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Masters, spread yourselves.

      — A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I Scene 2

Much Ado about Nothing

(complete text)

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Act I

1. Before LEONATO’S house.

2. A room in LEONATO’s house.

3. The same.

Act II

1. A hall in LEONATO’S house.

2. The same.

3. LEONATO’S orchard.

Act III

1. LEONATO’S garden.

2. A room in LEONATO’S house

3. A street.

4. HERO’s apartment.

5. Another room in LEONATO’S house.

Act IV

1. A church.

2. A prison.

Act V

1. Before LEONATO’S house.

2. LEONATO’S garden.

3. A church.

4. A room in LEONATO’S house.

---
       

Act I, Scene 1

Before LEONATO’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a Messenger]

  • Leonato. I learn in this letter that Don Peter of Arragon
    comes this night to Messina.
  • Messenger. He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off
    when I left him. 5
  • Leonato. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
  • Messenger. But few of any sort, and none of name.
  • Leonato. A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings
    home full numbers. I find here that Don Peter hath
    bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio. 10
  • 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 15
    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 20
    not show itself modest enough without a badge of
    bitterness.
  • Leonato. Did he break out into tears?
  • Leonato. A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces 25
    truer than those that are so washed. How much
    better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
  • Beatrice. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
    wars or no?
  • Messenger. I know none of that name, lady: there was none such 30
    in the army of any sort.
  • Leonato. What is he that you ask for, niece?
  • Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
  • Messenger. O, he's returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.
  • Beatrice. He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged 35
    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. 40
  • Leonato. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much;
    but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
  • Messenger. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
  • Beatrice. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it:
    he is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an 45
    excellent stomach.
  • 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
    honourable virtues. 50
  • 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 55
    between them.
  • Beatrice. Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last
    conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and
    now is the whole man governed with one: so that if
    he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him 60
    bear it for a difference between himself and his
    horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left,
    to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his
    companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
  • Beatrice. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
    the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
    next block.
  • Messenger. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
  • Beatrice. No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray 70
    you, who is his companion? Is there no young
    squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
  • Messenger. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
  • Beatrice. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: he
    is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker 75
    runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if
    he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a
    thousand pound ere a' be cured.
  • Messenger. I will hold friends with you, lady.
  • Leonato. You will never run mad, niece.

[Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and BALTHASAR]

  • Don Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your 85
    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 90
    and happiness takes his leave.
  • Don Pedro. 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? 95
  • Leonato. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
  • Don Pedro. 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
    honourable father. 100
  • 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. 105
  • Benedick. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
  • Beatrice. Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
    such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
    Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come
    in her presence. 110
  • 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 115
    been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God
    and my cold blood, I am of your humour 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 120
    gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate
    scratched face.
  • Beatrice. Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such
    a face as yours were.
  • Benedick. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. 125
  • Beatrice. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
  • Benedick. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
    so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God's
    name; I have done.
  • Beatrice. You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old. 130
  • Don Pedro. 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 135
    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. 140
  • Don John. I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank
    you.
  • Leonato. Please it your grace lead on?
  • Don Pedro. Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.

[Exeunt all except BENEDICK and CLAUDIO]

  • Claudio. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
  • Benedick. I noted her not; but I looked on her.
  • Claudio. Is she not a modest young lady?
  • Benedick. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for
    my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak 150
    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 155
    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 likest her. 160
  • Benedick. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?
  • Claudio. Can the world buy such a jewel?
  • Benedick. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this
    with a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack,
    to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a 165
    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 170
    matter: there's her cousin, an she were not
    possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty
    as the first of May doth the last of December. But I
    hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?
  • Claudio. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the 175
    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 three-score again?
    Go to, i' faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck 180
    into a yoke, wear the print of it and sigh away
    Sundays. Look Don Pedro is returned to seek you.

[Re-enter DON PEDRO]

  • Don Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed
    not to Leonato's? 185
  • Benedick. I would your grace would constrain me to tell.
  • 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 190
    in love. With who? now that is your grace's part.
    Mark how short his answer is;—With Hero, Leonato's
    short daughter.
  • Claudio. If this were so, so were it uttered.
  • Benedick. Like the old tale, my lord: 'it is not so, nor 195
    'twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be
    so.'
  • Claudio. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
    should be otherwise.
  • Don Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy. 200
  • Claudio. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
  • Claudio. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
  • Benedick. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
  • Claudio. That I love her, I feel. 205
  • Benedick. That I neither feel how she should be loved nor
    know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that
    fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake.
  • Don Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite 210
    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 215
    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 220
    I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.
  • Don Pedro. 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 225
    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.
  • Don Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
    wilt prove a notable argument. 230
  • 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.
  • Don Pedro. Well, as time shall try: 'In time the savage bull
    doth bear the yoke.' 235
  • 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 240
    'Here you may see Benedick the married man.'
  • Claudio. If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
  • Don Pedro. 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. 245
  • Don Pedro. Well, you temporize with the hours. In the
    meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to
    Leonato's: commend me to him and tell him I will
    not fail him at supper; for indeed he hath made
    great preparation. 250
  • Benedick. I have almost matter enough in me for such an
    embassage; and so I commit you—
  • Claudio. To the tuition of God: From my house, if I had it,—
  • Don Pedro. The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.
  • Benedick. Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your 255
    discourse is sometime 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.

[Exit]

  • Claudio. My liege, your highness now may do me good.
  • Don Pedro. My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,
    And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
    Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
  • Claudio. Hath Leonato any son, my lord? 265
  • Don Pedro. 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 look'd upon her with a soldier's eye, 270
    That liked, but had a rougher task in hand
    Than to drive liking to the name of love:
    But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts
    Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
    Come thronging soft and delicate desires, 275
    All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
    Saying, I liked her ere I went to wars.
  • Don Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently
    And tire the hearer with a book of words.
    If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it, 280
    And I will break with her and with her father,
    And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end
    That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?
  • Claudio. How sweetly you do minister to love,
    That know love's grief by his complexion! 285
    But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
    I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
  • Don Pedro. 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, 290
    And I will fit thee with the remedy.
    I know we shall have revelling to-night:
    I will assume thy part in some disguise
    And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
    And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart 295
    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 practise let us put it presently. 300

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 2

A room in LEONATO’s house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting]

  • Leonato. How now, brother! Where is my cousin, your son?
    hath he provided this music?
  • Antonio. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell 305
    you strange news that you yet dreamt not of.
  • Antonio. As the event 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 310
    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 315
    top and instantly break with you of it.
  • Leonato. Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
  • Antonio. 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 320
    itself: but I will acquaint my daughter withal,
    that she may be the better prepared for an answer,
    if peradventure this be true. Go you and tell her of it.
    [Enter Attendants]
    Cousins, you know what you have to do. O, I cry you 325
    mercy, friend; go you with me, and I will use your
    skill. Good cousin, have a care this busy time.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 3

The same.

      next scene .
---

[Enter DON JOHN and CONRADE]

