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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Prince, Bastard, Leonato, Frier, Claudio, Bene-
    dicke, Hero, and Beatrice
    Leonato Come Frier Francis, be briefe, onely to the plaine
    forme of marriage, and you shall recount their particular due-
    1660ties afterwards.
    Fran. You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady.
    Claudio No.
    Leo To bee married to her: Frier, you come to marry her.
    1665Frier Lady, you come hither to be married to this counte.
    Hero I do.
    Frier If either of you know any inward impediment why
    F3 you
    Much adoe
    you should not be conioyned, I charge you on your soules to
    1670vtter it.
    Claudio Know you any, Hero?
    Hero None my lord.
    Frier Know you any, Counte?
    Leonato I dare make his answer, None.
    1675Clau. O what men dare do! what men may do! what men
    daily do, not knowing what they do!
    Bene. Howe nowe! interiections? why then, some be of
    laughing, as, ah, ha, he.
    Claudio Stand thee by Frier, father by your leaue,
    1680Will you with free and vnconstrained soule
    Giue me this maide your daughter?
    Leonata As freely sonne as God did giue her mee.
    Claudio And what haue I to giue you backe whose woorth
    May counterpoise this rich and pretious gift?
    1685Princn Nothing, vnlesse you render her againe.
    Claudio Sweete Prince, you learne me noble thankfulnes:
    There Leonato, take her backe againe,
    Giue not this rotten orenge to your friend,
    Shee's but the signe and semblance of her honor:
    1690Behold how like a maide she blushes heere!
    O what authoritie and shew of truth
    Can cunning sinne couer it selfe withall!
    Comes not that blood, as modest euidence,
    To witnesse simple Vertue? would you not sweare
    1695All you that see her, that she were a maide,
    By these exterior shewes? But she is none:
    She knowes the heate of a luxurious bed:
    Her blush is guiltinesse, not modestie.
    Leonato What do you meane, my lord?
    1700Claudio Not to be married,
    Not to knit my soule to an approoued wanton.
    Leonato Deere my lord, if you in your owne proofe,
    Haue vanquisht the resistance of her youth,
    And made defeate of her virginitie.
    1705Claudio I know what you would say: if I haue knowne her,
    about Nothing.
    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 comelie loue.
    Hero And seemde I euer otherwise to you?
    Claudio Out on thee seeming. I wil 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?
    1720Leonato Sweete prince, why speake not you?
    Prince What should I speake?
    I stand dishonourd that haue gone about,
    To lincke my deare friend to a common stale.
    Leonato Are these things spoken, or do I but dreame?
    1725Bastard Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
    Bened. This lookes not like a nuptiall.
    Hero True, O God!
    Claud. Leonato, stand I here?
    Is this the prince? is this the princes brother?
    1730Is this face Heroes? are our eies our owne?
    Leonato All this is so, but what of this my Lord?
    Claud. Let me but moue one question to your daughter,
    And by that fatherly and kindly power,
    That you haue in her, bid her answer truly.
    1735Leonato I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
    Hero O God defend me how am I beset,
    What kind of catechising call you this?
    Claud. To make you answer truly to your name.
    Hero Is it not Hero, who can blot that name
    1740With any iust reproch?
    Claud. Mary 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?
    Much adoe
    1745Now if you are a maide, answer to this.
    Hero I talkt with no man at that hower my lord.
    Prince Why then are you no maiden. Leonato,
    I am sory you must heare: vpon mine honor,
    My selfe, my brother, and this grieued Counte
    1750Did see her, heare her, at that howre last night,
    Talke with a ruffian at her chamber window,
    Who hath indeede 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 spoke of,
    There is not chastitie enough in language,
    Without offence to vtter them: thus pretty lady,
    I am sory for thy much misgouernement.
    1760Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou bin,
    If halfe thy outward graces had bin placed,
    About thy thoughts and counsailes of thy heart?
    But fare thee well, most foule, most faire, farewell
    Thou pure impietie, and impious puritie,
    1765For thee ile locke vp all the gates of Loue,
    And on my eie-liddes shall Coniecture hang,
    To turne all beautie into thoughts of harme,
    And neuer shall it more be gracious.
    Leonato Hath no mans dagger here a point for me.
    1770Beatrice Why how now cosin, wherfore sinke you down?
    Bastard Come let vs go: these things come thus to light,
    Smother her spirits vp.
