Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Grechen Minton
Not Peer Reviewed

Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

Much ado about Nothing.
To slander Musicke any more then once.
880Prince. It is the witnesse still of excellencie,
To put a strange face on his owne perfection,
I pray thee sing, and let me woe no more.
Balth. Because you talke of wooing, I will sing,
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit,
885To her he thinkes not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet will he sweare he loues.
Prince. Nay pray thee come,
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Doe it in notes.
890Balth. Note this before my notes,
Theres not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
Prince. Why these are very crotchets that he speaks,
Note notes forsooth, and nothing.
Bene. Now diuine aire, now is his soule rauisht, is it
895not strange that sheepes guts should hale soules out of
mens bodies? well, a horne for my money when all's
The Song.
Sigh no more Ladies, sigh no more,
900Men were deceiuers euer,
One foote in Sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant neuer,
Then sigh not so, but let them goe,
And be you blithe and bonnie,
905Conuerting all your sounds of woe,
Into hey nony nony.

Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heauy,
The fraud of men were euer so,
910Since summer first was leauy,
Then sigh not so, &c.

Prince. By my troth a good song.
Balth. And an ill singer, my Lord.
Prince. Ha, no, no faith, thou singst well enough for a
Ben. And he had been a dog that should haue howld
thus, they would haue hang'd him, and I pray God his
bad voyce bode no mischiefe, I had as liefe haue heard
the night-rauen, come what plague could haue come af-
920ter it.
Prince. Yea marry, dost thou heare Balthasar? I pray
thee get vs some excellent musick: for to morrow night
we would haue it at the Lady Heroes chamber window.
Balth. The best I can, my Lord.
Exit Balthasar.
925Prince. Do so, farewell. Come hither Leonato, what
was it you told me of to day, that your Niece Beatrice
was in loue with signior Benedicke?
Cla. O I, stalke on, stalke on, the foule sits. I did ne-
uer thinke that Lady would haue loued any man.
930Leon. No, nor I neither, but most wonderful, that she
should so dote on Signior Benedicke, whom shee hath in
all outward behauiours seemed euer to abhorre.
Bene. Is't possible? sits the winde in that corner?
Leo. By my troth my Lord, I cannot tell what to
935thinke of it, but that she loues him with an inraged affe-
ction, it is past the infinite of thought.
Prince. May be she doth but counterfeit.
Claud. Faith like enough.
Leon. O God! counterfeit? there was neuer counter-
940feit of passion, came so neere the life of passion as she dis-
couers it.
Prince. Why what effects of passion shewes she?
Claud. Baite the hooke well, this fish will bite.
Leon. What effects my Lord? shee will sit you, you
945heard my daughter tell you how.
Clau. She did indeed.
Prin. How, how I pray you? you amaze me, I would
haue thought her spirit had beene inuincible against all
assaults of affection.
950Leo. I would haue sworne it had, my Lord, especially
against Benedicke.
Bene. I should thinke this a gull, but that the white-
bearded fellow speakes it: knauery cannot sure hide
himselfe in such reuerence.
955Claud. He hath tane th'infection, hold it vp.
Prince. Hath shee made her affection known to Bene-
Leonato. No, and sweares she neuer will, that's her
960Claud. 'Tis true indeed, so your daughter saies: shall
I, saies she, that haue so oft encountred him with scorne,
write to him that I loue him?
Leo. This saies shee now when shee is beginning to
write to him, for shee'll be vp twenty times a night, and
965there will she sit in her smocke, till she haue writ a sheet
of paper: my daughter tells vs all.
Clau. Now you talke of a sheet of paper, I remember
a pretty iest your daughter told vs of.
Leon. O when she had writ it, & was reading it ouer,
970she found Benedicke and Beatrice betweene the sheete.
Clau. That.
Leon. O she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,
raild at her self, that she should be so immodest to write,
to one that shee knew would flout her: I measure him,
975saies she, by my owne spirit, for I should flout him if hee
writ to mee, yea though I loue him, I should.
Clau. Then downe vpon her knees she falls, weepes,
sobs, beates her heart, teares her hayre, praies, curses, O
sweet Benedicke, God giue me patience.
980Leon. She doth indeed, my daughter saies so, and the
extasie hath so much ouerborne her, that my daughter is
somtime afeard she will doe a desperate out-rage to her
selfe, it is very true.
Princ. It were good that Benedicke knew of it by some
985other, if she will not discouer it.
Clau. To what end? he would but make a sport of it,
and torment the poore Lady worse.
Prin. And he should, it were an almes to hang him,
shee's an excellent sweet Lady, and (out of all suspition,)
990she is vertuous.
Claudio. And she is exceeding wise.
Prince. In euery thing, but in louing Benedicke.
Leon. O my Lord, wisedome and bloud combating in
so tender a body, we haue ten proofes to one, that bloud
995hath the victory, I am sorry for her, as I haue iust cause,
being her Vncle, and her Guardian.
Prince. I would shee had bestowed this dotage on
mee, I would haue daft all other respects, and made her
halfe my selfe: I pray you tell Benedicke of it, and heare
1000what he will say.
Leon. Were it good thinke you?
Clau. Hero thinkes surely she wil die, for she saies she
will die, if hee loue her not, and shee will die ere shee
make her loue knowne, and she will die if hee wooe her,
1005rather than shee will bate one breath of her accustomed
Prin. She doth well, if she should make tender of her