Much Ado About Nothing

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Original text
Act II, Scene I
Enter Leonato, his brother, his wife, Hero his daughter, and
Beatrice his neece, and a kinsman.

Leonato.
Was not Count Iohn here at supper?

Brother.
I saw him not.

Beatrice.
How tartly that Gentleman lookes, I neuer can see
him, but I am heart-burn'd an howre after.

Hero.
He is of a very melancholy disposition.

Beatrice.
Hee were an excellent man that were made iust
in the mid-way betweene him and Benedicke, the one is
too like an image and saies nothing, and the other too
like my Ladies eldest sonne, euermore tatling.

Leon.
Then halfe signior Benedicks tongue in Count
Iohns mouth, and halfe Count Iohns melancholy in
Signior Benedicks face.

Beat.
With a good legge, and a good foot vnckle, and
money enough in his purse, such a man would winne any
woman in the world, if he could get her good will.

Leon.
By my troth Neece, thou wilt neuer get thee a
husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

Brother.
Infaith shee's too curst.

Beat.
Too curst is more then curst, I shall lessen
Gods sending that way: for it is said, God sends a curst
Cow short hornes, but to a Cow too curst he sends none.

Leon.
So, by being too curst, God will send you no
hornes.

Beat.
Iust, if he send me no husband, for the which
blessing, I am at him vpon my knees euery morning and
euening: Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
beard on his face, I had rather lie in the woollen.

Leonato.
You may light vpon a husband that hath no beard.

Batrice.
What should I doe with him? dresse him in my
apparell, and make him my waiting gentlewoman? he
that hath a beard, is more then a youth: and he that hath
no beard, is lesse then a man: and hee that is more then a
youth, is not for mee: and he that is lesse then a man, I am
not for him: therefore I will euen take sixepence in
earnest of the Berrord, and leade his Apes into hell.

Leon.
Well then, goe you into hell.

Beat.
No, but to the gate, and there will the Deuill
meete mee like an old Cuckold with hornes on his head,
and say, get you to heauen Beatrice, get you to heauen,
heere's no place for you maids, so deliuer I vp my Apes,
and away to S. Peter: for the heauens, hee shewes mee
where the Batchellers sit, and there liue wee as merry as
the day is long.

Brother.
Well neece, I trust you will be rul'd
by your father.

Beatrice.
Yes faith, it is my cosens dutie to make
curtsie, and say, as it please you: but yet for all
that cosin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make
an other cursie, and say, father, as it please me.

Leonato.
Well neece, I hope to see you one day fitted with
a husband.

Beatrice.
Not till God make men of some other mettall
then earth, would it not grieue a woman to be
ouermastred with a peece of valiant dust? to make
account of her life to a clod of waiward marle? no
vnckle, ile none: Adams sonnes are my brethren, and
truly I hold it a sinne to match in my kinred.

Leon.
Daughter, remember what I told you, if the
Prince doe solicit you in that kinde, you know your
answere.

Beatrice.
The fault will be in the musicke cosin, if you
be not woed in good time: if the Prince bee too important,
tell him there is measure in euery thing, & so dance
out the answere, for heare me Hero, wooing, wedding,
& repenting, is as a Scotch ijgge, a measure, and a
cinque-pace: the first suite is hot and hasty like a Scotch
ijgge (and full as fantasticall) the wedding manerly modest,
(as a measure) full of state & aunchentry, and
then comes repentance, and with his bad legs falls into
the cinque-pace faster and faster, till he sinkes into his
graue.

Leonata.
Cosin you apprehend passing shrewdly.

Beatrice.
I haue a good eye vnckle, I can see a Church
by daylight.

Leon.
The reuellers are entring brother, make good
roome.
Enter Prince, Pedro, Claudio, and Benedicke, and Balthasar, or dumbe
Iohn, Maskers with a drum.

Pedro.
Lady, will you walke about with your friend?

Hero.
So you walke softly, and looke sweetly, and say
nothing, I am yours for the walke, and especially when
I walke away.

Pedro.
With me in your company.

Hero.
I may say so when I please.

Pedro.
And when please you to say so?

Hero.
When I like your fauour, for God defend the Lute
should be like the case.

Pedro.
My visor is Philemons roofe, within the house is Loue.

Hero.
Why then your visor should be thatcht.

Pedro.
Speake low if you speake
Loue.

Bene.
Well, I would you did like me.

Mar.
So would not I for your owne sake, for I haue
manie ill qualities.

Bene.
Which is one?

Mar.
I say my prayers alowd.

Ben.
I loue you the better, the hearers may cry
Amen.

Mar.
God match me with a good dauncer.

Balt.
Amen.

Mar.
And God keepe him out of my sight when the
daunce is done: answer Clarke.

Balt.
No more words, the Clarke is answered.

Vrsula.
I know you well enough, you are Signior Anthonio.

Anth.
At a word, I am not.

