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Much Ado about Nothing

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Act V, Scene 1

Before LEONATO’S house.



  • 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.


  • 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.


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


  • 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
  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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]