(Benedick; Margaret; Beatrice; Ursula)
Benedick and Margaret jest together; she leaves to call Beatrice for him. While waiting for her, Benedick reflects on his utter inability to write poetry. Beatrice arrives, and though they immediately start sparring, he manages to inform her of Claudio’s acceptance of his challenge. Both insist that they are in love against their will. Ursula suddenly bursts in with the news that Hero’s innocence has been proved, and they rush to find out more. (38 lines)
Enter Benedick and Margaret, meeting.
Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.
Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?
In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it, for in most comely truth thou deservest it.
To have no man come over me? Why, shall I always keep below stairs?
Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth, it catches.
And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit, but hurt not.
A most manly wit, Margaret, it will not hurt a woman. And so I pray thee call Beatrice; I give thee the bucklers.
Give us the swords, we have bucklers of our own.
If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice, and they are dangerous weapons for maids.
Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.
And therefore will come.
“The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve”—
I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of pandars, and a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turn’d over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried. I can find out no rhyme to “lady” but “baby,” an innocent rhyme; for “scorn,” “horn,” a hard rhyme; for “school,” “fool,” a babbling rhyme: very ominous endings. No, I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I call’d thee?
Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.
O, stay but till then!
“Then” is spoken; fare you well now. And yet ere I go, let me go with that I came, which is, with knowing what hath pass’d between you and Claudio.
Only foul words—and thereupon I will kiss thee.
Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I will depart unkiss’d.
Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge, and either I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
For them all together, which maintain’d so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?
Suffer love! A good epithite! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.
In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart, if you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours, for I will never love that which my friend hates.
Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
It appears not in this confession; there’s not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.
An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that liv’d in the time of good neighbors. If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widowweeps.
And how long is that, think you?
Question: why, an hour in clamor and a quarter in rheum; therefore is it most expedient for the wise, if Don Worm (his conscience) find no impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for praising myself, who I myself will bear witness is praiseworthy. And now tell me, how doth your cousin?
And how do you?
Very ill too.
Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I leave you too, for here comes one in haste.
Madam, you must come to your uncle, yonder’s old coil at home. It is prov’d my Lady Hero hath been falsely accus’d, the Prince and Claudio mightily abus’d, and Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you come presently?
Will you go hear this news, signior?
I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle’s.