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DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
Don John, Baftard Brother to Don Pedro.
Claudio, a young Lord of Florence, Favourite to Don
Benedick, a young Lord of Padua, favour'd likewife by
Balthazar, Servant to Don Pedro.
Antonio, Brother to Leonato.
Borachio, Confident to Don John.
Dogberry, two foolish Officers.
Hero, Daughter to Leonato.
two Gentlewomen, attending on Hero.
A Frier, Mejenger, Watch, Town-Clerk, Sexton, and
SCENE, a Court before Leonato's House. Enter Leonato, Hero, and Beatrice, with a
none of Name.
LEONA T 0.
Learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of
Me. 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 ?
Me. But few of any Sort, and
Lean. A victory is twice it felf, when the atchiever brings home full numbers; I find here, that Don Pe
(1) Much Ado about-Nothing] Innogen, (the Mother of Hero) in the oldeft Quarto that have feen of this Play, printed in 1600, is mention'd to enter in two feveral Scenes. The fuc ceeding Editions have all continued her Name in the Dra matis Perfona. But I have ventur'd to expunge it; there being no mention of her thro' the Play, no one Speech address'ð to her, nor one Syllable spoken by her. Neither is there any
dro hath bestow'd much honour on a young Florentine, call'd Claudio.
Meff. Much deferved 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 Meffina will be very much glad of it.
Me. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even fo much, that joy could not fhew it felf modeft enough, without a badge of bitternefs.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Melf. In great
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that are fo wafh'd. How much better is
it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?
Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto return'd from the wars or no?
Meff. I know none of that name, Lady; there was none fuch in the army of any Sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, Neice?
Hero. My Coufin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Meff. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he
Beat. He fet up his bills here in Messina, and challeng'd Cupid at the flight; and my Uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcrib'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.
one Paffage, from which we have any Reason to determine that Hero's Mother was living. It feems, as if the Poet had in his first Plan defign'd fuch a Character; which, on a Survey of it, he found would be fuperfluous; and therefore he left it out.
Leon. 'Faith, Neice, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not. Me. He hath done good fervice, Lady, in these
Beat. You had mufty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent ftomach.
Mel. And a good foldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good foldier to a lady? but what is he to a lord?
Me. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, ftufft with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo, indeed: (2) he is no less than a stufft man but for the ftuffing,-well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my Neice; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet, but there's a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by That. In our laft conflict, 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 himfelf warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horfe; 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 fworn brother.
Me. Is it poffible?
Beat. Very eafily poffible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
(2)be is no less than a flufft man: but for the Stuffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this Paffage been all along flop'd, from the very first Edition downwards. If any of the Editors could extract Senfe from this Pointing, their Sagacity is a Pitch above mine. I believe, by my Regulation, I have retriev'd the Poet's true Meaning. Our Poet feems to use the Word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Moftellaria; Act. 1. Sc. 3.
Non Veftem amatores mulieris amant, fed Veftis fartum.
Meff. I fee, 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 íquarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Me. He is moft in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is fooner caught than the peftilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick it will cost him a thousand
pounds ere he be cur'd.
Meff. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, Neice.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
Meff. Don Pedro is approach'd.
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthazar and Don John.
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 houfe in the likeness of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort fhould remain; but when you depart from me, forrow 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.
Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you askt her? Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; We may guefs by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathersher felf; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her Father, fhe would not have his head on her Shoulders for all Meina, as like him as she is.