Much Ado About Nothing Act 1, Scene 1. Beatrice
(This text is featured in our interview with Marion Adler)
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31. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
wars or no?
32. I know none of that name, lady: there was none such
33. in the army of any sort.
34. What is he that you ask for, niece?
35. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
36. O, he’s returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.
37. He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
38. Cupid at the flight; and my uncle’s fool, reading
39. the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged
40. him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he
41. killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath
42. he killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his killing.
43. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much;
44. but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
45. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
46. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it:
47. he is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
48. excellent stomach.
49. And a good soldier too, lady.
50. And a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord?
51. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all
52. honourable virtues.
53. It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:
54. but for the stuffing,–well, we are all mortal.
55. You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a
56. kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her:
57. they never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit
58. between them.
59. Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last
60. conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and
61. now is the whole man governed with one: so that if
62. he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him
63. bear it for a difference between himself and his
64. horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left,
65. to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his
66. companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
67. Is’t possible?
68. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
69. the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
70. next block.
71. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
72. No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray
73. you, who is his companion? Is there no young
74. squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
75. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
76. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: he
77. is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker
78. runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if
79. he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a
80. thousand pound ere a’ be cured.
81. I will hold friends with you, lady.
82. Do, good friend.
83. You will never run mad, niece.
84. No, not till a hot January.
85. Don Pedro is approached.
Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and BALTHASAR
86. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your
87. trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid
88. cost, and you encounter it.
89. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of
90. your grace: for trouble being gone, comfort should
91. remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides
92. and happiness takes his leave.
93. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
94. is your daughter.
95. Her mother hath many times told me so.
96. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
97. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
98. You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this
99. what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers
100. herself. Be happy, lady; for you are like an
101. honourable father.
102. If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not
103. have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as
104. like him as she is.
105. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
106. Benedick: nobody marks you.
107. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
108. Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
109. such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
110. Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come
111. in her presence.
112. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I
113. am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I
114. would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard
115. heart; for, truly, I love none.
116. A dear happiness to women: they would else have
117. been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God
118. and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I
119. had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man
120. swear he loves me.
121. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some
122. gentleman or other shall ‘scape a predestinate
123. scratched face.
124. Scratching could not make it worse, an ’twere such
125. a face as yours were.
126. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
127. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
128. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
129. so good a continuer. But keep your way, i’ God’s
130. name; I have done.
131. You always end with a jade’s trick: I know you of old.