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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    Not Peer Reviewed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. 115
    Beatr. How now cosin Hero?
    1780Fri. Haue comfort Ladie.
    Leon. Dost thou looke vp?
    Frier. Yea, wherefore should she not?
    Leon. Wherfore? Why doth not euery earthly thing
    Cry shame vpon her? Could she heere denie
    1785The storie that is printed in her blood?
    Do not liue Hero, do not ope thine eyes:
    For did I thinke thou wouldst not quickly die,
    Thought I thy spirits were stronger then thy shames,
    My selfe would on the reward of reproaches
    1790Strike at thy life. Grieu'd I, I had but one?
    Chid I, for that at frugal Natures frame?
    O one too much by thee: why had I one?
    Why euer was't thou louelie in my eies?
    Why had I not with charitable hand
    1795Tooke vp a beggars issue at my gates,
    Who smeered thus, and mir'd with infamie,
    I might haue said, no part of it is mine:
    This shame deriues it selfe from vnknowne loines,
    But mine, and mine I lou'd, and mine I prais'd,
    1800And mine that I was proud on mine so much,
    That I my selfe, was to my selfe not mine:
    Valewing of her, why she, O she is falne
    Into a pit of Inke, that the wide sea
    Hath drops too few to wash her cleane againe,
    1805And salt too little, which may season giue
    To her foule tainted flesh.
    Ben. Sir, sir, be patient: for my part, I am so attired
    in wonder, I know not what to say.
    Bea. O on my soule my cosin is belied.
    1810Ben. Ladie, were you her bedfellow last night?
    Bea. No truly: not although vntill last night,
    I haue this tweluemonth bin her bedfellow.
    Leon. Confirm'd, confirm'd, O that is stronger made
    Which was before barr'd vp with ribs of iron.
    1815Would the Princes lie, and Claudio lie,
    Who lou'd her so, that speaking of her foulnesse,
    Wash'd it with teares? Hence from her, let her die.
    Fri. Heare me a little, for I haue onely bene silent so
    long, and giuen way vnto this course of fortune, by no-
    1820ting of the Ladie, I haue markt.
    A thousand blushing apparitions,
    To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames,
    In Angel whitenesse beare away those blushes,
    And in her eie there hath appear'd a fire
    1825To burne the errors that these Princes hold
    Against her maiden truth. Call me a foole,
    Trust not my reading, nor my obseruations,
    Which with experimental seale doth warrant
    The tenure of my booke: trust not my age,
    1830My reuerence, calling, nor diuinitie,
    If this sweet Ladie lye not guiltlesse heere,
    Vnder some biting error.
    Leo. Friar, it cannot be:
    Thou seest that all the Grace that she hath left,
    1835Is, that she wil not adde to her damnation,
    A sinne of periury, she not denies it:
    Why seek'st thou then to couer with excuse,
    That which appeares in proper na
    Fri. Ladie, what man is he you are accus'd of?
    1840Hero. They know that do accuse me, I know none:
    If I know more of any man aliue
    Then that which maiden modestie doth warrant,
    Let all my sinnes lacke mercy. O my Father,
    Proue you that any man with me conuerst,
    1845At houres vnmeete, or that I yesternight
    Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
    Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
    Fri. There is some strange misprision in the Princes.
    Ben. Two of them haue the verie bent of honor,
    1850And if their wisedomes be misled in this:
    The practise of it liues in Iohn the bastard,
    Whose spirits toile in frame of villanies.
    Leo. I know not: if they speake but truth of her,
    These hands shall teare her: If they wrong her honour,
    1855The proudest of them shall wel heare of it.
    Time hath not yet so dried this bloud of mine,
    Nor age so eate vp my inuention,
    Nor Fortune made such hauocke of my meanes,
    Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
    1860But they shall finde, awak'd in such a kinde,
    Both strength of limbe, and policie of minde,
    Ability in meanes, and choise of friends,
    To quit me of them throughly.
    Fri. Pause awhile:
    1865And let my counsell sway you in this case,
    Your daughter heere the Princesse (left for dead)
    Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
    And publish it, that she is dead indeed:
    Maintaine a mourning ostentation,
    1870And on your Families old monument,
    Hang mournfull Epitaphes, and do all rites,
    That appertaine vnto a buriall.
    Leon. What shall become of this? What wil this do?
    Fri. Marry this wel carried, shall on her behalfe,
    1875Change slander to remorse, that is some good,
    But not for that dreame I on this strange course,
    But on this trauaile looke for greater birth:
    She dying, as it must be so maintain'd,
    Vpon the instant that she was accus'd,
    1880Shal be lamented, pittied, and excus'd
    Of euery hearer: for it so fals out,
    That what we haue, we prize not to the worth,
    Whiles we enioy it; but being lack'd and lost,
    Why then we racke the value, then we finde
    1885The vertue that possession would not shew vs
    Whiles it was ours, so will it fare with Claudio:
    When he shal heare she dyed vpon his words,
    Th'Idea of her life shal sweetly creepe
    Into his study of imagination.
    1890And euery louely Organ of her life,
    Shall come apparel'd in more precious habite:
    More mouing delicate, and ful of life,
    Into the eye and prospect of his soule
    Then when she liu'd indeed: then shal he mourne,
    1895If euer Loue had interest in his Liuer,
    And wish he had not so accused her:
    No, though he thought his accusation true:
    Let this be so, and doubt not but successe
    Wil fashion the euent in better shape,
    1900Then I can lay it downe in likelihood.
    But if all ayme but this be leuelld false,
    The supposition of the Ladies death,
    Will quench the wonder of her infamie.
    And if it sort not well, you may conceale her,
    1905As best befits her wounded reputation,
    In some reclusiue and religious life,
    Out of all eyes, tongnes, mindes and iniuries.
    Bene. Signior Leonato, let the Frier aduise you,
    And though you know my inwardnesse and loue
    1910Is very much vnto the Prince and Claudio.