Much Ado
About Nothing

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, his Brother.

BALTHAZAR, Servant to Don Pedro.

BORACHIO, CONRADE, followers of Don John.

DOGBERRY, a Constable.

VERGES, a Headborough.


A Sexton.

A Boy.

HERO, Daughter to Leonato.

BEATRICE, Niece to Leonato.

MARGARET, URSULA, Waiting-gentlewomen attending on Hero.

Messengers, Watch, Attendants, &c.


ACT I, Scene i

Before LEONATO’S house.

Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a Messenger

Leonato.   I learn in this letter that Don Peter of Arragon
comes this night to Messina.

Messenger.   He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off
when I left him. 5

Leonato.   How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Messenger.   But few of any sort, and none of name.

Leonato.   A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings
home full numbers. I find here that Don Peter hath
bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio. 10

Messenger.   Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by
Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the
promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb,
the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better
bettered expectation than you must expect of me to 15
tell you how.

Leonato.   He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much
glad of it.

Messenger.   I have already delivered him letters, and there
appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could 20
not show itself modest enough without a badge of

Leonato.   Did he break out into tears?

Messenger.   In great measure.

Leonato.   A kind overflow of kindness: there are no faces 25
truer than those that are so washed. How much
better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!

Beatrice.   I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
wars or no?

Messenger.   I know none of that name, lady: there was none such 30
in the army of any sort.

Leonato.   What is he that you ask for, niece?

Hero.   My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.

Messenger.   O, he’s returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beatrice.   He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged 35
Cupid at the flight; and my uncle’s fool, reading
the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged
him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he
killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath
he killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his killing. 40

Leonato.   Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much;
but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Messenger.   He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

Beatrice.   You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it:
he is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an 45
excellent stomach.

Messenger.   And a good soldier too, lady.

Beatrice.   And a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord?

Messenger.   A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all
honourable virtues. 50

Beatrice.   It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:
but for the stuffing,-well, we are all mortal.

Leonato.   You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a
kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her:
they never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit 55
between them.

Beatrice.   Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last
conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and
now is the whole man governed with one: so that if
he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him 60
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.

Messenger.   Is’t possible? 65

Beatrice.   Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
next block.

Messenger.   I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beatrice.   No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray 70
you, who is his companion? Is there no young
squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?

Messenger.   He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Beatrice.   O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: he
is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker 75
runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if
he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a
thousand pound ere a’ be cured.

Messenger.   I will hold friends with you, lady.

Beatrice.   Do, good friend. 80

Leonato.   You will never run mad, niece.

Beatrice.   No, not till a hot January.

Messenger.   Don Pedro is approached.


Don Pedro.   Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your 85
trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid
cost, and you encounter it.

Leonato.   Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of
your grace: for trouble being gone, comfort should
remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides 90
and happiness takes his leave.

Don Pedro.   You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.

Leonato.   Her mother hath many times told me so.

Benedick.   Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her? 95

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

Don 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. 100

Benedick.   If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not
have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as
like him as she is.

Beatrice.   I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks you. 105

Benedick.   What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

Beatrice.   Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come
in her presence. 110

Benedick.   Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I
am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I
would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard
heart; for, truly, I love none.

Beatrice.   A dear happiness to women: they would else have 115
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.

Benedick.   God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some 120
gentleman or other shall ’scape a predestinate
scratched face.

Beatrice.   Scratching could not make it worse, an ’twere such
a face as yours were.

Benedick.   Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. 125

Beatrice.   A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Benedick.   I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
so good a continuer. But keep your way, i’ God’s
name; I have done.

Beatrice.   You always end with a jade’s trick: I know you of old. 130

Don 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 heartily prays some
occasion may detain us longer. I dare swear he is no 135
hypocrite, but prays from his heart.

Leonato.   If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.


Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to
the prince your brother, I owe you all duty. 140

Don John.   I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank

Leonato.   Please it your grace lead on?

Don Pedro.   Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.

Exeunt all except BENEDICK and CLAUDIO

Claudio.   Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

Benedick.   I noted her not; but I looked on her.

Claudio.   Is she not a modest young lady?

Benedick.   Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for
my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak 150
after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?

Claudio.   No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

Benedick.   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 155
afford her, that were she other than she is, she
were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I
do not like her.

Claudio.   Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me
truly how thou likest her. 160

Benedick.   Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

Claudio.   Can the world buy such a jewel?

Benedick.   Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this
with a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack,
to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a 165
rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take
you, to go in the song?

Claudio.   In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I
looked on.

