Much Ado About Nothing


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Leonato, Antonio, Hero, Beatrice, Margaret,

and Ursula


LEONATO

Was not Count John here at supper?


ANTONIO

I saw him not.


BEATRICE

How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
tartly (adv.) sourly, grouchily, with a bitter demeanour

him but I am heart-burned an hour after.


HERO

He is of a very melancholy disposition.


BEATRICE

He were an excellent man that were made just

in the midway between him and Benedick; the one is

too like an image and says nothing, and the other too
image (n.) 2 effigy, statue, sculpture

like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.


LEONATO

Then half Signor Benedick's tongue in Count

John's mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in

Signor Benedick's face –


BEATRICE

With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and

money enough in his purse, such a man would win any

woman in the world, if 'a could get her good will.


LEONATO

By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a

husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
shrewd (adj.) 1 harsh, hard, severe


ANTONIO

In faith, she's too curst.
curst (adj.) 1 bad-tempered, quarrelsome, shrewish, cross


BEATRICE

Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen

God's sending that way; for it is said, ‘ God sends a curst

cow short horns ’, but to a cow too curst he sends none.


LEONATO

So, by being too curst, God will send you no

horns.


BEATRICE

Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
just (adv.) 2 quite so, correct

blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and

evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a

beard on his face! I had rather lie in the woollen.
woollen, lie in the sleep in rough blankets


LEONATO

You may light on a husband that hath no beard.


BEATRICE

What should I do with him? Dress him in my

apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count

that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath

no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a

youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am

not for him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in

earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell.
bearherd, bear-herd, bearard, bearward, berrord (n.) bear-keeper, bear-handler [for dancing or baiting]
earnest (n.) pledge, instalment, deposit, payment in advance


LEONATO

Well, then, go you into hell?


BEATRICE

No, but to the gate; and there will the devil

meet me, like an old cuckold with horns on his head,
cuckold (n.) [mocking name] man with an unfaithful wife See Topics: Frequency count

and say ‘ Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven;

here's no place for you maids.’ So deliver I up my apes,

and away to Saint Peter for the heavens; he shows me

where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as
bachelor (n.) 1 unmarried person [man or woman]

the day is long.


ANTONIO

(to Hero)

Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled

by your father.


BEATRICE

Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make

curtsy and say, ‘ Father, as it please you.’ But yet for all
courtesy, cur'sy, curtsy (n.) 2 curtsy, bow, gesture of respect

that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make

another curtsy and say, ‘ Father, as it please me.’


LEONATO

Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with

a husband.


BEATRICE

Not till God make men of some other metal
metal (n.) substance, material, fabric

than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be

over-mastered with a pierce of valiant dust? To make an

account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No,
marl (n.) clay, earth, loam

uncle, I'll none. Adam's sons are my brethren, and,

truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.
match (v.) 1 join in marriage, make a match


LEONATO

Daughter, remember what I told you. If the

Prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your
kind (n.) 2 manner, way, state

answer.


BEATRICE

The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you

be not wooed in good time. If the Prince be too important,
important (adj.) urgent, pressing, demanding, importunate

tell him there is measure in everything and so dance
measure (n.) 2 limit, moderation, extent not to be exceeded

out the answer. For hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding,

and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a
jig (n.) lively song; frivolous dance
measure (n.) 8 slow stately dance, graceful movement

cinquepace; the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch
cinquepace (n.) five-step capering dance
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest,
fantastical (adj.) 1 fanciful, imaginative, full of wild ideas

as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and
ancientry (n.) 1 decorum, old-fashioned formality, ancient dignity
state (n.) 4 splendour, magnificence, stateliness, dignity

then comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into

the cinquepace faster and faster, till he sink into his

grave.


LEONATO

Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
apprehend (v.) 5 perceive the significance, discern, grasp the matter [of]
passing (adv.) very, exceedingly, extremely


BEATRICE

I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church

by daylight.


LEONATO

The revellers are entering, brother; make good

room.

All put on their masks

Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, Don

John, Borachio, and others, as masquers, with a drum


DON PEDRO

Lady, will you walk a bout with your friend?
bout (n.) 2 round, turn of the floor, division of a dance
friend (n.) 1 lover, sweetheart, suitor


HERO

So you walk softly, and look sweetly, and say

nothing, I am yours for the walk; and especially when

I walk away.


DON PEDRO

With me in your company?


HERO

I may say so, when I please.


DON PEDRO

And when please you to say so?


HERO

When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
defend (v.) forbid, prohibit
favour (n.) 1 [facial] appearance, countenance, features, looks

should be like the case!
case (n.) 9 holder, covering, receptacle


DON PEDRO

My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.