Vrsula.
I know you by the wagling of your head.

Anth.
To tell you true, I counterfet him.

Vrsu.
You could neuer doe him so ill well, vnlesse you
were the very man: here's his dry hand vp & down,
you are he, you are he.

Anth.
At a word I am not.

Vrsula.
Come, come, doe you thinke I doe not know you by
your excellent wit? can vertue hide it selfe? goe to, mumme,
you are he, graces will appeare, and there's an end.

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

Bene.
No, you shall pardon me.

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

Bened.
Not now.

Beat.
That I was disdainfull, and that I had my good
wit out of the hundred merry tales: well, this was
Signior Benedicke that said so.

Bene.
What's he?

Beat.
I am sure you know him well enough.

Bene.
Not I, beleeue me.

Beat.
Did he neuer make you laugh?

Bene.
I pray you what is he?

Beat.
Why he is the Princes ieaster, a very dull foole,
onely his gift is, in deuising impossible slanders, none but
Libertines delight in him, and the commendation is not
in his witte, but in his villanie, for hee both pleaseth men
and angers them, and then they laugh at him, and beat
him: I am sure he is in the Fleet, I would he had boorded
me.

Bene.
When I know the Gentleman, Ile tell him what
you say.

Beat.
Do, do, hee'l but breake a comparison or two
on me, which peraduenture (not markt, or not laugh'd
at) strikes him into melancholly, and then there's a
Partridge wing saued, for the foole will eate no supper
that night.
We must follow the Leaders.

Ben.
In euery good thing.

Bea.
Nay, if they leade to any ill, I will leaue them at
the next turning.
Exeunt. Musicke for the dance.

Iohn.
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath
withdrawne her father to breake with him about it: the
Ladies follow her, and but one visor remaines.

Borachio.
And that is Claudio, I know him by his
bearing.

Iohn.
Are not you signior Benedicke?

Clau.
You know me well, I am hee.

Iohn.
Signior, you are verie neere my Brother in his
loue, he is enamor'd on Hero, I pray you disswade
him from her, she is no equall for his birth: you may
do the part of an honest man in it.

Claudio.
How know you he loues her?

Iohn.
I heard him sweare his affection,

Bor.
So did I too, and he swore he would marrie her
to night.

Iohn.
Come, let vs to the banquet.
Ex. manet Clau.

Clau.
Thus answere I in name of Benedicke,
But heare these ill newes with the eares of Claudio:
'Tis certaine so, the Prince woes for himselfe:
Friendship is constant in all other things,
Saue in the Office and affaires of loue:
Therefore all hearts in loue vse their owne tongues.
Let euerie eye negotiate for it selfe,
And trust no Agent: for beautie is a witch,
Against whose charmes, faith melteth into blood:
This is an accident of hourely proofe,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero.
Enter Benedicke.

Ben.
Count Claudio.

Clau.
Yea, the same.

Ben.
Come, will you go with me?

Clau.
Whither?

Ben.
Euen to the next Willow, about your own businesse,
Count. What fashion will you weare the Garland
off? About your necke, like an Vsurers chaine? Or vnder
your arme, like a Lieutenants scarfe? You must weare it
one way, for the Prince hath got your Hero.

Clau:
I wish him ioy of her.

Ben.
Why that's spoken like an honest Drouier, so
they sel Bullockes: but did you thinke the Prince wold
haue serued you thus?

Clau.
I pray you leaue me.

Ben.
Ho now you strike like the blindman, 'twas
the boy that stole your meate, and you'l beat the post.

Clau.
If it will not be, Ile leaue you.
Exit.

Ben.
Alas poore hurt fowle, now will he creepe into
sedges: But that my Ladie Beatrice should know me,
& not know me: the Princes foole! Hah? It may be I
goe vnder that title, because I am merrie: yea but so I am
apt to do my selfe wrong: I am not so reputed, it is the
base (though bitter) disposition of Beatrice, that putt's the
world into her person, and so giues me out: well, Ile be
reuenged as I may.
Enter the Prince.

Pedro.
Now Signior, where's the Count, did you
see him?

Bene.
Troth my Lord, I haue played the part of Lady
Fame, I found him heere as melancholy as a Lodge in a
Warren, I told him, and I thinke, told him true, that
your grace had got the will of this young Lady, and
I offered him my company to a willow tree, either to
make him a garland, as being forsaken, or to binde him
a rod, as being worthy to be whipt.

Pedro.
To be whipt, what's his fault?

Bene.
The flat transgression of a Schoole-boy, who
being ouer-ioyed with finding a birds nest, shewes it his
companion, and he steales it.

Pedro.
Wilt thou make a trust, a transgression? the
transgression is in the stealer.

Ben.
Yet it had not beene amisse the rod had beene
made, and the garland too, for the garland he might
haue worne himselfe, and the rod hee might haue bestowed
on you, who (as I take it) haue stolne his birds nest.

