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Much Ado about Nothing online

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ANTONIO.
At a word, I am not.

URSULA.
I know you by the waggling of your head.

ANTONIO.
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

URSULA.
You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were the very man.
Here's his dry hand up and down: you are he, you are he.

ANTONIO.
At a word, I am not.

URSULA.
Come, come; do you think I do not know you by your excellent wit?
Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are he: graces will appear,
and there's an end.

BEATRICE.
Will you not tell me who told you so?

BENEDICK.
No, you shall pardon me.

BEATRICE.
Nor will you not tell me who you are?

BENEDICK.
Not now.

BEATRICE.
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the
'Hundred Merry Tales.' Well, this was Signior Benedick that said so.

BENEDICK.
What's he?

BEATRICE.
I am sure you know him well enough.

BENEDICK.
Not I, believe me.

BEATRICE.
Did he never make you laugh?

BENEDICK.
I pray you, what is he?

BEATRICE.
Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool; only his gift is
in devising impossible slanders: none but libertines delight in him;
and the commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany; for he
both pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat
him. I am sure he is in the fleet: I would he had boarded me!

BENEDICK.
When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.

BEATRICE.
Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me; which,
peradventure not marked or not laughed at, strikes him into melancholy;
and then there's a partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
supper that night.
[Music within.] We must follow the leaders.

BENEDICK.
In every good thing.

BEATRICE.
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next turning.

[Dance. Then exeunt all but DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO.]

DON JOHN.
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father
to break with him about it. The ladies follow her and but one visor
remains.

BORACHIO.
And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.

DON JOHN.
Are you not Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO.
You know me well; I am he.

DON JOHN.
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamoured
on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him from her; she is no equal for his
birth: you may do the part of an honest man in it.

CLAUDIO.
How know you he loves her?

DON JOHN.
I heard him swear his affection.

BORACHIO.
So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

DON JOHN.
Come, let us to the banquet.

[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]

CLAUDIO.
Thus answer I in name of Benedick,
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
herefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

[Re-enter Benedick.]

BENEDICK.
Count Claudio?

CLAUDIO.
Yea, the same.

BENEDICK.
Come, will you go with me?

CLAUDIO.
Whither?

BENEDICK.
Even to the next willow, about your own business, count. What fashion
will you wear the garland of? About your neck, like a usurer's chain?
or under your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way,
for the prince hath got your Hero.

CLAUDIO.
I wish him joy of her.

BENEDICK.
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they sell bullocks.
But did you think the prince would have served you thus?

CLAUDIO.
I pray you, leave me.

BENEDICK.
Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the boy that stole
your meat, and you'll beat the post.

CLAUDIO.
If it will not be, I'll leave you.

[Exit.]

BENEDICK.
Alas! poor hurt fowl. Now will he creep into sedges. But, that my
Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The prince's fool! Ha!
it may be I go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am
apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it is the base though
bitter disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person,
and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.

[Re-enter Don Pedro.]

DON PEDRO.
Now, signior, where's the count? Did you see him?

BENEDICK.
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. I found him here
as melancholy as a lodge in a warren. I told him, and I think I told
him true, that your Grace had got the good will of this young lady;
and I offered him my company to a willow tree, either to make him a
garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy
to be whipped.

DON PEDRO.
To be whipped! What's his fault?

BENEDICK.
The flat transgression of a school-boy, who, being overjoy'd with
finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.

DON PEDRO.
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in
the stealer.

BENEDICK.
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, and the garland too;
for the garland he might have worn himself, and the rod he might have
bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stolen his bird's nest.

DON PEDRO.
I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.

BENEDICK.
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, you say honestly.

DON PEDRO.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the gentleman that danced
with her told her she is much wronged by you.

BENEDICK.
O! she misused me past the endurance of a block: an oak but with one
green leaf on it, would have answered her: my very visor began to
assume life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was duller than a great
thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance upon me,
that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me.
She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as
terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would
infect to the north star. I would not marry her, though she were
endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed: she
would have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club
to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the
infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some scholar would conjure
her, for certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell
as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose because they would go
thither; so indeed, all disquiet, horror and perturbation follow her.

[Re-enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO.]

DON PEDRO.
Look! here she comes.

BENEDICK.
Will your Grace command me any service to the world's end? I will go
on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to
send me on; I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch
of Asia; bring you the length of Prester John's foot; fetch you a hair
off the Great Cham's beard; do you any embassage to the Pygmies,
rather than hold three words' conference with this harpy. You have no
employment for me?

DON PEDRO.
None, but to desire your good company.

