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But what was true, and very full of proof.
Leon. My lord, my lord,
I will not hear you.
No? Brother away:1-I will be heard ;Ant.
And shall, Or some of us will smart for it.
[Exeunt Leon. and Ant.
Enter BENEDICK. D. Pedro. See, see; here comes the man we went to
seek. Claud. Now, signior! what news? Bene. Good day, my lord.
D. Pedro. Welcome, signior: You are almost come to part almost 8 a fray.
Claud. We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth.
D. Pedro. Leonato and his brother: What think'st thou? Had we fought, I doubt, we should have been too young for them.
Bene. In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came to seek you both.
Claud. We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high-proof melancholy, and would fain have it beaten away: Wilt thou use thy wit?
Bene. It is in my scabbard; Shall I draw it?
Claud. Never any did so, though very many have been beside their wit.-I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels; o draw, to pleasure us.
7 Brother, away:-] The old copies, without regard to metre, read-Come, brother, away, &c. i have omitted the useless and redundant word-come. Steevens.
to part almost – ] This second almost appears like a casual insertion of the compositor. As the sense is complete without it, I wish the omission of it had been licensed by either of the ancient copies. Steevens.
9 I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels ;] An allusion perhaps to the itinerant sword-dancers. In what low estimation minstrels were held in the reign of Elizabeth, may be seen from Stat. Eliz. 39, C. iv, and the term was probably used to denote any sort of vagabonds who amused the people at particular seasons.
D. Pedro. As I am an honest man, he looks pale:Art thou sick, or angry?
Claud. What! courage, man! What though care kill'd a cat,' thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
Bene. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it against me:-I pray you, choose another subject.
Claud. Nay, then give him another staff; this last was broke cross. 2
D. Pedro. By this light, he changes more and more; I think, he be angry indeed.
Claud. If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.3
Bene. You are a villain ;-I jest not:-I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare:-Do me right,* or I will protest your cowardice.
1 What though care kill'd a cat,] This is a proverbial expression. See Ray's Proverbs. Douce.
2 Nay, then give him another staff; &c.] An allusion to tilting. See note, As you Like it, Act III, sc. iv. Warburton.
to turn his girdle.) We have a proverbial speech, If he be angry, let him turn the buckle of his girdle. But I do not know its original or meaning. Johnson.
A corresponding expression is to this day used in Ireland—If he be angry, let him tie up his brogues. Neither proverb, I believe, has any other meaning than this: If he is in a bad humour, let him employ himself till he is in a better.
Dr. Farmer furnishes me with an instance of this proverbial expression as used by Claudio, from Winwood's Memorials, fol. edit. 1725, Vol. I, p. 453. See letter from Winwood to Cecyll, from Paris, 1602, about an affront he received there from an Englishman: “I said what I spake was not to make him angry. He replied, If I were angry, I might turn the buckle of my girdle behind me.” So likewise, Cowley On the Government of Oliver Cromwell: " - The next month he swears by the living God, that he will turn them out of doors, and he does so in his princely way of threatening, bidding them turne the buckles of their girdles behind them.” Steevens.
Again, in Knavery in all Trades, or the Coffee House, 1664, sign. E: “Nay, if the gentleman be angry, let him turn the buckles of his girdle behind him. Reed.
Large belts were worn with the buckle before, but for wres. tling the buckle was turned behind, to give the adversary a fairer grasp at the girdle. To turn the buckle behind, therefore, was a challenge. H. White.
You have kill'd a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you: Let me hear from you.
Claud. Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer. D. Pedro. What, a feast? a feast?
Claud. I' faith, I thank him; he hath bids me to a calf's-head and a capon; the which if I do not carve most curiously, say, my knife's naught.-Shall I not find a woodcock too?6
Bene. Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
D. Pedro. I 'll tell thee how Beatrice prais’d thy wit the other day: I said, thou hadst a fine wit; True, says she, a fine little one: No, said I, a great wit; Right, says she, a great gro88 one: Nay, said I, a good wit'; Just, said she, it hurts no body: Nay, said I, the gentleman is wise ; Certain, said she, a wise gentleman:7 Nay, said I, he hath the tongues; That I believe, said she, for he swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning; there's a double tongue, there 's two tongues. Thus did she, an hour together, trans-shape thy particular virtues; yet, at last, she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man in Italy.
4 Do me right,] This phrase occurs in Justice Silence's song in King Henry IV, P. II, Act V, sc. iii, and was the usual form of challenge to pledge a bumper toast in a bumper. See note on the foregoing passage. Steevens.
bid - ) i. e. invited. So, in Titus Andronicus, Act I,
“I am not bid to wait upon this bride.". Reed. 6 Shall I not find a woodcock too?] A woodcock, being supposed to have no brains, was a proverbial term for a foolish fellow. See The London Prodigal, 1605, and other comedies. Malone.