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

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

Pedro.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrell to you, the
Gentleman that daunst with her, told her shee is much
wrong'd by you.

Bene.
O she misusde me past the indurance of a
block: an oake but with one greene leafe on it, would haue
answered her: my very visor began to assume life, and
scold with her: shee told mee, not thinking I had beene
my selfe, that I was the Princes Iester, and that I was duller
then a great thaw, hudling iest vpon iest, with such
impossible conueiance vpon me, that I stood like a man
at a marke, with a whole army shooting at me: shee
speakes poynyards, and euery word stabbes: if her breath
were as terrible as terminations, there were no liuing
neere her, she would infect to the north starre: I would not
marry her, though she were indowed with all that
Adam had left him before he transgrest, she would
haue made Hercules haue turnd spit, yea, and haue cleft
his club to make the fire too: come, talke not of her, you
shall finde her the infernall Ate in good apparell. I would to
God some scholler would coniure her, for certainely while
she is heere, a man may liue as quiet in hell, as in a sanctuary,
and people sinne vpon purpose, because they would
goe thither, so indeed all disquiet, horror, and perturbation
followes her.
Enter Claudio and Beatrice, Leonato, Hero.

Pedro.
Looke heere she comes.

Bene.
Will your Grace command mee any seruice to
the worlds end? I will goe on the slightest arrand now
to the Antypodes that you can deuise to send me on: I
will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the furthest inch
of Asia: bring you the length of Prester Iohns foot: fetch
you a hayre off the great Chams beard: doe you any
embassage to the Pigmies, rather then hould three words
conference, with this Harpy: you haue no employment
for me?

Pedro.
None, but to desire your good company.

Bene.
O God sir, heeres a dish I loue not, I cannot
indure this Lady tongue.
Exit.

Pedr.
Come Lady, come, you haue lost the heart of
Signior Benedicke.

Beatr.
Indeed my Lord, hee lent it me a while, and I
gaue him vse for it, a double heart for a single one,
marry once before he wonne it of mee, with false dice,
therefore your Grace may well say I haue lost it.

Pedro.
You haue put him downe Lady, you haue put
him downe.

Beat.
So I would not he should do me, my Lord, lest
I should prooue the mother of fooles: I haue brought
Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seeke.

Pedro.
Why how now Count, wherfore are you
sad?

Claud.
Not sad my Lord.

Pedro.
How then? sicke?

Claud.
Neither, my Lord.

Beat.
The Count is neither sad, nor sicke, nor merry,
nor well: but ciuill Count, ciuill as an Orange, and something
of a iealous complexion.

Pedro.
Ifaith Lady, I thinke your blazon to be true,
though Ile be sworne, if hee be so, his conceit is false:
heere Claudio, I haue wooed in thy name, and faire
Hero is won, I haue broke with her father, and his good
will obtained, name the day of marriage, and God giue
thee ioy.

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

Beatr.
Speake Count, tis your Qu.

Claud.
Silence is the perfectest Herault of ioy, I were
but little happy if I could say, how much? Lady, as you
are mine, I am yours, I giue away my selfe for you, and
doat vpon the exchange.

Beat.
Speake cosin, or (if you cannot) stop his mouth
with a kisse, and let not him speake neither.

Pedro.
In faith Lady you haue a merry heart.

Beatr.
Yea my Lord I thanke it, poore foole it keepes on
the windy side of Care, my coosin tells him in his eare
that he is in my heart.

Clau.
And so she doth coosin.

Beat.
Good Lord for alliance: thus goes euery one
to the world but I, and I am sun-burn'd, I may sit in a
corner and cry, heigh ho for a husband.

Pedro.
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

Beat.
I would rather haue one of your fathers getting:
hath your Grace ne're a brother like you? your
father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by
them.

Prince.
Will you haue me? Lady.

Beat.
No, my Lord, vnlesse I might haue another for
working-daies, your Grace is too costly to weare euerie
day: but I beseech your Grace pardon mee, I was borne
to speake all mirth, and no matter.

Prince.
Your silence most offends me, and to be
merry, best becomes you, for out of question, you were
born in a merry howre.

Beatr.
No sure my Lord, my Mother cried, but then
there was a starre daunst, and vnder that was I borne:
cosins God giue you ioy.

Leonato.
Neece, will you looke to those rhings I told you
of?

Beat.
I cry you mercy Vncle, by
your Graces pardon.
Exit Beatrice.

Prince.
By my troth a pleasant spirited Lady.

Leon.
There's little of the melancholy element in her
my Lord, she is neuer sad, but when she sleepes, and not
euer sad then: for I haue heard my daughter say, she hath
often dreamt of vnhappinesse, and wakt her selfe with
laughing.

Pedro.
Shee cannot indure to heare tell of a husband.

Leonato.
O, by no meanes, she mocks all her wooers out
of suite.

