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Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare [Knight edition]

Part 2 out of 3

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She's ta'en, I warrant you; we have caught her, madam.

If it prove so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

[Exeunt Hero and Ursula.]

[Beatrice advances.]

What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on, I will requite thee;
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band:
For others say thou dost deserve; and I
Believe it better than reportingly.


Scene II.--A Room in Leonato's House.

[Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, and Leonato.]

D. Pedro.
I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and then go
I toward Arragon.

I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you'll vouchsafe me.

D. Pedro.
Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss of your
marriage, as to show a child his new coat, and forbid him to wear
it. I will only be bold with Benedick for his company; for, from
the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth;
he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's bowstring, and the little
hangman dare not shoot at him: he hath a heart as sound as a
bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks
his tongue speaks.

Gallants, I am not as I have been.

So say I; methinks you are sadder.

I hope he be in love.

D. Pedro.
Hang him, truant; there's no true drop of blood in him, to be
truly touch'd with love: if he be sad, he wants money.

I have the tooth-ach.

D. Pedro.
Draw it.

Hang it!

You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.

D. Pedro.
What? sigh for the tooth-ach?

Where is but a humour, or a worm!

Well, every one can master a grief, but he that has it.

Yet, say I, he is in love.

D. Pedro.
There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be a fancy
that he hath to strange disguises; as to be a Dutchman to-day; a
Frenchman to-morrow; [or in the shape of two countries at once,
as, a German from the waist downward, all slops; and a Spaniard
from the hip upward, no doublet:] Unless he have a fancy to this
foolery, as it appears he hath, he is no fool for fancy, as you
would have it appear he is.

If he be not in love with some woman, there is no believing
old signs: he brushes his hat o' mornings: What should that bode?

D. Pedro.
Hath any man seen him at the barber's?

No, but the barber's man hath been seen with him; and the
old ornament of his cheek hath already stuff'd tennis-balls.

Indeed, he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a beard.

D. Pedro.
Nay, he rubs himself with civet: Can you smell him out by

That's as much as to say, The sweet youth's in love.

D. Pedro.
The greatest note of it is his melancholy.

And when was he wont to wash his face?

D. Pedro.
Yea, or to paint himself? for the which, I hear what they say
of him.

Nay, but his jesting spirit;, which is now crept into a
lutestring, and now governed by stops.

D. Pedro.
Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him: Conclude he is in love.

Nay, but I know who loves him.

D. Pedro.
That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows him not.

Yes, and his ill conditions; and, in despite of all, dies for

D. Pedro.
She shall be buried with her face upwards.

Yet is this no charm for the tooth-ach.--Old signior, walk
aside with me; I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak
to you, which these hobby-horses must not hear.

[Exeunt Benedick and Leonato.]

D. Pedro.
For my life, to break with him about Beatrice!

'T is even so: Hero and Margaret have by this played their
parts with Beatrice; and then the two bears will not bite one
another when they meet.

[Enter Don John.]

D. John.
My lord and brother, God save you.

D. Pedro.
Good den, brother.

D. John.
If your leisure served, I would speak with you.

D. Pedro.
In private?

D. John.
If it please you;--yet count Claudio may hear; for what I
would speak of concerns him.

D. Pedro.
What's the matter?

D. John.
Means your lordship to be married to-morrow? [to Claudio]

D. Pedro.
You know he does.

D. John.
I know not that, when he knows what I know.

If there be any impediment, I pray you, discover it.

D. John.
You may think I love you not; let that appear hereafter, and
aim better at me by that I now will manifest. For my brother, I
think, he holds you well; and in dearness of heart hath holp to
effect your ensuing marriage: surely, suit ill spent, and labour
ill bestowed!

D. Pedro.
Why, what's the matter?

D. John.
I came hither to tell you: and, circumstances shortened (for
she has been too long a talking of,) the lady is disloyal.

Who? Hero?

D. John.
Even she; Leonato's Hero, your Hero, every man's Hero.


D. John.
The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I could say
she were worse; think you of a worse title, and I will fit her
to. Wonder not till further warrant: go but with me to-night,
you shall see her chamber-window entered; even the night before
her wedding day: if you love her then, to-morrow wed her; but
it would better fit your honour to change your mind.

