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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

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You would not make me such an argument.
But fare ye well; 'tis partly my own fault,
Which death, or absence, soon shall remedy.
LYSANDER. Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse;
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!
HELENA. O excellent!
HERMIA. Sweet, do not scorn her so.
DEMETRIUS. If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
LYSANDER. Thou canst compel no more than she entreat;
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers
Helen, I love thee, by my life I do;
I swear by that which I will lose for thee
To prove him false that says I love thee not.
DEMETRIUS. I say I love thee more than he can do.
LYSANDER. If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.
DEMETRIUS. Quick, come.
HERMIA. Lysander, whereto tends all this?
LYSANDER. Away, you Ethiope!
DEMETRIUS. No, no, he will
Seem to break loose- take on as you would follow,
But yet come not. You are a tame man; go!
LYSANDER. Hang off, thou cat, thou burr; vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
HERMIA. Why are you grown so rude? What change is this,
Sweet love?
LYSANDER. Thy love! Out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed med'cine! O hated potion, hence!
HERMIA. Do you not jest?
HELENA. Yes, sooth; and so do you.
LYSANDER. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
DEMETRIUS. I would I had your bond; for I perceive
A weak bond holds you; I'll not trust your word.
LYSANDER. What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so.
HERMIA. What! Can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me! wherefore? O me! what news, my love?
Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you lov'd me; yet since night you left me.
Why then, you left me- O, the gods forbid!-
In earnest, shall I say?
LYSANDER. Ay, by my life!
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt;
Be certain, nothing truer; 'tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
HERMIA. O me! you juggler! you cankerblossom!
You thief of love! What! Have you come by night,
And stol'n my love's heart from him?
HELENA. Fine, i' faith!
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What! Will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet you!
HERMIA. 'Puppet!' why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urg'd her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail'd with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak.
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
HELENA. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me. I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice;
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.
HERMIA. 'Lower' hark, again.
HELENA. Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong'd you;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He followed you; for love I followed him;
But he hath chid me hence, and threat'ned me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too;
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no further. Let me go.
You see how simple and how fond I am.
HERMIA. Why, get you gone! Who is't that hinders you?
HELENA. A foolish heart that I leave here behind.
HERMIA. What! with Lysander?
HELENA. With Demetrius.
LYSANDER. Be not afraid; she shall not harm thee, Helena.
DEMETRIUS. No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.
HELENA. O, when she is angry, she is keen and shrewd;
She was a vixen when she went to school;
And, though she be but little, she is fierce.
HERMIA. 'Little' again! Nothing but 'low' and 'little'!
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let me come to her.
LYSANDER. Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hind'ring knot-grass made;
You bead, you acorn.
DEMETRIUS. You are too officious
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone; speak not of Helena;
Take not her part; for if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.
LYSANDER. Now she holds me not.
Now follow, if thou dar'st, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.
DEMETRIUS. Follow! Nay, I'll go with thee, cheek by jowl.
HERMIA. You, mistress, all this coil is long of you.
Nay, go not back.
HELENA. I will not trust you, I;
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though, to run away. Exit
HERMIA. I am amaz'd, and know not what to say. Exit
OBERON. This is thy negligence. Still thou mistak'st,
Or else committ'st thy knaveries wilfully.
PUCK. Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
By the Athenian garments he had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise
That I have 'nointed an Athenian's eyes;
And so far am I glad it so did sort,
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.
OBERON. Thou seest these lovers seek a place to fight.
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog as black as Acheron,
And lead these testy rivals so astray
As one come not within another's way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
Till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.
Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye;
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision;
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend
With league whose date till death shall never end.
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I'll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmed eye release
From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.
PUCK. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast;
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger,
At whose approach ghosts, wand'ring here and there,
Troop home to churchyards. Damned spirits all
That in cross-ways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone,
For fear lest day should look their shames upon;
They wilfully themselves exil'd from light,
And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night.
OBERON. But we are spirits of another sort:
I with the Morning's love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.
But, notwithstanding, haste, make no delay;
We may effect this business yet ere day. Exit OBERON
PUCK. Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down.
I am fear'd in field and town.
Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.


LYSANDER. Where art thou, proud Demetrius? Speak thou now.
PUCK. Here, villain, drawn and ready. Where art thou?
LYSANDER. I will be with thee straight.
PUCK. Follow me, then,
To plainer ground. Exit LYSANDER as following the voice


DEMETRIUS. Lysander, speak again.
Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?
PUCK. Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars,
Telling the bushes that thou look'st for wars,
And wilt not come? Come, recreant, come, thou child;
I'll whip thee with a rod. He is defil'd
That draws a sword on thee.
DEMETRIUS. Yea, art thou there?
PUCK. Follow my voice; we'll try no manhood here. Exeunt


LYSANDER. He goes before me, and still dares me on;
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.
The villain is much lighter heel'd than I.
I followed fast, but faster he did fly,
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,
And here will rest me. [Lies down] Come, thou gentle day.
For if but once thou show me thy grey light,
I'll find Demetrius, and revenge this spite. [Sleeps]


PUCK. Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why com'st thou not?
DEMETRIUS. Abide me, if thou dar'st; for well I wot
Thou run'st before me, shifting every place,
And dar'st not stand, nor look me in the face.
Where art thou now?
PUCK. Come hither; I am here.
DEMETRIUS. Nay, then, thou mock'st me. Thou shalt buy this dear,
If ever I thy face by daylight see;
Now, go thy way. Faintness constraineth me
To measure out my length on this cold bed.
By day's approach look to be visited.
[Lies down and sleeps]


HELENA. O weary night, O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hours! Shine comforts from the east,
That I may back to Athens by daylight,
From these that my poor company detest.
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow's eye,
Steal me awhile from mine own company. [Sleeps]
PUCK. Yet but three? Come one more;
Two of both kinds makes up four.
Here she comes, curst and sad.
Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad.