Prince.
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.

Leonato.
O Lord, my Lord, if they were but a weeke
married, they would talke themselues madde.

Prince.
Counte Claudio, when meane you to goe to
Church?

Clau.
To morrow my Lord, Time goes on crutches,
till Loue haue all his rites.

Leonata.
Not till monday, my deare sonne, which is hence
a iust seuen night, and a time too briefe too, to haue all
things answer minde.

Prince.
Come, you shake the head at so long a
breathing, but I warrant thee Claudio, the time shall
not goe dully by vs, I will in the interim, vndertake one
of Hercules labors, which is, to bring Signior Benedicke
and the Lady Beatrice into a mountaine of affection,
th'one with th'other, I would faine haue it a match, and
I doubt not but to fashion it, if you three will but
minister such assistance as I shall giue you direction.

Leonata.
My Lord, I am for you, though it cost mee ten
nights watchings.

Claud.
And I my Lord.

Prin.
And you to gentle Hero?

Hero.
I will doe any modest office, my Lord, to helpe my
cosin to a good husband.

Prin.
And Benedick is not the vnhopefullest husband
that I know: thus farre can I praise him, hee is of a
noble straine, of approued valour, and confirm'd honesty,
I will teach you how to humour your cosin, that shee
shall fall in loue with Benedicke, and I, with your two
helpes, will so practise on Benedicke, that in despight of
his quicke wit, and his queasie stomacke, hee shall fall in
loue with Beatrice: if wee can doe this, Cupid is no
longer an Archer, his glory shall be ours, for wee are the
onely loue-gods, goe in with me, and I will tell you my
drift.
Exit.
Original text
Act II, Scene II
Enter Iohn and Borachio.

Ioh.
It is so, the Count Claudio shal marry the
daughter of Leonato.

Bora.
Yea my Lord, but I can crosse it.

Iohn.
Any barre, any crosse, any impediment, will be
medicinable to me, I am sicke in displeasure to him,
and whatsoeuer comes athwart his affection, ranges
euenly with mine, how canst thou crosse this marriage?

Bor.
Not honestly my Lord, but so couertly, that
no dishonesty shall appeare in me.

Iohn.
Shew me breefely how.

Bor.
I thinke I told your Lordship a yeere since, how
much I am in the fauour of Margaret, the
waiting gentle-woman to Hero.

Iohn.
I remember.

Bor.
I can at any vnseasonable instant of the night,
appoint her to look out at her Ladies chamber window.

Iohn.
What life is in that, to be the death of this
marriage?

Bor.
The poyson of that lies in you to temper, goe
you to the Prince your brother, spare not to tell him,
that hee hath wronged his Honor in marrying the renowned
Claudio, whose estimation do you mightily
hold vp, to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.

Iohn.
What proofe shall I make of that?

Bor.
Proofe enough, to misuse the Prince, to vexe
Claudio, to vndoe Hero, and kill Leonato, looke you for
any other issue?

Iohn.
Onely to despight them, I will endeauour
any thing.

Bor.
Goe then, finde me a meete howre, to draw on
Pedro and the Count Claudio alone, tell them that
you know that Hero loues me, intend a kinde of zeale both
to the Prince and Claudio (as in a loue of your brothers
honor who hath made this match) and his friends
reputation, who is thus like to be cosen'd with the semblance
of a maid, that you haue discouer'd thus: they
will scarcely beleeue this without triall: offer them
instances which shall beare no lesse likelihood, than to
see mee at her chamber window, heare me call Margaret,
Hero; heare Margaret terme me Claudio, and bring them
to see this the very night before the intended wedding,
for in the meane time, I will so fashion the matter, that
Hero shall be absent, and there shall appeare such seeming
truths of Heroes disloyaltie, that iealousie shall be cal'd
assurance, and all the preparation ouerthrowne.

Iohn.
Grow this to what aduerse issue it can, I will
put it in practise: be cunning in the working this, and
thy fee is a thousand ducates.

Bor.
Be thou constant in the accusation, and my
cunning shall not shame me.

Iohn.
I will presentlie goe learne their day of marriage.
Exit.
Original text
Act II, Scene III
Enter Benedicke alone.

Bene.
Boy.

Boy.
Signior.

Bene.
In my chamber window lies a booke, bring it
hither to me in the orchard.

Boy.
I am heere already sir.

