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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
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

    Actus Quartus.
    Enter Prince, Bastard, Leonato, Frier, Claudio, Benedicke,
    Hero, and Beatrice.
    Leonato. Come Frier Francis, be briefe, onely to the
    1660plaine forme of marriage, and you shal recount their par-
    ticular duties afterwards.
    Fran. You come hither, my Lord, to marry this Lady.
    Clau. No.
    Leo. To be married to her: Frier, you come to mar-
    1665rie her.
    Frier. Lady, you come hither to be married to this
    Hero. I doe.
    Frier. If either of you know any inward impediment
    1670why you should not be conioyned, I charge you on your
    soules to vtter it.
    Claud. Know you anie, Hero?
    Hero. None my Lord.
    Frier. Know you anie, Count?
    1675Leon. I dare make his answer, None.
    Clau. O what men dare do! what men may do! what
    men daily do!
    Bene. How now! interiections? why then, some be
    of laughing, as ha, ha, he.
    1680Clau. Stand thee by Frier, father, by your leaue,
    Will you with free and vnconstrained soule
    Giue me this maid your daughter?
    Leon. As freely sonne as God did giue her me.
    Cla. And what haue I to giue you back, whose worth
    1685May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
    Prin. Nothing, vnlesse you render her againe.
    Clau. Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulnes:
    There Leonato, take her backe againe,
    Giue not this rotten Orenge to your friend,
    1690Shee's but the signe and semblance of her honour:
    Behold how like a maid she blushes heere!
    O what authoritie and shew of truth
    Can cunning sinne couer it selfe withall!
    Comes not that bloud, as modest euidence,
    1695To witnesse simple Vertue? would you not sweare
    All you that see her, that she were a maide,
    By these exterior shewes? But she is none:
    She knowes the heat of a luxurious bed:
    Her blush is guiltinesse, not modestie.
    1700Leonato. What doe you meane, my Lord?
    Clau. Not to be married,
    Not to knit my soule to an approued wanton.
    Leon. Deere my Lord, if you in your owne proofe,
    Haue vanquisht the resistance of her youth,
    1705And made defeat of her virginitie.
    Clau. I know what you would say: if I haue knowne (her,
    You will say, she did imbrace me as a husband,
    And so extenuate the forehand sinne: No Leonato,
    I neuer tempted her with word too large,
    1710But as a brother to his sister, shewed
    Bashfull sinceritie and comely loue.
    Hero. And seem'd I euer otherwise to you?
    Clau. Out on thee seeming, I will write against it,
    You seeme to me as Diane in her Orbe,
    1715As chaste as is the budde ere it be blowne:
    But you are more intemperate in your blood,
    Than Venus, or those pampred animalls,
    That rage in sauage sensualitie.
    Hero. Is my Lord well, that he doth speake so wide?
    1720Leon. Sweete Prince, why speake not you?
    Prin. What should I speake?
    I stand dishonour'd that haue gone about,
    To linke my deare friend to a common stale.
    Leon. Are these things spoken, or doe I but dreame?
    1725Bast. Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
    Bene. This lookes not like a nuptiall.
    Hero. True, O God!
    Clau. Leonato, stand I here?
    Is this the Prince? is this the Princes brother?
    1730Is this face Heroes? are our eies our owne?
    Leon. All this is so, but what of this my Lord?
    Clau. Let me but moue one question to your daugh- (ter,
    And by that fatherly and kindly power,
    That you haue in her, bid her answer truly.
    1735Leo. I charge thee doe, as thou art my childe.
    Hero. O God defend me how am I beset,
    What kinde of catechizing call you this?
    Clau. To make you answer truly to your name.
    Hero. Is it not Hero? who can blot that name
    1740With any iust reproach?
    Claud. Marry that can Hero,
    Hero it selfe can blot out Heroes vertue.
    What man was he, talkt with you yesternight,
    Out at your window betwixt twelue and one?
    1745Now if you are a maid, answer to this.
    Hero. I talkt with no man at that howre my Lord.
    Prince. Why then you are no maiden. Leonato,
    I am sorry you must heare: vpon mine honor,
    My selfe, my brother, and this grieued Count
    1750Did see her, heare her, at that howre last night,
    Talke with a ruffian at her chamber window,
    Who hath indeed most like a liberall villaine,
    Confest the vile encounters they haue had
    A thousand times in secret.
    1755Iohn. Fie, fie, they are not to be named my Lord,
    Not to be spoken of,
    There is not chastitie enough in language,
    Without offence to vtter them: thus pretty Lady
    I am sorry for thy much misgouernment.
    1760Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou beene
    If halfe thy outward graces had beene placed
    About thy thoughts and counsailes of thy heart?
