Internet Shakespeare Editions

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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    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 heere already sir. Exit.
    840Bene. I know that, but I would haue thee hence, and
    heere againe. I doe much wonder, that one man seeing
    how much another man is a foole, when he dedicates his
    behauiours to loue, will after hee hath laught at such
    shallow follies in others, become the argument of his
    845owne scorne, by falling in loue, & such a man is Claudio,
    I haue known when there was no musicke with him but
    the drum and the fife, and now had hee rather heare the
    taber and the pipe: I haue knowne when he would haue
    walkt ten mile afoot, to see a good armor, and now will
    850he lie ten nights awake caruing the fashion of a new dub-
    let: he was wont to speake plaine, & to the purpose (like
    an honest man & a souldier) and now is he turn'd ortho-
    graphy, his words are a very fantasticall banquet, iust so
    many strange dishes: may I be so conuerted, & see with
    855these eyes? I cannot tell, I thinke not: I will not bee
    sworne, but loue may transforme me to an oyster, but Ile
    take my oath on it, till he haue made an oyster of me, he
    shall neuer make me such a foole: one woman is faire, yet
    I am well: another is wise, yet I am well: another vertu-
    860ous, yet I am well: but till all graces be in one woman,
    one woman shall not come in my grace: rich shee shall
    be, that's certaine: wise, or Ile none: vertuous, or Ile ne-
    uer cheapen her: faire, or Ile neuer looke on her: milde,
    or come not neere me: Noble, or not for an Angell: of
    865good discourse: an excellent Musitian, and her haire shal
    be of what colour it please God, hah! the Prince and
    Monsieur Loue, I will hide me in the Arbor.
    Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Iacke Wilson.
    Prin. Come, shall we heare this musicke?
    870Claud. Yea my good Lord: how still the euening is,
    As husht on purpose to grace harmonie.
    Prin. See you where Benedicke hath hid himselfe?
    Clau. O very well my Lord: the musicke ended,
    Wee'll fit the kid-foxe with a penny worth.
    875Prince. Come Balthasar, wee'll heare that song again.
    Balth. O good my Lord, taxe not so bad a voyce,
    To slander musicke any more then once.
    Prin. It is the witnesse still of excellency,
    108 Much ado about Nothing.
    To slander Musicke any more then once.
    880Prince. It is the witnesse still of excellencie,
    To put a strange face on his owne perfection,
    I pray thee sing, and let me woe no more.
    Balth. Because you talke of wooing, I will sing,
    Since many a wooer doth commence his suit,
    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,
    Doe it in notes.
    890Balth. Note this before my notes,
    Theres not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
    Prince. Why these are very crotchets that he speaks,
    Note notes forsooth, and nothing.
    Bene. Now diuine aire, now is his soule rauisht, is it
    895not strange that sheepes guts should hale soules out of
    mens bodies? well, a horne for my money when all's
    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 goe,
    And be you blithe and bonnie,
    905Conuerting all your sounds of woe,
    Into hey nony nony.
    Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
    Of dumps so dull and heauy,
    The fraud of men were 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 well enough for a
    Ben. And he had been a dog that should haue howld
    thus, they would haue hang'd him, and I pray God his
    bad voyce bode no mischiefe, I had as liefe haue heard
    the night-rauen, come what plague could haue come af-
    920ter it.
    Prince. Yea marry, dost thou heare Balthasar? I pray
    thee get vs some excellent musick: for to morrow night
    we would haue it at the Lady Heroes chamber window.
    Balth. The best I can, my Lord. Exit Balthasar.
    925Prince. Do so, farewell. Come hither Leonato, what
    was it you told me of to day, that your Niece Beatrice
    was in loue with signior Benedicke?
    Cla. O I, stalke on, stalke on, the foule sits. I did ne-
    uer thinke that Lady would haue loued any man.
    930Leon. No, nor I neither, but most wonderful, that she
    should so dote on Signior Benedicke, whom shee hath in
    all outward behauiours seemed euer to abhorre.
    Bene. Is't possible? sits the winde in that corner?
    Leo. By my troth my Lord, I cannot tell what to
    935thinke of it, but that she loues him with an inraged affe-
    ction, 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 counter-
    940feit of passion, came so neere the life of passion as she dis-
    couers it.
    Prince. Why what effects of passion shewes she?
    Claud. Baite the hooke well, this fish will bite.
    Leon. What effects my Lord? shee will sit you, you
    945heard my daughter tell you how.
    Clau. She did indeed.
    Prin. How, how I pray you? you amaze me, I would
    haue thought her spirit had beene inuincible against all
    assaults of affection.
    950Leo. I would haue sworne it had, my Lord, especially
    against Benedicke.
    Bene. I should thinke this a gull, but that the white-
    bearded fellow speakes it: knauery cannot sure hide
    himselfe in such reuerence.
    955Claud. He hath tane th'infection, hold it vp.
    Prince. Hath shee made her affection known to Bene-
    Leonato. No, and sweares she neuer will, that's her
    960Claud. '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 shee now when shee is beginning to
    write to him, for shee'll be vp twenty times a night, and
    965there will she sit in her smocke, till she haue writ a sheet
    of paper: my daughter tells vs all.
    Clau. Now you talke of a sheet of paper, I remember
    a pretty iest your daughter told vs of.
    Leon. O when she had writ it, & was reading it ouer,
    970she found Benedicke and Beatrice betweene the sheete.