May this be so?

D. Pedro.
I will not think it.

D. John.
If you dare not trust that you see, confess not that you
know: if you will follow me, I will show you enough; and when you
have seen more, and heard more, proceed accordingly.

If I see anything to-night why I should not marry her
to-morrow, in the congregation, where I should wed, there will I
shame her.

D. Pedro.
And, as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join with
thee to disgrace her.

D. John.
I will disparage her no farther, till you are my witnesses:
bear it coldly but till night, and let the issue show itself.

D. Pedro.
O day untowardly turned!

O mischief strangely thwarting!

D. John.
O plague right well prevented!
So will you say when you have seen the sequel.


Scene III.--A Street.

[Enter Dogberry and Verges, with the Watch.]

Are you good men and true?

Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation,
body and soul.

Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if they should
have any allegiance in them, being chosen for the prince's watch.

Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

First, who think you the most desartless man to be constable?

1. Watch.
Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they can write
and read.

Come hither, neighbour Seacoal: God hath blessed you with a
good name: to be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but
to write and read comes by nature.

2. Watch.
Both which, Master Constable,--

You have; I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your
favour, sir, why, give God thanks and make no boast of it; and
for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no
need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most
senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore
bear you the lantern. This is your charge: You shall comprehend
all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the prince's

2. Watch.
How if a will not stand?

Why then, take no note of him, but let him go; and presently
call the rest of the watch together, and thank God you are rid of
a knave.

If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the
prince's subjects.

True, and they are to meddle with none but the Prince's
subjects:--You shall also make no noise in the streets; for, for
the watch to babble and talk, is most tolerable and not to be

2. Watch.
We will rather sleep than talk; we know what belongs to
a watch.

Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman; for I
cannot see how sleeping should offend: only, have a care that
your bills be not stolen:--Well, you are to call at all the
ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

2. Watch.
How if they will not?

Why then, let them alone till they are sober; if they make you
not then the better answer, you may say they are not the men you
took them for.

2. Watch.
Well, sir.

If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your
office, to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the less
you meddle or make with them, why, the more is for your honesty.

2. Watch.
If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on

Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they that touch
pitch will be defiled: The most peaceable way for you, if you do
take a thief, is to let him show himself what he is, and steal
out of your company.

You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will; much more a man who
hath any honesty in him.

If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the
nurse, and bid her still it.

2. Watch.
How if the nurse be asleep, and will not hear us?

Why then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with
crying: for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will
never answer a calf when he bleats.

'T is very true.

This is the end of the charge. You, constable, are to present
the prince's own person; if you meet the prince in the night,
you may stay him.

Nay, by'r lady, that, I think, a cannot.

Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows the
statutes, he may stay him! marry, not without the prince be
willing: for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man; and it
is an offence to stay a man against his will.

By'r lady, I think it be so.

Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night an there be any matter
of weight chances, call up me: keep your fellows' counsels and
your own, and good night.--Come, neighbour.

2. Watch.
Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here
upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed.

One word more, honest neighbours: I pray you, watch about
signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being there to-morrow,
there is a great coil to-night: Adieu, be vigitant, I beseech

[Exeunt Dogberry and Verges.]

[Enter Borachio and Conrade.]

What! Conrade,--

Peace! stir not. [Aside.]

Conrade, I say!

Here, man, I am at thy elbow.

Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a scab follow.

I will owe thee an answer for that; and now forward with thy

Stand thee close then under this penthouse, for it drizzles
rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee.

[aside.] Some treason, masters; yet stand close.

Therefore know, I have earned of don John a thousand ducats.

Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?

Thou shouldst rather ask, if it were possible any villany
should be so rich; for when rich villains have need of poor ones,
poor ones may make what price they will.

I wonder at it.

That shows thou art unconfirmed: Thou knowest, that the
fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man.

Yes, it is apparel.

I mean, the fashion.

Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

Tush! I may as well say, the fool's the fool. But seest thou
not what a deformed thief this fashion is?

I know that Deformed; a has been a vile thief
this seven year; a goes up and down like a gentleman: I remember
his name.

Didst thou not hear somebody?

No; 't was the vane on the house.

Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this fashion is?
how giddily he turns about all the hot-bloods, between fourteen
and five-and-thirty? sometime, fashioning them like Pharaoh's
soldiers in the reechy painting; sometime, like god Bel's priests
in the old church window; sometime, like the shaven Hercules in
the smirched worm-eaten tapestry, where his codpiece seems as
massy as his club?

All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears out more
apparel than the man: But art not thou thyself giddy with the
fashion too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale into telling
me of the fashion?

Not so neither: but know, that I have to-night wooed Margaret,
the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the name of Hero; she leans me
out at her mistress' chamber-window, bids me a thousand times
good night,--I tell this tale vilely:--I should first tell thee
the prince, Claudio, and my master, planted, and placed, and
possessed by my master don John, saw afar off in the orchard this
amiable encounter.

And thought they Margaret was Hero?

Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the devil my
master knew she was Margaret; and partly by his oaths, which
first possessed them, partly by the dark night, which did deceive
them, but chiefly by my villany, which did confirm any slander
that don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore he would
meet her, as he was appointed, next morning at the temple, and
there, before the whole congregation, shame her with what he saw
o'er-night and send her home again without a husband.

1 Watch.
We charge you in the prince's name, stand.

2 Watch.
Call up the right master constable: we have here recovered the
most dangerous piece of lechery that ever was known in the

1 Watch.
And one Deformed is one of them; I know him, a wears a

Masters, masters.

2 Watch.
You'll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.


1 Watch.
Never speak; we charge you, let us obey you to go with

We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken up of
these men's bills.

A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.

Scene IV.--A Room in Leonato's house.

[Enter Hero, and Margaret, and Ursula.]

Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire her to rise.

I will, lady.

And bid her come hither.


[Exit Ursula.]

Troth, I think your other rebato were better.

No, pray thee, good Meg, I'll wear this.

By my troth, it's not so good; and I warrant your cousin will
say so.

My cousin's a fool, and thou art another; I'll wear none but

I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair were a
thought browner: and your gown's a most rare fashion, i' faith.
I saw the Duchess of Milan's gown that they praise so.

O, that exceeds, they say.

By my troth, it's but a night-gown in respect of yours:
Cloth of gold, and cuts, and laced with silver, set with pearls
down sleeves, side-sleeves, and skirts, round underborne with
a blueish tinsel: but for a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent
fashion, yours is worth ten on't.

God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceeding heavy!

'T will be heavier soon, by the weight of a man.

Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?

Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? Is not marriage
honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord honourable without
marriage? I think, you would have me say,--saving your
reverence,--'a husband:' an bad thinking do not wrest true
speaking, I'll offend nobody: Is there any harm in, 'the
heavier for a husband'? None, I think, an it be the right
husband, and the right wife; otherwise 't is light, and not
heavy: Ask my Lady Beatrice else, here she comes.

[Enter Beatrice.]

Good morrow, coz.

Good morrow, sweet Hero.

Why, how now? do you speak in the sick tune?

I am out of all other tune, methinks.

Clap's into--'Light o' love;' that goes without a burden; do
you sing it, and I'll dance it.

Yea, 'Light o' love,' with your heels!--then, if your husband
have stables enough, you'll see he shall lack no barns.

O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.

'T is almost five o'clock, cousin; 't is time you were ready.
By my troth, I am exceeding ill: hey-ho!

For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?

For the letter that begins them all, H.

Well, an you be not turned Turk, there's no more sailing by
the star.

What means the fool, trow?

Nothing I; but God send every one their heart's desire!

These gloves the count sent me, they are an excellent

I am stuffed, cousin, I cannot smell.

A maid, and stuffed! there's goodly catching of cold.

O, God help me! God help me! how long have you profess'd

Ever since you left it: doth not my wit become me rarely?

It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your cap.--By my
troth, I am sick.

Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus and lay it
to your heart; it is the only thing for a qualm.

There thou prick'st her with a thistle.

Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in this

Moral? no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I meant, plain
holy-thistle. You may think, perchance, that I think you are
in love: nay, by'r lady, I am not such a fool to think what I
list; nor I list not to think what I can; nor, indeed, I cannot
think, if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you are in
love, or that you will be in love, or that you can be in love:
yet Benedick was such another, and now is he become a man: he
swore he would never marry; and yet now, in despite of his heart,
he eats his meat without grudging: and how you may be converted,
I know not, but methinks you look with your eyes as other women do.

