Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Grechen Minton
Not Peer Reviewed

Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

Enter Benedicke alone.
835Bene. Boy.
Boy. Signior.
Bene. In my chamber window lies a booke, bring it
hither to me in the orchard.
Boy. I am heere already sir.
840Bene. I know that, but I would haue thee hence, and
heere againe. I doe much wonder, that one man seeing
how much another man is a foole, when he dedicates his
behauiours to loue, will after hee hath laught at such
shallow follies in others, become the argument of his
845owne scorne, by falling in loue, & such a man is Claudio,
I haue known when there was no musicke with him but
the drum and the fife, and now had hee rather heare the
taber and the pipe: I haue knowne when he would haue
walkt ten mile afoot, to see a good armor, and now will
850he lie ten nights awake caruing the fashion of a new dub-
let: he was wont to speake plaine, & to the purpose (like
an honest man & a souldier) and now is he turn'd ortho-
graphy, his words are a very fantasticall banquet, iust so
many strange dishes: may I be so conuerted, & see with
855these eyes? I cannot tell, I thinke not: I will not bee
sworne, but loue may transforme me to an oyster, but Ile
take my oath on it, till he haue made an oyster of me, he
shall neuer make me such a foole: one woman is faire, yet
I am well: another is wise, yet I am well: another vertu-
860ous, yet I am well: but till all graces be in one woman,
one woman shall not come in my grace: rich shee shall
be, that's certaine: wise, or Ile none: vertuous, or Ile ne-
uer cheapen her: faire, or Ile neuer looke on her: milde,
or come not neere me: Noble, or not for an Angell: of
865good discourse: an excellent Musitian, and her haire shal
be of what colour it please God, hah! the Prince and
Monsieur Loue, I will hide me in the Arbor.
Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Iacke Wilson.
Prin. Come, shall we heare this musicke?
870Claud. Yea my good Lord: how still the euening is,
As husht on purpose to grace harmonie.
Prin. See you where Benedicke hath hid himselfe?
Clau. O very well my Lord: the musicke ended,
Wee'll fit the kid-foxe with a penny worth.
875Prince. Come Balthasar, wee'll heare that song again.
Balth. O good my Lord, taxe not so bad a voyce,
To slander musicke any more then once.
Prin. It is the witnesse still of excellency,
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
loue, 'tis very possible hee'l scorne it, for the man (as you
know all) hath a contemptible spirit.
1010Clau. He is a very proper man.
Prin. He hath indeed a good outward happines.
Clau. 'Fore God, and in my minde very wise.
Prin. He doth indeed shew some sparkes that are like
1015Leon. And I take him to be valiant.
Prin. As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing of
quarrels you may see hee is wise, for either hee auoydes
them with great discretion, or vndertakes them with a
Christian-like feare.
1020Leon. If hee doe feare God, a must necessarilie keepe
peace, if hee breake the peace, hee ought to enter into a
quarrell with feare and trembling.
Prin. And so will he doe, for the man doth fear God,
howsoeuer it seemes not in him, by some large ieasts hee
1025will make: well, I am sorry for your niece, shall we goe
see Benedicke, and tell him of her loue.
Claud. Neuer tell him, my Lord, let her weare it out
with good counsell.
Leon. Nay that's impossible, she may weare her heart
1030out first.
Prin. Well, we will heare further of it by your daugh-
ter, let it coole the while, I loue Benedicke well, and I
could wish he would modestly examine himselfe, to see
how much he is vnworthy to haue so good a Lady.
1035Leon. My Lord, will you walke? dinner is ready.
Clau. If he do not doat on her vpon this, I wil neuer
trust my expectation.
Prin. Let there be the same Net spread for her, and
that must your daughter and her gentlewoman carry:
1040the sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of ano-
thers dotage, and no such matter, that's the Scene that I
would see, which will be meerely a dumbe shew: let vs
send her to call him into dinner.
Bene. This can be no tricke, the conference was sadly
1045borne, they haue the truth of this from Hero, they seeme
to pittie the Lady: it seemes her affections haue the full
bent: loue me? why it must be requited: I heare how I
am censur'd, they say I will beare my selfe proudly, if I
perceiue the loue come from her: they say too, that she
1050will rather die than giue any signe of affection: I did ne-
uer thinke to marry, I must not seeme proud, happy are
they that heare their detractions, and can put them to
mending: they say the Lady is faire, 'tis a truth, I can
beare them witnesse: and vertuous, tis so, I cannot re-
1055prooue it, and wise, but for louing me, by my troth it is
no addition to her witte, nor no great argument of her
folly; for I wil be horribly in loue with her, I may chance
haue some odde quirkes and remnants of witte broken
on mee, because I haue rail'd so long against marriage:
1060but doth not the appetite alter? a man loues the meat in
his youth, that he cannot indure in his age. Shall quips
and sentences, and these paper bullets of the braine awe
a man from the careere of his humour? No, the world
must be peopled. When I said I would die a batcheler, I
1065did not think I should liue till I were maried, here comes
Beatrice: by this day, shee's a faire Lady, I doe spie some
markes of loue in her.
Enter Beatrice.
Beat. Against my wil I am sent to bid you come in to
Bene. Faire Beatrice, I thanke you for your paines.
Beat. I tooke no more paines for those thankes, then
you take paines to thanke me, if it had been painefull, I
would not haue come.
1075Bene. You take pleasure then in the message.
Beat. Yea iust so much as you may take vpon a kniues
point, and choake a daw withall: you haue no stomacke
signior, fare you well.
Bene. Ha, against my will I am sent to bid you come
1080into dinner: there's a double meaning in that: I tooke
no more paines for those thankes then you tooke paines
to thanke me, that's as much as to say, any paines that I
take for you is as easie as thankes: if I do not take pitty
of her I am a villaine, if I doe not loue her I am a Iew, I
1085will goe get her picture.