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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 Quintus.
    Enter Leonato and his brother.
    Brother. If you goe on thus, you will kill your selfe,
    2080And 'tis not wisedome thus to second griefe,
    Against your selfe.
    Leon. I pray thee cease thy counsaile,
    Which falls into mine eares as profitlesse,
    As water in a siue: giue not me counsaile,
    2085Nor let no comfort delight mine eare,
    But such a one whose wrongs doth sute with mine.
    Bring me a father that so lou'd his childe,
    Whose ioy of her is ouer-whelmed like mine,
    And bid him speake of patience,
    2090Measure his woe the length and bredth of mine,
    And let it answere euery straine for straine,
    As thus for thus, and such a griefe for such,
    In euery lineament, branch, shape, and forme:
    If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
    2095And sorrow, wagge, crie hem, when he should grone,
    Patch griefe with prouerbs, make misfortune drunke,
    With candle-wasters: bring him yet to me,
    And I of him will gather patience:
    But there is no such man, for brother, men
    2100Can counsaile, and speake comfort to that griefe,
    Which they themselues not feele, but tasting it,
    Their counsaile turnes to passion, which before,
    Would giue preceptiall medicine to rage,
    Fetter strong madnesse in a silken thred,
    2105Charme ache with ayre, and agony with words,
    No, no, 'tis all mens office, to speake patience
    To those that wring vnder the load of sorrow:
    But no mans vertue nor sufficiencie
    To be so morall, when he shall endure
    2110The like himselfe: therefore giue me no counsaile,
    My griefs cry lowder then aduertisement.
    Broth. Therein do men from children nothing differ.
    Leonato. I pray thee peace, I will be flesh and bloud,
    For there was neuer yet Philosopher,
    2115That could endure the tooth-ake patiently,
    How euer they haue writ the stile of gods,
    And made a push at chance and sufferance.
    Brother. Yet bend not all the harme vpon your selfe,
    Make those that doe offend you, suffer too.
    2120Leon. There thou speak'st reason, nay I will doe so,
    My soule doth tell me, Hero is belied,
    And that shall Claudio know, so shall the Prince,
    And all of them that thus dishonour her.
    Enter Prince and Claudio.
    2125Brot. Here comes the Prince and Claudio hastily.
    Prin. Good den, good den.
    Clau. Good day to both of you.
    Leon. Heare you my Lords?
    Prin. We haue some haste Leonato.
    2130Leo. Some haste my Lord! wel, fare you wel my Lord,
    Are you so hasty now? well, all is one.
    Prin. Nay, do not quarrell with vs, good old man.
    Brot. If he could rite himselfe with quarrelling,
    Some of vs would lie low.
    2135Claud. Who wrongs him?
    Leon. Marry yu dost wrong me, thou dissembler, thou:
    Nay, neuer lay thy hand vpon thy sword,
    I feare thee not.
    Claud. Marry beshrew my hand,
    2140If it should giue your age such cause of feare,
    Infaith my hand meant nothing to my sword.
    Leonato. Tush, tush, man, neuer fleere and iest at me,
    I speake not like a dotard, nor a foole,
    As vnder priuiledge of age to bragge,
    2145What I haue done being yong, or what would doe,
    Were I not old, know Claudio to thy head,
    Thou hast so wrong'd my innocent childe and me,
    That I am forc'd to lay my reuerence by,
    And with grey haires and bruise of many daies,
    2150Doe challenge thee to triall of a man,
    I say thou hast belied mine innocent childe.
    Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
    And she lies buried with her ancestors:
    O in a tombe where neuer scandall slept,
    2155Saue this of hers, fram'd by thy villanie.
    Claud. My villany?
    Leonato. Thine Claudio, thine I say.
    Prin. You say not right old man.
    Leon. My Lord, my Lord,
    2160Ile proue it on his body if he dare,
    Despight his nice fence, and his actiue practise,
    His Maie of youth, and bloome of lustihood.