What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?

Not a false gallop.

[Re-enter Ursula.]

Madam, withdraw; the prince, the count, signior Benedick, Don
John, and all the gallants of the town, are come to fetch you to

Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.


Scene V.--Another Room in Leonato's house.

[Enter Leonato, with Dogberry and Verges.]

What would you with me, honest neighbour?

Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you that decerns
you nearly.

Brief, I pray you; for, you see, 't is a busy time with me.

Marry, this it is, sir.

Yes, in truth it is, sir.

What is it, my good friends?

Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old
man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt, as, God help, I would
desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin between his

Yes, I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an
old man, and no honester than I.

Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.

Neighbours, you are tedious.

It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke's
officers; but, truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as
a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.

All thy tediousness on me! ah?

Yea, an't were a thousand times more than 't is; for I hear as
good exclamation on your worship, as of any man in the city; and
though I be but a poor man I am glad to hear it.

And so am I.

I would fain know what you have to say.

Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your worship's
presence, have ta'en a couple of as arrant knaves as any in

A good old man, sir; he will be talking; as they say, When
the age is in, the wit is out; God help us! it is a world to
see!--Well said, i' faith, neighbour Verges:--well, God's a good
man; an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind:--An honest
soul, i' faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread: but
God is to be worshipped: All men are not alike; alas, good

Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.

Gifts, that God gives.

I must leave you.

One word, sir: our watch, sir, have, indeed, comprehended two
aspicious persons, and we would have them this morning examined
before your worship.

Take their examination yourself, and bring it to me; I am now in
great haste, as it may appear unto you.

It shall be suffigance.

Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.

[Enter a Messenger.]

My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to her

I'll wait upon them; I am ready.

[Exeunt Leonato and Messenger.]

Go, good partner, go get you to Francis Seacoal; bid him bring
his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we are now to examination these

And we must do it wisely.

We will spare for no wit, I warrant you here's that [touching his
forhead] shall drive some of them to a non-come: only get the
learned writer to set down our excommunication, and meet me at
the gaol.



Scene I.--The inside of a Church.

[Enter Don Pedro, Don John, Leonato, Friar, Claudio, Benedick,
Hero, and Beatrice, &c.]

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

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


To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her.

Lady, you come hither to be married to this count?

I do.

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

Know you any, Hero?

None, my lord.

Know you any, count?

I dare make his answer, none.

O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do!
[not knowing what they do!]

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

Stand thee by, friar:--Father, by your leave;
Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?

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

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

D. Pedro.
Nothing, unless you render her again.

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.

What do you mean, my lord?

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

Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity,--

I know what you would say; If I have known her,
You'll 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, show'd
Bashful sincerity, and comely love.

And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?

Out on the 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 pamper'd animals
That rage in savage sensuality.

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

Sweet prince, why speak not you?

D. Pedro.
What should I speak?
I stand dishonour'd, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.

Are these things spoken? or do I but dream?

D. John.
Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.

This looks not like a nuptial.

True? O God!

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

All this is so: But what of this, my lord?

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.

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

O, God defend me! how am I beset!--
What kind of catechising call you this?

To make you answer truly to your name.

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

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

I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord.

D. Pedro.
Why, then are you no maiden.--Leonato,
I am sorry you must hear: Upon my 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,
Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.

D. John.
Fie, fie! they are
Not to be nam'd 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.

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.

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

[Hero swoons.]

Why, how now, cousin? wherefore sink you down?

D. John.
Come, let us go: these things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.

[Exeunt Don Pedro, Don Juan, and Claudio.]

How doth the lady?

Dead, I think;--help, uncle;--
Hero! why, Hero!--Uncle!--Signior Benedick!--friar!

O Fate, take not away thy heavy hand!
Death is the fairest cover for her shame
That may be wish'd for.

How now, cousin Hero?

Have comfort, lady.

Dost thou look up?

Yea; Wherefore should she not?

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. Griev'd I, I had but one?
Child 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 lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
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!

Sir, sir, be patient:
For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,
I know not what to say.

O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!

Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

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

Confirm'd, confirm'd! O, that is stronger made
Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie,
Who lov'd her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her; let her die.