Bene.
I know that, but I would haue thee hence, and
heere againe.
I doe much wonder, that one man seeing how much
another man is a foole, when he dedicates his behauiours
to loue, will after hee hath laught at such shallow
follies in others, become the argument of his owne
scorne, by falling in loue, & such a man is Claudio, I
haue known when there was no musicke with him but the
drum and the fife, and now had hee rather heare the taber
and the pipe: I haue knowne when he would haue walkt
ten mile afoot, to see a good armor, and now will he lie
ten nights awake caruing the fashion of a new dublet:
he was wont to speake plaine, & to the purpose (like an
honest man & a souldier) and now is he turn'd orthography,
his words are a very fantasticall banquet, iust so
many strange dishes: may I be so conuerted, & see with
these eyes? I cannot tell, I thinke not: I will not bee
sworne, but loue may transforme me to an oyster, but Ile
take my oath on it, till he haue made an oyster of me, he
shall neuer make me such a foole: one woman is faire, yet
I am well: another is wise, yet I am well: another vertuous,
yet I am well: but till all graces be in one woman,
one woman shall not come in my grace: rich shee shall
be, that's certaine: wise, or Ile none: vertuous, or Ile
neuer cheapen her: faire, or Ile neuer looke on her: milde,
or come not neere me: Noble, or not for an Angell: of
good discourse: an excellent Musitian, and her haire shal
be of what colour it please God, hah! the Prince and
Monsieur Loue, I will hide me in the Arbor.
Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Iacke Wilson.

Prin.
Come, shall we heare this musicke?

Claud.
Yea my good Lord: how still the euening is,
As husht on purpose to grace harmonie.

Prin.
See you where Benedicke hath hid himselfe?

Clau.
O very well my Lord: the musicke ended,
Wee'll fit the kid-foxe with a penny worth.

Prince.
Come Balthasar, wee'll heare that song again.

Balth.
O good my Lord, taxe not so bad a voyce,
To slander musicke any more then once.

Prin.
It is the witnesse still of excellency, / To slander Musicke any more then once. / Prince. It is the witnesse still of excellencie,
To put a strange face on his owne perfection,
I pray thee sing, and let me woe no more.

Balth.
Because you talke of wooing, I will sing,
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit,
To her he thinkes not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet will he sweare he loues.

Prince.
Nay pray thee come,
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Doe it in notes.

Balth.
Note this before my notes,
Theres not a note of mine that's worth the noting.

Prince.
Why these are very crotchets that he speaks,
Note notes forsooth, and nothing.


Bene.
Now diuine aire, now is his soule rauisht, is
it not strange that sheepes guts should hale soules out of
mens bodies? well, a horne for my money when all's
done.
The Song.
Sigh no more Ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceiuers euer,
One foote in Sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant neuer,
Then sigh not so, but let them goe,
And be you blithe and bonnie,
Conuerting all your sounds of woe,
Into hey nony nony.
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heauy,
The fraud of men were euer so,
Since summer first was leauy,
Then sigh not so, &c.

Prince.
By my troth a good song.

Balth.
And an ill singer, my Lord.

Prince.
Ha, no, no faith, thou singst well enough
for a shift.

Ben.
And he had been a dog that should haue
howld thus, they would haue hang'd him, and I pray
God his bad voyce bode no mischiefe, I had as liefe haue
heard the night-rauen, come what plague could haue
come after it.

Prince.
Yea marry, dost thou heare Balthasar? I
pray thee get vs some excellent musick: for to morrow
night we would haue it at the Lady Heroes
chamber window.

Balth.
The best I can, my Lord.

Prince.
Do so, farewell.
Exit Balthasar.
Come hither Leonato, what was it you told me of to day,
that your Niece Beatrice was in loue with signior
Benedicke?

Cla.

O I, stalke on, stalke on, the foule sits. I
did neuer thinke that Lady would haue loued any man.

Leon.
No, nor I neither, but most wonderful, that
she should so dote on Signior Benedicke, whom shee hath
in all outward behauiours seemed euer to abhorre.

Bene.
Is't possible? sits the winde in that
corner?

Leo.
By my troth my Lord, I cannot tell what to
thinke of it, but that she loues him with an inraged affection,
it is past the infinite of thought.

Prince.
May be she doth but counterfeit.

Claud.
Faith like enough.

Leon.
O God! counterfeit? there was neuer counterfeit
of passion, came so neere the life of passion as she
discouers it.

Prince.
Why what effects of passion shewes she?

Claud.
Baite the hooke well,
this fish will bite.

Leon.
What effects my Lord? shee will sit you, you
heard my daughter tell you how.

Clau.
She did indeed.

Prin.
How, how I pray you? you amaze me, I
would haue thought her spirit had beene inuincible
against all assaults of affection.

Leo.
I would haue sworne it had, my Lord, especially
against Benedicke.

Bene.

I should thinke this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speakes it: knauery cannot sure
hide himselfe in such reuerence.

Claud.
He hath tane th'
infection, hold it vp.

Prince.
Hath shee made her affection known to
Benedicke?

Leonato.
No, and sweares she neuer will, that's her
torment.

Claud.
'Tis true indeed, so your daughter saies: shall
I, saies she, that haue so oft encountred him with
scorne, write to him that I loue him?

Leo.
This saies shee now when shee is beginning to
write to him, for shee'll be vp twenty times a night, and
there will she sit in her smocke, till she haue writ a sheet
of paper: my daughter tells vs all.

