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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Leonato and his brother.
    Brother If you go on thus, you will kill your selfe,
    2080And tis not wisedome thus to second griefe,
    Against your selfe.
    Leonato I pray thee cease thy counsaile,
    Which falles into mine eares as profitlesse,
    As water in a syue: giue not me counsaile,
    2085Nor let no comforter delight mine eare,
    But such a one whose wrongs doe sute with mine.
    Bring me a father that so lou'd his child,
    Whose ioy of her is ouer-whelmd like mine,
    And bid him speake of patience,
    2090Measure his woe the length and bredth of mine,
    And let it answer 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 prouerbes, 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 medcine to rage,
    Fetter strong madnesse in a silken thred,
    2105Charme ach with ayre, and agony with words,
    No, no, tis all mens office, to speake patience
    To those that wring vnder the loade 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 griefes crie lowder then aduertisement.
    Brother Therein do men from children nothing differ.
    Leonato I pray thee peace, I wil 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 do offend you, suffer too.
    2120Leonato There thou speakst reason, nay I will do so,
    My soule doth tell me, Hero is belied,
    H And
    Much adoe
    And that shall Claudio know, so shall the prince,
    And all of them that thus dishonour her.
    Enter Prince and Claudio.
    2125Brother Here comes the Prince and Claudio hastily.
    Prince Good den, good den.
    Claudio Good day to both of you.
    Leonato Heare you my Lords?
    Prince We haue some haste Leonato.
    2130Leonato Some haste my lord! well, fare you well my lord,
    Are you so hasty now? wel, all is one.
    Prince Nay do not quarrel with vs, good old man.
    Brother If he could right himselfe with quarrelling,
    Some of vs would lie low.
    2135Claudio Who wrongs him?
    Leona. Mary thou dost wrong me, thou dissembler, thou:
    Nay, neuer lay thy hand vpon thy sword,
    I feare thee not.
    Claudio Mary 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 wrongd mine innocent child and me,
    That I am forst to lay my reuerence by,
    And with grey haires and bruise of many daies,
    2150Do challenge thee to triall of a man,
    I say thou hast belied mine innocent child.
    Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
    And she lies buried with her ancestors:
    O in a toomb where neuer scandal slept,
    2155Saue this of hers, framde by thy villanie.
    Claudio My villany?
    Leonato Thine Claudio, thine I say.
    Prince You say not right old man.
    about Nothing.
    Leonato My Lord, my Lord,
    2160Ile prooue it on his body if he dare,
    Dispight his nice fence, and his actiue practise,
    His Maie of youth, and bloome of lustihood.
    Claudio Away, I will not haue to doe with you.
    Leonato Canst thou so daffe me? thou hast kild my child,
    2165If thou kilst me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
    Brother He shal kill two of vs, and men indeed,
    But thats no matter, let him kill one first:
    Win me and weare me, let him answer 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.
    Leonato Brother.
    Brother Content your self, God knowes, I loued my neece,
    And she is dead, slanderd to death by villaines,
    2175That dare as well answer a man indeed.
    As I dare take a serpent by the tongue,
    Boyes, apes, braggarts, Iackes, milke-sops.
    Leonato Brother Anthony.
    Brother Hold you content, what man! I know them, yea
    2180And what they weigh, euen to the vtmost scruple,
    Scambling out-facing, fashion-monging boies,
    That lie, and cogge, and flout, depraue, and slaunder,
    Go antiquely, and shew outward hidiousnesse,
    And speake of halfe a dozen dang'rous words,
    2185How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst,
    And this is all.
    Leonato But brother Anthonie.
    Brother Come tis no matter,
    Do not you meddle, let me deale in this.
    2190Prince Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience,
    My heart is sory for your daughters death:
    But on my honour she was chargde with nothing
    But what was true, and very full of proofe.
    Leonato My Lord, my Lord.
    2195Prince I will not heare you.
    H2 Leonato
    Much adoe
    Leo. No come brother, away, I wil be heard. Exeunt amb.
    Bro. And shal, or some of vs wil smart for it. Enter Ben.
    2200Prince See see, heere comes the man we went to seeke.
    Claud. Now signior, what newes?
    Bened. Good day my Lord:
    Prince Welcome signior, you are almost come to parte al-
    most a fray.
    2205Claud. Wee had likt to haue had our two noses snapt off
    with two old men without teeth.
    Prince Leonato and his brother what thinkst thou? had we
    fought, I doubt we should haue beene too yong for them.
