Much Ado About Nothing

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Original text
Act IV, Scene I
Enter Prince, Bastard, Leonato, Frier,
Claudio, Benedicke, Hero, and Beatrice.

Leonato.
Come Frier Francis, be briefe, onely to the plaine
forme of marriage, and you shal recount their particular
duties afterwards.

Fran.
You come hither, my Lord, to marry this Lady.

Clau.
No.

Leo.
To be married to her: Frier, you come to marrie
her.

Frier.
Lady, you come hither to be married to this Count.

Hero.
I doe.

Frier.
If either of you know any inward impediment why
you should not be conioyned, I charge you on your soules
to vtter it.

Claud.
Know you anie, Hero?

Hero.
None my Lord.

Frier.
Know you anie, Count?

Leon.
I dare make his answer, None.

Clau.
O what men dare do! what men may do!
what men daily do!

Bene.
How now! interiections? why then, some be
of laughing, as ha, ha, he.

Clau.
Stand thee by Frier, father, by your leaue,
Will you with free and vnconstrained soule
Giue me this maid your daughter?

Leon.
As freely sonne as God did giue her me.

Cla.
And what haue I to giue you back, whose worth
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?

Prin.
Nothing, vnlesse you render her againe.

Clau.
Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulnes:
There Leonato, take her backe againe,
Giue not this rotten Orenge to your friend,
Shee's but the signe and semblance of her honour:
Behold how like a maid she blushes heere!
O what authoritie and shew of truth
Can cunning sinne couer it selfe withall!
Comes not that bloud, as modest euidence,
To witnesse simple Vertue? would you not sweare
All you that see her, that she were a maide,
By these exterior shewes? But she is none:
She knowes the heat of a luxurious bed:
Her blush is guiltinesse, not modestie.

Leonato.
What doe you meane, my Lord?

Clau.
Not to be married,
Not to knit my soule to an approued wanton.

Leon.
Deere my Lord, if you in your owne proofe,
Haue vanquisht the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginitie.

Clau.
I know what you would say: if I haue knowne her,
You will say, she did imbrace me as a husband,
And so extenuate the forehand sinne:
No Leonato,
I neuer tempted her with word too large,
But as a brother to his sister, shewed
Bashfull sinceritie and comely loue.

Hero.
And seem'd I euer otherwise to you?

Clau.
Out on thee seeming, I will write against it,
You seeme to me as Diane in her Orbe,
As chaste as is the budde ere it be blowne:
But you are more intemperate in your blood,
Than Venus, or those pampred animalls,
That rage in sauage sensualitie.

Hero.
Is my Lord well, that he doth speake so wide?

Leon.
Sweete Prince, why speake not you?

Prin.
What should I speake?
I stand dishonour'd that haue gone about,
To linke my deare friend to a common stale.

Leon.
Are these things spoken, or doe I but dreame?

Bast.
Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.

Bene.
This lookes not like a nuptiall.

Hero.
True, O God!

Clau.
Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the Prince? is this the Princes brother?
Is this face Heroes? are our eies our owne?

Leon.
All this is so, but what of this my Lord?

Clau.
Let me but moue one question to your daughter,
And by that fatherly and kindly power,
That you haue in her, bid her answer truly.

Leo.
I charge thee doe, as thou art my childe.

Hero.
O God defend me how am I beset,
What kinde of catechizing call you this?

Clau.
To make you answer truly to your name.

Hero.
Is it not Hero? who can blot that name
With any iust reproach?

Claud.
Marry that can Hero,
Hero it selfe can blot out Heroes vertue.
What man was he, talkt with you yesternight,
Out at your window betwixt twelue and one?
Now if you are a maid, answer to this.

Hero.
I talkt with no man at that howre my Lord.

Prince.
Why then you are no maiden. Leonato,
I am sorry you must heare: vpon mine honor,
My selfe, my brother, and this grieued Count
Did see her, heare her, at that howre last night,
Talke with a ruffian at her chamber window,
Who hath indeed most like a liberall villaine,
Confest the vile encounters they haue had
A thousand times in secret.

Iohn.
Fie, fie, they are not to be named my Lord,
Not to be spoken of,
There is not chastitie enough in language,
Without offence to vtter them: thus pretty Lady
I am sorry for thy much misgouernment.

