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Claudio, deceived by the machinations of Don John, believes Hero to be unfaithful. On the day appointed for the marriage, he attends in the church, and, before the assembled guests, denounces Hero as being false, and refuses to marry her-Hero swoons on hearing the charge, and Claudio and his friends retire. The Priest or Friar engaged to perform the nuptial ceremony, interferes to appease the wrath of Leonato.
Enter Friar, HERO, LEONATO, BENEDICK, and BEATRICE.
For I have only been silent so long,
Friar, it cannot be :
Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?
Friar. There is some strange misprision in the princes.
Leon. I know not; If they speak but truth of her,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
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; She dying, as it must be so maintain❜d, Upon the instant that she was accus'd, Shall be lamented, pitied, and excus'd, Of every hearer: For it so falls out, That what we have we prize not to the worth, Whiles we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost, Why, then we rack the value, then we find The virtue, that possession would not show us Whiles it was ours: So will it fare with Claudio: When he shall hear she died upon his words, The idea of her life shall sweetly creep Into his study of imagination; And every lovely organ of her life Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit, More moving-delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she lived indeed :-then shall he mourn,
And wish he had not so accus'd her;
And though, you know, my inwardness and love
Being that I flow in grief, The smallest twine may lead me. Friar. "Tis well consented; presently away; For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.Come, lady, die to live; this wedding day, Perhaps, is but prolong'd; have patience, and endure. [Exeunt Friar, HERO, and LEONATO. Bene. Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while ? Beat. Yea, and I will weep awhile 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?
Beat. A very even way, but no such friend.
Bene. May a man do it?
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.
Beat. Do not swear by it, and eat it.
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, Heaven forgive me!
Bene. What offence, sweet Beatrice?
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. Kill Claudio.
Bene. Ha! not for the wide world.
Beat. You kill me to deny it: Farewell.
Bene. Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
Beat. I am gone, though I am here;-There is no love in you :—
Nay, I pray you, let me go.
Beat. In faith, I will go.
Beat. You dare easier be friends with me, than fight with mine enemy.
Bene. Is Claudio thine enemy?
Beat. Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonored my kinswoman?-O, that I were a man! -What! bear her in hand until they come to take hands; and then with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancor.-0 Heaven, 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.
Beat. Sweet Hero!-she is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.
Beat. Princes, and counties? 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, valor into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too: 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. Beat. Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it. Bene. Think you in your soul the count Claudio hath wronged 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, farewell.
SCENE II-A Prison.
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.
Dogb. Is our whole dissembly appeared?
Verg. O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton!
Sexton. Which be the malefactors?
Dogb. Marry, that am I and my partner.
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. Pray write down-Borachio.- Yours, sirrah? Con. I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade. Dogb. Write down-master gentleman Conrade.-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?
Con. Marry, sir, we say we are none.
Dogb. A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but I will go about with him.-Come you hither, sirrah; a word in your ear, sir; say to you, it is thought you are false knaves.
Bora. Sir, I say to you, we are none.
Dogb. Well, stand aside.-They are both in a tale: Have you writ down-that they are none?
Sexton. Master constable, you go not the way to examine; you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.
Dogb. Yea, marry, that's the eftest way: Let the watch come forth: Masters, I charge you, in the prince's name, accuse these
1st Watch. This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince's brother, was a villain.
Dogb. Write down-prince John a villain :-Why this is flat perjury, to call a prince's brother-villain.
Bora. Master constable,
Dogb. Pray thee, fellow, peace; I do not like thy look, I promise thee.
Sexton. What heard you him say else?
2nd Watch. Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of Don John, for accusing the lady Hero wrongfully.
Dogb. Flat burglary, as ever was committed.
Verg. Yea, by the mass, that it is.
Sexton. What else, fellow?
1st Watch. And that count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly, and not marry her.
Dogb. O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.
Sexton. What else?
2nd Watch. This is all.
Sexton. And this is more, masters, than you can deny. Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away; Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner refused, and upon the grief of this, suddenly died.-Master constable, let these men be bound, and brought to Leonato's; I will go before and show him their examination. [Exit.
Dogb. Come, let them be opinioned.
Con. Off, coxcomb!
Dogb. Where's the sexton? let him write down-the prince's officer, coxcomb.-Come, bind them:-Thou naughty varlet!
Con. Away! you are an ass, you are an ass.
Dogb. Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect