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  • Title: Much Ado About Nothing (Quarto 1, 1600)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto 1, 1600)

    0.1Much adoe about
    Nothing.

    As it hath been sundrie times publikely
    acted by the right honourable, the Lord
    0.5Chamberlaine his seruants.

    Written by William Shakespeare.
    LONDON
    Printed by V.S. for Andrew Wise, and
    William Aspley.
    0.101600.
    Much adoe about
    Nothing.
    Enter Leonato gouernour of Messina, Innogen his wife, Hero
    his daughter, and Beatrice his neece, with a
    messenger.

    Leonato.
    5I Learne in this letter, that don Peter of Arragon
    comes this night to Messina.
    Mess. He is very neare by this, he was not three
    leagues off when I left him.
    Leona. How many gentlemen haue you lost in this action?
    Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.
    Leona. A victory is twice it selfe, when the atchiuer brings
    home ful numbers: I find here, that don Peter hath bestowed
    much honour on a yong Florentine called Claudio.
    Mess. Much deseru'd on his part, and equally remembred
    by don Pedro, he hath borne himselfe beyond the promise of
    his age, doing in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion, he hath
    indeed better bettred expectation then you must expect of me
    20to tell you how.
    Leo. He hath an vnckle here in Messina will be very much
    glad of it.
    Mess. I haue already deliuered him letters, and there ap-
    peares much ioy in him, euen so much, that ioy could not shew
    25itselfe modest enough, without a badge of bitternesse.
    Leo. Did he breake out into teares?
    Mess. In great measure.
    Leo. A kind ouerflow of kindnesse, there are no faces truer
    30then those that are so washt, how much better is it to weepe at
    ioy, then to ioy at weeping?
    Beatr. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returnd from the
    warres or no?
    Messen. I know none of that name, ladie, there was none
    35such in the army of any sort.
    Leonato What is he that you aske for neece?
    Hero My cosen meanes Signior Benedicke of Padua.
    Mess. O hee's returnd, and as pleasant as euer he was.
    Bea. He set vp his bills here in Messina, and challengde
    40Cupid at the Flight, and my vncles foole reading the chalenge
    subscribde for Cupid, and challengde him at the Burbolt: I
    pray you, how many hath he kild and eaten in these warres?
    but how many hath he kild? for indeede I promised to eate all
    of his killing.
    45Leo. Faith neece you taxe Signior Benedicke too much,
    but heele be meet with you, I doubt it not.
    Mess. He hath done good seruice lady in these warres.
    Beat. You had musty vittaile, and he hath holpe to eate it,
    he is a very valiaunt trencher man, he hath an excellent sto-
    50macke.
    Mess. And a good souldier too, lady.
    Beat. And a good souldiour to a Lady, but what is he to a
    Lord?
    Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stufft with al hono-
    55rable vertues.
    Beat. It is so indeed, he is no lesse then a stuft man, but for
    the stuffing wel, we are al mortall.
    Leo. You must not, sir, mistake my neece, there is a kind
    of mery warre betwixt Signior Benedicke and her, they neuer
    60meet but there's a skirmish of wit betweene them.
    Beat. Alas he gets nothing by that, in our last conflict, 4 of his
    fiue wits went halting off, and now is the whole man gouernd
    with one, so that if he haue wit enough to keep himself warm,
    65let him beare it for a difference between himself and his horse,
    for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasona-
    ble creature, who is his companion now? he hath euery month
    a new sworne brother.
    70Mess. Ist possible?
    Beat. Very easily possible, he weares his faith but as the fa-
    shion of his hat, it euer changes with the next blocke.
    Mess. I see lady the gentleman is not in your bookes.
    75Beat. No, and he were, I would burne my study, but I pray
    you who is his companion? is there no yong squarer now that
    will make a voyage with him to the diuell?
    Mess. He is most in the companie of the right noble Clau-
    80dio.
    Beat. O Lord, he will hang vpon him like a disease, hee is
    sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs present-
    ly madde, God help the noble Claudio, if he haue caught the
    Benedict, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a be cured.
    Mess. I will holde friends with you Ladie.
    Beat. Do good friend.
    Leon. You will neuer runne madde niece.
    Beat. No, not till a hote Ianuary.
    90Mess. Don Pedro is approacht.

    Enter don Pedro, Claudio, Benedicke, Balthasar
    and Iohn the bastard.
    Pedro Good signior Leonato, are you come to meet your
    trouble: the fashion of the world is, to auoyd cost, and you in-
    95counter it.
    Leon. Neuer came trouble to my house, in the likenesse of
    your grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remaine:
    but when you depart from mee, sorrow abides, and happines
    takes his leaue.
    100Pedro You embrace your charge too willingly: I thincke
    this is your daughter.
    Leonato Her mother hath many times tolde me so.
    Bened. Were you in doubt sir that you askt her?
    Leonato Signior Benedicke, no, for then were you a child.
    Pedro You haue it full Benedicke, wee may ghesse by this,
    what you are, being a man, truely the Lady fathers her selfe:
    be happy Lady, for you are like an honourable father.
    110Be. If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not haue
    his head on her shoulders for all Messina as like him as she is.
    Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, signior Bene-
    dicke, no body markes you.
    115Bene. What my deere lady Disdaine! are you yet liuing?
    Bea. Is it possible Disdaine should die, while she hath such
    meete foode to feede it, as signior Benedicke? Curtesie it selfe
    must conuert to Disdaine, if you come in her presence.
    Bene. Then is curtesie a turne-coate, but it is certaine I am
    loued of all Ladies, onelie you excepted: and I would I could
    finde in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truely I loue
    none.
    125Beat. A deere happinesse to women, they would else haue
    beene troubled with a pernitious suter, I thanke God and my
    cold blood, I am of your humour for that, I had rather heare
    my dog barke at a crow, than a man sweare he loues me.
    130Bene. God keepe your Ladiship stil in that mind, so some
    Gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate scratcht face.
    Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, and twere such
    a face as yours were.
    135Bene. Well, you are a rare parrat teacher.
    Beat. A bird of my tongue, is better than a beast of yours.
    Ben. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
    so good a continuer, but keep your way a Gods name, I haue
    140done.
    Beat. You alwayes end with a iades tricke, I knowe you of
    olde.
    Pedro That is the summe of all: Leonato, signior Claudio,
    and signior Benedicke, my deere friend Leonato, hath inuited
    145you all, I tell him we shall stay here, at the least a moneth, and
    he heartily praies some occasion may detaine vs longer, I dare
    sweare he is no hypocrite, but praies from his heart.
    Leon. If you sweare, my lord, you shall not be forsworne,
    150let mee bidde you welcome, my lord, being reconciled to the
    Prince your brother: I owe you all duetie.
    Iohn I thanke you, I am not of many wordes, but I thanke
    you
    155Leon. Please it your grace leade on?
    Pedro Your hand Leonato, we wil go together.
    Exeunt. Manent Benedicke & Claudio.
    Clau. Benedicke, didst thou note the daughter of Signior (Leonato?
    160Bene. I noted her not, but I lookte on her,
    Clau. Is she not a modest yong ladie?
    Bene. Do you question me as an honest man should doe,
    for my simple true iudgement? or would you haue me speake
    after my custome, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
    Claudio No, I pray thee speake in sober iudgement.
    Bene. Why yfaith me thinks shees too low for a hie praise,
    too browne for a faire praise, and too litle for a great praise, on-
    lie this commendation I can affoord her, that were shee other
    170then she is, she were vnhansome, and being no other, but as she
    is, I do not like her.
    Claudio Thou thinkest I am in sport, I pray thee tell mee
    truelie how thou lik'st her.
    Bene. Would you buie her that you enquier after her?
    Claudio Can the world buie such a iewel?
    Bene. Yea, and a case to putte it into, but speake you this
    with a sad brow? or doe you play the flowting iacke, to tell vs
    Cupid is a good Hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare Carpenter:
    180Come, in what key shall a man take you to go in the song?
    Claudio In mine eie, shee is the sweetest Ladie that euer I
    lookt on.
    Bened. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such
    185matter: theres her cosin, and she were not possest with a fury,
    exceedes her as much in beautie, as the first of Maie dooth the
    last of December: but I hope you haue no intent to turne hus-
    band, haue you?
    Claudio I would scarce trust my selfe, though I had sworne
    190the contrarie, if Hero would be my wife.
    Bened. Ist come to this? in faith hath not the worlde one
    man but he will weare his cappe with suspition? shall I neuer
    see a batcheller of three score againe? go to yfaith, and thou wilt
    needes thrust thy necke into a yoke, weare the print of it, and
    195sigh away sundaies: looke, don Pedro is returned to seeke you.
    Enter don Pedro, Iohn the bastard.
    Pedro What secret hath held you here, that you followed
    not to Leonatoes?
    200Bene. I would your Grace would constraine me to tell.
    Pedro I charge thee on thy allegeance.
    Ben. You heare, Count Claudio, I can be secret as a dumb
    man, I woulde haue you thinke so (but on my allegiance,
    205marke you this, on my allegiance) he is in loue, with who? now
    that is your Graces part: marke how short his answer is, with
    Hero Leonatoes short daughter.
    Clau. If this were so, so were it vttred.
    210Bened. Like the olde tale, my Lord, it is not so, nor twas
    not so: but indeede, God forbid it should be so.
    Claudio If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
    should be otherwise.
    Pedro Amen, if you loue her, for the Lady is very well
    215worthy.
    Claudio You speake this to fetch me in, my Lord.
    Pedro By my troth I speake my thought.
    Claudio And in faith, my Lord, I spoke mine.
    Bened. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lorde, I
    220spoke mine.
    Clau. That I loue her, I feele.
    Pedro That she is worthy, I know.
    Bened. That I neither feele how she should be loued, nor
    know how she should be worthie,
    is the opinion that fire can
    225not melt out of me, I will die in it at the stake.
    Pedro Thou wast euer an obstinate heretique in the de-
    spight of Beauty.
    Clau. And neuer could maintaine his part, but in the force
    230of his wil.