Benedick.   I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such 170
matter: there’s her cousin, an she were not
possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty
as the first of May doth the last of December. But I
hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?

Claudio.   I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the 175
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Benedick.   Is’t come to this? In faith, hath not the world
one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion?
Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again?
Go to, i’ faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck 180
into a yoke, wear the print of it and sigh away
Sundays. Look Don Pedro is returned to seek you.

Re-enter DON PEDRO

Don Pedro.   What secret hath held you here, that you followed
not to Leonato’s? 185

Benedick.   I would your grace would constrain me to tell.

Don Pedro.   I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Benedick.   You hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb
man; I would have you think so; but, on my
allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance. He is 190
in love. With who? now that is your grace’s part.
Mark how short his answer is;-With Hero, Leonato’s
short daughter.

Claudio.   If this were so, so were it uttered.

Benedick.   Like the old tale, my lord: ‘it is not so, nor 195
’twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be

Claudio.   If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
should be otherwise.

Don Pedro.   Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy. 200

Claudio.   You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

Don Pedro.   By my troth, I speak my thought.

Claudio.   And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

Benedick.   And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

Claudio.   That I love her, I feel. 205

Don Pedro.   That she is worthy, I know.

Benedick.   That I neither feel how she should be loved nor
know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that
fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake.

Don Pedro.   Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite 210
of beauty.

Claudio.   And never could maintain his part but in the force
of his will.

Benedick.   That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she
brought me up, I likewise give her most humble 215
thanks: but that I will have a recheat 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 220
I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.

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

Benedick.   With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord,
not with love: prove that ever I lose more blood
with love than I will get again with drinking, pick 225
out mine eyes with a ballad-maker’s pen and hang me
up at the door of a brothel-house for the sign of
blind Cupid.

Don Pedro.   Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
wilt prove a notable argument. 230

Benedick.   If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot
at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on
the shoulder, and called Adam.

Don Pedro.   Well, as time shall try: ‘In time the savage bull
doth bear the yoke.’ 235

Benedick.   The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible
Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set
them in my forehead: and let me be vilely painted,
and in such great letters as they write ’Here is
good horse to hire,’ let them signify under my sign 240
’Here you may see Benedick the married man.’

Claudio.   If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

Don Pedro.   Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

Benedick.   I look for an earthquake too, then. 245

Don Pedro.   Well, you 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. 250

Benedick.   I have almost matter enough in me for such an
embassage; and so I commit you-

Claudio.   To the tuition of God: From my house, if I had it,-

Don Pedro.   The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.

Benedick.   Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your 255
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.


Claudio.   My liege, your highness now may do me good.

Don 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.

Claudio.   Hath Leonato any son, my lord? 265

Don Pedro.   No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

Claudio.   O, my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I look’d upon her with a soldier’s eye, 270
That liked, 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, 275
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I liked her ere I went to wars.

Don 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, 280
And I will break with her and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Was’t not to this end
That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?

Claudio.   How sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love’s grief by his complexion! 285
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salved it with a longer treatise.

Don 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, 290
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 295
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 practise let us put it presently. 300


ACT I, Scene ii

A room in LEONATO’s house.

Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting

Leonato.   How now, brother! Where is my cousin, your son?
hath he provided this music?

Antonio.   He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell 305
you strange news that you yet dreamt not of.

Leonato.   Are they good?

Antonio.   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 310
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 315
top and instantly break with you of it.

Leonato.   Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?

Antonio.   A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and
question him yourself.

Leonato.   No, no; we will hold it as a dream till it appear 320
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.

Enter Attendants

Cousins, you know what you have to do. O, I cry you 325
mercy, friend; go you with me, and I will use your
skill. Good cousin, have a care this busy time.


ACT I, Scene iii

The same.


Conrade.   What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out 330
of measure sad?

Don John.   There is no measure in the occasion that breeds;
therefore the sadness is without limit.

Conrade.   You should hear reason.

Don John.   And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it? 335

Conrade.   If not a present remedy, at least a patient

Don John.   I wonder that thou, being, as thou sayest thou art,
born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral
medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide 340
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. 345

Conrade.   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 350
fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful
that you frame the season for your own harvest.

Don John.   I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in
his grace, and it better fits my blood to be
disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob 355
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 enfranchised with a clog; therefore I
have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my 360
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.

Conrade.   Can you make no use of your discontent?

Don John.   I make all use of it, for I use it only. 365
Who comes here?

Enter Borachio

What news, Borachio?