    But fare thee well, most foule, most faire, farewell
    Thou pure impiety, and impious puritie,
    1765For thee Ile locke vp all the gates of Loue,
    And on my eie-lids shall Coniecture hang,
    To turne all beauty into thoughts of harme,
    And neuer shall it more be gracious.
    Leon. Hath no mans dagger here a point for me?
    1770Beat. Why how now cosin, wherfore sink you down?
    Bast. Come, let vs go: these things come thus to light,
    Smother her spirits vp.
    Bene. How doth the Lady?
    Beat. Dead I thinke, helpe vncle,
    1775Hero, why Hero, Vncle, Signor Benedicke, Frier.
    Leonato. O Fate! take not away thy heauy hand,
    Death is the fairest couer for her shame
    That may be wisht for.m
    Beat. How
    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.
    116 Much ado about Nothing.
    Yet, by mine honor, I will deale in this,
    As secretly and iustlie, as your soule
    Should with your bodie.
    Leon. Being that I flow in greefe,
    1915The smallest twine may lead me.
    Frier. 'Tis well consented, presently away,
    For to strange sores, strangely they straine the cure,
    Come Lady, die to liue, this wedding day
    Perhaps is but prolong'd, haue patience & endure. Exit.
    1920Bene. Lady Beatrice, haue you wept all this while?
    Beat. Yea, and I will weepe a while longer.
    Bene. I will not desire that.
    Beat. You haue no reason, I doe it freely.
    Bene. Surelie I do beleeue your fair cosin is wrong'd.
    1925Beat. Ah, how much might the man deserue of mee
    that would right her!
    Bene. Is there any way to shew such friendship?
    Beat. A verie euen way, but no such friend.
    Bene. May a man doe it?
    1930Beat. It is a mans office, but not yours.
    Bene. I doe loue nothing in the world so well as you,
    is not that strange?
    Beat. As strange as the thing I know not, it were as
    possible for me to say, I loued nothing so well as you, but
    1935beleeue me not, and yet I lie not, I confesse nothing, nor
    I deny nothing, I am sorry for my cousin.
    Bene. By my sword Beatrice thou lou'st me.
    Beat. Doe not sweare by it and eat it.
    Bene. I will sweare by it that you loue mee, and I will
    1940make him eat it that sayes I loue not you.
    Beat. Will you not eat your word?
    Bene. With no sawce that can be deuised to it, I pro-
    test I loue thee.
    Beat. Why then God forgiue me.
    1945Bene. What offence sweet Beatrice?
    Beat. You haue stayed me in a happy howre, I was a-
    bout to protest I loued you.
    Bene. And doe it with all thy heart.
    Beat. I loue you with so much of my heart, that none
    1950is left to protest.
    Bened. Come, bid me doe any thing for thee.
    Beat. Kill Claudio.
    Bene. Ha, not for the wide world.
    Beat. You kill me to denie, farewell.
    1955Bene. Tarrie sweet Beatrice.
    Beat. I am gone, though I am heere, there is no loue
    in you, nay I pray you let me goe.
    Bene. Beatrice.
    Beat. In faith I will goe.
    1960Bene. Wee'll be friends first.
    Beat. You dare easier be friends with mee, than fight
    with mine enemy.
    Bene. Is Claudio thine enemie?
    Beat. Is a not approued in the height a villaine, that
    1965hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
    that I were a man! what, beare her in hand vntill they
    come to take hands, and then with publike accusation
    vncouered slander, vnmittigated rancour? O God that I
    were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.
    1970Bene. Heare me Beatrice.
    Beat. Talke with a man out at a window, a proper
    Bene. Nay but Beatrice.
    Beat. Sweet Hero, she is wrong'd, shee is slandered,
    1975she is vndone.
    Bene. Beat?
    Beat. Princes and Counties! surelie a Princely testi-
    monie, a goodly Count, Comfect, a sweet Gallant sure-
    lie, O that I were a man for his sake! or that I had any
    1980friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood is mel-
    ted into cursies, valour into complement, and men are
    onelie turned into tongue, and trim ones too: he is now
    as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie, and sweares it:
    I cannot be a man with wishing, therfore I will die a wo-
    1985man with grieuing.
    Bene. Tarry good Beatrice, by this hand I loue thee.
    Beat. Vse it for my loue some other way then swea-
    ring by it.
    Bened. Thinke you in your soule the Count Claudio
    1990hath wrong'd Hero?
    Beat. Yea, as sure as I haue a thought, or a soule.
    Bene. Enough, I am engagde, I will challenge him, I
    will kisse your hand, and so leaue you: by this hand Clau-
    dio shall render me a deere account: as you heare of me,
    1995so thinke of me: goe comfort your coosin, I must say she
    is dead, and so farewell.