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Enter LEONATO, Governor of Messina; HERO, his daughter; and BEATRICE his niece, with a MESSENGER
LEONATO, Governor of Messina; HERO, his daughter; and BEATRICE, his niece, enter with a MESSENGER

LEONATO

I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this
night to Messina.

LEONATO

(holding a letter) According to this letter,

Don

“Don” is the Italian equivalent of “Sir” or “Lord.”

Don
Pedro of Aragon and his army are coming to Messina tonight.

MESSENGER

He is very near by this. He was not three leagues off when
I left him.

MESSENGER

He must be very near by now. When I left him, he was less than nine miles from here.

LEONATO

5 How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

LEONATO

How many noblemen were killed in the battle you just fought?

MESSENGER

But few of any sort, and none of name.

MESSENGER

Not many, and no one important.

LEONATO

A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full
numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much
honor on a young Florentine called Claudio.

LEONATO

A victory in battle is twice as victorious when all the soldiers return home safely. This letter also says that Don Pedro has given honors to a young man from Florence named Claudio.

MESSENGER

10 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.

MESSENGER

Claudio deserves to be honored, and Don Pedro has rewarded him accordingly. Claudio has done more than anyone would expect of a man his age. He looks like a lamb but fights like a lion. He has so greatly exceeded all expectations that I can’t even describe all he’s done.

LEONATO

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

LEONATO

He has an uncle here in Messina who will be glad to hear this news.

MESSENGER

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.

MESSENGER

I have delivered some letters to his uncle, and he seemed very happy. He got so emotional that he actually looked like he was in pain.

LEONATO

20 Did he break out into tears?

LEONATO

Did he start weeping?

MESSENGER

In great measure.

MESSENGER

Yes, heavily.

LEONATO

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!

LEONATO

That’s a very natural display of affection. There’s no face more sincere than one washed in tears. And it’s definitely better to cry because you’re happy than laugh because you’re sad!

BEATRICE

25 I pray you, is Signor Montanto returned from the wars or
no?

BEATRICE

Please tell me, has Signior

Montanto

“Montanto” is a fencing term for an upward thrust.

Montanto
returned from battle?

MESSENGER

I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the
army of any sort.

MESSENGER

I don’t know anyone with that name, ma'am. There was no Signior Montanto in our army.

LEONATO

What is he that you ask for, niece?

LEONATO

Who are you talking about, niece?

HERO

30 My cousin means Signor Benedick of Padua.

HERO

My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.

MESSENGER

Oh, he’s returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.

MESSENGER

Oh, yes, Benedick has returned and is as cheerful as ever.

BEATRICE

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.
35 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.

BEATRICE

Benedick

The exact meaning of this story is unclear, but it depicts Benedick as a braggart and a fool.

Benedick
once put up a public notice in Messina challenging Cupid to an archery match. My uncle’s jester accepted the contest on Cupid’s behalf but used toy arrows at the shooting match. But tell me, how many men did he kill and eat in this battle? I promised him I would eat anyone he killed.

LEONATO

Faith, niece, you tax Signor Benedick too much, but he’ll be
meet with you, I doubt it not.

LEONATO

For God’s sake, Beatrice, you’re criticizing Signior Benedick too heavily. But I’m sure he’ll get even with you.

MESSENGER

40 He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

MESSENGER

Signior Benedick served well in the war, my lady.

BEATRICE

You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it. He is a
very valiant trencherman. He hath an excellent stomach.

BEATRICE

You had rotten food, and he helped you eat it. He’s a very brave eater—he has a strong stomach.

MESSENGER

And a good soldier too, lady.

MESSENGER

He’s a good soldier too, lady.

BEATRICE

And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord?

BEATRICE

He’s a good soldier to a lady? Well then, what is he to a lord?

MESSENGER

45 A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honorable
virtues.

MESSENGER

He’s a lord to a lord and a man to a man. He is positively stuffed with honorable virtues.

BEATRICE

It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man. But for the
stuffing—well, we are all mortal.

BEATRICE

Absolutely—he is stuffed, like a dummy. As for what he’s stuffed with—well, nobody’s perfect.

LEONATO

You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of
50 merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her. They never
meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.

LEONATO

Please don’t take my niece the wrong way, sir. Benedick and Beatrice have been waging a war of wits between themselves. Whenever they meet, there’s a little battle.

BEATRICE

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
55 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.

BEATRICE

And I always win. The last time we fought, he was so dazed by the end that he wasn’t much smarter than his horse. So tell me, who is he hanging around with these days? Every month he has a new best friend.

MESSENGER

Is ’t possible?

