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Much Ado About Nothing
Entire Play

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Entire Play

The primary plot of Much Ado About Nothing turns on the courtship and scandal involving young Hero and her suitor, Claudio, but…

Act 1, scene 1

The army of Don Pedro of Aragon arrives in Messina and is welcomed by Leonato, Messina’s governor. Benedick of Padua,…

Act 1, scene 2

Leonato is given a garbled account of the conversation between Don Pedro and Claudio, and is led to believe that…

Act 1, scene 3

Don John, Don Pedro’s brother, receives a true account of Don Pedro’s plan to woo Hero for Claudio. Resentful of…

Act 2, scene 1

Don Pedro and his soldiers, disguised in masks, dance with the ladies of Leonato’s household. While Don Pedro woos Hero,…

Act 2, scene 2

Don John and his henchman Borachio agree on a plan to disrupt the coming marriage: Borachio will convince Claudio that…

Act 2, scene 3

Leonato, Claudio, and Don Pedro stage a conversation for Benedick to overhear. They talk about Beatrice’s desperate love for Benedick,…

Act 3, scene 1

Beatrice is lured into overhearing a staged conversation between Hero and Ursula, a waiting gentlewoman, who talk about Benedick’s desperate…

Act 3, scene 2

Benedick appears with his beard shaved off and showing other signs of having fallen in love. When he exits with…

Act 3, scene 3

That night, Messina’s master constable, Dogberry, and his assistant, Verges, set the night watch, telling the watchmen to pay particular…

Act 3, scene 4

Early the next morning, Hero prepares for the wedding. Beatrice enters, suffering, she says, from a bad cold, but Hero…

Act 3, scene 5

Dogberry and Verges try to tell Leonato about the arrest of Borachio and Conrade, but they are so unintelligible that…

Act 4, scene 1

At the wedding, Claudio publicly denounces Hero as a lewd woman. He is supported in his story by Don Pedro…

Act 4, scene 2

Dogberry ineptly questions Borachio and Conrade about the deception of Claudio and Don Pedro. The Sexton has Borachio and Conrade…

Act 5, scene 1

Leonato and his brother tell Claudio and Don Pedro of Hero’s death, and attempt to challenge them to a duel….

Act 5, scene 2

Benedick tells Beatrice that he has challenged Claudio. They are summoned to Leonato’s house with the news that Hero’s innocence…

Act 5, scene 3

Claudio appears at Leonato’s family tomb, has a song sung for Hero, and hangs a scroll on the tomb.

Act 5, scene 4

Claudio and Don Pedro appear for the second wedding. The women enter masked. When Claudio takes the hand of Leonato’s…

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ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter Leonato, Governor of Messina, Hero his daughter,
and Beatrice his niece, with a Messenger.


LEONATO, with a letter I learn in this letter that Don
 Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.
MESSENGER He is very near by this. He was not three
 leagues off when I left him.
LEONATO 5How many gentlemen have you lost in this
 action?
MESSENGER But few of any sort, and none of name.
LEONATO A victory is twice itself when the achiever
 brings home full numbers. I find here that Don
10 Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young
 Florentine called Claudio.
MESSENGER Much deserved on his part, and equally
 remembered by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself
 beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure
15 of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath indeed better
 bettered expectation than you must expect of me to
 tell you how.
LEONATO He hath an uncle here in Messina will be
 very much glad of it.
MESSENGER 20I have already delivered him letters, and
 there appears much joy in him, even so much that
 joy could not show itself modest enough without a
 badge of bitterness.
7

9
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEONATO Did he break out into tears?
MESSENGER 25In great measure.
LEONATO A kind overflow of kindness. There are no
 faces truer than those that are so washed. How
 much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at
 weeping!
BEATRICE 30I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned
 from the wars or no?
MESSENGER I know none of that name, lady. There
 was none such in the army of any sort.
LEONATO What is he that you ask for, niece?
HERO 35My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
MESSENGER O, he’s returned, and as pleasant as ever
 he was.
BEATRICE He set up his bills here in Messina and
 challenged Cupid at the flight, and my uncle’s Fool,
40 reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid and
 challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how
 many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But
 how many hath he killed? For indeed I promised to
 eat all of his killing.
LEONATO 45Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too
 much, but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
MESSENGER He hath done good service, lady, in these
 wars.
BEATRICE You had musty victual, and he hath holp to
50 eat it. He is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
 excellent stomach.
MESSENGER And a good soldier too, lady.
BEATRICE And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he
 to a lord?
MESSENGER 55A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed
 with all honorable virtues.
BEATRICE It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed
 man, but for the stuffing—well, we are all mortal.

11
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEONATO You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is
60 a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and
 her. They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit
 between them.
BEATRICE Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last
 conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and
65 now is the whole man governed with one, so that if
 he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him
 bear it for a difference between himself and his
 horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath left to
 be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion
70 now? He hath every month a new sworn
 brother.
MESSENGER Is ’t possible?
BEATRICE Very easily possible. He wears his faith but
 as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
75 next block.
MESSENGER I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your
 books.
BEATRICE No. An he were, I would burn my study. But
 I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no
80 young squarer now that will make a voyage with
 him to the devil?
MESSENGER He is most in the company of the right
 noble Claudio.
BEATRICE O Lord, he will hang upon him like a
85 disease! He is sooner caught than the pestilence,
 and the taker runs presently mad. God help the
 noble Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it
 will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.
MESSENGER I will hold friends with you, lady.
BEATRICE 90Do, good friend.
LEONATO You will never run mad, niece.
BEATRICE No, not till a hot January.
MESSENGER Don Pedro is approached.

13
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

Enter Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, with Claudio,
Benedick, Balthasar, and John the Bastard.


PRINCE Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet
95 your trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid
 cost, and you encounter it.
LEONATO Never came trouble to my house in the
 likeness of your Grace, for trouble being gone,
 comfort should remain, but when you depart from
100 me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.
PRINCE You embrace your charge too willingly. Turning
 to Hero. 
I think this is your daughter.
LEONATO Her mother hath many times told me so.
BENEDICK Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
LEONATO 105Signior Benedick, no, for then were you a
 child.
PRINCE You have it full, Benedick. We may guess by
 this what you are, being a man. Truly the lady
 fathers herself.—Be happy, lady, for you are like
110 an honorable father.
Leonato and the Prince move aside.
BENEDICK If Signior Leonato be her father, she would
 not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina,
 as like him as she is.
BEATRICE I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
115 Benedick, nobody marks you.
BENEDICK What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet
 living?
BEATRICE Is it possible disdain should die while she
 hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
120 Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come
 in her presence.
BENEDICK Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain
 I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and
 I would I could find in my heart that I had not a
125 hard heart, for truly I love none.

15
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

BEATRICE A dear happiness to women. They would
 else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I
 thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor
 for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow
130 than a man swear he loves me.
BENEDICK God keep your Ladyship still in that mind,
 so some gentleman or other shall ’scape a predestinate
 scratched face.
BEATRICE Scratching could not make it worse an
135 ’twere such a face as yours were.
BENEDICK Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
BEATRICE A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of
 yours.
BENEDICK I would my horse had the speed of your
140 tongue and so good a continuer, but keep your
 way, i’ God’s name, I have done.
BEATRICE You always end with a jade’s trick. I know
 you of old.
Leonato and the Prince come forward.
PRINCE That is the sum of all, Leonato.—Signior
145 Claudio and Signior Benedick, my dear friend
 Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay
 here at the least a month, and he heartily prays
 some occasion may detain us longer. I dare swear
 he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
LEONATO 150If you swear, my lord, you shall not be
 forsworn. To Don John. Let me bid you welcome,
 my lord, being reconciled to the Prince your brother,
 I owe you all duty.
DON JOHN I thank you. I am not of many words, but I
155 thank you.
LEONATO Please it your Grace lead on?
PRINCE Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.
All exit except Benedick and Claudio.
CLAUDIO Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of
 Signior Leonato?

17
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

BENEDICK 160I noted her not, but I looked on her.
CLAUDIO Is she not a modest young lady?
BENEDICK Do you question me as an honest man
 should do, for my simple true judgment? Or would
 you have me speak after my custom, as being a
165 professed tyrant to their sex?
CLAUDIO No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment.
BENEDICK Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a
 high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too
 little for a great praise. Only this commendation I
170 can afford her, that were she other than she is, she
 were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is,
 I do not like her.
CLAUDIO Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell
 me truly how thou lik’st her.
BENEDICK 175Would you buy her that you enquire after
 her?
CLAUDIO Can the world buy such a jewel?
BENEDICK Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you
 this with a sad brow? Or do you play the flouting
180 jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder and
 Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a
 man take you to go in the song?
CLAUDIO In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever
 I looked on.
BENEDICK 185I can see yet without spectacles, and I see
 no such matter. There’s her cousin, an she were not
 possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in
 beauty as the first of May doth the last of December.
 But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have
190 you?
CLAUDIO I would scarce trust myself, though I had
 sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
BENEDICK Is ’t come to this? In faith, hath not the
 world one man but he will wear his cap with
195 suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore

19
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

 again? Go to, i’ faith, an thou wilt needs thrust
 thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh
 away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is returned to seek
 you.

Enter Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon.

PRINCE 200What secret hath held you here that you followed
 not to Leonato’s?
BENEDICK I would your Grace would constrain me to
 tell.
PRINCE I charge thee on thy allegiance.
BENEDICK 205You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as
 a dumb man, I would have you think so, but on my
 allegiance—mark you this, on my allegiance—he
 is in love. With who? Now, that is your Grace’s part.
 Mark how short his answer is: with Hero, Leonato’s
210 short daughter.
CLAUDIO If this were so, so were it uttered.
BENEDICK Like the old tale, my lord: “It is not so, nor
 ’twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be
 so.”
CLAUDIO 215If my passion change not shortly, God forbid
 it should be otherwise.
PRINCE Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well
 worthy.
CLAUDIO You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
PRINCE 220By my troth, I speak my thought.
CLAUDIO And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
BENEDICK And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I
 spoke mine.
CLAUDIO That I love her, I feel.
PRINCE 225That she is worthy, I know.
BENEDICK That I neither feel how she should be loved
 nor know how she should be worthy is the opinion
 that fire cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the
 stake.

21
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

PRINCE 230Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the
 despite of beauty.
CLAUDIO And never could maintain his part but in the
 force of his will.
BENEDICK That a woman conceived me, I thank her;
235 that she brought me up, I likewise give her most
 humble thanks. But that I will have a recheat
 winded in my forehead or hang my bugle in an
 invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.
 Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust
240 any, I will do myself the right to trust none. And the
 fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a
 bachelor.
PRINCE I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
BENEDICK With anger, with sickness, or with hunger,
245 my lord, not with love. Prove that ever I lose more
 blood with love than I will get again with drinking,
 pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker’s pen and
 hang me up at the door of a brothel house for the
 sign of blind Cupid.
PRINCE 250Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
 wilt prove a notable argument.
BENEDICK If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and
 shoot at me, and he that hits me, let him be clapped
 on the shoulder and called Adam.
PRINCE 255Well, as time shall try.
 In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.
BENEDICK The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible
 Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set
 them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted,
260 and in such great letters as they write “Here is good
 horse to hire” let them signify under my sign “Here
 you may see Benedick the married man.”
CLAUDIO If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be
 horn-mad.