HERMIA. Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew, and torn with briers,
I can no further crawl, no further go;
My legs can keep no pace with my desires.
Here will I rest me till the break of day.
Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray!
[Lies down and sleeps]
PUCK. On the ground
Sleep sound;
I'll apply
To your eye,
Gentle lover, remedy.
[Squeezing the juice on LYSANDER'S eyes]
When thou wak'st,
Thou tak'st
True delight
In the sight
Of thy former lady's eye;
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown:
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.


The wood. LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA, lying asleep

and other FAIRIES attending;
OBERON behind, unseen

TITANIA. Come, sit thee down upon this flow'ry bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
BOTTOM. Where's Peaseblossom?
BOTTOM. Scratch my head, Peaseblossom.
Where's Mounsieur Cobweb?
COBWEB. Ready.
BOTTOM. Mounsieur Cobweb; good mounsieur, get you your weapons in
your hand and kill me a red-hipp'd humble-bee on the top of a
thistle; and, good mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret
yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and, good mounsieur,
have a care the honey-bag break not; I would be loath to have you
overflown with a honey-bag, signior. Where's Mounsieur
BOTTOM. Give me your neaf, Mounsieur Mustardseed. Pray you, leave
your curtsy, good mounsieur.
MUSTARDSEED. What's your will?
BOTTOM. Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help Cavalery Cobweb to
scratch. I must to the barber's, mounsieur; for methinks I am
marvellous hairy about the face; and I am such a tender ass, if
my hair do but tickle me I must scratch.
TITANIA. What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?
BOTTOM. I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let's have the tongs
and the bones.
TITANIA. Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.
BOTTOM. Truly, a peck of provender; I could munch your good dry
oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle of hay. Good
hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.
TITANIA. I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel's hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.
BOTTOM. I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas. But, I
pray you, let none of your people stir me; I have an exposition
of sleep come upon me.
TITANIA. Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away. Exeunt FAIRIES
So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee! [They sleep]

Enter PUCK

OBERON. [Advancing] Welcome, good Robin. Seest thou this sweet
Her dotage now I do begin to pity;
For, meeting her of late behind the wood,
Seeking sweet favours for this hateful fool,
I did upbraid her and fall out with her.
For she his hairy temples then had rounded
With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers;
And that same dew which sometime on the buds
Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls
Stood now within the pretty flowerets' eyes,
Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.
When I had at my pleasure taunted her,
And she in mild terms begg'd my patience,
I then did ask of her her changeling child;
Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent
To bear him to my bower in fairy land.
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes.
And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp
From off the head of this Athenian swain,
That he awaking when the other do
May all to Athens back again repair,
And think no more of this night's accidents
But as the fierce vexation of a dream.
But first I will release the Fairy Queen.
[Touching her eyes]
Be as thou wast wont to be;
See as thou was wont to see.
Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.
TITANIA. My Oberon! What visions have I seen!
Methought I was enamour'd of an ass.
OBERON. There lies your love.
TITANIA. How came these things to pass?
O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!
OBERON. Silence awhile. Robin, take off this head.
Titania, music call; and strike more dead
Than common sleep of all these five the sense.
TITANIA. Music, ho, music, such as charmeth sleep!
PUCK. Now when thou wak'st with thine own fool's eyes peep.
OBERON. Sound, music. Come, my Queen, take hands with me,
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity.
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, an in jollity.
PUCK. Fairy King, attend and mark;
I do hear the morning lark.
OBERON. Then, my Queen, in silence sad,
Trip we after night's shade.
We the globe can compass soon,
Swifter than the wand'ring moon.
TITANIA. Come, my lord; and in our flight,
Tell me how it came this night
That I sleeping here was found
With these mortals on the ground. Exeunt

To the winding of horns, enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA,
EGEUS, and train