Claud.
O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou beene
If halfe thy outward graces had beene placed
About thy thoughts and counsailes of thy heart?
But fare thee well, most foule, most faire, farewell
Thou pure impiety, and impious puritie,
For thee Ile locke vp all the gates of Loue,
And on my eie-lids shall Coniecture hang,
To turne all beauty into thoughts of harme,
And neuer shall it more be gracious.

Leon.
Hath no mans dagger here a point for me?

Beat.
Why how now cosin, wherfore sink you down?

Bast.
Come, let vs go: these things come thus to light,
Smother her spirits vp.

Bene.
How doth the Lady?

Beat.
Dead I thinke, helpe vncle,
Hero, why Hero, Vncle, Signor Benedicke, Frier.

Leonato.
O Fate! take not away thy heauy hand,
Death is the fairest couer for her shame
That may be wisht for.

Beatr.
How now cosin Hero?

Fri.
Haue comfort Ladie.

Leon.
Dost thou looke vp?

Frier.
Yea, wherefore should she not?

Leon.
Wherfore? Why doth not euery earthly thing
Cry shame vpon her? Could she heere denie
The storie that is printed in her blood?
Do not liue Hero, do not ope thine eyes:
For did I thinke thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger then thy shames,
My selfe would on the reward of reproaches
Strike at thy life. Grieu'd I, I had but one?
Chid I, for that at frugal Natures frame?
O one too much by thee: why had I one?
Why euer was't thou louelie in my eies?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Tooke vp a beggars issue at my gates,
Who smeered thus, and mir'd with infamie,
I might haue said, no part of it is mine:
This shame deriues it selfe from vnknowne loines,
But mine, and mine I lou'd, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on mine so much,
That I my selfe, was to my selfe not mine:
Valewing of her, why she, O she is falne
Into a pit of Inke, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her cleane againe,
And salt too little, which may season giue
To her foule tainted flesh.

Ben.
Sir, sir, be patient:
for my part, I am so attired
in wonder, I know not what to say.

Bea.
O on my soule my cosin is belied.

Ben.
Ladie, were you her bedfellow last night?

Bea.
No truly: not although vntill last night,
I haue this tweluemonth bin her bedfellow.

Leon.
Confirm'd, confirm'd, O that is stronger made
Which was before barr'd vp with ribs of iron.
Would the Princes lie, and Claudio lie,
Who lou'd her so, that speaking of her foulnesse,
Wash'd it with teares? Hence from her, let her die.

Fri.
Heare me a little,
for I haue onely bene silent so long,
and giuen way vnto this course of fortune,
by noting of the Ladie, I haue markt.
A thousand blushing apparitions,
To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames,
In Angel whitenesse beare away those blushes,
And in her eie there hath appear'd a fire
To burne the errors that these Princes hold
Against her maiden truth. Call me a foole,
Trust not my reading, nor my obseruations,
Which with experimental seale doth warrant
The tenure of my booke: trust not my age,
My reuerence, calling, nor diuinitie,
If this sweet Ladie lye not guiltlesse heere,
Vnder some biting error.

Leo.
Friar, it cannot be:
Thou seest that all the Grace that she hath left,
Is, that she wil not adde to her damnation,
A sinne of periury, she not denies it:
Why seek'st thou then to couer with excuse,
That which appeares in proper nakednesse?

Fri.
Ladie, what man is he you are accus'd of?

Hero.
They know that do accuse me, I know none:
If I know more of any man aliue
Then that which maiden modestie doth warrant,
Let all my sinnes lacke mercy. O my Father,
Proue you that any man with me conuerst,
At houres vnmeete, or that I yesternight
Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

Fri.
There is some strange misprision in the Princes.

Ben.
Two of them haue the verie bent of honor,
And if their wisedomes be misled in this:
The practise of it liues in Iohn the bastard,
Whose spirits toile in frame of villanies.

Leo.
I know not: if they speake but truth of her,
These hands shall teare her: If they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall wel heare of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this bloud of mine,
Nor age so eate vp my inuention,
Nor Fortune made such hauocke of my meanes,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall finde, awak'd in such a kinde,
Both strength of limbe, and policie of minde,
Ability in meanes, and choise of friends,
To quit me of them throughly.

