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Shakespeare's comedy of Much ado about nothing online

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my lord : she is never sad but when she sleeps, and not
ever sad then ; for I have heard my daughter say, she
hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself with
laughing. 3IO

Don Pedro. She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

Leonato. O, by no means ; she mocks all her wooers out
of suit.

Don Pedro. She were an excellent wife for Benedick.

Leonato. O Lord ! my lord, if they were but a week mar-
ried, they would talk themselves mad.

Don Pedro. County Claudio, when mean you to go to
church ?

Claudio. To-morrow, my lord ; time goes on crutches till
love have all his rites. 320

Leonato. Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence
a just seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
things answer my mind.

Don Pedro. Come, you shake the head at so long a breath-
ing; but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully
by us. I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules'
labours; which is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady
Beatrice into a mountain of affection the one with the other.
I would fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion
it, if you three will but minister such assistance as I shall
give you direction. 331

Leonato. My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
nights' watch ings.

Claudio. And I, my lord.

Don Pedro. And you too, gentle Hero?

Hero. I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
cousin to a good husband.

Don Pedro. And Benedick is not the unhopefullest hus-
band that I know. Thus far can I praise him ; he is of a


noble strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I
will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she shall fall
in love with Benedick ; and I, with your two helps, will so
practise on Benedick that, in spite of his quick wit and his
queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we
can do this, Cupid is no longer an archer; his glory shall
be ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me,
and I will tell you my drift. \Exeunt.

S c EN E II. The Same:

Don John. It is so ; the Count Claudio shall marry the
daughter of Leonato.

Borachio. Yea, my lord ; but I can cross it.

Don John. Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me; I am sick in displeasure to him, and
whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with
mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?

Borachio. Not honestly, my lord ; but so covertly that no
dishonesty shall appear in me.

Don John. Show me briefly how. 10

Borachio. I think I told your lordship a year since, how
much I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting-gentle-
woman to Hero.

Don John. I remember.

Borachio. lean, at any unseasonable instant of the night,
appoint her to look out at her lady's chamber-window.

Don John. What life is in that, to be the death of this
marriage ? 18

Borachio. The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go
you to the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that he
hath wronged *his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio
whose estimation do you mightily hold up to a contam-
inated stale, such a one as Hero.



Don yohn. What proof shall I make of that ?

Borachio. Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex
Claudio, to undo Hero, and kill Leonato. Look you for
any other issue ?

Don John. Only to despite them, I will endeavour any
thing. 29

Borachio. Go, then ; find me a meet hour to draw Don
Pedro and Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know
that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the prince
and Claudio, as in love of your brother's honour, who hath
made this match, and his friend's reputation, who is thus like
to be cozened with the semblance of a maid that you have
discovered thus. They will scarcely believe this without
trial : offer them instances ; which shall bear no less likeli-
hood than to see me at her chamber-window, hear me call
Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me Claudio ; and bring
them to see this the very night before the intended wedding,
for in the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero
shall be absent, and there shall appear such seeming truth
of Hero's disloyalty that jealousy shall be called assurance
and all the preparation overthrown. 44

Don yohn. Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will
put it in practice. Be cunning in the working this, and thy
fee is a thousand ducats.

Borachio. Be you constant in the accusation, and my cun-
ning shall not shame me. 49

Don John. I will presently go learn their day of marriage.


SCENE III. Leonato 's Orchard.

Benedick. Boy !

Enter Boy.
Boy. Signior?


Benedick. In my chamber -window lies a book; bring it
hither to me in the orchard.

Boy. I am here already, sir. 5

Benedick. I know that; but I would have thee hence, and
here again. [Exit Boy^\ I do much wonder that one man,
seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates
his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such
shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own
scorn by falling in love ; and such a man is Claudio. I
have known when there was no music with him but the drum
and the fife; and now had he rather hear the tabor and the
pipe : I have known when he would have walked ten mile
a-foot to see a good armour ; and now will he lie ten nights
awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont
to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and
a soldier ; and now is he turned orthography : his words are
a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes. May
I be so converted and see with these eyes ? I cannot tell ;
I think not . I will not be sworn but love may transform me
to an oyster; but I '11 take my oath on it, till he have made
an oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One
woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well;
another virtuous, yet I am well ; but till all graces be in one
woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she
shall be, that 's certain ; wise, or I '11 none ; virtuous, or I '11
never cheapen her ; fair, or I '11 never look on her ; mild, or
come not near me ; noble, or not I for an angel ; of good
discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of
what colour it please God. Ha ! the prince and Monsieur
Love ! I will hide me in the arbour. [ Withdraws.

Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO, followed by

BALTHAZAR and Musicians.
Don Pedro. Come., shall we hear this music ? 33


Claudio. Yea, my good Lord. How still the evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony !

Don Pedro. See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

Claudio. O, very well, my lord ; the music ended,
We '11 fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

Don Pedro. Come, Balthazar, we '11 hear that song again.

Balthazar. O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice 40
To slander music any more than once.

Don Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency
To put a strange face on his own perfection.
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.

Balthazar. Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy ; yet he wooes,
Yet will he swear he loves.

Don Pedro. Now, pray thee, come ;

Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.

Balthazar. Note this before my notes ; 50

There 's not a note of mine that 's worth the noting.

Don Pedro. Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks ;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing. [Music.

Benedick. Now, divine air ! now is his soul ravished ! Is
it not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out of
men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all 's clone.

The Song.
Balthazar. Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.

Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore >

To one thing constant never ; 6c

Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.


Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,

Of dumps so dull and heavy ;
The. fraud of men was ever so.

Since summer first was leavy :
Then sigh not so, etc.

Don Pedro. By my troth, a good song. 70

Balthazar. And an ill singer, my lord.

Don Pedro. Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough
for a shift.

Benedick. An he had been a dog that should have howled
thus, they would have hanged him ; and I pray God his bad
voice bode no mischief! I had as lief have heard the night-
raven, come what plague could have come after it.

Don Pedro. Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthazar ? I
pray thee, get us some excellent music ; for to-morrow night
we would have it at the Lady Hero's chamber-window. 80

Balthazar. The best I can, my lord.

Don Pedro. Do so ; farewell. \Exit Balthazar.~\ Come
hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of to-day, that
your niece Beatrice was in love with Signior Benedick?

Claudio. O, ay : stalk- on, stalk on ; the fowl sits. I did
never think that lady would have loved any man.

Leonato. No, nor I neither ; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all
outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor. 89

Benedick. Is 't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?

Leonato. By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged affection : it is
past the infinite of thought.

Don Pedro. May be she doth but counterfeit.

Claudio. Faith, like enough.

Leonato. O God, counterfeit ! There was never counter-
feit of passion came so near the life of passion as she dis-
covers it.

Don Pedro. Why, what effects of passion shows she ?


Claudio. Bait the hook well ; this fish will bite. too

Leonato. What effects, my lord ? She will sit you, you
heard my daughter tell you how.

Claudio. She did, indeed.

Don Pedro. How, how, I pray you ? You amaze me ; I
would have thought her spirit had been invincible against
all assaults of affection.

Leonato. I would have sworn it had, my lord ; especially
against Benedick.

Benedick. I should think this a gull, but that the white-
bearded fellow speaks it; knavery cannot, sure, hide him-
self in such reverence. m

Claudio. He hath ta'en the infection ; hold it up.

Don Pedro. Hath she made her affection known to Bene-

Leonato. No, and swears she never will; that 's her tor-

Claudio. 'T is true, indeed ; so your daughter says : ' Shall
I, ; says she, ' that have so oft encountered him with scorn,
write to him that I love him ?' nq

Leonato. This says she now when she is beginning to
write to him ; for she '11 be up twenty times a night, and
there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet
of paper : my daughter tells us all.

Claudio. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
pretty jest your daughter told us of.

Leonato. O, when she had writ it and was reading it over,
she found Benedick and Beatrice "between the sheet ?

Claudio. That. 128

Leonato. O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence ;
railed at herself, that she should be so immodest to write to
one that she knew would flout her : * I measure him,' says
she, 'by my own spirit : for I should flout him, if he writ to
me ; yea, though I love him, I should.'

Claudio. Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps,



sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, cries, f O sweet
Benedick ! God give me patience !'

Leonato. She doth indeed ; my daughter says so : and the
ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter is-
sometime afeard she will do a desperate outrage to herself;
it is very true. 14

Don Pedro. It were good that Benedick knew of it by
some other, if she will not discover it.