Borachio.   I came yonder from a great supper: the prince your
brother is royally entertained by Leonato: and I 370
can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.

Don John.   Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
What is he for a fool that betroths himself to

Borachio.   Marry, it is your brother’s right hand. 375

Don John.   Who? the most exquisite Claudio?

Borachio.   Even he.

Don John.   A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks

Borachio.   Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato. 380

Don John.   A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?

Borachio.   Being entertained 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 385
prince should woo Hero for himself, and having
obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.

Don 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 390
bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?

Conrade.   To the death, my lord.

Don John.   Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the
greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were of
my mind! Shall we go prove what’s to be done? 395

Borachio.   We’ll wait upon your lordship.


ACT II, Scene i

A hall in LEONATO’S house.


Leonato.   Was not Count John here at supper?

Antonio.   I saw him not. 400

Beatrice.   How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
him but I am heart-burned an hour after.

Hero.   He is of a very melancholy disposition.

Beatrice.   He were an excellent man that were made just in the
midway between him and Benedick: the one is too 405
like an image and says nothing, and the other too
like my lady’s eldest son, evermore tattling.

Leonato.   Then half Signior Benedick’s tongue in Count John’s
mouth, and half Count John’s melancholy in Signior
Benedick’s face,— 410

Beatrice.   With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman
in the world, if a’ could get her good-will.

Leonato.   By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue. 415

Antonio.   In faith, she’s too curst.

Beatrice.   Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God’s
sending that way; for it is said, ‘God sends a curst
cow short horns;’ but to a cow too curst he sends none.

Leonato.   So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns. 420

Beatrice.   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.

Leonato.   You may light on a husband that hath no beard. 425

Beatrice.   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 430
man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take
sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
apes into hell.

Leonato.   Well, then, go you into hell?

Beatrice.   No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet 435
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 440
there live we as merry as the day is long.

Antonio.   To HERO Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled
by your father.

Beatrice.   Yes, faith; it is my cousin’s duty to make curtsy
and say ‘Father, as it please you.’ But yet for all 445
that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else
make another curtsy and say ‘Father, as it please

Leonato.   Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

Beatrice.   Not till God make men of some other metal than 450
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
overmastered with a pierce 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 kindred. 455

Leonato.   Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince
do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.

Beatrice.   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 every thing 460
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 465
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.

Leonato.   Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

Beatrice.   I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight. 470

Leonato.   The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.

All put on their masks


Don Pedro.   Lady, will you walk about with your friend? 475

Hero.   So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.

Don Pedro.   With me in your company?

Hero.   I may say so, when I please.

Don Pedro.   And when please you to say so? 480

Hero.   When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
should be like the case!

Don Pedro.   My visor is Philemon’s roof; within the house is Jove.

Hero.   Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

Don Pedro.   Speak low, if you speak love. 485

Drawing her aside

Balthasar.   Well, I would you did like me.

Margaret.   So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many

Balthasar.   Which is one? 490

Margaret.   I say my prayers aloud.

Balthasar.   I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.

Margaret.   God match me with a good dancer!

Balthasar.   Amen.

Margaret.   And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is 495
done! Answer, clerk.

Balthasar.   No more words: the clerk is answered.

Ursula.   I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.

Antonio.   At a word, I am not.

Ursula.   I know you by the waggling of your head. 500

Antonio.   To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

Ursula.   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.

Antonio.   At a word, I am not. 505

Ursula.   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

Beatrice.   Will you not tell me who told you so? 510

Benedick.   No, you shall pardon me.

Beatrice.   Nor will you not tell me who you are?

Benedick.   Not now.

Beatrice.   That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
out of the ‘Hundred Merry Tales:’—well this was 515
Signior Benedick that said so.

Benedick.   What’s he?

Beatrice.   I am sure you know him well enough.

Benedick.   Not I, believe me.

Beatrice.   Did he never make you laugh? 520

Benedick.   I pray you, what is he?

Beatrice.   Why, he is the prince’s jester: a very dull fool;
only his gift is in devising impossible slanders:
none but libertines delight in him; and the
commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany; 525
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.

Benedick.   When I know the gentleman, I’ll tell him what you say.

Beatrice.   Do, do: he’ll but break a comparison or two on me; 530
which, peradventure not marked or not laughed 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.

Benedick.   In every good thing.

Beatrice.   Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
the next turning.

Dance. Then exeunt all except DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO

Don John.   Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath
withdrawn her father to break with him about it.
The ladies follow her and but one visor remains.

Borachio.   And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.

