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Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,
Being that I flow in grief,
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.-
[Exeunt FRIAR, HERO, and Leon. Bene. Lady Beatrice, 4 have you wept all this while? Beat. Yea, and I will weep a while longer. Bene. I will not desire that. Beat. You have no reason, I do it freely. Bene. Surely, I do believe your fair cousin is wrong'd.
Beat. Ah, how much might the man deserve of me, that would right her?
Bene. Is there any way to show such friendship?
- my inwardness -] i. e. intimacy. Thus Lucio, in Meafor Measure, speaking of the Duke, says—“I was an inward of his.” Again, in King Richard III:
“Who is most inward with the noble duke?” Steevens. 3 The smallest twine may lead me.] This is one of our author's observations upon life. Men overpowered with distress, eagerly listen to the first offers of relief, close with every scheme, ancl believe every promise. He that has no longer any confidence in himself, is glad to repose his trust in any other that will under. take to guide him. Johnson.
4 Lady Beatrice, &c.] The poet, in my opinion, has shown a great deal of address in this scene. Beatrice here engages her lover to revenge the injury done her cousin Hero: and without this very natural incident, considering the character of Beatrice, and that the story of her passion for Benedick was all a fable, she could never have been easily or naturaliy brought to confess she loved him, notwithstanding all the foregoing preparation. And yet, on this confession, in this very place, depended the whole success of the plot upon her and Benedick. For had she not owned her love here, they must have soon found out the trick, and then the design of bringing them together had been defeated; and she would never have owned a passion she had been only tricked into, had not her desire of revenging her cousin's wrong made her drop her capricious humour at once. Warburton.
Beat. It is a man's office, but not yours.
Bene. I do love nothing in the world so well as you; Is not that strange?
Feat. As strange as the thing I know not: It were as possible for me to say, I loved nothing so well as you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing :- I am sorry for my cousin.
Bene. By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
Bene. I will swear by it, that you love me; and I will make him eat it, that says, I love not you.
Beat. Will you not eat your word?
Bene. With no sauce that can be devised to it: I protest, I love thee.
Beat. Why then, God forgive me!
Beat. You have staid me in a happy hour; I was about to protest, I loved you.
Bene. And do it with all thy heart.
Beat. I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.
Bene. Come, bid me do any thing for thee.
Beat. I am gone, though I am here ;5 — There is no love in you:-Nay, I pray you, let me go.
Beat. You dare easier be friends with me, than fight with mine enemy:
Bene. Is Claudio thine enemy?
5 I am gone, though I am here;) i. e. I am out of your mind already, though I remain here in person before you. Steevens.
I cannot approve of Steevens's explanation of these words, and believe Beatrice means to say, “I am gone,” that is, “ I am lost to you, though I am here.” In this sense Benedick takes them, and desires to be friends with her. M. Mason.
Or, perhaps, my affection is withdrawn from you, though I am yet here. Malone.
hath slander'd, scorn'd, dishonour'd my kinswoman? 0, that I were a man ! - What! bear her in hand? until they come to take hands; and then with publick accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancours–O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace.
Bene. Hear me, Beatrice.
Beat. Talk with a man out at a window?-a proper saying!
Bene. Nay but, Beatrice;
Beat. Sweet Hero!—she is wrong'd, she is slander'd, she is undone.
Beat. Princes, and counties !8 Surely, a princely testimony, a goodly count-confect;' a sweet gallant, surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too:2 he is now as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie, and swears it: I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.
Bene. Tarry, good Beatrice: By this hand, I love thee.
in the height a villain,] So, in King Henry VIII:
“ He's a traitor to the height.”. " In præcipiti vitium stetit.” Juv. I, 149. Steevens.
bear her in hand -] i. e. delude her by fair promises. So, in Macbeth:
“How you were borne in hand, how cross'd,” &c. Steevens.
and counties !] County was the ancient general term for a nobleman. See a note on the County Paris in Romeo and Juliet.
Steevens. 9 — a goodly count-confect;] i. e. a specious nobleman made out of sugar. Steevens.