  • Conrade. What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out 330
    of measure sad?
  • Don John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds;
    therefore the sadness is without limit.
  • Don John. And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it? 335
  • Conrade. If not a present remedy, at least a patient
    sufferance.
  • Don John. I wonder that thou, being, as thou sayest thou art,
    born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral
    medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide 340
    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 humour. 345
  • 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 350
    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 355
    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 360
    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. 365
    Who comes here?
    [Enter BORACHIO]
    What news, Borachio?
  • Borachio. I came yonder from a great supper: the prince your
    brother is royally entertained by Leonato: and I 370
    can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.
  • Don John. Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
    What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
    unquietness?
  • Borachio. Marry, it is your brother's right hand. 375
  • Don John. Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
  • Don John. A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks
    he?
  • Borachio. Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato. 380
  • Don John. A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?
  • Borachio. Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a
    musty room, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand
    in hand in sad conference: I whipt me behind the
    arras; and there heard it agreed upon that the 385
    prince should woo Hero for himself, and having
    obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.
  • Don John. Come, come, let us thither: this may prove food to
    my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the
    glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I 390
    bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?
  • Don John. Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the
    greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were of
    my mind! Shall we go prove what's to be done? 395
  • Borachio. We'll wait upon your lordship.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 1

A hall in LEONATO’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others]

  • Leonato. Was not Count John here at supper?
  • Beatrice. How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
    him but I am heart-burned an hour after.
  • Hero. He is of a very melancholy disposition.
  • Beatrice. He were an excellent man that were made just in the
    midway between him and Benedick: the one is too 405
    like an image and says nothing, and the other too
    like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.
  • Leonato. Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's
    mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signior
    Benedick's face,— 410
  • Beatrice. With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
    enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman
    in the world, if a' could get her good-will.
  • Leonato. By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
    husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue. 415
  • Antonio. In faith, she's too curst.
  • Beatrice. Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's
    sending that way; for it is said, 'God sends a curst
    cow short horns;' but to a cow too curst he sends none.
  • Leonato. So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns. 420
  • Beatrice. Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
    blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and
    evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
    beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.
  • Leonato. You may light on a husband that hath no beard. 425
  • 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 430
    man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take
    sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
    apes into hell.
  • Leonato. Well, then, go you into hell?
  • Beatrice. No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet 435
    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 440
    there live we as merry as the day is long.
  • Antonio. [To HERO] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled
    by your father.
  • Beatrice. Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy
    and say 'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all 445
    that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else
    make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please
    me.'
  • Leonato. Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
  • Beatrice. Not till God make men of some other metal than 450
    earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
    overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make
    an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
    No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren;
    and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred. 455
  • 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 every thing 460
    and so dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero:
    wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig,
    a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot
    and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as
    fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a 465
    measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
    repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the
    cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
  • Leonato. Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
  • Beatrice. I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight. 470
  • Leonato. The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.
    [All put on their masks]
    [Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR,]
    DON JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA and others, masked]
  • Don Pedro. Lady, will you walk about with your friend? 475
  • Hero. So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
    I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.
  • Hero. I may say so, when I please.
  • Don Pedro. And when please you to say so? 480
  • Hero. When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
    should be like the case!
  • Don Pedro. My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.
  • Hero. Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

[Drawing her aside]

  • Margaret. So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many
    ill-qualities.
  • Balthasar. I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.
  • Margaret. God match me with a good dancer!
  • Margaret. And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is 495
    done! Answer, clerk.
  • Balthasar. No more words: the clerk is answered.
  • Ursula. I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.
  • Ursula. I know you by the waggling of your head. 500
  • 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.
  • Ursula. Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your
    excellent wit? can virtue hide itself? Go to,
    mum, you are he: graces will appear, and there's an
    end.
  • Beatrice. Will you not tell me who told you so? 510
  • Beatrice. Nor will you not tell me who you are?
  • Beatrice. That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
    out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales:'—well this was 515
    Signior Benedick that said so.
  • Beatrice. I am sure you know him well enough.
  • Beatrice. Did he never make you laugh? 520
  • Beatrice. Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool;
    only his gift is in devising impossible slanders:
    none but libertines delight in him; and the
    commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany; 525
    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; 530
    which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at,
    strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a
    partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
    supper that night.
    [Music] 535
    We must follow the leaders.
  • Beatrice. Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
    the next turning.

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

  • Don John. Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath
    withdrawn her father to break with him about it.
    The ladies follow her and but one visor remains.
  • Borachio. And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.
  • Don John. Are not you Signior Benedick? 545
  • Claudio. You know me well; I am he.
  • Don John. Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:
    he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him
    from her: she is no equal for his birth: you may
    do the part of an honest man in it. 550
  • Claudio. How know you he loves her?
  • Don John. I heard him swear his affection.
  • Borachio. So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO]

  • Claudio. Thus answer I in the name of Benedick,
    But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
    'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
    Friendship is constant in all other things
    Save in the office and affairs of love: 560
    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, 565
    Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

[Re-enter BENEDICK]

  • Benedick. Come, will you go with me? 570
  • 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 575
    it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.
  • Benedick. Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they
    sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would
    have served you thus? 580
  • Benedick. Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the
    boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.
  • Claudio. If it will not be, I'll leave you.

[Exit]

  • Benedick. Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges.
    But that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not
    know me! The prince's fool! Ha? It may be I go
    under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I
    am apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it 590
    is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice
    that puts the world into her person and so gives me
    out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.

[Re-enter DON PEDRO]

  • Don Pedro. Now, signior, where's the count? did you see him? 595
  • Benedick. Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame.
    I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a
    warren: I told him, and I think I told him true,
    that your grace had got the good will of this young
    lady; and I offered him my company to a willow-tree, 600
    either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or
    to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.
  • Benedick. The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
    overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his 605
    companion, and he steals it.
  • Don Pedro. Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
    transgression is in the stealer.
  • Benedick. Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,
    and the garland too; for the garland he might have 610
    worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on
    you, who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest.
  • Don Pedro. I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
    the owner.
  • Benedick. If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, 615
    you say honestly.
  • Don Pedro. The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
    gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
    wronged by you.
  • Benedick. O, she misused me past the endurance of a block! 620
    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 625
    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 630
    the north star. I would not marry her, though she
    were endowed with all that Adam bad 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 635
    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 640
    and perturbation follows her.

[Enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO]

  • Benedick. Will your grace command me any service to the
    world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now 645
    to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on;
    I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the
    furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of
    Prester John's foot, fetch you a hair off the great
    Cham's beard, do you any embassage to the Pigmies, 650
    rather than hold three words' conference with this
    harpy. You have no employment for me?
  • Don Pedro. None, but to desire your good company.
  • Benedick. O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot
    endure my Lady Tongue. 655

[Exit]

  • Don Pedro. Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
    Signior Benedick.
  • Beatrice. Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
    him use for it, a double heart for his single one: 660
    marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
    therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.
  • Don Pedro. You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.
  • Beatrice. So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I
    should prove the mother of fools. I have brought 665
    Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.
  • Don Pedro. Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?
  • Beatrice. The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
    well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
    something of that jealous complexion.
  • Don Pedro. I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;
    though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is 675
    false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and
    fair Hero is won: I have broke with her father,
    and his good will obtained: name the day of
    marriage, and God give thee joy!
  • Leonato. Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my 680
    fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an
    grace say Amen to it.
  • Claudio. Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were
    but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as 685
    you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
    you and dote upon the exchange.
  • Beatrice. Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
    with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.
  • Don Pedro. In faith, lady, you have a merry heart. 690
  • 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.
  • Beatrice. Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the 695
    world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
    corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!
  • Don Pedro. Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
  • Beatrice. I would rather have one of your father's getting.
    Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your 700
    father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
  • 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 705
    was born to speak all mirth and no matter.
  • Don Pedro. Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
    becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
    a merry hour.
  • Beatrice. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there 710
    was a star danced, and under that was I born.
    Cousins, God give you joy!
  • Leonato. Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
  • Beatrice. I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon.

