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DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon,
two foolish Officers
Hero, Daughter to Leonato.
two Gentlewomen, attending on Hero.
4 Friar, Messenger, Watch, Town-Clerk, Sexton, and
SCENE, Messina in Sicily.
(1) Much Ado about NOTHING.
А с т І. SCENE, a Court before Leonato's Houfe.
Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a Messenger,
LEONATO Learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Meffina.
Mel. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you loft in this action ?
Mef. But few of any fort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the archiever brings home full nambers; I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine callid Claudio.
(1) Much Ado about Norking.] Innogen, (the mother of Hero) in the oldest Quarto that I have seen of this play, printed in 16co, is mention'd to enter in two several scenes. The succeeding ed ions lave all continued her name in the Dramatis Perfonæ. But I have veprur'd to expunge it ; there being no mention of her thro' the play, no one speech addrefs’d to her, nor one syllable spoken by her. Neither is there any one passage, from which we have any reason to determine that Hero's mother was living. It seems, as if the poet had in his first plan design'd such a character; which, on a survey of it, he found would be superfluous; and therefore he left it out, A 3
Mel. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembred 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 you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Melina will be very much glad of it.
Mes I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not thew itself modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness; there are no faces truer than those that are so wash'd; how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?
Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto return'd frem the wars or no.
Mef: I know none of that name, Lady; there was none such in the
Beat. He set up his bills here in Mellina, and challeng’d Cupid at the flight; and my Uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscrib'd for Cupid, and challeng'd him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath 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.
Melf. He hath done good service, Lady, in these wars.
Beat. You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mef. And a good foldier too, Ladv.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord ?
Mell. A lurd to a lord, a man to a man, ftufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed: (2) he is no less than a stufft 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 wis between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last confict, 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 horle; 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 possible?
Beat. Very easily possible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mel. I see, 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 squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil ?
Meff. 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 caker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cur'd.
Meff. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
(2) be is no less tban a fiufft man: but for obe fluffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this pairage been all along stop'd, fron the very first edition downwards. If any of the editors could extract fense from this pointing, their fegacity is a pitch above mine. I believe, by my regulation of the stops, I have retriev'd the poet's true meaning. Our foet seems to use the word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Muftellaria: Act 1. Sc. 3: Non veftem amatores mulieris amant, sed veftis fartum.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
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 fo.
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 Meffina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will fill be talking, Signior Benedi£t ; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible, Difdain should die, while the 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;