HERO

Why, then, your visor should be thatched.


DON PEDRO

                         Speak low, if you speak love.

He draws her aside


BALTHASAR

Well, I would you did like me.


MARGARET

So would not I, for your own sake; for I have

many ill qualities.
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count


BALTHASAR

Which is one?


MARGARET

I say my prayers aloud.


BALTHASAR

I love you the better; the hearers may cry

Amen.


MARGARET

God match me with a good dancer!


BALTHASAR

Amen.


MARGARET

And God keep him out of my sight when the

dance is done! Answer, clerk.
clerk (n.) 3 parish clerk, prayer-leader


BALTHASAR

No more words; the clerk is answered.


URSULA

I know you well enough; you are Signor Antonio.


ANTONIO

At a word, I am not.
word, at a 1 in a word, once and for all, in short See Topics: Discourse markers


URSULA

I know you by the waggling of your head.


ANTONIO

To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
counterfeit (v.) 1 copy, imitate, simulate See Topics: Frequency count


URSULA

You could never do him so ill-well unless you
do (v.) 5 perform, play one's part, act
ill-well (adv.) wickedly well, cruelly accurately

were the very man. Here's his dry hand up and down;
dry (adj.) 2 dried, withered, shrivelled
up and down (adv.) exactly, completely, in every respect

you are he, you are he.


ANTONIO

At a word, I am not.


URSULA

Come, come, do you think I do not know you by

your excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum,
mum (int.) be quiet, shush See Topics: Attention signals
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity See Topics: Frequency count

you are he; graces will appear, and there's an end.


BEATRICE

Will you not tell me who told you so?


BENEDICK

No, you shall pardon me.
pardon (v.) excuse, give permission to


BEATRICE

Nor will you not tell me who you are?


BENEDICK

Not now.


BEATRICE

That I was disdainful, and that I had my good

wit out of the ‘ Hundred Merry Tales ’ – well, this was
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

Signor Benedick that said so.


BENEDICK

What's he?


BEATRICE

I am sure you know him well enough.


BENEDICK

Not I, believe me.


BEATRICE

Did he never make you laugh?


BENEDICK

I pray you, what is he?


BEATRICE

Why, he is the Prince's jester, a very dull fool;

only his gift is in devising impossible slanders. None but
impossible (adj.) incredible, inconceivable, preposterous

libertines delight in him, and the commendation is not
libertine (n.) 1 debaucher, reprobate, dissolute

in his wit, but in his villainy; for he both pleases men
villainy (n.) 1 coarseness, boorishness, discourtesy
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat

him. I am sure he is in the fleet; I would he had boarded
board (v.) 1 accost, address, approach, tackle
fleet (n.) dancing company, group, assembly

me.


BENEDICK

When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what

you say.


BEATRICE

Do, do; he'll but break a comparison or two
break (v.) 1 speak, exchange
comparison (n.) 2 jibing allusion, scoffing analogy

on me, which, peradventure not marked or not laughed
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count
peradventure (adv.) perhaps, maybe, very likely See Topics: Frequency count

at, strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a

partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no supper

that night.

Music for the dance

We must follow the leaders.


BENEDICK

In every good thing.


BEATRICE

Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil

the next turning.

Exeunt all dancing, except Don John, Borachio, and Claudio


DON JOHN

Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath

withdrawn her father to break with him about it. The
break (v.) 2 broach a matter, speak

ladies follow her and but one visor remains.


BORACHIO

And that is Claudio; I know him by his

bearing.


DON JOHN

Are not you Signor Benedick?


CLAUDIO

You know me well; I am he.


DON JOHN

Signor, you are very near my brother in his

love. He is enamoured on Hero; I pray you dissuade

him from her; she is no equal for his birth. You may
birth (n.) 1 royal birth, noble ancestry

do the part of an honest man in it.


CLAUDIO

How know you he loves her?


DON JOHN

I heard him swear his affection.


BORACHIO

So did I too, and he swore he would marry her

tonight.


DON JOHN

Come, let us to the banquet.
banquet, banket (n.) 1 refreshments, light meal, dessert

Exeunt Don John and Borachio


CLAUDIO

Thus answer I in the name of Benedick,

But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count

'Tis certain so; the Prince woos for himself.

Friendship is constant in all other things

Save in the office and affairs of love;
office (n.) 4 performance, business, intrigue

Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues.

Let every eye negotiate for itself,

And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch

Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
faith (n.) 2 constancy, fidelity, loyalty

This is an accident of hourly proof,
accident (n.) 1 occurrence, event, happening
proof (n.) 4 evidence, demonstration, testimony

Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore, Hero!