23
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

PRINCE 265Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
 Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
BENEDICK I look for an earthquake too, then.
PRINCE Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the
 meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato’s.
270 Commend me to him, and tell him I will not
 fail him at supper, for indeed he hath made great
 preparation.
BENEDICK I have almost matter enough in me for such
 an embassage, and so I commit you—
CLAUDIO 275To the tuition of God. From my house, if I had
 it—
PRINCE The sixth of July. Your loving friend,
 Benedick.
BENEDICK Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your
280 discourse is sometimes guarded with fragments,
 and the guards are but slightly basted on neither.
 Ere you flout old ends any further, examine your
 conscience. And so I leave you.He exits.
CLAUDIO 
 My liege, your Highness now may do me good.
PRINCE 
285 My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how,
 And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
 Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
CLAUDIO 
 Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
PRINCE 
 No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.
290 Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
CLAUDIO  O, my lord,
 When you went onward on this ended action,
 I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,
 That liked, but had a rougher task in hand
295 Than to drive liking to the name of love.
 But now I am returned and that war thoughts

25
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
 Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
 All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
300 Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.
PRINCE 
 Thou wilt be like a lover presently
 And tire the hearer with a book of words.
 If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
 And I will break with her and with her father,
305 And thou shalt have her. Was ’t not to this end
 That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?
CLAUDIO 
 How sweetly you do minister to love,
 That know love’s grief by his complexion!
 But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
310 I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
PRINCE 
 What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
 The fairest grant is the necessity.
 Look what will serve is fit. ’Tis once, thou lovest,
 And I will fit thee with the remedy.
315 I know we shall have reveling tonight.
 I will assume thy part in some disguise
 And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
 And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart
 And take her hearing prisoner with the force
320 And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
 Then after to her father will I break,
 And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
 In practice let us put it presently.
They exit.




27
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 2

Scene 2
Enter Leonato, meeting an old man, brother to
Leonato.


LEONATO How now, brother, where is my cousin, your
 son? Hath he provided this music?
LEONATO’S BROTHER He is very busy about it. But,
 brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet
5 dreamt not of.
LEONATO Are they good?
LEONATO’S BROTHER As the events stamps them, but
 they have a good cover; they show well outward.
 The Prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached
10 alley in mine orchard, were thus much
 overheard by a man of mine: the Prince discovered
 to Claudio that he loved my niece your daughter and
 meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance, and if
 he found her accordant, he meant to take the
15 present time by the top and instantly break with you
 of it.
LEONATO Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
LEONATO’S BROTHER A good sharp fellow. I will send
 for him, and question him yourself.
LEONATO 20No, no, we will hold it as a dream till it
 appear itself. But I will acquaint my daughter
 withal, that she may be the better prepared for an
 answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you and tell
 her of it.

Enter Antonio’s son, with a Musician and Attendants.

25 Cousins, you know what you have to do.—O, I cry
 you mercy, friend. Go you with me and I will use
 your skill.—Good cousin, have a care this busy
 time.
They exit.




29
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter Sir John the Bastard, and Conrade, his
companion.


CONRADE What the goodyear, my lord, why are you
 thus out of measure sad?
DON JOHN There is no measure in the occasion that
 breeds. Therefore the sadness is without limit.
CONRADE 5You should hear reason.
DON JOHN And when I have heard it, what blessing
 brings it?
CONRADE If not a present remedy, at least a patient
 sufferance.
DON JOHN 10I wonder that thou, being, as thou sayst thou
 art, born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral
 medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide
 what I am. I must be sad when I have cause, and
 smile at no man’s jests; eat when I have stomach,
15 and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am
 drowsy, and tend on no man’s business; laugh when
 I am merry, and claw no man in his humor.
CONRADE Yea, but you must not make the full show of
 this till you may do it without controlment. You
20 have of late stood out against your brother, and he
 hath ta’en you newly into his grace, where it is
 impossible you should take true root but by the fair
 weather that you make yourself. It is needful that
 you frame the season for your own harvest.
DON JOHN 25I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a
 rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be
 disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob
 love from any. In this, though I cannot be said to be
 a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I
30 am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a
 muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I
 have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my

31
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 3

 mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do
 my liking. In the meantime, let me be that I am, and
35 seek not to alter me.
CONRADE Can you make no use of your discontent?
DON JOHN I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who
 comes here?

Enter Borachio.

 What news, Borachio?
BORACHIO 40I came yonder from a great supper. The
 Prince your brother is royally entertained by
 Leonato, and I can give you intelligence of an
 intended marriage.
DON JOHN Will it serve for any model to build mischief
45 on? What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
 unquietness?
BORACHIO Marry, it is your brother’s right hand.
DON JOHN Who, the most exquisite Claudio?
BORACHIO Even he.
DON JOHN 50A proper squire. And who, and who? Which
 way looks he?
BORACHIO Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of
 Leonato.
DON JOHN A very forward March chick! How came you
55 to this?
BORACHIO Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was
 smoking a musty room, comes me the Prince and
 Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference. I
 whipped me behind the arras, and there heard it
60 agreed upon that the Prince should woo Hero for
 himself, and having obtained her, give her to Count
 Claudio.
DON JOHN Come, come, let us thither. This may prove
 food to my displeasure. That young start-up hath
65 all the glory of my overthrow. If I can cross him any

33
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 3

 way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and
 will assist me?
CONRADE To the death, my lord.
DON JOHN Let us to the great supper. Their cheer is the
70 greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were o’
 my mind! Shall we go prove what’s to be done?
BORACHIO We’ll wait upon your Lordship.
They exit.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter Leonato, his brother, Hero his daughter, and
Beatrice his niece, with Ursula and Margaret.


LEONATO Was not Count John here at supper?
LEONATO’S BROTHER I saw him not.
BEATRICE How tartly that gentleman looks! I never
 can see him but I am heartburned an hour after.
HERO 5He is of a very melancholy disposition.
BEATRICE He were an excellent man that were made
 just in the midway between him and Benedick. The
 one is too like an image and says nothing, and the
 other too like my lady’s eldest son, evermore
10 tattling.
LEONATO Then half Signior Benedick’s tongue in
 Count John’s mouth, and half Count John’s melancholy
 in Signior Benedick’s face—
BEATRICE With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and
15 money enough in his purse, such a man would win
 any woman in the world if he could get her
 goodwill.
LEONATO By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
 husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 20In faith, she’s too curst.
BEATRICE Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen
 God’s sending that way, for it is said “God sends a
37

39
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

 curst cow short horns,” but to a cow too curst, he
 sends none.
LEONATO 25So, by being too curst, God will send you no
 horns.
BEATRICE Just, if He send me no husband, for the
 which blessing I am at Him upon my knees every
 morning and evening. Lord, I could not endure a
30 husband with a beard on his face. I had rather lie in
 the woolen!
LEONATO You may light on a husband that hath no
 beard.
BEATRICE What should I do with him? Dress him in my
35 apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman?
 He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he
 that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is
 more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less
 than a man, I am not for him. Therefore I will even
40 take sixpence in earnest of the bearherd, and lead
 his apes into hell.
LEONATO Well then, go you into hell?
BEATRICE No, but to the gate, and there will the devil
 meet me like an old cuckold with horns on his
45 head, and say “Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you
 to heaven; here’s no place for you maids.” So deliver
 I up my apes and away to Saint Peter; for the
 heavens, he shows me where the bachelors sit, and
 there live we as merry as the day is long.
LEONATO’S BROTHER, to Hero 50Well, niece, I trust you
 will be ruled by your father.
BEATRICE Yes, faith, it is my cousin’s duty to make
 curtsy and say “Father, as it please you.” But yet for
 all that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or
55 else make another curtsy and say “Father, as it
 please me.”
LEONATO Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted
 with a husband.

41
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

BEATRICE Not till God make men of some other metal
60 than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
 overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? To make
 an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
 No, uncle, I’ll none. Adam’s sons are my brethren,
 and truly I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.
LEONATO, to Hero 65Daughter, remember what I told
 you. If the Prince do solicit you in that kind, you
 know your answer.
BEATRICE The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you
 be not wooed in good time. If the Prince be too
70 important, tell him there is measure in everything,
 and so dance out the answer. For hear me, Hero,
 wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a
 measure, and a cinquepace. The first suit is hot and
 hasty like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the
75 wedding, mannerly modest as a measure, full of
 state and ancientry; and then comes repentance,
 and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace faster
 and faster till he sink into his grave.
LEONATO Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
BEATRICE 80I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church
 by daylight.
LEONATO The revelers are entering, brother. Make
 good room.Leonato and his brother step aside.

Enter, with a Drum, Prince Pedro, Claudio, and
Benedick, Signior Antonio, and Balthasar, all in
masks, with Borachio and Don John.


PRINCE, to Hero Lady, will you walk a bout with your
85 friend?They begin to dance.
HERO So you walk softly, and look sweetly, and say
 nothing, I am yours for the walk, and especially
 when I walk away.
PRINCE With me in your company?
HERO 90I may say so when I please.

43
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

PRINCE And when please you to say so?
HERO When I like your favor, for God defend the lute
 should be like the case.
PRINCE My visor is Philemon’s roof; within the house
95 is Jove.
HERO Why, then, your visor should be thatched.
PRINCE Speak low if you speak love.
They move aside;
Benedick and Margaret move forward.

BENEDICK, to Margaret Well, I would you did like me.
MARGARET So would not I for your own sake, for I have
100 many ill qualities.
BENEDICK Which is one?
MARGARET I say my prayers aloud.
BENEDICK I love you the better; the hearers may cry
 “Amen.”
MARGARET 105God match me with a good dancer.
They separate; Benedick moves aside;
Balthasar moves forward.

BALTHASAR Amen.
MARGARET And God keep him out of my sight when the
 dance is done. Answer, clerk.
BALTHASAR No more words. The clerk is answered.
They move aside;
Ursula and Antonio move forward.

URSULA 110I know you well enough. You are Signior
 Antonio.
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 115You 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
120 by your excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to,

45
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

 mum, you are he. Graces will appear, and there’s an
 end.
They move aside;
Benedick and Beatrice move forward.

BEATRICE Will you not tell me who told you so?
BENEDICK No, you shall pardon me.
BEATRICE 125Nor 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 130What’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 135Why, 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 villainy, for he
 both pleases men and angers them, and then they
140 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
145 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 for the dance. We must
 follow the leaders.
BENEDICK 150In every good thing.
BEATRICE Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them
 at the next turning.
Dance. Then exit all except
Don John, Borachio, and Claudio.


47
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

DON JOHN, to Borachio Sure my brother is amorous
 on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to break
155 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, to Claudio Are not you Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO 160You know me well. I am he.
DON JOHN Signior, you are very near my brother in his
 love. He is enamored 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 165How 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 tonight.
DON JOHN Come, let us to the banquet.
They exit. Claudio remains.
CLAUDIO, unmasking 
170 Thus answer I in name of Benedick,
 But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
 ’Tis certain so. The Prince woos for himself.
 Friendship is constant in all other things
 Save in the office and affairs of love.
175 Therefore 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,
180 Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore, Hero.

Enter Benedick.

BENEDICK Count Claudio?
CLAUDIO Yea, the same.
BENEDICK Come, will you go with me?
CLAUDIO Whither?

49
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

BENEDICK 185Even to the next willow, about your own
 business, county. What fashion will you wear the
 garland of? About your neck like an usurer’s chain?
 Or under your arm like a lieutenant’s scarf? You
 must wear it one way, for the Prince hath got your
190 Hero.
CLAUDIO I wish him joy of her.
BENEDICK Why, that’s spoken like an honest drover; so
 they sell bullocks. But did you think the Prince
 would have served you thus?
CLAUDIO 195I 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.He exits.
BENEDICK 200Alas, 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!
205 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.

Enter the Prince, Hero, and Leonato.

PRINCE Now, signior, where’s the Count? Did you see
 him?
BENEDICK 210Troth, 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 goodwill of this
 young lady, and I offered him my company to a
215 willow tree, either to make him a garland, as being
 forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to
 be whipped.
PRINCE To be whipped? What’s his fault?

51
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

BENEDICK The flat transgression of a schoolboy who,
220 being overjoyed with finding a bird’s nest, shows it
 his companion, and he steals it.
PRINCE Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
 transgression is in the stealer.
BENEDICK Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been
225 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.
PRINCE I will but teach them to sing and restore them
230 to the owner.
BENEDICK If their singing answer your saying, by my
 faith, you say honestly.
PRINCE The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The
 gentleman that danced with her told her she is
235 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
240 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
245 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
250 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

53
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

255 in hell as in a sanctuary, and people sin upon
 purpose because they would go thither. So indeed
 all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follows her.