MESSENGER

Is that possible?

BEATRICE

60 Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the fashion of
his hat; it ever changes with the next block.

BEATRICE

It’s entirely possible. He’s incredibly fickle—his affection changes faster than the latest fashions.

MESSENGER

I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

MESSENGER

I can see you don’t like this gentleman.

BEATRICE

No. An he were, I would burn my study. But I pray you,
who is his companion? Is there no young squarer now that
65 will make a voyage with him to the devil?

BEATRICE

No, absolutely not. But please tell me, who’s his best friend? Isn’t there some new swaggering young ruffian who will happily go to hell with Benedick?

MESSENGER

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

MESSENGER

He spends most of his time with the good, noble Claudio.

BEATRICE

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 Claudio! If he have caught the
70 Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a be cured.

BEATRICE

Oh God, Benedick will plague him like a disease! Benedick is an infection that’s easy to catch but hard to get rid of—and he’ll drive you crazy once you’ve been infected. God help Claudio! If he’s caught the Benedick, he’ll lose all his money before he’s cured.

MESSENGER

I will hold friends with you, lady.

MESSENGER

I’m going to make sure I stay on your good side, lady.

BEATRICE

Do, good friend.

BEATRICE

Do that, my friend.

LEONATO

You will never run mad, niece.

LEONATO

You will never fall victim to Benedick’s charms, my niece.

BEATRICE

No, not till a hot January.

BEATRICE

No, not until we see a hot January.

MESSENGER

75 Don Pedro is approached.

MESSENGER

Don Pedro is here.
Enter DON PEDRO , Prince of Aragon, with CLAUDIO , BENEDICK ,BALTHASAR , and DON JOHN the bastard
DON PEDRO , Prince of Aragon, enters with CLAUDIO , BENEDICK ,BALTHASAR , and

DON JOHN

Don John is Don Pedro’s illegitimate half-brother.

DON JOHN
, the bastard.

DON PEDRO

Good Signor Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble?
The fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter
it.

DON PEDRO

My dear Signior Leonato, hosting my whole army is such a huge burden, but you accept it—and me—with open arms. Most people choose to avoid trouble, but you run to it.

LEONATO

Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your
80 Grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remain, but
when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness
takes his leave.

LEONATO

You are never trouble to this house, your Grace. It’s comforting when trouble departs. But when you leave, you take happiness with you and leave sorrow in its place.

DON PEDRO

You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your
daughter.

DON PEDRO

You take up your duties too cheerfully. (turning to HERO) This must be your daughter.

LEONATO

85 Her mother hath many times told me so.

LEONATO

That’s what her mother always tells me.

BENEDICK

Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?

BENEDICK

Did you doubt that she was your daughter, since you had to ask her mother?

LEONATO

Signor Benedick, no, for then were you a child.

LEONATO

(teasing) Of course not, Signior Benedick. You were only a child when my daughter was born, and not yet old enough to seduce my wife.

DON PEDRO

You have it full, Benedick. We may guess by this what you
are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself.—Be
90 happy, lady, for you are like an honorable father.

DON PEDRO

Ah, he got you back, Benedick! Leonato clearly knows your reputation with women. Seriously, though, the lady resembles Leonato so much that there can be no doubt about who her father is. Congratulations, lady: you resemble a most honorable man.
LEONATO and DON PEDRO move to one side, still talking
LEONATO and DON PEDRO move to one side, still talking.

BENEDICK

If Signor Leonato be her father, she would not have his
head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.

BENEDICK

Well, even if he is her father, I’m sure she wouldn’t want to have the head of the old man on her shoulders!

BEATRICE

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick.
Nobody marks you.

BEATRICE

I’m amazed you’re still talking, Signior Benedick. No one’s listening to you.

BENEDICK

95 What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?

BENEDICK

Look, it’s my dear Lady Disdain! Aren’t you dead yet?

BEATRICE

Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet
food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must
convert to disdain if you come in her presence.

BEATRICE

How could disdain die when you’re here? When you’re around, even Lady Courtesy becomes Lady Disdain.

BENEDICK

Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of
100 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.

BENEDICK

That makes Lady Courtesy a traitor. All ladies love me, except you. It’s too bad I’m so hard-hearted, because I really don’t love anyone.

BEATRICE

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 humor for that. I had rather hear my dog
105 bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

BEATRICE

Women are lucky, then. You would make a nasty suitor. Thankfully, I feel the same way you do. I have no need for romance. I would rather listen to my dog bark at a crow than hear a man swear that he loves me.

