Much Ado About Nothing Scene I
by William Shakespeare

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Scene I

[Leonato's Orchard]

Enter Hero, and two gentlewomen, Margaret, and Ursula.

Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour.
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio.
Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse(5)
Is all of her. Say that thou overheard'st us;
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter—like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride(10)
Against that power that bred it. There will she hide her
To listen our propose. This is thy office.
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.
I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.


Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,(15)
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick(20)
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.

[Enter Beatrice.]

Now begin,
For look where Beatrice like a lapwing runs,
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.(25)

[Beatrice hides in the arbour.]

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.(30)
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful.
I know her spirits are as coy and wild(35)
As haggards of the rock.
But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.
And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?(40)
They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.
Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman(45)
Deserve as full, as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man:
But Nature never framed a woman's heart(50)
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice.
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprizing what they look on; and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,(55)
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.
Sure I think so;
And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she'll make sport at it.(60)
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;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,(65)
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.
So turns she every man the wrong side out(70)
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
No, not to be so odd, and from all fashions,
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable.(75)
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 covered fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.(80)
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.
Yet tell her of it. Hear what she will say.
No; rather I will go to Benedick
And counsel him to fight against his passion.(85)
And truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
O, do not do your cousin such a wrong!
She cannot be so much without true judgment,(90)
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is prized to have, as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.(95)
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.
Indeed he hath an excellent good name.(100)
His excellence did earn it ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?
Why, every day to-morrow! Come, go in.
I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me tomorrow.(105)
She's limed, I warrant you! We have caught her, madam.
If it prove so, then loving goes by haps;
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

[Exeunt Hero and Ursula.]

What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much?(110)
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee(115)
To bind our loves up in a holy band;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.