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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING*.
Don PEDRO, Prince of Ar- Antonio, brother to Leonato. ragon.
Borachio, confident to Don Leonato, Gover nor of Mef- John. fina.
Conrade, friend to Borachio. Don John, bastard-brother | Dogberry, two foolish of
} to Don Pedro.
Verges, ficers. Claudio, a young Lord of Hero, daughter to Leonato,
Florence, favourite to Beatrice, niece to Leonato. Don Pedro.
Margaret, Ursula, trwogenBenedick, a young Lord of tlewomen attending on Padua, favoured likerwise
Hero. by Don Pedro.
A Friar, Messenger, Watch, Balthazar, servant to Don Town-Clerk, Sexton, and Pedro.
A court before Leonato's house. Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a messenger. Leon. LEARN in this letter, that Don Pedro
of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
Mel. 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 ?
Mes. But few of any sort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the archiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
• The story from Ariolo, Orl. Fur. 1. 5. Mr Pope. Vol. II.
Mej. Mej. 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 better'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
Mel. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not shew itself modest enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are na 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?
Mell. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none such in the
fort. Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece ? Hero. My coufin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
Mej. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he was,
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challenge'd Cupid at the fight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-boit. “ I pray you, how many hath ic 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."
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much'; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mel. He hath done good service, Lady, in thefe wars.
Beat. “ You had muity victuals, and he hath holp “ to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath is an excellent stomach."
Mell. And a good soldier too, Lady. * She gives him this name, to ridicule in him the character of a blufiring Toldier, the word muntanto in Spanish fignifying a two-banded Jword.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord ?
Mel. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuff'd with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuff'd man: but for the stuffing,-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 skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In 'our last 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 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 sworn brother.
Mel. Is it poflible?
Beat. Very easily poslible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block
Mef. I fee, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books. Beat. “ No; an he were,
I would burn
ftudy. “ But, I pray you, who is his companion ? is there
no young squarer now that will make a voyage with " him to the devil ?”
Mel. He is most in the company of the Right Noble Claudio.
Beat. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner 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 thonfand pounds ere he be cur'd.
Mel. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
S CE N E II. Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar, and
Don John. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace : for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow 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 so. Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you ask'd 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, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, 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 Disdain! are you yet living)
Beat. Is it possible Difdain 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.
Bene. Then is Courtesy a turn-coat; 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.