BENEDICK

God keep your Ladyship still in that mind, so some gentle-
man or other shall ’scape a predestinate scratched face.

BENEDICK

Well, I hope you stay in that frame of mind or some poor man will end up with his face all scratched up.

BEATRICE

Scratching could not make it worse an ’twere such a face as
yours were.

BEATRICE

If he has a face like yours, a good scratching couldn’t make him look any worse.

BENEDICK

110 Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

BENEDICK

Listen to you, instructing me like a parrot would.

BEATRICE

A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

BEATRICE

I’d rather be a squawking bird than an animal like you.

BENEDICK

I would my horse had the speed of your tongue and so good
a continuer. But keep your way, i' God’s name. I have done.

BENEDICK

I wish my horse moved as fast as your mouth and was as tireless. That’s it—I’m done.

BEATRICE

You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old.

BEATRICE

You always slip out of the argument like this. I know you from before.
LEONATO and DON PEDRO come forward
LEONATO and DON PEDRO come forward

DON PEDRO

115 That is the sum of all, Leonato.—Signior Claudio and
Signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you
all. I tell him we 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.

DON PEDRO

And that’s everything, Leonato.—Claudio, Benedick—my dear friend Leonato has invited you all to stay here at Messina. I told him we’ll stay for at least a month, and he says that he hopes we’ll stay longer. I think he’s actually serious, and not just being polite.

LEONATO

If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn. (to DON
JOHN) Let me bid you welcome, my lord. Being reconciled
to the Prince your brother, I owe you all duty.

LEONATO

I am being serious, my lord. (to DON JOHN) I welcome you here as well. Now that you and your brother have made friends again, I owe you the same allegiance I owe Don Pedro.

DON JOHN

I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.

DON JOHN

Thank you. I’m not a man who talks a lot, but I thank you.

LEONATO

Please it your Grace lead on?

LEONATO

If it pleases you, your highness, will you lead us all inside?

DON PEDRO

125 Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.

DON PEDRO

Give me your hand, Leonato. We will go in together.
Exeunt. Manent BENEDICK and CLAUDIO
Everyone exits except BENEDICK and CLAUDIO.

CLAUDIO

Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

CLAUDIO

Benedick, did you notice Signior Leonato’s daughter?

BENEDICK

I noted her not, but I looked on her.

BENEDICK

I saw her, but I didn’t notice her.

CLAUDIO

Is she not a modest young lady?

CLAUDIO

Isn’t she a well-mannered young lady?

BENEDICK

Do you question me as an honest man should do, for my
130 simple true judgment? Or would you have me speak after
my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?

BENEDICK

Do you want my true opinion? Or do you want me to criticize her like I do all women?

CLAUDIO

No, I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

CLAUDIO

No, please, speak seriously.

BENEDICK

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
135 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.

BENEDICK

Well, it seems to me that she is too short to be praised highly, too dark to be praised fairly, and too small to be praised greatly. I can only say this about her: if she looked different than she does, she would be ugly, and since she can’t be anything but herself, I don’t like her.

CLAUDIO

Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how
thou lik’st her.

CLAUDIO

You think I’m kidding. Please tell me seriously what you think of her.

BENEDICK

140 Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?

BENEDICK

Are you thinking of buying her? Is that why you’re asking?

CLAUDIO

Can the world buy such a jewel?

CLAUDIO

Would it even be possible to buy a jewel as rare and precious as Hero?

BENEDICK

Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad
brow? Or do you play the flouting jack, to tell us Cupid is
a good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in
145 what key shall a man take you to go in the song?

BENEDICK

Yes, and you could buy a case to put it in, too. But tell me, are you speaking seriously? Or are you just teasing? If I’m going to sing along with you, I need to know what key you’re singing in.

CLAUDIO

In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.

CLAUDIO

I think she’s the most wonderful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.

BENEDICK

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
150 last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn
husband, have you?

BENEDICK

I’m still young enough to see without glasses, and I don’t see what you’re talking about. If her cousin Beatrice didn’t have such a nasty temper, she’d be so much more beautiful than Hero that it would be like comparing May to December. But, hey, this doesn’t mean you’re looking to get married, does it?

CLAUDIO

I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

CLAUDIO

Even if I had sworn never to marry, I wouldn’t trust myself to keep that promise if Hero would marry me.

BENEDICK

Is ’t come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but
155 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.

BENEDICK

What’s going on these days? Isn’t there one man left in the world who knows not to take a wife? She’s just going to cheat on him. Will I never see a sixty-year old bachelor again or will all men be swindled into marriage while they’re young? Go ahead, then, if you have to yoke yourself to marriage, like an ox carrying his load, and throw away your free time. Look, Don Pedro has come back for you.
Enter DON PEDRO
DON PEDRO enters.

