Before Leonato’s house.
(Leonato; Antonio; Prince Don Pedro; Claudio; Benedick; Dogberry; Verges; First Watchman; Second Watchman; Conrade; Borachio; Sexton)
Antonio tries to comfort the grief-stricken Leonato, but with little effect. When they cross paths with Don Pedro and Claudio, however, Antonio soon reveals that he is not as calm as he seems. Both brothers rail at the Prince and the Count, challenging them to fight, but the younger men refuse to duel with old men. Neither of them shows any remorse for Hero’s death, insisting on the truth of their accusations. Leonato and Antonio leave in a rage, and Don Pedro and Claudio try to cheer themselves up by conversing with Benedick, who now arrives. They joke about the old men, but Benedick does not laugh, instead taking Claudio aside and challenging him. Don Pedro mocks him about Beatrice, but Benedick does not rise to the bait, rather resigning from his service to the Prince. Don Pedro and Claudio realize that he is serious. As he leaves, they joke that he is simply henpecked, but then Dogberry and the Watch arrives, and the two men discover that they were in the wrong. Realizing that this is why Don John has fled, Don Pedro is stricken with remorse, while Claudio feels deeply in love with Hero once again. Leonato enters to hear Borachio admit his villainy to his face, and confronts Don Pedro and Claudio, who offer to do anything he asks to be forgiven, though insisting their actions were only wrong because their information was false. Leonato orders them to sign an epitaph to Hero’s grave, and to marry Antonio’s daughter. Claudio agrees. Leonato wishes to confront Margaret over her part in the plot, but Borachio insists that she is innocent and did not know what he was up to. (237 lines)
Enter Leonato and his brother Antonio.
If you go on thus, you will kill yourself,
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
I pray thee cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
As water in a sieve. Give not me counsel,
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine.
Bring me a father that so lov’d his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm’d like mine,
And bid him speak of patience;
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus, and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form;
If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
And, sorrow wag, cry “hem!” when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk
With candle-wasters, bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.
But there is no such man, for, brother, men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel, but tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial med’cine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air, and agony with words.
No, no, ’tis all men’s office to speak patience
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel,
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
I pray thee peace. I will be flesh and blood,
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods,
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
There thou speak’st reason; nay, I will do so.
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied,
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the Prince,
And all of them that thus dishonor her.
Enter Prince Don Pedro and Claudio.
Here comes the Prince and Claudio hastily.
Good den, good den.
Good day to both of you.
Hear you, my lords—
We have some haste, Leonato.
Some haste, my lord! Well, fare you well, my lord.
Are you so hasty now? Well, all is one.
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
If he could right himself with quarreling,
Some of us would lie low.
Who wrongs him?
Marry, thou dost wrong me, thou dissembler, thou—
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword,
I fear thee not.
Marry, beshrew my hand,
If it should give your age such cause of fear.
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.
Tush, tush, man, never fleer and jest at me;
I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
As under privilege of age to brag
What I have done being young, or what would do
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wrong’d mine innocent child and me
That I am forc’d to lay my reverence by,
And with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child!
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
And she lies buried with her ancestors—
O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, fram’d by thy villainy!
Thine, Claudio, thine, I say.
You say not right, old man.
My lord, my lord,
I’ll prove it on his body, if he dare,
Despite his nice fence and his active practice,
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
Away, I will not have to do with you.
Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill’d my child.
If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
He shall kill two of us, and men indeed;
But that’s no matter, let him kill one first.
Win me and wear me, let him answer me.
Come follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come follow me.
Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence,
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Content yourself. God knows I lov’d my niece,
And she is dead, slander’d to death by villains,
That dare as well answer a man indeed
As I dare take a serpent by the tongue.
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!
Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple—
Scambling, outfacing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go anticly, and show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dang’rous words,
How they might hurt their enemies—if they durst—
And this is all.
But, brother Anthony—
Come, ’tis no matter;
Do not you meddle, let me deal in this.
Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter’s death;
But on my honor she was charg’d with nothing
But what was true, and very full of proof.
My lord, my lord—
I will not hear you.
No? Come, brother, away! I will be heard.
And shall, or some of us will smart for it.
Exeunt ambo Leonato and Antonio.
See, see, here comes the man we went to seek.
Now, signior, what news?
Good day, my lord.
Welcome, signior, you are almost come to part almost a fray.
We had lik’d to have had our two noses snapp’d off with two old men without teeth.
Leonato and his brother. What think’st thou? Had we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.
In a false quarrel there is no true valor. I came to seek you both.
We have been up and down to seek thee, for we are high-proof melancholy, and would fain have it beaten away. Wilt thou use thy wit?
It is in my scabbard, shall I draw it?
Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?
Never any did so, though very many have been beside their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels, draw to pleasure us.
As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou sick, or angry?
What, courage, man! What though care kill’d a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.
Nay then give him another staff, this last was broke cross.
By this light, he changes more and more. I think he be angry indeed.
If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
Shall I speak a word in your ear?
God bless me from a challenge!
Aside to Claudio
You are a villain. I jest not; I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right; or I will protest your cowardice. You have kill’d a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you.
Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.
What, a feast, a feast?
