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Shakspeare has given such an odious character of the bastard, John, in this play, and of the bastard, Edmund, in King Lear, that, had those dramas been written in the time of Charles the Second, the author must have been suspected of disaffection to half the court.
DON PEDRO LEONATO Don JOHN CLAUDIO BENEDICK BALTHASAR ANTONIO BORACHIO CONRADE DOGBERRY VERGES FRIAR SEXTON SEACOAL OATCAKE
DRURY LANE. COVENT GARDEN.
Mr. Beverley. Mr. Purser. Mr. Atkins.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
ACT THE FIRST.
The Court before LEONATO's House.
Leonato, reading - Letter, Hero, Bratrice, and
BALTHASAR discovered. Leon. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro, of Arragon, coines this night to Messina.
Balth. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
Balth. But few of any sort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
Balth. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered 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.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina, will be very much glad of it.
Balth. I have already delivered him letters, and
much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness : There are faces truer than those that are so washed.
Beatr. I pray you, is Signior Montanto returned from the wars ?
Balth. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the
Hero. My cousin mcans Signior Benedick, of Pa. dua.
Balth. Oh, he's returned, and as pleasant as ever he
Beatr. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten, in these wars? But how many hath he killed ? for, indeed, I promised 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. Balth. He hath done good service, lady, in these
Beatr. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he's a very valiant trencher man; he hath an excellent stomach.
Balth. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beatr. And a good soldier to a lady ;-But what is he to a lord ?
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 wit between them.
Beatr. Alas, he gets nothing by that !-Who is his companion now ? he hath every month a new sworn brother.
Balth. Is it possible?
Beatr. Very easily possible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Balth, I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beatr. No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion ?
Balth. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beatr. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease! be is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. Heaven help the noble Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it will cost hiin a thousand pounds, ere he be cured.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, niece.
(Flourish of Trumpets. Balth. Don Pedro is approached.
(Exit. Enter Don Pedro, Don Joun, CLAUDIO, and
BENEDICK. 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 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. embrace your charge too willingly. I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bened. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked 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 herself:- Be happy, lady! for you are like an honourable father,