Don John.   Are not you Signior Benedick? 545

Claudio.   You know me well; I am he.

Don John.   Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:
he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him
from her: she is no equal for his birth: you may
do the part of an honest man in it. 550

Claudio.   How know you he loves her?

Don John.   I heard him swear his affection.

Borachio.   So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

Don John.   Come, let us to the banquet.


Claudio.   Thus answer I in the 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: 560
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, 565
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!


Benedick.   Count Claudio?

Claudio.   Yea, the same.

Benedick.   Come, will you go with me? 570

Claudio.   Whither?

Benedick.   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 575
it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.

Claudio.   I wish him joy of her.

Benedick.   Why, that’s spoken like an honest drovier: so they
sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would
have served you thus? 580

Claudio.   I pray you, leave me.

Benedick.   Ho! now you strike like the blind man: ’twas the
boy that stole your meat, and you’ll beat the post.

Claudio.   If it will not be, I’ll leave you.


Benedick.   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 590
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.

Re-enter DON PEDRO

Don Pedro.   Now, signior, where’s the count? did you see him? 595

Benedick.   Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame.
I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a
warren: I told him, and I think I told him true,
that your grace had got the good will of this young
lady; and I offered him my company to a willow-tree, 600
either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or
to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.

Don Pedro.   To be whipped! What’s his fault?

Benedick.   The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
overjoyed with finding a birds’ nest, shows it his 605
companion, and he steals it.

Don Pedro.   Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
transgression is in the stealer.

Benedick.   Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,
and the garland too; for the garland he might have 610
worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on
you, who, as I take it, have stolen his birds’ nest.

Don Pedro.   I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
the owner.

Benedick.   If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, 615
you say honestly.

Don Pedro.   The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
wronged by you.

Benedick.   O, she misused me past the endurance of a block! 620
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 625
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 630
the north star. I would not marry her, though she
were endowed with all that Adam bad left him before
he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have
turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make
the fire too. Come, talk not of her: you shall find 635
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 640
and perturbation follows her.

Don Pedro.   Look, here she comes.


Benedick.   Will your grace command me any service to the
world’s end? I will go on the slightest errand now 645
to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on;
I will fetch you a tooth-picker 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 Pigmies, 650
rather than hold three words’ conference with this
harpy. You have no employment for me?

Don Pedro.   None, but to desire your good company.

Benedick.   O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not: I cannot
endure my Lady Tongue. 655


Don Pedro.   Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
Signior Benedick.

Beatrice.   Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
him use for it, a double heart for his single one: 660
marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.

Don Pedro.   You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.

Beatrice.   So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I
should prove the mother of fools. I have brought 665
Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

Don Pedro.   Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?

Claudio.   Not sad, my lord.

Don Pedro.   How then? sick?

Claudio.   Neither, my lord. 670

Beatrice.   The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.

Don Pedro.   I’ faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;
though, I’ll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is 675
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!

Leonato.   Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my 680
fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an
grace say Amen to it.

Beatrice.   Speak, count, ’tis your cue.

Claudio.   Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were
but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as 685
you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
you and dote upon the exchange.

Beatrice.   Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.

Don Pedro.   In faith, lady, you have a merry heart. 690

Beatrice.   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 heart.

Claudio.   And so she doth, cousin.

Beatrice.   Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the 695
world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

Don Pedro.   Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

Beatrice.   I would rather have one of your father’s getting.
Hath your grace ne’er a brother like you? Your 700
father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.

Don Pedro.   Will you have me, lady?

Beatrice.   No, my lord, unless I might have another for
working-days: your grace is too costly to wear
every day. But, I beseech your grace, pardon me: I 705
was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

Don Pedro.   Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
a merry hour.

Beatrice.   No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there 710
was a star danced, and under that was I born.
Cousins, God give you joy!

Leonato.   Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?

Beatrice.   I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace’s pardon.


Don Pedro.   By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.

Leonato.   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 dreamed of unhappiness and waked 720
herself with laughing.

Don Pedro.   She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.

Leonato.   O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.

Don Pedro.   She were an excellent wife for Benedict.

Leonato.   O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, 725
they would talk themselves mad.

Don Pedro.   County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

Claudio.   To-morrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love
have all his rites.

Leonato.   Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just 730
seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
things answer my mind.

Don 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 735
Hercules’ labours; which is, to bring Signior
Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of
affection the one with the 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 740
shall give you direction.

Leonato.   My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
nights’ watchings.

Claudio.   And I, my lord.