    Bene. That a woman conceiued me, I thanke her: that she
    brought me vp, I likewise giue her most humble thankes: but
    that I will haue a rechate winded in my forehead, or hang my
    bugle in an inuisible baldricke, all women shall pardon mee:
    235because I will not doe them the wrong to mistrust any, I will
    doe my selfe the right to trust none: and the fine is, (for the
    which I may go the finer,) I will liue a bacheller.
    Pedro I shall see thee ere I die, looke pale with loue.
    240Bene. With anger, with sickenesse, or with hunger, my
    Lord, not with loue: proue that euer I loose more blood with
    loue then I will get againe with drinking, picke out mine eies
    with a Ballad-makers penne, and hang me vp at the doore of a
    brothel house for the signe of blinde Cupid.
    Pedro Well, if euer thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt
    prooue a notable argument.
    Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a Cat, and shoote at
    me, and he that hits me, let him be clapt on the shoulder, and
    250calld Adam.
    Pedro Well, as time shal trie: in time the sauage bull doth
    beare the yoake.
    Bene. The sauage bull may, but if euer the sensible Bene-
    dicke beare it, plucke off the bulls hornes, and set them in my
    255forehead, and let me be vildly painted, and in such great let-
    ters as they write, here is good horse to hyre: let them signi-
    fie vnder my signe, here you may see Benedicke the married
    man.
    Claudio If this should euer happen, thou wouldst be horn
    260madde.
    Pedro Nay, if Cupid haue not spent all his quiuer in Venice,
    thou wilt quake for this shortly.
    Bened. I looke for an earthquake too then.
    Pedro Well, you will temporize with the howres, in the
    265meane time, good signior Benedicke, repaire to Leonatoes,
    commend me to him, and tell him I will not faile him at sup-
    per, for indeede he hath made great preparation.
    Bened. I haue almost matter enough in mee for suche an
    270Embassage, and so I commit you.
    Clau. To the tuition of God: from my house if I had it.
    Pedro The sixt of Iuly: your louing friend Benedicke.
    Bened. Nay mocke not, mocke not, the body of your dis-
    275course is sometime guarded with fragments, and the guardes
    are but slightly basted on neither, ere you flowt old ends any
    further, examine your conscience, and so I leaue you.
    exit
    Claudio My liege, your Highnesse nowe may doe mee
    280good.
    Pedro My loue is thine to teach, teach it but how,
    And thou shalt see how apt it is to learne
    Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
    Clau. Hath Leonato any sonne, my lord?
    285Pedro No childe but Hero, shees his onely heire:
    Doost thou affect her Claudio?
    Claudio O my lord,
    When you went onward on this ended action,
    I lookt vpon her with a souldiers eie,
    290That likt, but had a rougher taske in hand,
    Than to driue liking to the name of loue:
    But now I am returnde, and that warre-thoughts,
    Haue left their places vacant: in their roomes,
    Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
    295All prompting mee how faire yong Hero is,
    Saying I likt her ere I went to warres.
    Pedro Thou wilt be like a louer presently,
    And tire the hearer with a booke of words,
    If thou dost loue faire Hero, cherish it,
    300And I wil breake with hir, and with her father,
    And thou shalt haue her: wast not to this end,
    That thou beganst to twist so fine a storie?
    Clau. How sweetly you do minister to loue,
    That know loues griefe by his complexion!
    But lest my liking might too sodaine seeme,
    305I would haue salude it with a longer treatise.
    Pedro What need the bridge much broder then the flood?
    The fairest graunt is the necessitie:
    Looke what wil serue is fit: tis once, thou louest,
    And I wil fit thee with the remedie,
    310I know we shall haue reuelling to night,
    I wil assume thy part in some disguise,
    And tell faire Hero I am Claudio,
    And in her bosome ile vnclaspe my heart,
    And take her hearing prisoner with the force
    315And strong incounter of my amorous tale:
    Then after, to her father will I breake,
    And the conclusion is, she shal be thine,
    In practise let vs put it presently.
    exeunt.
    Enter Leonato and an old man brother to Leonato
    320Leo. How now brother, where is my cosen your sonne, hath
    he prouided this musique?
    Old He is very busie about it, but brother, I can tell you
    strange newes that you yet dreampt not of.
    Leo. Are they good?
    325Old As the euents stampes them, but they haue a good co-
    uer: they shew well outward, the prince and Count Claudio
    walking in a thicke pleached alley in mine orchard, were thus
    much ouer-heard by a man of mine: the prince discouered to
    Claudio that he loued my niece your daughter, and meant to
    330acknowledge it this night in a daunce, and if he found her ac-
    cordant, he meant to take the present time by the top, and in-
    stantly breake with you of it.
    Leo Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
    335Old A good sharp fellow, I wil send for him, and question
    him your selfe.
    Leo. No, no, we wil hold it as a dreame til it appeare itself:
    but I will acquaint my daughter withall, that she may bee the
    better prepared for an answer, if peraduenture this be true: go
    340you and tel hir of it: coosins, you know what you haue to doe,
    O I crie you mercie friend, go you with me and I wil vse your
    shill: good cosin haue a care this busie time. exeunt.
    Enter sir Iohn the bastard, and Conrade his companion.