    Claud. Away, I will not haue to do with you.
    Leo. Canst thou so daffe me? thou hast kild my child,
    2165If thou kilst me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
    Bro. He shall kill two of vs, and men indeed,
    But that's no matter, let him kill one first:
    118 Much ado about Nothing.
    Win me and weare me, let him answere me,
    Come follow me boy, come sir boy, come follow me
    2170Sir boy, ile whip you from your foyning fence,
    Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
    Leon. Brother.
    Brot. Content your self, God knows I lou'd my neece,
    And she is dead, slander'd to death by villaines,
    2175That dare as well answer a man indeede,
    As I d are take a serpent by the tongue.
    Boyes, apes, braggarts, Iackes, milke-sops.
    Leon. Brother Anthony.
    Brot. Hold you content, what man? I know them, yea
    2180And what they weigh, euen to the vtmost scruple,
    Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boyes,
    That lye, and cog, and flout, depraue, and slander,
    Goe antiquely, and show outward hidiousnesse,
    And speake of halfe a dozen dang'rous words,
    2185How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst.
    And this is all.
    Leon. But brother Anthonie.
    Ant. Come, 'tis no matter,
    Do not you meddle, let me deale in this.
    2190Pri. Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience
    My heart is sorry for your daughters death:
    But on my honour she was charg'd with nothing
    But what was true, and very full of proofe.
    Leon. My Lord, my Lord.
    2195Prin. I will not heare you.
    Enter Benedicke.
    Leo. No come brother, away, I will be heard.
    Exeunt ambo.
    Bro. And shall, or some of vs will smart for it.
    2200Prin. See, see, here comes the man we went to seeke.
    Clau. Now signior, what newes?
    Ben. Good day my Lord.
    Prin. Welcome signior, you are almost come to part
    almost a fray.
    2205Clau. Wee had likt to haue had our two noses snapt
    off with two old men without teeth.
    Prin. Leonato and his brother, what think'st thou? had
    wee fought, I doubt we should haue beene too yong for
    2210Ben. In a false quarrell there is no true valour, I came
    to seeke you both.
    Clau. We haue beene vp and downe to seeke thee, for
    we are high proofe melancholly, and would faine haue it
    beaten away, wilt thou vse thy wit?
    2215Ben. It is in my scabberd, shall I draw it?
    Prin. Doest thou weare thy wit by thy side?
    Clau. Neuer any did so, though verie many haue been
    beside their wit, I will bid thee drawe, as we do the min-
    strels, draw to pleasure vs.
    2220Prin. As I am an honest man he lookes pale, art thou
    sicke, or angrie?
    Clau. What, courage man: what though care kil'd a
    cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
    Ben. Sir, I shall meete your wit in the careere, and
    2225you charge it against me, I pray you chuse another sub-
    Clau. Nay then giue him another staffe, this last was
    broke crosse.
    Prin. By this light, he changes more and more, I thinke
    2230he be angrie indeede.
    Clau. If he be, he knowes how to turne his girdle.
    Ben. Shall I speake a word in your eare?
    Clau. God blesse me from a challenge.
    Ben. You are a villaine, I iest not, I will make it good
    2235how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare:
    do me right, or I will protest your cowardise: you haue
    kill'd a sweete Ladie, and her death shall fall heauie on
    you, let me heare from you.
    Clau. Well, I will meete you, so I may haue good
    Prin. What, a feast, a feast?
    Clau. I faith I thanke him, he hath bid me to a calues
    head and a Capon, the which if I doe not carue most cu-
    riously, say my knife's naught, shall I not finde a wood-
    2245cocke too?
    Ben. Sir, your wit ambles well, it goes easily.