Don Pedro.   And you too, gentle Hero? 745

Hero.   I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
cousin to a good husband.

Don Pedro.   And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
I know. Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble
strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I 750
will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she
shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your
two helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in
despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he
shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this, 755
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.


ACT II, Scene ii

The same.


Don John.   It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
daughter of Leonato.

Borachio.   Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.

Don John.   Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him, 765
and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?

Borachio.   Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no
dishonesty shall appear in me.

Don John.   Show me briefly how. 770

Borachio.   I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
gentlewoman to Hero.

Don John.   I remember.

Borachio.   I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, 775
appoint her to look out at her lady’s chamber window.

Don John.   What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?

Borachio.   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 780
Claudio—whose estimation do you mightily hold
up—to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.

Don John.   What proof shall I make of that?

Borachio.   Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,
to undo Hero and kill Leonato. Look you for any 785
other issue?

Don John.   Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing.

Borachio.   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 790
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 cozened with the
semblance of a maid,—that you have discovered
thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: 795
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 800
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 called
assurance and all the preparation overthrown.

Don John.   Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put 805
it in practise. Be cunning in the working this, and
thy fee is a thousand ducats.

Borachio.   Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
shall not shame me.

Don John.   I will presently go learn their day of marriage. 810


ACT II, Scene iii

LEONATO’S orchard.


Benedick.   Boy!

Enter Boy

Boy.   Signior? 815

Benedick.   In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither
to me in the orchard.

Boy.   I am here already, sir.

Benedick.   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
behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at
such shallow follies in others, become the argument
of his own scorn by falling in love: and such a man 825
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 tabour and the pipe: I have known
when he would have walked ten mile a-foot to see a
good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake, 830
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 turned orthography; his
words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many
strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with 835
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 840
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 845
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.



Don Pedro.   Come, shall we hear this music?

Claudio.   Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
As hush’d on purpose to grace harmony!

Don Pedro.   See you where Benedick hath hid himself? 855

Claudio.   O, very well, my lord: the music ended,
We’ll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

Enter BALTHASAR with Music

Don Pedro.   Come, Balthasar, we’ll hear that song again.

Balthasar.   O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice 860
To slander music any more than once.

Don 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.

Balthasar.   Because you talk of wooing, I will sing; 865
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy, yet he wooes,
Yet will he swear he loves.

Don Pedro.   Now, pray thee, come;
Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument, 870
Do it in notes.

Balthasar.   Note this before my notes;
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.

Don Pedro.   Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing. 875


Benedick.   Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it
not strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out
of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when
all’s done. 880

The Song

Balthasar.   Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never: 885
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe, 890
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leafy:
Then sigh not so, &c.

Don Pedro.   By my troth, a good song. 895

Balthasar.   And an ill singer, my lord.

Don Pedro.   Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

Benedick.   An he had been a dog that should have howled thus,
they would have hanged him: and I pray God his bad
voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the 900
night-raven, come what plague could have come after

Don Pedro.   Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee,
get us some excellent music; for to-morrow night we
would have it at the Lady Hero’s chamber-window. 905

Balthasar.   The best I can, my lord.

Don Pedro.   Do so: farewell.


Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with 910
Signior Benedick?

Claudio.   O, ay: stalk on. stalk on; the fowl sits. I did
never think that lady would have loved any man.

Leonato.   No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she
should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in 915
all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

Benedick.   Is’t possible? Sits the wind in that corner?

Leonato.   By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought. 920

Don Pedro.   May be she doth but counterfeit.

Claudio.   Faith, like enough.

Leonato.   O God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
passion came so near the life of passion as she
discovers it. 925

Don Pedro.   Why, what effects of passion shows she?

Claudio.   Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.

Leonato.   What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard
my daughter tell you how.

Claudio.   She did, indeed. 930

Don Pedro.   How, how, pray you? You amaze me: I would have I
thought her spirit had been invincible against all
assaults of affection.

Leonato.   I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
against Benedick. 935

Benedick.   I should think this a gull, but that the
white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot,
sure, hide himself in such reverence.

Claudio.   He hath ta’en the infection: hold it up.

Don Pedro.   Hath she made her affection known to Benedick? 940

Leonato.   No; and swears she never will: that’s her torment.

Claudio.   ’Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: ‘Shall
I,’ says she, ‘that have so oft encountered him
with scorn, write to him that I love him?’

Leonato.   This says she now when she is beginning to write to 945
him; for she’ll be up twenty times a night, and
there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a
sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.

Claudio.   Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a
pretty jest your daughter told us of. 950

Leonato.   O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she
found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?