    345Con. What the goodyeere my lord, why are you thus out of
    measure sad?
    Iohn There is no measure in the occasion that breeds, ther-
    fore the sadnesse is without limit.
    Con. You should heare reason.
    350Iohn And when I haue heard it, what blessing brings it?
    Con If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.
    Iohn I wonder that thou (being as thou saist, thou art, borne
    vnder Saturne) goest about to apply a morall medicine, to a
    355mortifying mischiefe: I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad
    when I haue cause, and smile at no mans iests, eate when I haue
    stomack, and wait for no mans leisure: sleep when I am drow-
    sie, and tend on no mans businesse, laugh when I am mery, and
    claw no man in his humor.
    Con. Yea but you must not make the full show of this till
    you may do it without controllment, you haue of late stoode
    out against your brother, and he hath tane you newly into his
    grace, where it is impossible you should take true root, but by
    365the faire weather that you make your self, it is needful that you
    frame the season for your owne haruest.
    Iohn I had rather be a canker in a hedge, then a rose in his
    grace, and it better fits my bloud to be disdain'd of all, then to
    370fashion a cariage to rob loue from any: in this (thogh I cannot
    be said to be a flatering honest man) it must not be denied but I
    am a plain dealing villaine, I am trusted with a mussel, and en-
    fraunchisde with a clogge, therfore I haue decreed, not to sing
    in my cage: if I had my mouth I would bite: if I had my liber-
    375ty I would do my liking: in the mean time, let me be that I am,
    and seeke not to alter me.
    Con. Can you make no vse of your discontent?
    Iohn I make all vse of it, for I vse it only,
    380Who comes here? what newes Borachio?
    Enter Borachio.
    Bor. I came yonder from a great supper, the prince your
    brother is royally entertain'd by Leonato, and I can giue you
    intelligence of an intended mariage.
    385Iohn Wil it serue for any model to build mischiefe on? what
    is he for a foole that betrothes himselfe to vnquietnesse?
    Bor. Mary it is your bothers right hand.
    Iohn Who, the most exquisite Claudio?
    390Bor. Euen he.
    Iohn A proper squier, and who, and who, which way looks
    he?
    Bor. Mary one Hero the daughter and heire of Leonato.
    395Iohn A very forward March-chicke, how came you to
    this?
    Bor Being entertain'd for a perfumer, as I was smoaking a
    musty roome, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand in
    hand in sad conference: I whipt me behind the arras, and there
    400heard it agreed vpon, that the prince should wooe Hero for
    himselfe, and hauing obtain'd her, giue her to Counte Clau-
    dio.
    Iohn Come, come, let vs thither, this may proue food to my
    displeasure, that yong start-vp hath all the glory of my ouer-
    405throw: if I can crosse him any way, I blesse my selfe euery way,
    you are both sure, and wil assist me.
    Conr. To the death my Lord.
    Iohn Let vs to the great supper, their cheere is the greater
    410that I am subdued, would the cooke were a my mind, shall we
    go proue whats to be done?
    Bor. Weele wait vpon your lordship. exit.

    415 Enter Leonato, his brother, his wife, Hero his daughter, and
    Beatrice his neece, and a kinsman.
    Leonato Was not counte Iohn here at supper?
    brother I saw him not.
    Beatrice How tartely that gentleman lookes, I neuer can see
    420him but I am heart-burn'd an hower after.
    Hero He is of a very melancholy disposition.
    Beatrice He were an excellent man that were made iust in
    the mid-way between him and Benedick, the one is too like an
    image and saies nothing, and the other too like my ladies eldest
    425sonne, euermore tatling.
    Leonato Then halfe signior Benedickes tongue in Counte
    Iohns mouth, and halfe Counte Iohns melancholy in Signior
    Benedickes face.
    Beatrice With a good legge and a good foote vnckle, and
    430money inough in his purse, such a man would winne any wo-
    man in the world if a could get her good will.
    Leonato By my troth neece thou wilt neuer get thee a hus-
    band, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
    brother Infaith shees too curst.
    435Beatrice Too curst is more then curst, I shall lessen
    Gods sending that way, for it is saide, God sends a curst cow
    short hornes, but to a cow too curst, he sends none.
    Leonato So, by being too curst, God will send you no
    hornes.
    440Beatrice Iust, if he send me no husband, for the which bles-
    sing, I am at him vpon my knees euery morning and euening:
    Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face, I
    had rather lie in the woollen!
    Leonato You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
    Beatrice What should I do with him, dresse him in my ap-
    parell and make him my waiting gentlewoman? he that hath a
    beard, is more then a youth: and he that hath no beard, is lesse
    then a man: and he that is more then a youth, is not for me, and
    450he that is lesse then a man, I am not for him, therefore I will
    euen take sixpence in earnest of the Berrord, and leade his
    apes into hell.
    Leonato Well then, go you into hell.
    Beatrice No but to the gate, and there will the diuell meete
    455me like an old cuckold with hornes on his head, and say, get
    you to heauen Beatrice, get you to heauen, heeres no place for
    you maids, so deliuer I vp my apes and away to saint Peter: for
    the heauens, he shewes me where the Batchellers sit, and there
    liue we as mery as the day is long.
    brother Well neece, I trust you will be rulde by your fa-
    ther.