[Exit]

  • Don Pedro. By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
  • Leonato. There's little of the melancholy element in her, my
    lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps, and
    not ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say,
    she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked 720
    herself with laughing.
  • Don Pedro. She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
  • Leonato. O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.
  • Don Pedro. She were an excellent wife for Benedict.
  • Leonato. O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, 725
    they would talk themselves mad.
  • Don Pedro. County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?
  • Claudio. To-morrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love
    have all his rites.
  • Leonato. Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just 730
    seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
    things answer my mind.
  • Don Pedro. Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing:
    but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go
    dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of 735
    Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signior
    Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of
    affection the one with the other. I would fain have
    it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if
    you three will but minister such assistance as I 740
    shall give you direction.
  • Leonato. My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
    nights' watchings.
  • Hero. I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
    cousin to a good husband.
  • Don Pedro. And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
    I know. Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble
    strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I 750
    will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she
    shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your
    two helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in
    despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he
    shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this, 755
    Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be
    ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me,
    and I will tell you my drift.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

The same.

      next scene .
---

[Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO]

  • Don John. It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
    daughter of Leonato.
  • Borachio. Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.
  • Don John. Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
    medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him, 765
    and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
    evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?
  • Borachio. Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no
    dishonesty shall appear in me.
  • Borachio. I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
    I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
    gentlewoman to Hero.
  • Borachio. I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, 775
    appoint her to look out at her lady's chamber window.
  • Don John. What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?
  • Borachio. The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
    the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that
    he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned 780
    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 785
    other issue?
  • Don John. Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing.
  • 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 790
    prince and Claudio, as,—in love of your brother's
    honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's
    reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the
    semblance of a maid,—that you have discovered
    thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: 795
    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 800
    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 805
    it in practise. Be cunning in the working this, and
    thy fee is a thousand ducats.
  • Borachio. Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
    shall not shame me.
  • Don John. I will presently go learn their day of marriage. 810

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

LEONATO’S orchard.

      next scene .
---

[Enter BENEDICK]

[Enter Boy]

  • Boy. Signior? 815
  • Benedick. In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
    to me in the orchard.
  • Boy. I am here already, sir.
  • Benedick. I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again.
    [Exit Boy] 820
    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 failing in love: and such a man 825
    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 tabour and the pipe: I have known
    when he would have walked ten mile a-foot to see a
    good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake, 830
    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 835
    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 840
    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 845
    near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good
    discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
    be of what colour it please God. Ha! the prince and
    Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.

[Withdraws]

[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO]

  • Claudio. Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
    As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!
  • Don Pedro. See you where Benedick hath hid himself? 855
  • Claudio. O, very well, my lord: the music ended,
    We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

[Enter BALTHASAR with Music]

  • Don Pedro. Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.
  • Balthasar. O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice 860
    To slander music any more than once.
  • Don Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency
    To put a strange face on his own perfection.
    I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.
  • Balthasar. Because you talk of wooing, I will sing; 865
    Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
    To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
    Yet will he swear he loves.
  • Don Pedro. Now, pray thee, come;
    Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument, 870
    Do it in notes.
  • Balthasar. Note this before my notes;
    There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
  • Don Pedro. Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
    Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing. 875

[Air]

  • Benedick. Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it
    not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out
    of men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when
    all's done. 880

[The Song]

  • Balthasar. Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
    Men were deceivers ever,
    One foot in sea and one on shore,
    To one thing constant never: 885
    Then sigh not so, but let them go,
    And be you blithe and bonny,
    Converting all your sounds of woe
    Into Hey nonny, nonny.
    Sing no more ditties, sing no moe, 890
    Of dumps so dull and heavy;
    The fraud of men was ever so,
    Since summer first was leafy:
    Then sigh not so, &c.
  • Don Pedro. Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.
  • Benedick. An he had been a dog that should have howled thus,
    they would have hanged him: and I pray God his bad
    voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the 900
    night-raven, come what plague could have come after
    it.
  • Don Pedro. Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee,
    get us some excellent music; for to-morrow night we
    would have it at the Lady Hero's chamber-window. 905
  • Don Pedro. Do so: farewell.
    [Exit BALTHASAR]
    Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
    to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with 910
    Signior Benedick?
  • Claudio. O, ay: stalk on. stalk on; the fowl sits. I did
    never think that lady would have loved any man.
  • Leonato. No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
    should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in 915
    all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.
  • Benedick. Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?
  • Leonato. By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
    of it but that she loves him with an enraged
    affection: it is past the infinite of thought. 920
  • Leonato. O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
    passion came so near the life of passion as she
    discovers it. 925
  • Don Pedro. Why, what effects of passion shows she?
  • Claudio. Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.
  • Leonato. What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard
    my daughter tell you how.
  • Don Pedro. How, how, pray you? You amaze me: I would have I
    thought her spirit had been invincible against all
    assaults of affection.
  • Leonato. I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
    against Benedick. 935
  • 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 the infection: hold it up.
  • Don Pedro. Hath she made her affection known to Benedick? 940
  • Leonato. No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.
  • Claudio. 'Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: 'Shall
    I,' says she, 'that have so oft encountered him
    with scorn, write to him that I love him?'
  • Leonato. This says she now when she is beginning to write to 945
    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. 950
  • Leonato. O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
    found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?
  • Leonato. O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
    railed at herself, that she should be so immodest 955
    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, 960
    beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; 'O
    sweet Benedick! God give me patience!'
  • Leonato. She doth indeed; my daughter says so: and the
    ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter
    is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage 965
    to herself: it is very true.
  • Don Pedro. It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
    other, if she will not discover it.
  • Claudio. To what end? He would make but a sport of it and
    torment the poor lady worse. 970
  • Don Pedro. An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an
    excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion,
    she is virtuous.
  • Claudio. And she is exceeding wise.
  • Don Pedro. In every thing but in loving Benedick. 975
  • Leonato. O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
    a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath
    the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just
    cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
  • Don Pedro. I would she had bestowed this dotage on me: I would 980
    have daffed all other respects and made her half
    myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear
    what a' will say.
  • Claudio. Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she 985
    will die, if he love her not, and she will die, ere
    she make her love known, and she will die, if he woo
    her, rather than she will bate one breath of her
    accustomed crossness.
  • Don Pedro. She doth well: if she should make tender of her 990
    love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the
    man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
  • Don Pedro. He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
  • Claudio. Before God! and, in my mind, very wise. 995
  • Don Pedro. He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.
  • Claudio. And I take him to be valiant.
  • Don Pedro. As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of
    quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he
    avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes 1000
    them with a most Christian-like fear.
  • Leonato. If he do fear God, a' must necessarily keep peace:
    if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a
    quarrel with fear and trembling.
  • Don Pedro. And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, 1005
    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. 1010
  • Leonato. Nay, that's impossible: she may wear her heart out first.
  • Don Pedro. Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter:
    let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I
    could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see
    how much he is unworthy so good a lady. 1015
  • Leonato. My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.
  • Claudio. If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
    trust my expectation.
  • Don Pedro. Let there be the same net spread for her; and that
    must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The 1020
    sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of
    another's dotage, and no such matter: that's the
    scene that I would see, which will be merely a
    dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.

[Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO]

  • Benedick. [Coming forward] This can be no trick: the
    conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of
    this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it
    seems her affections have their full bent. Love me!
    why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured: 1030
    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 1035
    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 1040
    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. 1045
    Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
    the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
    No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would
    die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
    were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day! 1050
    she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in
    her.

[Enter BEATRICE]

  • Beatrice. Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
  • Benedick. Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains. 1055
  • 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 1060
    point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach,
    signior: fare you well.

