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Strike at thy life. Griev'd I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?!
O, 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 a thus, and mired with infamy,
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-O, 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
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 die.
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
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 none:
If I know more of any man ålive,
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy!- my father,
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 misprision3 in the princes.
Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour; 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 hayock of my means,
Nor 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 racks the value; then we find
The virtue, thạt 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
Shall come apparell’d in more precious habit,
More moving-delicate, and full of life,
of his soul,
Than when she liy'd indeed :-then shall he mourn,
(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 know, my 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.
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
cure. Come, lady, die to live: this wedding day, Perhaps, is but prolong'd; have patience, and endure.
[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 deserve 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 à man do it?
Beat. It is a man's office, but not yours.
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 lie not; 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.