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Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon.
Don John, his bastard brother.
Claudio, a young Lord of Florence, favourite to

Don Pedro.
Benedick, a young Lord of Padua, favoured like

wise by Don Pedro.
Leonato, Governor of Messina.
Anionio, his brother.
Balthazar, servant to Don Pedro.

followers of Don John. Conrade,

two-foolish officers. Verges,

A Sexton.
A Friar.
A Boy.
Hero, daughter to Leonato.
Beatrice, niece to Leonato.

gentlewornen attending on Hero.


Messengers, Watch, and Attendants.




ACT 1.


Before LEONATO's House,

and Others,


with a Messenger.

Leon. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.

Mess. He is very near by this; he was not threc leagucs off when I left him.

Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.

Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the are chiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.

Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remember'd by Don Pedro: He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age: doing, in the figure of a lamlı, the fcats of a lion: he hath, iudeed, better better'd expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.

Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and therc appears much joy in him ; even so much,


that joy could not show itself modest enough, without a badge' of bitterness.

Leon. Did he break out into tears ?
Mess. In great nicasure.

Leon. 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 Weeping ?

Beat. I pray you, is Signior Montanto returned from the wars, or no?

-Mess. I kitow none of that name, Lady; there was uone such in the army of any sort.

Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece ? Hero. My cousin mcans Siguior Benedick of Padua.

Mess. O, he is returned; and as pleasant as eyer he was.

Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina , and challenged Cupid at the Night: and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challeuged him at the bird • bolt. you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many liath he lilled? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.

L.eon. Faith, niece, you tax Signior' Benedick 100 much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Mess. He hath done good scryice, Lady, in these

I pray

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B:ar, You had musty victnal, and he hath holp to cat it: he is a very valiant trencher-mail, he hath an excellent stomach.

Mess. And a good soldier too, Lady,

Beat. And a good soidier to a lady; But what is he io a lord ?

Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man ; stuffed with all honouraiie virtues.

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Beat. It is so, indced; he is no less than a stufied man: but for the stuffing, - Well, we are all mortal.

Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Leo nedick and hér: they never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit beiween them. . Beat. 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 enongh to keep him. self warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now?

He hath every mouth a new sworn brother.

Mess. Is it possible ?

Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith. but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.

Mess. 'I see, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beat, No: an he were, I would burn my study. Ent, I pray you, who is his companion ? Is there no young squarer now, that will make a voyage wiil him to the devil?

Mess. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Beat: O Lord! he will hang upon him like a disease: he is sooner caught than the pestilence, and thč taker runs presently mad. God help the acolle Claudio ! if he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a ihousand ponud ere he be cured.

Mess. I will hold friends with you, Lady,
Beat. Dó, good friend.
Leon, You will never run mad, niece,

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