DON PEDRO

160 What secret hath held you here that you followed not to
Leonato’s?

DON PEDRO

What secrets between you have kept you from following us to Leonato’s?

BENEDICK

I would your grace would constrain me to tell.

BENEDICK

Your highness will have to force me to tell.

DON PEDRO

I charge thee on thy allegiance.

DON PEDRO

Your loyalty to me requires you to tell me what you’ve been talking about.

BENEDICK

You hear, Count Claudio? I can be secret as a dumb man, I
165 would have you think so, but on my allegiance—mark you
this, on my allegiance—(to DON PEDRO) he is in love. With
who? Now, that is your Grace’s part. Mark how short his
answer is: with Hero, Leonato’s short daughter.

BENEDICK

Look, Claudio, I can keep secrets like a mute; I want you to know that. But I owe Don Pedro my allegiance—look, I have to tell him—(to DON PEDRO) Claudio is in love. With whom? That’s what you’re supposed to ask me next, your Grace. Look how short the answer is—with Hero, Leonato’s short daughter.

CLAUDIO

If this were so, so were it uttered.

CLAUDIO

If you say so.

BENEDICK

Like the old tale, my lord: “It is not so nor ’twas not so but,
indeed, God forbid it should be so.”

BENEDICK

Listen to him deny it, like that man in the old tale “Mr. Fox”: “It isn’t true and wasn’t true and God forbid it should be so.”

CLAUDIO

If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be
otherwise.

CLAUDIO

Unless my feelings change very soon, I have to admit it’s true.

DON PEDRO

Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.

DON PEDRO

It’s good if you love Hero, because she’s worthy of your love.

CLAUDIO

175 You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

CLAUDIO

You’re trying to trick me, my lord.

DON PEDRO

By my troth, I speak my thought.

DON PEDRO

I swear, I’m telling you what I honestly think.

CLAUDIO

And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

CLAUDIO

And I swear I spoke honestly to Benedick—I am in love with Hero.

BENEDICK

And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

BENEDICK

And I swear all up and down I spoke honestly when I said that this was a horrible idea.

CLAUDIO

That I love her, I feel.

CLAUDIO

I feel that I love her.

DON PEDRO

180 That she is worthy, I know.

DON PEDRO

I know that she is worthy of that love.

BENEDICK

That I neither feel how she should be loved nor know how
she should be worthy is the opinion that fire cannot melt
out
of me. I will die in it at the stake.

BENEDICK

I, on the other hand, don’t feel how she could be loved and don’t know how she could be worthy. Even fire can’t melt that opinion out of me. You could burn me at the stake, and I’d still think this.

DON PEDRO

Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.

DON PEDRO

You never did believe in the power of beauty.

CLAUDIO

And never could maintain his part but in the force of his will.

CLAUDIO

Or in the power of reason.

BENEDICK

That a woman conceived me, I thank her. That she brought
me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks. But that I
will have a recheat winded in my forehead or hang my bugle
190 in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.
Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will
do myself the right to trust none. And the fine is, for the
which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.

BENEDICK

I was conceived by a woman, and I thank her very much for all her effort. And then she brought me up, and I thank her for that, too. But all the other women will have to forgive me for not being willing to be made a fool of—cheated on by a wife. I don’t want to insult any particular woman by doubting and mistrusting her, so I’ll just avoid them all. And the conclusion of this is that I’ll live as a bachelor—and, with the money I save, dress better.

DON PEDRO

I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

DON PEDRO

I swear, before I die I’m going to see you sick with love.

BENEDICK

195 With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not
with love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love than
I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a
ballad-maker’s pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel
house for the sign of blind Cupid.

BENEDICK

With anger, with fever, or with hunger, sure, my friend, but never sick with love. If you can prove that I’ll ever be so in love that I can’t be brought to my senses with a good round of beers, you can pluck out my eyes with a love-poet’s pen and hang me on a brothel’s door where the picture of blind Cupid usually goes.

DON PEDRO

200 Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove
a notable argument.

DON PEDRO

I’ll be sure to remember this fuss you’ve made, in case you ever do fall in love. That’ll be news.

BENEDICK

If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me, and he
that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder and called
Adam.

BENEDICK

If I ever change my mind, you can use me for target practice. And whoever hits the bull’s eye gets to be a hero.

DON PEDRO

205 Well, as time shall try.
In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.

DON PEDRO

Well, time will tell. Even the most savage bull is eventually domesticated.

