Much Ado About Nothing

The Mount Holyoke College Department of Film, Media, Theater presents William Shakespeare's

Much Ado About Nothing
The Radio Play

Directed by Noah Tuleja

Much Ado About Nothing: The Radio Play. Episodes available for listening starting January 18, 2021

Much Ado About Nothing: The Radio Play

The Cast

Production Crew

Transcripts

Act 1

Much Ado About Nothing

ACT 1

Scene 1

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  How 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

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

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  I 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.

LEONATO  Did he break out into tears?

MESSENGER  In 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  I 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  My 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,

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  Faith, 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

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  A 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.

LEONATO  You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is

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

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

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

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

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

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  Do, good friend.

LEONATO  You will never run mad, niece.

BEATRICE  No, not till a hot January.

MESSENGER  Don Pedro is approached.

 

PRINCE  Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet

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

me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.

PRINCE  You embrace your charge too willingly.

 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  Signior 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

an honorable father.

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

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?

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

hard heart, for truly I love none.

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

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

’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

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.

PRINCE  That is the sum of all, Leonato.—Signior

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  If 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

thank you.

LEONATO  Please it your Grace lead on?

PRINCE  Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.

 

CLAUDIO  Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of

Signior Leonato?

BENEDICK  I 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

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

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  Would 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

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  I 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

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

suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore

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.

PRINCE  What 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  You 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

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  If 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  By 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  That 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.

PRINCE  Thou 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;

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

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,

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  Well, 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  Well, 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,

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.

PRINCE  Nay, 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.

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  To 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

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.

   

CLAUDIO

My liege, your Highness now may do me good.

PRINCE

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.

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

Than to drive liking to the name of love.

But now I am returned and that war thoughts

Have left their places vacant, in their rooms

Come thronging soft and delicate desires,

All prompting me how fair young Hero is,

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,

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,

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.

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

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.

 

Scene 2

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

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

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

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  No, 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.

 

Scene 3

 

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  You 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  I 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,

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

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  I 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

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

mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do

my liking. In the meantime, let me be that I am, and

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?

What news, Borachio?

BORACHIO  I 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

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  A 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

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

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

all the glory of my overthrow. If I can cross him any

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

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.

Act 2

Much Ado About Nothing

ACT 2

Scene 1

 

 

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  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 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

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  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 woolen!

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 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

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  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 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, 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 revelers are entering, brother. Make

good room.   

 

PRINCE, to Hero  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.

PRINCE  With me in your company?

HERO  I may say so when I please.

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

is Jove.

HERO  Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

PRINCE  Speak low if you speak love.

 

BENEDICK, Well, I would you did like me.

MARGARET  So would not I for your own sake, for I have

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  God match me with a good dancer.

And God keep him out of my sight when the

dance is done. 

URSULA  I 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  You could never do him so ill-well unless you

were the very man. Here’s his dry hand up and

down. You are he, you are he.

ANTONIO  At a word, I am not.

URSULA  Come, come, do you think I do not know you

by your excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to,

mum, you are he. Graces will appear, and there’s an

end.

BEATRICE  Will you not tell me who told you so?

BENEDICK  No, you shall pardon me.

BEATRICE  Nor will you not tell me who you are?

BENEDICK  Not now.

BEATRICE  That I was disdainful, and that I had my

good wit out of The Hundred Merry Tales! Well, this

was Signior Benedick that said so.

BENEDICK  What’s he?

BEATRICE  I am sure you know him well enough.

BENEDICK  Not I, believe me.

BEATRICE  Did he never make you laugh?

BENEDICK  I pray you, what is he?

BEATRICE  Why, he is the Prince’s jester, a very dull

fool; only his gift is in devising impossible slanders.

None but libertines delight in him, and the commendation

is not in his wit but in his 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. 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.

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 Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO  You 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  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.

CLAUDIO,

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.

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.

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 drover; 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.   

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.