Fri.
Pause awhile:
And let my counsell sway you in this case,
Your daughter heere the Princesse (left for dead)
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
And publish it, that she is dead indeed:
Maintaine a mourning ostentation,
And on your Families old monument,
Hang mournfull Epitaphes, and do all rites,
That appertaine vnto a buriall.

Leon.
What shall become of this? What wil this do?

Fri.
Marry this wel carried, shall on her behalfe,
Change slander to remorse, that is some good,
But not for that dreame I on this strange course,
But on this trauaile looke for greater birth:
She dying, as it must be so maintain'd,
Vpon the instant that she was accus'd,
Shal be lamented, pittied, and excus'd
Of euery hearer: for it so fals out,
That what we haue, we prize not to the worth,
Whiles we enioy it; but being lack'd and lost,
Why then we racke the value, then we finde
The vertue that possession would not shew vs
Whiles it was ours, so will it fare with Claudio:
When he shal heare she dyed vpon his words,
Th'Idea of her life shal sweetly creepe
Into his study of imagination.
And euery louely Organ of her life,
Shall come apparel'd in more precious habite:
More mouing delicate, and ful of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soule
Then when she liu'd indeed: then shal he mourne,
If euer Loue had interest in his Liuer,
And wish he had not so accused her:
No, though he thought his accusation true:
Let this be so, and doubt not but successe
Wil fashion the euent in better shape,
Then I can lay it downe in likelihood.
But if all ayme but this be leuelld false,
The supposition of the Ladies death,
Will quench the wonder of her infamie.
And if it sort not well, you may conceale her,
As best befits her wounded reputation,
In some reclusiue and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongnes, mindes and iniuries.

Bene.
Signior Leonato, let the Frier aduise you,
And though you know my inwardnesse and loue
Is very much vnto the Prince and Claudio.
Yet, by mine honor, I will deale in this,
As secretly and iustlie, as your soule
Should with your bodie.

Leon.
Being that I flow in greefe,
The smallest twine may lead me.

Frier.
'Tis well consented, presently away,
For to strange sores, strangely they straine the cure,
Come Lady, die to liue, this wedding day
Perhaps is but prolong'd, haue patience & endure.
Exit.

Bene.
Lady Beatrice, haue you wept all this while?

Beat.
Yea, and I will weepe a while longer.

Bene.
I will not desire that.

Beat.
You haue no reason, I doe it freely.

Bene.
Surelie I do beleeue your fair cosin is wrong'd.

Beat.
Ah, how much might the man deserue of mee
that would right her!

Bene.
Is there any way to shew such friendship?

Beat.
A verie euen way, but no such friend.

Bene.
May a man doe it?

Beat.
It is a mans office, but not yours.

Bene.
I doe loue nothing in the world so well as you, is
not that strange?

Beat.
As strange as the thing I know not, it were as
possible for me to say, I loued nothing so well as you, but
beleeue me not, and yet I lie not, I confesse nothing, nor I
deny nothing, I am sorry for my cousin.

Bene.
By my sword Beatrice thou lou'st me.

Beat.
Doe not sweare by it and eat it.

Bene.
I will sweare by it that you loue mee, and I will
make him eat it that sayes I loue not you.

Beat.
Will you not eat your word?

Bene.
With no sawce that can be deuised to it, I protest
I loue thee.

Beat.
Why then God forgiue me.

Bene.
What offence sweet Beatrice?

Beat.
You haue stayed me in a happy howre, I was
about to protest I loued you.

Bene.
And doe it with all thy heart.

Beat.
I loue you with so much of my heart, that none
is left to protest.

Bened.
Come, bid me doe any thing for thee.

Beat.
Kill Claudio.

Bene.
Ha, not for the wide world.

Beat.
You kill me to denie, farewell.

Bene.
Tarrie sweet Beatrice.

Beat.
I am gone, though I am heere, there is no loue in
you, nay I pray you let me goe.

Bene.
Beatrice.

Beat.
In faith I will goe.

Bene.
Wee'll be friends first.

Beat.
You dare easier be friends with mee, than fight
with mine enemy.

Bene.
Is Claudio thine enemie?

