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  • Title: Much Ado About Nothing (Quarto 1, 1600)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto 1, 1600)

    Enter Hero and two Gentlewomen, Margaret, and Vrsley.
    Hero Good Margaret runne thee to the parlour,
    There shalt thou find my cosin Beatrice,
    1090Proposing with the prince and Claudio,
    Whisper her eare and tell her I and Vrsley,
    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 bowere
    1095Where hony-suckles ripened by the sunne,
    about Nothing.
    Forbid the sunne to enter: like fauourites,
    Made proud by princes, that aduaunce their pride,
    Against that power that bred it, there will she hide her,
    To listen our propose, 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 do name him let it be thy part,
    To praise him more than euer man did merite,
    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,
    For looke where Beatrice like a Lapwing runs
    Close by the ground, to heare our conference.
    Enter Beatrice.
    Vrsula The pleasantst 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.
    1120Hero Then go we neare her that her eare loose nothing,
    Of the false sweete baite that we lay for it:
    No truly Vrsula, she is too disdainfull,
    I know her spirits are as coy and wild,
    As haggerds of the rocke.
    1125Vrsula But are you sure,
    That Benedicke loues Beatrice so intirely?
    Hero So saies the prince, and my new trothed Lord.
    Vrsula And did they bid you tel her of it, madame?
    Hero They did intreate me to acquaint her of it,
    1130But I perswaded them, if they lou'de Benedicke,
    To wish him wrastle with affection,
    And neuer to let Beatrice know of it.
    Much adoe
    Vrsula Why did you so, dooth 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 framde a womans hart,
    Of prowder stuffe then that of Beatrice:
    1140Disdaine and Scorne ride sparkling in her eies,
    Misprising what they looke on, and her wit
    Valewes it selfe so highly, that to her
    All matter els seemes weake: she cannot loue,
    Nor take no shape nor proiect of affection,
    1145She is so selfe indeared.
    Vrsula Sure I thinke so,
    And therefore certainely it were not good,
    She knew his loue lest sheele make sport at it.
    Hero Why you speake truth, I neuer yet saw man,
    1150How wise, how noble, yong, how rarely featured.
    But she would spel him backward: if faire faced,
    She would sweare the gentleman should be her sister:
    If blacke, why Nature drawing of an antique,
    Made a foule blot: if tall, a launce ill headed:
    1155If low, an agot very vildly cut:
    If speaking, why a vane blowne with all winds:
    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 merite purchaseth.
    Vrsula 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 couerd fire,
    Consume away in sighes, waste inwardly:
    It were a better death, then die with mockes,
    about Nothing.
    1170Which is as bad as die with tickling.
    Vrsula Yet tel her of it, heare what she wil say.
    Hero No rather I will go to Benedicke,
    And counsaile him to fight against his passion,
    And truly ile deuise some honest slaunders,
    1175To staine my cosin with, one doth not know,
    How much an ill word may impoison liking.
    Vrsula O do not do 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
    Vrsula 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.
    Vrsula His excellence did earne it, ere he had it:
    1190When are you married madame?
    Hero Why euery day to morrow, come go in,
    Ile shew thee some attyres, and haue thy counsaile,
    Which is the best to furnish me to morrow.
    Vrsula Shees limed 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.
    Beat. What fire is in mine eares? can this be true?
    Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorne so much?
    1200Contempt, farewel, and maiden pride, adew,
    No glory liues behind the backe of such.
    And Benedicke, loue on I will requite thee,
    Taming my wild heart to thy louing hand:
    If thou dost loue, my kindnesse shall incite thee
    1205To bind our loues vp in a holy band.
    For others say thou dost deserue, and I
    E Beleeue
    Much adoe
    Beleeue it better then reportingly.