Claudia. To what end? He would but make a sport of
it and. torment the poor lady worse.

Don Pedro. An he should, it were an alms to hang him.
She 's an excellent sweet lady ; and, out of all suspicion,
she is virtuous.

Claudio. And she is exceeding wise.

Don Pedro. In every thing but in loving Benedick. 149

Leonato. O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so
tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath
the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being
her uncle and her guardian.

Don Pedro. I would she had bestowed this dotage on me -,
I would have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what he
will say.

Leonato. Were it good, think you ?

Claudio. Hero thinks surely she will die ; for she says she
will die if he love her not, and she will die ere she make her
love known, and she will die, if he woo her, rather than she
will bate one breath of her accustomed crossness. 162

Don Pedro. She doth well : if she should make tender of
her love, 't is very possible he '11 scorn it ; for the man, as
you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.

Claudio. He is a very proper man.

Don Pedro. He hath indeed a good outward happi-

Claudio. Fore God, and, in my mind, very wise.


Don Pedro. He doth indeed show some sparks that are
like wit. 171

Claudio. And I take him to be valiant.

Don Pedro. As Hector, I assure you : and in the man-
aging of quarrels you may say he is wise j for either he
avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes them with
a most Christian-like fear.

Leonato. If he do fear God, he must necessarily keep
peace ; if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a
quarrel with fear and trembling.

Don Pedro. And so will he do ; for the man doth fear
God, howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests he
will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go
seek Benedick, and tell him of her love ? 183

Claudio. Never tell him, my lord ; let her wear it out with
good counsel.

Leonato. Nay, that 's impossible ; she may wear her heart
out first.

Don Pedro. Well, we will hear further of it by your daugh-
ter ; let it cool the while. I love Benedick well ; and I
could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see how
much he is unworthy so good a lady. 191

Leonato. My lord, will you walk?, dinner is ready.

Claudio. If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
trust my expectation.

Don Pedro. Let there be the same net spread for her ; and
that must your daughter and her gentlewoman carry. The
sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of another's
dotage, and no such matter ; that 's the scene that I would
see, which will be merely a dumb-show. Let us send her
to call him in to dinner. 200

\Exeunt Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato.

Benedick. \Coming forward} This can be no trick ; the
conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this
from Hero. They seem to pity the lady ; it seems her affec-


tions have their full bent. Love me ! why, it must be re-
quited. I hear how I am censured : they say I will bear
myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from her ; they
say too that she will rather die than give any sign of affec-
tion. I did never think to marry : I must not seem proud ;
happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them
to mending. They say the lady is fair ; 't is a truth, I can
bear them witness : and virtuous ; 't is so, I cannot reprove
it : and wise, but for loving me ; by my troth, it is no addi-
tion to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I- will
be horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd
quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have
railed so long against marriage ; but doth not the appetite
alter? a man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot en-
dure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and these paper
bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his hu-
mour? No, the world must be peopled. When I said I
would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she 's
a fair lady ; I do spy some marks of love in her. 223


Beatrice. Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to

Benedick. Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

Beatrice. I took no more pains for those thanks than you
take pains to thank me ; if it had be.en painful, I would not
have come.

Benedick. You take pleasure then in the message ? 230

Beatrice. Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's
point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, sign-
ior ; fare you well. [Exit.

Benedick. Ha! ' Against my will I am sent to bid you
come in to dinner;' there 's a double meaning in that. '1
took no more pains for those thanks than you took pains to



thank me ;' that 's as much as to say, Any pains that I take
for you is as easy as thanks. If I do not take pity of her, I
am a villain ; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go
get her picture. [Exit.

"haggards of the rock" (iii. i. 36).


SCENE I. LeonatJs Orchard.

Hero. Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour ;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio :
Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula


Walk in the orchard and our whole discourse

Is all of her ; say that thou overheard'st us ;

And bid her steal into the pleached bower,

Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,

Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,

Made proud by princes, that advance their pride 10

Against that power that bred it : there will she hide her,

To listen our propose. This is thy office ;

Bear thee well in it, and leave us alone.

Margaret. I '11 make her come, I warrant you, presently.

Hero. Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,

As we do trace this alley up and down,

Our talk must only be of Benedick.

