hearts.
Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take
thee for pity.



Beatrice. I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield
upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life,
for I was told you were in a consumption.

Benedick. Peace! I will stop your mouth.



Don Pedro. How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

Benedick. I'll tell thee what, prince; a college of
wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humour. Dost
thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No:
if a man will be beaten with brains, a' shall wear
nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do
purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any
purpose that the world can say against it; and
therefore never flout at me for what I have said
against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my
conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to
have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be my
kinsman, live unbruised and love my cousin.



Claudio. I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice,
that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single
life, to make thee a double-dealer; which, out of
question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look
exceedingly narrowly to thee.

Benedick. Come, come, we are friends: let's have a dance ere
we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts
and our wives' heels.



Leonato. We'll have dancing afterward.

Benedick. First, of my word; therefore play, music. Prince,
thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife:
there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.



Messenger. My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight,
And brought with armed men back to Messina.

Benedick. Think not on him till to-morrow:
I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.
Strike up, pipers.

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