THESEUS. Go, one of you, find out the forester;
For now our observation is perform'd,
And since we have the vaward of the day,
My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go.
Dispatch, I say, and find the forester. Exit an ATTENDANT
We will, fair Queen, up to the mountain's top,
And mark the musical confusion
Of hounds and echo in conjunction.
HIPPOLYTA. I was with Hercules and Cadmus once
When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear
With hounds of Sparta; never did I hear
Such gallant chiding, for, besides the groves,
The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seem'd all one mutual cry. I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.
THESEUS. My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla'd to, nor cheer'd with horn,
In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly.
Judge when you hear. But, soft, what nymphs are these?
EGEUS. My lord, this is my daughter here asleep,
And this Lysander, this Demetrius is,
This Helena, old Nedar's Helena.
I wonder of their being here together.
THESEUS. No doubt they rose up early to observe
The rite of May; and, hearing our intent,
Came here in grace of our solemnity.
But speak, Egeus; is not this the day
That Hermia should give answer of her choice?
EGEUS. It is, my lord.
THESEUS. Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.
[Horns and shout within. The sleepers
awake and kneel to THESEUS]
Good-morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past;
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?
LYSANDER. Pardon, my lord.
THESEUS. I pray you all, stand up.
I know you two are rival enemies;
How comes this gentle concord in the world
That hatred is so far from jealousy
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?
LYSANDER. My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Half sleep, half waking; but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here,
But, as I think- for truly would I speak,
And now I do bethink me, so it is-
I came with Hermia hither. Our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,
Without the peril of the Athenian law-
EGEUS. Enough, enough, my Lord; you have enough;
I beg the law, the law upon his head.
They would have stol'n away, they would, Demetrius,
Thereby to have defeated you and me:
You of your wife, and me of my consent,
Of my consent that she should be your wife.
DEMETRIUS. My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood;
And I in fury hither followed them,
Fair Helena in fancy following me.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power-
But by some power it is- my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow, seems to me now
As the remembrance of an idle gaud
Which in my childhood I did dote upon;
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
Was I betroth'd ere I saw Hermia.
But, like a sickness, did I loathe this food;
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,
Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,
And will for evermore be true to it.
THESEUS. Fair lovers, you are fortunately met;
Of this discourse we more will hear anon.
Egeus, I will overbear your will;
For in the temple, by and by, with us
These couples shall eternally be knit.
And, for the morning now is something worn,
Our purpos'd hunting shall be set aside.
Away with us to Athens, three and three;
We'll hold a feast in great solemnity.
Come, Hippolyta.
DEMETRIUS. These things seem small and undistinguishable,
Like far-off mountains turned into clouds.
HERMIA. Methinks I see these things with parted eye,
When every thing seems double.
HELENA. So methinks;
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,
Mine own, and not mine own.
DEMETRIUS. Are you sure
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
The Duke was here, and bid us follow him?
HERMIA. Yea, and my father.
HELENA. And Hippolyta.
LYSANDER. And he did bid us follow to the temple.
DEMETRIUS. Why, then, we are awake; let's follow him;
And by the way let us recount our dreams. Exeunt
BOTTOM. [Awaking] When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer. My
next is 'Most fair Pyramus.' Heigh-ho! Peter Quince! Flute, the
bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker! Starveling! God's my life,
stol'n hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare vision.
I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.
Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Methought
I was- there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and
methought I had, but man is but a patch'd fool, if he will offer
to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the
ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his
tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I
will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall
be call'd 'Bottom's Dream,' because it hath no bottom; and I will
sing it in the latter end of a play, before the Duke.
Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at
her death. Exit

Athens. QUINCE'S house


QUINCE. Have you sent to Bottom's house? Is he come home yet?
STARVELING. He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt he is transported.
FLUTE. If he come not, then the play is marr'd; it goes not
forward, doth it?
QUINCE. It is not possible. You have not a man in all Athens able
to discharge Pyramus but he.
FLUTE. No; he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in
QUINCE. Yea, and the best person too; and he is a very paramour for
a sweet voice.
FLUTE. You must say 'paragon.' A paramour is- God bless us!- A
thing of naught.

Enter SNUG

SNUG. Masters, the Duke is coming from the temple; and there is two
or three lords and ladies more married. If our sport had gone
forward, we had all been made men.
FLUTE. O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence a day
during his life; he could not have scaped sixpence a day. An the
Duke had not given him sixpence a day for playing Pyramus, I'll
be hanged. He would have deserved it: sixpence a day in Pyramus,
or nothing.


BOTTOM. Where are these lads? Where are these hearts?
QUINCE. Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy hour!
BOTTOM. Masters, I am to discourse wonders; but ask me not what;
for if I tell you, I am not true Athenian. I will tell you
everything, right as it fell out.
QUINCE. Let us hear, sweet Bottom.
BOTTOM. Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that the
Duke hath dined. Get your apparel together; good strings to your
beards, new ribbons to your pumps; meet presently at the palace;
every man look o'er his part; for the short and the long is, our
play is preferr'd. In any case, let Thisby have clean linen; and
let not him that plays the lion pare his nails, for they shall
hang out for the lion's claws. And, most dear actors, eat no
onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not
doubt but to hear them say it is a sweet comedy. No more words.
Away, go, away! Exeunt


Athens. The palace of THESEUS


HIPPOLYTA. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
THESEUS. More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;
That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush suppos'd a bear?
HIPPOLYTA. But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy,
But howsoever strange and admirable.


THESEUS. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.
Joy, gentle friends, joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!
LYSANDER. More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
THESEUS. Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Philostrate.
PHILOSTRATE. Here, mighty Theseus.
THESEUS. Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?
PHILOSTRATE. There is a brief how many sports are ripe;
Make choice of which your Highness will see first.
[Giving a paper]
THESEUS. 'The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.'
We'll none of that: that have I told my love,
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
'The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
That is an old device, and it was play'd
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
'The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceas'd in beggary.'
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisby; very tragical mirth.'
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
How shall we find the concord of this discord?
PHILOSTRATE. A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious; for in all the play
There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
Which when I saw rehears'd, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.
THESEUS. What are they that do play it?
PHILOSTRATE. Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labour'd in their minds till now;
And now have toil'd their unbreathed memories
With this same play against your nuptial.
THESEUS. And we will hear it.
PHILOSTRATE. No, my noble lord,
It is not for you. I have heard it over,
And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain,
To do you service.
THESEUS. I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in; and take your places, ladies.
HIPPOLYTA. I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged,
And duty in his service perishing.
THESEUS. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
HIPPOLYTA. He says they can do nothing in this kind.
THESEUS. The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake;
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most to my capacity.


PHILOSTRATE. SO please your Grace, the Prologue is address'd.
THESEUS. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets]


PROLOGUE. If we offend, it is with our good will.
That you should think, we come not to offend,
But with good will. To show our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider then, we come but in despite.
We do not come, as minding to content you,
Our true intent is. All for your delight
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The actors are at band; and, by their show,
You shall know all, that you are like to know,
THESEUS. This fellow doth not stand upon points.
LYSANDER. He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows not
the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not enough to speak, but
to speak true.
HIPPOLYTA. Indeed he hath play'd on this prologue like a child on a
recorder- a sound, but not in government.
THESEUS. His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing im paired,
but all disordered. Who is next?

