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To burn the errors that these princes hold
Against her maiden truth :- Call me a fool
Trust not my reading, nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenour of my book ; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.

Friar, it cannot be:
Thou seest, that all the grace that she hath left,
Is, that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury; she not denies it ;
Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears in proper nakedness ?

Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?

Hero. They know, that do accuse me; I know If I know more of any man alive, Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, Let all


sins lack Prove


that any man with me convers’d At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight Maintain'd the change of words with any creature, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death. Friar. There is some strange misprision 3 in the

princes. Bene. Two of them have the very bent of

And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.

Leon. I know not ; If they speak but truth of her, These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her


mercy! - 0

my father,

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The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havock of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awak'd in such a kind,
Both strength of limb, and policy of mind,
Ability in means, and choice of friends,
To quit me of them throughly.

Pause a while,
And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
And publish it that she is dead indeed:
Maintain a mourning ostentation ;
And on your family's old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial.
Leon. What shall become of this? What will

this do? Friar. Marry, this, well carried, shall on her

behalf Change slander to remorse; that is some good : But not for that, dream I on this strange course, But on this travail look for greater birth. She dying, as it must be so maintain’d, Upon the instant that she was accus'd Shall be lamented, pitied, and excus’d, Of every hearer: For it so falls out, That what we have we prize not to the worth, Whiles 4 we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost, Why, then we rack 5 the value; then we find The virtue that possession would not show us Whiles it was ours:

So will it fare with Claudio:

4 While.

5 Over rate.

When he shall hear she died upon his words,
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination :
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparelld in more precious habit
More moving-delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she liv'd indeed :- - then shall he

(If ever love had interest in his liver,)
And wish he had not so accused her;
No, though he thought his accusation true.
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levell’d false,
The supposition of the lady's death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
And, if it sort not well, you may conceal her
(As best befits her wounded reputation)
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.

Bene. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you: And though you



inwardness 7 and love Is very much unto the prince and Claudio, Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this As secretly, and justly, as your soul Should with your body. Leon.

Being that I flow in grief, The smallest twine may lead me.

Friar. 'Tis well consented; presently away; For to strange sores strangely they strain the Come, lady, die to live: this wedding day,


6 By:

7 Intimacy.

Perhaps, is but prolong'd; have patience, and


[Exeunt Friar, Hero, and Leonato. Bene. Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this

while ? Beat. Yea, and I will weep a while longer. Bene. I will not desire that. Beat. You have no reason, I do it freely. Bene. Surely, I do believe your fair cousin is

wrong'd. Beat. Ah, how much might the man deserye of

me, that would right her! Bene. Is there any way to show such friendship? Beat. A very even way, but no such friend, Bene. May a man do it ? Beat. It is a man's office, but not your's.

Bene. I do love nothing in the world so well as you; Is not that strange ?

Beat. As strange as the thing I know not: It were as possible for me to say, I loved nothing so well as you: but believe me not; and

yet I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing :- I am sorry for my cousin.

Bene. By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me. Beat. Do not swear by it, and eat it.

Bene. I will swear by it, that you love me; and I will make him eat it, that says, I love not you.

Beat. Will you not eat your word ?

Bene. With no sauce that can be devised to it: I protest, I love thee. Beat. Why then, God forgive me ! Bene. What offence, sweet Beatrice ?

Beat. You have staid me in a happy hour; I was about to protest, I loved you.

Bene. And do it with all thy heart.

I lie not;

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Beat. I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.

Bene. Come, bid me do any thing for thee.
Beat. Kill Claudio.
Bene. Ha ! not for the wide world.
Beat. You kill me to deny it: Farewell.
Bene. Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

Beat. I am gone, though I am here; — There is no love in you:- Nay, I pray you, let me go.

Bene. Beatrice,
Beat. In faith, I will go.
Bene. We'll be friends first.

Beat. You dare easier be friends with me, than fight with mine enemy: Bene. Is Claudio thine enemy?

Beat. Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? -0, that I were a man! - What! bear her in hands until they come to take hands; and then with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,

O God that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.

Bene. Hear me, Beatrice;

Beat. Talk with a man out at a window? — a proper saying !

Bene. Nay but, Beatrice;

Beat. Sweet Hero ! - she is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.

Bene. Beat

Beat. Princes, and counties 9! Surely, a princely testimony, a goodly count-confect 1; a sweet gallant, surely ! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I had

any friend would be a man for my sake!

9 Noblemen.

8 Delude with her hopes.
1 A nobleman made out of sugar.

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