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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Actus Tertius.
    Enter Hero and two Gentlemen, Margaret, and Vrsula.
    Hero. Good Margaret runne thee to the parlour,
    There shalt thou finde my Cosin Beatrice,
    1090Proposing with the Prince and Claudio,
    Whisper her eare, and tell her I and Vrsula,
    Walke in the Orchard, and our whole discourse
    Is all of her, say that thou ouer-heardst vs,
    And bid her steale into the pleached bower,
    1095Where hony-suckles ripened by the sunne,
    Forbid the sunne to enter: like fauourites,
    Made proud by Princes, that aduance their pride,
    Against that power that bred it, there will she hide her,
    To listen our purpose, this is thy office,
    1100Beare thee well in it, and leaue vs alone.
    Marg. Ile make her come I warrant you presently.
    Hero. Now Vrsula, when Beatrice doth come,
    As we do trace this alley vp and downe,
    Our talke must onely be of Benedicke,
    1105When I doe name him, let it be thy part,
    To praise him more then euer man did merit,
    My talke to thee must be how Benedicke
    Is sicke in loue with Beatrice: of this matter,
    Is little Cupids crafty arrow made,
    1110That onely wounds by heare-say: now begin,
    Enter Beatrice.
    For looke where Beatrice like a Lapwing runs
    Close by the ground, to heare our conference.
    Vrs. The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
    1115Cut with her golden ores the siluer streame,
    And greedily deuoure the treacherous baite:
    So angle we for Beatrice, who euen now,
    Is couched in the wood-bine couerture,
    Feare you not my part of the Dialogue.
    1120Her. Then go we neare her that her eare loose nothing,
    Of the false sweete baite that we lay for it:
    No truely Vrsula, she is too disdainfull,
    I know her spirits are as coy and wilde,
    As Haggerds of the rocke.
    1125Vrsula. But are you sure,
    That Benedicke loues Beatrice so intirely?
    Her. So saies the Prince, and my new trothed Lord.
    Vrs. And did they bid you tell her of it, Madam?
    Her. They did intreate me to acquaint her of it,
    1130But I perswaded them, if they lou'd Benedicke,
    K To
    110 Much ado about Nothing.
    To wish him wrastle with affection,
    And neuer to let Beatrice know of it.
    Vrsula. Why did you so, doth not the Gentleman
    Deserue as full as fortunate a bed,
    1135As euer Beatrice shall couch vpon?
    Hero. O God of loue! I know he doth deserue,
    As much as may be yeelded to a man:
    But Nature neuer fram'd a womans heart,
    Of prowder stuffe then that of Beatrice:
    1140Disdaine and Scorne ride sparkling in her eyes,
    Mis-prizing what they looke on, and her wit
    Values it selfe so highly, that to her
    All matter else seemes weake: she cannot loue,
    Nor take no shape nor proiect of affection,
    1145Shee is so selfe indeared.
    Vrsula. Sure I thinke so,
    And therefore certainely it were not good
    She knew his loue, lest she make sport at it.
    Hero. Why you speake truth, I neuer yet saw man,
    1150How wise, how noble, yong, how rarely featur'd.
    But she would spell him backward: if faire fac'd,
    She would sweare the gentleman should be her sister:
    If blacke, why Nature drawing of an anticke,
    Made a foule blot: if tall, a launce ill headed:
    1155If low, an agot very vildlie cut:
    If speaking, why a vane blowne with all windes:
    If silent, why a blocke moued with none.
    So turnes she euery man the wrong side out,
    And neuer giues to Truth and Vertue, that
    1160Which simplenesse and merit purchaseth.
    Vrsu. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
    Hero. No, not to be so odde, and from all fashions,
    As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable,
    But who dare tell her so? if I should speake,
    1165She would mocke me into ayre, O she would laugh me
    Out of my selfe, presse me to death with wit,
    Therefore let Benedicke like couered fire,
    Consume away in sighes, waste inwardly:
    It were a better death, to die with mockes,
    1170Which is as bad as die with tickling.
    Vrsu. Yet tell her of it, heare what shee will say.
    Hero. No, rather I will goe to Benedicke,
    And counsaile him to fight against his passion,
    And truly Ile deuise some honest slanders,
    1175To staine my cosin with, one doth not know,
    How much an ill word may impoison liking.
    Vrsu. O doe not doe your cosin such a wrong,
    She cannot be so much without true iudgement,
    Hauing so swift and excellent a wit
    1180As she is prisde to haue, as to refuse
    So rare a Gentleman as signior Benedicke.
    Hero. He is the onely man of Italy,
    Alwaies excepted, my deare Claudio.
    Vrsu. I pray you be not angry with me, Madame,
    1185Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedicke,
    For shape, for bearing argument and valour,
    Goes formost in report through Italy.
    Hero. Indeed he hath an excellent good name.
    Vrsu. His excellence did earne it ere he had it:
    1190When are you married Madame?
    Hero. Why euerie day to morrow, come goe in,
    Ile shew thee some attires, and haue thy counsell,
    Which is the best to furnish me to morrow.
    Vrsu. Shee's tane I warrant you,
    1195We haue caught her Madame?
    Hero. If it proue so, then louing goes by haps,
    Some Cupid kills with arrowes, some with traps. Exit.
    Beat. What fire is in mine eares? can this be true?
    Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorne so much?
    1200Contempt, farewell, and maiden pride, adew,
    No glory liues behinde the backe of such.
    And Benedicke, loue on, I will requite thee,
    Taming my wilde heart to thy louing hand:
    If thou dost loue, my kindenesse shall incite thee
    1205To binde our loues vp in a holy band.
    For others say thou dost deserue, and I
    Beleeue it better then reportingly. Exit.