Enter, with a trumpet before them, as in dumb show,

PROLOGUE. Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
This beauteous lady Thisby is certain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;
And through Walls chink, poor souls, they are content
To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,
The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
Did scare away, or rather did affright;
And as she fled, her mantle she did fall;
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain;
Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain,
At large discourse while here they do remain.
THESEUS. I wonder if the lion be to speak.
DEMETRIUS. No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
WALL. In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall as I would have you think
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so;
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
THESEUS. Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?
DEMETRIUS. It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
discourse, my lord.


THESEUS. Pyramus draws near the wall; silence.
PYRAMUS. O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!
O night, which ever art when day is not!
O night, O night, alack, alack, alack,
I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot!
And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,
That stand'st between her father's ground and mine;
Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne.
[WALL holds up his fingers]
Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss,
Curs'd he thy stones for thus deceiving me!
THESEUS. The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.
PYRAMUS. No, in truth, sir, he should not. Deceiving me is Thisby's
cue. She is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall.
You shall see it will fall pat as I told you; yonder she comes.


THISBY. O wall, full often hast thou beard my moans,
For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.
PYRAMUS. I see a voice; now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.
THISBY. My love! thou art my love, I think.
PYRAMUS. Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
And like Limander am I trusty still.
THISBY. And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
PYRAMUS. Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
THISBY. As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
PYRAMUS. O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.
THISBY. I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
PYRAMUS. Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?
THISBY. Tide life, tide death, I come without delay.
WALL. Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go. Exit WALL
THESEUS. Now is the moon used between the two neighbours.
DEMETRIUS. No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear
without warning.
HIPPOLYTA. This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.
THESEUS. The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are
no worse, if imagination amend them.
HIPPOLYTA. It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.
THESEUS. If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves,
they may pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a
man and a lion.


LION. You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I as Snug the joiner am
A lion fell, nor else no lion's dam;
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.
THESEUS. A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.
DEMETRIUS. The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.
LYSANDER. This lion is a very fox for his valour.
THESEUS. True; and a goose for his discretion.
DEMETRIUS. Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his
discretion, and the fox carries the goose.
THESEUS. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour; for
the goose carries not the fox. It is well. Leave it to his
discretion, and let us listen to the Moon.
MOONSHINE. This lanthorn doth the horned moon present-
DEMETRIUS. He should have worn the horns on his head.
THESEUS. He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the
MOONSHINE. This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the Man i' th' Moon do seem to be.
THESEUS. This is the greatest error of all the rest; the man should
be put into the lantern. How is it else the man i' th' moon?
DEMETRIUS. He dares not come there for the candle; for, you see, it
is already in snuff.
HIPPOLYTA. I am aweary of this moon. Would he would change!
THESEUS. It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is
in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay
the time.
LYSANDER. Proceed, Moon.
MOON. All that I have to say is to tell you that the lanthorn is
the moon; I, the Man i' th' Moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush;
and this dog, my dog.
DEMETRIUS. Why, all these should be in the lantern; for all these
are in the moon. But silence; here comes Thisby.

Re-enter THISBY

THISBY. This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?
LION. [Roaring] O- [THISBY runs off]
DEMETRIUS. Well roar'd, Lion.
THESEUS. Well run, Thisby.
HIPPOLYTA. Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a good
grace. [The LION tears THISBY'S Mantle, and exit]
THESEUS. Well mous'd, Lion.

Re-enter PYRAMUS

DEMETRIUS. And then came Pyramus.
LYSANDER. And so the lion vanish'd.
PYRAMUS. Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
For, by thy gracious golden, glittering gleams,
I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.
But stay, O spite!
But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it he?
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy mantle good,
What! stain'd with blood?
Approach, ye Furies fell.
O Fates! come, come;
Cut thread and thrum;
Quail, crush, conclude, and quell.
THESEUS. This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go
near to make a man look sad.
HIPPOLYTA. Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
PYRAMUS. O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since lion vile hath here deflower'd my dear;
Which is- no, no- which was the fairest dame
That liv'd, that lov'd, that lik'd, that look'd with cheer.
Come, tears, confound;
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus;
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop. [Stabs himself]
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky.
Tongue, lose thy light;
Moon, take thy flight. [Exit MOONSHINE]
Now die, die, die, die, die. [Dies]
DEMETRIUS. No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.
LYSANDER. Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.
THESEUS. With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover and yet
prove an ass.
HIPPOLYTA. How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisby comes back
and finds her lover?

Re-enter THISBY

THESEUS. She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and her
passion ends the play.
HIPPOLYTA. Methinks she should not use a long one for such a
Pyramus; I hope she will be brief.
DEMETRIUS. A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which
Thisby, is the better- he for a man, God warrant us: She for a
woman, God bless us!
LYSANDER. She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.
DEMETRIUS. And thus she moans, videlicet:-
THISBY. Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise,
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone;
Lovers, make moan;
His eyes were green as leeks.
O Sisters Three,
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk;
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word.
Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast imbrue. [Stabs herself]
And farewell, friends;
Thus Thisby ends;
Adieu, adieu, adieu. [Dies]
THESEUS. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.
DEMETRIUS. Ay, and Wall too.
BOTTOM. [Starting up] No, I assure you; the wall is down that
parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the Epilogue, or
to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company?
THESEUS. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse.
Never excuse; for when the players are all dead there need none
to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus, and
hang'd himself in Thisby's garter, it would have been a fine
tragedy. And so it is, truly; and very notably discharg'd. But
come, your Bergomask; let your epilogue alone. [A dance]
The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd
The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity. Exeunt

Enter PUCK with a broom

PUCK. Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide.
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. Not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter OBERON and TITANIA, with all their train

OBERON. Through the house give glimmering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire;
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing and dance it trippingly.
TITANIA. First, rehearse your song by rote,
To each word a warbling note;
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.