- into courtesies,] i. e. into ceremonious obcisance, like the courtesies dropped by women. Thus, in Othello:
“ Very good; well kiss'd! an excellent courtesy!” Again, in King Richard III:
“ Duck with French nods, and apish courtesy.” Steevens.
- and men are only turn'd into tongue, and trim ones too:] Mr. Heath would read tongues, but he mistakes the construction of the sentence, which is-not only men but trim ones, are turned into tongue, i. e. not only common, but clever men, &c.
Beat. Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it. Bene. Think
in your soul, the count Claudio hath wrong'd Hero?
Beat. Yea, as sure as I have a thought, or a soul.
Bene. Enough, I am engaged, I will challenge him; I will kiss your hand, and so leave you: By this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account: As you hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your cousin: I must say, she is dead; and so, farewel.
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns ;*
and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO. Dogb. Is our whole dissembly appear'd?
3 Scene II.] The persons throughout this scene, have been strangely confounded in the modern editions. The first error has been the introduction of a Town-Clerk, who is, indeed, mentioned in the stage-direction, prefixed to this scene in the old editions, (Enter the Constables, Borachio, and the Towne-Clerke, in gownes) but no where else; nor is there a single speech ascribed to him in those editions. The part which he might reasonably have been expected to take upon this occasion, is performed by the Sexton ; who assists at, or rather directs, the examinations; sets them down in writing, and reports them to Leonato. It is probable, therefore, I think, that the Sexton has been styled the TownClerk, in the stage-direction above-mentioned, from his doing the duty of such an officer. But the editors, having brought both Sexton and Town-Clerk upon the stage, were unwilling, as it seems, that the latter should be a mute personage; and therefore they have put into his mouth almost all the absurdities which the poet certainly intended for his ignorant constable. To rectify this confusion, little more is necessary than to go back to the old editions, remembering that the names of Kempe and Corvley, two celebrated actors of the time, are put in this scene, for the names of the per. sons represented; viz. Kempe for Dogberry, and Cowley for Verges.
Tyrwhitt. I have followed Mr. Tyrwhitt's regulation, which is undoubtedly just; but have left Mr. Theobald's notes as I found them.
Steevens. 4- in gowns;] It appears from The Black Book, 4to. 1604, that this was the dress of a constable in our author's time: " — when they mist their constable, and sawe the black gowne of his office lye full in a puddle.
Verg. O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton !5
Verg. Nay, that's certain; we have the exhibition to examine.
Sexton. But which are the offenders that are to be examined? let them come before master constable.
Dogb. Yea, marry, let them come before me.- -What is your name, friend?
Dogb. Write down-master gentleman Conrade.Masters, do you serve God?
Con. Bora. Yea, sir, we hope.
Dogb. Write down—that they hope they serve God: -and write God first; for God defend but God should go before such villains !6—Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves; and it will go near to be thought so shortly. How answer you for yourselves?
The Sexton (as Mr. Tyrwhitt observed) is styled in this stagedirection, in the old copies, the Town-Clerk, “probably from his doing the duty of such an officer.” But this error has only happened here; for throughout the scene itself he is described by his proper title. By mistake also in the quarto, and the folio, which appears to have been printed from it, the name of Kempe (an actor in our author's theatre) throughout this scene is prefix. ed to the speeches of Dogberry, and that of Cowley to those of Verges, except in two or three instances, where either Constable or Andrew are substituted for Kempe. Malone.
50, a stool and a cushion for the sexton!] Perhaps a ridicule was here aimed at The Spanish Tragedy:
“ Hieron. What, are you ready?
“ Balth. Bring a chaire and a cushion for the king.” Malone. 6 Con. Bora. Yea, sir, we hope.
Dogb. Write down—that they hope they serve God:-and write God first; for God defend but God should go before such villains'] have added from the old quarto. Besides, it supplies a defect: for without it, the Town-Clerk asks a question of the prisoners, and goes on without staying for any answer to it. Theobald.
The omission of this passage since the edition of 1600, may be accounted for from the stat. 3 Jac. I, c. 21, the sacred name being jestingly used four times in one line. Blackstone.