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
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
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
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
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
BEATRICE You had musty victual, and he hath holp to
eat it. He is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
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
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
MESSENGER Is ’t possible?
BEATRICE Very easily possible. He wears his faith but
as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
MESSENGER I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your
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
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
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
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
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
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
LEONATO Please it your Grace lead on?
PRINCE Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.
CLAUDIO Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of
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
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
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
PRINCE What secret hath held you here that you followed
not to Leonato’s?
BENEDICK I would your Grace would constrain me to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
PRINCE The sixth of July. Your loving friend,
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.
My liege, your Highness now may do me good.
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.
Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
CONRADE If not a present remedy, at least a patient
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
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
DON JOHN Will it serve for any model to build mischief
on? What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
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
DON JOHN A very forward March chick! How came you
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
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.
Much Ado About Nothing
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
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
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
LEONATO So, by being too curst, God will send you no
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
LEONATO You may light on a husband that hath no
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
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
LEONATO The revelers are entering, brother. Make
PRINCE, to Hero Lady, will you walk a bout with your
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
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
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 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
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
BORACHIO And that is Claudio. I know him by his
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
DON JOHN Come, let us to the banquet.
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?
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
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
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
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
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
PRINCE You have put him down, lady, you have put
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
BEATRICE I cry you mercy, uncle.—By your Grace’s
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
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
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.
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
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
DON JOHN What life is in that to be the death of this
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
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
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?
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.
Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
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
BENEDICK, Is ’t possible? Sits the wind in that
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
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
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
LEONATO No, and swears she never will. That’s her
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
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
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
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
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.
Much Ado About Nothing
Enter Hero and two gentlewomen, Margaret and Ursula.
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
To listen our propose. This is thy office.
Bear thee well in it, and leave us alone.
I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
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?
So says the Prince and my new-trothèd lord.
And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
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.
Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
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.
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.
Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
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
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.
Yet tell her of it. Hear what she will say.
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.
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.
He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
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.
Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
His excellence did earn it ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
PRINCE You know he does.
DON JOHN I know not that, when he knows what I
CLAUDIO If there be any impediment, I pray you discover
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
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.
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 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
VERGES You have been always called a merciful man,
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
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
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
BORACHIO Therefore know, I have earned of Don
John a thousand ducats.
CONRADE Is it possible that any villainy should be so
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
MARGARET ’Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a
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
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.
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
HERO These gloves the Count sent me, they are an
BEATRICE I am stuffed, cousin. I cannot smell.
MARGARET A maid, and stuffed! There’s goodly catching
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
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.
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
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
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
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
LEONATO Take their examination yourself and bring it
me. I am now in great haste, as it may appear unto
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.
Enter Prince, John the Bastard, Leonato, Friar,
Claudio, Benedick, Hero, and Beatrice, with
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
LEONATO To be married to her.—Friar, you come to
FRIAR Lady, you come hither to be married to this
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!
Stand thee by, friar.—Father, by your leave,
Will you with free and unconstrainèd soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?
As freely, son, as God did give her me.
And what have I to give you back whose worth
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
Nothing, unless you render her again.
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.
What do you mean, my lord?
CLAUDIO Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approvèd wanton.
Dear my lord, if you in your own proof
Have vanquished the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity—
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.
I never tempted her with word too large,
But, as a brother to his sister, showed
Bashful sincerity and comely love.
And seemed I ever otherwise to you?
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.
Is my lord well that he doth speak so wide?
Sweet prince, why speak not you?
PRINCE What should I
I stand dishonored that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.
Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
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?
All this is so, but what of this, my lord?
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.
I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
O, God defend me, how am I beset!—
What kind of catechizing call you this?
To make you answer truly to your name.
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.
I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.
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.
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.
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.
Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?
Why, how now, cousin, wherefore sink you down?
Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.
Claudio, Prince, and Don John exit.
How doth the lady?
BEATRICE Dead, I think.—Help, uncle!—
Hero, why Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
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?
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.
O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
No, truly not, although until last night
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
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?
Lady, what man is he you are accused of?
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!