[OBERON leading, the FAIRIES sing and dance]

OBERON. Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day. Exeunt all but PUCK
PUCK. If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumb'red here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends. Exit





by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon.
Don John, his bastard brother.
Claudio, a young lord of Florence.
Benedick, a Young lord of Padua.
Leonato, Governor of Messina.
Antonio, an old man, his brother.
Balthasar, attendant on Don Pedro.
Borachio, follower of Don John.
Conrade, follower of Don John.
Friar Francis.
Dogberry, a Constable.
Verges, a Headborough.
A Sexton.
A Boy.

Hero, daughter to Leonato.
Beatrice, niece to Leonato.
Margaret, waiting gentlewoman attending on Hero.
Ursula, waiting gentlewoman attending on Hero.

Messengers, Watch, Attendants, etc.



ACT I. Scene I.
An orchard before Leonato's house.

Enter Leonato (Governor of Messina), Hero (his Daughter),
and Beatrice (his Niece), with a Messenger.

Leon. I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this
night to Messina.
Mess. He is very near by this. He was not three leagues off when I
left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.
Leon. A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full
numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on
a young Florentine called Claudio.
Mess. Much deserv'd on his part, and equally rememb'red by Don
Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing
in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath indeed
better bett'red expectation than you must expect of me to tell
you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much
joy in him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest
enough without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Mess. In great measure.
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than
those that are so wash'd. How much better is it to weep at joy
than to joy at weeping!
Beat. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto return'd from the wars or no?
Mess. I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the
army of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
Mess. O, he's return'd, and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina and challeng'd Cupid at
the flight, and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge,
subscrib'd for Cupid and challeng'd him at the burbolt. I pray
you, how many hath he kill'd and eaten in these wars? But how
many hath he kill'd? For indeed I promised to eat all of his
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll
be meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it. He is a
very valiant trencherman; he hath an excellent stomach.
Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?
Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuff'd with all honourable
Beat. It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuff'd man; but for
the stuffing--well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry
war betwixt Signior Benedick and her. They never meet but there's
a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that! In our last conflict four of
his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd
with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let
him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for
it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable
creature. Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new
sworn brother.
Mess. Is't possible?
Beat. Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the fashion
of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.
Mess. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beat. No. An he were, I would burn my study. But I pray you, who is
his companion? Is there no young squarer now that will make a
voyage with him to the devil?
Mess. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease! He is sooner
caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God
help the noble Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it will
cost him a thousand pound ere 'a be cured.
Mess. I will hold friends with you, lady.
Beat. Do, good friend.
Leon. You will never run mad, niece.
Beat. No, not till a hot January.
Mess. Don Pedro is approach'd.

Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and John the Bastard.

Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble? The
fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace;
for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart
from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so.
Bene. Were you in doubt, sir, that you ask'd her?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick. We may guess by this what you
are, being a man. Truly the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady;
for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head
on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick.
Nobody marks you.
Bene. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet
food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert
to disdain if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of
all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my
heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.
Beat. A dear happiness to women! They would else have been troubled
with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of
your humour for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow
than a man swear he loves me.
Bene. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman
or other shall scape a predestinate scratch'd face.
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse an 'twere such a face as
yours were.
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Bene. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a
continuer. But keep your way, a God's name! I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick. I know you of old.
Pedro. That is the sum of all, Leonato. Signior Claudio and Signior
Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him
we shall stay here at the least a month, and he heartly prays
some occasion may detain us longer. I dare swear he is no
hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn. [To Don
John] Let me bid you welcome, my lord. Being reconciled to the
Prince your brother, I owe you all duty.
John. I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Leon. Please it your Grace lead on?
Pedro. Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.
Exeunt. Manent Benedick and Claudio.
Claud. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Claud. Is she not a modest young lady?
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple
true judgment? or would you have me speak after my custom, as
being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No. I pray thee speak in sober judgment.
Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise,
too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise.
Only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other
than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as she
is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how
thou lik'st her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?
Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?
Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad
brow? or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a
good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key
shall a man take you to go in the song?
Claud. In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I look'd on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter.
There's her cousin, an she were not possess'd with a fury,exceeds
her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of
December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have
Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but
he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a
bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i' faith! An thou wilt needs
thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it and sigh away

Enter Don Pedro.

