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  • 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
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    Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

    Actus Secundus.
    415 Enter Leonato, his brother, his wife, Hero his daughter, and
    Beatrice his neece, and a kinsman.
    Leonato. Was not Count Iohn here at supper?
    Brother. I saw him not.
    Beatrice. How tartly that Gentleman lookes, I neuer
    420can see him, but I am heart-burn'd an howre after.
    Hero. He is of a very melancholy disposition.
    Beatrice. Hee were an excellent man that were made
    iust in the mid-way betweene him and Benedicke, the one
    is too like an image and saies nothing, and the other too
    425like my Ladies eldest sonne, euermore tatling.
    Leon. Then halfe signior Benedicks tongue in Count
    Iohns mouth, and halfe Count Iohns melancholy in Sig-
    nior Benedicks face.
    Beat. With a good legge, and a good foot vnckle, and
    430money enough in his purse, such a man would winne any
    woman in the world, if he could get her good will.
    Leon. By my troth Neece, thou wilt neuer get thee a
    husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
    Brother. Infaith shee's too curst.
    435Beat. Too curst is more then curst, I shall lessen Gods
    sending that way: for it is said, God sends a curst Cow
    short hornes, but to a Cow too curst he sends none.
    Leon. So, by being too curst, God will send you no
    440Beat. Iust, if he send me no husband, for the which
    blessing, 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 vpon a husband that hath no
    Batrice. What should I doe with him? dresse him in
    my apparell, 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 hee that is more then a
    450youth, is not for mee: and he that is lesse then a man, I am
    not for him: therefore I will euen take sixepence in ear-
    nest of the Berrord, and leade his Apes into hell.
    Leon. Well then, goe you into hell.
    Beat. No, but to the gate, and there will the Deuill
    455meete mee like an old Cuckold with hornes on his head,
    and say, get you to heauen Beatrice, get you to heauen,
    heere's no place for you maids, so deliuer I vp my Apes,
    and away to S. Peter: for the heauens, hee shewes mee
    where the Batchellers sit, and there liue wee as merry as
    460the day is long.
    Brother. Well neece, I trust you will be rul'd by your
    Beatrice. Yes faith, it is my cosens dutie to make curt-
    sie, and say, as it please you: but yet for all that cosin, let
    465him be a handsome 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 till God make men of some other met-
    470tall then earth, would it not grieue a woman to be ouer-
    mastred with a peece of valiant dust? to make account of
    her life to a clod of waiward marle? no vnckle, ile none:
    Adams sonnes are my brethren, and truly I hold it a sinne
    to match in my kinred.
    475Leon. Daughter, remember what I told you, if the
    Prince doe solicit you in that kinde, you know your an-
    Beatrice. The fault will be in the musicke cosin, if you
    be not woed in good time: if the Prince bee too impor-
    480tant, tell him there is measure in euery thing, & so dance
    out the answere, for heare me Hero, wooing, wedding, &
    repenting, is as a Scotch ijgge, a measure, and a cinque-
    pace: the first suite is hot and hasty like a Scotch ijgge
    (and full as fantasticall) the wedding manerly modest,
    485(as a measure) full of state & aunchentry, and then comes
    repentance, and with his bad legs falls into the cinque-
    pace faster and faster, till he sinkes into his graue.
    Much adoe about Nothing 105
    Leonata. Cosin you apprehend passing shrewdly.
    Beatrice. I haue a good eye vnckle, I can see a Church
    490by daylight.
    Leon. The reuellers are entring brother, make good
    Enter Prince, Pedro, Claudio, and Benedicke, and Balthasar,
    or dumbe Iohn, Maskers with a drum.
    495Pedro. Lady, will you walke about with your friend?
    Hero. So you walke softly, and looke sweetly, and say
    nothing, I am yours for the walke, and especially when I
    walke away.
    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
    505is Loue.
    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
    510manie ill qualities.
    Bene. Which is one?