I’ faith, I thank him, he hath bid me to a calve’s-head and a capon, the which if I do not carve most curiously, say my knife’s naught. Shall I not find a woodcock too?
Sir, your wit ambles well, it goes easily.
I’ll tell thee how Beatrice prais’d thy wit the other day. I said thou hadst a fine wit. “True,” said she, “a fine little one.” “No,” said I, “a great wit.” “Right,” says she, “a great gross one.” “Nay,” said I, “a good wit.” “Just,” said she, “it hurts nobody.” “Nay,” said I, “the gentleman is wise.” “Certain,” said she, “a wise gentleman.” “Nay,” said I, “he hath the tongues.” “That I believe,” said she, “for he swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning. There’s a double tongue, there’s two tongues.” Thus did she an hour together trans-shape thy particular virtues, yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the proper’st man in Italy.
For the which she wept heartily and said she car’d not.
Yea, that she did, but yet for all that, and if she did not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly. The old man’s daughter told us all.
All, all, and, moreover, God saw him when he was hid in the garden.
But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns on the sensible Benedick’s head?
Yea, and text underneath, “Here dwells Benedick the married man”?
Fare you well, boy, you know my mind. I will leave you now to your gossip-like humor. You break jests as braggarts do their blades, which, God be thank’d, hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you. I must discontinue your company. Your brother the bastard is fled from Messina. You have among you kill’d a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord Lack-beard there, he and I shall meet, and till then peace be with him.
He is in earnest.
In most profound earnest, and I’ll warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.
And hath challeng’d thee?
What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!
Enter Constables Dogberry and Verges, and the Watch with Conrade and Borachio.
He is then a giant to an ape, but then is an ape a doctor to such a man.
But soft you, let me be. Pluck up, my heart, and be sad. Did he not say my brother was fled?
Come you, sir. If justice cannot tame you, she shall ne’er weigh more reasons in her balance. Nay, and you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be look’d to.
How now? Two of my brother’s men bound? Borachio one!
Hearken after their offense, my lord.
Officers, what offense have these men done?
Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they are lying knaves.
First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what’s their offense; sixth and lastly, why they are committed; and to conclude, what you lay to their charge.
Rightly reason’d, and in his own division, and by my troth there’s one meaning well suited.
Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? This learned constable is too cunning to be understood. What’s your offense?
Sweet Prince, let me go no farther to mine answer: do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have deceiv’d even your very eyes. What your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light, who in the night overheard me confessing to this man how Don John your brother incens’d me to slander the Lady Hero, how you were brought into the orchard, and saw me court Margaret in Hero’s garments, how you disgrac’d her when you should marry her. My villainy they have upon record, which I had rather seal with my death than repeat over to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my master’s false accusation; and briefly, I desire nothing but the reward of a villain.
Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
I have drunk poison whiles he utter’d it.
But did my brother set thee on to this?
Yea, and paid me richly for the practice of it.
He is compos’d and fram’d of treachery,
And fled he is upon this villainy.
Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I lov’d it first.
Come, bring away the plaintiffs. By this time our sexton hath reform’d Signior Leonato of the matter; and, masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass.
Here, here comes Master Signior Leonato, and the sexton too.
Enter Leonato, his brother Antonio, and the Sexton.
Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes,
That when I note another man like him
I may avoid him. Which of these is he?
If you would know your wronger, look on me.
Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill’d
Mine innocent child?
Yea, even I alone.
No, not so, villain, thou beliest thyself.
Here stand a pair of honorable men,
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death;
Record it with your high and worthy deeds.
’Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.
I know not how to pray your patience,
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself,
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin; yet sinn’d I not,
But in mistaking.
By my soul, nor I,
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he’ll enjoin me to.
I cannot bid you bid my daughter live—
That were impossible—but I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died, and if your love
Can labor aught in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,
And sing it to her bones, sing it tonight.
Tomorrow morning come you to my house,
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,
And she alone is heir to both of us.
Give her the right you should have giv’n her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.
O noble sir!
Your overkindness doth wring tears from me.
I do embrace your offer, and dispose
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
Tomorrow then I will expect your coming,
Tonight I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
Who I believe was pack’d in all this wrong,
Hir’d to it by your brother.
No, by my soul she was not,
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
But always hath been just and virtuous
In any thing that I do know by her.
Moreover, sir, which indeed is not under white and black, this plaintiff here, the offender, did call me ass. I beseech you let it be rememb’red in his punishment. And also, the watch heard them talk of one Deformed. They say he wears a key in his ear and a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God’s name, the which he hath us’d so long and never paid that now men grow hard-hearted and will lend nothing for God’s sake. Pray you examine him upon that point.
I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.
Your worship speaks like a most thankful and reverent youth, and I praise God for you.
There’s for thy pains.
God save the foundation!
Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.
I leave an arrant knave with your worship, which I beseech your worship to correct yourself, for the example of others. God keep your worship! I wish your worship well. God restore you to health! I humbly give you leave to depart, and if a merry meeting may be wish’d, God prohibit it! Come, neighbor.
Exeunt Dogberry and Verges.
Until tomorrow morning, lords, farewell.
Farewell, my lords, we look for you tomorrow.
We will not fail.
Tonight I’ll mourn with Hero.
To the Watch.
Bring you these fellows on.—We’ll talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.