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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    Win me and weare me, let him answere me,
    Come follow me boy, come sir boy, come follow me
    2170Sir boy, ile whip you from your foyning fence,
    Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
    Leon. Brother.
    Brot. Content your self, God knows I lou'd my neece,
    And she is dead, slander'd to death by villaines,
    2175That dare as well answer a man indeede,
    As I d are take a serpent by the tongue.
    Boyes, apes, braggarts, Iackes, milke-sops.
    Leon. Brother Anthony.
    Brot. Hold you content, what man? I know them, yea
    2180And what they weigh, euen to the vtmost scruple,
    Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boyes,
    That lye, and cog, and flout, depraue, and slander,
    Goe antiquely, and show outward hidiousnesse,
    And speake of halfe a dozen dang'rous words,
    2185How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst.
    And this is all.
    Leon. But brother Anthonie.
    Ant. Come, 'tis no matter,
    Do not you meddle, let me deale in this.
    2190Pri. Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience
    My heart is sorry for your daughters death:
    But on my honour she was charg'd with nothing
    But what was true, and very full of proofe.
    Leon. My Lord, my Lord.
    2195Prin. I will not heare you.
    Enter Benedicke.
    Leo. No come brother, away, I will be heard.
    Exeunt ambo.
    Bro. And shall, or some of vs will smart for it.
    2200Prin. See, see, here comes the man we went to seeke.
    Clau. Now signior, what newes?
    Ben. Good day my Lord.
    Prin. Welcome signior, you are almost come to part
    almost a fray.
    2205Clau. Wee had likt to haue had our two noses snapt
    off with two old men without teeth.
    Prin. Leonato and his brother, what think'st thou? had
    wee fought, I doubt we should haue beene too yong for
    2210Ben. In a false quarrell there is no true valour, I came
    to seeke you both.
    Clau. We haue beene vp and downe to seeke thee, for
    we are high proofe melancholly, and would faine haue it
    beaten away, wilt thou vse thy wit?
    2215Ben. It is in my scabberd, shall I draw it?
    Prin. Doest thou weare thy wit by thy side?
    Clau. Neuer any did so, though verie many haue been
    beside their wit, I will bid thee drawe, as we do the min-
    strels, draw to pleasure vs.
    2220Prin. As I am an honest man he lookes pale, art thou
    sicke, or angrie?
    Clau. What, courage man: what though care kil'd a
    cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
    Ben. Sir, I shall meete your wit in the careere, and
    2225you charge it against me, I pray you chuse another sub-
    Clau. Nay then giue him another staffe, this last was
    broke crosse.
    Prin. By this light, he changes more and more, I thinke
    2230he be angrie indeede.
    Clau. If he be, he knowes how to turne his girdle.
    Ben. Shall I speake a word in your eare?
    Clau. God blesse me from a challenge.
    Ben. You are a villaine, I iest not, I will make it good
    2235how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare:
    do me right, or I will protest your cowardise: you haue
    kill'd a sweete Ladie, and her death shall fall heauie on
    you, let me heare from you.
    Clau. Well, I will meete you, so I may haue good
    Prin. What, a feast, a feast?
    Clau. I faith I thanke him, he hath bid me to a calues
    head and a Capon, the which if I doe not carue most cu-
    riously, say my knife's naught, shall I not finde a wood-
    2245cocke too?
    Ben. Sir, your wit ambles well, it goes easily.
    Prin. Ile tell thee how Beatrice prais'd thy wit the o-
    ther day: I said thou hadst a fine wit: true saies she, a fine
    little one: no said I, a great wit: right saies shee, a great
    2250grosse one: nay said I, a good wit: iust said she, it hurts
    no body: nay said I, the gentleman is wise: certain said
    she, a wise gentleman: nay said I, he hath the tongues:
    that I beleeue said shee, for hee swore a thing to me on
    munday night, which he forswore on tuesday morning:
    2255there's a double tongue, there's two tongues: thus did
    shee an howre together trans-shape thy particular ver-
    tues, yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the
    proprest man in Italie.
    Claud. For the which she wept heartily, and said shee
    2260car'd not.
    Prin. Yea that she did, but yet for all that, and if shee
    did not hate him deadlie, shee would loue him dearely,
    the old mans daughter told vs all.
    Clau. All, all, and moreouer, God saw him vvhen he
    2265was hid in the garden.
    Prin. But when shall we set the sauage Bulls hornes
    on the sensible Benedicks head?
    Clau. Yea and text vnder-neath, heere dwells Bene-
    dicke the married man.
    2270Ben. Fare you well, Boy, you know my minde, I will
    leaue you now to your gossep-like humor, you breake
    iests as braggards do their blades, which God be thank-
    ed hurt not: my Lord, for your manie courtesies I thank
    you, I must discontinue your companie, your brother
    2275the Bastard is fled from Messina: you haue among you,
    kill'd a sweet and innocent Ladie: for my Lord Lacke-
    beard there, he and I shall meete, and till then peace be
    with him.
    Prin. He is in earnest.
    2280Clau. In most profound earnest, and Ile warrant you,
    for the loue of Beatrice.
    Prin. And hath challeng'd thee.
    Clau. Most sincerely.
    Prin. What a prettie thing man is, when he goes in his
    2285doublet and hose, and leaues off his wit.

    Enter Constable, Conrade, and Borachio.

    Clau. He is then a Giant to an Ape, but then is an Ape
    a Doctor to such a man.
    Prin. But soft you, let me be, plucke vp my heart, and
    2290be sad, did he not say my brother was fled?
    Const. Come you sir, if iustice cannot tame you, shee
    shall nere weigh more reasons in her ballance, nay, and
    you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be lookt to.
    Prin. How now, two of my brothers men bound? Bo-
    2295rachio one.
    Clau. Harken after their offence my Lord.
    Prin. Officers, what offence haue these men done?
    con. Marrie