Enter Claudio and Beatrice.

PRINCE Look, here she comes.
BENEDICK Will your Grace command me any service
260 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
265 beard, do you any embassage to the Pygmies, rather
 than hold three words’ conference with this harpy.
 You have no employment for me?
PRINCE None but to desire your good company.
BENEDICK O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not! I cannot
270 endure my Lady Tongue.He exits.
PRINCE, to Beatrice 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 his single
275 one. Marry, once before he won it of me with false
 dice. Therefore your Grace may well say I have lost
 it.
PRINCE You have put him down, lady, you have put
 him down.
BEATRICE 280So 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.
PRINCE Why, how now, count, wherefore are you sad?
CLAUDIO Not sad, my lord.
PRINCE 285How then, sick?
CLAUDIO Neither, my lord.
BEATRICE The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry,

55
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

 nor well, but civil count, civil as an orange, and
 something of that jealous complexion.
PRINCE 290I’ 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 goodwill obtained. Name the day of marriage,
295 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 300Silence 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
305 mouth with a kiss and let not him speak neither.
PRINCE 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 310And so she doth, cousin.
BEATRICE Good Lord for alliance! Thus goes everyone
 to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a
 corner and cry “Heigh-ho for a husband!”
PRINCE Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
BEATRICE 315I 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.
PRINCE Will you have me, lady?
BEATRICE 320No, 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.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 1

PRINCE Your silence most offends me, and to be merry
325 best becomes you, for out o’ 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 330Niece, will you look to those things I told
 you of?
BEATRICE I cry you mercy, uncle.—By your Grace’s
 pardon.Beatrice exits.
PRINCE By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
LEONATO 335There’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 dreamt of unhappiness and
 waked herself with laughing.
PRINCE 340She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
LEONATO O, by no means. She mocks all her wooers
 out of suit.
PRINCE She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
LEONATO O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week
345 married, they would talk themselves mad.
PRINCE County Claudio, when mean you to go to
 church?
CLAUDIO Tomorrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches
 till love have all his rites.
LEONATO 350Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence
 a just sevennight, and a time too brief, too, to have
 all things answer my mind.
PRINCE, to Claudio Come, you shake the head at so
 long a breathing, but I warrant thee, Claudio, the
355 time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim
 undertake one of Hercules’ labors, which is to bring
 Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a
 mountain of affection, th’ one with th’ other. I
 would fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to

59
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 2

360 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.
PRINCE 365And you too, gentle Hero?
HERO I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
 cousin to a good husband.
PRINCE And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband
 that I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of
370 a noble strain, of approved valor, and confirmed
 honesty. I will teach you how to humor your
 cousin that she shall fall in love with Benedick.—
 And I, with your two helps, will so practice on
 Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his
375 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.
They exit.


Scene 2
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
5 med’cinable 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
10 no dishonesty shall appear in me.
DON JOHN Show me briefly how.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 2

BORACHIO I think I told your Lordship a year since,
 how much I am in the favor of Margaret, the
 waiting gentlewoman to Hero.
DON JOHN 15I 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
20 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 honor in marrying
 the renowned Claudio, whose estimation do you
25 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
30 for any other issue?
DON JOHN Only to despite them I will endeavor
 anything.
BORACHIO Go then, find me a meet hour to draw Don
 Pedro and the Count Claudio alone. Tell them that
35 you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal
 both to the Prince and Claudio, as in love of your
 brother’s honor, 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
40 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
45 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

63
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

 of Hero’s disloyalty that jealousy shall be called
 assurance and all the preparation overthrown.
DON JOHN 50Grow 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 55I will presently go learn their day of
 marriage.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Benedick alone.

BENEDICK Boy!

Enter Boy.

BOY Signior?
BENEDICK In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it
 hither to me in the orchard.
BOY 5I am here already, sir.
BENEDICK I know that, but I would have thee hence
 and here again.Boy exits.
 I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
 another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors
10 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
15 rather hear the tabor and the pipe; I have known
 when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a
 good armor, 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

65
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

20 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,
25 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
30 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
35 be of what color it please God. Ha! The Prince and
 Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbor.
He hides.

Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Balthasar
with music.


PRINCE Come, shall we hear this music?
CLAUDIO 
 Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
 As hushed on purpose to grace harmony!
PRINCE, aside to Claudio 
40 See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
CLAUDIO, aside to Prince 
 O, very well my lord. The music ended,
 We’ll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
PRINCE 
 Come, Balthasar, we’ll hear that song again.
BALTHASAR 
 O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
45 To slander music any more than once.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

PRINCE 
 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.
BALTHASAR 
 Because you talk of wooing, I will sing,
50 Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
 To her he thinks not worthy, yet he woos,
 Yet will he swear he loves.
PRINCE  Nay, pray thee, come,
 Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
55 Do it in notes.
BALTHASAR  Note this before my notes:
 There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.
PRINCE 
 Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks!
 Note notes, forsooth, and nothing.Music plays.
BENEDICK, aside 60Now, 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 done.
BALTHASAR sings 
 Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
65  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,
70 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,
75  Since summer first was leavy.

69
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

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

PRINCE 80By my troth, a good song.
BALTHASAR And an ill singer, my lord.
PRINCE Ha, no, no, faith, thou sing’st well enough for a
 shift.
BENEDICK, aside An he had been a dog that should
85 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.
PRINCE Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray
90 thee get us some excellent music, for tomorrow
 night we would have it at the Lady Hero’s chamber
 window.
BALTHASAR The best I can, my lord.
PRINCE Do so. Farewell.Balthasar exits.
95 Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
 today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
 Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO O, ay. Aside to Prince. Stalk on, stalk on; the
 fowl sits.—I did never think that lady would have
100 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 behaviors seemed ever to
 abhor.
BENEDICK, aside 105Is ’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.
PRINCE 110Maybe she doth but counterfeit.
CLAUDIO Faith, like enough.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

LEONATO O God! Counterfeit? There was never counterfeit
 of passion came so near the life of passion as
 she discovers it.
PRINCE 115Why, what effects of passion shows she?
CLAUDIO, aside to Leonato Bait the hook well; this fish
 will bite.
LEONATO What effects, my lord? She will sit you—you
 heard my daughter tell you how.
CLAUDIO 120She did indeed.
PRINCE 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
125 against Benedick.
BENEDICK, aside I should think this a gull but that the
 white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot,
 sure, hide himself in such reverence.
CLAUDIO, aside to Prince He hath ta’en th’ infection.
130 Hold it up.
PRINCE Hath she made her affection known to
 Benedick?
LEONATO No, and swears she never will. That’s her
 torment.
CLAUDIO 135’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,
140 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
145 over, she found “Benedick” and “Beatrice” between
 the sheet?
CLAUDIO That.

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ACT 2. SC. 3

LEONATO O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,
 railed at herself that she should be so
150 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,
155 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 afeared she will do a desperate
160 outrage to herself. It is very true.
PRINCE 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.
PRINCE 165An 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.
PRINCE In everything but in loving Benedick.
LEONATO 170O, 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.
PRINCE I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I
175 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
180 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.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

PRINCE She doth well. If she should make tender of
185 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.
PRINCE He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
CLAUDIO Before God, and in my mind, very wise.
PRINCE 190He doth indeed show some sparks that are like
 wit.
CLAUDIO And I take him to be valiant.
PRINCE As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing
 of quarrels you may say he is wise, for either he
195 avoids them with great discretion or undertakes
 them with a most Christianlike 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.
PRINCE 200And 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
205 with good counsel.
LEONATO Nay, that’s impossible; she may wear her
 heart out first.
PRINCE Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter.
 Let it cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I
210 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.
Leonato, Prince, and Claudio begin to exit.
CLAUDIO, aside to Prince and Leonato If he do not
 dote on her upon this, I will never trust my
215 expectation.
PRINCE, aside to Leonato Let there be the same net
 spread for her, and that must your daughter and her
 gentlewomen carry. The sport will be when they

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ACT 2. SC. 3

 hold one an opinion of another’s dotage, and no
220 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.
Prince, Leonato, and Claudio exit.
BENEDICK, coming forward This can be no trick. The
 conference was sadly borne; they have the truth of
225 this from Hero; they seem to pity the lady. It seems
 her affections have their full bent. Love me? Why, it
 must be requited! 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
230 die than give any sign of affection. 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; ’tis a truth, I can
 bear them witness. And virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot
235 reprove it. And wise, but for loving me; by my troth,
 it is no addition 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
240 against marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A
 man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot
 endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and
 these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the
 career of his humor? No! The world must be peopled.
245 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.

Enter Beatrice.

BEATRICE Against my will, I am sent to bid you come
250 in to dinner.
BENEDICK Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

BEATRICE I took no more pains for those thanks than
 you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I
 would not have come.
BENEDICK 255You take pleasure then in the message?
BEATRICE Yea, just so much as you may take upon a
 knife’s point and choke a daw withal. You have no
 stomach, signior. Fare you well.She exits.
BENEDICK Ha! “Against my will I am sent to bid you
260 come in to dinner.” There’s a double meaning in
 that. “I 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
265 do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.
He exits.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Enter Hero and two gentlewomen, Margaret and Ursula.

HERO 
 Good Margaret, run thee to the parlor.
 There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
 Proposing with the Prince and Claudio.
 Whisper her ear and tell her I and Ursula
5 Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
 Is all of her. Say that thou overheardst us,
 And bid her steal into the pleachèd bower
 Where honeysuckles ripened by the sun
 Forbid the sun to enter, like favorites,
10 Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
 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 
15 I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
She exits.
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 name him, let it be thy part
20 To praise him more than ever man did merit.
83

85
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 My talk to thee must be how Benedick
 Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
 Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,
 That only wounds by hearsay. Now begin,
25 For look where Beatrice like a lapwing runs
 Close by the ground, to hear our conference.

Enter Beatrice, who hides in the bower.

URSULA, aside to Hero 
 The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish
 Cut with her golden oars the silver stream
 And greedily devour the treacherous bait.
30 So angle we for Beatrice, who even now
 Is couchèd in the woodbine coverture.
 Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
HERO, aside to Ursula 
 Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
 Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.—
They walk near the bower.
35 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 
40 So says the Prince and my new-trothèd lord.
URSULA 
 And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
HERO 
 They did entreat me to acquaint her of it,
 But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
 To wish him wrestle with affection
45 And never to let Beatrice know of it.
URSULA 
 Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman

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ACT 3. SC. 1

 Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
 As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
HERO 
 O god of love! I know he doth deserve
50 As much as may be yielded to a man,
 But Nature never framed a woman’s heart
 Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice.
 Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
 Misprizing what they look on, and her wit
55 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,
60 And therefore certainly it were not good
 She knew his love, lest she’ll make sport at it.
HERO 
 Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
 How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
 But she would spell him backward. If fair-faced,
65 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;
70 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.
URSULA 
75 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,

89
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 1

 She would mock me into air. O, she would laugh
80 me
 Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
 Therefore let Benedick, like covered fire,
 Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.
 It were a better death than die with mocks,
85 Which is as bad as die with tickling.
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’ll devise some honest slanders
90 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
95 As she is prized to have, as to refuse
 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,
100 Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
 For shape, for bearing, argument, and valor,
 Goes foremost in report through Italy.
HERO 
 Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
URSULA 
 His excellence did earn it ere he had it.
105 When are you married, madam?
HERO 
 Why, every day, tomorrow. Come, go in.

91
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 2

 I’ll show thee some attires and have thy counsel
 Which is the best to furnish me tomorrow.
They move away from the bower.
URSULA, aside to Hero 
 She’s limed, I warrant you. We have caught her,
110 madam.
HERO, aside to Ursula 
 If it prove so, then loving goes by haps;
 Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
Hero and Ursula exit.
BEATRICE, coming forward 
 What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
  Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much?
115 Contempt, farewell, and maiden pride, adieu!
  No glory lives behind the back of such.
 And Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
  Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.
 If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
120  To bind our loves up in a holy band.
 For others say thou dost deserve, and I
 Believe it better than reportingly.
She exits.


