Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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Scene I

[Before Leonato's House.]

[Enter Leonato and his brother Antonio.]

ANTONIO:
If you go on thus, you will kill yourself,
And 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief
Against yourself.
LEONATO:
I pray thee cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless(5)
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.
Bring me a father that so loved his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelmed like mine,(10)
And bid him speak to me of patience.
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus, and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form.(15)
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
With candle-wasters—bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.(20)
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,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,(25)
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
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man's virtue nor sufficiency(30)
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel.
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
ANTONIO:
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
LEONATO:
I pray thee peace. I will be flesh and blood;(35)
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
ANTONIO:
Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself.(40)
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;
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince,
And all of them that thus dishonour her.(45)

[Enter Prince Don Pedro and Claudio.]

ANTONIO:
Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.
DON PEDRO:
Good den, good den.
CLAUDIO:
Good day to both of you.
LEONATO:
Hear you, my lords!
DON PEDRO:
We have some haste, Leonato.(50)
LEONATO:
Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord.
Are you so hasty now? Well, all is one.
DON PEDRO:
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
ANTONIO:
If he could right himself with quarrelling,
Some of us would lie low.(55)
CLAUDIO:
Who wrongs him?
LEONATO:
Marry, thou dost wrong me, thou dissembler, thou!
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
I fear thee not.
CLAUDIO:
Marry, beshrew my hand(60)
If it should give your age such cause of fear.
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.
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(65)
What I have done being young, or what would do,
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wronged mine innocent child and me
That I am forced to lay my reverence by
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,(70)
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child;
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
And she lied buried with her ancestors;
O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,(75)
Save this of hers, framed by thy villainy!
CLAUDIO:
My villainy?
LEONATO:
Thine, Claudio; thine I say.
DON PEDRO:
You say not right, old man.
LEONATO:
My lord, my lord,(80)
I'll prove it on his body if he dare,
Despite his nice fence and his active practice,
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 killed my child.(85)
If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
ANTONIO:
He shall kill two of us, and men indeed.
But that's no matter; let him kill one first.
Win me and wear me! Let him answer me.
Come, follow me, boy.(90)
Come, sir boy, come follow me.
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence!
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
LEONATO:
Brother Anthony—
ANTONIO:
Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,(95)
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,
Scambling, outfacing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go anticly, and show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,(100)
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
And this is all.
LEONATO:
But, brother Anthony—
ANTONIO:
Come, 'tis no matter.
Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.(105)
DON PEDRO:
Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter's death;
But, on my honour, she was charged with nothing
But what was true, and very full of proof.
LEONATO:
My lord, my lord—(110)
DON PEDRO:
I will not hear you.
LEONATO:
No? Come, brother, away!—I will be heard.
ANTONIO:
And shall, or some of us will smart for it.

[Enter Benedict.]

[Exeunt Leonato and Antonio.]

DON PEDRO:
See, see! Here comes the man we went to seek.
CLAUDIO:
Now, signior, what news?(115)
BENEDICK:
Good day, my lord.
DON PEDRO:
Welcome, signior. You are almost come to part
almost a fray.
CLAUDIO:
We had liked to have had our two noses snapped off
with two old men without teeth.(120)
DON PEDRO:
Leonato and his brother. What think'st 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.(125)
CLAUDIO:
We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are
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?(130)
CLAUDIO:
Never any did so, though very many have been
beside their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the
minstrel—draw to pleasure us.
DON PEDRO:
As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
sick or angry?(135)
CLAUDIO:
What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat,
thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
BENEDICK:
Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career an you
charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.
CLAUDIO:
Nay then, give him another staff; this last was broke(140)
cross.
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?(145)
CLAUDIO:
God bless me from a challenge!
BENEDICK:
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(150)
you. Let me hear from you.

