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Benedick. Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee.


IT is true, as Mr. Pope has observed, that somewhat resembling the story of this play is to be found in the fifth book of the Orlando Furioso. In Spencer's Fairy Queen, as remote an original may be traced. A novel, however, of Belleforest, copied from another of Bandello, seems to have furnished Shakopeare with his fable, as it approaches nearer in all its particula's to the play before us, than any other performance known to be extant. I have seen so many versions from this once popular collection, that I entertain no doubt but that a great majority of the tales it comprehends have made their appearance in an English dress. Of that particular story which I have just mentioned, viz. the 18th history in the third volume, no translation has hitherto been met with. This play was entered at Státioners' Hall, Aug. 23, 1600. STE Eve Ns.

Ariosto is continually quoted for the fable of Much Ado about Wothing ; but I suspect our poet to have been satisfied with the Geneura of Turberville. “The tale (says Harington) is a pretie comical matter, and hath bin written in English verse some few years past, learnedly and with good grace, by M. George Turbervil.” Ariosto, fol. 1591, p. 39. FARMER.

This play may be justly said to contain two of the most sprightly characters that Shakspeare ever drew. The wit, the humourist, the gentleman, and the soldier, are combined in Benedick. It is to be lamented, indeed, that the first and most splendid of these distinctions, is disgraced by unnecessary profaneness ; for the goodness of his heart is hardly sufficient to atone for the licence of his tongue. The too sarcastic levity, which flashes out in the conversation of Beatrice, may be excused on account of the steadiness and friendship so apparent in her behaviour, when she urges her lover to risque his life by a challenge to Claudio. In the conduct of the fable, however, there is an imperfection similar to that which Dr. Johnsons has pointed out in The Merry Wives of Windsor -—the second contrivance is lessingenious than the first :—or, to speak more plainly, the same incident has become stale by repetition. I wish some other method had been found to entrap Beatrice, than that very one which before had been successfully practised on Benedick. STEEv ENs. PERSONS REPRESENTED.

23 WOL. II,

Don PEDRo, firince of Arragon. o Don Joh N, his bastard brother. CLAUD 10, a young lord of Florence, favourite to Don Pedro. BEN EDICK, a young lord of Padua, favourite likewise of Don Pedro. LEoN AT o, governor of Messina. ANT on Io, his brother. BALTH AzAR, servant to Dom Pedro. §o 3followers of Don John Dog B E R Ry, VE R G Es, .1 Sexton. .A Friar. .4 Boy.

3two foolish officers.

HE Ro, daughter to Leonato.
BEAT R IcE, niece to Leonato.

2 - UR SULA, $gentlewomen attending on Hero.

Messengers, Watch, and Attendants.


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SCENE I.—Before LEoNATo’s House. Enter LEoNATo,HERo, BEATRIce, and others, with a Messenger.

Leonato. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina. Mess. He is very near by this ; he was not three leagues off when I left him. Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action ? Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name. Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full mumbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio. Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered 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 bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how. Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it. Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him ; even so much, that joy could not show itself modest enough, without a badge of bitterness." Leon. Did he break out into tears 2 Mess. In great measure. Leon. A kind overflow of kindness : There are no

... [1] This is judiciously expressed. Of all the transports of joy, that which is attended with tears is feast offensive ; because, carrying with it this mark of pain, it allays the envy that usually attends another’s happiness. This he finely calls a modest joy, such a one as did not insult the observer by an indication of happiness unmixed with pain, WARBURTON,

faces truer than those that are so washed. How much
better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping 2
Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto” returned
from the wars, or no 2
Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was
none such in the army of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece 2
Płero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Mes. O, he is returned ; and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challen-
ged Cupid at the flight : 3 and my uncle’s fool, reading
the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him
at the bird-bolt.4—I pray you, how many hath he killed
and eaten in these wars 2 But how many hath he killed?
for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too
much ; but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat
it : he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an ex-
cellent stomach.
Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady ;—But what is he
to a lord 2
Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man ; stuffed with
all honourable virtues.5

[2] Montante, in Spanish, is a huge two-handed sword, a title given, with much humour, to one whom the speaker would represent as a boaster or bravado. WARBURTON. Montanto was one of the ancient terms of the fencing-school. So, in The Wives of Windsor : “—thy reverse, thy distance, thy montant. STEEVENS,

[3] Flight (as Mr. Douce observes to me) does not here mean an arrow, but a sort of shooting called roving, or shooting at long lengths. The arrows used at this sport are called flight-arrows; as were those used in battle for great distances. STEEVENS.

[4] The bird-bolt is a short thick arrow without a point, and spreading at the extremity so much, as to leave a flat surface, about the breadth of a shilling. Such are to this day in use to kill rooks with, and are shot from a cross-bow. STEEVENS. - - -

The meaning of the whole is—Benedick, from a vain conceit of his influence over women, challenged Cupid at roving (a particular kind of archery. in which flight-arrows are used.) In other words, he challenged him to shoot at hearts. The fool, to ridicule this piece of vanity, in his turn challenged Benedick to shoot at crows with the cross-bow and bird-bolt; an inferior kind of archery used by fools, who, for obvious reasons, were not permitted to shoot with pointed arrows : Whence the proverb–o A fool’s bolt is soon shot.” DOUCE.

[5] Stuffed, in this first instance... has no ridiculous meaning. Mr. Edwards observes, that Mede, in his Discourses on Scripture, speaking of Adam,

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