Hear me a little;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady; I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions start
Into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness beat away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear'd 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 tenour of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.

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?

Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?

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 convers'd
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain'd the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

There is some strange misprision in the princes.

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 villanies.

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, awak'd 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.

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.

What shall become of this? What will this do?

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 maintain'd,
Upon the instant that she was accus'd,
Shall be lamented, pitied, and excus'd
Of every hearer: For it so falls out,
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it; but being lack'd 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,
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination;
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit,
More moving-delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she liv'd 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 levell'd 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.

Signior 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.

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

'T is well consented; presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.--
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day,
Perhaps, is but prolong'd; have patience and endure.

[Exeunt Friar, Hero, and Leonato.]

Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

Yea, and I will weep a while longer.

I will not desire that.

You have no reason, I do it freely.

Surely, I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

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

Is there any way to show such friendship?

A very even way, but no such friend.

May a man do it?

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

I do love nothing in the world so well as you: Is not that

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.

By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.

Do not swear by it, and eat it.

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

Will you not eat your word?

With no sauce that can be devised to it: I protest I love

Why then, God forgive me!

What offence, sweet Beatrice?

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

And do it with all thy heart.

I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to

Come, bid me do anything for thee.

Kill Claudio.

Ha! not for the wide world.

You kill me to deny it: Farewell.

Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

I am gone, though I am here:--There is no love in you:--Nay, I
pray you, let me go.


In faith, I will go.

We'll be friends first.

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

Is Claudio thine enemy?

Is 'a 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

Hear me, Beatrice;--

Talk with a man out at a window?--a proper saying.

Nay but, Beatrice;--

Sweet Hero!--she is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.


Princes, and Counties! Surely, a princely testimony, a goodly
count-confect: 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 courtesies, 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.

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

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

Think you in your soul the count Claudio hath wronged Hero?

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

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.


Scene II.--A prison.

[Enter Dogberry, Verges, Sexton, in gowns; and the Watch,
with Conrade and Borachio.]

Is our whole dissembly appeared?

O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton!

Which be the malefactors?

Marry, that am I and my partner.

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

But which are the offenders that are to be examined? let them
come before master constable.

Yea, marry, let them come before me.--What is your name,


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

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

Write down, master gentleman Conrade.--Masters, do you serve

[Con Bora.
Yea, sir, we hope.

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?

Marry, sir, we say we are none.

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.

Sir, I say to you, we are none.

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

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

Yea, marry, that's the eftest way:--Let the watch come forth:--
Masters, I charge you, in the Prince's name, accuse these men.

1. Watch.
This man said, sir, that don John the prince's brother, was a

Write down, prince John a villain:--Why, this is flat perjury,
to call a prince's brother villain.

Master Constable,--

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

What heard you him say else?

2. Watch.
Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of don John,
for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.

Flat burglary, as ever was committed.

Yea, by the mass, that it is.

What else, fellow?

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

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

What else?

2. Watch
This is all.

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; I will go before, and show him their


Come, let them be opinioned.

Let them be in the hands--

Off, coxcomb!

God's my life! where's the sexton? let him write down the
prince's officer, coxcomb. Come, bind them:--Thou naughty

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

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 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!



Scene I.--Before Leonato's House.

[Enter Leonato and Antonio.]

If you go on thus, you will kill yourself;
And 't is not wisdom thus to second grief
Against yourself.

I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
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 lov'd his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm'd like mine,
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:
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard;
And, '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.
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,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ach with air, and agony with words:
No, no; 't is all men's office to speak patience
To those that wring under the load of sorrow;
But no man's virtue, nor sufficiency
To be so moral, when he shall endure
The like himself: therefore give me no counsel:
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.

Therein do men from children nothing differ.

I pray thee, peace; I will be flesh and blood;
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the tooth-ach patiently;
However they have writ the style of gods.
And made a push at chance and sufferance.

Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
Make those that do offend you suffer too.

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.

[Enter Don Pedro and Claudio.]

Here comes the prince, and Claudio, hastily.

D. Pedro.
Good den, good den.

Good day to both of you.

Hear you, my lords,--

D. Pedro.
We have some haste, Leonato.

Some haste, my lord!--well, fare you well, my lord:
Are you so hasty now?--well, all is one.