There is some strange misprision in the princes.
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.
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.
What shall become of this? What will this do?
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.
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.
’Tis well consented. Presently away,
For to strange sores strangely they strain the
Come, lady, die to live. This wedding day
Perhaps is but prolonged. Have patience and
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
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
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.
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
BENEDICK Nay, but Beatrice—
BEATRICE Sweet Hero, she is wronged, she is slandered,
she is undone.
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
BENEDICK Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love
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.
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
SEXTON But which are the offenders that are to be
examined? Let them come before Master
DOGBERRY Yea, marry, let them come before me.
Conrade and Borachio are brought forward.
What is your name, friend?
DOGBERRY Pray, write down “Borachio.”—Yours,
CONRADE I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is
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
SEXTON Master constable, you go not the way to
examine. You must call forth the watch that are
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
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!
Enter Leonato and his brother.
If you go on thus, you will kill yourself,
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
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
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.
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
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.
Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself.
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
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.
Here comes the Prince and Claudio hastily.
Good e’en, good e’en.
CLAUDIO Good day to both of you.
Hear you, my lords—
PRINCE We have some haste,
Some haste, my lord! Well, fare you well, my lord.
Are you so hasty now? Well, all is one.
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
If he could right himself with quarrelling,
Some of us would lie low.
CLAUDIO Who wrongs him?
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.
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
And she lies buried with her ancestors,
O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, framed by thy villainy.
LEONATO Thine, Claudio, thine, I say.
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.
Away! I will not have to do with you.
Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast killed my child.
If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
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
Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence,
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
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—
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.
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.
No? Come, brother, away. I will be heard.
And shall, or some of us will smart for it.
Leonato and his brother exit.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
PRINCE, to Claudio
Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
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
He is composed and framed of treachery,
And fled he is upon this villainy.
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.
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?
If you would know your wronger, look on me.
Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed
Mine innocent child?
BORACHIO Yea, even I alone.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Until tomorrow morning, lords, farewell.
Farewell, my lords. We look for you tomorrow.
We will not fail.
CLAUDIO Tonight I’ll mourn with Hero.
LEONATO, to Watch
Bring you these fellows on.—We’ll talk with
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.
Enter Benedick and Margaret.
BENEDICK Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve
well at my hands by helping me to the speech of
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
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.
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.
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called
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
BENEDICK Only foul words, and thereupon I will kiss
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be utterèd,
Now, unto thy bones, goodnight.
Yearly will I do this rite.
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.
Good morrow, masters. Each his several way.
Lords and Musicians exit.
Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds,
And then to Leonato’s we will go.
And Hymen now with luckier issue speed ’s,
Than this for whom we rendered up this woe.
Enter Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula,
Leonato’s brother, Friar, Hero.
Did I not tell you she was innocent?
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.
Well, I am glad that all things sorts so well.
And so am I, being else by faith enforced
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
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.
Which I will do with confirmed countenance.
Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
FRIAR To do what, signior?
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.
That eye my daughter lent her; ’tis most true.
And I do with an eye of love requite her.
The sight whereof I think you had from me,
From Claudio, and the Prince. But what’s your will?
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.
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.
Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio.
We here attend you. Are you yet determined
Today to marry with my brother’s daughter?
I’ll hold my mind.
Call her forth, brother. Here’s the Friar ready.
Leonato’s brother exits.
Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?
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.
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.
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?
This same is she, and I do give you her.
Why, then, she’s mine.—Sweet, let me see your face.
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.
And when I lived, I was your other wife,
And when you loved, you were my other husband.
HERO Nothing certainer.
One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid.
The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.
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.
Soft and fair, friar.—Which is Beatrice?
I answer to that name. What is your will?
Do not you love me?
BEATRICE Why no, no more than reason.
Why then, your uncle and the Prince and Claudio
Have been deceived. They swore you did.
Do not you love me?
BENEDICK Troth, no, no more than reason.
Why then, my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula
Are much deceived, for they did swear you did.
They swore that you were almost sick for me.
They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
’Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?
No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
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.
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
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.