BENEDICK.
O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.

[Exit.]

DON PEDRO.
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.

BEATRICE.
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a
double heart for a single one: marry, once before he won it of me with
false dice, therefore your Grace may well say I have lost it.

DON PEDRO.
You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.

BEATRICE.
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother
of fools. I have brought Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

DON PEDRO.
Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?

CLAUDIO.
Not sad, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
How then? Sick?

CLAUDIO.
Neither, my lord.

BEATRICE.
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but civil
count, civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.

DON PEDRO.
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though, I'll be sworn,
if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy
name, and fair Hero is won; I have broke with her father, and, his good
will obtained; name the day of marriage, and God give thee joy!

LEONATO.
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes: his
Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!

BEATRICE.
Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.

CLAUDIO.
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I
could say how much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
you and dote upon the exchange.

BEATRICE.
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let
not him speak neither.

DON PEDRO.
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

BEATRICE.
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of care.
My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.

CLAUDIO.
And so she doth, cousin.

BEATRICE.
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I
am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

DON PEDRO.
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

BEATRICE.
I would rather have one of your father's getting. Hath your Grace ne'er
a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could
come by them.

DON PEDRO.
Will you have me, lady?

BEATRICE.
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days: your Grace
is too costly to wear every day. But, I beseech your Grace, pardon me;
I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

DON PEDRO.
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for out
of question, you were born in a merry hour.

BEATRICE.
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced,
and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!

LEONATO.
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?

BEATRICE.
I cry you mercy, uncle. By your Grace's pardon.

[Exit.]

DON PEDRO.
By my troth, a pleasant spirited lady.

LEONATO.
There's little of the melancholy element in her, 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.

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 married, they would talk
themselves mad.

DON PEDRO.
Count Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

CLAUDIO.
To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all his rites.

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 breathing; 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.

LEONATO.
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights' watchings.

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 husband 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 despite 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.]


Scene 2. Another room in LEONATO'S house.

[Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]

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.

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

DON JOHN.
I remember.

BORACHIO.
I can, 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?

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 contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.

DON JOHN.
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 anything.

BORACHIO.
Go then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the 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 likelihood 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.

DON JOHN.
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 cunning shall not shame me.

DON JOHN.
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.

[Exeunt.]


Scene 3. - LEONATO'S Garden.

[Enter Benedick.]

BENEDICK.
Boy!

[Enter a 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.

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 afoot 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'll 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'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her; fair, or I'll 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, LEONATO, and CLAUDIO, followed by BALTHAZAR and
Musicians.]

DON PEDRO.
Come, shall we hear this music?

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'll fit the kid-fox with a penny-worth.

DON PEDRO.
Come, Balthazar, we'll hear that song again.

BALTHAZAR.
O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
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.
Nay, pray thee come;
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.

BALTHAZAR.
Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.

DON PEDRO.
Why these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing!

[Music.]

BENEDICK.
Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not strange that
sheep's gutsshould hale souls out of men's bodies? Well, a horn for
my money, when all's done.

[Balthasar sings.]
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
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 mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

DON PEDRO.
By my troth, a good song.

BALTHAZAR.
And an ill singer, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

BENEDICK.
[Aside.] 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.

BALTHAZAR.
The best I can, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
Do so: farewell.

[Exeunt BALTHAZAR and Musicians.]

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: -
[Aside to DON PEDRO] 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.

BENEDICK.
[Aside.] 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 counterfeit of passion came so near
the life of passion as she discovers it.

DON PEDRO.
Why, what effects of passion shows she?

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.

LEONATO.
What effects, my lord? She will sit you; [To Claudio.] 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.
[Aside] I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded
fellow speaks it: knavery cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.

DON PEDRO.
Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

LEONATO.
No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.

CLAUDIO.
Tis 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?'

LEONATO.
This says she now when she is beginning to write to him; for she'll
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.

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, curses; '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 sometimes afeard she will do a
desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.

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

CLAUDIO.
To what end? he would make but 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 everything but in loving Benedick.

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 a' 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.

DON PEDRO.
She doth well: if she should make tender of her love, 'tis very
possible he'll 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 happiness.

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

DON PEDRO.
He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

CLAUDIO.
And I take him to be valiant.

DON PEDRO.
As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of quarrels you may say
he is wise; for either he avoids them with great discretion, or
undertakes them with a most Christian-like fear.

LEONATO.
If he do fear God, a' 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?

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 daughter: 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.

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

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my
expectation.

DON PEDRO.
[Aside.] Let there be the same net spread for her; and that must your
daughter and her gentle-woman carry. The sport will be, when they hold


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