Clau. Well, I will meete you, so I may haue good cheare

Prin. What, a feast, a feast? Clau. I faith I thanke him, he hath bid me to a calues head and a Capon, the which if I doe not carue most curiously, say my knife's naught, shall I not finde a woodcocke too? Ben. Sir, your wit ambles well, it goes easily

Prin. Ile tell thee how Beatrice prais'd thy wit the other day: I said thou hadst a fine wit: true saies she, a fine little one: no said I, a great wit: right saies shee, a great grosse one: nay said I, a good wit: iust said she, it hurts no body: nay said I, the gentleman is wise: certaine said she, a wise gentleman: nay said I, he hath the tongues: that I beleeue said shee, for hee swore a thing to me on munday night, which he forswore on tuesday morning: there's a double tongue, there's two tongues: thus did shee an howre together trans-shape thy particular vertues, yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the proprest man in Italie

Claud. For the which she wept heartily, and said shee car'd not

Prin. Yea that she did, but yet for all that, and if shee did not hate him deadlie, shee would loue him dearely, the old mans daughter told vs all

Clau. All, all, and moreouer, God saw him when he was hid in the garden

Prin. But when shall we set the sauage Bulls hornes on the sensible Benedicks head? Clau. Yea and text vnderneath, heere dwells Benedicke the married man

Ben. Fare you well, Boy, you know my minde, I will leaue you now to your gossep-like humor, you breake iests as braggards do their blades, which God be thanked hurt not: my Lord, for your manie courtesies I thank you, I must discontinue your companie, your brother the Bastard is fled from Messina: you haue among you, kill'd a sweet and innocent Ladie: for my Lord Lackebeard there, he and I shall meete, and till then peace be with him

Prin. He is in earnest

Clau. In most profound earnest, and Ile warrant you, for the loue of Beatrice

Prin. And hath challeng'd thee

Clau. Most sincerely

Prin. What a prettie thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and hose, and leaues off his wit. Enter Constable, Conrade, and Borachio.

Clau. He is then a Giant to an Ape, but then is an Ape a Doctor to such a man

Prin. But soft you, let me be, plucke vp my heart, and be sad, did he not say my brother was fled? Const. Come you sir, if iustice cannot tame you, shee shall nere weigh more reasons in her ballance, nay, and you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be lookt to

Prin. How now, two of my brothers men bound? Borachio one

Clau. Harken after their offence my Lord

Prin. Officers, what offence haue these men done? Const. Marrie sir, they haue committed false report, moreouer they haue spoken vntruths, secondarily they are slanders, sixt and lastly, they haue belyed a Ladie, thirdly, they haue verified vniust things, and to conclude they are lying knaues

Prin. First I aske thee what they haue done, thirdlie I aske thee what's their offence, sixt and lastlie why they are committed, and to conclude, what you lay to their charge

Clau. Rightlie reasoned, and in his owne diuision, and by my troth there's one meaning well suted

Prin. Who haue you offended masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? this learned Constable is too cunning to be vnderstood, what's your offence? Bor. Sweete Prince, let me go no farther to mine answere: do you heare me, and let this Count kill mee: I haue deceiued euen your verie eies: what your wisedomes could not discouer, these shallow fooles haue brought to light, who in the night ouerheard me confessing to this man, how Don Iohn your brother incensed me to slander the Ladie Hero, how you were brought into the Orchard, and saw me court Margaret in Heroes garments, how you disgrac'd her when you should marrie her: my villanie they haue vpon record, which I had rather seale with my death, then repeate ouer to my shame: the Ladie is dead vpon mine and my masters false accusation: and briefelie, I desire nothing but the reward of a villaine

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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