Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Gretchen Minton
Not Peer Reviewed

Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

Much adoe about Nothing.

1Actus primus, Scena prima.

Enter Leonato Gouernour of Messina, Innogen his wife, He-
ro his daughter, and Beatrice his Neece, with a messenger.

5I Learne in this Letter, that Don Peter of Arra-
gon, comes this night to Messina.
Mess. He is very neere by this: he was not
three Leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many Gentlemen haue you lost in this
Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.
Leon. A victorie is twice it selfe, when the atchieuer
brings home full numbers: I finde heere, that Don Pe-
ter hath bestowed much honor on a yong Florentine, cal-
15led Claudio.
Mess. Much deseru'd on his part, and equally remem-
bred by Don Pedro, he hath borne himselfe beyond the
promise of his age, doing in the figure of a Lambe, the
feats of a Lion, he hath indeede better bettred expecta-
20tion, then you must expect of me to tell you how.
Leo. He hath an Vnckle heere in Messina, wil be very
much glad of it.
Mess. I haue alreadie deliuered him letters, and there
appeares much ioy in him, euen so much, that ioy could
25not shew it selfe modest enough, without a badg of bit-
Leo. Did he breake out into teares?
Mess. In great measure.
Leo. A kinde ouerflow of kindnesse, there are no fa-
30ces truer, then those that are so wash'd, how much bet-
ter is it to weepe at ioy, then to ioy at weeping?
Bea. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto return'd from
the warres, or no?
Mess. I know none of that name, Lady, there was
35none such in the armie of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you aske for Neece?
Hero. My cousin meanes Signior Benedick of Padua
Mess. O he's return'd, and as pleasant as euer he was.
Beat. He set vp his bils here in Messina, & challeng'd
40Cupid at the Flight: and my Vnckles foole reading the
Challenge, subscrib'd for Cupid, and challeng'd him at
the Burbolt. I pray you, how many hath hee kil'd and
eaten in these warres? But how many hath he kil'd? for
indeed, I promis'd to eate all of his killing.
45Leon. 'Faith Neece, you taxe Signior Benedicke too
much, but hee'l be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mess. He hath done good seruice Lady in these wars.
Beat. You had musty victuall, and he hath holpe to
ease it: he's a very valiant Trencher-man, hee hath an
50excellent stomacke.
Mess. And a good souldier too Lady.
Beat. And a good souldier to a Lady. But what is he
to a Lord?
Mess. A Lord to a Lord, a man to a man, stuft with
55all honourable vertues.
Beat. It is so indeed, he is no lesse then a stuft man:
but for the stuffing well, we are all mortall.
Leon. You must not (sir) mistake my Neece, there is
a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick, & her:
60they neuer meet, but there's a skirmish of wit between
Bea. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last con-
flict, foure of his fiue wits went halting off, and now is
the whole man gouern'd with one: so that if hee haue
65wit enough to keepe himselfe warme, let him beare it
for a difference betweene himselfe and his horse: For it
is all the wealth that he hath left, to be knowne a reaso-
nable creature. Who is his companion now? He hath
euery month a new sworne brother.
70Mess. I'st possible?
Beat. Very easily possible: he weares his faith but as
the fashion of his hat, it euer changes with ye next block.
Mess. I see (Lady) the Gentleman is not in your
75Bea. No, and he were, I would burne my study. But
I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young
squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the
Mess. He is most in the company of the right noble
Beat. O Lord, he will hang vpon him like a disease:
he is sooner caught then the pestilence, and the taker
runs presently mad. God helpe the noble Claudio, if hee
haue caught the Benedict, it will cost him a thousand
85pound ere he be cur'd.
Mess. I will hold friends with you Lady.
Bea. Do good friend.
Leo. You'l ne're run mad Neece.
Bea. No, not till a hot Ianuary.
90Mess. Don Pedro is approach'd.

Enter don Pedro, Claudio, Benedicke, Balthasar,
and Iohn the bastard.
Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet
your trouble: the fashion of the world is to auoid cost,
95and you encounter it.
Leon. Neuer came trouble to my house in the likenes
of your Grace: for trouble being gone, comfort should
remaine: but when you depart from me, sorrow abides,
and happinesse takes his leaue.