    Beatrice Yes faith, it is my cosens duetie to make cursie and
    say, father, as it please you: but yet for all that cosin, let him be a
    465handsome fellow, or else make an other cursie, and say, father,
    as it please me.
    Leonato Well neece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a
    husband.
    Beatrice Not til God make men of some other mettal then
    470earth, would it not grieue a woman to be ouer-masterd with
    a peece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod
    of waiward marle? no vnckle, ile none: Adams sonnes are my
    brethren, and truely I holde it a sinne to match in my kin-
    red.
    475Leonato Daughter, remember what I told you, if the prince
    do solicite you in that kind, you know your answer.
    Beatrice The fault will be in the musique cosin, if you be
    not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell
    480him there is measure in euery thing, and so daunce out the an-
    swer, for here me Hero, wooing, wedding, and repenting, is
    as a Scotch ijgge, a measure, and a cinquepace: the first suite is
    hot and hasty like a Scotch ijgge (and ful as fantasticall) the
    wedding manerly modest (as a measure) full of state and aun-
    485chentry, and then comes Repentance, and with his bad legs
    falls into the cinquepace faster and faster, til he sincke into his
    graue.
    Leonato Cosin you apprehend passing shrewdly.
    Beatrice I haue a good eie vnckle, I can see a church by
    490day-light.
    Leonato The reuellers are entring brother, make good
    roome.
    Enter prince, Pedro, Claudio, and Benedicke, and Balthaser,
    or dumb Iohn.
    495Pedro Lady will you walke about with your friend?
    Hero So, you walke softly, and looke sweetly, and say no-
    thing, I am yours for the walke, and especially when I walk a-
    way.
    Pedro With me in your company.
    500Hero I may say so when I please.
    Pedro And when please you to say so?
    Hero When I like your fauour, for God defend the lute
    should be like the case.
    Pedro My visor is Philemons roofe, within the house is
    505Ioue.
    Hero Why then your visor should be thatcht.
    Pedro Speake low if you speake loue.
    Bene. Well, I would you did like me.
    Mar. So would not I for your owne sake, for I haue ma-
    510ny ill qualities.
    Bene. Which is one?
    Mar. I say my praiers alowd.
    Bene. I loue you the better, the hearers may cry Amen.
    Marg. God match me with a good dauncer.
    515Balth. Amen.
    Marg. And God keepe him out of my sight when the
    daunce is done: answer Clarke.
    Balth. No more words, the Clarke is answered.
    Vrsula I know you well enough, you are signior Antho-
    520nio.
    Antho. At a word I am not.
    Vrsula I knowe you by the wagling of your head.
    Antho. To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
    Vrsula You coulde neuer doe him so ill well, vnlesse you
    525were the very man: heeres his drie hand vp and downe, you
    are he, you are he.
    Antho. At a word, I am not.
    Vrsula Come, come, do you thinke I do not know you by
    your excellent wit? can vertue hide it selfe? go to, mumme, you
    530are he, graces will appeere, and theres an end.
    Beat. Will you not tell me who tolde you so?
    Bened. No, you shall pardon me.
    Beat. Nor will you not tell me who you are?
    535Bened. Not now.
    Beat. That I was disdainefull, and that I had my good wit
    out of the hundred mery tales: wel, this was signior Benedick
    that said so.
    Bened. Whats he?
    540Beat. I am sure you know him well enough.
    Bened. Not I, beleeue me.
    Beat. Did he neuer make you laugh?
    Bened. I pray you what is he?
    Beat. Why he is the princes ieaster, a very dul fool, only his
    545gift is, in deuising impossible slaunders, none but Libertines
    delight in him, and the commendation is not in his wit, but in
    his villanie, for he both pleases men and angers them, and then
    they laugh at him, and beate him: I am sure he is in the Fleete,
    I would he had boorded me.
    Bene. When I know the Gentleman, ile tell him what you
    say.
    Beat. Do, do, heele but break a comparison or two on me,
    which peraduẽture, (not markt, or not laught at) strikes him in-
    555to melancholy, and then theres a partrige wing saued, for the
    foole will eate no supper that night: wee must follow the lea-
    ders.
    Bene. In euery good thing.
    Beat. Nay, if they leade to any ill, I will leaue them at the
    560next turning. Dance exeunt
    Iohn Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath with-
    drawne her father to breake with him about it: the Ladies fo-
    low her, and but one visor remaines.
    565Borachio And that is Claudio, I knowe him by his bear-
    ing.
    Iohn Are not you signior Benedicke?
    Clau. You know me well, I am he.
    Iohn Signior, you are very neere my brother in his loue, he
    570is enamourd on Hero, I pray you disswade him from her, she
    is no equall for his birth, you may doe the parte of an honest
    man in it.
    Claudio How know you he loues her?
    Iohn I heard him sweare his affection.
    575Borac. So did I too, and he swore hee would marry her to
    night.
    Iohn Come let vs to the banquet.
    exeunt: manet Clau.