Clau.
Now you talke of a sheet of paper, I remember
a pretty iest your daughter told vs of.

Leon.
O when she had writ it, & was reading it
ouer, she found Benedicke and Beatrice betweene the
sheete.

Clau.
That.

Leon.
O she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,
raild at her self, that she should be so immodest
to write, to one that shee knew would flout her:
I measure him, saies she, by my owne spirit, for I
should flout him if hee writ to mee, yea though I loue
him, I should.

Clau.
Then downe vpon her knees she falls, weepes,
sobs, beates her heart, teares her hayre, praies, curses, O
sweet Benedicke, God giue me patience.

Leon.
She doth indeed, my daughter saies so, and the
extasie hath so much ouerborne her, that my daughter
is somtime afeard she will doe a desperate out-rage to
her selfe, it is very true.

Princ.
It were good that Benedicke knew of it by
some other, if she will not discouer it.

Clau.
To what end? he would but make a sport of it,
and torment the poore Lady worse.

Prin.
And he should, it were an almes to hang him,
shee's an excellent sweet Lady, and (out of all suspition,)
she is vertuous.

Claudio.
And she is exceeding wise.

Prince.
In euery thing, but in louing Benedicke.

Leon.
O my Lord, wisedome and bloud combating in so
tender a body, we haue ten proofes to one, that bloud
hath the victory, I am sorry for her, as I haue iust cause,
being her Vncle, and her Guardian.

Prince.
I would shee had bestowed this dotage on mee,
I would haue daft all other respects, and made her halfe
my selfe: I pray you tell Benedicke of it, and heare what
he will say.

Leon.
Were it good thinke you?

Clau.
Hero thinkes surely she wil die, for she saies she
will die, if hee loue her not, and shee will die ere shee make
her loue knowne, and she will die if hee wooe her, rather
than shee will bate one breath of her accustomed
crossenesse.

Prin.
She doth well, if she should make tender of
her loue, 'tis very possible hee'l scorne it, for the man
(as you know all) hath a contemptible spirit.

Clau.
He is a very proper man.

Prin.
He hath indeed a good outward happines.

Clau.
'Fore God, and in my minde very wise.

Prin.
He doth indeed shew some sparkes that are
like wit.

Leon.
And I take him to be valiant.

Prin.
As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing
of quarrels you may see hee is wise, for either hee
auoydes them with great discretion, or vndertakes them
with a Christian-like feare.

Leon.
If hee doe feare God, a must necessarilie keepe
peace, if hee breake the peace, hee ought to enter into a
quarrell with feare and trembling.

Prin.
And so will he doe, for the man doth fear God,
howsoeuer it seemes not in him, by some large ieasts hee
will make: well, I am sorry for your niece, shall we goe
see Benedicke, and tell him of her loue.

Claud.
Neuer tell him, my Lord, let her weare it out with
good counsell.

Leon.
Nay that's impossible, she may weare her heart
out first.

Prin.
Well, we will heare further of it by your
daughter, let it coole the while, I loue Benedicke well, and
I could wish he would modestly examine himselfe, to see
how much he is vnworthy to haue so good a Lady.

Leon.
My Lord, will you walke? dinner is ready.

Clau.
If he do not doat on her vpon this, I wil
neuer trust my expectation.

Prin.
Let there be the same Net spread
for her, and that must your daughter and her gentlewoman
carry: the sport will be, when they hold one
an opinion of anothers dotage, and no such matter,
that's the Scene that I would see, which will be meerely a
dumbe shew: let vs send her to call him into dinner.
Exeunt.

Bene.
This can be no tricke, the
conference was sadly borne, they haue the truth of this
from Hero, they seeme to pittie the Lady: it seemes her
affections haue the full bent: loue me? why it must
be requited: I heare how I am censur'd, they say I will
beare my selfe proudly, if I perceiue the loue come from
her: they say too, that she will rather die than giue any
signe of affection: I did neuer thinke to marry, I must not
seeme proud, happy are they that heare their detractions,
and can put them to mending: they say the Lady is faire,
'tis a truth, I can beare them witnesse: and vertuous, tis so,
I cannot reprooue it, and wise, but for louing me, by my
troth it is no addition to her witte, nor no great argument
of her folly; for I wil be horribly in loue with her, I may
chance haue some odde quirkes and remnants of witte broken
on mee, because I haue rail'd so long against marriage:
but doth not the appetite alter? a man loues the meat in
his youth, that he cannot indure in his age. Shall quips
and sentences, and these paper bullets of the braine awe a
man from the careere of his humour? No, the world must
be peopled. When I said I would die a batcheler, I did
not think I should liue till I were maried, here comes
Beatrice: by this day, shee's a faire Lady, I doe spie some
markes of loue in her.
Enter Beatrice.

Beat.
Against my wil I am sent to bid you come in to
dinner.

