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Claud. Why, then she's mine : Sweet, let me see
Leon. No, that you shall not, till you take her
hand Before this Friar, and swear to marry her.
Claud. Give me your hand before this holy Friar : I am your husband, if you
like of me. Hero. And when I liv’d, I was your other wife:
[Unmasking. And when you lov’d, you were my other husband.
Claud. Another Hero ?
Nothing certainer :
D. Pedro. The former Hero! Hero that is dead !
Bene. Soft and fair, Friar.— Which is Beatrice ?
is your will ?
Bene. Do not you love me?
Bene. Why, then your uncle, and the prince, and Claudio, have been deceived: they swore you did.
Beat. Do not you love me?
Beat. Why, then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula, Are much deceiv'd; for they did swear you did.
Bene. They swore that you were almost sick for Beat. They swore that you were well-nigh dead
Bene. 'Tis no such matter : Then, you do not
love me? Beat. No, truly, but in friendly recompense. Leon. Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gen
tleman. Claud. And I'll be sworn upon't, that he loves
For here's a paper, written in his hand,
And here's another,
Bene. A miracle ! here's our own hands against our hearts : Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity.
Beat. I would not deny you ; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion ; and, partly, to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption. Bene. Peace! I will stop your mouth. I
[Kissing her. D. Pedro. How dost thou, Benedick the married
man ? Bene. I'll tell thee what, prince, a college of witcrackers cannot flout me out of my
humour: Dost thou think I care for a satire, or an epigram ? No: if a man will be beaten with brains, a’ shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclu
sion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but, in that? thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruis’d, and love my cousin.
Claud. I had well hop'd, thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgell'd thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double dealer ; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if
my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
Bene. Come, come, we are friends :- Let's have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts, and our wives' heels.
Leon. We'll have dancing afterwards. Bene. First, of my word; therefore play, music. – Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife :(there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.]
Enter a Messenger. Mess. My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina.
Bene. Think not on him till to-morrow : I'll devise thee brave punishments for him. — Strike up, pipers !
3 Divers commentators think there is an allusion here to the staff used in the ancient trial by wager of battle. But Benedick is evidently regarding marriage as a staff, such a support as human infirmity often needs in the walk of life. And because the staff was used to be tipped with horn, he must needs have a final flout at the horn as emblematic of what he has all along regarded as the destiny of married men. Chaucer's Sompnour describes one of his friars as having a “scrippe and tipped staf," and be adds that “ his felaw had a staf tipped with horn."