Look! Don Pedro is returned to seek you.
Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to
Bene. I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.
Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio. I can be secret as a dumb man, I
would have you think so; but, on my allegiance--mark you this-on
my allegiance! he is in love. With who? Now that is your Grace's
part. Mark how short his answer is: With Hero, Leonato's short
Claud. If this were so, so were it utt'red.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: 'It is not so, nor 'twas not so;
but indeed, God forbid it should be so!'
Claud. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be
Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
Pedro. By my troth, I speak my thought.
Claud. And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
Bene. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Pedro. That she is worthy, I know.
Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she
should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me.
I will die in it at the stake.
Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of
Claud. And never could maintain his part but in the force of his
Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me
up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will have
a rechate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible
baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them
the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust
none; and the fine is (for the which I may go the finer), I will
live a bachelor.
Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with
love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get
again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen
and hang me up at the door of a brothel house for the sign of
blind Cupid.
Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt
prove a notable argument.
Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me; and
he that hits me, let him be clapp'd on the shoulder and call'd
Pedro. Well, as time shall try.
'In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.'
Bene. The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear
it, pluck off the bull's horns and set them in my forehead, and
let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write
'Here is good horse to hire,' let them signify under my sign
'Here you may see Benedick the married man.'
Claud. If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou
wilt quake for this shortly.
Bene. I look for an earthquake too then.
Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the meantime,
good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's, commend me to him and
tell him I will not fail him at supper; for indeed he hath made
great preparation.
Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and
so I commit you--
Claud. To the tuition of God. From my house--if I had it--
Pedro. The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.
Bene. Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is
sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly
basted on neither. Ere you flout old ends any further, examine
your conscience. And so I leave you. Exit.
Claud. My liege, your Highness now may do me good.
Pedro. My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
Claud. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
Pedro. No child but Hero; she's his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
Claud.O my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I look'd upon her with a soldier's eye,
That lik'd, but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying I lik'd her ere I went to wars.
Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Wast not to this end
That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?
Claud. How sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love's grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salv'd it with a longer treatise.
Pedro. What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit. 'Tis once, thou lovest,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night.
I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
Then after to her father will I break,
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently. Exeunt.

Scene II.
A room in Leonato's house.

Enter [at one door] Leonato and [at another door, Antonio] an old man,
brother to Leonato.

Leon. How now, brother? Where is my cousin your son? Hath he
provided this music?
Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange
news that you yet dreamt not of.
Leon. Are they good?
Ant. As the event stamps them; but they have a good cover, they
show well outward. The Prince and Count Claudio, walking in a
thick-pleached alley in mine orchard, were thus much overheard by
a man of mine: the Prince discovered to Claudio that he loved my
niece your daughter and meant to acknowledge it this night in a
dance, and if he found her accordant, he meant to take the
present time by the top and instantly break with you of it.
Leon. Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
Ant. A good sharp fellow. I will send for him, and question him
Leon. No, no. We will hold it as a dream till it appear itself; but
I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better
prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you and
tell her of it. [Exit Antonio.]

[Enter Antonio's Son with a Musician, and others.]

[To the Son] Cousin, you know what you have to do.
--[To the Musician] O, I cry you mercy, friend. Go you with me,
and I will use your skill.--Good cousin, have a care this busy
time. Exeunt.

Scene III.
Another room in Leonato's house.]

Enter Sir John the Bastard and Conrade, his companion.

Con. What the goodyear, my lord! Why are you thus out of measure
John. There is no measure in the occasion that breeds; therefore
the sadness is without limit.
Con. You should hear reason.
John. And when I have heard it, what blessings brings it?
Con. If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.
John. I wonder that thou (being, as thou say'st thou art, born
under Saturn) goest about to apply a moral medicine to a
mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when
I have cause, and smile at no man's jests; eat when I have
stomach, and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am drowsy,
and tend on no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no
man in his humour.
Con. Yea, but you must not make the full show of this till you may
do it without controlment. You have of late stood out against
your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace, where
it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair
weather that you make yourself. It is needful that you frame the
season for your own harvest.
John. I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace,
and it better fits my blood to be disdain'd of all than to
fashion a carriage to rob love from any. In this, though I cannot
be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but
I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and
enfranchis'd with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in
my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I
would do my liking. In the meantime let me be that I am, and seek
not to alter me.
Con. Can you make no use of your discontent?
John. I make all use of it, for I use it only.

Enter Borachio.

Who comes here? What news, Borachio?
Bora. I came yonder from a great supper. The Prince your brother is
royally entertain'd by Leonato, and I can give you intelligence
of an intended marriage.
John. Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
What is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness?
Bora. Marry, it is your brother's right hand.
John. Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
Bora. Even he.
John. A proper squire! And who? and who? which way looks he?
Bora. Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.
John. A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?
Bora. Being entertain'd for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty
room, comes me the Prince and Claudio, hand in hand in sad
conference. I whipt me behind the arras and there heard it agreed
upon that the Prince should woo Hero for himself, and having
obtain'd her, give her to Count Claudio.
John. Come, come, let us thither. This may prove food to my
displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my
overthrow. If I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way.
You are both sure, and will assist me?
Con. To the death, my lord.
John. Let us to the great supper. Their cheer is the greater that
I am subdued. Would the cook were o' my mind! Shall we go prove
what's to be done?
Bora. We'll wait upon your lordship.


ACT II. Scene I.
A hall in Leonato's house.

Enter Leonato, [Antonio] his Brother, Hero his Daughter,
and Beatrice his Niece, and a Kinsman; [also Margaret and Ursula].

Leon. Was not Count John here at supper?
Ant. I saw him not.
Beat. How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am
heart-burn'd an hour after.
Hero. He is of a very melancholy disposition.
Beat. 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 like my lady's eldest son, evermore
Leon. Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's mouth,
and half Count John's melancholy in Signior Benedick's face--
Beat. 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.
Leon. By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband if
thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
Ant. In faith, she's too curst.
Beat. 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.
Leon. So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.
Beat. Just, if he send me no husband; for the which 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!
Leon. You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
Beat. What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel and make
him my waiting gentlewoman? He 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 berrord and lead his apes into hell.
Leon. Well then, go you into hell?
Beat. No; but to the gate, and there will the devil meet me like an
old cuckold with horns on his head, 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 the day is long.
Ant. [to Hero] Well, niece, I trust you will be rul'd by your
Beat. Yes faith. It is my cousin's duty to make cursy and say,
'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all that, cousin, let him
be a handsome fellow, or else make another cursy, and say,
'Father, as it please me.'
Leon. Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
Beat. Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would
it not grieve a woman to be overmaster'd with a piece of valiant
dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
No, uncle, I'll none. Adam's sons are my brethren, and truly I
hold it a sin to match in my kinred.
Leon. Daughter, remember what I told you. If the Prince do solicit
you in that kind, you know your answer.
Beat. The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed
in good time. If the Prince be too important, tell him there is
measure in everything, and so dance out the answer. For, hear me,
Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a
measure, and a cinque-pace: the first suit is hot and hasty like
a Scotch jig--and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly
modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
Repentance and with his bad legs falls into the cinque-pace
faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
Leon. Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
Beat. I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.
Leon. The revellers are ent'ring, brother. Make good room.
[Exit Antonio.]