    2210Bened. In a false quarrell there is no true valour, I came to
    seeke you both.
    Claud. We haue beene vp and downe to seeke thee, for we
    are high proofe melancholie, and would faine haue it beaten
    away, wilt thou vse thy wit?
    2215Bened. It is in my scabberd, shal I drawe it?
    Prince Doest thou weare thy wit by thy side?
    Claud. Neuer any did so, though very many haue been be-
    side their wit, I will bid thee drawe, as wee doe the minstrels,
    draw to pleasure vs.
    2220Prince As I am an honest man he lookes pale, art thou
    sicke, or angry?
    Claud. What, courage man: what though care kild a catte,
    thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
    Bened. Sir, I shall meete your wit in the careere, and you
    2225charge it against me, I pray you chuse another subiect
    Claud. Nay then giue him another staffe, this last was broke
    Prince By this light, he chaunges more and more, I thinke
    2230he be angry indeed.
    Claud. If he be, he knowes how to turne his girdle.
    Bened. Shall I speake a word in your eare?
    Claud. God blesse me from a challenge.
    Bened. You are a villaine, I ieast not, I will make it good
    2235howe you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare: doe
    mee right, or I will protest your cowardise: you haue killd a
    about Nothing.
    sweeete Lady, and her death shall fall heauie on you, let me
    heare from you.
    Claud. Well I wil meet you, so I may haue good cheare.
    Prince What, a feast, a feast?
    Claud. I faith I thanke him he hath bid me to a calues head
    & a capon, the which if I doe not carue most curiously, say my
    kniffe's naught, shall I not find a woodcocke too?
    Bened. Sir your wit ambles well, it goes easily.
    Prince Ile tell thee how Beatrice praisd thy witte the other
    day: I said thou hadst a fine witte, true said she, a fine little one:
    no said I, a great wit: right saies she, a great grosse one: nay said
    2250I, a good wit, iust said she, it hurts no body: nay said I, the gen-
    tleman is wise: certaine said she, a wise gentleman: nay said I, he
    hath the tongues: that I beleeue said shee, for he swore a thing
    to mee on munday night, which hee forswore on tuesday mor-
    ning, theres a double tongue theirs two tongues, thus did shee
    an houre together trans-shape thy particular vertues, yet at last
    she cõcluded with a sigh, thou wast the properst man in Italy.
    Claud. For the which shee wept heartily and saide she ca-
    2260red not.
    Prince Yea that she did, but yet for all that, and if she did
    not hate him deadly, she would loue him dearely, the old mans
    daughter told vs all.
    Claud. All all, and moreouer, God sawe him when he was
    2265hid in the garden.
    Prince But when shall we set the sauage bulles hornes one
    the sensible Benedicks head?
    Clau. Yea and text vnder-neath, here dwells Benedick the
    married man.
    2270Bened. Fare you wel, boy, you know my minde, I wil leaue
    you now to your gossep-like humor, you breake iests as brag-
    gards do their blades, which God be thanked hurt not: my
    Lord, for your many courtisies I thanke you, I must disconti-
    nue your company, your brother the bastard is fled from Messina:
    2275you haue among you, kild a sweet and innocent lady: for
    my Lord Lacke-beard, there hee and I shal meet, and till then
    peace be with him.
    H3 Prince
    Much adoe
    Prince He is in earnest.
    2280Claudio In most profound earnest, and ile warrant you, for
    the loue of Beatrice.
    Prince And hath challengde thee.
    Claudio Most sincerely.
    Prince What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his
    2285dublet and hose, and leaues off his wit!
    Enter Constables, Conrade, and Borachio.
    Claudio He is then a Giant to an Ape, but then is an Ape a
    Doctor to such a man.
    Prince But soft you, let me be, plucke vp my heart, and be
    2290sad, did he not say my brother was fled?
    Const. Come you sir, if iustice cannot tame you, she shall
    nere weigh more reasons in her ballance, nay, and you be a
    cursing hypocrite once, you must be lookt to.
    Prince How now, two of my brothers men bound? Bora-
    2295chio one.
    Claudio Hearken after their offence my Lord.
    Prince Officers, what offence haue these men done?
    Const. Mary sir, they haue committed false report, moreo-
    uer they haue spoken vntruths, secondarily they are slanders,
    2300sixt and lastly, they haue belyed a Lady, thirdly they haue ve-
    refied vniust thinges, and to conclude, they are lying knaues.
