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Queen. I will, my lord;-I pray you, pardon me.
And yet it is almost against my conscience.
[They play. [LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuffling, they change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds LAERTES. Part them, they are incens'd.
[The QUEEN falls.
Laer. Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Osric;
Ham. O villany!-Ho! let the door be lock'd:
Laer. It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain;
Envenom'd too!-Then, venom, to thy work.
He is justly serv'd;
She swoons to see them bleed. Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,-O my dear Hamlet !— The drink, the drink ;-I am poison'd!
Ham. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
Never believe it;
[Stabs the KING.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane,
Here's yet some liquor left.
As thou'rt a man,—
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story.-O, I die, Horatio;
The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit ;
Hor. Now cracks a noble heart;-Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
VARIOUS Sources have be assigned, from which Shakspeare borrowed the story of this comedy; Orlando Furioso, The Faëry Queen, and a novel of Bandello's, have each been cited as furnishing the original conception of the plot. It is perhaps of little consequence whence the poet drew his materials: the play itself is so full of life and character, so teeming with wit, poetry, and humor, as to render the mere superstructure on which the incidents are founded a matter of no account to the general reader.
Don PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
Don JOHN, his illegitimate brother.
CLAUDIO, a young lord of Florence, favorite to Don Pedro.
ANTONIO, his brother.
BALTHAZAR, servant to Don Pedro.
BORACHIO, CONRADE, followers of Don John.
DOGBERRY, VERGES, two foolish officers.
A Sexton, A Friar, A Boy.
HERO, daughter to Leonato.
BEATRICE, niece to Leonato.
Margaret, URSULA, gentlewomen attending on Hero.
SCENE I.-Before Leonato's House.
Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others, with a Messenger.
Leon. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
Mess. 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?
Mess. 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 honor on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
Mess. 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: he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears 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?
Mess. In great measure.
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness: There are no faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?
Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto returned from the wars,
Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Hero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Mess. O, he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beat. 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.
Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady;-But what is he to a lord? Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honorable virtues.
Beat. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuffed 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 is a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the old man governed with
one so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; 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.
Mess. 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.
Mess. 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?
Mess. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O! he will hang upon him like a disease: he 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 him a thousand pound ere he be cured.
Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Mess. Don Pedro is approached.
Enter Don PEDRO, attended by BALTHAZAR and others, Don JOHN, CLAUDIO, and BENEDICK.
D. 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.
D. Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly.-I think, this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so.
D. Pedro. Be happy, lady, for you are like an honorable father. Bene. If signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders, for all Messina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, signior Benedick; nobody marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible, disdain should die, while she 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 loved 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 woman; they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.