[Aside to Claudio]

CLAUDIO:
Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.
DON PEDRO:
What, a feast, a feast?
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 curiously, say(155)
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,’ said she, ‘a fine little
one.’ ‘No,’ said I, ‘a great wit.’ ‘Right,’ says she, ‘a great gross(160)
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.' ‘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.(165)
There's a double tongue; there's two tongues.’ Thus did she
an hour together transshape thy particular 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.(170)
DON PEDRO:
Yea, that she did; but yet, for all that, an if she 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.(175)
DON PEDRO:
But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on
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(180)
you now to your gossiplike humour. You break jests as braggards
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(185)
lady. For my Lord Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet; and
till then peace be with him.

[Exit.]

DON PEDRO:
He is in earnest.
CLAUDIO:
In most profound earnest; and, I'll warrant you, for
the love of Beatrice.(190)
DON PEDRO:
And hath challenged thee.
CLAUDIO:
Most sincerely.
DON PEDRO:
What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!

[Enter constable Dogberry, and Verges, with the Watch, leading Conrade and Borachio.]

CLAUDIO:
He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a doctor(195)
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?
DOGBERRY:
Come you, sir. If justice cannot tame you, she shall
ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance. Nay, an you be(200)
a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.
DON PEDRO:
How now? two of my brother's men bound?
Borachio one.
CLAUDIO:
Hearken after their offence, my lord.
DON PEDRO:
Officers, what offence have these men done?(205)
DOGBERRY:
Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover,
they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are
slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly,
they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they
are lying knaves.(210)
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 to their
charge?
CLAUDIO:
Rightly reasoned, and in his own division; and by(215)
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 too
cunning to be understood. What's your offence?
BORACHIO:
Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine answer.(220)
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 to light,
who in the night overheard me confessing to this man,
how Don John your brother incensed me to slander the(225)
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 marry her. My villainy 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(230)
master's false accusation; and briefly, I desire nothing but the
reward of a villain.
DON PEDRO:
Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
CLAUDIO:
I have drunk poison whiles he uttered it.
DON PEDRO:
But did my brother set thee on to this?(235)
BORACHIO:
Yea, and paid me richly for the practice of it.
DON PEDRO:
He is composed and framed of treachery,
And fled he is upon this villainy.
CLAUDIO:
Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I loved it first.(240)
DOGBERRY:
Come, bring away the plaintiffs. By this time our
sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter. 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(245)
sexton too.

[Enter Leonato, his brother, Antonio, and 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.(250)
LEONATO:
Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed
Mine innocent child?
BORACHIO:
Yea, even I alone.
LEONATO:
No, not so, villain! thou beliest thyself.
Here stand a pair of honourable men—(255)
A third is fled—that had a hand in it.
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;(260)
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin. Yet sinned I not
But in mistaking.
DON PEDRO:
By my soul, nor I!(265)
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
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,(270)
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour aught in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,
And sing it to her bones—sing it to-night.(275)
To-morrow morning come you to my house,
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.(280)
Give her the right you should have giv'n her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.
CLAUDIO:
O noble sir!
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me.
I do embrace your offer; and dispose(285)
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
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 packed in all this wrong,(290)
Hired to it by your brother.
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 anything that I do know by her.(295)
DOGBERRY:
Moreover, my lord, which indeed is not under
white and 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 he wears a key in his ear, and a lock(300)
hanging by it, and borrows money in God's 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.(305)
DOGBERRY:
Your worship speaks like a most thankful and reverent
youth, and I praise God for you.
LEONATO:
There's for thy pains.

[Gives money.]

DOGBERRY:
God save the foundation!
LEONATO:
Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.(310)
DOGBERRY:
I leave an arrant knave with your worship, which I
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(315)
prohibit it! Come neighbour.

[Exeunt Dogberry and Verges.]

LEONATO:
Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.
ANTONIO:
Farewell, my lords. We look for you to-morrow.
DON PEDRO:
We will not fail.
CLAUDIO:
To-night I'll mourn with Hero.(320)
LEONATO:
[To the Watch] Bring you these fellows on.–We'll talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.

[Exeunt.]