    Prince. First I aske thee what they haue done, thirdly I
    ask thee whats their offence, sixt and lastly why they are com-
    2305mitted, and to conclude, what you lay to their charge.
    Claud. Rightly reasoned, and in his owne diuision, and by
    my troth theres one meaning wel suted.
    Prince Who haue you offended maisters, that you are thus
    2310bound to your answere? this learned Constable is too cunning
    to be vnderstood, whats your offence?
    Bor. Sweete prince, let me goe no farther to mine answere:
    do you heare me, and let this Counte kill me: I haue deceiued
    euen your very eyes: what your wisedoms could not discouer,
    2315these shallowe fooles haue broght to light, who in the night o-
    uerheard me confessing to this man, how Don Iohn your bro-
    ther incensed me to slaunder the Lady Hero, howe you were
    about Nothing.
    brought into the orchard, and saw me court Margaret in He-
    roes garments, how you disgracde hir when you should marry
    hir: my villany they haue vpon record, which I had rather seale
    with my death, then repeate ouer to my shame: the lady is dead
    vpon mine and my masters false accusation: and briefely, I de-
    sire nothing but the reward of a villaine.
    Prince Runnes not this speech like yron through your
    Claud. I haue dronke poison whiles he vtterd it.
    Prince But did my brother set thee on to this?
    2330Bor. Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.
    Prince He is composde and framde 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 ma-
    sters, do not forget to specifie when time and place shal serue,
    that I am an asse.
    Con. 2 Here, here comes master Signior Leonato, and the
    2340sexton too.
    Enter Leonato, his brother, and the Sexton.
    Leonato Which is the villaine? let me see his eies,
    That when I note another man like him,
    I may auoide him: which of these is he?
    2345Bor. If you would know your wronger, looke on me.
    Leonato Art thou the slaue that with thy breath hast killd
    Mine innocent child?
    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 worthy deeds,
    Twas brauely done, if you bethinke you of it.
    2355Clau. I know not how to pray your pacience,
    Yet I must speake, choose your reuenge your selfe,
    Much adoe
    Impose me to what penance your inuention
    Can lay vpon my sinne, yet sinnd I not,
    But in mistaking.
    2360Prince By my soule nor I,
    And yet to satisfie this good old man,
    I would bend vnder any heauy waight,
    That heele enioyne me to.
    Leonato I cannot bid you bid my daughter liue,
    2365That were impossible, but I pray 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 son in law,
    Be yet my nephew: my brother hath a daughter,
    Almost the copie of my child thats dead,
    2375And she alone is heyre to both of vs,
    Giue her the right you should haue giu'n her cosin,
    And so dies my reuenge.
    Claudio O noble sir!
    Your ouer kindnesse doth wring teares from me,
    2380I do embrace your offer and dispose,
    For henceforth of poore Claudio.
    Leonato To morrow then I wil expect your comming,
    To night I take my leaue, this naughty man
    Shal face to face be brought to Margaret,
    2385Who I beleeue was packt in al this wrong,
    Hyred 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 alwayes hath bin iust and vertuous,
    2390In any thing that I do know by her.
    Const. Moreouer sir, which indeede is not vnder white and
    blacke, this plaintiffe heere, the offendour, did call me asse, I
    beseech you let it be remembred in his punishment, and also
    about Nothing.
    the watch heard them talke of one Deformed, they say he
    2395weares a key in his eare and a locke hanging by it, and borows
    monie in Gods name, the which he hath vsde so long, & neuer
    paied, that now men grow hard hearted and wil lend nothing
    for Gods sake: praie you examine him vpon that point.
    2400Leonato I thanke thee for thy care and honest paines.
    Const. Your worship speakes like a most thankful and re-
    uerent youth, and I praise God for you.
    Leon. Theres for thy paines.
    Const. God saue the foundation.
    2405Leon. Goe, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thanke
    Const. I leaue an arrant knaue with your worship, which I
    beseech your worship to correct your selfe, for the example of
    others: God keepe your worship, I wish your worship well,
    2410God restore you to health, I humblie giue you leaue to depart
    and if a merie meeting may be wisht, God prohibite it: come
    Leon. Vntill to morrow morning, Lords, farewell.
    Brot. Farewell my lords, we looke for you to morrow.
    Prince We will not faile.
    Claud. To night ile mourne with Hero.
    2420Leonato Bring you these fellowes on, weel talke with Mar-
    garet, how her acquaintance grew with this lewd felow.