Beat.
Is a not approued in the height a villaine, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman?
O that I were a man! what, beare her in hand vntill they
come to take hands, and then with publike accusation
vncouered slander, vnmittigated rancour? O God that
I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.

Bene.
Heare me Beatrice.

Beat.
Talke with a man out at a window, a proper
saying.

Bene.
Nay but Beatrice.

Beat.
Sweet Hero, she is wrong'd, shee is slandered,
she is vndone.

Bene.
Beat?

Beat.
Princes and Counties! surelie a Princely testimonie,
a goodly Count, Comfect, a sweet Gallant
surelie, O that I were a man for his sake! or that I had
any friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood
is melted into cursies, valour into complement, and
men are onelie turned into tongue, and trim ones too: he
is now as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie, and
sweares it: I cannot be a man with wishing, therfore I
will die a woman with grieuing.

Bene.
Tarry good Beatrice, by this hand I loue
thee.

Beat.
Vse it for my loue some other way then swearing
by it.

Bened.
Thinke you in your soule the Count Claudio hath
wrong'd Hero?

Beat.
Yea, as sure as I haue a thought, or a soule.

Bene.
Enough, I am engagde, I will challenge him,
I will kisse your hand, and so leaue you: by this hand
Claudio shall render me a deere account: as you heare of
me, so thinke of me: goe comfort your coosin, I must say
she is dead, and so farewell.
Original text
Act IV, Scene II
Enter the Constables, Borachio, and the Towne Clerke in gownes.

Keeper.
Is our whole dissembly appeard?

Cowley.
O a stoole and a cushion for the Sexton.

Sexton.
Which be the malefactors?

Andrew.
Marry that am I, and my partner.

Cowley.
Nay that's certaine, wee haue the exhibition to
examine.

Sexton.
But which are the offenders that are to be
examined, let them come before master Constable.

Kemp.
Yea marry, let them come before mee, what is
your name, friend?

Bor.
Borachio.

Kem.
Pray write downe Borachio. Yours sirra.

Con.
I am a Gentleman sir, and my name is
Conrade.

Kee.
Write downe Master gentleman Conrade:
maisters, doe you serue God:
maisters, it is proued alreadie that
you are little better than false knaues, and it will goe neere
to be thought so shortly, how answer you for
your selues?

Con.
Marry sir, we say we are none.

Kemp.
A maruellous witty fellow I assure you, but
I will goe about with him: come you hither sirra, a
word in your eare sir, I say to you, it is thought you are
false knaues.

Bor.
Sir, I say to you, we are none.

Kemp.
Well, stand aside, 'fore God they are both in
a tale: haue you writ downe that they are none?

Sext.
Master Constable, you goe not the way to examine,
you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.

Kemp.
Yea marry, that's the eftest way, let the watch
come forth: masters, I charge you in the Princes name,
accuse these men.

Watch 1.
This man said sir, that Don Iohn
the Princes brother was a villaine.

Kemp.
Write down, Prince Iohn a villaine: why this is
flat periurie, to call a Princes brother villaine.

Bora.
Master Constable.

Kemp.
Pray thee fellow peace, I do not like thy
looke I promise thee.

Sexton.
What heard you him say else?

Watch 2.
Mary that he had receiued a
thousand Dukates of Don Iohn, for accusing the Lady
Hero wrongfully.

Kemp.
Flat Burglarie as euer was committed.

Const.
Yea by th'masse that it is.

Sexton.
What else fellow?

Watch 1.
And that Count Claudio did meane
vpon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole
assembly, and not marry her.

Kemp.
O villaine! thou wilt be condemn'd into euerlasting
redemption for this.

Sexton.
What else?

Watch.
This is all.

Sexton.
And this is more masters then you can deny,
Prince Iohn is this morning secretly stolne away: Hero
was in this manner accus'd, in this very manner refus'd,
and vpon the griefe of this sodainely died: Master Constable,
let these men be bound, and brought to Leonato,
I will goe before, and shew him their
examination.
Const.
Come, let them be opinion'd.

Sex.
Let them be in the hands
of Coxcombe.

Kem.
Gods my life, where's the Sexton? let him
write downe the Princes Officer Coxcombe: come, binde
them thou naughty varlet.

Couley.
Away, you are an asse, you are an asse.

