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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    married, they would talke themselues madde.
    750Prince. Counte Claudio, when meane you to goe to
    Clau. To morrow my Lord, Time goes on crutches,
    till Loue haue all his rites.
    Leonata. Not till monday, my deare sonne, which is
    755hence a iust seuen night, and a time too briefe too, to haue
    all things answer minde.
    Prince. Come, you shake the head at so long a brea-
    thing, but I warrant thee Claudio, the time shall not goe
    dully by vs, I will in the interim, vndertake one of Her-
    760cules labors, which is, to bring Signior Benedicke and the
    Lady Beatrice into a mountaine of affection, th'one with
    th'other, I would faine haue it a match, and I doubt not
    but to fashion it, if you three will but minister such assi-
    stance as I shall giue you direction.
    765Leonata. My Lord, I am for you, though it cost mee
    ten nights watchings.
    Claud. And I my Lord.
    Prin. And you to gentle Hero?
    Hero. I will doe any modest office, my Lord, to helpe
    770my cosin to a good husband.
    Prin. And Benedick is not the vnhopefullest husband
    that I know: thus farre can I praise him, hee is of a noble
    straine, of approued valour, and confirm'd honesty, I will
    teach you how to humour your co
    sin, that shee shall fall
    775in loue with Benedicke, and I, with your two helpes, will
    so practise on Benedicke, that in despight of his quicke
    wit, and his queasie stomacke, hee shall fall in loue with
    Beatrice: if wee can doe this, Cupid is no longer an Ar-
    cher, his glory shall be ours, for wee are the onely loue-
    780gods, goe in with me, and I will tell you my drift.
    Enter Iohn and Borachio.
    Ioh. It is so, the Count Claudio shal marry the daugh-
    ter of Leonato.
    Bora. Yea my Lord, but I can crosse it.
    785Iohn. Any barre, any crosse, any impediment, will be
    medicinable to me, I am sicke in displeasure to him, and
    whatsoeuer comes athwart his affection, ranges euenly
    with mine, how canst thou crosse this marriage?
    Bor. Not honestly my Lord, but so couertly, that no
    790dishonesty shall appeare in me.
    Iohn. Shew me breefely how.
    Bor. I thinke I told your Lordship a yeere since, how
    much I am in the fauour of Margaret, the waiting gentle-
    woman to Hero.
    795Iohn. I remember.
    Bor. I can at any vnseasonable instant of the night,
    appoint her to look out at her Ladies chamber window.
    Iohn. What life is in that, to be the death of this mar-
    800Bor. The poyson of that lies in you to temper, goe
    you to the Prince your brother, spare not to tell him, that
    hee hath wronged his Honor in marrying the renowned
    Claudio, whose estimation do you mightily hold vp, to a
    contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
    805Iohn. What proofe shall I make of that?
    Bor. Proofe enough, to misuse the Prince, to vexe
    Claudio, to vndoe Hero, and kill Leonato, looke you for a-
    ny other issue?
    Iohn. Onely to despight them, I will endeauour any
    Bor. Goe then, finde me a meete howre, to draw on
    Pedro and the Count Claudio alone, tell them that you
    know that Hero loues me, intend a kinde of zeale both
    to the Prince and Claudio (as in a loue of your brothers
    815honor who hath made this match) and his friends repu-
    tation, who is thus like to be cosen'd with the semblance
    of a maid, that you haue discouer'd thus: they will scarce-
    ly beleeue this without triall: offer them instances which
    shall beare no lesse likelihood, than to see mee at her
    820chamber window, heare me call Margaret, Hero; heare
    Margaret terme me Claudio, and bring them to see this
    the very night before the intended wedding, for in the
    meane time, I will so fashion the matter, that Hero shall
    be absent, and there shall appeare such seeming truths of
    825Heroes disloyaltie, that iealousie shall be cal'd assurance,
    and all the preparation ouerthrowne.
    Iohn. Grow this to what aduerse issue it can, I will
    put it in practise: be cunning in the working this, and
    thy fee is a thousand ducates.
    830Bor. Be thou constant in the accusation, and my cun-
    ning shall not shame me.
    Iohn. I will presentlie goe learne their day of marri-

    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,