Enter Benedick


BENEDICK

Count Claudio?


CLAUDIO

Yea, the same.


BENEDICK

Come, will you go with me?


CLAUDIO

Whither?


BENEDICK

Even to the next willow, about your own business,

County. What fashion will you wear the garland
county (n.) 1 [title of rank] count

of? About your neck, like an usurer's chain? Or under

your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it
scarf (n.) 1 military sash, shoulder band

one way, for the Prince hath got your Hero.


CLAUDIO

I wish him joy of her.


BENEDICK

Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so
drovier (n.) drover, cattle-dealer
honest (adj.) 3 genuine, real, true

they sell bullocks. But did you think the Prince would

have served you thus?


CLAUDIO

I pray you, leave me.


BENEDICK

Ho! Now you strike like the blind man; 'twas

the boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.
post (n.) 1 express messenger, courier See Topics: Frequency count


CLAUDIO

If it will not be, I'll leave you.

Exit


BENEDICK

Alas, poor hurt fowl, now will he creep into

sedges! But that my Lady Beatrice should know me,
sedge (n.) variety of grassy plant, rush See Topics: Plants

and not know me! The Prince's fool! Ha? It may be I

go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am

apt to do myself wrong. I am not so reputed; it is the

base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice that puts the
base (adj.) 3 poor, wretched, of low quality See Topics: Frequency count

world into her person, and so gives me out. Well, I'll be
give out (v.) 1 report, assert, make known

revenged as I may.

Enter Don Pedro, with Leonato and Hero


DON PEDRO

Now, signor, where's the Count? Did you

see him?


BENEDICK

Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady

Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a

warren; I told him, and I think I told him true, that
warren (n.) hunting park, land used for breeding game

your grace had got the good will of this young lady; and

I offered him my company to a willow-tree, either to

make him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him

up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.


DON PEDRO

To be whipped! What's his fault?


BENEDICK

The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who,
flat (adj.) 1 downright, plain, basic

being overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his

companion, and he steals it.


DON PEDRO

Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The

transgression is in the stealer.


BENEDICK

Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been

made, and the garland too; for the garland he might

have worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed

on you, who, as I take it, have stolen his bird's nest.


DON PEDRO

I will but teach them to sing, and restore them

to the owner.


BENEDICK

If their singing answer your saying, by my

faith you say honestly.


DON PEDRO

The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you; the

gentleman that danced with her told her she is much

wronged by you.
wrong (v.) 2 put in the wrong, do injustice to, injure


BENEDICK

O, she misused me past the endurance of a
misuse (v.) 1 disgrace, deride, abuse

block! An oak but with one green leaf on it would have

answered her; my very visor began to assume life and

scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been

myself, that I was the Prince's jester, that I was duller

than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such

impossible conveyance upon me that I stood like a man
conveyance (n.) 4 skill, dexterity, facility
impossible (adj.) incredible, inconceivable, preposterous

at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She
mark (n.) 1 target, goal, aim

speaks poniards, and every word stabs. If her breath
poniard (n.) dagger See Topics: Weapons

were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living
termination (n.) expression, utterance, sentence ending

near her; she would infect to the north star. I would not

marry her, though she were endowed with all that

Adam had left him before he transgressed. She would

have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft
spit (n.) implement for cooking meat over a fire

his club to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you

shall find her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count

God some scholar would conjure her; for certainly, while
conjure (v.) 6 expel evil spirits from, exorcise
scholar (n.) 1 learned man, erudite person [who knows Latin, the language of exorcism]

she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary,

and people sin upon purpose, because they would

go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet, horror, and perturbation

follows her.

Enter Claudio and Beatrice


DON PEDRO

Look, here she comes.


BENEDICK

Will your grace command me any service to

the world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now

to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on. I

will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the furthest inch
tooth-picker (n.) tooth-pick

of Asia; bring you the length of Prester John's foot;

fetch you a hair off the great Cham's beard; do you any

embassage to the Pigmies, rather than hold three words'
embassage, ambassage (n.) message, errand, business, mission

conference with this harpy. You have no employment
harpy (n.) mythical rapacious bird, half woman, half vulture [symbolizing divine retribution]

for me?


DON PEDRO

None, but to desire your good company.


BENEDICK

O God, sir, here's a dish I love not; I cannot

endure my Lady Tongue.

Exit


DON PEDRO

Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of

Signor Benedick.


BEATRICE

Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I

gave him use for it, a double heart for his single one.
use (n.) 7 profit, interest, premium

Marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial

therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.