    Benedicke How doth the Lady?
    Beatrice Dead I thinke, help vncle,
    1775Hero, why Hero, vncle, signior Benedicke, Frier.
    Leonato O Fate! take not away thy heauy hand,
    Death is the fairest couer for her shame
    That may be wisht for.
    Beatrice How now cosin Hero?
    1780Frier Haue comfort lady.
    Leonato Dost thou looke vp?
    about Nothing.
    Frier Yea, wherefore should she not?
    Leonato Wherfore? why doth not euery earthly thing,
    Cry shame vpon her? could she here deny
    1785The story that is printed in her bloud?
    Do not liue Hero, do not ope thine eies:
    For did I thinke thou wouldst not quickly die,
    Thought I thy spirites were stronger than thy shames,
    My selfe would on the rereward of reproches
    1790Strike at thy life. Grieued I I had but one?
    Chid I for that at frugall Natures frame?
    O one too much by thee: why had I one?
    Why euer wast thou louely in my eies?
    Why had I not with charitable hand,
    1795Tooke vp a beggars issue at my gates,
    Who smirched thus, and mired with infamy,
    I might haue said, no part of it is mine,
    This shame deriues it selfe from vnknowne loynes,
    But mine and mine I loued, and mine I praisde,
    1800And mine that I was prowd 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 incke, 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 won-
    der, I know not what to say.
    Beat. O on my soule my cosin is belied.
    1810Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
    Beat. No truly, not although vntill last night,
    I haue this tweluemonth bin her bedfellow.
    Leon. Confirmd, confirmd, O that is stronger made,
    Which was before bard vp with ribs of yron,
    1815Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
    Who loued her so, that speaking of her foulenesse,
    Washt it with teares! hence from her, let her die.
    Frier Heare me a little, for I haue only bin silent so long, &
    giuen way vnto this course of fortune, by noting of the lady, I
    1820haue markt,
    G A
    Much adoe
    A thousand blushing apparitions,
    To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames,
    In angel whitenesse beate away those blushes,
    And in her eie there hath appeard 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 sweete ladie lie not guiltlesse here,
    Vnder some biting errour.
    Leonato Frier, it cannot be,
    Thou seest that al the grace that she hath left,
    1835Is, that she will not adde to her damnation,
    A sinne of periury, she not denies it:
    Why seekst thou then to couer with excuse,
    That which appeares in proper nakednesse?
    Frier Lady, what man is he you are accusde of?
    1840Hero They know that do accuse me, I know none,
    If I know more of any man aliue
    Then that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
    Let all my sinnes lacke mercie, O my father,
    Proue you that any man with me conuerst,
    1845At houres vnmeete, or that I yesternight
    Maintaind the change of words with any creature,
    Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
    Frier There is some strange misprision in the princes.
    Bene. Two of them haue the very bent of honour,
    1850And if their wisedomes be misled in this,
    The practise of it liues in Iohn the Bastard,
    Whose spirites toyle in frame of villanies.
    Leonato I know not, if they speake but truth of her,
    These hands shall teare her, if they wrong her honour,
    1855The prowdest of them shal wel heare of it.
    Time hath not yet so dried this bloud of mine,
    Nor age so eate vp my inuention,
    about Nothing.
    Nor Fortune made such hauocke of my meanes,
    Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
    1860But they shall find awakte in such a kind,
    Both strength of limbe, and policy of mind,
    Ability in meanes, and choise of friends,
    To quit me of them throughly.
    Frier Pawse awhile,
    1865And let my counsell sway you in this case,
    Your daughter here the princesse (left for dead,)
    Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
    And publish it, that she is dead indeede,
    Maintaine a mourning ostentation,
    1870And on your families old monument,
    Hang mourneful epitaphes, and do all rites,
    That appertaine vnto a buriall.
    Leon. What shall become of this? what will this do?
