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About this text

  • Title: Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Gretchen Minton
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-516-2

    Copyright Gretchen Minton. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Gretchen Minton
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

    Much ado about Nothing.
    Prin. Indeed that tels a heauy tale for him: conclude,
    he is in loue.
    Clau. Nay, but I know who loues him.
    1265Prince. That would I know too, I warrant one that
    knowes him not.
    Cla. Yes, and his ill conditions, and in despight of all,
    dies for him.
    Prin. Shee shall be buried with her face vpwards.
    1270Bene. Yet is this no charme for the tooth-ake, old sig-
    nior, walke aside with mee, I haue studied eight or nine
    wise words to speake to you, which these hobby-horses
    must not heare.
    Prin. For my life to breake with him about Beatrice.
    1275Clau. 'Tis euen so, Hero and Margaret haue by this
    played their parts with Beatrice, and then the two Beares
    will not bite one another when they meete.

    Enter Iohn the Bastard.
    Bast. My Lord and brother, God saue you.
    1280Prin. Good den brother.
    Bast. If your leisure seru'd, I would speake with you.
    Prince. In priuate?
    Bast. If it please you, yet Count Claudio may heare,
    for what I would speake of, concernes him.
    1285Prin. What's the matter?
    Basta. Meanes your Lordship to be married to mor-
    Prin. You know he does.
    Bast. I know not that when he knowes what I know.
    1290Clau. If there be any impediment, I pray you disco-
    uer it.
    Bast. You may thinke I loue you not, let that appeare
    hereafter, and ayme better at me by that I now will ma-
    nifest, for my brother (I thinke, he holds you well, and in
    1295dearenesse of heart) hath holpe to effect your ensuing
    marriage: surely sute ill spent, and labour ill bestowed.
    Prin. Why, what's the matter?
    Bastard. I came hither to tell you, and circumstances
    shortned, (for she hath beene too long a talking of) the
    1300Lady is disloyall.
    Clau. Who Hero?
    Bast. Euen shee, Leonatoes Hero, your Hero, euery
    mans Hero.
    Clau. Disloyall?
    1305Bast. The word is too good to paint out her wicked-
    nesse, I could say she were worse, thinke you of a worse
    title, and I will fit her to it: wonder not till further war-
    rant: goe but with mee to night, you shal see her cham-
    ber window entred, euen the night before her wedding
    1310day, if you loue her, then to morrow wed her: But it
    would better fit your honour to change your minde.
    Claud. May this be so?
    Princ. I will not thinke it.
    Bast. If you dare not trust that you see, confesse not
    1315that you know: if you will follow mee, I will shew you
    enough, and when you haue seene more, & heard more,
    proceed accordingly.
    Clau. If I see any thing to night, why I should not
    marry her to morrow in the congregation, where I shold
    1320wedde, there will I shame her.
    Prin. And as I wooed for thee to obtaine her, I will
    ioyne with thee to disgrace her.
    Bast. I will disparage her no farther, till you are my
    witnesses, beare it coldly but till night, and let the issue
    1325shew it selfe.
    Prin. O day vntowardly turned!
    Claud. O mischiefe strangelie thwarting!
    Bastard. O plague right well preuented! so will you
    say, when you haue seene the sequele.

    Enter Dogbery and his compartner with the watch.
    Dog. Are you good men and true?
    Verg. Yea, or else it were pitty but they should suffer
    saluation body and soule.
    Dogb. Nay, that were a punishment too good for
    1335them, if they should haue any allegiance in them, being
    chosen for the Princes watch.
    Verges. Well, giue them their charge, neighbour
    Dog. First, who thinke you the most desartlesse man
    1340to be Constable?
    Watch. 1. Hugh Ote-cake sir, or George Sea-coale, for
    they can write and reade.
    Dogb. Come hither neighbour Sea-coale, God hath
    blest you with a good name: to be a wel-fauoured man,
    1345is the gift of Fortune, but to write and reade, comes by
    Watch 2. Both which Master Constable
    Dogb. You haue: I knew it would be your answere:
    well, for your fauour sir, why giue God thankes, & make
    1350no boast of it, and for your writing and reading, let that
    appeare when there is no need of such vanity, you are
    thought heere to be the most senslesse and fit man for the
    Constable of the watch: therefore beare you the lan-
    thorne: this is your charge: You shall comprehend all
    1355vagrom men, you are to bid any man stand in the Prin-
    ces name.
    Watch 2. How if a will not stand?
    Dogb. Why then take no note of him, but let him go,
    and presently call the rest of the Watch together, and
    1360thanke God you are ridde of a knaue.
    Verges. If he will not stand when he is bidden, hee is
    none of the Princes subiects.
    Dogb. True, and they are to meddle with none but
    the Princes subiects: you shall also make no noise in the
    1365streetes: for, for the Watch to babble and talke, is most
    tollerable, and not to be indured.
    Watch. We will rather sleepe than talke, wee know
    what belongs to a Watch.
    Dog. Why you speake like an ancient and most quiet
    1370watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend:
    only haue a care that your bills be not stolne: well, you
    are to call at all the Alehouses, and bid them that are
    drunke get them to bed.
    Watch. How if they will not?
    1375Dogb. Why then let them alone till they are sober, if
    they make you not then the better answere, you may say,
    they are not the men you tooke them for.
    Watch. Well sir.
    Dogb. If you meet a theefe, you may suspect him, by
    1380vertue of your office, to be no true man: and for such
    kinde of men, the lesse you meddle or make with them,
    why the more is for your honesty.
    Watch. If wee know him to be a thiefe, shall wee not
    lay hands on him.
    1385Dogb. Truly by your office you may, but I think they
    that touch pitch will be defil'd: the most peaceable way
    for you, if you doe take a theefe, is, to let him shew him-
    selfe what he is, and steale out of your company.
    Ver. You haue bin alwaies cal'd a merciful mã partner.
    1390Dog. Truely I would not hang a dog by my will, much
    more a man who hath anie honestie in him.