A room in Leonato’s house.
(Prince Don Pedro; Claudio; Benedick; Leonato; Don John the Bastard)
Don Pedro and Claudio make fun of Benedick for showing signs of being in love, not least for having shaved off his beard. Benedick takes Leonato aside, and Don Pedro and Claudio are convinced it is to ask for Beatrice’s hand. Don John joins them, and tells them he has proof that Hero is unfaithful. He convinces them to watch outside her window that night, and both swear that if Don John’s allegations are proved, they will publicly disgrace Hero in the church. (60 lines)
Enter Prince Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, and Leonato.
I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and then go I toward Arragon.
I’ll bring you thither, my lord, if you’ll vouchsafe me.
Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss of your marriage as to show a child his new coat and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold with Benedick for his company, for from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth. He hath twice or thrice cut Cupid’s bow-string, and the little hangman dare not shoot at him. He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks, his tongue speaks.
Gallants, I am not as I have been.
So say I, methinks you are sadder.
I hope he be in love.
Hang him, truant, there’s no true drop of blood in him to be truly touch’d with love. If he be sad, he wants money.
I have the toothache.
You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
What? Sigh for the toothache?
Where is but a humor or a worm.
Well, every one can master a grief but he that has it.
Yet say I, he is in love.
There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be a fancy that he hath to strange disguises—as to be a Dutchman today, a Frenchman tomorrow, or in the shape of two countries at once, as a German from the waist downward, all slops, and a Spaniard from the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a fancy to this foolery, as it appears he hath, he is no fool for fancy, as you would have it appear he is.
If he be not in love with some woman, there is no believing old signs. ’A brushes his hat a’ mornings; what should that bode?
Hath any man seen him at the barber’s?
No, but the barber’s man hath been seen with him, and the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuff’d tennis-balls.
Indeed he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a beard.
Nay, ’a rubs himself with civet. Can you smell him out by that?
That’s as much as to say, the sweet youth’s in love.
The greatest note of it is his melancholy.
And when was he wont to wash his face?
Yea, or to paint himself? For the which I hear what they say of him.
Nay, but his jesting spirit, which is now crept into a lute-string, and now govern’d by stops.
Indeed that tells a heavy tale for him. Conclude, conclude, he is in love.
Nay, but I know who loves him.
That would I know too. I warrant one that knows him not.
Yes, and his ill conditions, and in despite of all, dies for him.
She shall be buried with her face upwards.
Yet is this no charm for the toothache. Old signior, walk aside with me, I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak to you, which these hobby-horses must not hear.
Exeunt Benedick and Leonato.
For my life, to break with him about Beatrice.
’Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this play’d their parts with Beatrice, and then the two bears will not bite one another when they meet.
Enter Don John the Bastard.
My lord and brother, God save you!
Good den, brother.
If your leisure serv’d, I would speak with you.
If it please you, yet Count Claudio may hear, for what I would speak of concerns him.
What’s the matter?
Means your lordship to be married tomorrow?
You know he does.
I know not that, when he knows what I know.
If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it.
You may think I love you not; let that appear hereafter, and aim better at me by that I now will manifest. For my brother, I think he holds you well, and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect your ensuing marriage—surely suit ill spent and labor ill bestow’d.
Why, what’s the matter?
I came hither to tell you, and circumstances short’ned (for she has been too long a-talking of), the lady is disloyal.
Even she—Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero.
The word is too good to paint out her wickedness. I could say she were worse; think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not till further warrant. Go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber-window ent’red, even the night before her wedding-day. If you love her then, tomorrow wed her; but it would better fit your honor to change your mind.
May this be so?
I will not think it.
If you dare not trust that you see, confess not that you know. If you will follow me, I will show you enough, and when you have seen more, and heard more, proceed accordingly.
If I see any thing tonight why I should not marry her, tomorrow in the congregation, where I should wed, there will I shame her.
And as I woo’d for thee to obtain her, I will join with thee to disgrace her.
I will disparage her no farther till you are my witnesses. Bear it coldly but till midnight, and let the issue show itself.
O day untowardly turn’d!
O mischief strangely thwarting!
O plague right well prevented! So will you say when you have seen the sequel.