Scene 2
Enter Prince, Claudio, Benedick, and Leonato.

PRINCE I do but stay till your marriage be consummate,
 and then go I toward Aragon.
CLAUDIO I’ll bring you thither, my lord, if you’ll vouchsafe
 me.
PRINCE 5Nay, 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

93
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 2

10 hath twice or thrice cut Cupid’s bowstring, 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.
BENEDICK 15Gallants, I am not as I have been.
LEONATO So say I. Methinks you are sadder.
CLAUDIO I hope he be in love.
PRINCE Hang him, truant! There’s no true drop of
 blood in him to be truly touched with love. If he be
20 sad, he wants money.
BENEDICK I have the toothache.
PRINCE Draw it.
BENEDICK Hang it!
CLAUDIO You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
PRINCE 25What, sigh for the toothache?
LEONATO Where is but a humor or a worm.
BENEDICK Well, everyone can master a grief but he
 that has it.
CLAUDIO Yet say I, he is in love.
PRINCE 30There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless
 it be a fancy that he hath to strange disguises, as to
 be a Dutchman today, a Frenchman tomorrow, or
 in the shape of two countries at once, as a German
 from the waist downward, all slops, and a Spaniard
35 from the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a
 fancy to this foolery, as it appears 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’
40 mornings. What should that bode?
PRINCE Hath any man seen him at the barber’s?
CLAUDIO No, but the barber’s man hath been seen
 with him, and the old ornament of his cheek hath
 already stuffed tennis balls.

95
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 2

LEONATO 45Indeed he looks younger than he did, by the
 loss of a beard.
PRINCE Nay, he rubs himself with civet. Can you smell
 him out by that?
CLAUDIO That’s as much as to say, the sweet youth’s in
50 love.
PRINCE The greatest note of it is his melancholy.
CLAUDIO And when was he wont to wash his face?
PRINCE Yea, or to paint himself? For the which I hear
 what they say of him.
CLAUDIO 55Nay, but his jesting spirit, which is now crept
 into a lute string and now governed by stops—
PRINCE Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him. Conclude,
 conclude, he is in love.
CLAUDIO Nay, but I know who loves him.
PRINCE 60That would I know, too. I warrant, one that
 knows him not.
CLAUDIO Yes, and his ill conditions; and, in despite of
 all, dies for him.
PRINCE She shall be buried with her face upwards.
BENEDICK 65Yet is this no charm for the toothache.—
 Old signior, walk aside with me. I have studied eight
 or nine wise words to speak to you, which these
 hobby-horses must not hear.
Benedick and Leonato exit.
PRINCE For my life, to break with him about Beatrice!
CLAUDIO 70’Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this
 played their parts with Beatrice, and then the two
 bears will not bite one another when they meet.

Enter John the Bastard.

DON JOHN My lord and brother, God save you.
PRINCE Good e’en, brother.
DON JOHN 75If your leisure served, I would speak with
 you.
PRINCE In private?

97
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 2

DON JOHN If it please you. Yet Count Claudio may
 hear, for what I would speak of concerns him.
PRINCE 80What’s the matter?
DON JOHN, to Claudio Means your Lordship to be
 married tomorrow?
PRINCE You know he does.
DON JOHN I know not that, when he knows what I
85 know.
CLAUDIO If there be any impediment, I pray you discover
 it.
DON JOHN You may think I love you not. Let that
 appear hereafter, and aim better at me by that I
90 now will manifest. For my brother, I think he holds
 you well, and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect
 your ensuing marriage—surely suit ill spent and
 labor ill bestowed.
PRINCE Why, what’s the matter?
DON JOHN 95I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances
 shortened, for she has been too long
 a-talking of, the lady is disloyal.
CLAUDIO Who, Hero?
DON JOHN Even she: Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every
100 man’s Hero.
CLAUDIO Disloyal?
DON JOHN The word is too good to paint out her
 wickedness. I could say she were worse. Think you
 of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not
105 till further warrant. Go but with me tonight, you
 shall see her chamber window entered, even the
 night before her wedding day. If you love her then,
 tomorrow wed her. But it would better fit your
 honor to change your mind.
CLAUDIO, to Prince 110May this be so?
PRINCE I will not think it.
DON JOHN If you dare not trust that you see, confess
 not that you know. If you will follow me, I will

99
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 3

 show you enough, and when you have seen more
115 and heard more, proceed accordingly.
CLAUDIO If I see anything tonight why I should not
 marry her, tomorrow in the congregation, where I
 should wed, there will I shame her.
PRINCE And as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will
120 join with thee to disgrace her.
DON JOHN I will disparage her no farther till you are
 my witnesses. Bear it coldly but till midnight, and
 let the issue show itself.
PRINCE O day untowardly turned!
CLAUDIO 125O mischief strangely thwarting!
DON JOHN O plague right well prevented! So will you
 say when you have seen the sequel.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Dogberry and his compartner Verges
with the Watch.


DOGBERRY Are you good men and true?
VERGES Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
 salvation, body and soul.
DOGBERRY Nay, that were a punishment too good for
5 them if they should have any allegiance in them,
 being chosen for the Prince’s watch.
VERGES Well, give them their charge, neighbor
 Dogberry.
DOGBERRY First, who think you the most desartless
10 man to be constable?
FIRST WATCHMAN Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal,
 for they can write and read.
DOGBERRY Come hither, neighbor Seacoal. Seacoal
 steps forward. 
God hath blessed you with a good

101
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 3

15 name. To be a well-favored man is the gift of
 fortune, but to write and read comes by nature.
SEACOAL Both which, master constable—
DOGBERRY You have. I knew it would be your answer.
 Well, for your favor, sir, why, give God thanks, and
20 make no boast of it, and for your writing and
 reading, let that appear when there is no need of
 such vanity. You are thought here to be the most
 senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch;
 therefore bear you the lantern. This is your charge:
25 you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to
 bid any man stand, in the Prince’s name.
SEACOAL How if he will not stand?
DOGBERRY Why, then, take no note of him, but let him
 go, and presently call the rest of the watch together
30 and thank God you are rid of a knave.
VERGES If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is
 none of the Prince’s subjects.
DOGBERRY True, and they are to meddle with none but
 the Prince’s subjects.—You shall also make no
35 noise in the streets; for, for the watch to babble and
 to talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.
SECOND WATCHMAN We will rather sleep than talk.
 We know what belongs to a watch.
DOGBERRY Why, you speak like an ancient and most
40 quiet watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping
 should offend; only have a care that your bills be not
 stolen. Well, you are to call at all the alehouses and
 bid those that are drunk get them to bed.
SEACOAL How if they will not?
DOGBERRY 45Why then, let them alone till they are sober.
 If they make you not then the better answer, you
 may say they are not the men you took them for.
SEACOAL Well, sir.
DOGBERRY If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by
50 virtue of your office, to be no true man, and for such

103
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ACT 3. SC. 3

 kind of men, the less you meddle or make with
 them, why, the more is for your honesty.
SEACOAL If we know him to be a thief, shall we not
 lay hands on him?
DOGBERRY 55Truly, by your office you may, but I think
 they that touch pitch will be defiled. The most
 peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is to
 let him show himself what he is and steal out of
 your company.
VERGES 60You have been always called a merciful man,
 partner.
DOGBERRY Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will,
 much more a man who hath any honesty in him.
VERGES, to the Watch If you hear a child cry in the
65 night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.
SECOND WATCHMAN How if the nurse be asleep and
 will not hear us?
DOGBERRY Why, then depart in peace, and let the
 child wake her with crying, for the ewe that will
70 not hear her lamb when it baas will never answer a
 calf when he bleats.
VERGES ’Tis very true.
DOGBERRY This is the end of the charge. You, constable,
 are to present the Prince’s own person. If you
75 meet the Prince in the night, you may stay him.
VERGES Nay, by ’r Lady, that I think he cannot.
DOGBERRY Five shillings to one on ’t, with any man that
 knows the statutes, he may stay him—marry, not
 without the Prince be willing, for indeed the watch
80 ought to offend no man, and it is an offense to stay a
 man against his will.
VERGES By ’r Lady, I think it be so.
DOGBERRY Ha, ah ha!—Well, masters, goodnight. An
 there be any matter of weight chances, call up me.
85 Keep your fellows’ counsels and your own, and
 goodnight.—Come, neighbor.
Dogberry and Verges begin to exit.

105
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 3. SC. 3

SEACOAL Well, masters, we hear our charge. Let us go
 sit here upon the church bench till two, and then all
 to bed.
DOGBERRY 90One word more, honest neighbors. I pray
 you watch about Signior Leonato’s door, for the
 wedding being there tomorrow, there is a great coil
 tonight. Adieu, be vigitant, I beseech you.
Dogberry and Verges exit.

Enter Borachio and Conrade.

BORACHIO What, Conrade!
SEACOAL, aside 95Peace, stir not.
BORACHIO Conrade, I say!
CONRADE Here, man, I am at thy elbow.
BORACHIO Mass, and my elbow itched, I thought there
 would a scab follow.
CONRADE 100I will owe thee an answer for that. And now
 forward with thy tale.
BORACHIO Stand thee close, then, under this penthouse,
 for it drizzles rain, and I will, like a true
 drunkard, utter all to thee.
SEACOAL, aside 105Some treason, masters. Yet stand
 close.
BORACHIO Therefore know, I have earned of Don
 John a thousand ducats.
CONRADE Is it possible that any villainy should be so
110 dear?
BORACHIO Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible
 any villainy should be so rich. For when rich
 villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may
 make what price they will.
CONRADE 115I wonder at it.
BORACHIO That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou
 knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a
 cloak, is nothing to a man.

107
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ACT 3. SC. 3

CONRADE Yes, it is apparel.
BORACHIO 120I mean the fashion.
CONRADE Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
BORACHIO Tush, I may as well say the fool’s the fool.
 But seest thou not what a deformed thief this
 fashion is?
FIRST WATCHMAN, aside 125I know that Deformed. He
 has been a vile thief this seven year. He goes up and
 down like a gentleman. I remember his name.
BORACHIO Didst thou not hear somebody?
CONRADE No, ’twas the vane on the house.
BORACHIO 130Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief
 this fashion is, how giddily he turns about all the
 hot bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty,
 sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh’s soldiers
 in the reechy painting, sometimes like god Bel’s
135 priests in the old church window, sometimes like
 the shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten
 tapestry, where his codpiece seems as massy as his
 club?
CONRADE All this I see, and I see that the fashion wears
140 out more apparel than the man. But art not thou
 thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
 shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the
 fashion?
BORACHIO Not so, neither. But know that I have tonight
145 wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero’s gentlewoman,
 by the name of Hero. She leans me out at
 her mistress’ chamber window, bids me a thousand
 times goodnight. I tell this tale vilely. I should first
 tell thee how the Prince, Claudio, and my master,
150 planted and placed and possessed by my master
 Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable
 amiable encounter.
CONRADE And thought they Margaret was Hero?
BORACHIO Two of them did, the Prince and Claudio,

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155 but the devil my master knew she was Margaret;
 and partly by his oaths, which first possessed them,
 partly by the dark night, which did deceive them,
 but chiefly by my villainy, which did confirm any
 slander that Don John had made, away went Claudio
160 enraged, swore he would meet her as he was
 appointed next morning at the temple, and there,
 before the whole congregation, shame her with
 what he saw o’ernight and send her home again
 without a husband.
FIRST WATCHMAN 165We charge you in the Prince’s name
 stand!
SEACOAL Call up the right Master Constable. Second
 Watchman exits. 
We have here recovered the most
 dangerous piece of lechery that ever was known in
170 the commonwealth.
FIRST WATCHMAN And one Deformed is one of them. I
 know him; he wears a lock.

Enter Dogberry, Verges, and Second Watchman.