PRINCE  Now, signior, where’s the Count? Did you see

him?

BENEDICK  Troth, my lord, I have played the part of

Lady Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a

lodge in a warren. I told him, and I think I told him

true, that your Grace had got the goodwill 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.

PRINCE  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.

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

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

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

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.

PRINCE  Look, here she comes.

BENEDICK  Will your Grace command me any service

to the world’s end? I will go on the slightest errand

now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send

me on. I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the

furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of Prester

John’s foot, fetch you a hair off the great Cham’s

beard, do you any embassage to the Pygmies, rather

than hold three words’ conference with this harpy.

You have no employment for me?

PRINCE  None but to desire your good company.

BENEDICK  O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not! I cannot

endure my Lady Tongue.   

PRINCE, 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

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  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.

PRINCE  Why, how now, count, wherefore are you sad?

CLAUDIO  Not sad, my lord.

PRINCE  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.

PRINCE  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 goodwill 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.

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  And 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  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.

PRINCE  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.

PRINCE  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.—By your Grace’s

pardon.   

PRINCE  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 dreamt of unhappiness and

waked herself with laughing.

PRINCE  She 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

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  Not 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

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

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  And 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

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

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.

 

Scene 2

 

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

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

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 favor 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 honor 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 endeavor

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 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

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.

 

Scene 3

 

BENEDICK  Boy!

BOY  Signior?

BENEDICK  In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it

hither to me in the orchard.

BOY  I am here already, sir.

BENEDICK  I know that, but I would have thee hence

and here again.    I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much

another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors

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 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

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 color it please God. Ha! The Prince and

Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbor.

 

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

See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

CLAUDIO, aside to Prince

O, very well my lord. 

PRINCE

Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of

today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with

Signior Benedick?

CLAUDIO  O, ay. Stalk on, stalk on; the

fowl sits.—I did never think that lady would have

loved any man.

LEONATO  No, nor I neither, but most wonderful that

she should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she

hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to

abhor.

BENEDICK,  Is ’t possible? Sits the wind in that

corner?

LEONATO  By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to

think of it, but that she loves him with an enraged

affection, it is past the infinite of thought.

PRINCE  Maybe 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.

PRINCE  Why, what effects of passion shows she?

CLAUDIO, 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.

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

against Benedick.

BENEDICK, I should think this a gull but that the

white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot,

sure, hide himself in such reverence.

CLAUDIO, He hath ta’en th’ infection.

Hold it up.

PRINCE  Hath she made her affection known to

Benedick?

LEONATO  No, and swears she never will. That’s her

torment.

CLAUDIO  ’Tis true indeed, so your daughter says. “Shall

I,” says she, “that have so oft encountered him with

scorn, write to him that I love him?”

LEONATO  This says she now when she is beginning to

write to him, for she’ll be up twenty times a night,

and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ

a sheet of paper. My daughter tells us all.

CLAUDIO  Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember

a pretty jest your daughter told us of.

LEONATO  O, when she had writ it and was reading it

over, she found “Benedick” and “Beatrice” between

the sheet?

CLAUDIO  That.

LEONATO  O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,

railed at herself that she should be so

immodest to write to one that she knew would flout

her. “I measure him,” says she, “by my own spirit,

for I should flout him if he writ to me, yea, though I

love him, I should.”

CLAUDIO  Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps,

sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses:

“O sweet Benedick, God give me patience!”

LEONATO  She doth indeed, my daughter says so, and

the ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my

daughter is sometimes afeared she will do a desperate

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  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.

PRINCE  In everything but in loving Benedick.

LEONATO  O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in

so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that

blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have

just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.

PRINCE  I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I

would have daffed all other respects and made her

half myself. I pray you tell Benedick of it, and hear

what he will say.

LEONATO  Were it good, think you?

CLAUDIO  Hero thinks surely she will die, for she says

she will die if he love her not, and she will die ere

she make her love known, and she will die if he woo

her rather than she will bate one breath of her

accustomed crossness.

