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Don PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.
two foolish Officers.
Hero, daughter to Leonato. Beatrice, niece to Leonato.
two Gentlewomen, attending on Hero. Ursula,
A Friar, Melenger, Watch, Town-Clerk, Sexton, and Attendants,
SCENE, Meffina in Sicily,
Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a
LEONATO. LEARN in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
Mel. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action ?
Mell. But few of any fort, and none of name.
(1) Much Ado about Nothing.] Innogen, the mother of Hero, in the oldest Quarto that I have seen of this play, printed in 1600, is mentioned to enter in two several scenes. The succeeding editions have all continued her name in the Dramatis perfona : but I have ventured to expunge it, there being no mention of her through the play, no one speech addressed to her, our one syllable spoken by her. Neither is there any one passage from which we have any reason to determine that Hero's mother was living. It seems as if the Poet had in his first plan designed such a character; which, on a survey of it, he found would be superfluous; and therefore he left it out.
Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the atchiever brings home full numbers. I find here that Don Fedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.
Mel. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better bettered'expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how,
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Mcflina will be very much glad of it.
11ef. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not shew itself modeft enough, with out a badge of bitter nessi
Leon. Did he break out in tears?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness; there are no faces truer than those that are fo washed; how much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping!
Beat. I pray you is Signior Montanto returned from the wars or no?
Mes. I know none of that name, Lady; there: was none fuch in the army of
fort. Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece? · Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
Mej. O, he's returned, and as pleafant as ever he was.
Beat. He fet up his bills here in Meflina, and challenged Cupid at the fight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, fubfcribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray yok, bow many hath he killed and eaten in these wars?
But how many hath he killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his killing.
Leon. 'Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much, but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it
Mef. He hath done good service, Lady, in these
Beat. You had musty victuals, and he hath holp to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mel. And a good soldier too, Lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord ?
Mel. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honourable virtues.
Beat. It is fo indeed: (2) he is no fess than a ftuffed man; but for the Ituffing--Well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas ! he gets nothing by that. In our Jast conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? he hath every month a new sworn brother. :: Mell. Is it poslible?
(2) he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing well we are all mortal.] Thus has this passage been all along stopped, from the
first edition downwards. If any of the editors could extrae fenfe from this pointing, their fagacity is a pitch above mine. I believe, by my regulation of the ftops, I have retrieved the Poet's true meaning. Our Poet seems to use the word stuffing here, much as Plautus does in his ,Mefiellaria : Act i. Sc. 3.
Non vestem amatores mulicris amant, sed vestis fartup.
Beut. Very easily poslīble; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mel. I fee, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my study, But I pray you, who is his companion is there no young fquarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Mej. He is inot in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a difease; he is sooner caught th in the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noe ble Claudio, if he have caiight the Benedick! it will soft him a thousand pound eré he be cured.
Mef. I will hold friends with you, Lady
Nief. Don Pedro is approached.
ZAR and Don John. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace: for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me,
, Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.