Bene.
Faire Beatrice, I thanke you for your paines.

Beat.
I tooke no more paines for those thankes, then
you take paines to thanke me, if it had been painefull, I
would not haue come.

Bene.
You take pleasure then in the message.

Beat.
Yea iust so much as you may take vpon a
kniues point, and choake a daw withall: you haue no
stomacke signior, fare you well.
Exit.

Bene.
Ha, against my will I am sent to bid you
come into dinner: there's a double meaning in that: I
tooke no more paines for those thankes then you tooke paines
to thanke me, that's as much as to say, any paines that
I take for you is as easie as thankes: if I do not take pitty of
her I am a villaine, if I doe not loue her I am a Iew, I will
goe get her picture.
Exit.
Modern text
Act II, Scene I
Enter Leonato, Antonio, Hero, Beatrice, Margaret,
and Ursula

LEONATO
Was not Count John here at supper?

ANTONIO
I saw him not.

BEATRICE
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
him but I am heart-burned an hour after.

HERO
He 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 tattling.

LEONATO
Then half Signor Benedick's tongue in Count
John's mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in
Signor Benedick's face –

BEATRICE
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and
money enough in his purse, such a man would win any
woman in the world, if 'a could get her good will.

LEONATO
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

ANTONIO
In 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 curst
cow short horns ’, but to a cow too curst he sends none.

LEONATO
So, 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 husband with a
beard on his face! I had rather lie in the woollen.

LEONATO
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

BEATRICE
What should I do with him? Dress him in my
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 take sixpence in
earnest of the bear-ward, 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 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.

ANTONIO
(to Hero)
Well, 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 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.

BEATRICE
Not till God make men of some other metal
than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
overmastered with a pierce 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
Daughter, 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 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 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
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church
by daylight.

LEONATO
The revellers are entering, brother; make good
room.
All put on their masks
Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, Don
John, Borachio, and others, as masquers, with a drum

DON PEDRO
Lady, will you walk a bout with your friend?

HERO
So you walk softly, and look sweetly, and say
nothing, I am yours for the walk; and especially when
I walk away.

DON PEDRO
With me in your company?

HERO
I may say so, when I please.

DON PEDRO
And when please you to say so?

HERO
When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
should be like the case!

DON PEDRO
My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.

HERO
Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

DON PEDRO
Speak low, if you speak love.
He draws her aside

BALTHASAR
Well, I would you did like me.

MARGARET
So would not I, for your own sake; for I have
many ill qualities.

BALTHASAR
Which is one?

MARGARET
I say my prayers aloud.

BALTHASAR
I love you the better; the hearers may cry
Amen.

MARGARET
God match me with a good dancer!

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.

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

ANTONIO
At a word, I am not.

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

BEATRICE
Will you not tell me who told you so?

BENEDICK
No, you shall pardon me.

BEATRICE
Nor will you not tell me who you are?

BENEDICK
Not now.

BEATRICE
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good
wit out of the ‘ Hundred Merry Tales ’ – well, this was
Signor Benedick that said so.

BENEDICK
What's he?

BEATRICE
I am sure you know him well enough.

BENEDICK
Not I, believe me.

BEATRICE
Did he never make you laugh?

BENEDICK
I pray you, what is he?

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

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

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

BENEDICK
In every good thing.

BEATRICE
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
the next turning.
Exeunt all dancing, except Don John, Borachio, and Claudio

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

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

DON JOHN
Are not you Signor Benedick?

CLAUDIO
You know me well; I am he.

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

CLAUDIO
How know you he loves her?

DON JOHN
I heard him swear his affection.

BORACHIO
So did I too, and he swore he would marry her
tonight.

DON JOHN
Come, let us to the banquet.
Exeunt Don John and Borachio

CLAUDIO
Thus answer I in the 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;
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,
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?

BENEDICK
Even 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 Hero.

CLAUDIO
I wish him joy of her.

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

CLAUDIO
I pray you, leave me.

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

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

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

DON PEDRO
Now, signor, where's the Count? Did you
see him?

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

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

BENEDICK
The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who,
being overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his
companion, and he steals it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

DON PEDRO
Look, here she comes.

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

DON PEDRO
None, but to desire your good company.

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

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

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

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

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

DON PEDRO
Why, how now, Count! Wherefore are you
sad?

CLAUDIO
Not sad, my lord.

DON PEDRO
How then? Sick?

CLAUDIO
Neither, my lord.

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

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

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

BEATRICE
Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.

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

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

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

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

CLAUDIO
And so she doth, cousin.

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

DON PEDRO
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

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

DON PEDRO
Will you have me, lady?

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

DON PEDRO
Your silence most offends me, and to be
merry best becomes you; for, out 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
Niece, will you look to those things I told you
of?