PRINCE  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.

PRINCE  He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

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

PRINCE  He 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

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  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.

PRINCE  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, If he do not

dote on her upon this, I will never trust my

expectation.

PRINCE, 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.

BENEDICK,  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; ’tis 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 humor? 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.

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, signior. Fare you well.   

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 fool. I will go get her picture.

Act 3

Much Ado About Nothing

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

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,

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

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

To praise him more than ever man did merit.

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,

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.

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.

No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful.

I know her spirits are as coy and wild

As haggards of the rock.

URSULA  But are you sure

That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

HERO

So says the Prince and my new-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

And never to let Beatrice know of it.

URSULA

Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman

Deserve as full as fortunate a bed

As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

HERO

O god of love! I know he doth deserve

As much as may be yielded to a man,

But Nature never 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

Values itself so highly that to her

All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,

Nor take no shape nor project of affection,

She is so self-endeared.

URSULA  Sure, I think so,

And therefore certainly it were not good

She knew his love, lest she’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 tall, a lance ill-headed;

If low, an agate very vilely cut;

If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;

If silent, why, a block moved with none.

So turns she every man the wrong side out,

And never gives to truth and virtue that

Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

URSULA

Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

HERO

No, not to be so odd and from all fashions

As Beatrice is cannot be commendable.

But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,

She would mock me into air. O, she would laugh

me

Out of myself, press me to death with wit.

Therefore let Benedick, like covered fire,

Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.

It were a better death than die with mocks,

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

To stain my cousin with. One doth not know

How much an ill word may empoison liking.

URSULA

O, do not do your cousin such a wrong!

She cannot be so much without true judgment,

Having so swift and excellent a wit

As she is 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,

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.

When are you married, madam?

HERO

Why, every day, tomorrow. Come, go in.

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,

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?

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

   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  Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new

gloss of your marriage as to show a child his new

coat and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold

with Benedick for his company, for from the crown

of his head to the sole of his foot he is all mirth. He

hath twice or thrice cut Cupid’s 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  Gallants, 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

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  What, 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  There 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

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’

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.

LEONATO  Indeed 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

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  Nay, 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  That 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  Yet 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  ’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  If your leisure served, I would speak with

you.

PRINCE  In private?

DON JOHN  If it please you. Yet Count Claudio may

hear, for what I would speak of concerns him.

PRINCE  What’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

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

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  I 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

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

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  May 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

show you enough, and when you have seen more

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

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  O 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

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

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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  Why 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

virtue of your office, to be no true man, and for such

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  Truly, 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  You 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

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

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

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

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.

Keep your fellows’ counsels and your own, and

goodnight.—Come, neighbor.

Dogberry and Verges begin to exit.

SEACOAL  Well, masters, we hear our charge. Let us go

sit here upon the church bench till two, and then all

to bed.

DOGBERRY  One 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  Peace, 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  I 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  Some 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

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  I 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.

CONRADE  Yes, it is apparel.

BORACHIO  I 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  I 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  Seest 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

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

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

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,

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,

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

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  We 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

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

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  A commodity in question, I warrant you.—

Come, we’ll obey you.

They exit.

 

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  Well.    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

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

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

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

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

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,

I’ll offend nobody. Is there any harm in “the heavier

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  Good 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  You 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  ’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  Well, 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  These 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  O, God help me, God help me! How long

have you professed apprehension?

MARGARET  Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit

become me rarely?

BEATRICE  It is not seen enough; you should wear it in

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  Benedictus! 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

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

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  What 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  Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good

Ursula.

They exit.

 

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

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

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  Comparisons 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

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

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

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

they say, “When the age is in, the wit is out.” God

help us, it is a world to see!—Well said, i’ faith,

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  Indeed, 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

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  It 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  Go, 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.

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

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

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

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  Know 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!

What men daily do, not knowing what they do!