When I do nanfe him, let it be thy part

To praise him more than ever man did merit ;

My talk to thee must be how Benedick 20

, Is sick in love with Beatrice, Of this matter
jlsjittle Cupid's crafty arrow made,
vThat only wounds by hearsay.

Enter BEATRICE, behind.

Now begin ;

For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.

Ursula. The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait ;
So angle we for Beatrice, who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture. 30

Fear you not rny part of the dialogue.

Hero. Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.

[Approaching the bower.
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful ;


I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggards of the rock.

Ursula. But are you sure

That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

Hero. So says the prince and my new-trothed lord.

Ursula. And did they bid you tell her of it, madam ?

Hero. They did entreat me to acquaint her of it ; 40

But I persuaded them, if they lov'd Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.

Ursula. Why did you so ? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon ?

Hero. O god of love ! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man :
But Nature never fram'd a woman's heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice ; 50

Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly that to her
All matter else seems weak : she cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.

Ursula. Sure, I think so ;

And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.

Hero. Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur'd, 60

But she would spell him backward : if fair-fac'd,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antic,
Made a foul blot ; if tall, a lance ill-headed ;
If low, an agate very vilely cut ;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.



So turns she every man the wrong side out,

And never gives to truth and virtue that

Which simpleness and merit purchaseth. 7 o

Ursula. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

Hero. No, not to be so odd and from all fashions
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable;
But who dare tell her so ? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly ;
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling. 80

Ursula. Yet tell her of it ; hear what she will say.

Hero. No; rather I will go to Benedick
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I '11 devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with; one doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.

Ursula. O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment
Having so swift and excellent a wit

As she is priz'd to have as to refuse gc

So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.

Hero. He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.

Ursula. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy; Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument, and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.

Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.

Ursula. His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
When are you married, madam ? ioc

Hero. Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in;
I '11 show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.


Ursula. She 's lim'd, I warrant you; we have caught her,

Hero. If it proves so, then loving goes by haps ; ////
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps. //$'?'

\Exeunt Hero and Ursula.

Beatrice. \Coming forward} What fire is in mine ears?
Can this be true ?

Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much ?
Contempt, farewell ! and maiden pride, adieu !

No glory lives behind the back of such. no

And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,

Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand :
If thou dost love, my kiridness shall incite thee

To bind our loves up in a holy band ;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly. \Exitl

SCENE II. A Room in Leonattfs House.

Don Pedro. I do but stay till your marriage be consum-
mate, and then go I toward Arragon.

Claudia. I '11 bring you thither, my lord, if you '11 vouch-
safe me.

Don Pedro. Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new
gloss of your marriage as to show a child his new coat and
forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold with Benedick for
his company ; for, from the crown of his head to the sole of
his foot, he is all mirth : he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's
bow-string, and the little hangman dare not shoot at him.
He hath a heart as sound as a bell and his tongue is the
clapper, for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks. 12

Benedick. Gallants, I am not as I have been.

Leonato. So say I ; methinks you are sadder.

Claudio. I hope he be in love.


Don Pedro. Hang him, truant ! there 's no true drop of
blood in him, to be truly touched with love; if he be sad,
he wants money.

Benedick. I have the toothache.

Don Pedro. Draw it. 20

Benedick. Hang it !

Claudio. You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.

Don Pedro. What ! sigh for the toothache ?

Leonato. Where is but a humour or a worm ?

Benedick. Well, every one can master a grief but he that
has it.

Claudio. Yet say I, he is in love. 27

Don Pedro. There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless
it be a fancy that he hath to strange disguises; as to be a
Dutchman to-day, a Frenchman to-morrow, or in the shape
of two countries at once, as a German from the waist down-
ward, all slops, and a Spaniard from the hip upward, no
doublet. Unless he have a fancy to this foolery, as it ap-
pears he hath, he is no fool for fancy, as you would have it
appear he is.

Claudio. If he be not in love with some woman, there is
no believing old signs : he brushes his hat o' mornings; what
should that bode ?

Don Pedro. Hath any man seen' him at the barber's? 39

Claudio. No, but the barber's man hath been seen with
him, and the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuffed

Leonato. Indeed, he looks younger than he did, by the loss
of a beard.

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