Act 5, Scene 4

A room in LEONATO’S house.

[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, BENEDICK, BEATRICE,] [p]MARGARET, URSULA, FRIAR FRANCIS, and HERO]

Friar Francis. Did I not tell you she was innocent?

Leonato. So are the prince and Claudio, who accused her 
Upon the error that you heard debated: 
But Margaret was in some fault for this, 
Although against her will, as it appears 
In the true course of all the question.

Antonio. Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.

Benedick. And so am I, being else by faith enforced 
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.

Leonato. Well, daughter, and you gentle-women all, 
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
And when I send for you, come hither mask’d. 
[Exeunt Ladies] 
The prince and Claudio promised by this hour 
To visit me. You know your office, brother: 
You must be father to your brother’s daughter
And give her to young Claudio.

Antonio. Which I will do with confirm’d countenance.

Benedick. Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.

Friar Francis. To do what, signior?

Benedick. To bind me, or undo me; one of them.
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior, 
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.

Leonato. That eye my daughter lent her: ’tis most true.

Benedick. And I do with an eye of love requite her.

Leonato. The sight whereof I think you had from me,
From Claudio and the prince: but what’s your will?

Benedick. Your answer, sir, is enigmatical: 
But, for my will, my will is your good will 
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d 
In the state of honourable marriage:
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.

Leonato. My heart is with your liking.

Friar Francis. And my help. 
Here comes the prince and Claudio.

[Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, and two or three others]

  • Don Pedro. Good morrow to this fair assembly.
  • Leonato. Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio: 
    We here attend you. Are you yet determined 
    To-day to marry with my brother’s daughter?
  • Claudio. I’ll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope.
  • Leonato. Call her forth, brother; here’s the friar ready.

[Exit ANTONIO]

Don Pedro. Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter, 
That you have such a February face, 
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?

Claudio. I think he thinks upon the savage bull. 
Tush, fear not, man; we’ll tip thy horns with gold 
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee, 
As once Europa did at lusty Jove, 
When he would play the noble beast in love.

Benedick. Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low; 
And some such strange bull leap’d your father’s cow, 
And got a calf in that same noble feat 
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.

Claudio. For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings.
[Re-enter ANTONIO, with the Ladies masked] 
Which is the lady I must seize upon?

Antonio. This same is she, and I do give you her.

Claudio. Why, then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.

Leonato. No, that you shall not, till you take her hand
Before this friar and swear to marry her.

Claudio. Give me your hand: before this holy friar, 
I am your husband, if you like of me.

Hero. And when I lived, I was your other wife: 
[Unmasking]
And when you loved, you were my other husband.

Claudio. Another Hero!

Hero. Nothing certainer: 
One Hero died defiled, but I do live, 
And surely as I live, I am a maid.

Don Pedro. The former Hero! Hero that is dead!

Leonato. She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.

Friar Francis. All this amazement can I qualify: 
When after that the holy rites are ended, 
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death:
Meantime let wonder seem familiar, 
And to the chapel let us presently.

Benedick. Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?

Beatrice. [Unmasking] I answer to that name. What is your will?

Benedick. Do not you love me?

Beatrice. Why, no; no more than reason.

Benedick. Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio 
Have been deceived; they swore you did.

Beatrice. Do not you love me?

Benedick. Troth, no; no more than reason.

Beatrice. Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula 
Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.

Benedick. They swore that you were almost sick for me.

Beatrice. They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

Benedick. ‘Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?

Beatrice. No, truly, but in friendly recompense.

Leonato. Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.

Claudio. And I’ll be sworn upon’t that he loves her; 
For here’s a paper written in his hand, 
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
Fashion’d to Beatrice.

Hero. And here’s another 
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her pocket, 
Containing her affection unto Benedick.

Benedick. A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts.
Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take 
thee for pity.

Beatrice. 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.

Benedick. Peace! I will stop your mouth.

[Kissing her]

Don Pedro. How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

Benedick. I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of 
wit-crackers 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 
conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to 
have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be my 
kinsman, live unbruised and love my cousin.

Claudio. I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, 
that I might have cudgelled 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 
exceedingly narrowly to thee.

Benedick. 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.

Leonato. We’ll have dancing afterward.

Benedick. 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]

Messenger. My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight, 
And brought with armed men back to Messina.

Benedick. Think not on him till to-morrow: 
I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him. 
Strike up, pipers.

[Dance]

[Exeunt]