I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honor,
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 havoc of my means
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends
But they shall find, awaked 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.
I don’t know. If they have spoken the truth about Hero, I will tear her apart with my bare hands. But if they have accused her falsely, even the greatest of them will have to deal with me. Age hasn’t dried up my body or eroded my intelligence so much, and luck hasn’t robbed me of so much of my fortune, and my bad ways
haven’t deprived me of so many friends, that they won’t find me ready to seek revenge both physically and mentally, with money and friends at my disposal.
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.
Hold on a moment, and listen to my advice. The princes left your daughter here for dead. Hide her for a while in your house, and tell everyone that she has, in fact, died. Make a bug show of mourning for her, hang sad epitaphs up at your family’s tomb, and perform all the appropriate burial ceremonies.
What shall become of this? What will this do?
Why should we do this? What will this do?
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 so be maintained,
Upon the instant that she was accused,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excused
Of every hearer. For it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why then we rack the value, then we find
Listen, if we do this correctly, the men who slandered Hero will feel remorse for her instead. That will be a good thing. But I have an even greater goal in mind. We’ll maintain that she died the instant she was accused, and everyone who hears this will grieve for her, pity her, and excuse her actions. That’s how it goes: we don’t value the things we have until we lose them, when we suddenly rack up their value and see
all the virtues we were blind to when they were alive and with us. That’s how Claudio will respond. When he hears that she died from his words, his imagination will be sweetly overtaken by thoughts of her. In death, every aspect of her life will be got up more beautifully, and in his mind she will seem more moving, more delicate, and more lively even than when she was alive. Then, if he ever truly felt love, he’ll mourn and wish he hadn’t accused her—even though he believed his accu-
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