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Hero itself can blot out Hero's virtue.
What man was he talk'd with you yesternight
Out at your window, betwixt twelve and one?
Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
Hero. I talk'd with no man at that hour, my

D. Pedro. Why, then are you no maiden.

I am sorry you must hear; Upon mine honour,
Myself, my brother, and this grieved count,
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;
Who hath, indeed, most like a liberal villain,"
Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.
D. John.

Fye, fye! they are
Not to be nam’d, my lord, not to be spoke of;
There is not chastity enough in language,
Without offence, to utter them: Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been, If half thy outward graces had been placed About thy thoughts, and counsels of thy heart! But, fare thee well, most foul, most fair! farewell, Thou pure impiety, and impious purity! For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love, And on my eye-lids shall conjecture' hang, To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm, And never shall it more be gracious. Leon. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?

THERO swoons. Beat. Why, how now, cousin ? wherefore sink

you down?

4 liberal villain,] Liberal here, as in many places of these playe, means frank beyond honesty, or decency. Free of tongue. S c onjecture —] Conjecture is here used for suspicion.

. And never shall it more be gracious.) i. e. lovely, attractive.

D. John. Come, let us go : these things, comie

thus to light, Smother her spirits up.

[Exeunt Don Pedro, Don John, and

CLAUDIO. Bene. How doth the lady?

Beat. Dead, I think ;-help, uncle ;Hero! why, Hero!—Uncle!—Signior Benedick!

Leon. O fate, take not away thy heavy hand!
Death is the fairest cover for her shame,
That may be wish'd for.

How now, cousin Hero?
Friar. Have comfort, lady.

Dost thou look up?
Friar. Yea; Wherefore should she not?
Leon. Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly


Cry shame upon her ? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood ??
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes :
For did I think thou would'st not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Griev'd I, I had but one ?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame 28
0, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes ?
Why had I not, with charitable hand,
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates ;
Who smirched thus, and mired with infamy,

7 The story that is printed in her blood ?] That is, the story which her blushes discover to be true.

8 Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?] Grieved I at nature's being so frugal as to have framed for me only one child?

9 Who smirched.] To smirch is to daub, to sully.

I might have said, No part of it is mine,
This shame derives itself from unknown loins ?
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on; mine so much,
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, she-0, she is fallen
Into a pit of ink! that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;
And salt too little, which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh!

Sir, sir, be patient :
For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,
I know not what to say.

Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied !
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

Beat. No, truly, not; although, until last night I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow. Leon. Confirm’d, confirm'd! O, that is stronger

• made,
Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron !
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie?
Who lov'd her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her; let her

Friar. Hear me a little;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady; I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions start
Into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear'd a fire,
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

Fors that the appeard a lushes ;

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 my sins lack mercy !-O my father,
Prove you that any man with me convers’d
At hours unmeet, or that I vesternight
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
Friar. There is some strange misprision in the

Bene. Two of them have the very bent of ho-

nour ;2
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 honour,
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,

I of my book:) i. e. of what I have read. a b ent of honour;) Bent is used by our author for the utmost degree of any passion, or mental quality. In this play before, Benedick says of Beatrice, her affection has its full bent.

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 we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost, Why, then we rack the value;d then we find The virtue, that possession would not show us Whiles it was ours :-So will it fare with Claudio. 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

3 we rack the value ;] i. e. we exaggerate the value. The allusion is to rack-rents.

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