Claudio.   That.

Leonato.   O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
railed at herself, that she should be so immodest 955
to write to one that she knew would flout her; ‘I
measure him,’ says she, ‘by my own spirit; for I
should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I
love him, I should.’

Claudio.   Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, 960
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; ‘O
sweet Benedick! God give me patience!’

Leonato.   She doth indeed; my daughter says so: and the
ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter
is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage 965
to herself: it is very true.

Don Pedro.   It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
other, if she will not discover it.

Claudio.   To what end? He would make but a sport of it and
torment the poor lady worse. 970

Don Pedro.   An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She’s an
excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion,
she is virtuous.

Claudio.   And she is exceeding wise.

Don Pedro.   In every thing but in loving Benedick. 975

Leonato.   O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath
the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just
cause, being her uncle and her guardian.

Don Pedro.   I would she had bestowed this dotage on me: I would 980
have daffed all other respects and made her half
myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear
what a’ will say.

Leonato.   Were it good, think you?

Claudio.   Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she 985
will die, if he love her not, and she will die, ere
she make her love known, and she will die, if he woo
her, rather than she will bate one breath of her
accustomed crossness.

Don Pedro.   She doth well: if she should make tender of her 990
love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it; for the
man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.

Claudio.   He is a very proper man.

Don Pedro.   He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

Claudio.   Before God! and, in my mind, very wise. 995

Don Pedro.   He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

Claudio.   And I take him to be valiant.

Don Pedro.   As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of
quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he
avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes 1000
them with a most Christian-like fear.

Leonato.   If he do fear God, a’ must necessarily keep peace:
if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a
quarrel with fear and trembling.

Don Pedro.   And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, 1005
howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests
he will make. Well I am sorry for your niece. Shall
we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?

Claudio.   Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with
good counsel. 1010

Leonato.   Nay, that’s impossible: she may wear her heart out first.

Don Pedro.   Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter:
let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I
could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see
how much he is unworthy so good a lady. 1015

Leonato.   My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.

Claudio.   If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
trust my expectation.

Don Pedro.   Let there be the same net spread for her; and that
must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The 1020
sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of
another’s dotage, and no such matter: that’s the
scene that I would see, which will be merely a
dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.


Benedick.   Coming forward This can be no trick: the
conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of
this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it
seems her affections have their full bent. Love me!
why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured: 1030
they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive
the love come from her; they say too that she will
rather die than give any sign of affection. I did
never think to marry: I must not seem proud: happy
are they that hear their detractions and can put 1035
them to mending. They say the lady is fair; ’tis a
truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous; ’tis
so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving
me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor
no great argument of her folly, for I will be 1040
horribly in love with her. I may chance have some
odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me,
because I have railed so long against marriage: but
doth not the appetite alter? a man loves the meat
in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. 1045
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled. When I said I would
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day! 1050
she’s a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in


Beatrice.   Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

Benedick.   Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains. 1055

Beatrice.   I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would
not have come.

Benedick.   You take pleasure then in the message?

Beatrice.   Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s 1060
point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach,
signior: fare you well.


Benedick.   Ha! ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
to dinner;’ there’s a double meaning in that. ‘I took 1065
no more pains for those thanks than you took pains
to thank me.’ That’s as much as to say, Any pains
that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do
not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not
love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture. 1070


ACT III, Scene i

LEONATO’S garden.


Hero.   Good Margaret, run thee to the parlor;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio: 1075
Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say that thou overheard’st us;
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripen’d by the sun, 1080
Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it: there will she hide her,
To listen our purpose. This is thy office;
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone. 1085

Margaret.   I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.


Hero.   Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick. 1090
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit:
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made, 1095
That only wounds by hearsay.

Enter BEATRICE, behind
Now begin;
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference. 1100

Ursula.   The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture. 1105
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.

Hero.   Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.

Approaching the bower

No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful; 1110
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggerds of the rock.

Ursula.   But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

Hero.   So says the prince and my new-trothed lord. 1115

Ursula.   And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?

Hero.   They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it. 1120

Ursula.   Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

Hero.   O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man: 1125
But Nature never framed a woman’s heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly that to her 1130
All matter else seems weak: she cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.

Ursula.   Sure, I think so;
And therefore certainly it were not good 1135
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.

Hero.   Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
But she would spell him backward: if fair-faced,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister; 1140
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none. 1145
So turns she every man the wrong side out
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

Ursula.   Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

Hero.   No, not to be so odd and from all fashions 1150
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable:
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover’d fire, 1155
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.

