Kero. I talk'd with no man at that hour, my Lord.

Pedro. Why, then you are no maiden. Leonato,
I am sorry, you must hear; upon mine Honour,
Myself, my Brother, and this grieved Count
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;
Who hath, indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess’d the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.

John. Fie, fie, they are not to be nam'd, my Lord,
Not to be spoken of;
There is not chastity enough in language,
Without offence, tó utter them : thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadít thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been plac'd
About the thoughts and counsels of thy heart?
But fare thee well, most foul, moit fair! farewel,
Thou pure impiety, and impious purity!
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids Thall Conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm ;
And never shall it more be gracious.

Leon. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?
Beat. Why, how now, Cousin, wherefore fink you down?

John. Come, let us go; these things come thus to light, Smother her spirits up.

[Exe. D. Pedro, D. John and Claud. Bene. How doth the lady ?

Beat. Dead, I think; help, uncle.
Hero! why Hero! uncle ! Signior Benedick ! friar !

Leon. O fate! take not away thy heavy hand ;
Death is the faireft cover for her shame,
That may be wish'd for.

Beat. How now, cousin Hero?
Friar. Have comfort, Lady.
Leon. Doft thou look up?
Friar. Yea, wherefore should she not?

Leon. Wherefore? why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her i could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood ?


Do not live, Hero, do


eyes :
For did I think thou wouldit not quickly die,
Thought I, thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myfelt would on the rereward of reproaches
Strike at thy life. Griev'd l, I had but one ?
Chid I for That at frugal nature's frame?
I've one too much by thee. Why had I one?
Why ever waft thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not, with charitable hand,
Tcok up a beggar's issue at my gates ?
Who smeered thus, and mir’d with infamy,
I might have said, no part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins :
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on, mine so much,
That I inyfelf was to myself not mine;
Valuing of her; why, ihe,- 0, she is fall’n
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops 'too few to wash her clean again ;
And falt too little, which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh!

Dene. Sir, Sir, be patient;
For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,
I know not what to say.

Brat. O, on my soul, my cousin is bely'd.
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

Beat. No, truly, not; altho' until last night
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

Leon. Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made,
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron.
Would the two Princes lies and Claudio lie !
Whin lov’d her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears ? hence from her, let her die.

Friar. Hear me a little,
For I have only been filent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady. I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions
To fart into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes ;
And in her eje there hath appear'd a fire,


To burn the errors that these Princes hold
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool,
Trust not my reading, nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here,
Under some biting error.

Leon. Friar, it cannot be ;
Thou feeft, that all the grace that she hath left,
Is, that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury; she not denies it:
Why seeks thou then to cover with excuse
That, which appears in


nakedness ? Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus’d of?

Hero. They know, that do accuse me; I know none: If I know more of any man alive, Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, Let all my sins lack mercy. O my father, Prove you that any man with me convers’d At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight Maintain’d the change of words with any creaturs, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

Friar. There is some strange misprision in the Princes,

Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour, And if their wisdoms be milled in this, The Practice of it lives in John the bastard, Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies.

Leon. I know not: if they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dry'd this blood of mine,

so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havock of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
Bat they shall find awak'd, in such a kind,
Both itrength of limb, and policy of mind,
Ability in means, and choice of friends,
To quit me of them throughly.


Friar. Pause a while,
And let my counsel fway you in this case.
Your daughter here the Princes left for dead ; (17)
Let her a while be secretly kept in,
And publish it, that she is dead, indeed :
Maintain a mourning oftentation,
And on your family's old Monument
Pang mournful Epitaphs, and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial.

Leon. What shall become of this? what will this do?

Friar. Marry, this, well carry'd, shall on her behalf Change slander to remorse ; that is some good ; But not for that dream I on this strange course, But on this travel look for greater birth ; She dying, as it must be so maintain’d, Upon the instant that she was accus’d, Shall be lamented, pity'd, and excus'd, Of every hearer : for it so falls out, That what we have we prize not to the worth, (18)

(17) Your Daughter here the Princess (left for dead) But how comes Hero to start up a Princeps here? We have no intimation of her father being a Prince ; and this is the first and only time that the is complimented with this dignity. The remotion of a single letter, and of the Perenthefis, will bring her to her own rank, and the place to its true meaning.

Your Daughter bere obe Princes lef, for dead; i, e. Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon; and his Bastard Brother who is likewise call'd a Prince. So in the other Pallages of this Play ;

To buin tie irror that these Princes bold
Against ber Maiden Honour.

And again,

There is fome frange Misprifion in these Princes.
And again,

I thank you, Princes, for my Daughter's Death.
(18) Tbar, wbat we have, we prize not to the Worth,

Wbiles we enjoy it ; but being lack'd and luft,
Why, tben we rack the Value; then we find
I Virtue ibat Poffeffion would not show us

Wbilf it was ours : ] Whether this be an imitation, or no, I won't cor tend; but if not, it seems to me a very ane paraphrase on this passage of Horace; Lib. III. Ode 24.

V rrutem incolumem odimus,
Sublatam ex oculis quærimus invidi.

Whiles we enjoy it; but being lack'd and loft,
Why, then we rack the value ; then we find
The virtue that posseilion would not shew us
Whilst it was ours; so will it fare with Claudio :
When he shall hear the dy'd upon his words,
Th' idea of her Life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparel'd in more precious habit;
More moving, delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she liv'd indeed. Then shall he mourn,
If ever love had interest in his liver,
And with, he had not so accused her;
No, though he thought his accusation true:
Let this be so, and doubt not, but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all Aim but this be levell'd false,
The supposition of the lady's death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy.
And, if it fort not well, you may conceal her,
As beft befits her wounded reputation,
In some reclusive and reiigious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.

Bene. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:
And though, you know, my inwardness and love
Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
As secretly and justly, as your soul
Should with your body.

Leon. Being that I how in grief,
The smallest twine may lead me.
Friar. 'Tis well contented, presently away;

For to strange fores, ftrangely they strain the cure.
Come, lady, die to live; this wedding day,
Perhaps, is but prolong’d : have patience and en-



« ElőzőTovább »