D. Pedro.
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.

If he could right himself with quarrelling,
Some of us would lie low.

Who wrongs him?

Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou:--
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword,
I fear thee not.

Mary, beshrew my hand
If it should give your age such cause of fear:
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.

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
What I have done being young, or what would do,
Were I not old: Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me,
That I am forc'd to lay my reverence by;
And, with grey hairs, and bruise of many days,
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 lies buried with her ancestors:
O! in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, fram'd by thy villany.

My villany!

Thine, Claudio; thine I say.

D. Pedro.
You say not right, old man.

My lord, my lord,
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.

Away, I will not have to do with you.

Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill'd my child;
If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.

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; come sir boy, come follow me:
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.


Content yourself: God knows, I lov'd my niece;
And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains;
That dare as well answer a man indeed,
As I dare take a serpent by the tongue:
Boys, apes, braggarts, jacks, milksops!--

Brother Antony,--

Hold your content: What, man! I know them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple:
Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie, and cog, and flout, deprave, and slander,
Go anticly, show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst,
And this is all.

But, brother Antony ,--

Come, 't is no matter;
Do not you meddle, let me deal in this.

D. Pedro.
Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter's death;
But, on my honour, she was charg'd with nothing
But what was true, and very full of proof.

My lord, my lord,--

D. Pedro.
I will not hear you.

Come, brother, away:--I will be heard;--

And shall,
Or some of us will smart for it.

[Exeunt Leonato and Antonio.]

[Enter Benedick.]

D. Pedro.
See, see; here comes the man we went to seek.

Now, signior! what news?

Good day, my lord.

D. Pedro.
Welcome, signior: You are almost come to part almost a fray.

We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two
old men without teeth.

D. Pedro.
Leonato and his brother: What think'st thou? Had we fought,
I doubt we should have been too young for them.

In a false quarrel there is no true valour: I came to seek
you both.

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

It is in my scabbard: Shall I draw it?

D. Pedro.
Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?

Never any did so, though very many have been beside their
wit.--I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels; draw, to
pleasure us.

D. Pedro.
As I am an honest man, he looks pale:--Art thou sick, or

What! courage, man! What though care killed a cat, thou hast
mettle enough in thee to kill care.

Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it
against me. I pray you:--choose another subject.

Nay then, give him another staff; this last was broke cross.

D. Pedro.
By this light, he changes more and more: I think he be angry

If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.

Shall I speak a word in your ear?

God bless me from a challenge!

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 you: Let me hear
from you.

Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.

D. Pedro.
What, a feast? a feast?

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 my
knife's naught.--Shall I not find a woodcock too?

Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.

D. Pedro.
I'll tell thee how Beatrice prais'd thy wit the other day: I
said, thou hadst a fine wit; 'True,' says she, 'a fine little
one:' 'No,' said I, 'a great wit;' 'Right,' says she, 'a great
gross 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; 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.

For the which she wept heartily, and said, she cared not.

D. 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.

All, all; and moreover, 'God saw him when he was hid in the

D. Pedro.
But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on the
sensible Benedick's head?

Yea, and text underneath, 'Here dwells Benedick the married

Fare you well, boy! you know my mind; I will leave you now to
your gossip-like humour: you break jests as braggarts 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 lady: For my Lord Lack-beard there,
he and I shall meet; and till then peace be with him.

[Exit Benedick.]

D. Pedro.
He is in earnest.

In most profound earnest; and I'll warrant you for the
love of Beatrice.

D. Pedro.
And hath challenged thee?

Most sincerely.

D. Pedro.
What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and
hose, and leaves off his wit!

He is then a giant to an ape: but then is an ape a doctor to
such a man.

D. Pedro.
But, soft you, let me be; pluck up, my heart, and be sad!
Did he not say my brother was fled?

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

Come, you, sir; if justice cannot tame you, she shall ne'er
weigh more reasons in her balance: nay, an you be a cursing
hypocrite once, you must be looked to.

D. Pedro.
How now? two of my brother's men bound! Borachio one!

Hearken after their offence, my lord!

D. Pedro.
Officers, what offence have these men done?

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.

D. 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?

Rightly reasoned, and in his own division; and by my troth
there's one meaning well suited.

D. 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?

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