BEATRICE
I cry you mercy, uncle. (To Don Pedro) By
your grace's pardon.
Exit

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

LEONATO
There's little of the melancholy element in her,
my lord; she is never sad but when she sleeps, and not
ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say, she hath
often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself with
laughing.

DON PEDRO
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

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

DON PEDRO
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.

LEONATO
O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week
married, they would talk themselves mad.

DON PEDRO
County Claudio, when mean you to go to
church.

CLAUDIO
Tomorrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches
till love have all his rites.

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

DON PEDRO
Come, you shake the head at so long a
breathing; but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall
not go dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one
of Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signor 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 fashion it, if you three will but
minister such assistance as I shall give you direction.

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

CLAUDIO
And I, my lord.

DON PEDRO
And you too, gentle Hero?

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

DON PEDRO
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband
that I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of a
noble strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty.
I will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she
shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your two
helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in despite of
his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in
love with Beatrice. If we can do this, Cupid is no
longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we are the
only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my
drift.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act II, Scene II
Enter Don John and Borachio

DON JOHN
It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
daughter of Leonato.

BORACHIO
Yea, my lord, but I can cross it.

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

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

DON JOHN
Show me briefly how.

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

DON JOHN
I remember.

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

DON JOHN
What life is in that, to be the death of this
marriage?

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

DON JOHN
What proof shall I make of that?

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

DON JOHN
Only to despite them, I will endeavour
anything.

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

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

BORACHIO
Be you constant in the accusation, and my
cunning shall not shame me.

DON JOHN
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act II, Scene III
Enter Benedick alone

BENEDICK
Boy!
Enter Boy

BOY
Signor?

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

BOY
I am here already, sir.

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

DON PEDRO
Come, shall we hear this music?

CLAUDIO
Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
As hushed on purpose to grace harmony!

DON PEDRO
See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

CLAUDIO
O, very well, my lord: the music ended,
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
Enter Balthasar with music

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

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

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

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

DON PEDRO
Now, pray thee, come;
Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.

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

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

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

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

DON PEDRO
By my troth, a good song.

BALTHASAR
And an ill singer, my lord.

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

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

DON PEDRO
Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I
pray 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.

DON PEDRO
Do so; farewell.
Exit Balthasar
Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of today,
that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor
Benedick?

CLAUDIO
(aside)
O, ay; stalk on, stalk on, the fowl sits. – I
did never think that lady would have loved any man.

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

BENEDICK
(aside)
Is't possible? Sits the wind in that
corner?

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

DON PEDRO
May be she doth but counterfeit.

CLAUDIO
Faith, like enough.

LEONATO
O God! Counterfeit? There was never counterfeit
of passion came so near the life of passion as she
discovers it.

DON PEDRO
Why, what effects of passion shows she?

CLAUDIO
(to Don Pedro and 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
She did, indeed.

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

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

BENEDICK
(aside)
I should think this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it; knavery cannot, sure,
hide himself in such reverence.

CLAUDIO
(to Don Pedro and Leonato)
He hath ta'en the
infection; hold it up.

DON PEDRO
Hath she made her affection known to
Benedick?

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

CLAUDIO
'Tis true, indeed, so your daughter says. ‘ Shall
I,’ says she, ‘ that have so oft encountered him with
scorn, write to him that I love him?’

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

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

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

CLAUDIO
That.

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

CLAUDIO
Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps,
sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses – ‘ O
sweet Benedick! God give me patience!’

LEONATO
She doth indeed, my daughter says so; and the
ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter
is sometime afeard she will do a desperate outrage to
herself. It is very true.

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

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

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

CLAUDIO
And she is exceeding wise.

DON PEDRO
In every thing but in loving Benedick.

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

DON PEDRO
I would she had bestowed this dotage on me;
I would have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what
'a will say.

LEONATO
Were it good, think you?

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

DON PEDRO
She doth well. If she should make tender of
her love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the man,
as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.

CLAUDIO
He is a very proper man.

DON PEDRO
He hath, indeed, a good outward happiness.

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

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

CLAUDIO
And I take him to be valiant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLAUDIO
(aside)
If he do not dote on her upon this, I will
never trust my expectation.

DON PEDRO
(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 hold one
an opinion of another's dotage, and no such matter;
that's the scene that I would see, which will be merely a
dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.
Exeunt Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato

BENEDICK
(coming forward)
This can be no trick. The
conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this
from Hero. They seem to pity the lady; it seems her
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 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; so,
I cannot 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 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 humour? No, the world must
be peopled. When I said I would die a bachelor, I did
not think I should live till I were married. Here comes
Beatrice. By this day, she's a fair lady! I do spy some
marks of love in her.
Enter Beatrice

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

BENEDICK
Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

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

BENEDICK
You 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, signor; fare you well.
Exit

BENEDICK
Ha! ‘ Against my will I am sent to bid you
come in to dinner ’ – there's a double meaning in that. ‘ 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 do not love her, I am a Jew. I will
go get her picture.
Exit
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