DOGBERRY Masters, masters—
FIRST WATCHMAN, to Borachio You’ll be made bring
175 Deformed forth, I warrant you.
DOGBERRY, to Borachio and Conrade Masters, never
 speak, we charge you, let us obey you to go with us.
BORACHIO, to Conrade We are like to prove a goodly
 commodity, being taken up of these men’s bills.
CONRADE 180A commodity in question, I warrant you.—
 Come, we’ll obey you.
They exit.




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ACT 3. SC. 4

Scene 4
Enter Hero, and Margaret, and Ursula.

HERO Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice and
 desire her to rise.
URSULA I will, lady.
HERO And bid her come hither.
URSULA 5Well.Ursula exits.
MARGARET Troth, I think your other rebato were
 better.
HERO No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.
MARGARET By my troth, ’s not so good, and I warrant
10 your cousin will say so.
HERO My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another. I’ll
 wear none but this.
MARGARET I like the new tire within excellently, if the
 hair were a thought browner; and your gown’s a
15 most rare fashion, i’ faith. I saw the Duchess of
 Milan’s gown that they praise so.
HERO O, that exceeds, they say.
MARGARET By my troth, ’s but a nightgown in respect
 of yours—cloth o’ gold, and cuts, and laced with
20 silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves,
 and skirts round underborne with a bluish tinsel.
 But for a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion,
 yours is worth ten on ’t.
HERO God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is
25 exceeding heavy.
MARGARET ’Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a
 man.
HERO Fie upon thee! Art not ashamed?
MARGARET Of what, lady? Of speaking honorably? Is
30 not marriage honorable in a beggar? Is not your
 lord honorable without marriage? I think you
 would have me say “Saving your reverence, a husband.”
 An bad thinking do not wrest true speaking,

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ACT 3. SC. 4

 I’ll offend nobody. Is there any harm in “the heavier
35 for a husband”? None, I think, an it be the right
 husband and the right wife. Otherwise, ’tis light and
 not heavy. Ask my lady Beatrice else. Here she
 comes.

Enter Beatrice.

HERO Good morrow, coz.
BEATRICE 40Good morrow, sweet Hero.
HERO Why, how now? Do you speak in the sick tune?
BEATRICE I am out of all other tune, methinks.
MARGARET Clap ’s into Light o’ love. That goes
 without a burden. Do you sing it, and I’ll dance it.
BEATRICE 45You light o’ love with your heels! Then, if
 your husband have stables enough, you’ll see he
 shall lack no barns.
MARGARET O, illegitimate construction! I scorn that
 with my heels.
BEATRICE 50’Tis almost five o’clock, cousin. ’Tis time
 you were ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill.
 Heigh-ho!
MARGARET For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?
BEATRICE For the letter that begins them all, H.
MARGARET 55Well, an you be not turned Turk, there’s no
 more sailing by the star.
BEATRICE What means the fool, trow?
MARGARET Nothing, I; but God send everyone their
 heart’s desire.
HERO 60These gloves the Count sent me, they are an
 excellent perfume.
BEATRICE I am stuffed, cousin. I cannot smell.
MARGARET A maid, and stuffed! There’s goodly catching
 of cold.
BEATRICE 65O, God help me, God help me! How long
 have you professed apprehension?

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ACT 3. SC. 4

MARGARET Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit
 become me rarely?
BEATRICE It is not seen enough; you should wear it in
70 your cap. By my troth, I am sick.
MARGARET Get you some of this distilled carduus benedictus
 and lay it to your heart. It is the only thing for
 a qualm.
HERO There thou prick’st her with a thistle.
BEATRICE 75Benedictus! Why benedictus? You have some
 moral in this benedictus?
MARGARET Moral? No, by my troth, I have no moral
 meaning; I meant plain holy thistle. You may think
 perchance that I think you are in love. Nay, by ’r
80 Lady, I am not such a fool to think what I list, nor I
 list not to think what I can, nor indeed I cannot
 think, if I would think my heart out of thinking, that
 you are in love or that you will be in love or that you
 can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and
85 now is he become a man. He swore he would never
 marry, and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats
 his meat without grudging. And how you may be
 converted I know not, but methinks you look with
 your eyes as other women do.
BEATRICE 90What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?
MARGARET Not a false gallop.

Enter Ursula.

URSULA Madam, withdraw. The Prince, the Count,
 Signior Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of
 the town are come to fetch you to church.
HERO 95Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good
 Ursula.
They exit.




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ACT 3. SC. 5

Scene 5
Enter Leonato, and Dogberry, the Constable, and
Verges, the Headborough.


LEONATO What would you with me, honest neighbor?
DOGBERRY Marry, sir, I would have some confidence
 with you that decerns you nearly.
LEONATO Brief, I pray you, for you see it is a busy time
5 with me.
DOGBERRY Marry, this it is, sir.
VERGES Yes, in truth, it is, sir.
LEONATO What is it, my good friends?
DOGBERRY Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the
10 matter. An old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt
 as, God help, I would desire they were, but, in faith,
 honest as the skin between his brows.
VERGES Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any man
 living that is an old man and no honester than I.
DOGBERRY 15Comparisons are odorous. Palabras, neighbor
 Verges.
LEONATO Neighbors, you are tedious.
DOGBERRY It pleases your Worship to say so, but we
 are the poor duke’s officers. But truly, for mine
20 own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find
 in my heart to bestow it all of your Worship.
LEONATO All thy tediousness on me, ah?
DOGBERRY Yea, an ’twere a thousand pound more
 than ’tis, for I hear as good exclamation on your
25 Worship as of any man in the city, and though I be
 but a poor man, I am glad to hear it.
VERGES And so am I.
LEONATO I would fain know what you have to say.
VERGES Marry, sir, our watch tonight, excepting your
30 Worship’s presence, ha’ ta’en a couple of as arrant
 knaves as any in Messina.
DOGBERRY A good old man, sir. He will be talking. As

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ACT 3. SC. 5

 they say, “When the age is in, the wit is out.” God
 help us, it is a world to see!—Well said, i’ faith,
35 neighbor Verges.—Well, God’s a good man. An two
 men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An
 honest soul, i’ faith, sir, by my troth he is, as ever
 broke bread, but God is to be worshiped, all men
 are not alike, alas, good neighbor.
LEONATO 40Indeed, neighbor, he comes too short of you.
DOGBERRY Gifts that God gives.
LEONATO I must leave you.
DOGBERRY One word, sir. Our watch, sir, have indeed
 comprehended two aspicious persons, and we
45 would have them this morning examined before
 your Worship.
LEONATO Take their examination yourself and bring it
 me. I am now in great haste, as it may appear unto
 you.
DOGBERRY 50It shall be suffigance.
LEONATO Drink some wine ere you go. Fare you well.

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER My lord, they stay for you to give your
 daughter to her husband.
LEONATO I’ll wait upon them. I am ready.
He exits, with the Messenger.
DOGBERRY 55Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis
 Seacoal. Bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the
 jail. We are now to examination these men.
VERGES And we must do it wisely.
DOGBERRY We will spare for no wit, I warrant you.
60 Here’s that shall drive some of them to a noncome.
 Only get the learned writer to set down our excommunication
 and meet me at the jail.
They exit.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter Prince, John the Bastard, Leonato, Friar,
Claudio, Benedick, Hero, and Beatrice, with
Attendants.


LEONATO Come, Friar Francis, be brief, only to the
 plain form of marriage, and you shall recount their
 particular duties afterwards.
FRIAR, to Claudio You come hither, my lord, to marry
5 this lady?
CLAUDIO No.
LEONATO To be married to her.—Friar, you come to
 marry her.
FRIAR Lady, you come hither to be married to this
10 count?
HERO I do.
FRIAR If either of you know any inward impediment
 why you should not be conjoined, I charge you on
 your souls to utter it.
CLAUDIO 15Know you any, Hero?
HERO None, my lord.
FRIAR Know you any, count?
LEONATO I dare make his answer, none.
CLAUDIO O, what men dare do! What men may do!
20 What men daily do, not knowing what they do!
BENEDICK How now, interjections? Why, then, some
 be of laughing, as ah, ha, he!
123

125
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 4. SC. 1

CLAUDIO 
 Stand thee by, friar.—Father, by your leave,
 Will you with free and unconstrainèd soul
25 Give me this maid, your daughter?
LEONATO 
 As freely, son, as God did give her me.
CLAUDIO 
 And what have I to give you back whose worth
 May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
PRINCE 
 Nothing, unless you render her again.
CLAUDIO 
30 Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.—
 There, Leonato, take her back again.
 Give not this rotten orange to your friend.
 She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor.
 Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
35 O, what authority and show of truth
 Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
 Comes not that blood as modest evidence
 To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
 All you that see her, that she were a maid,
40 By these exterior shows? But she is none.
 She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.
 Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
LEONATO 
 What do you mean, my lord?
CLAUDIO  Not to be married,
45 Not to knit my soul to an approvèd wanton.
LEONATO 
 Dear my lord, if you in your own proof
 Have vanquished the resistance of her youth,
 And made defeat of her virginity—
CLAUDIO 
 I know what you would say: if I have known her,
50 You will say she did embrace me as a husband,

127
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 And so extenuate the forehand sin.
 No, Leonato,
 I never tempted her with word too large,
 But, as a brother to his sister, showed
55 Bashful sincerity and comely love.
HERO 
 And seemed I ever otherwise to you?
CLAUDIO 
 Out on thee, seeming! I will write against it.
 You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
 As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown.
60 But you are more intemperate in your blood
 Than Venus, or those pampered animals
 That rage in savage sensuality.
HERO 
 Is my lord well that he doth speak so wide?
LEONATO 
 Sweet prince, why speak not you?
PRINCE 65 What should I
 speak?
 I stand dishonored that have gone about
 To link my dear friend to a common stale.
LEONATO 
 Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
DON JOHN 
70 Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
BENEDICK This looks not like a nuptial.
HERO True! O God!
CLAUDIO Leonato, stand I here?
 Is this the Prince? Is this the Prince’s brother?
75 Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?
LEONATO 
 All this is so, but what of this, my lord?
CLAUDIO 
 Let me but move one question to your daughter,

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ACT 4. SC. 1

 And by that fatherly and kindly power
 That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
LEONATO 
80 I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
HERO 
 O, God defend me, how am I beset!—
 What kind of catechizing call you this?
CLAUDIO 
 To make you answer truly to your name.
HERO 
 Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
85 With any just reproach?
CLAUDIO  Marry, that can Hero!
 Hero itself can blot out Hero’s virtue.
 What man was he talked with you yesternight
 Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
90 Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
HERO 
 I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.
PRINCE 
 Why, then, are you no maiden.—Leonato,
 I am sorry you must hear. Upon mine honor,
 Myself, my brother, and this grievèd count
95 Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
 Talk with a ruffian at her chamber window,
 Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
 Confessed the vile encounters they have had
 A thousand times in secret.
DON JOHN 
100 Fie, fie, they are not to be named, my lord,
 Not to be spoke of!
 There is not chastity enough in language,
 Without offense, to utter them.—Thus, pretty lady,
 I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
CLAUDIO 
105 O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been

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ACT 4. SC. 1

 If half thy outward graces had been placed
 About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
 But fare thee well, most foul, most fair. Farewell,
 Thou pure impiety and impious purity.
110 For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love
 And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
 To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
 And never shall it more be gracious.
LEONATO 
 Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?
Hero falls.
BEATRICE 
115 Why, how now, cousin, wherefore sink you down?
DON JOHN 
 Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
 Smother her spirits up.
Claudio, Prince, and Don John exit.
BENEDICK 
 How doth the lady?
BEATRICE  Dead, I think.—Help, uncle!—
120 Hero, why Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
LEONATO 
 O Fate, take not away thy heavy hand!
 Death is the fairest cover for her shame
 That may be wished for.
BEATRICE How now, cousin Hero?Hero stirs.
FRIAR, to Hero 125Have comfort, lady.
LEONATO, to Hero 
 Dost thou look up?
FRIAR  Yea, wherefore should she not?
LEONATO 
 Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly thing
 Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
130 The story that is printed in her blood?—
 Do not live, Hero, do not ope thine eyes,
 For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,