Enter, [masked,] Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, and Balthasar.
[With them enter Antonio, also masked. After them enter]
Don John [and Borachio (without masks), who stand aside
and look on during the dance].

Pedro. Lady, will you walk a bout with your friend?
Hero. So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.
Pedro. With me in your company?
Hero. I may say so when I please.
Pedro. And when please you to say so?
Hero. When I like your favour, for God defend the lute should be
like the case!
Pedro. My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.
Hero. Why then, your visor should be thatch'd.
Pedro. Speak low if you speak love. [Takes her aside.]
Balth. Well, I would you did like me.
Marg. So would not I for your own sake, for I have many ill
Balth. Which is one?
Marg. I say my prayers aloud.
Balth. I love you the better. The hearers may cry Amen.
Marg. God match me with a good dancer!
Balth. Amen.
Marg. And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is done!
Answer, clerk.
Balth. No more words. The clerk is answered.
[Takes her aside.]
Urs. I know you well enough. You are Signior Antonio.
Ant. At a word, I am not.
Urs. I know you by the waggling of your head.
Ant. To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
Urs. You could never do him so ill-well unless you were the very
man. Here's his dry hand up and down. You are he, you are he!
Ant. At a word, I am not.
Urs. Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your excellent
wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum you are he. Graces will
appear, and there's an end. [ They step aside.]
Beat. Will you not tell me who told you so?
Bene. No, you shall pardon me.
Beat. Nor will you not tell me who you are?
Bene. Not now.
Beat. That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the
'Hundred Merry Tales.' Well, this was Signior Benedick that said
Bene. What's he?
Beat. I am sure you know him well enough.
Bene. Not I, believe me.
Beat. Did he never make you laugh?
Bene. I pray you, what is he?
Beat. Why, he is the Prince's jester, a very dull fool. Only his
gift is in devising impossible slanders. None but libertines
delight in him; and the commendation is not in his wit, but in
his villany; for he both pleases men 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 me.
Bene. When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.
Beat. Do, do. He'll but break a comparison or two on me; which
peradventure, not marked or not laugh'd at, strikes him into
melancholy; and then there's a partridge wing saved, for the fool
will eat no supper that night.
We must follow the leaders.
Bene. In every good thing.
Beat. Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next
Dance. Exeunt (all but Don John, Borachio, and Claudio].
John. Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath withdrawn her
father to break with him about it. The ladies follow her and but
one visor remains.
Bora. And that is Claudio. I know him by his bearing.
John. Are you not Signior Benedick?
Claud. You know me well. I am he.
John. Signior, you are very near my brother in his love. He is
enamour'd on Hero. I pray you dissuade him from her; she is no
equal for his birth. You may do the part of an honest man in it.
Claud. How know you he loves her?
John. I heard him swear his affection.
Bora. So did I too, and he swore he would marry her tonight.
John. Come, let us to the banquet.
Exeunt. Manet Claudio.
Claud. Thus answer I in name of Benedick
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so. The Prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love.
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.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero!

Enter Benedick [unmasked].

Bene. Count Claudio?
Claud. Yea, the same.
Bene. Come, will you go with me?
Claud. Whither?
Bene. Even to the next willow, about your own business, County. What
fashion will you wear the garland of? about your neck, like an
usurer's chain? or under your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You
must wear it one way, for the Prince hath got your Hero.
Claud. I wish him joy of her.
Bene. Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier. So they sell
bullocks. But did you think the Prince would have served you
Claud. I pray you leave me.
Bene. Ho! now you strike like the blind man! 'Twas the boy that
stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.
Claud. If it will not be, I'll leave you. Exit.
Bene. Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges. But,
that my Lady Beatrice should know me, 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 world into her person and so gives me out. Well,
I'll be revenged as I may.

Enter Don Pedro.

Pedro. Now, signior, where's the Count? Did you see him?
Bene. 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 your Grace had got the good will of
this young lady, and I off'red 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 whipt.
Pedro. To be whipt? What's his fault?
Bene. The flat transgression of a schoolboy who, being overjoyed
with finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals
Pedro. Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is
in the stealer.
Bene. 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 stol'n
his bird's nest.
Pedro. I will but teach them to sing and restore them to the owner.
Bene. If their singing answer your saying, by my faith you say
Pedro. The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The gentleman that
danc'd with her told her she is much wrong'd by you.
Bene. O, she misus'd me past the endurance of a 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 at a mark,
with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards, and every
word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her terminations,
there were no living 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 transgress'd. She would have made
Hercules have turn'd spit, yea, and have cleft 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 God some scholar would
conjure her, for certainly, while 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, Leonato, Hero.