[Exit]

  • Benedick. Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
    to dinner;' there's a double meaning in that 'I took 1065
    no more pains for those thanks than you took pains
    to thank me.' that's as much as to say, Any pains
    that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do
    not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not
    love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture. 1070

[Exit]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 1

LEONATO’S garden.

      next scene .
---

[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA]

  • Hero. Good Margaret, run thee to the parlor;
    There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
    Proposing with the prince and Claudio: 1075
    Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula
    Walk in the orchard and our whole discourse
    Is all of her; say that thou overheard'st us;
    And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
    Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun, 1080
    Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,
    Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
    Against that power that bred it: there will she hide her,
    To listen our purpose. This is thy office;
    Bear thee well in it and leave us alone. 1085
  • Margaret. I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.

[Exit]

  • Hero. Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
    As we do trace this alley up and down,
    Our talk must only be of Benedick. 1090
    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, 1095
    That only wounds by hearsay.
    [Enter BEATRICE, behind]
    Now begin;
    For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
    Close by the ground, to hear our conference. 1100
  • Ursula. 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 couched in the woodbine coverture. 1105
    Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
  • Hero. Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
    Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.
    [Approaching the bower]
    No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful; 1110
    I know her spirits are as coy and wild
    As haggerds of the rock.
  • Ursula. But are you sure
    That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
  • Hero. So says the prince and my new-trothed lord. 1115
  • Ursula. And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
  • Hero. They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
    But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
    To wish him wrestle with affection,
    And never to let Beatrice know of it. 1120
  • Ursula. Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
    Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
    As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
  • Hero. O god of love! I know he doth deserve
    As much as may be yielded to a man: 1125
    But Nature never framed a woman's heart
    Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
    Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
    Misprising what they look on, and her wit
    Values itself so highly that to her 1130
    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 1135
    She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.
  • Hero. Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
    How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
    But she would spell him backward: if fair-faced,
    She would swear the gentleman should be her sister; 1140
    If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,
    Made a foul blot; 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. 1145
    So turns she every man the wrong side out
    And never gives to truth and virtue that
    Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
  • Ursula. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
  • Hero. No, not to be so odd and from all fashions 1150
    As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable:
    But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
    She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
    Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
    Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire, 1155
    Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
    It were a better death than die with mocks,
    Which is as bad as die with tickling.
  • Ursula. Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.
  • Hero. No; rather I will go to Benedick 1160
    And counsel him to fight against his passion.
    And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
    To stain my cousin with: one doth not know
    How much an ill word may empoison liking.
  • Ursula. O, do not do your cousin such a wrong. 1165
    She cannot be so much without true judgment—
    Having so swift and excellent a wit
    As she is prized to have—as to refuse
    So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
  • Hero. He is the only man of Italy. 1170
    Always excepted my dear Claudio.
  • Ursula. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
    Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
    For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
    Goes foremost in report through Italy. 1175
  • Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
  • Ursula. His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
    When are you married, madam?
  • Hero. Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
    I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel 1180
    Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.
  • Ursula. She's limed, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.
  • Hero. If it proves so, then loving goes by haps:
    Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

[Exeunt HERO and URSULA]

  • Beatrice. [Coming forward]
    What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
    Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?
    Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
    No glory lives behind the back of such. 1190
    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 1195
    Believe it better than reportingly.

[Exit]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

A room in LEONATO’S house

      next scene .
---

[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and LEONATO]

  • Don Pedro. I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and
    then go I toward Arragon. 1200
  • Claudio. I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you'll
    vouchsafe me.
  • Don Pedro. 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 1205
    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
    bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at
    him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his 1210
    tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his
    tongue speaks.
  • Benedick. Gallants, I am not as I have been.
  • Leonato. So say I. methinks you are sadder.
  • Claudio. I hope he be in love. 1215
  • Don Pedro. 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.
  • Claudio. You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
  • Leonato. Where is but a humour or a worm.
  • Benedick. Well, every one can master a grief but he that has 1225
    it.
  • Claudio. Yet say I, he is in love.
  • Don Pedro. 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 to-morrow, or in the 1230
    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. 1235
  • Claudio. If he be not in love with some woman, there is no
    believing old signs: a' brushes his hat o'
    mornings; what should that bode?
  • Don Pedro. Hath any man seen him at the barber's?
  • Claudio. No, but the barber's man hath been seen with him, 1240
    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.
  • Don Pedro. Nay, a' rubs himself with civet: can you smell him
    out by that? 1245
  • Claudio. That's as much as to say, the sweet youth's in love.
  • Don Pedro. The greatest note of it is his melancholy.
  • Claudio. And when was he wont to wash his face?
  • Don Pedro. Yea, or to paint himself? for the which, I hear
    what they say of him. 1250
  • Claudio. Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into
    a lute-string and now governed by stops.
  • Don Pedro. Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him: conclude,
    conclude he is in love.
  • Claudio. Nay, but I know who loves him. 1255
  • Don Pedro. 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.
  • Don Pedro. She shall be buried with her face upwards.
  • Benedick. Yet is this no charm for the toothache. Old 1260
    signior, walk aside with me: I have studied eight
    or nine wise words to speak to you, which these
    hobby-horses must not hear.

[Exeunt BENEDICK and LEONATO]

  • Don Pedro. For my life, to break with him about Beatrice. 1265
  • 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 DON JOHN]

  • Don John. My lord and brother, God save you! 1270
  • Don John. If your leisure served, I would speak with you.
  • Don John. If it please you: yet Count Claudio may hear; for
    what I would speak of concerns him. 1275
  • Don John. [To CLAUDIO] Means your lordship to be married
    to-morrow?
  • Don John. I know not that, when he knows what I know. 1280
  • Claudio. If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it.
  • Don John. You may think I love you not: let that appear
    hereafter, and aim better at me by that I now will
    manifest. For my brother, I think he holds you
    well, and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect 1285
    your ensuing marriage;—surely suit ill spent and
    labour ill bestowed.
  • Don John. I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances
    shortened, for she has been too long a talking of, 1290
    the lady is disloyal.
  • Don Pedro. Even she; Leonato's Hero, your Hero, every man's Hero:
  • Don John. The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I 1295
    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 to-night, you shall
    see her chamber-window entered, even the night
    before her wedding-day: if you love her then, 1300
    to-morrow wed her; but it would better fit your honour
    to change your mind.
  • Don John. If you dare not trust that you see, confess not 1305
    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 any thing to-night why I should not marry
    her to-morrow in the congregation, where I should 1310
    wed, there will I shame her.
  • Don Pedro. 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 1315
    let the issue show itself.
  • Claudio. O mischief strangely thwarting!
  • Don John. O plague right well prevented! so will you say when
    you have seen the sequel. 1320

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

A street.

      next scene .
---

[Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch]

  • Verges. Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
    salvation, body and soul. 1325
  • 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, neighbour Dogberry.
  • Dogberry. First, who think you the most desertless man to be 1330
    constable?
  • First Watchman. Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can
    write and read.
  • Dogberry. Come hither, neighbour Seacole. God hath blessed
    you with a good name: to be a well-favoured man is 1335
    the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.
  • Dogberry. You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well,
    for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make
    no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, 1340
    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 1345
    to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.
  • 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. 1350
  • 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 1355
    talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.
  • 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 1360
    offend: only, have a care that your bills be not
    stolen. Well, you are to call at all the
    ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.
  • Dogberry. Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if 1365
    they make you not then the better answer, you may
    say they are not the men you took them for.
  • Dogberry. If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue
    of your office, to be no true man; and, for such 1370
    kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them,
    why the more is for your honesty.
  • Watchman. 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 1375
    that touch pitch will be defiled: the most peaceable
    way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him
    show himself what he is and steal out of your company.
  • Verges. You have been always called a merciful man, partner.
  • Dogberry. Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more 1380
    a man who hath any honesty in him.
  • Verges. If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call
    to the nurse and bid her still it.
  • Watchman. How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?
  • Dogberry. Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake 1385
    her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her
    lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.
  • Dogberry. This is the end of the charge:—you, constable, are
    to present the prince's own person: if you meet the 1390
    prince in the night, you may stay him.
  • Verges. Nay, by'r our lady, that I think a' 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 1395
    to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a
    man against his will.
  • Verges. By'r lady, I think it be so.
  • Dogberry. Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be
    any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your 1400
    fellows' counsels and your own; and good night.
    Come, neighbour.
  • Watchman. Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here
    upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed.
  • Dogberry. One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you watch 1405
    about Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being
    there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night.
    Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.