    Frier Mary this well caried, shall on her behalfe,
    1875Change slaunder 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 maintaind,
    Vpon the instant that she was accusde,
    1880Shal be lamented, pittied, and excusde
    Of euery hearer: for it so falls out,
    That what we haue, we prize not to the worth,
    Whiles we enioy it, but being lackt and lost,
    Why then we racke the valew, then we find
    1885The vertue that possession would not shew vs
    Whiles it was ours, so will it fare with Claudio:
    When hee shall heare she died vpon his words,
    Th Idaea of her life shall sweetly creepe,
    Into his study of imagination,
    1890And euery louely Organ of her life,
    Shall come apparelld in more precious habite,
    More moouing delicate, and full of life,
    Into the eie and prospect of his soule
    Then when she liude indeed: then shall he mourne,
    G2 If
    Much adoe
    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
    Will 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 wel, you may conceale her,
    1905As best befits her wounded reputation,
    In some reclusiue and religious life,
    Out of all eies, tongues, minds, 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,
    Yet, by mine honor, I will deale in this,
    As secretly and iustly as your soule
    Should with your body.
    Leon. Being that I flow in griefe,
    1915The smallest twine may leade me.
    Frier Tis wel 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 and endure.
    1920Bene. Lady Beatrice, haue you wept al this while?
    Beat. Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
    Bene. I will not desire that.
    Beat. You haue no reason, I do it freely.
    Bene. Surely I do beleeue your faire cosin is wronged.
    1925Beat. Ah, how much might the man deserue of me that
    would right her!
    Bene. Is there any way to shew such friendship?
    Beat. A very euen way, but no such friend.
    Bene. May a man do it?
    1930Beat. It is a mans office, but not yours.
    Bene. I doe loue nothing in the worlde so well as you,
    about Nothing.
    is not that strange?
    Beat. As strange as the thing I knowe not, it were as possi-
    ble for me to say, I loued nothing so wel as you, but beleue me
    1935not, and yet I lie not, I confesse nothing, nor I deny nothing, I
    am sory for my coosin.
    Bened. By my sword Beatrice, thou louest me.
    Beat. Do not sweare and eate it.
    Bened. I will sweare by it that you loue me, and I wil make
    1940him eate it that sayes I loue not you.
    Beat. Will you not eate your word?
    Bened. With no sawce that can be deuised to it, I protest I
    loue thee.
    Beat. Why then God forgiue me.
    1945Bened. VVhat offence sweete Beatrice?
    Beat. You haue stayed me in a happy houre, I was about
    to protest I loued you.
    Bened. And do it with all thy heart.
    Beat. I loue you with so much of my heart, that none is left
    1950to protest.
    Bened. Come bid me doe any thing for thee.
    Beat. Kill Claudio.
    Bened. Ha, not for the wide world.
    Beat. You kill me to deny it, farewell.
    1955Bened. Tarry sweete Beatrice.
    Beat. I am gone, though I am here, there is no loue in you,
    nay I pray you let me go.
    Bened. Beatrice.
    Beat. In faith I will go.
    1960Bened. VVeele be friends first.
    Beat. You dare easier be friends with mee, than fight with
    mine enemy.
    Bened. Is Claudio thine enemy?
    Beat. Is a not approoued in the height a villaine, that hath
    1965slaundered, scorned, dishonored my kinswoman? O that I
    were a man! what, beare her in hand, vntill they come to take
    handes, and then with publike accusation vncouerd slaunder,
    vnmittigated rancour? O God that I were a man! I woulde
    G3 eate
    Much adoe
    eate his heart in the market place.
    1970Bened. Heare me Beatrice.
    Beat. Talke with a man out at a window, a proper saying.
    Bened. Nay but Beatrice.
    Beat. Sweete Hero, she is wrongd, she is slaundred, shee is
    Bened. Beat?
    Beat. Princes and Counties! surely a princely testimonie, a
    goodly Counte, Counte Comfect, a sweete Gallant surely, O
    that I were a man for his sake! or that I had any friend woulde
    1980be a man for my sake! But manhoode is melted into cursies,
    valour into complement, and men are only turnd into tongue,
    and trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules, that only
    tels a lie, and sweares it: I cannot be a man with wishing, ther-
    fore I will die a woman with grieuing.
    Bened. Tarry good Beatrice, by this hand I loue thee.
    Beatrice Vse it for my loue some other way than swearing
    by it.
    Bened. Thinke you in your soule the Count Claudio hath
    1990wrongd Hero?
    Beatrice Yea, as sure as I haue a thought, or a soule.
    Bened. Enough, I am engagde, I will challenge him, I will
    kisse your hand, and so I leaue you: by this hand, Claudio shal
    render me a deere account: as you heare of me, so think of me:
    1995goe comforte your coosin, I must say she is dead, and so fare-