BENEDICK  How now, interjections? Why, then, some

be of laughing, as ah, ha, he!

CLAUDIO

Stand thee by, friar.—Father, by your leave,

Will you with free and unconstrainèd soul

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

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!

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,

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,

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,

You will say she did embrace me as a husband,

And so extenuate the forehand sin.

No, Leonato,

I never tempted her with word too large,

But, as a brother to his sister, showed

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.

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  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

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?

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,

And by that fatherly and kindly power

That you have in her, bid her answer truly.

LEONATO

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

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?

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

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

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

O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been

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.

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

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!—

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  Have 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

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,

Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,

Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,

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

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,

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,

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

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

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,

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

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,

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  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

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,

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

There is some strange misprision in the princes.

BENEDICK

Two of them have the very bent of honor,

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

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,

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,

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,

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

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.

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

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,

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,

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.

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

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

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

Should with your body.

LEONATO  Being that I flow in grief,

The smallest twine may lead me.

FRIAR

’Tis well consented. Presently away,

   For to strange sores strangely they strain the

   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  Yea, 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  Ah, 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  It 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,

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  I 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  Why 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.

BENEDICK  And do it with all thy heart.

BEATRICE  I 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  You 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  In 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  Is 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

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  Nay, but Beatrice—

BEATRICE  Sweet Hero, she is wronged, she is slandered,

she is undone.

BENEDICK  Beat—

BEATRICE  Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony,

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

compliment, and men are only turned into tongue,

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

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  Yea, 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

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  Nay, 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.

DOGBERRY  Yea, 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  I 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  Write 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.

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

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  Master 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

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!

BORACHIO  Master 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

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  And 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  What 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

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  Let 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  Away! 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

forget not that I am an ass.—No, thou villain, thou

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

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

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,

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,

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,

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

With candle-wasters, bring him yet to me,

And I of him will gather patience.

But there is no such man. For, brother, men

Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief

Which they themselves not feel, but tasting it,

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

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

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

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,

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.

LEONATO

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

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.

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

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,

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.

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.

CLAUDIO

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,

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

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.

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

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,

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,

And speak off half a dozen dang’rous words

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

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  I 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  Good 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  Leonato 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  We 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?

BENEDICK  It is in my scabbard. Shall I draw it?

PRINCE  Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?

CLAUDIO  Never 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  What, 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

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  If 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

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

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

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

she, “a fine little one.” “No,” said I, “a great wit.”

“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

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

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

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  Yea, 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

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

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.

PRINCE  And hath challenged thee?

CLAUDIO  Most 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  But 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

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  Marry, 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  First, 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;

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  Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine

answer. Do you hear me, and let this count kill me.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

LEONATO

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

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.—

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.

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

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

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,

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,

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

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  No, 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

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

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  Your 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.

LEONATO  Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I

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

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

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

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

always keep below stairs?

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  A 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  If 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  And therefore will come.

Margaret exits.

Sings      The god of love

      That sits above,

    And knows me, and knows me,

      How pitiful I deserve—

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

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

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?

BEATRICE  Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.

BENEDICK  O, 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  Only 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  Thou 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

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

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

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

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

widow weeps.

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

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  Very 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  Madam, 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  Will 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.

CLAUDIO, reading an Epitaph.

 

    Done to death by slanderous tongues

      Was the Hero that here lies.

    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,

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,

    Round about her tomb they go.

      Midnight, assist our moan.

      Help us to sigh and groan

          Heavily, heavily.

      Graves, yawn and yield your dead,

      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.

   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.

PRINCE

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,

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

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.

You must be father to your brother’s daughter,

And give her to young Claudio.    The ladies exit.

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

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

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

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  Good 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.

LEONATO

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.

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,

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

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.

I am your husband, if you like of me.

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.

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,

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

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

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.

BENEDICK

They swore that you were almost sick for me.

BEATRICE

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,

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,

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

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

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

purpose that the world can say against it, and

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

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

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  First, 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,

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.