    Claud. Thus answer I in name of Benedicke,
    But heare these ill newes with the eares of Claudio:
    580Tis certaine so, the Prince wooes for himselfe,
    Friendship is constant in all other things,
    Saue in the office and affaires of loue:
    Therefore all hearts in loue vse their owne tongues.
    Let euery eie negotiate for it selfe,
    585And trust no Agent: for Beauty is a witch,
    Against whose charmes, faith melteth into blood:
    This is an accident of hourely proofe,
    Which I mistrusted not: farewel therefore Hero.
    Enter Bene- ( dicke
    590Benedicke Count Claudio.
    Claudio Yea, the same.
    Bene. Come, will you go with me?
    Claudio Whither?
    Bene. Euen to the next willow, about your owne busines,
    595county: what fashion will you weare the garland of? about
    your necke, like an Vsurers chaine? or vnder your arme, like a
    Lieutenants scarffe? you must weare it one way, for the prince
    hath got your Hero.
    Claudio I wish him ioy of her.
    600Bened. Why thats spoken like an honest Drouier, so they
    sell bullockes: but did you thinke the Prince would haue ser-
    ued you thus?
    Claudio I pray you leaue me.
    Benedicke Ho now you strike like the blindman, twas the
    605boy that stole your meate, and youle beate the post.
    Claudio If it will not be, ile leaue you. exit
    Benedicke Alas poore hurt foule, now will hee creepe into
    sedges: but that my Ladie Beatrice should know me, and not
    know mee: the princes foole! hah, it may be I goe vnder that
    610title because I am merry: yea but so I am apte to doe my selfe
    wrong: I am not so reputed, it is the base (though bitter) dispo-
    sition of Beatrice, that puts the world into her person, and so
    giues me out: well, ile be reuenged as I may.
    615 Enter the Prince, Hero, Leonato, Iohn and Borachio,
    and Conrade.
    Pedro Now signior, wheres the Counte, did you see him?
    Benedicke Troth my lord, I haue played the part of Ladie
    Fame, I found him heere as melancholy as a Lodge in a War-
    620ren, I tolde him, and I thinke I tolde him true, that your grace
    had got the goodwil of this yoong Lady, and I offred him my
    company to a willow tree, either to make him a garland, as be-
    ing forsaken, or to binde him vp a rod, as being worthie to bee
    whipt.
    625Pedro To be whipt, whats his fault?
    Benedicke The flatte transgression of a Schoole-boy, who
    being ouer-ioyed with finding a birds nest, shewes it his com-
    panion, and he steales it.
    Pedro Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? the transgres-
    630sion is in the stealer.
    Benedicke Yet it had not beene amisse the rodde had beene
    made, & the garland too, for the garland he might haue worn
    himselfe, and the rodde he might haue bestowed on you, who
    (as I take it) haue stolne his birds nest.
    635Pedro I wil but teach them to sing, and restore them to the
    owner.
    Benedicke If their singing answer your saying, by my faith
    you say honestly.
    Pedro The ladie Beatrice hath a quarrell to you, the Gen-
    640tleman that daunst with her, told her shee is much wrongd by
    you.
    Bened. O shee misusde me past the indurance of a blocke:
    an oake but with one greene leafe on it, would haue answered
    her: my very visor beganne to assume life, and scold with her:
    645she tolde me, not thinking I had beene my selfe, that I was the
    Princes iester, that I was duller than a great thawe, huddleing
    iest vpon iest, with such impossible conueiance vpon me, that
    I stoode like a man at a marke, with a whole army shooting
    at me: she speakes poynyards, and euery word stabbes: if her
    650breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no liu-
    ing neere her, shee would infect to the north starre: I woulde
    not marry her, though shee were indowed with al that Adam
    had left him before he transgrest, she would haue made Her-
    655cules haue turnd spit, yea, and haue cleft his club to make the
    fire too: come, talke not of her, you shall find her the infernall
    Ate in good apparell, I would to God some scholler woulde
    coniure her, for certainely, while she is heere, a man may liue
    as quiet in hell, as in a sanctuarie, and people sinne vpon pur-
    660pose, because they would goe thither, so indeede all disquiet,
    horrour, and perturbation followes her.
    Enter Claudio and Beatrice.
    Pedro Looke heere she comes.
    665Benedicke Will your grace command me any seruice to the
    worldes end? I will go on the slightest arrand now to the An-
    typodes that you can deuise to send mee on: I will fetch you a
    tooth-picker now from the furthest inch of Asia: bring you
    the length of Prester Iohns foot: fetch you a haire off the great
    670Chams beard: doe you any embassage to the Pigmies, rather
    than holde three words conference, with this harpy, you haue
    no imployment for me?
    Pedro None, but to desire your good company.
    675Benedicke O God sir, heeres a dish I loue not, I cannot in-
    dure my Ladie Tongue. exit.
    Pedro Come Lady, come, you haue lost the heart of signi-
    or Benedicke.
    Beatrice Indeed my Lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gaue
    680him vse for it, a double heart for his single one, mary once be-
    fore he wonne it of me, with false dice, therefore your grace
    may well say I haue lost it.
