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Act 2, Scene 3



[Enter Boy]

Boy: Signior?

BENEDICK: In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
to me in the orchard.

Boy: I am here already, sir.     [5]

BENEDICK: I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.

[Exit Boy]

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
another man is a fool when he dedicates his
behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at
such shallow follies in others, become the argument     [10]
of his own scorn by failing in love: and such a man
is Claudio. I have known when there was no music
with him but the drum and the fife; and now had he
rather hear the tabour and the pipe: I have known
when he would have walked ten mile a-foot to see a     [15]
good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake,
carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to
speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man
and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography; his
words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many     [20]
strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with
these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not
be sworn, but love may transform me to an oyster; but
I'll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster
of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman     [25]
is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am
well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all
graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in
my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise,
or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her;     [30]
fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not
near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good
discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
be of what colour it please God. Ha! the prince and
Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.     [35]



DON PEDRO: Come, shall we hear this music?

CLAUDIO: Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!

DON PEDRO: See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

CLAUDIO: O, very well, my lord: the music ended,     [40]
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

[Enter BALTHASAR with Music]

DON PEDRO: Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.

BALTHASAR: O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.

DON PEDRO: It is the witness still of excellency     [45]
To put a strange face on his own perfection.
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.

BALTHASAR: Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,     [50]
Yet will he swear he loves.

DON PEDRO: Now, pray thee, come;
Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.

BALTHASAR:                Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.     [55]

DON PEDRO: Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing.

BENEDICK: Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it
not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out
of men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when     [60]
all's done.

[The Song]

BALTHASAR:     Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never:
Then sigh not so, but let them go,     [65]
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;     [70]
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leafy:
Then sigh not so, &c.

DON PEDRO: By my troth, a good song.

BALTHASAR: And an ill singer, my lord.     [75]

DON PEDRO: Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

BENEDICK: An he had been a dog that should have howled thus,
they would have hanged him: and I pray God his bad
voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the
night-raven, come what plague could have come after     [80]

DON PEDRO: Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee,
get us some excellent music; for to-morrow night we
would have it at the Lady Hero's chamber-window.

BALTHASAR: The best I can, my lord.     [85]

DON PEDRO: Do so: farewell.


Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO: O, ay: stalk on. stalk on; the fowl sits. I did     [90]
never think that lady would have loved any man.

LEONATO: No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in
all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

BENEDICK: Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?     [95]

LEONATO: By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought.

DON PEDRO: May be she doth but counterfeit.

CLAUDIO: Faith, like enough.     [100]

LEONATO: O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
passion came so near the life of passion as she
discovers it.

DON PEDRO: Why, what effects of passion shows she?

CLAUDIO: Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.     [105]

LEONATO: What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard
my daughter tell you how.

CLAUDIO: She did, indeed.

DON PEDRO: How, how, pray you? You amaze me: I would have I
thought her spirit had been invincible against all     [110]
assaults of affection.

LEONATO: I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
against Benedick.

BENEDICK: I should think this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot,     [115]
sure, hide himself in such reverence.

CLAUDIO: He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.

DON PEDRO: Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

LEONATO: No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.

CLAUDIO: 'Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: 'Shall     [120]
I,' says she, 'that have so oft encountered him
with scorn, write to him that I love him?'

LEONATO: This says she now when she is beginning to write to
him; for she'll be up twenty times a night, and
there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a     [125]
sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.

CLAUDIO: Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
pretty jest your daughter told us of.

LEONATO: O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?     [130]


LEONATO: O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
railed at herself, that she should be so immodest
to write to one that she knew would flout her; 'I
measure him,' says she, 'by my own spirit; for I     [135]
should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I
love him, I should.'

CLAUDIO: Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; 'O
sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'     [140]

LEONATO: She doth indeed; my daughter says so: and the
ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter
is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage
to herself: it is very true.

DON PEDRO: It were good that Benedick knew of it by some     [145]
other, if she will not discover it.

CLAUDIO: To what end? He would make but a sport of it and
torment the poor lady worse.

DON PEDRO: An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an
excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion,     [150]
she is virtuous.

CLAUDIO: And she is exceeding wise.

DON PEDRO: In every thing but in loving Benedick.

LEONATO: O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath     [155]
the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just
cause, being her uncle and her guardian.

DON PEDRO: I would she had bestowed this dotage on me: I would
have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear     [160]
what a' will say.

LEONATO: Were it good, think you?

CLAUDIO: Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she
will die, if he love her not, and she will die, ere
she make her love known, and she will die, if he woo     [165]
her, rather than she will bate one breath of her
accustomed crossness.

DON PEDRO: She doth well: if she should make tender of her
love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the
man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.     [170]

CLAUDIO: He is a very proper man.

DON PEDRO: He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

CLAUDIO: Before God! and, in my mind, very wise.

DON PEDRO: He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

CLAUDIO: And I take him to be valiant.     [175]

DON PEDRO: As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of
quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he
avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes
them with a most Christian-like fear.

LEONATO: If he do fear God, a' must necessarily keep peace:     [180]
if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a
quarrel with fear and trembling.

DON PEDRO: And so will he do; for the man doth fear God,
howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests
he will make. Well I am sorry for your niece. Shall     [185]
we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?

CLAUDIO: Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with
good counsel.

LEONATO: Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.

DON PEDRO: Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter:     [190]
let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I
could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see
how much he is unworthy so good a lady.

LEONATO: My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.

CLAUDIO: If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never     [195]
trust my expectation.

DON PEDRO: Let there be the same net spread for her; and that
must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The
sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of
another's dotage, and no such matter: that's the     [200]
scene that I would see, which will be merely a
dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.


BENEDICK: [Coming forward] This can be no trick: the
conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of
this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it     [205]
seems her affections have their full bent. Love me!
why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured:
they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive
the love come from her; they say too that she will
rather die than give any sign of affection. I did     [210]
never think to marry: I must not seem proud: happy
are they that hear their detractions and can put
them to mending. They say the lady is fair; 'tis a
truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous; 'tis
so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving     [215]
me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor
no great argument of her folly, for I will be
horribly in love with her. I may chance have some
odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me,
because I have railed so long against marriage: but     [220]
doth not the appetite alter? a man loves the meat
in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would     [225]
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day!
she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in


BEATRICE: Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.     [230]

BENEDICK: Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

BEATRICE: I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would
not have come.

BENEDICK: You take pleasure then in the message?     [235]

BEATRICE: Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's
point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach,
signior: fare you well.


BENEDICK: Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
to dinner;' there's a double meaning in that 'I took     [240]
no more pains for those thanks than you took pains
to thank me.' that's as much as to say, Any pains
that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do
not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not
love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.     [245]


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