Pedro. Look, here she comes.
Bene. 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 toothpicker now from the
furthest inch 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 Pygmies--rather than hold three words'
conference with this harpy. You have no employment for me?
Pedro. None, but to desire your good company.
Bene. O God, sir, here's a dish I love not! I cannot endure my Lady
Tongue. [Exit.]
Pedro. Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior
Beat. Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him use for
it--a double heart for his single one. Marry, once before he won
it of me with false dice; therefore your Grace may well say I
have lost it.
Pedro. You have put him down, lady; you have put him down.
Beat. 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.
Pedro. Why, how now, Count? Wherefore are you sad?
Claud. Not sad, my lord.
Pedro. How then? sick?
Claud. Neither, my lord.
Beat. The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but
civil count--civil as an orange, and something of that jealous
Pedro. I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though I'll
be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I
have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won. I have broke with
her father, and his good will obtained. Name the day of marriage,
and God give thee joy!
Leon. Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes. His
Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it!
Beat. Speak, Count, 'tis your cue.
Claud. 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.
Beat. Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss
and let not him speak neither.
Pedro. In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
Beat. Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy
side of care. My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her
Claud. And so she doth, cousin.
Beat. Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but
I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry 'Heigh-ho for
a husband!'
Pedro. Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
Beat. I would rather have one of your father's getting. Hath your
Grace ne'er a brother like you? Your father got excellent
husbands, if a maid could come by them.
Pedro. Will you have me, lady?
Beat. 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.
Pedro. Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes
you, for out o' question you were born in a merry hour.
Beat. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star
danc'd, and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!
Leon. Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
Beat. I cry you mercy, uncle, By your Grace's pardon. Exit.
Pedro. By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
Leon. There's little of the melancholy element in her, my lord. She
is never sad but when she sleeps, and not ever sad then; for I
have heard my daughter say she hath often dreamt of unhappiness
and wak'd herself with laughing.
Pedro. She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
Leon. O, by no means! She mocks all her wooers out of suit.
Pedro. She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
Leon. O Lord, my lord! if they were but a week married, they would
talk themselves mad.
Pedro. County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?
Claud. To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all
his rites.
Leon. Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just
sevennight; and a time too brief too, to have all things answer
my mind.
Pedro. Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing;
but I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us.
I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labours, which
is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a
mountain of affection th' one with th' other. I would fain have
it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it if you three will
but minister such assistance as I shall give you direction.
Leon. My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights'
Claud. And I, my lord.
Pedro. And you too, gentle Hero?
Hero. I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a
good husband.
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 confirm'd honesty. I will teach you how to humour
your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I,
[to Leonato and Claudio] with your two helps, will so practise on
Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasy
stomach, he shall fall in 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.

Scene II.
A hall in Leonato's house.

Enter [Don] John and Borachio.

John. It is so. The Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of
Bora. Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.
John. Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be med'cinable to me.
I am sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his
affection ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this
Bora. Not honestly, my lord, but so covertly that no dishonesty
shall appear in me.
John. Show me briefly how.
Bora. I think I told your lordship, a year since, how much I am in
the favour of Margaret, the waiting gentlewoman to Hero.
John. I remember.
Bora. I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, appoint her
to look out at her lady's chamber window.
John. What life is in that to be the death of this marriage?
Bora. The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to the
Prince your brother; spare not to tell him that he hath wronged
his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio (whose estimation do
you mightily hold up) to a contaminated stale, such a one as
John. What proof shall I make of that?
Bora. Proof enough to misuse the Prince, to vex Claudio, to undo
Hero, and kill Leonato. Look you for any other issue?
John. Only to despite them I will endeavour anything.
Bora. Go then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the Count
Claudio alone; tell them that you know that Hero loves me; intend
a kind of zeal both to the Prince and Claudio, as--in love of
your brother's honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's
reputation, who is thus like to be cozen'd with the semblance of
a maid--that you have discover'd thus. They will scarcely believe
this without trial. Offer them instances; which shall bear no
less likelihood than to see me at her chamber window, hear me
call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them
to see this the very night before the intended wedding (for in
the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be
absent) and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero's
disloyalty that jealousy shall be call'd assurance and all the
preparation overthrown.
John. Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put it in
practice. Be cunning in the working this, and thy fee is a
thousand ducats.
Bora. Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning shall not
shame me.
John. I will presently go learn their day of marriage.

Scene III.
Leonato's orchard.

Enter Benedick alone.

Bene. Boy!

[Enter Boy.]

Boy. Signior?
Bene. In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it hither to me in
the orchard.
Boy. I am here already, sir.
Bene. I know that, but I would have thee hence and here again.
(Exit Boy.) I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love,
will, after he hath laugh'd at such shallow follies in others,
become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love; and such
a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him
but the drum and the fife; and now had he rather hear the tabor
and the pipe. I have known when he would have walk'd ten mile
afoot to see a good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake
carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to speak plain
and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is
he turn'd orthography; his words are a very fantastical banquet--
just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with
these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not. I will not be sworn but
love may transform me to an oyster; but I'll take my oath on it,
till he have made an oyster of me he shall never make me such a
fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am
well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in
one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall
be, that's certain; wise, or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never
cheapen her; fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not
near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an
excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what colour it
please God. Ha, the Prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me in
the arbour. [Hides.]

Enter Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio.
Music [within].

Pedro. Come, shall we hear this music?
Claud. Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!
Pedro. See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
Claud. O, very well, my lord. The music ended,
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

Enter Balthasar with Music.

Pedro. Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.
Balth. O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.
Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency
To put a strange face on his own perfection.
I pray thee sing, and let me woo no more.
Balth. Because you talk of wooing, I will sing,
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet will he swear he loves.
Pedro. Nay, pray thee come;
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.
Balth. Note this before my notes:
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
Pedro. Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks!
Note notes, forsooth, and nothing! [Music.]
Bene. [aside] Now divine air! Now is his soul ravish'd! Is it not
strange that sheep's guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?
Well, a horn for my money, when all's done.
[Balthasar sings.]
The Song.

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more!
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore;
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,

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