Scene II

Leonato's garden

Enter Benedick and Margaret, meeting

Benedick

Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.

Margaret

Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?

Benedick

In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou deservest it.

Margaret

To have no man come over me! why, shall I always keep below stairs?

Benedick

Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth; it catches.

Margaret

And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit, but hurt not.

Benedick

A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give thee the bucklers.

Margaret

Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own.

Benedick

If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.

Margaret

Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.

Exit Margaret

Benedick

And therefore will come.

Sings

The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,—

I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find out no rhyme to 'lady' but 'baby,' an innocent rhyme; for 'scorn,' 'horn,' a hard rhyme; for, 'school,' 'fool,' a babbling rhyme; very ominous endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.

Enter Beatrice

Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?

Beatrice

Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.

Benedick

O, stay but till then!

Beatrice

'Then' is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.

Benedick

Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.

Beatrice

Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I will depart unkissed.

Benedick

Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge; and either I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?

Beatrice

For them all together; which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?

Benedick

Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.

Beatrice

In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.

Benedick

Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

Beatrice

It appears not in this confession: there's not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.

Benedick

An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the lime of good neighbours. If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps.

Beatrice

And how long is that, think you?

Benedick

Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your cousin?

Beatrice

Very ill.

Benedick

And how do you?

Beatrice

Very ill too.

Benedick

Serve God, love me and mend. There will I leave you too, for here comes one in haste.

Enter Ursula

Ursula

Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder's old coil at home: it is proved my Lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is fed and gone. Will you come presently?

Beatrice

Will you go hear this news, signior?

Benedick

I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle's.

Exeunt