Much Ado About Nothing


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Leonato, Governor of Messina, Hero, his
ado (n.) fuss, business, to-do

daughter, Beatrice his niece, with a Messenger


LEONATO

I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon

comes this night to Messina.


MESSENGER

He is very near by this; he was not three

leagues off when I left him.


LEONATO

How many gentlemen have you lost in this

action?
action (n.) 1 campaign, military action, strategy


MESSENGER

But few of any sort, and none of name.
name (n.) 1 reputation, fame, renown
sort (n.) 1 class, level, social rank


LEONATO

A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings

home full numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath

bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called

Claudio.


MESSENGER

Much deserved on his part and equally remembered
equally (adv.) 1 to an equal degree, justly
remember (v.) 3 commemorate, acknowledge, reward, recognize

by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond

the promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a

lamb, the feats of a lion; he hath indeed better bettered

expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how.


LEONATO

He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very

much glad of it.


MESSENGER

I have already delivered him letters, and

there appears much joy in him; even so much that joy

could not show itself modest enough without a badge of
modest (adj.) 1 moderate, reasonable, mild, limited

bitterness.


LEONATO

Did he break out into tears?


MESSENGER

In great measure.


LEONATO

A kind overflow of kindness; there are no faces
kind (adj.) 1 showing natural feeling, acting by nature

truer than those that are so washed. How much better is

it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!


BEATRICE

I pray you, is Signor Mountanto returned from
mountanto (n.) [directional thrust in fencing] fencer, duellist

the wars, or no?


MESSENGER

I know none of that name, lady; there was

none such in the army of any sort.
sort (n.) 1 class, level, social rank


LEONATO

What is he that you ask for, niece?


HERO

My cousin means Signor Benedick of Padua.


MESSENGER

O, he's returned, and as pleasant as ever he
pleasant (adj.) 1 facetious, joking, droll

was.


BEATRICE

He set up his bills here in Messina, and challenged
bill (n.) 2 notice, label, proclamation, placard

Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading
flight (n.) 2 archery contest, flight-shooting

the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him
subscribe for (v.) 1 vouch for, answer on behalf of

at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed and
bird-bolt, burbolt (n.) short blunt-headed arrow for shooting birds

eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For

indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.


LEONATO

Faith, niece, you tax Signor Benedick too much;
tax (v.) 1 censure, blame, take to task, disparage

but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
meet (adj.) 2 even, quits, revenged [on]


MESSENGER

He hath done good service, lady, in these

wars.


BEATRICE

You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat
victual (n.) (usually plural) provisions, supplies, food and drink

it; he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent
trencher-man (n.) hearty eater, good feeder, man of appetite
valiant (adj.) worthy, fine, hearty

stomach.


MESSENGER

And a good soldier too, lady.


BEATRICE

And a good soldier to a lady. But what is he to a

lord?


MESSENGER

A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with
stuffed (adj.) 1 full, complete, proven, stored up

all honourable virtues.


BEATRICE

It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man;

but for the stuffing – well, we are all mortal.


LEONATO

You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a

kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her;

they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity See Topics: Frequency count

them.


BEATRICE

Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict

four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the
halt (v.) limp, proceed lamely
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)

whole man governed with one; so that if he have wit
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a

difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the
difference (n.) 9 [heraldry] variation, distinguishing mark [on a coat-of-arms]

wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature.

Who is his companion now? He hath every month

a new sworn brother.
brother, sworn companion-in-arms, devoted friend


MESSENGER

Is't possible?


BEATRICE

Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
faith (n.) 2 constancy, fidelity, loyalty

the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next

block.
block (n.) 2 [of hats] style, fashion, shape, mould


MESSENGER

I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
book (n.) 6 (plural) good books, favour, regard


BEATRICE

No; an he were, I would burn my study. But,

I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young

squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the
squarer (n.) brawler, swaggerer, quarrelsome person

devil?


MESSENGER

He is most in the company of the right noble

Claudio.


BEATRICE

O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease.

He is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! If he

have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand

pound ere 'a be cured.


MESSENGER

I will hold friends with you, lady.
hold (v.) 2 keep, preserve, conserve


BEATRICE

Do, good friend.


LEONATO

You will never run mad, niece.


BEATRICE

No, not till a hot January.


MESSENGER

Don Pedro is approached.

Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and

Don John the Bastard


DON PEDRO

Good Signor Leonato, are you come to meet

your trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid cost,
cost (n.) 1 outlay, expense, expenditure

and you encounter it.
encounter (v.) 2 approach, go to, move towards


LEONATO

Never came trouble to my house in the likeness

of your grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should

remain; but when you depart from me sorrow abides,

and happiness takes his leave.


DON PEDRO

You embrace your charge too willingly. I
charge (n.) 7 expense, cost, outlay
embrace (v.) 2 accept, avail oneself of

think this is your daughter.