[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES]

[Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE]

  • Conrade. Here, man; I am at thy elbow.
  • Borachio. Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a 1415
    scab follow.
  • Conrade. I will owe thee an answer for that: and now forward
    with thy tale.
  • Borachio. Stand thee close, then, under this pent-house, for
    it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, 1420
    utter all to thee.
  • Watchman. [Aside] Some treason, masters: yet stand close.
  • Borachio. Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.
  • Conrade. Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?
  • Borachio. Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any 1425
    villany should be so rich; for when rich villains
    have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what
    price they will.
  • Borachio. That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that 1430
    the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is
    nothing to a man.
  • Conrade. Yes, the fashion is the fashion. 1435
  • Borachio. Tush! I may as well say the fool's the fool. But
    seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion
    is?
  • Watchman. [Aside] I know that Deformed; a' has been a vile
    thief this seven year; a' goes up and down like a 1440
    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 a' turns about all the hot 1445
    bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty?
    sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers
    in the reeky painting, sometime like god Bel's
    priests in the old church-window, sometime like the
    shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry, 1450
    where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?
  • Conrade. All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears
    out more apparel than the man. But art not thou
    thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
    shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion? 1455
  • Borachio. Not so, neither: but know that I have to-night
    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 good
    night,—I tell this tale vilely:—I should first 1460
    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 encounter.
  • Conrade. And thought they Margaret was Hero?
  • Borachio. Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the 1465
    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 villany, which did confirm any slander that
    Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore 1470
    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'er night
    and send her home again without a husband.
  • Second Watchman. Call up the right master constable. We have here
    recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that
    ever was known in the commonwealth.
  • First Watchman. And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a'
    wears a lock. 1480
  • First Watchman. Never speak: we charge you let us obey you to go with us.
  • Borachio. We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken 1485
    up of these men's bills.
  • Conrade. A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 4

HERO’s apartment.

      next scene .
---

[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA]

  • Hero. Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire 1490
    her to rise.
  • Hero. And bid her come hither.

[Exit]

  • Margaret. Troth, I think your other rabato were better.
  • Hero. No, pray thee, good Meg, I'll wear this.
  • Margaret. By my troth, 's not so good; and I warrant your
    cousin will say so.
  • Hero. My cousin's a fool, and thou art another: I'll wear 1500
    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. 1505
  • Hero. O, that exceeds, they say.
  • Margaret. By my troth, 's but a night-gown 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: 1510
    but for a fine, quaint, graceful and excellent
    fashion, yours is worth ten on 't.
  • Hero. God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is
    exceeding heavy.
  • Margaret. 'Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man. 1515
  • Hero. Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?
  • Margaret. Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? Is not
    marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord
    honourable without marriage? I think you would have
    me say, 'saving your reverence, a husband:' and bad 1520
    thinking do not wrest true speaking, I'll offend
    nobody: is there any harm in 'the heavier for a
    husband'? None, I think, and it be the right husband
    and the right wife; otherwise 'tis light, and not
    heavy: ask my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes. 1525

[Enter BEATRICE]

  • Hero. Good morrow, coz.
  • Hero. Why how now? do you speak in the sick tune?
  • Beatrice. I am out of all other tune, methinks. 1530
  • Margaret. Clap's into 'Light o' love;' that goes without a
    burden: do you sing it, and I'll dance it.
  • Beatrice. Ye light o' love, with your heels! then, if your
    husband have stables enough, you'll see he shall
    lack no barns. 1535
  • Margaret. O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.
  • Beatrice. 'Tis almost five o'clock, cousin; tis time you were
    ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill: heigh-ho!
  • Margaret. For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?
  • Beatrice. For the letter that begins them all, H. 1540
  • Margaret. Well, and you be not turned Turk, there's no more
    sailing by the star.
  • Margaret. Nothing I; but God send every one their heart's desire!
  • Hero. These gloves the count sent me; they are an 1545
    excellent perfume.
  • Beatrice. I am stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.
  • Margaret. A maid, and stuffed! there's goodly catching of cold.
  • Beatrice. O, God help me! God help me! how long have you
    professed apprehension? 1550
  • Margaret. Even since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?
  • Beatrice. It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your
    cap. By my troth, I am sick.
  • Margaret. Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus,
    and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm. 1555
  • Hero. There thou prickest 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 1560
    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 1565
    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 1570
    your eyes as other women do.
  • Beatrice. What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?

[Re-enter URSULA]

  • Ursula. Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior 1575
    Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the
    town, are come to fetch you to church.
  • Hero. Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 5

Another room in LEONATO’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LEONATO, with DOGBERRY and VERGES]

  • Leonato. What would you with me, honest neighbour?
  • Dogberry. Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you
    that decerns you nearly.
  • Leonato. Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with me.
  • 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, 1590
    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, neighbour Verges.
  • Leonato. Neighbours, you are tedious. 1595
  • 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 it in
    my heart to bestow it all of your worship.
  • Leonato. All thy tediousness on me, ah? 1600
  • 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.
  • Leonato. I would fain know what you have to say.
  • Verges. Marry, sir, our watch to-night, 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 1610
    say, when the age is in, the wit is out: God help
    us! it is a world to see. Well said, i' faith,
    neighbour 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 1615
    broke bread; but God is to be worshipped; all men
    are not alike; alas, good neighbour!
  • Leonato. Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.
  • Dogberry. One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed
    comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would
    have them this morning examined before your worship.
  • Leonato. Take their examination yourself and bring it me: I
    am now in great haste, as it may appear unto you. 1625
  • 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. 1630
  • Leonato. I'll wait upon them: I am ready.

[Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger]

  • Dogberry. Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis Seacole;
    bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we
    are now to examination these men. 1635
  • 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 non-come: only
    get the learned writer to set down our
    excommunication and meet me at the gaol. 1640

[Exeunt]

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Act IV, Scene 1

A church.

      next scene .
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[Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, LEONATO, FRIAR FRANCIS,] [p]CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, HERO, BEATRICE, and Attendants]

  • Leonato. Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain
    form of marriage, and you shall recount their 1645
    particular duties afterwards.
  • Leonato. To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her.
  • Friar Francis. Lady, you come hither to be married to this count. 1650
  • Friar Francis. If either of you know any inward impediment why you
    should not be conjoined, charge you, on your souls,
    to utter it.
  • Hero. None, my lord.
  • 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! 1660
  • Benedick. How now! interjections? Why, then, some be of
    laughing, as, ah, ha, he!
  • Claudio. Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave:
    Will you with free and unconstrained soul
    Give me this maid, your daughter? 1665
  • Leonato. As freely, son, as God did give her me.
  • Claudio. And what have I to give you back, whose worth
    May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
  • Don Pedro. Nothing, unless you render her again.
  • Claudio. Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness. 1670
    There, Leonato, take her back again:
    Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
    She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.
    Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
    O, what authority and show of truth 1675
    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: 1680
    She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
    Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
  • Leonato. What do you mean, my lord?
  • Claudio. Not to be married,
    Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton. 1685
  • Leonato. Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
    Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth,
    And made defeat of her virginity,—
  • Claudio. I know what you would say: if I have known her,
    You will say she did embrace me as a husband, 1690
    And so extenuate the 'forehand sin:
    No, Leonato,
    I never tempted her with word too large;
    But, as a brother to his sister, show'd
    Bashful sincerity and comely love. 1695
  • Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?
  • Claudio. Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:
    You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
    As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
    But you are more intemperate in your blood 1700
    Than Venus, or those pamper'd animals
    That rage in savage sensuality.
  • Hero. Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?
  • Leonato. Sweet prince, why speak not you?
  • Don Pedro. What should I speak? 1705
    I stand dishonour'd, that have gone about
    To link my dear friend to a common stale.
  • Leonato. Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
  • Don John. Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
  • Benedick. This looks not like a nuptial. 1710
  • Claudio. Leonato, stand I here?
    Is this the prince? is this the prince's brother?
    Is this face Hero's? are our eyes our own?
  • Leonato. All this is so: but what of this, my lord? 1715
  • Claudio. Let me but move one question to your daughter;
    And, by that fatherly and kindly power
    That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
  • Leonato. I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
  • Hero. O, God defend me! how am I beset! 1720
    What kind of catechising call you this?
  • Claudio. To make you answer truly to your name.
  • Hero. Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
    With any just reproach?
  • Claudio. Marry, that can Hero; 1725
    Hero itself can blot out Hero's virtue.
    What man was he talk'd with you yesternight
    Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
    Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
  • Hero. I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord. 1730
  • Don Pedro. Why, then are you no maiden. Leonato,
    I am sorry you must hear: upon mine honour,
    Myself, my brother and this grieved count
    Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
    Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window 1735
    Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
    Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
    A thousand times in secret.
  • Don John. Fie, fie! they are not to be named, my lord,
    Not to be spoke of; 1740
    There is not chastity enough in language
    Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
    I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
  • Claudio. O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been,
    If half thy outward graces had been placed 1745
    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, 1750
    To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
    And never shall it more be gracious.
  • Leonato. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?

[HERO swoons]

  • Beatrice. Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down? 1755
  • Don John. Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
    Smother her spirits up.

[Exeunt DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, and CLAUDIO]

  • Beatrice. Dead, I think. Help, uncle! 1760
    Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
  • Leonato. O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand.
    Death is the fairest cover for her shame
    That may be wish'd for.
  • Leonato. Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
    Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny 1770
    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, 1775
    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 1780
    Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
    Who smirch'd 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 1785
    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 fallen
    Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
    Hath drops too few to wash her clean again 1790
    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. 1795
  • Beatrice. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
  • Benedick. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
  • Beatrice. No, truly not; although, until last night,
    I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
  • Leonato. Confirm'd, confirm'd! O, that is stronger made 1800
    Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
    Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
    Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
    Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.
  • Friar Francis. Hear me a little; for I have only been 1805
    Silent so long and given way unto
    This course of fortune [—]
    By noting of the lady I have mark'd
    A thousand blushing apparitions
    To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames 1810
    In angel whiteness beat away those blushes;
    And in her eye there hath appear'd 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, 1815
    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. 1820
  • 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 1825
    That which appears in proper nakedness?
  • Hero. They know that do accuse me; I know none:
    If I know more of any man alive
    Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, 1830
    Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father,
    Prove you that any man with me conversed
    At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
    Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
    Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death! 1835
  • Benedick. Two of them have the very bent of honour;
    And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
    The practise of it lives in John the bastard,
    Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies. 1840
  • Leonato. I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
    These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
    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, 1845
    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, 1850
    To quit me of them throughly.
  • Friar Francis. 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, 1855
    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. 1860
  • Leonato. What shall become of this? what will this do?
  • Friar Francis. 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. 1865
    She dying, as it must so be maintain'd,
    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 1870
    Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack'd 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, 1875
    The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
    Into his study of imagination,
    And every lovely organ of her life
    Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit,
    More moving-delicate and full of life, 1880
    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. 1885
    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 levell'd false,
    The supposition of the lady's death 1890
    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. 1895
  • Benedick. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:
    And though you know my inwardness and love
    Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,
    Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
    As secretly and justly as your soul 1900
    Should with your body.
  • Leonato. Being that I flow in grief,
    The smallest twine may lead me.
  • Friar Francis. 'Tis well consented: presently away;
    For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure. 1905
    Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day
    Perhaps is but prolong'd: have patience and endure.

[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE]

  • Benedick. Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
  • Beatrice. Yea, and I will weep a while longer. 1910
  • Beatrice. You have no reason; I do it freely.
  • Benedick. Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
  • Beatrice. Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!
  • Benedick. Is there any way to show such friendship? 1915
  • Beatrice. A very even way, but no such friend.
  • 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? 1920
  • Beatrice. As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
    possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
    you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
    confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
  • Benedick. By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me. 1925
  • Benedick. I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make
    him eat it that says I love not you.
  • Benedick. With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest 1930
    I love thee.
  • Benedick. What offence, sweet Beatrice?
  • Beatrice. You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
    protest I loved you. 1935
  • 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 any thing for thee.
  • Beatrice. You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
  • Beatrice. I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
    you: nay, I pray you, let me go. 1945
  • Beatrice. You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.
  • Beatrice. Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
    hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured 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 rancour, 1955
    —O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
    in the market-place.
  • Beatrice. Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!
  • 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 1965
    had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
    manhood is melted into courtesies, valour 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 1970
    man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.
  • Benedick. Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.
  • Beatrice. Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.
  • Benedick. Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?
  • Beatrice. Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul. 1975
  • 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. 1980

[Exeunt]

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. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

A prison.

      next scene .
---

[Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and] [p]the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO]

  • Dogberry. Is our whole dissembly appeared?
  • Verges. O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton. 1985
  • Sexton. Which be the malefactors?
  • Dogberry. Marry, that am I and my partner.
  • Verges. Nay, that's certain; we have the exhibition to examine.
  • Sexton. But which are the offenders that are to be
    examined? let them come before master constable. 1990
  • Dogberry. Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your
    name, friend?
  • Dogberry. Pray, write down, Borachio. Yours, sirrah?
  • Conrade. I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade. 1995
  • Dogberry. Write down, master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do
    you serve God?
  • Conrade. [with Borachio] Yea, sir, we hope.
  • Dogberry. Write down, that they hope they serve God: and
    write God first; for God defend but God should go 2000
    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. 2005
  • Dogberry. A marvellous 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. 2010
  • Dogberry. Well, stand aside. 'Fore God, they are both in a
    tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?
  • Sexton. Master constable, you go not the way to examine:
    you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.
  • Dogberry. Yea, marry, that's the eftest way. Let the watch 2015
    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 2020
    perjury, to call a prince's brother villain.
  • Dogberry. Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look,
    I promise thee.
  • Sexton. What heard you him say else? 2025
  • Second Watchman. Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of
    Don John for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.
  • Dogberry. Flat burglary as ever was committed.
  • Verges. Yea, by mass, that it is.
  • Sexton. What else, fellow? 2030
  • First Watchman. And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to
    disgrace Hero before the whole assembly. and not marry her.
  • Dogberry. O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting
    redemption for this.
  • 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. 2040
    Master constable, let these men be bound, and
    brought to Leonato's: I will go before and show
    him their examination.