Ursula.   Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.

Hero.   No; rather I will go to Benedick 1160
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I’ll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with: one doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.

Ursula.   O, do not do your cousin such a wrong. 1165
She cannot be so much without true judgment—
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is prized to have—as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.

Hero.   He is the only man of Italy. 1170
Always excepted my dear Claudio.

Ursula.   I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy. 1175

Hero.   Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.

Ursula.   His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?

Hero.   Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
I’ll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel 1180
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.

Ursula.   She’s limed, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.

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

Exeunt HERO and URSULA

Beatrice.   Coming forward
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. 1190
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 1195
Believe it better than reportingly.


ACT III, Scene ii

A room in LEONATO’S house.


Don Pedro.   I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and
then go I toward Arragon. 1200

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

Don 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 1205
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
bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at
him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his 1210
tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his
tongue speaks.

Benedick.   Gallants, I am not as I have been.

Leonato.   So say I. methinks you are sadder.

Claudio.   I hope he be in love. 1215

Don Pedro.   Hang him, truant! there’s no true drop of blood in
him, to be truly touched with love: if he be sad,
he wants money.

Benedick.   I have the toothache.

Don Pedro.   Draw it. 1220

Benedick.   Hang it!

Claudio.   You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.

Don Pedro.   What! sigh for the toothache?

Leonato.   Where is but a humour or a worm.

Benedick.   Well, every one can master a grief but he that has 1225

Claudio.   Yet say I, he is in love.

Don 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 today, a Frenchman to-morrow, or in the 1230
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. 1235

Claudio.   If he be not in love with some woman, there is no
believing old signs: a’ brushes his hat o’
mornings; what should that bode?

Don Pedro.   Hath any man seen him at the barber’s?

Claudio.   No, but the barber’s man hath been seen with him, 1240
and the old ornament of his cheek hath already
stuffed tennis-balls.

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

Don Pedro.   Nay, a’ rubs himself with civet: can you smell him
out by that? 1245

Claudio.   That’s as much as to say, the sweet youth’s in love.

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

Claudio.   And when was he wont to wash his face?

Don Pedro.   Yea, or to paint himself? for the which, I hear
what they say of him. 1250

Claudio.   Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into
a lute-string and now governed by stops.

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

Claudio.   Nay, but I know who loves him. 1255

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

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

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

Benedick.   Yet is this no charm for the toothache. Old 1260
signior, walk aside with me: I have studied eight
or nine wise words to speak to you, which these
hobby-horses must not hear.


Don Pedro.   For my life, to break with him about Beatrice. 1265

Claudio.   ’Tis 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.


Don John.   My lord and brother, God save you! 1270

Don Pedro.   Good den, brother.

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

Don Pedro.   In private?

Don John.   If it please you: yet Count Claudio may hear; for
what I would speak of concerns him. 1275

Don Pedro.   What’s the matter?

Don John.   To CLAUDIO Means your lordship to be married

Don Pedro.   You know he does.

Don John.   I know not that, when he knows what I know. 1280

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

Don 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 1285
your ensuing marriage;—surely suit ill spent and
labour ill bestowed.

Don Pedro.   Why, what’s the matter?

Don John.   I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances
shortened, for she has been too long a talking of, 1290
the lady is disloyal.

Claudio.   Who, Hero?

Don Pedro.   Even she; Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero:

Claudio.   Disloyal?

Don John.   The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I 1295
could say she were worse: think you of a worse
title, and I will fit her to it. 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, 1300
to-morrow wed her; but it would better fit your honour
to change your mind.

Claudio.   May this be so?

Don Pedro.   I will not think it.

Don John.   If you dare not trust that you see, confess not 1305
that you know: if you will follow me, I will show
you enough; and when you have seen more and heard
more, proceed accordingly.

Claudio.   If I see any thing to-night why I should not marry
her to-morrow in the congregation, where I should 1310
wed, there will I shame her.

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

Don John.   I will disparage her no farther till you are my
witnesses: bear it coldly but till midnight, and 1315
let the issue show itself.

Don Pedro.   O day untowardly turned!

Claudio.   O mischief strangely thwarting!

Don John.   O plague right well prevented! so will you say when
you have seen the sequel. 1320


ACT III, Scene iii

A street.

Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch

Dogberry.   Are you good men and true?

Verges.   Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
salvation, body and soul. 1325

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

Verges.   Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

Dogberry.   First, who think you the most desertless man to be 1330

First Watchman.   Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can
write and read.