DON PEDRO

You have put him down, lady, you have put

him down.


BEATRICE

So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest

I should prove the mother of fools. I have brought

Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.


DON PEDRO

Why, how now, Count! Wherefore are you

sad?
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy


CLAUDIO

Not sad, my lord.


DON PEDRO

How then? Sick?


CLAUDIO

Neither, my lord.


BEATRICE

The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry,

nor well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and something
civil (adj.) 2 seemly, decent, well-behaved

of that jealous complexion.


DON PEDRO

I'faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true,
blazon (n.) 2 description, representation, delineation

though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false.
conceit (n.) 5 notion, idea, thought
false (adj.) 4 wrong, mistaken

Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair

Hero is won. I have broke with her father, and his
break (v.) 2 broach a matter, speak

will obtained; name the day of marriage, and God give

thee joy!


LEONATO

Count, take of me my daughter, and with her

my fortunes. His grace hath made the match, and all

Grace say Amen to it!


BEATRICE

Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.


CLAUDIO

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy; I were

but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as you

are mine, I am yours; I give away myself for you and

dote upon the exchange.


BEATRICE

Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth

with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.


DON PEDRO

In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.


BEATRICE

Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on

the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his ear
windy (adj.) windward, situated towards the wind [so that scent will travel away from the follower]

that he is in her heart.


CLAUDIO

And so she doth, cousin.


BEATRICE

Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one
alliance (n.) 2 marriage

to the world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
sunburnt (adj.) of dark complexion, not fair-skinned [and therefore unattractive]
world, go to the get married

corner and cry ‘ Heigh-ho for a husband ’!


DON PEDRO

Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.


BEATRICE

I would rather have one of your father's getting.
getting (n.) 1 begetting, procreation, breeding

Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your

father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by

them.


DON PEDRO

Will you have me, lady?


BEATRICE

No, my lord, unless I might have another for

working-days: your grace is too costly to wear every

day. But, I beseech your grace, pardon me; I was born

to speak all mirth and no matter.
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance


DON PEDRO

Your silence most offends me, and to be

merry best becomes you; for, out o' question, you were
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count

born in a merry hour.


BEATRICE

No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then

there was a star danced, and under that was I born.

Cousins, God give you joy!


LEONATO

Niece, will you look to those things I told you

of?


BEATRICE

I cry you mercy, uncle. (To Don Pedro) By

your grace's pardon.

Exit


DON PEDRO

By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.


LEONATO

There's little of the melancholy element in her,
element (n.) 4 substance, raw material, physical matter

my lord; she is never sad but when she sleeps, and not
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count

ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say, she hath

often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself with
unhappiness (n.) 1 misfortune, mishap, bad luck

laughing.


DON PEDRO

She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.


LEONATO

O, by no means; she mocks all her wooers out

of suit.
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship


DON PEDRO

She were an excellent wife for Benedick.


LEONATO

O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week

married, they would talk themselves mad.


DON PEDRO

County Claudio, when mean you to go to

church.


CLAUDIO

Tomorrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches

till love have all his rites.


LEONATO

Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence

a just seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
just (adj.) 1 accurate, exact, precise

things answer my mind.
answer (v.) 12 fulfil, meet, satisfy


DON PEDRO

Come, you shake the head at so long a

breathing; but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall
breathing (n.) 2 delay, interval, pause
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

not go dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one

of Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signor Benedick

and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection,

th' one with th' other. I would fain have it a match, and
fain (adv.) gladly, willingly See Topics: Frequency count

I doubt not but to fashion it, if you three will but

minister such assistance as I shall give you direction.


LEONATO

My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten

nights' watchings.
watching (n.) wakefulness, sleeplessness, vigilance


CLAUDIO

And I, my lord.


DON PEDRO

And you too, gentle Hero?
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind


HERO

I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
modest (adj.) 3 decorous, seemly, not offending modesty
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

cousin to a good husband.


DON PEDRO

And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband

that I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of a

noble strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty.
approved (adj.) tested, tried, established, proven
confirmed (adj.) resolute, determined, purposeful
honesty (n.) 2 honour, integrity, uprightness
strain (n.) 1 quality, character, disposition

I will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she

shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your two

helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in despite of
practise on / upon (v.) 2 work upon, act craftily with, make to operate

his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in
queasy (adj.) 2 easily upset, delicate, fastidious
stomach (n.) 4 feelings, temper, state of mind
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity See Topics: Frequency count

love with Beatrice. If we can do this, Cupid is no

longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we are the

only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my

drift.

Exeunt

 
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