Prince. How, how I pray you? you amaze me, I would haue thought her spirit had beene inuincible against all assaults of affection

Leo. I would haue sworne it had, my Lord, especially against Benedicke

Bene. I should thinke this a gull, but that the whitebearded fellow speakes it: knauery cannot sure hide himselfe in such reuerence

Claud. He hath tane th' infection, hold it vp

Prince. Hath shee made her affection known to Benedicke: Leonato. No, and sweares she neuer will, that's her torment

Claud. 'Tis true indeed, so your daughter saies: shall I, saies she, that haue so oft encountred him with scorne, write to him that I loue him? Leo. This saies shee now when shee is beginning to write to him, for shee'll be vp twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smocke, till she haue writ a sheet of paper: my daughter tells vs all

Clau. Now you talke of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty iest your daughter told vs of

Leon. O when she had writ it, & was reading it ouer, she found Benedicke and Beatrice betweene the sheete

Clau. That

Leon. O she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence, raild at her self, that she should be so immodest to write, to one that shee knew would flout her: I measure him, saies she, by my owne spirit, for I should flout him if hee writ to mee, yea though I loue him, I should

Clau. Then downe vpon her knees she falls, weepes, sobs, beates her heart, teares her hayre, praies, curses, O sweet Benedicke, God giue me patience

Leon. She doth indeed, my daughter saies so, and the extasie hath so much ouerborne her, that my daughter is somtime afeard she will doe a desperate out-rage to her selfe, it is very true

Prince. It were good that Benedicke knew of it by some other, if she will not discouer it

Clau. To what end? he would but make a sport of it, and torment the poore Lady worse

Prin. And he should, it were an almes to hang him, shee's an excellent sweet Lady, and (out of all suspition,) she is vertuous

Claudio. And she is exceeding wise

Prince. In euery thing, but in louing Benedicke

Leon. O my Lord, wisedome and bloud combating in so tender a body, we haue ten proofes to one, that bloud hath the victory, I am sorry for her, as I haue iust cause, being her Vncle, and her Guardian

Prince. I would shee had bestowed this dotage on mee, I would haue daft all other respects, and made her halfe my selfe: I pray you tell Benedicke of it, and heare what he will say

Leon. Were it good thinke you? Clau. Hero thinkes surely she wil die, for she saies she will die, if hee loue her not, and shee will die ere shee make her loue knowne, and she will die if hee wooe her, rather than shee will bate one breath of her accustomed crossenesse

Prince. She doth well, if she should make tender of her loue, 'tis very possible hee'l scorne it, for the man (as you know all) hath a contemptible spirit

Clau. He is a very proper man

Prin. He hath indeed a good outward happines

Clau. 'Fore God, and in my minde very wise

Prin. He doth indeed shew some sparkes that are like wit

Leon. And I take him to be valiant

Prin. As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing of quarrels you may see hee is wise, for either hee auoydes them with great discretion, or vndertakes them with a Christian-like feare

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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