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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    Verges. If you heare a child crie in the night you must
    call to the nurse, and bid her still it.
    Watch. How if the nurse be asleepe and will not
    1395heare vs?
    Dog. Why then depart in peace, and let the childe
    wake her with crying, for the ewe that will not heare
    her Lambe when it baes, will neuer answere a calfe when
    he bleates.
    1400Verges. 'Tis verie true.
    Dog. This is the end of the charge: you constable
    are to present the Princes owne person, if you meete the
    Prince in the night, you may staie him.
    Verges. Nay birladie that I thinke a cannot.
    1405Dog. Fiue shillings to one on't with anie man that
    knowes the Statutes, he may staie him, marrie not with-
    out the prince be willing, for indeed the watch ought to
    offend no man, and it is an offence to stay a man against
    his will.
    1410Verges. Birladie I thinke it be so.
    Dog. Ha, ah ha, well masters good night, and there be
    anie matter of weight chances, call vp me, keepe your
    fellowes counsailes, and your owne, and good night,
    come neighbour.
    1415Watch. Well masters, we heare our charge, let vs go
    sit here vpon the Church bench till two, and then all to
    Dog. One word more, honest neighbors. I pray you
    watch about signior Leonatoes doore, for the wedding be-
    1420ing there to morrow, there is a great coyle to night,
    adiew, be vigitant I beseech you.
    Enter Borachio and Conrade.
    Bor. What, Conrade?
    Watch. Peace, stir not.
    1425Bor. Conrade I say.
    Con. Here man, I am at thy elbow.
    Bor. Mas and my elbow itcht, I thought there would
    a scabbe follow.
    Con. I will owe thee an answere for that, and now
    1430forward with thy tale.
    Bor. Stand thee close then vnder this penthouse, for it
    drissels raine, and I will, like a true drunkard, vtter all to
    Watch. Some treason masters, yet stand close.
    1435Bor. Therefore know, I haue earned of Don Iohn a
    thousand Ducates.
    Con. Is it possible that anie villanie should be so deare?
    Bor. Thou should'st rather aske if it were possible a-
    nie villanie should be so rich? for when rich villains haue
    1440neede of poore ones, poore ones may make what price
    they will.
    Con. I wonder at it.
    Bor. That shewes thou art vnconfirm'd, thou knowest
    that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloake, is no-
    1445thing to a man.
    Con. Yes, it is apparell.
    Bor. I meane the fashion.
    Con. Yes the fashion is the fashion.
    Bor. Tush, I may as well say the foole's the foole, but
    1450seest thou not what a deformed theefe this fashion is?
    Watch. I know that deformed, a has bin a vile theefe,
    this vii. yeares, a goes vp and downe like a gentle man:
    I remember his name.
    Bor. Did'st thou not heare some bodie?
    1455Con. No, 'twas the vaine on the house.
    Bor. Seest thou not (I say) what a deformed thiefe
    this fashion is, how giddily a turnes about all the Hot-
    blouds, betweene foureteene & fiue & thirtie, sometimes
    fashioning them like Pharaoes souldiours in the rechie
    1460painting, sometime like god Bels priests in the old
    Church window, sometime like the shauen Hercules in
    the smircht worm eaten tapestrie, where his cod-peece
    seemes as massie as his club.
    Con. All this I see, and see that the fashion weares out
    1465more apparrell then the man; but art not thou thy selfe
    giddie with the fashion too that thou hast shifted out of
    thy tale into telling me of the fashion?
    Bor. Not so neither, but know that I haue to night
    wooed Margaret the Lady Heroes gentle-woman, by the
    1470name of Hero, she leanes me out at her mistris chamber-
    vvindow, bids me a thousand times good night: I tell
    this tale vildly. I should first tell thee how the Prince
    Claudio and my Master planted, and placed, and possessed
    by my Master Don Iohn, saw a far off in the Orchard this
    1475amiable incounter.
    Con. And thought thy Margaret was Hero?
    Bor. Two of them did, the Prince and Claudio, but the
    diuell my Master knew she was Margaret and partly by
    his oathes, which first possest them, partly by the darke
    1480night which did deceiue them, but chiefely, by my villa-
    nie, which did confirme any slander that Don Iohn had
    made, away vvent Claudio enraged, swore hee vvould
    meete her as he was apointed next morning at the Tem-
    ple, and there, before the whole congregation shame her
    1485with vvhat he saw o're night, and send her home againe
    vvithout a husband.
    Watch. 1. We charge you in the Princes name stand.
    Watch. 2. Call vp the right master Constable, vve haue
    here recouered the most dangerouspeece of lechery, that
    1490euer vvas knowne in the Common-wealth.
    Watch. 1. And one Deformed is one of them, I know
    him, a vveares a locke.
    Conr. Masters, masters.
    Watch. 2. Youle be made bring deformed forth I war-
    1495rant you,
    Conr. Masters, neuer speake, vve charge you, let vs o-
    bey you to goe vvith vs.
    Bor. We are like to proue a goodly commoditie, be-
    ing taken vp of these mens bils.
    1500Conr. A commoditie in question I warrant you, come
    vveele obey you.
    Enter Hero, and Margaret, and Vrsula.
    Hero. Good Vrsula wake my cosin Beatrice, and de-
    sire her to rise.
    1505Vrsu. I will Lady.
    Her. And bid her come hither.
    Vrs. Well.
    Mar. Troth I thinke your other rebato were better.
    Bero. No pray thee good Meg, Ile vveare this.
    1510Marg. By my troth's not so good, and I vvarrant your
    cosin vvill say so.
    Bero. My cosin's a foole, and thou art another, ile
    vveare none but this.
    Mar. I like the new tire vvithin excellently, if the
    1515haire vvere a thought browner: and your gown's a most
    rare fashion yfaith, I saw the Dutchesse of Millaines
    gowne that they praise so.
    Bero. O that exceedes they say.
    Mar. By my troth's but a night-gowne in respect of
    1520yours, cloth a gold and cuts, and lac'd withsiluer, set with
    pearles, downe sleeues, side sleeues, and skirts, round vn-
    derborn with a blewish tinsel, but for a fine queint grace-
    full and excellent fashion, yours is worth ten on't.
    Bero. God