    Prin. Ile tell thee how Beatrice prais'd thy wit the o-
    ther day: I said thou hadst a fine wit: true saies she, a fine
    little one: no said I, a great wit: right saies shee, a great
    2250grosse one: nay said I, a good wit: iust said she, it hurts
    no body: nay said I, the gentleman is wise: certain said
    she, a wise gentleman: nay said I, he hath the tongues:
    that I beleeue said shee, for hee swore a thing to me on
    munday night, which he forswore on tuesday morning:
    2255there's a double tongue, there's two tongues: thus did
    shee an howre together trans-shape thy particular ver-
    tues, yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the
    proprest man in Italie.
    Claud. For the which she wept heartily, and said shee
    2260car'd not.
    Prin. Yea that she did, but yet for all that, and if shee
    did not hate him deadlie, shee would loue him dearely,
    the old mans daughter told vs all.
    Clau. All, all, and moreouer, God saw him vvhen he
    2265was hid in the garden.
    Prin. But when shall we set the sauage Bulls hornes
    on the sensible Benedicks head?
    Clau. Yea and text vnder-neath, heere dwells Bene-
    dicke the married man.
    2270Ben. Fare you well, Boy, you know my minde, I will
    leaue you now to your gossep-like humor, you breake
    iests as braggards do their blades, which God be thank-
    ed hurt not: my Lord, for your manie courtesies I thank
    you, I must discontinue your companie, your brother
    2275the Bastard is fled from Messina: you haue among you,
    kill'd a sweet and innocent Ladie: for my Lord Lacke-
    beard there, he and I shall meete, and till then peace be
    with him.
    Prin. He is in earnest.
    2280Clau. In most profound earnest, and Ile warrant you,
    for the loue of Beatrice.
    Prin. And hath challeng'd thee.
    Clau. Most sincerely.
    Prin. What a prettie thing man is, when he goes in his
    2285doublet and hose, and leaues off his wit.
    Enter Constable, Conrade, and Borachio.
    Clau. He is then a Giant to an Ape, but then is an Ape
    a Doctor to such a man.
    Prin. But soft you, let me be, plucke vp my heart, and
    2290be sad, did he not say my brother was fled?
    Const. Come you sir, if iustice cannot tame you, shee
    shall nere weigh more reasons in her ballance, nay, and
    you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be lookt to.
    Prin. How now, two of my brothers men bound? Bo-
    2295rachio one.
    Clau. Harken after their offence my Lord.
    Prin. Officers, what offence haue these men done?
    con. Marrie
    Much ado about Nothing. 119
    Const. Marrie sir, they haue committed false report,
    moreouer they haue spoken vntruths, secondarily they
    2300are slanders, sixt and lastly, they haue belyed a Ladie,
    thirdly, they haue verified vniust things, and to conclude
    they are lying knaues.
    Prin. First I aske thee what they haue done, thirdlie
    I aske thee vvhat's their offence, sixt and lastlie why they
    2305are committed, and to conclude, what you lay to their
    Clau. Rightlie reasoned, and in his owne diuision, and
    by my troth there's one meaning vvell suted.
    Prin. Who haue you offended masters, that you are
    2310thus bound to your answer? this learned Constable is too
    cunning to be vnderstood, vvhat's your offence?
    Bor. Sweete Prince, let me go no farther to mine an-
    swere: do you heare me, and let this Count kill mee: I
    haue deceiued euen your verie eies: vvhat your wise-
    2315domes could not discouer, these shallow fooles haue
    brought to light, vvho in the night ouerheard me con-
    fessing to this man, how Don Iohn your brother incensed
    me to slander the Ladie Hero, how you were brought
    into the Orchard, and saw me court Margaret in Heroes
    2320garments, how you disgrac'd her vvhen you should
    marrie her: my villanie they haue vpon record, vvhich
    I had rather seale vvith my death, then repeate ouer to
    my shame: the Ladie is dead vpon mine and my masters
    false accusation: and briefelie, I desire nothing but the
    2325reward of a villaine.
    Prin. Runs not this speech like yron through your
    Clau. I haue drunke poison whiles he vtter'd it.
    Prin. But did my Brother set thee on to this?
    2330Bor. Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.