    Mar. I say my prayers alowd.
    Ben. I loue you the better, the hearers may cry Amen.
    Mar. God match me with a good dauncer.
    515Balt. Amen.
    Mar. And God keepe him out of my sight when the
    daunce is done: answer Clarke.
    Balt. No more words, the Clarke is answered.
    Vrsula. I know you well enough, you are Signior An-
    Anth. At a word, I am not.
    Vrsula. I know you by the wagling of your head.
    Anth. To tell you true, I counterfet him.
    Vrsu. You could neuer doe him so ill well, vnlesse
    525you were the very man: here's his dry hand vp & down,
    you are he, you are he.
    Anth. At a word I am not.
    Vrsula. Come, come, doe you thinke I doe not know
    you by your excellent wit? can vertue hide it selfe? goe
    530to, mumme, you are he, graces will appeare, and there's
    an end.
    Beat. Will you not tell me who told you so?
    Bene. No, you shall pardon me.
    Beat. Nor will you not tell me who you are?
    535Bened. Not now.
    Beat. That I was disdainfull, and that I had my good
    wit out of the hundred merry tales: well, this was Signi-
    or Benedicke that said so.
    Bene. What's he?
    540Beat. I am sure you know him well enough.
    Bene. Not I, beleeue me.
    Beat. Did he neuer make you laugh?
    Bene. I pray you what is he?
    Beat. Why he is the Princes ieaster, a very dull foole,
    545onely his gift is, in deuising impossible slanders, none
    but Libertines delight in him, and the commendation is
    not in his witte, but in his villanie, for hee both pleaseth
    men and angers them, and then they laugh at him, and
    beat him: I am sure he is in the Fleet, I would he had
    550boorded me.
    Bene. When I know the Gentleman, Ile tell him what
    you say.
    Beat. Do, do, hee'l but breake a comparison or two
    on me, which peraduenture (not markt, or not laugh'd
    555at) strikes him into melancholly, and then there's a Par-
    tridge wing saued, for the foole will eate no supper that
    night. We must follow the Leaders.
    Ben. In euery good thing.
    Bea. Nay, if they leade to any ill, I will leaue them
    560at the next turning. Exeunt.
    Musicke for the dance.
    Iohn. Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath
    withdrawne her father to breake with him about it: the
    Ladies follow her, and but one visor remaines.
    565Borachio. And that is Claudio, I know him by his bea-
    Iohn. Are not you signior Benedicke?
    Clau. You know me well, I am hee.
    Iohn. Signior, you are verie neere my Brother in his
    570loue, he is enamor'd on Hero, I pray you disswade him
    from her, she is no equall for his birth: you may do the
    part of an honest man in it.
    Claudio. How know you he loues her?
    Iohn. I heard him sweare his affection,
    575Bor. So did I too, and he swore he would marrie her
    to night.
    Iohn. Come, let vs to the banquet. Ex. manet Clau.
    Clau. Thus answere I in name of Benedicke,
    But heare these ill newes with the eares of Claudio:
    580'Tis certaine so, the Prince woes 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 euerie eye negotiate for it selfe,
    585And trust no Agent: for beautie is a witch,
    Against whose charmes, faith melteth into blood:
    This is an accident of hourely proofe,
    Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero.
    Enter Benedicke.
    590Ben. Count Claudio.
    Clau. Yea, the same.
    Ben. Come, will you go with me?
    Clau. Whither?
    Ben. Euen to the next Willow, about your own bu-
    595sinesse, Count. What fashion will you weare the Gar-
    land off? About your necke, like an Vsurers chaine? Or
    vnder your arme, like a Lieutenants scarfe? You must
    weare it one way, for the Prince hath got your Hero.
    Clau: I wish him ioy of her.
    600Ben. Why that's spoken like an honest Drouier, so
    they sel Bullockes: but did you thinke the Prince wold
    haue serued you thus?
    Clau. I pray you leaue me.
