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Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE, 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 three leagues off when I left him. Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action? Mess. But few of any sort b, and none of name.
'In the stage-direction of the early copies we have “ Enter Leonato, governor of Messina, Innogen, his wife,” &c. But the matron takes no part in the action or dialogue. She appears again in the stage-direction of the first scene of Act II.
Any sort. The obvious meaning here is, of any condition. There can be no doubt of this, for the Messenger adds, " and none of name." Yet Steevens tells us, “ sort is rank, distinction." He inclines, however, to M. Mason's explanation, that “ sort means of any kind whatsoever.” The word occurs again, and is used by the same speaker: “there was none such in the army of
Leon. 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 Floren
tine, called Claudio. Mess. 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 Messina will be very much glad of it. Mess. 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. LEON. Did he break out into tears? MESS. In great measure a. 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 weep
ing! BEAT. I pray you, is signior Montanto returned from the wars, or no? Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece ?
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 killing. Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he 'll be meet with
youd, I doubt it not. Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars. Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he's a very valiant
trencherman, he hath an excellent stomach. Mess. And a good soldier too, lady. BEAT. And a good soldier to a lady :-But what is he to a lord ? Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed e with all honourable virtues. Beat. It is so, indeed : he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing,–
Well, we are all mortal. any sort." Here the commentators adopt Warburton's explanation: "there was none such of any quality above the common." But why this difference? The Messenger knew" none of that name”-none in any rank.
• In great measure-abundantly.
“ We must prepare to meet with Caliban.' • Stuffed-stored, furnished.
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 last conflict, four of his five wits a
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 b 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. Mess. Is 't possible? BEAT. Very easily possible: he wears his faith c but as the fashion of his hat;
it ever changes with the next block 3. Mess. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books d. BEAT. No: an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his
companion ? Is there no young squarere now, that will make a voyage with
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 the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble
ere he be cured.
· Five wits. Shakspere here uses the term wits in the sense of intellectual powers. In his 141st Sonnet he distinguishes between the five wits and the five senses :
“ But my five wits, nor my five senses, can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee.”
Bear it for a difference-for a distinction—as in heraldry.
In your books. The meaning of this expression, which we retain to the present day, is generally understood. He who is in your books—or, as we sometimes say, in your good books—is he whom you think well of—whom you trust. It appears tolerably obvious, then, that the phrase has a commercial origin; and that, as he who has obtained credit, buys upon trust, is in his creditor's books, so he who has obtained in any way the confidence of another is said to be in his books. None of the commentators, however, have suggested this explanation. Johnson says it means “to be in one's codicils or will;" Steevens, that it is to be in one's visiting-book,-or in the books of a university, or in the books of the Herald's Office; Farmer, and Douce, that it is to be in the list of a great man's retainers, because the names of such were entered in a book. This is the most received explanation. Our view of the matter is more homely, and for that reason it appears to us more true.
Squarer-quarreller. To square is to dispute—to confront hostilely. So in ‘A MidsummerNight's Dream;'
" And now they never meet in grove, or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
BEAT. No, not till a hot January.
Enter Don PEDRO, attended by BALTHAZAR and others, Don John, CLAUDIO, and
BENEDICK. D. PEDRO. Good signior Leonato, you are come a 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 sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave. D. PEDRO. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your
daughter. Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. BENE. Were you in doubt that you asked her ? LEON. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child. D. PEDRO. You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this what you are,
being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself:-Be happy, lady! for you are
like an honourable father. BENE. If signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her
shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is. BEAT. I wonder that you will still be talking, signior Benedick; nobody marks
you. BENE. What, my dear lady Disdain ! are you get living ? Beat. Is it possible Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it
as signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her
presence. BENE. Then is courtesy a turncoat:-But it is certain I am loved of all ladies,
only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a
hard heart: for, truly, I love none. Bear. A dear happiness to women; they would else have been troubled with a
pernicious suitor. I thank God, and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that; I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he
loves me. BENE. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other
shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face. Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an 't were such a face as yours
BENE. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
tinuer: But keep your way o' God's name; I have done.
* The quarto reads, are you come.
shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his
heart. Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.—Let me bid you wel
come, my lord: being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all
[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO.
judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a pro
fessed tyrant to their sex ? CLAUD. No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment. BENE. Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a
fair praise, and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her: that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome; and
being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
do you play the fouting Jack; to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and
the song a ? CLAUD. In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on. BENE. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there 's her
cousin, an she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope you have no
intent to turn husband; have you ? CLAUD. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero
would be wife. BENE. Is 't come to this, i' faith ? Hath not the world one man but he will
wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again? Go to, i' faith: an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is returned
to seek you.
Re-enter Don PEDRO.
D. PEDRO. What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's?
• To join in the song.