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Much Ado about Nothing

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Act II, Scene 1

A hall in LEONATO’S house.



  • 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
  • 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]
    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
  • 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
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.