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Much Ado about Nothing

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Act II, Scene 3

LEONATO’S orchard.



[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.



  • 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


  • 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
  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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