LEONATO

Her mother hath many times told me so.


BENEDICK

Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?


LEONATO

Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.


DON PEDRO

You have it full, Benedick; we may guess by
full (adv.) 1 fully, completely, properly

this what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers
father (v.) 1 show one's paternal origin, resemble one's father

herself. Be happy, lady; for you are like an honourable

father.


BENEDICK

If Signor Leonato be her father, she would not

have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like

him as she is.


BEATRICE

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Benedick; nobody marks you.
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count


BENEDICK

What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet

living?


BEATRICE

Is it possible disdain should die while she hath

such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count

itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her
convert (v.) change, transform, alter

presence.


BENEDICK

Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I

am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would

I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for,

truly, I love none.


BEATRICE

A dear happiness to women; they would else
dear (adj.) 3 of great worth, valuable, precious
happiness (n.) 1 good luck, success, good fortune

have been troubled with a pernicious suitor! I thank

God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that;
blood (n.) 5 disposition, temper, mood
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count

I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear

he loves me.


BENEDICK

God keep your ladyship still in that mind!
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

So some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate
predestinate (adj.) fated, predestined, predictable
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

scratched face.


BEATRICE

Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere

such a face as yours were.


BENEDICK

Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
parrot-teacher (n.) chatterer, babbler, empty talker
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent


BEATRICE

A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of

yours.


BENEDICK

I would my horse had the speed of your tongue,

and so good a continuer. But keep your way a' God's
continuer (n.) someone with staying-power, person who keeps going

name, I have done.


BEATRICE

You always end with a jade's trick; I know you
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag

of old.


DON PEDRO

That is the sum of all, Leonato. Signor

Claudio and Signor Benedick, my dear friend Leonato

hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the

least a month, and he heartily prays some occasion may

detain us longer. I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but

prays from his heart.


LEONATO

If you swear, my lord, you shall not be
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count

(To Don John)

forsworn. (To Don John) Let me bid you welcome, my

lord, being reconciled to the Prince your brother. I owe

you all duty.


DON JOHN

I thank you. I am not of many words, but I

thank you.


LEONATO

Please it your grace lead on?


DON PEDRO

Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.

Exeunt all except Benedick and Claudio


CLAUDIO

Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor

Leonato?


BENEDICK

I noted her not, but I looked on her.
note (v.) 1 observe, pay attention [to], take special note [of]


CLAUDIO

Is she not a modest young lady?


BENEDICK

Do you question me as an honest man should

do, for my simple true judgement? Or would you have

me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant
tyrant (n.) 1 pitiless ruffian, cruel villain

to their sex?


CLAUDIO

No, I pray thee speak in sober judgement.
sober (adj.) 2 serious, sincere, not playful


BENEDICK

Why, i'faith, methinks she's too low for a
low (adj.) 2 short, small
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for

a great praise; only this commendation I can afford her,

that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome;

and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.


CLAUDIO

Thou thinkest I am in sport; I pray thee tell me
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

truly how thou likest her.


BENEDICK

Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?


CLAUDIO

Can the world buy such a jewel?


BENEDICK

Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you

this with a sad brow? Or do you play the flouting Jack,
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count
flouting (adj.) mocking, scoffing, scornful
Jack (n.) 1 Jack-in-office, ill-mannered fellow, lout, knave
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count

to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare

carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you to go
go (v.) 7 join, follow, be in tune

in the song?


CLAUDIO

In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I

looked on.


BENEDICK

I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no

such matter; there's her cousin, an she were not possessed

with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the

first of May doth the last of December. But I hope you

have no intent to turn husband, have you?
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count


CLAUDIO

I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn

the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.


BENEDICK

Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world

one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall

I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i'faith;

an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the

print of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro
print (n.) imprint, image, stamped impression

is returned to seek you.

Enter Don Pedro


DON PEDRO

What secret hath held you here, that you

followed not to Leonato's?


BENEDICK

I would your grace would constrain me to tell.


DON PEDRO

I charge thee on thy allegiance.


BENEDICK

You hear, Count Claudio; I can be secret as a

dumb man, I would have you think so; but, on my allegiance,

legiance, mark you this, on my allegiance – he is in love.
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

With who? Now that is your grace's part. Mark how short

his answer is: With Hero, Leonato's short daughter.


CLAUDIO

If this were so, so were it uttered.


BENEDICK

Like the old tale, my lord: 'It is not so, nor

'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so!


CLAUDIO

If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it

should be otherwise!


DON PEDRO

Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very

well worthy.


CLAUDIO

You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
fetch in (v.) 3 lead on, take in, trick into a confession


DON PEDRO

By my troth, I speak my thought.


CLAUDIO

And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.


BENEDICK

And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I

spoke mine.


CLAUDIO

That I love her, I feel.


DON PEDRO

That she is worthy, I know.


BENEDICK

That I neither feel how she should be loved,

nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that

fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.


