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And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
Leon. I know not; If they speak but truth of her,
my bad life reft me so much of friends,
Pause a while,
Leon. What shall become of this? What will this do?
Friar. Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf Change slander to remorse; that is some good : But not for that, dream I on this strange course, But on this travail look for greater birth. She dying, as it must be so maintain’d,
fore, Benedick says of Beatrice, her affection has its full bent. The expression is derived from archery; the bow has its bent, when it is drawn as far as it can be. Johnson. 6 Your daughter here the princes left for dead;] In former copies,
Your daughter here the princess (left for dead;) But how comes Hero to start up a princess here? We have no intimation of her father being a prince; and this is the first and only time she is complimented with this dignity. The remotion of a single letter, and of the parenthesis, will bring her to her own rank, and the place to its true meaning:
Your daughter here the princes left for dead; i.e. Don Pedro, prince of Arragon; and his bastard brother, who is likewise called a prince.” Theobald.
ostentation ;] Show, appearance. Fohnson.
Upon the instant that she was accus'd,
Bene. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you :
- we rack the value ;] i. e. we exaggerate the value. The allusion is to rack-rents. The same kind of thought occurs in Antony and Cleopatra :
“What our contempts do often hurl from us,
So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream :
“ To die upon the band I love so well.” Steevens. 1 If ever love had interest in his liver,] The liver, in conformity to ancient supposition, is frequently mentioned by Shakspeare as the seat of love. Thus Pistol represents Falstaff as loving Mrs. Ford" with liver burning hot.” Steevens,
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 Measure for 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, and believe every promise. He that has no longer any confidence in himself, is glad to repose his trust in any other that will undertake 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 naturally 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?
beat. 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?O, that I were a man!-What! bear her in hand? until they come to take hands; and then with publick accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancouro-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;o 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 obeisance, 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:
o:] 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.