Kemp.
Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou
not suspect my yeeres? O that hee were heere to write mee
downe an asse! but masters, remember that I am an asse:
though it be not written down, yet forget not yt I am
an asse: No thou villaine, yu art full of piety as shall be
prou'd vpon thee by good witnesse, I am a wise fellow,
and which is more, an officer, and which is more, a
houshoulder, and which is more, as pretty a peece of
flesh as any in Messina, and one that knowes the Law,
goe to, & a rich fellow enough, goe to, and a fellow that
hath had losses, and one that hath two gownes, and euery thing
handsome about him: bring him away: O that
I had been writ downe an asse!
Exit.
Modern text
Act IV, Scene I
Enter Don Pedro, Don John, Leonato, Friar Francis,
Claudio, Benedick, Hero, Beatrice, and attendants

LEONATO
Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain
form of marriage, and you shall recount their particular
duties afterwards.

FRIAR
You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady?

CLAUDIO
No.

LEONATO
To be married to her; Friar, you come to marry
her!

FRIAR
Lady, you come hither to be married to this Count.

HERO
I do.

FRIAR
If either of you know any inward impediment why
you should not be conjoined, I charge you, on your souls,
to utter it.

CLAUDIO
Know you any, Hero?

HERO
None, my lord.

FRIAR
Know you any, Count?

LEONATO
I dare make his answer, None.

CLAUDIO
O, what men dare do! What men may do!
What men daily do, not knowing what they do!

BENEDICK
How now! Interjections? Why, then, some be
of laughing, as, ah, ha, he!

CLAUDIO
Stand thee by, Friar. Father, by your leave:
Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?

LEONATO
As freely, son, as God did give her me.

CLAUDIO
And what have I to give you back, whose worth
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?

DON PEDRO
Nothing, unless you render her again.

CLAUDIO
Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again,
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.
Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
Comes not that blood as modest evidence
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid
By these exterior shows? But she is none;
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

LEONATO
What do you mean, my lord?

CLAUDIO
Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.

LEONATO
Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquished the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity –

CLAUDIO
I know what you would say. If I have known her,
You will say she did embrace me as a husband,
And so extenuate the 'forehand sin.
No, Leonato,
I never tempted her with word too large,
But, as a brother to his sister, showed
Bashful sincerity and comely love.

HERO
And seemed I ever otherwise to you?

CLAUDIO
Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it.
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
But you are more intemperate in your blood
Than Venus, or those pampered animals
That rage in savage sensuality.

HERO
Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?

LEONATO
Sweet Prince, why speak not you?

DON PEDRO
What should I speak?
I stand dishonoured, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.

LEONATO
Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?

DON JOHN
Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.

BENEDICK
This looks not like a nuptial.

HERO
True? O God!

CLAUDIO
Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the Prince? Is this the Prince's brother?
Is this face Hero's? Are our eyes our own?

LEONATO
All this is so; but what of this, my lord?

CLAUDIO
Let me but move one question to your daughter;
And, by that fatherly and kindly power
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.

LEONATO
I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.

HERO
O God defend me! How am I beset!
What kind of catechizing call you this?

CLAUDIO
To make you answer truly to your name.

HERO
Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
With any just reproach?

CLAUDIO
Marry, that can Hero;
Hero itself can blot out Hero's virtue.
What man was he talked with you yesternight
Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.

HERO
I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.

DON PEDRO
Why, then are you no maiden. Leonato,
I am sorry you must hear. Upon mine honour,
Myself, my brother, and this grieved Count
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confessed the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.

DON JOHN
Fie, fie, they are not to be named, my lord,
Not to be spoke of!
There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

CLAUDIO
O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been placed
About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
But fare thee well, most foul, most fair! Farewell,
Thou pure impiety and impious purity!
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.

LEONATO
Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?
Hero swoons

BEATRICE
Why, how now, cousin! Wherefore sink you down?

DON JOHN
Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.
Exeunt Don Pedro, Don John, and Claudio

BENEDICK
How doth the lady?

BEATRICE
Dead, I think. Help, uncle!
Hero! Why, Hero! Uncle! Signor Benedick! Friar!

LEONATO
O Fate! Take not away thy heavy hand.
Death is the fairest cover for her shame
That may be wished for.

BEATRICE
How now, cousin Hero?

FRIAR
Have comfort, lady.