    Clau. 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 shee knew would flout her: I measure him,
    975saies she, by my owne spirit, for I should flout him if hee
    writ to mee, yea though I loue him, I should.
    Clau. Then downe vpon her knees she falls, weepes,
    sobs, beates her heart, teares her hayre, praies, curses, O
    sweet Benedicke, God giue me patience.
    980Leon. She doth indeed, my daughter saies so, and the
    extasie hath so much ouerborne her, that my daughter is
    somtime afeard she will doe a desperate out-rage to her
    selfe, it is very true.
    Princ. It were good that Benedicke knew of it by some
    985other, if she will not discouer it.
    Clau. To what end? he would but make a sport of it,
    and torment the poore Lady worse.
    Prin. And he should, it were an almes to hang him,
    shee's an excellent sweet Lady, and (out of all suspition,)
    990she is vertuous.
    Claudio. And she is exceeding wise.
    Prince. In euery thing, but in louing Benedicke.
    Leon. O my Lord, wisedome and bloud combating in
    so tender a body, we haue ten proofes to one, that bloud
    995hath the victory, I am sorry for her, as I haue iust cause,
    being her Vncle, and her Guardian.
    Prince. I would shee had bestowed this dotage on
    mee, I would haue daft all other respects, and made her
    halfe my selfe: I pray you tell Benedicke of it, and heare
    1000what he will say.
    Leon. Were it good thinke you?
    Clau. Hero thinkes surely she wil die, for she saies she
    will die, if hee loue her not, and shee will die ere shee
    make her loue knowne, and she will die if hee wooe her,
    1005rather than shee will bate one breath of her accustomed
    Prin. She doth well, if she should make tender of her
    Much ado about Nothing. 109
    loue, 'tis very possible hee'l scorne it, for the man (as you
    know all) hath a contemptible spirit.
    1010Clau. He is a very proper man.
    Prin. He hath indeed a good outward happines.
    Clau. 'Fore God, and in my minde very wise.
    Prin. He doth indeed shew some sparkes that are like
    1015Leon. And I take him to be valiant.
    Prin. As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing of
    quarrels you may see hee is wise, for either hee auoydes
    them with great discretion, or vndertakes them with a
    Christian-like feare.
    1020Leon. If hee doe feare God, a must necessarilie keepe
    peace, if hee breake the peace, hee ought to enter into a
    quarrell with feare and trembling.
    Prin. And so will he doe, for the man doth fear God,
    howsoeuer it seemes not in him, by some large ieasts hee
    1025will make: well, I am sorry for your niece, shall we goe
    see Benedicke, and tell him of her loue.
    Claud. Neuer tell him, my Lord, let her weare it out
    with good counsell.
    Leon. Nay that's impossible, she may weare her heart
    1030out first.
    Prin. Well, we will heare further of it by your daugh-
    ter, let it coole the while, I loue Benedicke well, and I
    could wish he would modestly examine himselfe, to see
    how much he is vnworthy to haue so good a Lady.
    1035Leon. My Lord, will you walke? dinner is ready.
    Clau. If he do not doat on her vpon this, I wil neuer
    trust my expectation.
    Prin. Let there be the same Net spread for her, and
    that must your daughter and her gentlewoman carry:
    1040the sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of ano-
    thers dotage, and no such matter, that's the Scene that I
    would see, which will be meerely a dumbe shew: let vs
    send her to call him into dinner. Exeunt.
    Bene. This can be no tricke, the conference was sadly
    1045borne, they haue the truth of this from Hero, they seeme
    to pittie the Lady: it seemes her affections haue the full
    bent: loue me? why it must be requited: I heare how I
    am censur'd, they say I will beare my selfe proudly, if I
    perceiue the loue come from her: they say too, that she
    1050will rather die than giue any signe of affection: I did ne-
    uer thinke to marry, I must not seeme proud, happy are
    they that heare their detractions, and can put them to
    mending: they say the Lady is faire, 'tis a truth, I can
    beare them witnesse: and vertuous, tis so, I cannot re-
    1055prooue it, and wise, but for louing me, by my troth it is
    no addition to her witte, nor no great argument of her
    folly; for I wil be horribly in loue with her, I may chance
    haue some odde quirkes and remnants of witte broken
    on mee, because I haue rail'd so long against marriage:
    1060but doth not the appetite alter? a man loues the meat in
    his youth, that he cannot indure in his age. Shall quips
    and sentences, and these paper bullets of the braine awe
    a man from the careere of his humour? No, the world
    must be peopled. When I said I would die a batcheler, I
    1065did not think I should liue till I were maried, here comes
    Beatrice: by this day, shee's a faire Lady, I doe spie some
    markes of loue in her.
    Enter Beatrice.
    Beat. Against my wil I am sent to bid you come in to
    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 been painefull, I
    would not haue come.
    1075Bene. You take pleasure then in the message.
    Beat. Yea iust so much as you may take vpon a kniues
    point, and choake a daw withall: you haue no stomacke
    signior, fare you well. Exit.
    Bene. Ha, against my will I am sent to bid you come
    1080into dinner: there's a double meaning in that: I tooke
    no more paines for those thankes then you tooke paines
    to thanke me, that's as much as to say, any paines that I
    take for you is as easie as thankes: if I do not take pitty
    of her I am a villaine, if I doe not loue her I am a Iew, I
    1085will goe get her picture. Exit.