Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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Scene II

[Leonato's Garden]

[Enter Benedick and Margaret.]

BENEDICK:
Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at my
hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.
MARGARET:
Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my
beauty?
BENEDICK:
In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall(5)
come over it; for in most comely truth thou deservest it.
MARGARET:
To have no man come over me? Why, shall I always
keep below stairs?
BENEDICK:
Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth—it
catches.(10)
MARGARET:
And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit but
hurt not.
BENEDICK:
A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman.
And so I pray thee call Beatrice. I give thee the bucklers.
MARGARET:
Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own.(15)
BENEDICK:
If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes
with a vice, and they are dangerous weapons for maids.
MARGARET:
Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath
legs.
BENEDICK:
And therefore will come.(20)

                                                [Exit Margaret.]

[Sings]
The god of love,
     That sits above
And knows me, and knows me,
     How pitiful I deserve—

I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good(25)
swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and a
whole book full of these quondam carpet-mongers,
whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
blank verse—why, they were never so truly turned over
and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I cannot show it(30)
in rhyme. I have tried. I can find out no rhyme to ‘lady’
but ‘baby’—an innocent rhyme; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn’—a hard
rhyme; for school', ‘fool’—a babbling rhyme: very ominous
endings! No, I was not born under a rhyming
planet, nor cannot woo in festival terms.(35)
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?

[Enter Beatrice.]

BEATRICE:
Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.
BENEDICK:
O, stay but till then!
BEATRICE:
‘Then’ is spoken. Fare you well now. And yet, ere I
go, let me go with that I came for, which is, with knowing(40)
what hath passed between you and Claudio.
BENEDICK:
Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.
BEATRICE:
Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
foul breath, and foul breath is noisome. Therefore I will
depart unkissed.(45)
BENEDICK:
Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense,
so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee plainly, Claudio
undergoes my challenge; and either I must shortly hear
from him or I will subscribe him a coward. And I pray
thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou(50)
first fall in love with me?
BEATRICE:
For them all together, which maintained so politic
a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to
intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts
did you first suffer love for me?(55)
BENEDICK:
Suffer love!—a good epithet. I do suffer love
indeed, for I love thee against my will.
BEATRICE:
In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart! If you
spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours, for I will never
love that which my friend hates.(60)
BENEDICK:
Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
BEATRICE:
It appears not in this confession. There's not one wise
man among twenty, that will praise himself.
BENEDICK:
An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the time
of good neighbours. If a man do not erect in this age his own(65)
tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than
the bell rings and the widow weeps.
BEATRICE:
And how long is that, think you?
BENEDICK:
Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in
rheum. Therefore is it most expedient for the wise, if Don(70)
Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary,
to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So
much for praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
praiseworthy. And now tell me, how doth your cousin?
BEATRICE:
Very ill.(75)
BENEDICK:
And how do you?
BEATRICE:
Very ill too.
BENEDICK:
Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I leave you
too, for here comes one in haste.

[Enter Ursula.]

URSULA:
Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder's old coil(80)
at home. It is proved my Lady Hero hath been falsely
accused the prince and Claudio mightily abused, and Don
John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you
come presently?
BEATRICE:
Will you go hear this news, signior?(85)
BENEDICK:
I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in
thy eyes; and moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle's.

[Exeunt.]