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A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
And here's another, Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket, Containing her affection unto Benedick.
Bene. A miracle! here's our own hands against our hearts!-Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity.
Beat. 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.
Bene. Peace, I will stop your mouth
[Kissing her. D. Pedro. How dost thou, Benedick the married man?
Bene. I'll tell thee what, prince; a college of witcrackers 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, he shall wear nothing handsome about him: In brief, since I do propose 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.
Claud. I had well hoped, thou would'st 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 exceeding narrowly to thee.
Bene. 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.
Leon. We'll have dancing afterwards.
Bene. First, o' my word; therefore, play, musick. -Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee
a wife; there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina.
Bene. Think not on him till to-morrow; I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.-Strike up, pipers. [Dance. [Exeunt.
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 license 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 risk his life by a challenge to Claudio. In the conduct of the fable, however, there is an imperfection, similar to that which Dr. Johnson has pointed out in The Merry Wives of Windsor :-the second contrivance is less ingenious than the first-or, to speak more plainly, the same incident is become stale by repetition. I wish some other method had been found to entrap Beatrice, than that very one which before had been so successfully practised on Benedick.
Much Ado About Nothing (as I understand from one of Mr. Vertue's MSS.), formerly passed under the title of Benedick and Beatrix. Heming the player received, on the 20th of May, 1613, the sum of forty pounds, and twenty pounds more as his majesty's gratuity, for exhibiting six plays at Hampton Court, among which was this comedy.--STEEVENS.
Theseus, duke of Athens.
Philostrate, master of the revels to Theseus.
Quince, the carpenter.
Bottom, the weaver.
Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus.
Oberon, king of the fairies.
Characters in the interlude, performed by the clowns.
Other fairies attending their king and queen.
Scene, Athens, and a wood not far from it.
SCENE I. Athens. A room in the palace of Theseus. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, and attendants.
The. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour Draws on apace; four happy days brings in Another moon: but, oh, methinks, how slow This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires, Like to a step-dame, or a dowager, Long withering out a young man's revenue. Hip. Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
Go, Philostrate, Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments; Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth; Turn melancholy forth to funerals, The pale companion is not for our pomp.[Exit Philostrate. Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword, And won thy love, doing thee injuries; But I will wed thee in another key, With pomp, with triumph *, and with revelling.
Enter Egeus, Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius. Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!