133
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
 Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
135 Strike at thy life. Grieved I I had but one?
 Chid I for that at frugal Nature’s frame?
 O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
 Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
 Why had I not with charitable hand
140 Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
 Who, smirchèd thus, and mired with infamy,
 I might have said “No part of it is mine;
 This shame derives itself from unknown loins”?
 But mine, and mine I loved, and mine I praised,
145 And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
 That I myself was to myself not mine,
 Valuing of her—why she, O she, is fall’n
 Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
 Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
150 And salt too little which may season give
 To her foul tainted flesh!
BENEDICK  Sir, sir, be patient.
 For my part, I am so attired in wonder
 I know not what to say.
BEATRICE 
155 O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
BENEDICK 
 Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
BEATRICE 
 No, truly not, although until last night
 I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
LEONATO 
 Confirmed, confirmed! O, that is stronger made
160 Which was before barred up with ribs of iron!
 Would the two princes lie and Claudio lie,
 Who loved her so that, speaking of her foulness,
 Washed it with tears? Hence from her. Let her die!
FRIAR Hear me a little,

135
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ACT 4. SC. 1

165 For I have only silent been so long,
 And given way unto this course of fortune,
 By noting of the lady. I have marked
 A thousand blushing apparitions
 To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames
170 In angel whiteness beat away those blushes,
 And in her eye there hath appeared a fire
 To burn the errors that these princes hold
 Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool,
 Trust not my reading nor my observations,
175 Which with experimental seal doth warrant
 The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
 My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
 If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
 Under some biting error.
LEONATO 180 Friar, it cannot be.
 Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
 Is that she will not add to her damnation
 A sin of perjury. She not denies it.
 Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse
185 That which appears in proper nakedness?
FRIAR 
 Lady, what man is he you are accused of?
HERO 
 They know that do accuse me. I know none.
 If I know more of any man alive
 Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
190 Let all my sins lack mercy!—O my father,
 Prove you that any man with me conversed
 At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
 Maintained the change of words with any creature,
 Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!
FRIAR 
195 There is some strange misprision in the princes.
BENEDICK 
 Two of them have the very bent of honor,

137
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
 The practice of it lives in John the Bastard,
 Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.
LEONATO 
200 I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
 These hands shall tear her. If they wrong her honor,
 The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
 Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
 Nor age so eat up my invention,
205 Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
 Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
 But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
 Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
 Ability in means and choice of friends,
210 To quit me of them throughly.
FRIAR  Pause awhile,
 And let my counsel sway you in this case.
 Your daughter here the princes left for dead.
 Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
215 And publish it that she is dead indeed.
 Maintain a mourning ostentation,
 And on your family’s old monument
 Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
 That appertain unto a burial.
LEONATO 
220 What shall become of this? What will this do?
FRIAR 
 Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
 Change slander to remorse. That is some good.
 But not for that dream I on this strange course,
 But on this travail look for greater birth.
225 She, dying, as it must be so maintained,
 Upon the instant that she was accused,
 Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused
 Of every hearer. For it so falls out
 That what we have we prize not to the worth

139
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ACT 4. SC. 1

230 Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
 Why then we rack the value, then we find
 The virtue that possession would not show us
 Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio.
 When he shall hear she died upon his words,
235 Th’ idea of her life shall sweetly creep
 Into his study of imagination,
 And every lovely organ of her life
 Shall come appareled in more precious habit,
 More moving, delicate, and full of life,
240 Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
 Than when she lived indeed. Then shall he mourn,
 If ever love had interest in his liver,
 And wish he had not so accused her,
 No, though he thought his accusation true.
245 Let this be so, and doubt not but success
 Will fashion the event in better shape
 Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
 But if all aim but this be leveled false,
 The supposition of the lady’s death
250 Will quench the wonder of her infamy.
 And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
 As best befits her wounded reputation,
 In some reclusive and religious life,
 Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.
BENEDICK 
255 Signior Leonato, let the Friar advise you.
 And though you know my inwardness and love
 Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,
 Yet, by mine honor, I will deal in this
 As secretly and justly as your soul
260 Should with your body.
LEONATO  Being that I flow in grief,
 The smallest twine may lead me.
FRIAR 
 ’Tis well consented. Presently away,

141
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ACT 4. SC. 1

  For to strange sores strangely they strain the
265  cure.—
 Come, lady, die to live. This wedding day
  Perhaps is but prolonged. Have patience and
  endure.
All but Beatrice and Benedick exit.
BENEDICK Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
BEATRICE 270Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
BENEDICK I will not desire that.
BEATRICE You have no reason. I do it freely.
BENEDICK Surely I do believe your fair cousin is
 wronged.
BEATRICE 275Ah, how much might the man deserve of me
 that would right her!
BENEDICK Is there any way to show such friendship?
BEATRICE A very even way, but no such friend.
BENEDICK May a man do it?
BEATRICE 280It is a man’s office, but not yours.
BENEDICK I do love nothing in the world so well as
 you. Is not that strange?
BEATRICE As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
 possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you,
285 but believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess
 nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my
 cousin.
BENEDICK By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me!
BEATRICE Do not swear and eat it.
BENEDICK 290I will swear by it that you love me, and I will
 make him eat it that says I love not you.
BEATRICE Will you not eat your word?
BENEDICK With no sauce that can be devised to it. I
 protest I love thee.
BEATRICE 295Why then, God forgive me.
BENEDICK What offense, sweet Beatrice?
BEATRICE You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was
 about to protest I loved you.

143
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ACT 4. SC. 1

BENEDICK And do it with all thy heart.
BEATRICE 300I love you with so much of my heart that
 none is left to protest.
BENEDICK Come, bid me do anything for thee.
BEATRICE Kill Claudio.
BENEDICK Ha! Not for the wide world.
BEATRICE 305You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
She begins to exit.
BENEDICK Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
BEATRICE I am gone, though I am here. There is no
 love in you. Nay, I pray you let me go.
BENEDICK Beatrice—
BEATRICE 310In faith, I will go.
BENEDICK We’ll be friends first.
BEATRICE You dare easier be friends with me than
 fight with mine enemy.
BENEDICK Is Claudio thine enemy?
BEATRICE 315Is he not approved in the height a villain
 that hath slandered, scorned, dishonored my kinswoman?
 O, that I were a man! What, bear her in
 hand until they come to take hands, and then, with
 public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated
320 rancor—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his
 heart in the marketplace.
BENEDICK Hear me, Beatrice—
BEATRICE Talk with a man out at a window! A proper
 saying.
BENEDICK 325Nay, but Beatrice—
BEATRICE Sweet Hero, she is wronged, she is slandered,
 she is undone.
BENEDICK Beat—
BEATRICE Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony,
330 a goodly count, Count Comfect, a sweet
 gallant, surely! O, that I were a man for his sake! Or
 that I had any friend would be a man for my sake!
 But manhood is melted into curtsies, valor into

145
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ACT 4. SC. 2

 compliment, and men are only turned into tongue,
335 and trim ones, too. He is now as valiant as Hercules
 that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man
 with wishing; therefore I will die a woman with
 grieving.
BENEDICK Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love
340 thee.
BEATRICE Use it for my love some other way than
 swearing by it.
BENEDICK Think you in your soul the Count Claudio
 hath wronged Hero?
BEATRICE 345Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.
BENEDICK Enough, I am engaged. I will challenge
 him. I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By
 this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account.
 As you hear of me, so think of me. Go comfort your
350 cousin. I must say she is dead, and so farewell.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter the Constables Dogberry and Verges, and the
Town Clerk, or Sexton, in gowns, with the Watch,
Conrade, and Borachio.


DOGBERRY Is our whole dissembly appeared?
VERGES O, a stool and a cushion for the Sexton.
A stool is brought in; the Sexton sits.
SEXTON Which be the malefactors?
DOGBERRY Marry, that am I, and my partner.
VERGES 5Nay, that’s certain, we have the exhibition to
 examine.
SEXTON But which are the offenders that are to be
 examined? Let them come before Master
 Constable.

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ACT 4. SC. 2

DOGBERRY 10Yea, marry, let them come before me.
Conrade and Borachio are brought forward.
 What is your name, friend?
BORACHIO Borachio.
DOGBERRY Pray, write down “Borachio.”—Yours,
 sirrah?
CONRADE 15I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is
 Conrade.
DOGBERRY Write down “Master Gentleman Conrade.”—
 Masters, do you serve God?
BORACHIO/CONRADE Yea, sir, we hope.
DOGBERRY 20Write down that they hope they serve
 God; and write God first, for God defend but God
 should go before such villains!—Masters, it is
 proved already that you are little better than false
 knaves, and it will go near to be thought so shortly.
25 How answer you for yourselves?
CONRADE Marry, sir, we say we are none.
DOGBERRY A marvelous witty fellow, I assure you,
 but I will go about with him.—Come you hither,
 sirrah, a word in your ear. Sir, I say to you it is
30 thought you are false knaves.
BORACHIO Sir, I say to you we are none.
DOGBERRY Well, stand aside.—’Fore God, they are
 both in a tale. Have you writ down that they are
 none?
SEXTON 35Master constable, you go not the way to
 examine. You must call forth the watch that are
 their accusers.
DOGBERRY Yea, marry, that’s the eftest way.—Let
 the watch come forth. Masters, I charge you in the
40 Prince’s name, accuse these men.
FIRST WATCHMAN This man said, sir, that Don John, the
 Prince’s brother, was a villain.
DOGBERRY Write down Prince John a villain. Why,
 this is flat perjury, to call a prince’s brother villain!

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ACT 4. SC. 2

BORACHIO 45Master constable—
DOGBERRY Pray thee, fellow, peace. I do not like thy
 look, I promise thee.
SEXTON, to Watch What heard you him say else?
SEACOAL Marry, that he had received a thousand
50 ducats of Don John for accusing the Lady Hero
 wrongfully.
DOGBERRY Flat burglary as ever was committed.
VERGES Yea, by Mass, that it is.
SEXTON What else, fellow?
FIRST WATCHMAN 55And that Count Claudio did mean,
 upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole
 assembly, and not marry her.
DOGBERRY, to Borachio O, villain! Thou wilt be condemned
 into everlasting redemption for this!
SEXTON 60What else?
SEACOAL This is all.
SEXTON And this is more, masters, than you can deny.
 Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away.
 Hero was in this manner accused, in this very
65 manner refused, and upon the grief of this suddenly
 died.—Master constable, let these men be bound
 and brought to Leonato’s. I will go before and show
 him their examination.He exits.
DOGBERRY Come, let them be opinioned.
VERGES 70Let them be in the hands—
CONRADE Off, coxcomb!
DOGBERRY God’s my life, where’s the Sexton? Let
 him write down the Prince’s officer “coxcomb.”
 Come, bind them.—Thou naughty varlet!
CONRADE 75Away! You are an ass, you are an ass!
DOGBERRY Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost
 thou not suspect my years? O, that he were here to
 write me down an ass! But masters, remember that
 I am an ass, though it be not written down, yet
80 forget not that I am an ass.—No, thou villain, thou

151
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ACT 4. SC. 2

 art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by
 good witness. I am a wise fellow and, which is more,
 an officer and, which is more, a householder and,
 which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in
85 Messina, and one that knows the law, go to, and a
 rich fellow enough, go to, and a fellow that hath had
 losses, and one that hath two gowns and everything
 handsome about him.—Bring him away.—O, that I
 had been writ down an ass!
They exit.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter Leonato and his brother.

LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 If you go on thus, you will kill yourself,
 And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
 Against yourself.
LEONATO  I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
5 Which falls into mine ears as profitless
 As water in a sieve. Give not me counsel,
 Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
 But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine.
 Bring me a father that so loved his child,
10 Whose joy of her is overwhelmed like mine,
 And bid him speak of patience.
 Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
 And let it answer every strain for strain,
 As thus for thus, and such a grief for such,
15 In every lineament, branch, shape, and form.
 If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
 Bid sorrow wag, cry “hem” when he should
 groan,
 Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk
20 With candle-wasters, bring him yet to me,
 And I of him will gather patience.
 But there is no such man. For, brother, men
155

157
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 5. SC. 1

 Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
 Which they themselves not feel, but tasting it,
25 Their counsel turns to passion, which before
 Would give preceptial med’cine to rage,
 Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
 Charm ache with air and agony with words.
 No, no, ’tis all men’s office to speak patience
30 To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
 But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency
 To be so moral when he shall endure
 The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel.
 My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
35 Therein do men from children nothing differ.
LEONATO 
 I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood,
 For there was never yet philosopher
 That could endure the toothache patiently,
 However they have writ the style of gods
40 And made a push at chance and sufferance.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself.
 Make those that do offend you suffer too.
LEONATO 
 There thou speak’st reason. Nay, I will do so.
 My soul doth tell me Hero is belied,
45 And that shall Claudio know; so shall the Prince
 And all of them that thus dishonor her.

Enter Prince and Claudio.

LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Here comes the Prince and Claudio hastily.
PRINCE 
 Good e’en, good e’en.
CLAUDIO  Good day to both of you.

159
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ACT 5. SC. 1

LEONATO 
50 Hear you, my lords—
PRINCE  We have some haste,
 Leonato.
LEONATO 
 Some haste, my lord! Well, fare you well, my lord.
 Are you so hasty now? Well, all is one.
PRINCE 
55 Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 If he could right himself with quarrelling,
 Some of us would lie low.
CLAUDIO  Who wrongs him?
LEONATO 
 Marry, thou dost wrong me, thou dissembler, thou.
60 Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword.
 I fear thee not.
CLAUDIO  Marry, beshrew my hand
 If it should give your age such cause of fear.
 In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.
LEONATO 
65 Tush, tush, man, never fleer and jest at me.
 I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
 As under privilege of age to brag
 What I have done being young, or what would do
 Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
70 Thou hast so wronged mine innocent child and me
 That I am forced to lay my reverence by,
 And with gray hairs and bruise of many days
 Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
 I say thou hast belied mine innocent child.
75 Thy slander hath gone through and through her
 heart,
 And she lies buried with her ancestors,
 O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,
 Save this of hers, framed by thy villainy.

161
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ACT 5. SC. 1

CLAUDIO 
80 My villainy?
LEONATO  Thine, Claudio, thine, I say.
PRINCE 
 You say not right, old man.
LEONATO  My lord, my lord,
 I’ll prove it on his body if he dare,
85 Despite his nice fence and his active practice,
 His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
CLAUDIO 
 Away! I will not have to do with you.
LEONATO 
 Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast killed my child.
 If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
90 He shall kill two of us, and men indeed,
 But that’s no matter. Let him kill one first.
 Win me and wear me! Let him answer me.—
 Come, follow me, boy. Come, sir boy, come, follow
 me.
95 Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence,
 Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
LEONATO Brother—
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Content yourself. God knows I loved my niece,
 And she is dead, slandered to death by villains
100 That dare as well answer a man indeed
 As I dare take a serpent by the tongue.—
 Boys, apes, braggarts, jacks, milksops!
LEONATO Brother Anthony—
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,
105 And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple—
 Scambling, outfacing, fashionmonging boys,
 That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
 Go anticly and show outward hideousness,

163
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ACT 5. SC. 1

 And speak off half a dozen dang’rous words
110 How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst,
 And this is all.
LEONATO But brother Anthony—
LEONATO’S BROTHER Come, ’tis no matter.
 Do not you meddle. Let me deal in this.
PRINCE 
115 Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
 My heart is sorry for your daughter’s death,
 But, on my honor, she was charged with nothing
 But what was true and very full of proof.
LEONATO My lord, my lord—
PRINCE 120I will not hear you.
LEONATO 
 No? Come, brother, away. I will be heard.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 And shall, or some of us will smart for it.
Leonato and his brother exit.

Enter Benedick.

PRINCE 
 See, see, here comes the man we went to seek.
CLAUDIO Now, signior, what news?
BENEDICK, to Prince 125Good day, my lord.
PRINCE Welcome, signior. You are almost come to
 part almost a fray.
CLAUDIO We had like to have had our two noses
 snapped off with two old men without teeth.
PRINCE 130Leonato and his brother. What think’st thou?
 Had we fought, I doubt we should have been too
 young for them.
BENEDICK In a false quarrel there is no true valor. I
 came to seek you both.
CLAUDIO 135We have been up and down to seek thee, for
 we are high-proof melancholy and would fain have
 it beaten away. Wilt thou use thy wit?

165
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 5. SC. 1

BENEDICK It is in my scabbard. Shall I draw it?
PRINCE Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?
CLAUDIO 140Never any did so, though very many have
 been beside their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do
 the minstrels: draw to pleasure us.
PRINCE As I am an honest man, he looks pale.—Art
 thou sick, or angry?
CLAUDIO, to Benedick 145What, courage, man! What
 though care killed a cat? Thou hast mettle enough
 in thee to kill care.
BENEDICK Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an
 you charge it against me. I pray you, choose another
150 subject.
CLAUDIO, to Prince Nay, then, give him another staff.
 This last was broke ’cross.
PRINCE By this light, he changes more and more. I
 think he be angry indeed.
CLAUDIO 155If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
BENEDICK Shall I speak a word in your ear?
CLAUDIO God bless me from a challenge!
BENEDICK, aside to Claudio You are a villain. I jest
 not. I will make it good how you dare, with what you
160 dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will
 protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet
 lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me
 hear from you.
CLAUDIO Well, I will meet you, so I may have good
165 cheer.
PRINCE What, a feast, a feast?
CLAUDIO I’ faith, I thank him. He hath bid me to a
 calf’s head and a capon, the which if I do not carve
 most curiously, say my knife’s naught. Shall I not
170 find a woodcock too?
BENEDICK Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
PRINCE I’ll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the
 other day. I said thou hadst a fine wit. “True,” said

167
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ACT 5. SC. 1

 she, “a fine little one.” “No,” said I, “a great wit.”
175 “Right,” says she, “a great gross one.” “Nay,” said I,
 “a good wit.” “Just,” said she, “it hurts nobody.”
 “Nay,” said I, “the gentleman is wise.” “Certain,”
 said she, “a wise gentleman.” “Nay,” said I, “he
 hath the tongues.” “That I believe,” said she, “for he
180 swore a thing to me on Monday night which he
 forswore on Tuesday morning; there’s a double
 tongue, there’s two tongues.” Thus did she an hour
 together transshape thy particular virtues. Yet at
 last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the
185 proper’st man in Italy.
CLAUDIO For the which she wept heartily and said she
 cared not.
PRINCE Yea, that she did. But yet for all that, an if she
 did not hate him deadly, she would love him
190 dearly. The old man’s daughter told us all.
CLAUDIO All, all. And, moreover, God saw him when
 he was hid in the garden.
PRINCE But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns
 on the sensible Benedick’s head?
CLAUDIO 195Yea, and text underneath: “Here dwells Benedick,
 the married man”?
BENEDICK Fare you well, boy. You know my mind. I
 will leave you now to your gossip-like humor. You
 break jests as braggarts do their blades, which, God
200 be thanked, hurt not.—My lord, for your many
 courtesies I thank you. I must discontinue your
 company. Your brother the Bastard is fled from
 Messina. You have among you killed a sweet and
 innocent lady. For my Lord Lackbeard there, he and
205 I shall meet, and till then peace be with him.
Benedick exits.
PRINCE He is in earnest.
CLAUDIO In most profound earnest, and, I’ll warrant
 you, for the love of Beatrice.

169
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 5. SC. 1

PRINCE And hath challenged thee?
CLAUDIO 210Most sincerely.
PRINCE What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
 doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!
CLAUDIO He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape
 a doctor to such a man.
PRINCE 215But soft you, let me be. Pluck up, my heart,
 and be sad. Did he not say my brother was fled?

Enter Constables Dogberry and Verges, and the Watch,
with Conrade and Borachio.


DOGBERRY Come you, sir. If justice cannot tame you,
 she shall ne’er weigh more reasons in her balance.
 Nay, an you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must
220 be looked to.
PRINCE How now, two of my brother’s men bound?
 Borachio one!
CLAUDIO Hearken after their offense, my lord.
PRINCE Officers, what offense have these men done?
DOGBERRY 225Marry, sir, they have committed false
 report; moreover, they have spoken untruths;
 secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they
 have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust
 things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.
PRINCE 230First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I
 ask thee what’s their offense; sixth and lastly, why
 they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay
 to their charge.
CLAUDIO Rightly reasoned, and in his own division;
235 and, by my troth, there’s one meaning well suited.
PRINCE, to Borachio and Conrade Who have you offended,
 masters, that you are thus bound to your
 answer? This learned constable is too cunning to be
 understood. What’s your offense?
BORACHIO 240Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine
 answer. Do you hear me, and let this count kill me.

171
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ACT 5. SC. 1

 I have deceived even your very eyes. What your
 wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools
 have brought to light, who in the night overheard
245 me confessing to this man how Don John your
 brother incensed me to slander the Lady Hero, how
 you were brought into the orchard and saw me
 court Margaret in Hero’s garments, how you disgraced
 her when you should marry her. My villainy
250 they have upon record, which I had rather seal with
 my death than repeat over to my shame. The lady is
 dead upon mine and my master’s false accusation.
 And, briefly, I desire nothing but the reward of a
 villain.
PRINCE, to Claudio 
255 Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
CLAUDIO 
 I have drunk poison whiles he uttered it.
PRINCE, to Borachio 
 But did my brother set thee on to this?
BORACHIO Yea, and paid me richly for the practice of
 it.
PRINCE 
260 He is composed and framed of treachery,
 And fled he is upon this villainy.
CLAUDIO 
 Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appear
 In the rare semblance that I loved it first.
DOGBERRY Come, bring away the plaintiffs. By this
265 time our sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of
 the matter. And, masters, do not forget to specify,
 when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass.
VERGES Here, here comes Master Signior Leonato,
 and the Sexton too.

Enter Leonato, his brother, and the Sexton.


173
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ACT 5. SC. 1

LEONATO 
270 Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes,
 That, when I note another man like him,
 I may avoid him. Which of these is he?
BORACHIO 
 If you would know your wronger, look on me.
LEONATO 
 Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed
275 Mine innocent child?
BORACHIO  Yea, even I alone.
LEONATO 
 No, not so, villain, thou beliest thyself.
 Here stand a pair of honorable men—
 A third is fled—that had a hand in it.—
280 I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death.
 Record it with your high and worthy deeds.
 ’Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.
CLAUDIO 
 I know not how to pray your patience,
 Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself.
285 Impose me to what penance your invention
 Can lay upon my sin. Yet sinned I not
 But in mistaking.
PRINCE  By my soul, nor I,
 And yet to satisfy this good old man
290 I would bend under any heavy weight
 That he’ll enjoin me to.
LEONATO 
 I cannot bid you bid my daughter live—
 That were impossible—but, I pray you both,
 Possess the people in Messina here
295 How innocent she died. And if your love
 Can labor aught in sad invention,
 Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb
 And sing it to her bones. Sing it tonight.
 Tomorrow morning come you to my house,

175
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ACT 5. SC. 1

300 And since you could not be my son-in-law,
 Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
 Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,
 And she alone is heir to both of us.
 Give her the right you should have giv’n her cousin,
305 And so dies my revenge.
CLAUDIO  O, noble sir!
 Your overkindness doth wring tears from me.
 I do embrace your offer and dispose
 For henceforth of poor Claudio.
LEONATO 
310 Tomorrow then I will expect your coming.
 Tonight I take my leave. This naughty man
 Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
 Who I believe was packed in all this wrong,
 Hired to it by your brother.
BORACHIO 315No, by my soul, she was not,
 Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
 But always hath been just and virtuous
 In anything that I do know by her.
DOGBERRY, to Leonato Moreover, sir, which indeed is
320 not under white and black, this plaintiff here, the
 offender, did call me ass. I beseech you, let it be
 remembered in his punishment. And also the watch
 heard them talk of one Deformed. They say he
 wears a key in his ear and a lock hanging by it and
325 borrows money in God’s name, the which he hath
 used so long and never paid that now men grow
 hardhearted and will lend nothing for God’s sake.
 Pray you, examine him upon that point.
LEONATO I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.
DOGBERRY 330Your Worship speaks like a most thankful
 and reverent youth, and I praise God for you.
LEONATO, giving him money There’s for thy pains.
DOGBERRY God save the foundation.