    Ben. Ho now you strike like the blindman, 'twas the
    605boy that stole your meate, and you'l beat the post.
    Clau. If it will not be, Ile leaue you. Exit.
    Ben. Alas poore hurt fowle, now will he creepe into
    sedges: But that my Ladie Beatrice should know me, &
    not know me: the Princes foole! Hah? It may be I goe
    610vnder that title, because I am merrie: yea but so I am
    apt to do my selfe wrong: I am not so reputed, it is the
    base (though bitter) disposition of Beatrice, that putt's
    the world into her person, and so giues me out: well, Ile
    be reuenged as I may.
    615 Enter the Prince.
    Pedro. Now Signior, where's the Count, did you
    see him?
    106 Much ado about Nothing.
    Bene. Troth my Lord, I haue played the part of Lady
    Fame, I found him heere as melancholy as a Lodge in a
    620Warren, I told him, and I thinke, told him true, that your
    grace had got the will of this young Lady, and I offered
    him my company to a willow tree, either to make him a
    garland, as being forsaken, or to binde him a rod, as be-
    ing worthy to be whipt.
    625Pedro. To be whipt, what's his fault?
    Bene. The flat transgression of a Schoole-boy, who
    being ouer-ioyed with finding a birds nest, shewes it his
    companion, and he steales it.
    Pedro. Wilt thou make a trust, a transgression? the
    630transgression is in the stealer.
    Ben. Yet it had not beene amisse the rod had beene
    made, and the garland too, for the garland he might haue
    worne himselfe, and the rod hee might haue bestowed on
    you, who (as I take it) haue stolne his birds nest.
    635Pedro. I will but teach them to sing, and restore them
    to the owner.
    Bene. If their singing answer your saying, by my faith
    you say honestly.
    Pedro. The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrell to you, the
    640Gentleman that daunst with her, told her shee is much
    wrong'd by you.
    Bene. O she misusde me past the indurance of a block:
    an oake but with one greene leafe on it, would haue an-
    swered her: my very visor began to assume life, and scold
    645with her: shee told mee, not thinking I had beene my
    selfe, that I was the Princes Iester, and that I was duller
    then a great thaw, hudling iest vpon iest, with such im-
    possible conueiance vpon me, that I stood like a man at a
    marke, with a whole army shooting at me: shee speakes
    650poynyards, and euery word stabbes: if her breath were
    as terrible as terminations, there were no liuing neere
    her, she would infect to the north starre: I would not
    marry her, though she were indowed with all that Adam
    had left him before he transgrest, she would haue made
    655Hercules haue turnd spit, yea, and haue cleft his club to
    make the fire too: come, talke not of her, you shall finde
    her the infernall Ate in good apparell. I would to God
    some scholler would coniure her, for certainely while she
    is heere, a man may liue as quiet in hell, as in a sanctuary,
    660and people sinne vpon purpose, because they would goe
    thither, so indeed all disquiet, horror, and perturbation
    followes her.
    Enter Claudio and Beatrice, Leonato, Hero.
    Pedro. Looke heere she comes.
    665Bene. Will your Grace command mee any seruice to
    the worlds end? I will goe on the slightest arrand now
    to the Antypodes that you can deuise to send me on: I
    will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the furthest inch
    of Asia: bring you the length of Prester Iohns foot: fetch
    670you a hayre off the great Chams beard: doe you any em-
    bassage to the Pigmies, rather then hould three words
    conference, with this Harpy: you haue no employment
    for me?
    Pedro. None, but to desire your good company.
    675Bene. O God sir, heeres a dish I loue not, I cannot in-
    dure this Lady tongue. Exit.
    Pedr. Come Lady, come, you haue lost the heart of
    Signior Benedicke.
    Beatr. Indeed my Lord, hee lent it me a while, and I
    680gaue him vse for it, a double heart for a single one, marry
    once before he wonne it of mee, 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.