    Prin. He is compos'd and fram'd of treacherie,
    And fled he is vpon this villanie.
    Clau. Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appeare
    In the rare semblance that I lou'd it first.
    2335Const. Come, bring away the plaintiffes, by this time
    our Sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter:
    and masters, do not forget to specifie when time & place
    shall serue, that I am an Asse.
    Con. 2. Here, here comes master Signior Leonato, and
    2340the Sexton too.
    Enter Leonato.
    Leon. Which is the villaine? let me see his eies,
    That when I note another man like him,
    I may auoide him: vvhich of these is he?
    2345Bor. If you vvould know your wronger, looke on me.
    Leon. Art thou thou the slaue that with thy breath
    hast kild mine innocent childe?
    Bor. Yea, euen I alone.
    Leo. No, not so villaine, thou beliest thy selfe,
    2350Here stand a paire of honourable men,
    A third is fled that had a hand in it:
    I thanke you Princes for my daughters death,
    Record it with your high and worthie deedes,
    'Twas brauely done, if you bethinke you of it.
    2355Clau. I know not how to pray your patience,
    Yet I must speake, choose your reuenge your selfe,
    Impose me to what penance your inuention
    Can lay vpon my sinne, yet sinn'd I not,
    But in mistaking.
    2360Prin. By my soule nor I,
    And yet to satisfie this good old man,
    I vvould bend vnder anie heauie vvaight,
    That heele enioyne me to.
    Leon. I cannot bid you bid my daughter liue,
    2365That vvere impossible, but I praie you both,
    Possesse the people in Messina here,
    How innocent she died, and if your loue
    Can labour aught in sad inuention,
    Hang her an epitaph vpon her toomb,
    2370And sing it to her bones, sing it to night:
    To morrow morning come you to my house,
    And since you could not be my sonne in law,
    Be yet my Nephew: my brother hath a daughter,
    Almost the copie of my childe that's dead,
    2375And she alone is heire to both of vs,
    Giue her the right you should haue giu'n her cosin,
    And so dies my reuenge.
    Clau. O noble sir!
    Your ouerkindnesse doth wring teares from me,
    2380I do embrace your offer, and dispose
    For henceforth of poore Claudio.
    Leon. To morrow then I will expect your comming,
    To night I take my leaue, this naughtie man
    Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
    2385Who I beleeue was packt in all this wrong,
    Hired to it by your brother.
    Bor. No by my soule she was not,
    Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
    But alwaies hath bin iust and vertuous,
    2390In anie thing that I do know by her.
    Const. Moreouer sir, which indeede is not vnder white
    and black, this plaintiffe here, the offendour did call mee
    asse, I beseech you let it be remembred in his punish-
    ment, and also the vvatch heard them talke of one Defor-
    2395med, they say he weares a key in his eare and a lock hang-
    ing by it, and borrowes monie in Gods name, the which
    he hath vs'd so long, and neuer paied, that now men grow
    hard-harted and will lend nothing for Gods sake: praie
    you examine him vpon that point.
    2400Leon. I thanke thee for thy care and honest paines.
    Const. Your vvorship speakes like a most thankefull
    and reuerend youth, and I praise God for you.
    Leon. There's for thy paines.
    Const. God saue the foundation.
    2405Leon. Goe, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I
    thanke thee.
    Const. I leaue an arrant knaue vvith your vvorship,
    which I beseech your worship to correct your selfe, for
    the example of others: God keepe your vvorship, I
    2410wish your worship vvell, God restore you to health,
    I humblie giue you leaue to depart, and if a mer-
    rie meeting may be wisht, God prohibite it: come
    Leon. Vntill to morrow morning, Lords, farewell.
    2415 Exeunt.
    Brot. Farewell my Lords, vve looke for you to mor-
    Prin. We will not faile.
    Clau. To night ile mourne with Hero.
    2420Leon. Bring you these fellowes on, weel talke vvith
    Margaret, how her acquaintance grew vvith this lewd
    fellow. Exeunt.