Internet Shakespeare Editions

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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    Const. Marrie sir, they haue committed false report,
    moreouer they haue spoken vntruths, secondarily they
    2300are slanders, sixt and lastly, they haue belyed a Ladie,
    thirdly, they haue verified vniust things, and to conclude
    they are lying knaues.
    Prin. First I aske thee what they haue done, thirdlie
    I aske thee vvhat's their offence, sixt and lastlie why they
    2305are committed, and to conclude, what you lay to their
    Clau. Rightlie reasoned, and in his owne diuision, and
    by my troth there's one meaning vvell suted.
    Prin. Who haue you offended masters, that you are
    2310thus bound to your answer? this learned Constable is too
    cunning to be vnderstood, vvhat's your offence?
    Bor. Sweete Prince, let me go no farther to mine an-
    swere: do you heare me, and let this Count kill mee: I
    haue deceiued euen your verie eies: vvhat your wise-
    2315domes could not discouer, these shallow fooles haue
    brought to light, vvho in the night ouerheard me con-
    fessing to this man, how Don Iohn your brother incensed
    me to slander the Ladie Hero, how you were brought
    into the Orchard, and saw me court Margaret in Heroes
    2320garments, how you disgrac'd her vvhen you should
    marrie her: my villanie they haue vpon record, vvhich
    I had rather seale vvith my death, then repeate ouer to
    my shame: the Ladie is dead vpon mine and my masters
    false accusation: and briefelie, I desire nothing but the
    2325reward of a villaine.
    Prin. Runs not this speech like yron through your
    Clau. I haue drunke poison whiles he vtter'd it.
    Prin. But did my Brother set thee on to this?
    2330Bor. Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.
    Prin. He is compos'd and fram'd of treacherie,
    And fled he is vpon this villanie.
    Clau. Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appeare
    In the rare semblance that I lou'd it first.
    2335Const. Come, bring away the plaintiffes, by this time
    our Sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter:
    and masters, do not forget to specifie when time & place
    shall serue, that I am an Asse.
    Con. 2. Here, here comes master Signior Leonato, and
    2340the Sexton too.

    Enter Leonato.

    Leon. Which is the villaine? let me see his eies,
    That when I note another man like him,
    I may auoide him: vvhich of these is he?
    2345Bor. If you vvould know your wronger, looke on me.
    Leon. Art thou thou the slaue that with thy breath
    hast kild mine innocent childe?
    Bor. Yea, euen I alone.
    Leo. No, not so villaine, thou beliest thy selfe,
    2350Here stand a paire of honourable men,
    A third is fled that had a hand in it:
    I thanke you Princes for my daughters death,
    Record it with your high and worthie deedes,
    'Twas brauely done, if you bethinke you of it.
    2355Clau. I know not how to pray your patience,
    Yet I must speake, choose your reuenge your selfe,
    Impose me to what penance your inuention
    Can lay vpon my sinne, yet sinn'd I not,
    But in mistaking.
    2360Prin. By my soule nor I,
    And yet to satisfie this good old man,
    I vvould bend vnder anie heauie vvaight,
    That heele enioyne me to.
    Leon. I cannot bid you bid my daughter liue,
    2365That vvere impossible, but I praie you both,
    Possesse the people in Messina here,
    How innocent she died, and if your loue
    Can labour aught in sad inuention,
    Hang her an epitaph vpon her toomb,
    2370And sing it to her bones, sing it to night:
    To morrow morning come you to my house,
    And since you could not be my sonne in law,
    Be yet my Nephew: my brother hath a daughter,
    Almost the copie of my childe that's dead,
    2375And she alone is heire to both of vs,
    Giue her the right you should haue giu'n her cosin,
    And so dies my reuenge.
    Clau. O noble sir!
    Your ouerkindnesse doth wring teares from me,
    2380I do embrace your offer, and dispose
    For henceforth of poore Claudio.
    Leon. To morrow then I will expect your comming,
    To night I take my leaue, this naughtie man
    Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
    2385Who I beleeue was packt in all this wrong,
    Hired to it by your brother.
    Bor. No by my soule she was not,
    Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
    But alwaies hath bin iust and vertuous,
    2390In anie thing that I do know by her.
    Const. Moreouer sir, which indeede is not vnder white
    and black, this plaintiffe here, the offendour did call mee
    asse, I beseech you let it be remembred in his punish-
    ment, and also the vvatch heard them talke of one Defor-
    2395med, they say he weares a key in his eare and a lock hang-
    ing by it, and borrowes monie in Gods name, the which
    he hath vs'd so long, and neuer paied, that now men grow
    hard-harted and will lend nothing for Gods sake: praie
    you examine him vpon that point.
    2400Leon. I thanke thee for thy care and honest paines.
    Const. Your vvorship speakes like a most thankefull
    and reuerend youth, and I praise God for you.
    Leon. There's for thy paines.
    Const. God saue the foundation.
    2405Leon. Goe, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I
    thanke thee.
    Const. I leaue an arrant knaue vvith your vvorship,
    which I beseech your worship to correct your selfe, for
    the example of others: God keepe your vvorship, I
    2410wish your worship vvell, God restore you to health,
    I humblie giue you leaue to depart, and if a mer-
    rie meeting may be wisht, God prohibite it: come
    Leon. Vntill to morrow morning, Lords, farewell.
    Brot. Farewell my Lords, vve looke for you to mor-
    Prin. We will not faile.
    Clau. To night ile mourne with Hero.
    2420Leon. Bring you these fellowes on, weel talke vvith
    Margaret, how her acquaintance grew vvith this lewd

    Enter Benedicke and Margaret.
    Ben. Praie thee sweete Mistris Margaret, deserue
    2425vvell at my hands, by helping mee to the speech of Bea-
    Mar. Will