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representation of the contrast and contradic- | somewhat hastily we think," Any other tion between life in its real essence and the aspect which it presents to those who are engaged in its struggle."
less ingeniously absurd watchmen and nightconstables would have answered the mere necessities of the action." Surely not. Make Dogberry in the slightest degree less self-satisfied, loquacious, full of the official stuff of which functionaries are still cut out, and the action breaks down before the rejection of Hero by her lover. For it is not the ingenious absurdity that prevents the detection of the plot against Hero; it is the absurdity which prevents the prompt disclosure of it after the detection. Truly did Don Pedro say, "This learned constable is too cunning to be understood." The wise fellow, and the rich fellow, and the fellow that hath had losses, and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him, nevertheless holds his prisoners fast; and when he comes to the Prince, with "Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves," though his method be not logical, his matter is all-sufficient. The passionate lover, the calm and sagacious prince, the doting father, were the dupes of a treachery, not well compact, and carried through by dangerous instruments. They make no effort to detect what would not have been difficult of detection; they are satisfied to quarrel and to lament. Accident discovers what intelligence could not penetrate; and the treacherous slander is manifest in all its blackness to the wise Dogberry:
The 'Much Ado about Nothing' was acted under the name of 'Benedick and Beatrice,' even during the life of its author. These two characters absorb very much of the acting interest of the play; but they cannot be separated from the play without being liable to misconstruction. The character of Beatrice cannot be understood, except in connection with the injuries done to Hero; and except we view it, as well as the characters of all the other agents in the scene, with reference to the one leading idea, that there is a real aspect of things which is to be seen by the audience and not seen by the agents. The character of Don John, for example, and the characters of his loose confederates, are understood by the spectators; and their villainy is purposely transparent. Without Don John the plot could not move. He is not a rival in Claudio's love, as the "wicked duke" of Ariosto: he is simply a moody, ill-conditioned, spiteful rascal; such a one as ordinarily takes to backbiting and hinting away character. Shakspere gets rid of him as soon as he can he fires the train and disappears. He would be out of harmony with the happiness which he has suspended, but not destroyed; and so he passes from the stage, with
"Think not on him till to-morrow."
But his instrumentality has been of the utmost importance. It has given us that beautiful altar-scene, that would be almost too tragical if we did not know that the "Much Ado" was "about Nothing." But that maiden's sorrows, and that father's passion, are real aspects of life, however unreal be the cause of them. The instrumentality, too, of the hateful Don John has given us Dogberry and Verges. Coleridge has said,
"Flat burglary as ever was committed." Here is the crowning irony of the philosophical poet. The players of the game of life see nothing, or see minute parts only; but the dullest by-stander has glimpses of something more.
DON PEDRO, Prince of Arragon. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 4. DON JOHN, bastard brother to Don Pedro. Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act III. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1.
CLAUDIO, a young lord of Florence, favourite
of Don Pedro. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 4. BENEDICK, a young lord of Padua, favourite
likewise of Don Pedro.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 4.
LEONATO, Governor of Messina.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 4. ANTONIO, brother to Leonato.
Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 4. BALTHAZAR, servant to Don Pedro. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3.
BORACHIO, follower of Don John.
Appears, Act I. sc. 3. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act III. sc. 3. Act IV. sc. 2. Act V. sc. 1.
CONRADE, follower of Don John.
Appears, Act I. sc. 3. Act III. sc. 3. Act IV. sc. 2. Act V. sc. 1.
DOGBERRY, a city officer.
Appears, Act III. sc. 3; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 2. Act V. sc. 1.
VERGES, a city officer.
Appears, Act III. sc. 3; sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 2.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 2. Act V. sc. 1.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 4.
HERO, daughter to Leonato. Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 4.
BEATRICE, niece to Leonato.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3.
Act III. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 2; sc. 4.
Appears, Act II. sc. 1. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2.
Messengers, Watch, and Attendants.
SCENE I.-Street in Messina.
Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others, with a Messengera.
LEON. I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to
MESS. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him. LEON. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
MESS. But few of any sort, and none of name.
* In the stage-direction of the early copies we have "Enter Leonato, governor of Messina, Innogen, his wife," &c. But the matron takes no part in the action or dialogue. She appears again in the stage-direction of the first scene of Act II.
Any sort. The obvious meaning here is, of any condition. There can be no doubt of this, for the Messenger adds, "and none of name." Yet Steevens tells us, "sort is rank, distinction." He inclines, however, to M. Mason's explanation, that "sort means of any kind whatsoever.” The word occurs again, and is used by the same speaker: "there was none such in the army of
LEON. A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
MESS. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age; doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how.
LEON. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it. MESS. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.
LEON. Did he break out into tears?
MESS. In great measurea.
LEON. A kind overflow of kindness: There are no faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weep
BEAT. I pray you, is signior Montanto b returned from the wars, or no?
MESS. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort c.
LEON. What is he that you ask for, niece?
HERO. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
MESS. O, he 's returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
BEAT. He set up his bills 1 here in Messina, and challenged Cupid at the flight:
and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
LEON. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with youd, I doubt it not.
MESS. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
BEAT. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he's a very valiant trencherman, he hath an excellent stomach.
MESS. And a good soldier too, lady.
BEAT. And a good soldier to a lady:-But what is he to a lord?
MESS. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues. BEAT. It is so, indeed: he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing,Well, we are all mortal.
any sort." Here the commentators adopt Warburton's explanation: "there was none such of any quality above the common." But why this difference? The Messenger knew "
that name”-none in any rank.
In great measure-abundantly.
↳ Montanto. Beatrice thus nicknames Benedick, after a term of the fencing-school.
• See previous note on Any sort.
• He'll be meet with you-he 'll be even with you. So in 'The Tempest:'—
"We must prepare to meet with Caliban.'
LEON. You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her: they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.
BEAT. Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits a went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference b between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? He hath
every month a new sworn brother.
MESS. Is 't possible?
BEAT. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block3.
MESS. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books a.
BEAT. No: an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young squarere now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
MESS. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
BEAT. O Lord! he will hang upon him like a disease: he is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.
MESS. I will hold friends with you, lady.
BEAT. Do, good friend.
LEON. You'll ne'er run mad, niece.
* Five wits. Shakspere here uses the term wits in the sense of intellectual powers. In his 141st Sonnet he distinguishes between the five wits and the five senses:—
"But my five wits, nor my five senses, can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee."
By the early writers the five wits was used synonymously with the five senses; as in Chaucer ('The Persones Tale'), "Certes delites ben after the appetites of the five wittis: as, sight, hering, smelling, savouring, and touching." Johnson says, "The wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses, or the five inlets of ideas.'
b Bear it for a difference-for a distinction-as in heraldry.
• His faith-his belief generally-here, his confidence in a friend.
In your books. The meaning of this expression, which we retain to the present day, is generally understood. He who is in your books—or, as we sometimes say, in your good books—is he whom you think well of whom you trust. It appears tolerably obvious, then, that the phrase has a commercial origin; and that, as he who has obtained credit, buys upon trust, is in his creditor's books, so he who has obtained in any way the confidence of another is said to be in his books. None of the commentators, however, have suggested this explanation. Johnson says it means to be in one's codicils or will;" Steevens, that it is to be in one's visiting-book,—or in the books of a university, or in the books of the Herald's Office; Farmer, and Douce, that it is to be in the list of a great man's retainers, because the names of such were entered in a book. This is the most received explanation. Our view of the matter is more homely, and for that reason it appears to us more true.
Squarer-quarreller. To square is to dispute-to confront hostilely. So in 'A MidsummerNight's Dream:'
"And now they never meet in grove, or green,