    Pedro You haue put him downe Lady, you haue put him
    downe.
    685Beatrice So I would not he should do me, my Lord, lest I
    should prooue the mother of fooles: I haue brought Counte
    Claudio, whom you sent me to seeke.
    Pedro Why how now Counte, wherefore are you sad?
    Claudio Not sad my Lord.
    690Pedro How then? sicke?
    Claudio Neither, my Lord.
    Beatrice The Counte is neither sad, nor sicke, nor merry,
    nor well: but ciuill Counte, ciuil as an orange, and something
    of that iealous complexion.
    695Pedro Ifaith Lady, I think your blazon to be true, though
    ile be sworne, if he be so, his conceit is false: heere Claudio, I
    haue wooed in thy name, and faire Hero is won, I haue broke
    with her father, and his good will obtained, name the day of
    marriage, and God giue thee ioy.
    Leonato Counte take of me my daughter, and with her my
    fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and all grace say A-
    men to it.
    Beatrice Speake Counte, tis your Qu.
    705Claudio Silence is the perfectest
    Herault of ioy, I were but
    little happy if I could say, how much? Lady, as you are mine,
    I am yours, I giue away my selfe for you, and doate vpon the
    exchange.
    Beat. Speake cosin, or (if you cannot) stop his mouth with a
    710kisse, and let not him speake neither.
    Pedro Infaith lady you haue a merry heart.
    Beatr. Yea my lord I thanke it, poore foole it keepes on the
    windy side of Care, my coosin tells him in his eare that he is in
    her heart
    715Clau. And so she doth coosin.
    Beat. Good Lord for aliance: thus goes euery one to the
    world but I, and I am sun-burnt, I may sit in a corner and crie,
    heigh ho for a husband.
    Pedro Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
    720Beat. I would rather haue one of your fathers getting: hath
    your grace ne're a brother like you? your father got excellent
    husbands if a maide coulde come by them.
    Prince Will you haue me? lady.
    Beatr. No my lord, vnles I might haue another for work-
    725ing-daies, your grace is too costly to weare euery day: but I
    beseech your grace pardon me, I was born to speake all mirth,
    and no matter.
    Prince Your silence most offends me, and to be merry, best
    becomes you, for out a question, you were borne in a merry
    730hower.
    Beatr. No sure my lord, my mother cried, but then there
    was a starre daunst, and vnder that was I borne, cosins God
    giue you ioy.
    Leonato Neece, will you looke to those things I tolde you
    735of?
    Beat I crie you mercy vncle, by your graces pardon.
    exit Beatrice.
    Prince By my troth a pleasant spirited lady.
    Leon. Theres little of the melancholy element in her my
    740lord, she is neuer sad, but when she sleeps, & not euer sad then:
    for I haue heard my daughter say, she hath often dreampt of
    vnhappines, and wakt her selfe with laughing.
    Pedro She cannot indure to heare tell of a husband.
    745Leonato O by no meanes, she mockes al her wooers out of
    sute.
    Prince She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
    Leonato O Lord, my lord, if they were but a weeke married,
    they would talke themselues madde.
    750Prince Countie Claudio, when meane you to goe to
    church?
    Clau. To morow my lord, Time goes on crutches, til Loue
    haue all his rites.
    Leonato Not til monday, my deare sonne, which is hence a
    755iust seuennight, and a time too briefe too, to haue al things an-
    swer my mind.
    Prince Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing,
    but I warrant thee Claudio, the time shall not go dully by vs, I
    wil in the interim, vndertake one of Hercules labors, which is,
    760to bring Signior Benedick and the lady Beatrice into a moun-
    taine 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 assistance as I shall giue you direction.
    765Leonato My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights
    watchings.
    Claud. And I my Lord.
    Prince And you too gentle Hero?
    Hero I wil do any modest office, my lord, to help my cosin
    770to a good husband.
    Prince And Benedicke is not the vnhopefullest husband
    that I know: thus farre can I praise him, he is of a noble strain,
    of approoued valour, and confirmde honesty, I will teach you
    how to humour your cosin, that she shall fal in loue with Be-
    775nedicke, and I, with your two helpes, wil so practise on Bene-
    dicke, that in dispight of his quicke wit, and his queasie sto-
    macke, he shall fall in loue with Beatrice: if we can do this, Cu-
    pid is no longer an Archer, his glory shall bee ours, for we are
    the onely loue-gods, goe in with mee, and I will tell you my
    780drift. exit.
    Enter Iohn and Borachio.
    Iohn It is so, the Counte Claudio shall marry the daughter
    of Leonato.
    Bora. Yea my lord, but I can crosse it.
    785Iohn Any barre, any crosse, any impediment, will be med-
    cinable 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 disho-
    790nesty shall appeare in me.
    Iohn Shew me briefely how.
    Bor. I thinke I told your lordship a yeere since, how much
    I am in the fauour of Margaret, the waiting gentlewoman to
    Hero.
    795Iohn I remember.
    Bor. I can at any vnseasonable instant of the night, appoint
    her to looke out at her ladies chamber window.
    Iohn What life is in that to be the death of this mariage?