[Exit]

  • Dogberry. Come, let them be opinioned. 2045
  • Verges. Let them be in the hands—
  • Dogberry. God's my life, where's the sexton? let him write
    down the prince's officer coxcomb. Come, bind them.
    Thou naughty varlet! 2050
  • 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 2055
    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 2060
    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 every
    thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
    I had been writ down an ass! 2065

[Exeunt]

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Act V, Scene 1

Before LEONATO’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO]

  • Antonio. If you go on thus, you will kill yourself:
    And 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief
    Against yourself. 2070
  • 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. 2075
    Bring me a father that so loved his child,
    Whose joy of her is overwhelm'd 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, 2080
    As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
    In every lineament, branch, shape, and form:
    If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
    Bid sorrow wag, cry 'hem!' when he should groan,
    Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk 2085
    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, 2090
    Their counsel turns to passion, which before
    Would give preceptial medicine 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 2095
    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. 2100
  • Antonio. Therein do men from children nothing differ.
  • Leonato. I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood;
    For there was never yet philosopher
    That could endure the toothache patiently,
    However they have writ the style of gods 2105
    And made a push at chance and sufferance.
  • Antonio. Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
    Make those that do offend you suffer too.
  • Leonato. There thou speak'st reason: nay, I will do so.
    My soul doth tell me Hero is belied; 2110
    And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince
    And all of them that thus dishonour her.
  • Antonio. Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.

[Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO]

  • Leonato. Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord:
    Are you so hasty now? well, all is one. 2120
  • Don Pedro. Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
  • Antonio. If he could right himself with quarreling,
    Some of us would lie low.
  • Leonato. Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou:— 2125
    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. 2130
  • Leonato. Tush, tush, man; never fleer and jest at me:
    I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
    As under privilege of age to brag
    What I have done being young, or what would do
    Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head, 2135
    Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me
    That I am forced to lay my reverence by
    And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
    Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
    I say thou hast belied mine innocent child; 2140
    Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
    And she lies buried with her ancestors;
    O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,
    Save this of hers, framed by thy villany!
  • Leonato. Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.
  • Leonato. My lord, my lord,
    I'll prove it on his body, if he dare,
    Despite his nice fence and his active practise, 2150
    His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
  • Claudio. Away! I will not have to do with you.
  • Leonato. Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill'd my child:
    If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
  • Antonio. He shall kill two of us, and men indeed: 2155
    But that's no matter; let him kill one first;
    Win me and wear me; let him answer me.
    Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me:
    Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
    Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will. 2160
  • Antonio. Content yourself. God knows I loved my niece;
    And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains,
    That dare as well answer a man indeed
    As I dare take a serpent by the tongue: 2165
    Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!
  • Antonio. Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,
    And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,—
    Scrambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys, 2170
    That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
    Go anticly, show outward hideousness,
    And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
    How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
    And this is all. 2175
  • Antonio. Come, 'tis no matter:
    Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.
  • Don Pedro. Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
    My heart is sorry for your daughter's death: 2180
    But, on my honour, she was charged with nothing
    But what was true and very full of proof.
  • Leonato. No? Come, brother; away! I will be heard. 2185
  • Antonio. And shall, or some of us will smart for it.

[Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO]

  • Don Pedro. See, see; here comes the man we went to seek.

[Enter BENEDICK]

  • Claudio. Now, signior, what news? 2190
  • Don Pedro. 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. 2195
  • Don Pedro. Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had
    we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.
  • Benedick. In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came
    to seek you both.
  • Claudio. We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are 2200
    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?
  • Don Pedro. Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?
  • Claudio. Never any did so, though very many have been beside 2205
    their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the
    minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.
  • Don Pedro. As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
    sick, or angry?
  • Claudio. What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat, 2210
    thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
  • Benedick. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you
    charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.
  • Claudio. Nay, then, give him another staff: this last was
    broke cross. 2215
  • Don Pedro. 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! 2220
  • 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 2225
    hear from you.
  • Claudio. Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.
  • 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 2230
    curiously, say my knife's naught. Shall I not find
    a woodcock too?
  • Benedick. Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
  • Don Pedro. I'll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the
    other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit: 'True,' 2235
    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.' 2240
    '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 2245
    virtues: yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou
    wast the properest man in Italy.
  • Claudio. For the which she wept heartily and said she cared
    not.
  • Don Pedro. Yea, that she did: but yet, for all that, an if she 2250
    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.
  • Don Pedro. But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on 2255
    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 humour: you break jests 2260
    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 2265
    Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet: and, till
    then, peace be with him.

[Exit]

  • Claudio. In most profound earnest; and, I'll warrant you, for 2270
    the love of Beatrice.
  • Don Pedro. What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
    doublet and hose and leaves off his wit! 2275
  • Claudio. He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a
    doctor to such a man.
  • Don Pedro. But, soft you, let me be: pluck up, my heart, and
    be sad. Did he not say, my brother was fled?

[Enter DOGBERRY, 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.
  • Don Pedro. How now? two of my brother's men bound! Borachio
    one! 2285
  • Claudio. Hearken after their offence, my lord.
  • Don Pedro. Officers, what offence 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 2290
    belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust
    things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.
  • Don Pedro. First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I
    ask thee what's their offence; sixth and lastly, why
    they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay 2295
    to their charge.
  • Claudio. Rightly reasoned, and in his own division: and, by
    my troth, there's one meaning well suited.
  • Don Pedro. Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus
    bound to your answer? this learned constable is 2300
    too cunning to be understood: what's your offence?
  • 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 2305
    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 2310
    marry her: my villany they have upon record; which
    I had rather seal with my death than repeat over
    to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my
    master's false accusation; and, briefly, I desire
    nothing but the reward of a villain. 2315
  • Don Pedro. Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
  • Claudio. I have drunk poison whiles he utter'd it.
  • Don Pedro. But did my brother set thee on to this?
  • Borachio. Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.
  • Don Pedro. He is composed and framed of treachery: 2320
    And fled he is upon this villany.
  • Claudio. Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear
    In the rare semblance that I loved it first.
  • Dogberry. Come, bring away the plaintiffs: by this time our
    sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter: 2325
    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.

[Re-enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, with the Sexton]

  • Leonato. Which is the villain? let me see his eyes,
    That, when I note another man like him,
    I may avoid him: which of these is he?
  • Borachio. If you would know your wronger, look on me.
  • Leonato. Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill'd 2335
    Mine innocent child?
  • Leonato. No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself:
    Here stand a pair of honourable men;
    A third is fled, that had a hand in it. 2340
    I thank you, princes, for my daughter's death:
    Record it with your high and worthy deeds:
    'Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.
  • Claudio. I know not how to pray your patience;
    Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself; 2345
    Impose me to what penance your invention
    Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn'd I not
    But in mistaking.
  • Don Pedro. By my soul, nor I:
    And yet, to satisfy this good old man, 2350
    I would bend under any heavy weight
    That he'll enjoin me to.
  • Leonato. I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
    That were impossible: but, I pray you both,
    Possess the people in Messina here 2355
    How innocent she died; and if your love
    Can labour ought in sad invention,
    Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb
    And sing it to her bones, sing it to-night:
    To-morrow morning come you to my house, 2360
    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 given her cousin, 2365
    And so dies my revenge.
  • Claudio. O noble sir,
    Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
    I do embrace your offer; and dispose
    For henceforth of poor Claudio. 2370
  • Leonato. To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
    To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
    Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
    Who I believe was pack'd in all this wrong,
    Hired to it by your brother. 2375
  • 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 any thing that I do know by her.
  • Dogberry. Moreover, sir, which indeed is not under white and 2380
    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 be wears a key in his ear and
    a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God's 2385
    name, the which he hath used so long and never paid
    that now men grow hard-hearted 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 2390
    reverend youth; and I praise God for you.
  • Leonato. Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.
  • Dogberry. I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I 2395
    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, neighbour. 2400

[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES]

  • Leonato. Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.
  • Antonio. Farewell, my lords: we look for you to-morrow.
  • Claudio. To-night I'll mourn with Hero. 2405
  • Leonato. [To the Watch] Bring you these fellows on. We'll
    talk with Margaret,
    How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.

