Act I. Scene 1. Before LEONATO'S House.
[Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE and others, with a Messenger.]
I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night
He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left
How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
But few of any sort, and none of name.
A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers.
I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young
Florentine called Claudio.
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.
He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in
him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without
a badge of bitterness.
Did he break out into tears?
In great measure.
A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that
are so washed; how much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no?
I know none of that name, lady: there was none such in the army
of any sort.
What is he that you ask for, niece?
My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the flight;
and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and
challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed
and eaten in these wars?
But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his
Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with
you, I doubt it not.
He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it; he is a very
valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.
And a good soldier too, lady.
And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?
A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable
It is so indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man; but for the
stuffing, — well, we are all mortal.
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.
Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last 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.
Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his
hat; it ever changes with the next block.
I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
No;an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his
companion? Is there no young squarer now that will make a voyage with
him to the devil?
He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.