A woodcock, means one caught in a springe; alluding to the plot against Benedick. So, in Hamlet, sc. ult.
“Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Osrick.” Again, in Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV, sc. iii, Biron says“ four woodcocks in a dish.” Douce.
7 — a wise gentleman:] This jest depending on the colloquial use of words is now obscure; perhaps we should read a wise gentleman, or a man wise enough to be a coward. Perhaps wise gentleman was in that age used ironically, and always stood for silly fellov. Johnson.
We still ludicrously call a man deficient in understanding-a wisc-acre. Steevens.
Claud. For the which she wept heartily, and said, she cared not.
D. Pedro. Yea, that she did; but yet, for all that, an if she did not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly: the old man's daughter told us all.
Claud. All, all; and moreover, God saw him when he was hid in the garden.
D. Pedro. But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on the sensible Benedick's head?
Claud. Yea, and text underneath, Here dwells Benedick the married man?
Bene. Fare you well, boy; you know my mind; I will leave you now to your gossip-like humour: you break jests as braggarts do their blades, which God be thanked, hurt not.--My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you: I must discontinue your company: your brother, the bastard, is fled from Messina: you have, among you, kill'd a sweet and innocent lady: For my lord Lack-beard, there, he and I shall meet; and till then, peace be with him.
[Exit BENE. D. Pedro. He is in earnest.
Claud. In most profound earnest; and, I'll warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.
D. Pedro. And hath challeng'd thee?
D. Pedro. What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and hose, and leaves off his wit!8
8 What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and hose, and leaves off his wit !] It was esteemed a mark of levity and want of becoming gravity, at that time, to go in the doublet and hose, and leave off the cloak, to which this well-turned expression alludes. The thought is, that love makes a man as ridiculous, and exposes him as naked as being in the doublet and hose without a cloak.
Warburton. I doubt much concerning this interpretation, yet am by no means confident that my own is right. I believe, however, these words refer to what Don Pedro bad said just before—“ And hath challenged thee?”—and that the meaning is, What a pretty thing a man is when he is silly enough to throw off his cloak, and go in his doublet and hose, to fight for a woman! In The Merry Wives of Windsor, when Sir Hugh is going to engage with Dr. Caius, he walks about in his doublet and hose: " Page. And youthful still in your doublet and hose, this raw rheumatick day!”_" - There is reasons and causes for it,” says Sir Hugh, alluding to the duel Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with
CONRADE and BORACHIO. Claud. He is then a giant to an ape: but then is an ape a doctor to such a-man.
D. Pedro. But, soft you, let be;' pluck up, my heart, and be sad!" Did he not say, my brother was fled?
Dogb. Come, you, sir; if justice cannot tame you, she shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance:2 nay, an you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be look'd to.
D. Pedro. How now, two of my brother's men bound ! Borachio, one!
Claud. Hearken after their offence, my lord!
Dogb. Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they
he was going to fight.-I am aware that there was a particular species of single combat called Rapier and cloak; but I suppose, nevertheless, that when the small sword came into common use, the cloak was generally laid aside in duels, as tending to embarrass the combatants. Malone.
Perhaps the whole meaning of the passage is this:-What an inconsistent fool is man, when he covers his body with clothes, and at the same time divests himself of his understanding.
Steevens. 9 But, soft you, let be;] The quarto and first .folio read cor. ruptly-let me be, which the editor of the second folio, in order to obtain some sense, converted to let me see. I was once idle enough to suppose that copy was of some authority; but a minute examination of it has shewn me that all the alterations made in it were merely arbitrary, and generally very injudicious. Let be were without doubt the author's words. The same expression occurs again in Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, sc. iv:
“What's this for? Ah, let be, let be.” Malone. If let be is the true reading, it must mean, let things remain as they are. I have heard the phrase used by Dr. Johnson himself. Mr. Henley observes, that the same expression occurs in St. Matt. xxvii, 49. Steevens. So, in Henry VIII, Act I, sc. i:
and they were ratify’d,
“ As he cried, Thus, let be.” Again, in The Winter's Tale, Act V, sc. iii, Leontes says, be, let be.” Reed.
pluck up, my heart, and be sad!] i. e rouse thyself, my heart, and be prepared for serious consequences! Steevens.
ne’er weigh more reasons in her balance:] A quibble be. tween reasons and raisons. Ritson.