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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    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.
    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.
    Prince Why what effects of passion shewes she?
    Claud. Baite the hooke wel, this fish will bite.
    Leon. What effects my Lord? she wil sit you, you heard my
    945daughter tell you how.
    Claud. She did indeede.
    Prince How, how I pray you! you amaze me, I would haue
    thought her spirite had beene inuincible against all assaults of
    950Leo. I would haue sworn it had, my lord, especially against
    Bene. I should think this a gull, but that the white bearded
    fellow speakes it: knauery cannot sure hide himself in such re-
    955Claud. He hath tane th'infection, hold it vp.
    Prince Hath shee made her affection knowne to Bene-
    Leonato No, and sweares shee neuer will, thats her tor-
    960Claudio 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 she now when she is beginning to write to
    him, for sheel be vp twenty times a night, and there will she sit
    965in her smocke, til she haue writ a sheete of paper: my daughter
    tels vs all.
    Clau. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a prety
    iest your daughter told of vs.
    Leonato O when she had writ it, and was reading it ouer, she
    970found Benedicke and Beatrice betweene the sheete.
    Claudio 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
    she knew would flout her, I measure him, saies she, by my own
    975spirit, for I should flout him, if he writ to me, yea thogh I loue
    him I should.
    Clau. Then downe vpon her knees she falls, weepes, sobs,
    beates her heart, teares her haire, prayes, curses, O sweet Bene-
    dicke, God giue me patience.
    980Leonato She doth indeed, my daughter saies so, and the ex-
    tasie hath so much ouerborne her, that my daughter is some-
    time afeard shee will doe a desperate out-rage to her selfe, it is
    very true.
    Prince It were good that Benedicke knew of it by some o-
    985ther, if she will not discouer it.
    Claudio To what end: he would make but a sport of it, and
    torment the poore Lady worse.
    Prince And he should, it were an almes to hang him, shees
    an excellent sweete lady, and (out of all suspition,) she is vertu-
    Claudio And she is exceeding wise.
    Prince In euery thing but in louing Benedicke.
    Leonato O my Lord, wisedome and blood combating in
    so tender a body, we haue ten proofes to one, that bloud hath
    995the victory, I am sory for her, as I haue iust cause, beeing her
    vncle, and her gardian.
    Prince I would shee had bestowed this dotage on mee, I
    would haue daft all other respects, and made her halfe my self:
    I pray you tell Benedicke of it, and heare what a will say.
    Leonato Were it good thinke you?
    Claudio Hero thinkes surely she will die, for she sayes shee
    will die, if he loue her not, and shee will die ere shee make her
    loue knowne, and she will die if he wooe her, rather than shee
    1005will bate one breath of her accustomed crosnesse.
    Prince She doth well, if shee shoulde make tender of her
    loue, tis very possible heele scorne it, for the man (as you know
    all) hath a contemptible spirite.
    1010Claudio He is a very proper man.
    Prince He hath indeede a good outward happines.
    Claudio Before God, and in my mind, very wise.
    Prince Hee dooth indeede shew some sparkes that are like
    1015Claudio And I take him to be valiant.
    Prince As Hector, I assure you, and in the mannaging of
    quarrels you may say he is wise, for either hee auoydes them
    with great discretion, or vndertakes them with a most christi-
    anlike feare.
    1020Leonato If he do feare God, a must necessarily keep peace,
    if hee breake the peace, hee ought to enter into a quarrel with
    feare and trembling.
    Prince And so will hee doe, for the man doth feare God,
    howsoeuer it seemes not in him, by some large iestes hee will
    1025make: well I am sory for your niece, shall we go seeke Bene-
    dicke, and tell him of her loue?
    Claudio Neuer tell him, my Lord, let her weare it out with
    good counsell.
    Leonato Nay thats impossible, shee may weare her heart
    1030out first.
    Prince Well, we will heare further of it by your daughter,
    let it coole the while, I loue Benedicke wel, and I could wish
    he would modestly examine himselfe, to see how much he is
    vnworthy so good a lady.
    1035Leonato My lord, will you walke? dinner is ready.
    Claudio If he do not doate on her vppon this, I will neuer
    trust my expectation.
    Prince Let there be the same nette spread for her, and that
    must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry: the sporte
    1040will be, when they holde one an opinion of an others dotage,
    and no such matter, thats the scene that I woulde see, which
    wil be meerely a dumbe shew: let vs send her to call him in to
    Benedicke This can be no tricke, the conference was sadly
    1045borne, they haue the trueth of this from Hero, they seeme to
    pittie the Lady: it seemes her affections haue their full bent:
    loue me? why it must be requited: I heare how I am censurde,
    they say I will beare my selfe prowdly, if I perceiue the loue
    come from her: they say too, that she will rather die than giue
    1050anie signe of affection: I did neuer thinke to marry, I must
    not seeme prowd, happy are they that heare their detractions,
    and can put them to mending: they say the Lady is faire, tis a
    trueth, I can beare them witnesse: and vertuous, tis so, I can-
    not reprooue it, and wise, but for louing me, by my troth it is
    no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her follie, for
    I will be horribly in loue with her, I may chaunce haue some
    odde quirkes and remnants of witte broken on me, because I
    haue railed so long against marriage: but doth not the appe-
    1060tite alter? a man loues the meate in his youth, that he cannot in-
    dure in his age. Shall quippes and sentences, and these paper
    bullets of the brain awe a man from the carreere of his humor?
    No, the world must be peopled. When I saide I woulde die a
    batcheller, I did not think I should liue til I were married, here
    1065comes Beatrice: by this day, shees a faire lady, I doe spie some
    markes of loue in her.
    Enter Beatrice.
    Beatr. Aganst my will I am sent to bid you come in to din-
    Bene. Faire Beatrice, I thanke you for your paines.
    Beat. I tooke no more paines for those thankes, then you
    take paines to thanke me, if it had bin painful I would not haue
    1075Bene. You take pleasure then in the message.
    Beat. Yea iust so much as you may take vppon a kniues
    point, and choake a daw withall: you haue no stomach signior,
    fare you well.
    Bene. Ha, against my will I am sent to bid you come in to
    1080dinner: theres a double meaning in that: I took no more paines
    for those thanks thẽ you took pains to thank me, thats as much
    as to say, any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks: if I do
    not take pitty of her I am a villaine, if I do not loue her I am a
    Iew, I will go get her picture,