[Exeunt, severally]

---
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 2

LEONATO’S garden.

      next scene .
---

[Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting]

  • Benedick. Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at
    my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.
  • Margaret. Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?
  • Benedick. In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living
    shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou 2415
    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, 2420
    but hurt not.
  • Benedick. A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
    woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give
    thee the bucklers.
  • Margaret. Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own. 2425
  • 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.
    [Exit MARGARET] 2430
    [Sings]
    The god of love,
    That sits above,
    And knows me, and knows me,
    How pitiful I deserve,— 2435
    I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good
    swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
    a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers,
    whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
    blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned 2440
    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 2445
    endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet,
    nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
    [Enter BEATRICE]
    Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?
  • Beatrice. Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me. 2450
  • Beatrice. 'Then' is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere
    I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with
    knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.
  • Benedick. Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee. 2455
  • 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 2460
    plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge; and either
    I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe
    him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me for
    which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
  • Beatrice. For them all together; which maintained so politic 2465
    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. 2470
  • Beatrice. In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart!
    If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
    yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.
  • Benedick. Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
  • Beatrice. It appears not in this confession: there's not one 2475
    wise man among twenty that will praise himself.
  • Benedick. An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in
    the lime of good neighbours. 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 2480
    widow weeps.
  • Beatrice. And how long is that, think you?
  • Benedick. Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in
    rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the
    wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no 2485
    impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his
    own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for
    praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
    praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your cousin?
  • Benedick. Serve God, love me and mend. There will I leave
    you too, for here comes one in haste.

[Enter URSULA]

  • Ursula. Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder's old
    coil at home: it is proved my Lady Hero hath been
    falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily
    abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is
    fed and gone. Will you come presently? 2500
  • 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.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 3

A church.

      next scene .
---

[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and three or four with tapers]

  • Claudio. Is this the monument of Leonato?
  • Lord. It is, my lord.
  • Claudio. [Reading out of a scroll]
    Done to death by slanderous tongues 2510
    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. 2515
    Hang thou there upon the tomb,
    Praising her when I am dumb.
    Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.
    SONG.
    Pardon, goddess of the night, 2520
    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, 2525
    Heavily, heavily:
    Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
    Till death be uttered,
    Heavily, heavily.
  • Claudio. Now, unto thy bones good night! 2530
    Yearly will I do this rite.
  • Don Pedro. Good morrow, masters; put your torches out:
    The wolves have prey'd; and look, the gentle day,
    Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
    Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey. 2535
    Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.
  • Claudio. Good morrow, masters: each his several way.
  • Don Pedro. Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds;
    And then to Leonato's we will go.
  • Claudio. And Hymen now with luckier issue speed's 2540
    Than this for whom we render'd up this woe.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 4

A room in LEONATO’S house.

       
---

[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, BENEDICK, BEATRICE,] [p]MARGARET, URSULA, FRIAR FRANCIS, and HERO]

  • Leonato. So are the prince and Claudio, who accused her
    Upon the error that you heard debated:
    But Margaret was in some fault for this,
    Although against her will, as it appears
    In the true course of all the question. 2550
  • Antonio. Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.
  • Benedick. And so am I, being else by faith enforced
    To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
  • Leonato. Well, daughter, and you gentle-women all,
    Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves, 2555
    And when I send for you, come hither mask'd.
    [Exeunt Ladies]
    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 2560
    And give her to young Claudio.
  • Antonio. Which I will do with confirm'd countenance.
  • Benedick. Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
  • Benedick. To bind me, or undo me; one of them. 2565
    Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
    Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.
  • Leonato. That eye my daughter lent her: 'tis most true.
  • Benedick. And I do with an eye of love requite her.
  • Leonato. The sight whereof I think you had from me, 2570
    From Claudio and the prince: but what's your will?
  • Benedick. Your answer, sir, is enigmatical:
    But, for my will, my will is your good will
    May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin'd
    In the state of honourable marriage: 2575
    In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
  • Leonato. My heart is with your liking.

[Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, and two or three others]

  • Don Pedro. Good morrow to this fair assembly.
  • Leonato. Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:
    We here attend you. Are you yet determined
    To-day to marry with my brother's daughter?
  • Claudio. I'll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope. 2585
  • Leonato. Call her forth, brother; here's the friar ready.

[Exit ANTONIO]

  • Don Pedro. Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter,
    That you have such a February face,
    So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness? 2590
  • Claudio. I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
    Tush, fear not, man; we'll tip thy horns with gold
    And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
    As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
    When he would play the noble beast in love. 2595
  • Benedick. Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low;
    And some such strange bull leap'd your father's cow,
    And got a calf in that same noble feat
    Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
  • Claudio. For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings. 2600
    [Re-enter ANTONIO, with the Ladies masked]
    Which is the lady I must seize upon?
  • Antonio. This same is she, and I do give you her.
  • Claudio. Why, then she's mine. Sweet, let me see your face.
  • Leonato. No, that you shall not, till you take her hand 2605
    Before this friar and swear to marry her.
  • Claudio. Give me your hand: before this holy friar,
    I am your husband, if you like of me.
  • Hero. And when I lived, I was your other wife:
    [Unmasking] 2610
    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. 2615
  • Don Pedro. The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
  • Leonato. She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.
  • Friar Francis. All this amazement can I qualify:
    When after that the holy rites are ended,
    I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death: 2620
    Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
    And to the chapel let us presently.
  • Benedick. Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?
  • Beatrice. [Unmasking] I answer to that name. What is your will?
  • Beatrice. Why, no; no more than reason.
  • Benedick. Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio
    Have been deceived; they swore you did.
  • Benedick. Troth, no; no more than reason. 2630
  • Beatrice. Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula
    Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.
  • Benedick. They swore that you were almost sick for me.
  • Beatrice. They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
  • Benedick. 'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me? 2635
  • Beatrice. No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
  • Leonato. Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
  • Claudio. And I'll be sworn upon't that he loves her;
    For here's a paper written in his hand,
    A halting sonnet of his own pure brain, 2640
    Fashion'd to Beatrice.
  • Hero. And here's another
    Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket,
    Containing her affection unto Benedick.
  • Benedick. A miracle! here's our own hands against our hearts. 2645
    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. 2650
  • Benedick. Peace! I will stop your mouth.

[Kissing her]

  • Don Pedro. 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 humour. Dost 2655
    thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No:
    if a man will be beaten with brains, a' 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 2660
    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. 2665
  • Claudio. I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice,
    that I might have cudgelled 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
    exceedingly narrowly to thee. 2670
  • 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, 2675
    thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife:
    there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight,
    And brought with armed men back to Messina. 2680
  • Benedick. Think not on him till to-morrow:
    I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.
    Strike up, pipers.

[Dance]

[Exeunt]

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