LEONATO
Dost thou look up?

FRIAR
Yea, wherefore should she not?

LEONATO
Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?
Do not live, Hero, do not ope thine eyes;
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal Nature's frame?
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
Who smirched thus and mired with infamy,
I might have said ‘ No part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins ’?
But mine and mine I loved and mine I praised
And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her – why, she, O, she is fallen
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh!

BENEDICK
Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
I know not what to say.

BEATRICE
O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!

BENEDICK
Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

BEATRICE
No, truly not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

LEONATO
Confirmed, confirmed! O, that is stronger made
Which was before barred up with ribs of iron!
Would the two Princes lie, and Claudio lie,
Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Washed it with tears? Hence from her, let her die!

FRIAR
Hear me a little;
For I have only silent been so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune
By noting of the lady. I have marked
A thousand blushing apparitions
To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness beat away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appeared a fire,
To burn the errors that these Princes hold
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.

LEONATO
Friar, it cannot be.
Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
Is that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury; she not denies it:
Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears in proper nakedness?

FRIAR
Lady, what man is he you are accused of?

HERO
They know that do accuse me; I know none.
If I know more of any man alive
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father,
Prove you that any man with me conversed
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintained the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!

FRIAR
There is some strange misprision in the Princes.

BENEDICK
Two of them have the very bent of honour;
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the Bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.

LEONATO
I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
Ability in means and choice of friends
To quit me of them throughly.

FRIAR
Pause awhile,
And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the Princes left for dead;
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
And publish it that she is dead indeed.
Maintain a mourning ostentation,
And on your family's old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial.

LEONATO
What shall become of this? What will this do?

FRIAR
Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf
Change slander to remorse; that is some good.
But not for that dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth.
She dying, as it must be so maintained,
Upon the instant that she was accused,
Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused
Of every hearer; for it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio.
When he shall hear she died upon his words,
Th' idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparelled in more precious habit,
More moving, delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she lived indeed. Then shall he mourn,
If ever love had interest in his liver,
And wish he had not so accused her –
No, though he thought his accusation true.
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levelled false,
The supposition of the lady's death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy;
And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
As best befits her wounded reputation,
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.

BENEDICK
Signor Leonato, let the Friar advise you;
And though you know my inwardness and love
Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
As secretly and justly as your soul
Should with your body.

LEONATO
Being that I flow in grief,
The smallest twine may lead me.

FRIAR
'Tis well consented. Presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
Come, lady, die to live; this wedding-day
Perhaps is but prolonged; have patience and endure.
Exeunt all but Benedick and Beatrice

BENEDICK
Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

BEATRICE
Yea, and I will weep a while longer.

BENEDICK
I will not desire that.

BEATRICE
You have no reason; I do it freely.

BENEDICK
Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

BEATRICE
Ah, how much might the man deserve of me
that would right her!

BENEDICK
Is there any way to show such friendship?

BEATRICE
A very even way, but no such friend.

BENEDICK
May a man do it?

BEATRICE
It is a man's office, but not yours.

BENEDICK
I do love nothing in the world so well as you; is
not that strange?

BEATRICE
As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you; but
believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I
deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.

BENEDICK
By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.

BEATRICE
Do not swear, and eat it.

BENEDICK
I will swear by it that you love me; and I will
make him eat it that says I love not you.

BEATRICE
Will you not eat your word?

BENEDICK
With no sauce that can be devised to it; I protest
I love thee.

BEATRICE
Why, then, God forgive me!

BENEDICK
What offence, sweet Beatrice?

BEATRICE
You have stayed me in a happy hour; I was
about to protest I loved you.

BENEDICK
And do it with all thy heart.

BEATRICE
I love you with so much of my heart that none
is left to protest.

BENEDICK
Come, bid me do anything for thee.

BEATRICE
Kill Claudio.

BENEDICK
Ha! Not for the wide world.

BEATRICE
You kill me to deny it. Farewell.

BENEDICK
(taking her by the hand) Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

BEATRICE
I am gone though I am here; there is no love in
you. Nay, I pray you, let me go.

BENEDICK
Beatrice –

BEATRICE
In faith, I will go.

BENEDICK
We'll be friends first.

BEATRICE
You dare easier be friends with me than fight
with mine enemy.