DON PEDRO

Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the

despite of beauty.
despite (n.) 1 contempt, scorn, disdain


CLAUDIO

And never could maintain his part but in the

force of his will.


BENEDICK

That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that

she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble

thanks; but that I will have a recheat winded in my
recheat (n.) horn call for bringing hounds together
wind (v.) 2 sound, blow

forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all
baldric, baldrick (n.) leather shoulder belt, strap [for holding a bugle, sword, etc] See Topics: Weapons

women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the

wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust

none; and the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I
fine (adj.) 2 finely clothed, smartly dressed
fine (n.) 1 outcome, final result, conclusion

will live a bachelor.


DON PEDRO

I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.


BENEDICK

With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my

lord, not with love. Prove that ever I lose more blood

with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out

mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen and hang me up

at the door of a brothel-house for the sign of blind

Cupid.


DON PEDRO

Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith,

thou wilt prove a notable argument.
argument (n.) 1 subject of conversation, subject-matter, topic


BENEDICK

If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot
bottle (n.) 2 wicker basket

at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the

shoulder, and called Adam.


DON PEDRO

Well, as time shall try:
try (v.) 1 prove, ascertain, find out

‘ In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.’


BENEDICK

The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible

Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns and set them

in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted; and in such

great letters as they write ‘ Here is good horse to hire,’

let them signify under my sign ‘ Here you may see

Benedick the married man.’


CLAUDIO

If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be

horn-mad.
horn-mad (adj.) [as of horned beasts] furious, enraged, raving mad


DON PEDRO

Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in

Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.


BENEDICK

I look for an earthquake too, then.


DON PEDRO

Well, you temporize with the hours. In
temporize (v.) 1 compromise, conform, become amenable

the meantime, good Signor Benedick, repair to Leonato's,
repair (v.) 1 come, go, make one's way

commend me to him and tell him I will not fail
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count

him at supper; for indeed he hath made great

preparation.


BENEDICK

I have almost matter enough in me for such an
matter (n.) 6 means, capacity, wherewithal

embassage; and so I commit you –
embassage, ambassage (n.) message, errand, business, mission


CLAUDIO

To the tuition of God. From my house, if I had
tuition (n.) care, safe-keeping, protection

it –


DON PEDRO

The sixth of July. Your loving friend,

Benedick.


BENEDICK

Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your

discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and the
guarded (adj.) ornamented, trimmed, tricked out
sometime (adv.) 2 sometimes, now and then

guards are but slightly basted on neither. Ere you flout
baste (v.) sew loosely, tack together, stitch up
flout (v.) insult, abuse, mock
guard (n.) 5 trimming, trapping, adornment

old ends any further, examine your conscience; and so I
end (n.) 5 scrap, fragment, tag, ending

leave you.

Exit


CLAUDIO

My liege, your highness now may do me good.
good, do one 1 make prosper, enable to succeed


DON PEDRO

My love is thine to teach; teach it but how,

And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
apt (adj.) 1 fit, ready, prepared

Any hard lesson that may do thee good.


CLAUDIO

Hath Leonato any son, my lord?


DON PEDRO

No child but Hero; she's his only heir.

Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
affect (v.) 2 love, like, be fond of


CLAUDIO

                         O, my lord,

When you went onward on this ended action,
action (n.) 1 campaign, military action, strategy

I looked upon her with a soldier's eye,

That liked, but had a rougher task in hand

Than to drive liking to the name of love;

But now I am returned and that war-thoughts

Have left their places vacant, in their rooms

Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
delicate (adj.) 5 pleasure-seeking, voluptuous, self-indulgent

All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
prompt (v.) remind, put in mind, make reflect

Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.


DON PEDRO

Thou wilt be like a lover presently
presently (adv.) 2 after a short time, soon, before long

And tire the hearer with a book of words.

If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,

And I will break with her and with her father
break (v.) 2 broach a matter, speak

And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end

That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?


CLAUDIO

How sweetly you do minister to love,

That know love's grief by his complexion!
complexion (n.) 1 appearance, look, colouring

But lest my liking might too sudden seem,

I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
salve (v.) 2 make more acceptable, soften down, account for
treatise (n.) story, tale, narrative


DON PEDRO

What need the bridge much broader than the flood?

The fairest grant is the necessity.
grant (n.) 2 granting, gift, reason for agreeing to a request

Look what will serve is fit. 'Tis once, thou lovest,
once (adv.) 1 once and for all, in a word See Topics: Discourse markers

And I will fit thee with the remedy.
fit (v.) 4 supply [with what is fit], satisfy

I know we shall have revelling tonight;

I will assume thy part in some disguise

And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,

And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart,
bosom, in one's privately, intimately
unclasp (v.) reveal, display, divulge

And take her hearing prisoner with the force

And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
amorous (adj.) expressing love

Then after, to her father will I break,
break (v.) 2 broach a matter, speak

And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.

In practise let us put it presently.
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Exeunt

 
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