    685Beat. So I would not he should do me, my Lord, lest
    I should prooue the mother of fooles: I haue brought
    Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seeke.
    Pedro. Why how now Count, wherfore are you sad?
    Claud. Not sad my Lord.
    690Pedro. How then? sicke?
    Claud. Neither, my Lord.
    Beat. The Count is neither sad, nor sicke, nor merry,
    nor well: but ciuill Count, ciuill as an Orange, and some-
    thing of a iealous complexion.
    695Pedro. Ifaith Lady, I thinke your blazon to be true,
    though Ile be sworne, if hee 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
    700thee ioy.
    Leona. Count, take of me my daughter, and with her
    my fortunes: his grace hath made the match, & all grace
    say, Amen to it.
    Beatr. Speake Count, tis your Qu.
    705Claud. 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
    doat vpon the exchange.
    Beat. Speake cosin, or (if you cannot) stop his mouth
    710with a kisse, and let not him speake neither.
    Pedro. In faith 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 my heart.
    715Clau. And so she doth coosin.
    Beat. Good Lord for alliance: thus goes euery one
    to the world but I, and I am sun-burn'd, I may sit in a cor-
    ner and cry, 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 maid could come by them.
    Prince. Will you haue me? Lady.
    Beat. No, my Lord, vnlesse I might haue another for
    725working-daies, your Grace is too costly to weare euerie
    day: but I beseech your Grace pardon mee, I was borne
    to speake all mirth, and no matter.
    Prince. Your silence most offends me, and to be mer-
    ry, best becomes you, for out of question, you were born
    730in a merry howre.
    Beatr. No sure my Lord, my Mother cried, but then
    there was a starre daunst, and vnder that was I borne: co-
    sins God giue you ioy.
    Leonato. Neece, will you looke to those rhings I told
    735you of?
    Beat. I cry you mercy Vncle, by your Graces pardon.
    Exit Beatrice.
    Prince. By my troth a pleasant spirited Lady.
    Leon. There's little of the melancholy element in her
    740my Lord, she is neuer sad, but when she sleepes, and not
    euer sad then: for I haue heard my daughter say, she hath
    often dreamt of vnhappinesse, and wakt her selfe with
    Pedro. Shee cannot indure to heare tell of a husband.
    745Leonato. O, by no meanes, she mocks all her wooers
    out of suite.
    Prince. She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
    Leonato. O Lord, my Lord, if they were but a weeke
    Much ado about Nothing. 107
    married, they would talke themselues madde.
    750Prince. Counte Claudio, when meane you to goe to
    Clau. To morrow my Lord, Time goes on crutches,
    till Loue haue all his rites.
    Leonata. Not till monday, my deare sonne, which is
    755hence a iust seuen night, and a time too briefe too, to haue
    all things answer minde.
    Prince. Come, you shake the head at so long a brea-
    thing, but I warrant thee Claudio, the time shall not goe
    dully by vs, I will in the interim, vndertake one of Her-
    760cules labors, which is, to bring Signior Benedicke and the
    Lady Beatrice into a mountaine 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 assi-
    stance as I shall giue you direction.
    765Leonata. My Lord, I am for you, though it cost mee
    ten nights watchings.
    Claud. And I my Lord.
    Prin. And you to gentle Hero?
    Hero. I will doe any modest office, my Lord, to helpe
    770my cosin to a good husband.
    Prin. And Benedick is not the vnhopefullest husband
    that I know: thus farre can I praise him, hee is of a noble
    straine, of approued valour, and confirm'd honesty, I will
    teach you how to humour your cosin, that shee shall fall
    775in loue with Benedicke, and I, with your two helpes, will
    so practise on Benedicke, that in despight of his quicke
    wit, and his queasie stomacke, hee shall fall in loue with
    Beatrice: if wee can doe this, Cupid is no longer an Ar-
    cher, his glory shall be ours, for wee are the onely loue-
    780gods, goe in with me, and I will tell you my drift. Exit.