BENEDICK
Is Claudio thine enemy?

BEATRICE
Is he not approved in the height a villain that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman?
O that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands, and then, with public accusation,
uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour – O God, that
I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.

BENEDICK
Hear me, Beatrice –

BEATRICE
Talk with a man out at a window! A proper
saying!

BENEDICK
Nay, but Beatrice –

BEATRICE
Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered,
she is undone.

BENEDICK
Beat –

BEATRICE
Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake, or that I had
any friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood
is melted into curtsies, valour into compliment, and
men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too. He
is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and
swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I
will die a woman with grieving.

BENEDICK
Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love
thee.

BEATRICE
Use it for my love some other way than swearing
by it.

BENEDICK
Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath
wronged Hero?

BEATRICE
Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.

BENEDICK
Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him.
I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,
Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you hear of
me, so think of me. Go, comfort your cousin; I must say
she is dead; and so, farewell.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act IV, Scene II
Enter Dogberry, Verges, and the Sexton, in gowns;
and the Watch, with Conrade and Borachio

DOGBERRY
Is our whole dissembly appeared?

VERGES
O, a stool and a cushion for the Sexton.

SEXTON
Which be the malefactors?

DOGBERRY
Marry, that am I and my partner.

VERGES
Nay, that's certain; we have the exhibition to
examine.

SEXTON
But which are the offenders that are to be
examined? Let them come before Master Constable.

DOGBERRY
Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is
your name, friend?

BORACHIO
Borachio.

DOGBERRY
Pray, write down, Borachio. Yours, sirrah?

CONRADE
I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is
Conrade.

DOGBERRY
Write down Master Gentleman Conrade.
Masters, do you serve God?

CONRADE and BORACHIO
Yea, sir, we hope.

DOGBERRY
Write down, that they hope they serve God –
and write God first, for God defend but God should go
before such villains! Masters, it is proved already that
you are little better than false knaves, and it will go near
to be thought so shortly. How answer you for
yourselves?

CONRADE
Marry, sir, we say we are none.

DOGBERRY
A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but
I will go about with him. Come you hither, sirrah; a
word in your ear. Sir, I say to you, it is thought you are
false knaves.

BORACHIO
Sir, I say to you we are none.

DOGBERRY
Well, stand aside. 'Fore God, they are both in
a tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?

SEXTON
Master Constable, you go not the way to examine;
you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.

DOGBERRY
Yea, marry, that's the eftest way; let the watch
come forth. Masters, I charge you in the Prince's name,
accuse these men.

FIRST WATCHMAN
This man said, sir, that Don John,
the Prince's brother, was a villain.

DOGBERRY
Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is
flat perjury, to call a Prince's brother villain.

BORACHIO
Master Constable –

DOGBERRY
Pray thee, fellow, peace; I do not like thy
look, I promise thee.

SEXTON
What heard you him say else?

SECOND WATCHMAN
Marry, that he had received a
thousand ducats of Don John for accusing the Lady
Hero wrongfully.

DOGBERRY
Flat burglary as ever was committed.

VERGES
Yea, by mass, that it is.

SEXTON
What else, fellow?

FIRST WATCHMAN
And that Count Claudio did mean,
upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole
assembly, and not marry her.

DOGBERRY
O villain! Thou wilt be condemned into everlasting
redemption for this.

SEXTON
What else?

SECOND WATCHMAN
This is all.

SEXTON
And this is more, masters, than you can deny.
Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away; Hero
was in this manner accused, in this very manner refused,
and upon the grief of this suddenly died. Master Constable,
let these men be bound, and brought to Leonato's;
I will go before and show him their
examination.
Exit

DOGBERRY
Come, let them be opinioned.

VERGES
Let them be – in the hands.

CONRADE
Off, coxcomb!

DOGBERRY
God's my life, where's the Sexton? Let him
write down the Prince's officer coxcomb. Come, bind
them. Thou naughty varlet!

CONRADE
Away! You are an ass, you are an ass.

DOGBERRY
Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou
not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an ass;
though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am
an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be
proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow,
and, which is more, an officer; and, which is more, a
householder; and, which is more, as pretty a piece of
flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law,
go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that
hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns and everything
handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
I had been writ down an ass!
Exeunt
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