BENEDICK

The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear
it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead,
and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they
write “Here is good horse to hire” let them signify under my
sign “Here you may see Benedick the married man.”

BENEDICK

Maybe the bull is, but if I am ever domesticated, you can take that bull’s horns and put them right on my forehead, as my wife is sure to cuckold me soon enough. You might as well hang a big sign with enormous lettering around my neck. But instead of it saying “Horse for hire,” it will say “Take a look at Benedick, the married man.”

CLAUDIO

If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

CLAUDIO

If that ever happened, you’d go absolutely mad.

DON PEDRO

Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou
wilt quake for this shortly.

DON PEDRO

Well, if Cupid hasn’t used up all his arrows in Venice, where the courtesans are famous for making men lovesick, he’ll get you to quiver and shake. Just you wait.

BENEDICK

215 I look for an earthquake too, then.

BENEDICK

That’s about as likely as an earthquake.

DON PEDRO

Well, you temporize with the hours. In the meantime, good
Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato’s. Commend me to
him and tell him I will not fail him at supper, for indeed he
hath made great preparation.

DON PEDRO

Oh, you’ll soften as time passes. While you’re waiting for that to happen, though, hurry to Leonato’s. Give him my respects, and tell him I’ll definitely be there for dinner, since I know he has gone to great lengths for this meal.

BENEDICK

220 I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage,
and so I commit you—

BENEDICK

I think I can handle this mission. And so I commit you—

CLAUDIO

To the tuition of God. From my house, if I had it—

CLAUDIO

“Into God’s hands. From my house, if I had a house—”

DON PEDRO

The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.

DON PEDRO

“The sixth of July. Sincerely, your loving friend, Benedick.”

BENEDICK

Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is
225 sometimes guarded with fragments and the guards are but
slightly basted on neither. Ere you flout old ends any
further, examine your conscience. And so I leave you.

BENEDICK

Oh, stop joking around. You know, sometimes you two dress up your conversation with flimsy little bits of wit that don’t hold together too well. Before you make

fun

Don Pedro and Claudio are making fun of the fact that “I commit you” is, in Shakespeare’s time, a common way to end a formal letter.

fun
of everyone else, look at yourselves in the mirror! And with that, I’m leaving.
Exit
He exits.

CLAUDIO

My liege, your highness now may do me good.

CLAUDIO

My lord, you could really help me out now.

DON PEDRO

My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how,
230 And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.

DON PEDRO

I am at your service. Just tell me what you want me to do, and however hard it is, you’ll see that I’m eager to do it.

CLAUDIO

Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

CLAUDIO

Does Leonato have a son, my lord?

DON PEDRO

No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

DON PEDRO

Hero is his only child, and his only heir. Do you like her, Claudio?

CLAUDIO

O, my lord,
235 When you went onward on this ended action,
I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,
That liked but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love.
But now I am returned and that war thoughts
240 Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.

CLAUDIO

Oh, my lord, when we left Messina to fight the war, I looked at Hero with the eyes of a soldier. I liked what I saw, but my mind was so occupied with the rough, violent task ahead of me that there was no chance that like would turn into love. But now that I’m back, the room in my head that I used to fill with war plans has become crowded with soft and delicate feelings. They all lead me to the same thought—how beautiful young Hero is and how I must have liked her even before I left to fight.

DON PEDRO

Thou wilt be like a lover presently
245 And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Was ’t not to this end
That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?

DON PEDRO

You will become a true lover soon, and exhaust your friends with your endless chatter about your feelings. Look, if you really love the beautiful Hero, enjoy it. I will speak to her and her father about the matter, and I’ll convince Leonato to promise Hero to you. Isn’t that the reason you told me all this?

CLAUDIO

250 How sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love’s grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salved it with a longer treatise.

CLAUDIO

You can see that I’m sick with love, and you’re taking care of me in just the right way! But I didn’t want you to think that I’m hasty in my emotions. I was going to explain my feelings with a longer story.

DON PEDRO

What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
255 The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look what will serve is fit. 'Tis once, thou lovest,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have reveling tonight.
I will assume thy part in some disguise
260 And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
Then after to her father will I break,
265 And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently.

DON PEDRO

Why speak longer than you have to? That’s like building a bridge wider than the river it crosses. Whatever gets the job done is best. You love Hero; that’s all I need to know to want to find a remedy. They’re going to have a costume party with dancing tonight. I’ll disguise myself as you and pour out “my” feelings to Hero, taking her prisoner with the force of my love story. Then I’ll talk to her father. And in the end, she’s yours! Let’s get started right away.
Exeunt
They exit.