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W.SANDS, HAMILTON & BALFOUR, KINCAID & DONALD-
A court before Leonato's houfe.
Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a mellenger.
LEARN in this letter, that Don Pedro of
Mell. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him. Leon. How many gentlemen have you loft in this action?
Me. But few of any fort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the atchiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
Me. Much deferved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself be
* The story from Ariofto, Orl. Fur. 1.5. Mr Pope.
yond the promife of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better better'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Meffina will be very much glad of it.
Me. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even fo much, that joy could not fhew itself modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindnefs.
There are no
faces truer than those that are fo washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping! Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto returned from the wars, or no?
Me. I know none of that name, Lady; none fuch in the army of any fort.
Leon. What is he that you afk for, niece?
Hero. My coufin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Me. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he
Beat. He fet up his bills here in Meffina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he kill'd and eaten in thefe wars? but how many hath he kill'd? for indeed I promis'd 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.
Me. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in thefe wars. Beat. "You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent ftomach."
Me. And a good foldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?
She gives him this name, to ridicule in him the character of a bluftering foldier, the word montanto in Spanish fignifying a twohanded fword.
Me. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuff'd with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed: he is no less than a stuff'd man : but for the ftuffing, well, we are all mortal. Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her they never meet, but there's a fkirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our laft conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd with one: fo that, if he have wit enough to keep himself from harm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; 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.
Meff. 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.
Me. I fee, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my study. "But, I pray you, who is his companion? is there no young fquarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Mell. He is moft in the company of the Right Noble Claudio.
Beat. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease, he is fooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs prefently mad. God help the Noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will coft him a thou fand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Me. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Me. Don Pedro is approach'd.