177
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ACT 5. SC. 2

LEONATO Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I
335 thank thee.
DOGBERRY I leave an arrant knave with your Worship,
 which I beseech your Worship to correct
 yourself, for the example of others. God keep your
 Worship! I wish your Worship well. God restore you
340 to health. I humbly give you leave to depart, and if a
 merry meeting may be wished, God prohibit it.—
 Come, neighbor.Dogberry and Verges exit.
LEONATO 
 Until tomorrow morning, lords, farewell.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Farewell, my lords. We look for you tomorrow.
PRINCE 
345 We will not fail.
CLAUDIO  Tonight I’ll mourn with Hero.
LEONATO, to Watch 
 Bring you these fellows on.—We’ll talk with
 Margaret,
 How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Benedick and Margaret.

BENEDICK Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve
 well at my hands by helping me to the speech of
 Beatrice.
MARGARET Will you then write me a sonnet in praise
5 of my beauty?
BENEDICK In so high a style, Margaret, that no man
 living shall come over it, for in most comely truth
 thou deservest it.
MARGARET To have no man come over me? Why, shall I
10 always keep below stairs?

179
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ACT 5. SC. 2

BENEDICK Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s
 mouth; it catches.
MARGARET And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils,
 which hit but hurt not.
BENEDICK 15A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt
 a woman. And so, I pray thee, call Beatrice. I give
 thee the bucklers.
MARGARET Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our
 own.
BENEDICK 20If you use them, Margaret, you must put in
 the pikes with a vice, and they are dangerous
 weapons for maids.
MARGARET Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I
 think hath legs.
BENEDICK 25And therefore will come.
Margaret exits.
Sings  The god of love
  That sits above,
 And knows me, and knows me,
  How pitiful I deserve—

30 I mean in singing. But in loving, Leander the good
 swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
 a whole book full of these quondam carpetmongers,
 whose names yet run smoothly in the even
 road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly
35 turned over and over as my poor self in love. Marry,
 I cannot show it in rhyme. I have tried. I can find out
 no rhyme to “lady” but “baby”—an innocent
 rhyme; for “scorn,” “horn”—a hard rhyme; for
 “school,” “fool”—a babbling rhyme; very ominous
40 endings. No, I was not born under a rhyming
 planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.

Enter Beatrice.

 Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called
 thee?

181
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ACT 5. SC. 2

BEATRICE Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.
BENEDICK 45O, stay but till then!
BEATRICE “Then” is spoken. Fare you well now. And
 yet, ere I go, let me go with that I came, which is,
 with knowing what hath passed between you and
 Claudio.
BENEDICK 50Only foul words, and thereupon I will kiss
 thee.
BEATRICE Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is
 but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome. Therefore
 I will depart unkissed.
BENEDICK 55Thou hast frighted the word out of his right
 sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee
 plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge, and either
 I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe
 him a coward. And I pray thee now tell me, for
60 which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love
 with me?
BEATRICE For them all together, which maintained so
 politic a state of evil that they will not admit any
 good part to intermingle with them. But for which
65 of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?
BENEDICK Suffer love! A good epithet. I do suffer love
 indeed, for I love thee against my will.
BEATRICE In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor
 heart, if you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
70 yours, for I will never love that which my friend
 hates.
BENEDICK Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
BEATRICE It appears not in this confession. There’s not
 one wise man among twenty that will praise
75 himself.
BENEDICK An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived
 in the time of good neighbors. If a man do not erect
 in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no
 longer in monument than the bell rings and the
80 widow weeps.

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ACT 5. SC. 3

BEATRICE And how long is that, think you?
BENEDICK Question: why, an hour in clamor and a
 quarter in rheum. Therefore is it most expedient for
 the wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no
85 impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of
 his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for
 praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
 praiseworthy. And now tell me, how doth your
 cousin?
BEATRICE 90Very ill.
BENEDICK And how do you?
BEATRICE Very ill, too.
BENEDICK Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I
 leave you too, for here comes one in haste.

Enter Ursula.

URSULA 95Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder’s
 old coil at home. It is proved my Lady Hero
 hath been falsely accused, the Prince and Claudio
 mightily abused, and Don John is the author of all,
 who is fled and gone. Will you come presently?
Ursula exits.
BEATRICE 100Will you go hear this news, signior?
BENEDICK I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be
 buried in thy eyes—and, moreover, I will go with
 thee to thy uncle’s.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Claudio, Prince, and three or four Lords with
tapers, and Musicians.


CLAUDIO Is this the monument of Leonato?
FIRST LORD It is, my lord.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 5. SC. 3

CLAUDIO, reading an Epitaph. 

 Done to death by slanderous tongues
  Was the Hero that here lies.
5 Death, in guerdon of her wrongs,
  Gives her fame which never dies.
 So the life that died with shame
 Lives in death with glorious fame.

He hangs up the scroll.
 Hang thou there upon the tomb,
10 Praising her when I am dumb.
 Now music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.

Song 
 Pardon, goddess of the night,
 Those that slew thy virgin knight,
 For the which with songs of woe,
15 Round about her tomb they go.
  Midnight, assist our moan.
  Help us to sigh and groan
  Heavily, heavily.
  Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
20  Till death be utterèd,
  Heavily, heavily.

CLAUDIO 
 Now, unto thy bones, goodnight.
 Yearly will I do this rite.
PRINCE 
 Good morrow, masters. Put your torches out.
25 The wolves have preyed, and look, the gentle day
 Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
 Dapples the drowsy east with spots of gray.
 Thanks to you all, and leave us. Fare you well.
CLAUDIO 
 Good morrow, masters. Each his several way.
Lords and Musicians exit.

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ACT 5. SC. 4

PRINCE 
30 Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds,
 And then to Leonato’s we will go.
CLAUDIO 
 And Hymen now with luckier issue speed ’s,
 Than this for whom we rendered up this woe.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula,
Leonato’s brother, Friar, Hero.


FRIAR 
 Did I not tell you she was innocent?
LEONATO 
 So are the Prince and Claudio, who accused her
 Upon the error that you heard debated.
 But Margaret was in some fault for this,
5 Although against her will, as it appears
 In the true course of all the question.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Well, I am glad that all things sorts so well.
BENEDICK 
 And so am I, being else by faith enforced
 To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
LEONATO 
10 Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,
 Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
 And when I send for you, come hither masked.
 The Prince and Claudio promised by this hour
 To visit me.—You know your office, brother.
15 You must be father to your brother’s daughter,
 And give her to young Claudio.The ladies exit.

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ACT 5. SC. 4

LEONATO’S BROTHER 
 Which I will do with confirmed countenance.
BENEDICK 
 Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
FRIAR To do what, signior?
BENEDICK 
20 To bind me, or undo me, one of them.—
 Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
 Your niece regards me with an eye of favor.
LEONATO 
 That eye my daughter lent her; ’tis most true.
BENEDICK 
 And I do with an eye of love requite her.
LEONATO 
25 The sight whereof I think you had from me,
 From Claudio, and the Prince. But what’s your will?
BENEDICK 
 Your answer, sir, is enigmatical.
 But for my will, my will is your goodwill
 May stand with ours, this day to be conjoined
30 In the state of honorable marriage—
 In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
LEONATO 
 My heart is with your liking.
FRIAR  And my help.
 Here comes the Prince and Claudio.

Enter Prince, and Claudio, and two or three other.

PRINCE 35Good morrow to this fair assembly.
LEONATO 
 Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio.
 We here attend you. Are you yet determined
 Today to marry with my brother’s daughter?
CLAUDIO 
 I’ll hold my mind were she an Ethiope.

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ACT 5. SC. 4

LEONATO 
40 Call her forth, brother. Here’s the Friar ready.
Leonato’s brother exits.
PRINCE 
 Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter
 That you have such a February face,
 So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?
CLAUDIO 
 I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
45 Tush, fear not, man. We’ll tip thy horns with gold,
 And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
 As once Europa did at lusty Jove
 When he would play the noble beast in love.
BENEDICK 
 Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low,
50 And some such strange bull leapt your father’s cow
 And got a calf in that same noble feat
 Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
CLAUDIO 
 For this I owe you. Here comes other reck’nings.

Enter Leonato’s brother, Hero, Beatrice, Margaret,
Ursula, the ladies masked.


 Which is the lady I must seize upon?
LEONATO 
55 This same is she, and I do give you her.
CLAUDIO 
 Why, then, she’s mine.—Sweet, let me see your face.
LEONATO 
 No, that you shall not till you take her hand
 Before this friar and swear to marry her.
CLAUDIO, to Hero 
 Give me your hand before this holy friar.
They take hands.
60 I am your husband, if you like of me.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 5. SC. 4

HERO 
 And when I lived, I was your other wife,
 And when you loved, you were my other husband.
She unmasks.
CLAUDIO 
 Another Hero!
HERO  Nothing certainer.
65 One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
 And surely as I live, I am a maid.
PRINCE 
 The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
LEONATO 
 She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.
FRIAR 
 All this amazement can I qualify,
70 When after that the holy rites are ended,
 I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death.
 Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
 And to the chapel let us presently.
BENEDICK 
 Soft and fair, friar.—Which is Beatrice?
BEATRICE, unmasking 
75 I answer to that name. What is your will?
BENEDICK 
 Do not you love me?
BEATRICE  Why no, no more than reason.
BENEDICK 
 Why then, your uncle and the Prince and Claudio
 Have been deceived. They swore you did.
BEATRICE 
80 Do not you love me?
BENEDICK  Troth, no, no more than reason.
BEATRICE 
 Why then, my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula
 Are much deceived, for they did swear you did.

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ACT 5. SC. 4

BENEDICK 
 They swore that you were almost sick for me.
BEATRICE 
85 They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
BENEDICK 
 ’Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?
BEATRICE 
 No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
LEONATO 
 Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
CLAUDIO 
 And I’ll be sworn upon ’t that he loves her,
90 For here’s a paper written in his hand,
 A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
 Fashioned to Beatrice.He shows a paper.
HERO  And here’s another,
 Writ in my cousin’s hand, stol’n from her pocket,
95 Containing her affection unto Benedick.
She shows a paper.
BENEDICK A miracle! Here’s our own hands against
 our hearts. Come, I will have thee, but by this light
 I take thee for pity.
BEATRICE I would not deny you, but by this good day, I
100 yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your
 life, for I was told you were in a consumption.
BENEDICK Peace! I will stop your mouth.
They kiss.
PRINCE 
 How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?
BENEDICK I’ll tell thee what, prince: a college of
105 wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor.
 Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram?
 No. If a man will be beaten with brains, he shall
 wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I
 do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any
110 purpose that the world can say against it, and

197
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 5. SC. 4

 therefore never flout at me for what I have said
 against it. For man is a giddy thing, and this is my
 conclusion.—For thy part, Claudio, I did think to
 have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be my
115 kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.
CLAUDIO I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied
 Beatrice, that I might have cudgeled thee out of thy
 single life, to make thee a double-dealer, which out
 of question thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look
120 exceeding narrowly to thee.
BENEDICK Come, come, we are friends. Let’s have a
 dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our
 own hearts and our wives’ heels.
LEONATO We’ll have dancing afterward.
BENEDICK 125First, of my word! Therefore play, music.—
 Prince, thou art sad. Get thee a wife, get thee a wife.
 There is no staff more reverend than one tipped
 with horn.

Enter Messenger.

MESSENGER, to Prince 
 My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight,
130 And brought with armed men back to Messina.
BENEDICK, to Prince Think not on him till tomorrow.
 I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him.—Strike
 up, pipers!Music plays. They dance.
They exit.