    800Bor. The poison of that lies in you to temper, goe you to
    the prince your brother, spare not to tell him, that he 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 any other
    issue?
    Iohn Onely to dispight them I will endeuour any thing.
    Bor. Go then, find me a meet houre, to draw don Pedro and
    the Counte Claudio alone, tell them that you know that Hero
    loues me, intend a kind of zeale both to the prince & Claudio
    (as in loue of your brothers honor who hath made this match)
    815and his friends reputation, who is thus like to bee cosen'd with
    the semblance of a maid, that you haue discouer'd thus: they wil
    scarcely beleeue this without triall: offer them instances which
    shall beare no lesse likelihood, than to see me at her chamber
    820window, heare me call Margaret Hero, heare Marg. terme me
    Claudio, & bring them to see this the very night before the in-
    tended wedding, for in the mean time, I wil so fashion the mat-
    ter, that Hero shal be absent and there shal appeere such seeming
    truth of Heroes disloyaltie, that iealousie shal be cald assu-
    825rance, and al 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 thou-
    sand ducates.
    830Bor. Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
    shall not shame me.
    Iohn I will presently go learne their day of marriage. exit

    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 here already sir. exit.
    840Bene. I know that, but I would haue thee hence and here a-
    gaine. I do much wonder, that one man seeing how much an
    other man is a foole, when he dedicates his behauiours to loue,
    wil after he hath laught at such shallow follies in others, becom
    the argument of his owne scorne, by falling in loue, and such a
    845man is Claudio, I haue knowne when there was no musique
    with him but the drumme and the fife, and now had he rather
    heare the taber and the pipe: I haue knowne when he would
    haue walkt ten mile afoot, to see a good armour, and now wil
    850he lie ten nights awake caruing the fashion of a new dublet: he
    was woont to speake plaine, and to the purpose (like an honest
    man and a souldier) and now is he turnd ortography, his words
    are a very fantasticall banquet, iust so many strange dishes:
    may I be so conuerted and see with these eies? I cannot tell, I
    855thinke not: I wil not be sworne but loue may transforme me to
    an oyster, but ile take my oath on it, till he haue made and oy-
    ster of me, he shall neuer make me such a foole: one woman is
    faire, yet I am well, an other is wise, yet I am well: an other
    vertuous, yet I am wel: but till all graces be in one woman, one
    womã shal not com in my grace: rich she shal be thats certain,
    wise, or ile none, vertuous, or ile neuer cheapen her: faire, or ile
    neuer looke on her, mild, or come not neare me, noble, or not I
    for an angell, of good discourse, an excellent musitian, and her
    865haire shall be of what colour it please God. hah! the prince and
    monsieur Loue, I wil hide me in the arbor.
    Enter prince, Leonato, Claudio, Musicke.
    Prince Come shall we heare this musique?
    870Claud. Yea my good lord: how stil the euening is,
    As husht on purpose to grace harmonie!
    Prince See you where Benedicke hath hid himselfe?
    Claud. O very wel my lord: the musique ended,
    Weele fit the kid-foxe with a penny worth.
    Enter Balthaser with musicke.
    875Prince Come Balthaser, weele heare that song againe.
    Balth. O good my lord, taxe not so bad a voice,
    To slaunder musicke any more then once.
    Prince It is the witnesse still of excellencie,
    To put a strange face on his owne perfection,
    I pray thee sing, and let me wooe no more.
    Balth. Because you talke of wooing I will sing,
    Since many a wooer doth commence his sute,
    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,
    Do it in notes.
    890Balth. Note this before my notes,
    Theres not a note of mine thats worth the noting.
    Prince Why these are very crotchets that he speakes,
    Note notes forsooth, and nothing.
    Bene. Now diuine aire, now is his soule rauisht, is it not
    895strange that sheepes guts should hale soules out of mens bo-
    dies? well a horne for my mony when alls done.
    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 go,
    And be you blith and bonnie,
    905Conuerting all your soundes of woe,
    Into hey nony nony.

    Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
    Of dumps so dull and heauy,
    The fraud of men was 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 wel enough for a shift.
    Ben. And he had bin a dog that should haue howld thus,
    they would haue hangd him, and I pray God his bad voice
    bode no mischeefe, I had as liue haue heard the night-rauen,
    come what plague could haue come after it.
    Prince Yea mary, doost thou heare Balthasar? I pray thee
    get vs some excellent musique: for to morow night we would
    haue it at the ladie Heroes chamber window.
    Balth. The best I can my lord.
    Exit Balthasar.
    925Prince Do so, farewell. Come hither Leonato, what was
    it you told mee of to day, that your niece Beatrice was in loue
    with signior Benedicke?
    Cla. O I, stalke on, stalk on, the foule sits. I did neuer think
    that lady would haue loued any man.
    930Leo. No nor I neither, but most wonderful, that she should
    so dote on signior Benedicke, whome she hath in all outward
    behauiors seemd euer to abhorre.
    Bene. Ist possible? sits the wind in that corner?
    Leo. By my troth my Lord, I cannot tell what to thinke of
    935it, but that she loues him with an inraged affection, 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 counterfeit of
    940passion, came so neare the life of passion as she discouers it.