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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    To slander Musicke any more then once.
    880Prince. It is the witnesse still of excellencie,
    To put a strange face on his owne perfection,
    I pray thee sing, and let me woe no more.
    Balth. Because you talke of wooing, I will sing,
    Since many a wooer doth commence his suit,
    885To her he thinkes not worthy, yet he wooes,
    Yet will he sweare he loues.
    Prince. Nay pray thee come,
    Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
    Doe it in notes.
    890Balth. Note this before my notes,
    Theres not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
    Prince. Why these are very crotchets that he speaks,
    Note notes forsooth, and nothing.
    Bene. Now diuine aire, now is his soule rauisht, is it
    895not strange that sheepes guts should hale soules out of
    mens bodies? well, a horne for my money when all's
    The Song.
    Sigh no more Ladies, sigh no more,
    900Men were deceiuers euer,
    One foote in Sea, and one on shore,
    To one thing constant neuer,
    Then sigh not so, but let them goe,
    And be you blithe and bonnie,
    905Conuerting all your sounds of woe,
    Into hey nony nony.

    Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
    Of dumps so dull and heauy,
    The fraud of men were euer so,
    910Since summer first was leauy,
    Then sigh not so, &c.

    Prince. By my troth a good song.
    Balth. And an ill singer, my Lord.
    Prince. Ha, no, no faith, thou singst well enough for a
    Ben. And he had been a dog that should haue howld
    thus, they would haue hang'd him, and I pray God his
    bad voyce bode no mischiefe, I had as liefe haue heard
    the night-rauen, come what plague could haue come af-
    920ter it.
    Prince. Yea marry, dost thou heare Balthasar? I pray
    thee get vs some excellent musick: for to morrow night
    we would haue it at the Lady Heroes chamber window.
    Balth. The best I can, my Lord.
    Exit Balthasar.
    925Prince. Do so, farewell. Come hither Leonato, what
    was it you told me of to day, that your Niece Beatrice
    was in loue with signior Benedicke?
    Cla. O I, stalke on, stalke on, the foule sits. I did ne-
    uer thinke that Lady would haue loued any man.
    930Leon. No, nor I neither, but most wonderful, that she
    should so dote on Signior Benedicke, whom shee hath in
    all outward behauiours seemed euer to abhorre.
    Bene. Is't possible? sits the winde in that corner?
    Leo. By my troth my Lord, I cannot tell what to
    935thinke of it, but that she loues him with an inraged affe-
    ction, it is past the infinite of thought.
    Prince. May be she doth but counterfeit.
    Claud. Faith like enough.
    Leon. O God! counterfeit? there was neuer counter-
    940feit of passion, came so neere the life of passion as she dis-
    couers it.
    Prince. Why what effects of passion shewes she?
    Claud. Baite the hooke well, this fish will bite.
    Leon. What effects my Lord? shee will sit you, you
    945heard my daughter tell you how.
    Clau. She did indeed.
    Prin. How, how I pray you? you amaze me, I would
    haue thought her spirit had beene inuincible against all
    assaults of affection.
    950Leo. I would haue sworne it had, my Lord, especially
    against Benedicke.
    Bene. I should thinke this a gull, but that the white-
    bearded fellow speakes it: knauery cannot sure hide
    himselfe in such reuerence.
    955Claud. He hath tane th'infection, hold it vp.
    Prince. Hath shee made her affection known to Bene-
    Leonato. No, and sweares she neuer will, that's her
    960Claud. 'Tis true indeed, so your daughter saies: shall
    I, saies she, that haue so oft encountred him with scorne,
    write to him that I loue him?
    Leo. This saies shee now when shee is beginning to
    write to him, for shee'll be vp twenty times a night, and
    965there will she sit in her smocke, till she haue writ a sheet
    of paper: my daughter tells vs all.
    Clau. Now you talke of a sheet of paper, I remember
    a pretty iest your daughter told vs of.
    Leon. O when she had writ it, & was reading it ouer,
    970she found Benedicke and Beatrice betweene the sheete.
    Clau. That.
    Leon. O she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,
    raild at her self, that she should be so immodest to write,
    to one that shee knew would flout her: I measure him,
    975saies she, by my owne spirit, for I should flout him if hee
    writ to mee, yea though I loue him, I should.
    Clau. Then downe vpon her knees she falls, weepes,
    sobs, beates her heart, teares her hayre, praies, curses, O
    sweet Benedicke, God giue me patience.
    980Leon. She doth indeed, my daughter saies so, and the
    extasie hath so much ouerborne her, that my daughter is
    somtime afeard she will doe a desperate out-rage to her
    selfe, it is very true.
    Princ. It were good that Benedicke knew of it by some
    985other, if she will not discouer it.
    Clau. To what end? he would but make a sport of it,
    and torment the poore Lady worse.
    Prin. And he should, it were an almes to hang him,
    shee's an excellent sweet Lady, and (out of all suspition,)
    990she is vertuous.
    Claudio. And she is exceeding wise.
    Prince. In euery thing, but in louing Benedicke.
    Leon. O my Lord, wisedome and bloud combating in
    so tender a body, we haue ten proofes to one, that bloud
    995hath the victory, I am sorry for her, as I haue iust cause,
    being her Vncle, and her Guardian.
    Prince. I would shee had bestowed this dotage on
    mee, I would haue daft all other respects, and made her
    halfe my selfe: I pray you tell Benedicke of it, and heare
    1000what he will say.
    Leon. Were it good thinke you?
    Clau. Hero thinkes surely she wil die, for she saies she
    will die, if hee loue her not, and shee will die ere shee
    make her loue knowne, and she will die if hee wooe her,
    1005rather than shee will bate one breath of her accustomed
    Prin. She doth well, if she should make tender of her