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Beat. It is fo, indeed: (2) he is no less than a ftufft man: but for the ftuffing,-well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You muft 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: So that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horfe; 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.

Me. 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.

Meff. 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?

Meff. 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 presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will coft him a thousand pound ere he be cur'd.

Meff. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.

Lean. You'll ne'er run mad, Niece.

(2) be is no less than a fufft man: but for the fluffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this paffage been all along flop'd, from the very first edition downwards. If any of the editors could extract fenfe from this pointing, their fegacity is a pitch above mine. I believe, by my regulation of the ftops, I have retriev'd the poet's true meaning. Our poet feems to ufe the word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Moftellaria: Act 1. Sc. 3.

Non veftem amatores mulieris amant, fed veftis fartum.

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Beat.

Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.

Me. Don Pedro is approach'd.

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 likenefs of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort fhould remain; but when you depart from me, forrow abides, and happinefs takes his leave.

Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly: I think this is your daughter.

Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo.

Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you afk'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 herfelf; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.

Bene. If Signior Leonato be her Father, fhe would hot have his head on her fhoulders for all Mefina, as like him as fhe is.

Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedict; no body marks you.

Bene. What, my dear lady Difdain! are you yet living?

Beat. Is it poffible, Difdain fhould die, while fhe hath fuch meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtefy itself must convert to Difdain, if you come in her prefence.

Bene. Then is courtefy 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 elfe 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.

Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! fo fome gentleman or other fhall fcape a predeftinate fcratcht face.

Beat. Scratching could not make it worfe, an 'twere fuch a face as yours were.

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

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

Bene. I would, my horfe had the speed of your tongue, and fo good a continuer; but keep your way a God's name, I have done.

Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know you of old.

Signior

Pedro. This is the fum of all: Leonato, Claudio, and Signior Benedick,-- my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all; I tell him, we fhall stay here at the leaft a month; and he heartily prays, fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare fwear he is no hypocrite; but prays from his heart.

Leon. If you fwear, my lord, you fhall not be forfworn. -Let me bid you welcome, my lord, being reconciled to the prince your brother; I owe you all duty.

John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Leon. Please it your Grace lead on ?

Pedro. Your hand, Leonato we will go together.

[Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio. Claud. Benedick, didit thou note the daughter of Sighior Leonato ?

Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.

Claud. Is the not a modeft young lady?

Bene. Do you queftion me, as an honeft man fhould do, for my fimple true judgment? or would you have me fpeak after my cuftom, as being a profeffed tyrant to their fex?

Claud. No, I pr'ythee, fpeak in fober judgment. Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks fhe is too low for an high praife, too brown for a fair praife, and too little for a

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great praife; only this commendation I can afford her, that were the other than fhe is, fhe were unhandsome; and being no other but as fhe is, I do not like her.

Claud. Thou think'ft, I am in fport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik' her.

Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire after her? Claud. Can the world buy fuch a jewel?

Bene. Yea, and a cafe to put it into; but speak you this with a fad 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 fhall a man take you to go in the fong?

Claud. In mine eye, fhe is the fweeteft lady that I ever look'd on.

Bene. I can fee yet without fpectacles, and I fee no fuch matter; there's her Coufin, if fhe were not poffeft with fuch a Fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the firft of May doth the laft of December: but I hope, you have no intent to turn husband, have you?

Claud. I would fcarce truft myself, tho' I had fworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with fufpicion? fhall I never fee a bachelor of threefcore again? go to, i' faith, if thou wilt needs thruft thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and figh away Sundays: look, Don Pedro is return'd to feek you.

Re-enter Don Pedro and Don John.

Pedro. What fecret hath held you here, that you follow'd not to, Leonato's houfe?

Bene. I would, your Grace would constrain me to tell. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be fecret as a dumb man, I would have you think fo; but on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance:--he is in love; with whom? now that is your Grace's part: mark, how fhort his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's fhort daughter.

Claud.

Claud. If this were fo, fo were it uttered. Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not fo, nor 'twas not fo; but, indeed, God forbid it fhould be fo. Claud. If my paffion change not shortly, God forbid

it fhould be otherwise.

Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the Lady is very well worthy.

Claud. You fpeak this to fetch me in, my Lord. Pedro. By my troth, I fpeak my thought. Claud. And, in faith, my Lord, I spoke mine. Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I fpeak mine.

Claud. That I love her, I feel.

Pedro. That he is worthy, I know.

Bene. That I neither feel how the fhould 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 ftake. Pedro. Thou wast ever an obslinate heretick in the defpight of beauty.

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

Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that he brought me up, I likewife give her moft humble thanks: but that I will have a recheate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women fhall pardon me; because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to truft none; and the fine is, (for the which I may go the finer,) I will live a bachelor.

Pedro. I fhall fee thee, ere I die, look pale with love. Bene. With anger, with ficknefs, or with hunger, my lord, not with love: prove, that ever I lofe 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.

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

Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and

fhoot

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