Dogberry.   Come hither, neighbour Seacole. God hath blessed
you with a good name: to be a well-favoured man is 1335
the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.

Second Watchman.   Both which, master constable,—

Dogberry.   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, 1340
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 1345
to bid any man stand, in the prince’s name.

Second Watchman.   How if a’ will not stand?

Dogberry.   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. 1350

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

Dogberry.   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 to 1355
talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.

Watchman.   We will rather sleep than talk: we know what
belongs to a watch.

Dogberry.   Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet
watchman; for I cannot see how sleeping should 1360
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.

Watchman.   How if they will not?

Dogberry.   Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if 1365
they make you not then the better answer, you may
say they are not the men you took them for.

Watchman.   Well, sir.

Dogberry.   If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue
of your office, to be no true man; and, for such 1370
kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them,
why the more is for your honesty.

Watchman.   If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay
hands on him?

Dogberry.   Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they 1375
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.

Verges.   You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

Dogberry.   Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more 1380
a man who hath any honesty in him.

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

Watchman.   How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

Dogberry.   Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake 1385
her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her
lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.

Verges.   ’Tis very true.

Dogberry.   This is the end of the charge:—you, constable, are
to present the prince’s own person: if you meet the 1390
prince in the night, you may stay him.

Verges.   Nay, by’r our lady, that I think a’ cannot.

Dogberry.   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 1395
to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a
man against his will.

Verges.   By’r lady, I think it be so.

Dogberry.   Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be
any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your 1400
fellows’ counsels and your own; and good night.
Come, neighbour.

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

Dogberry.   One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you watch 1405
about Signior Leonato’s door; for the wedding being
there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night.
Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.



Borachio.   What Conrade!

Watchman.   Aside Peace! stir not.

Borachio.   Conrade, I say!

Conrade.   Here, man; I am at thy elbow.

Borachio.   Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a 1415
scab follow.

Conrade.   I will owe thee an answer for that: and now forward
with thy tale.

Borachio.   Stand thee close, then, under this pent-house, for
it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, 1420
utter all to thee.

Watchman.   Aside Some treason, masters: yet stand close.

Borachio.   Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.

Conrade.   Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?

Borachio.   Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any 1425
villany should be so rich; for when rich villains
have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what
price they will.

Conrade.   I wonder at it.

Borachio.   That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that 1430
the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is
nothing to a man.

Conrade.   Yes, it is apparel.

Borachio.   I mean, the fashion.

Conrade.   Yes, the fashion is the fashion. 1435

Borachio.   Tush! I may as well say the fool’s the fool. But
seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion

Watchman.   Aside I know that Deformed; a’ has been a vile
thief this seven year; a’ goes up and down like a 1440
gentleman: I remember his name.

Borachio.   Didst thou not hear somebody?

Conrade.   No; ’twas the vane on the house.

Borachio.   Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this
fashion is? how giddily a’ turns about all the hot 1445
bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty?
sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh’s soldiers
in the reeky painting, sometime like god Bel’s
priests in the old church-window, sometime like the
shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry, 1450
where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?

Conrade.   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? 1455

Borachio.   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 1460
tell thee how 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.

Conrade.   And thought they Margaret was Hero?

Borachio.   Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the 1465
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 1470
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.

First Watchman.   We charge you, in the prince’s name, stand! 1475

Second Watchman.   Call up the right master constable. We have here
recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that
ever was known in the commonwealth.

First Watchman.   And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a’
wears a lock. 1480

Conrade.   Masters, masters,—

Second Watchman.   You’ll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.

Conrade.   Masters,—

First Watchman.   Never speak: we charge you let us obey you to go with us.

Borachio.   We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken 1485
up of these men’s bills.

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


ACT III, Scene iv

HERO’s apartment.


Hero.   Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire 1490
her to rise.

Ursula.   I will, lady.

Hero.   And bid her come hither.

Ursula.   Well.


Margaret.   Troth, I think your other rabato were better.

Hero.   No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.

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

Hero.   My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another: I’ll wear 1500
none but this.

Margaret.   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. 1505

Hero.   O, that exceeds, they say.

Margaret.   By my troth, ’s but a night-gown in respect of
yours: cloth o’ gold, and cuts, and laced with
silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves,
and skirts, round underborne with a bluish tinsel: 1510
but for a fine, quaint, graceful and excellent
fashion, yours is worth ten on ’t.

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

Margaret.   ’Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man. 1515

Hero.   Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?

Margaret.   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:’ and bad 1520
thinking do not wrest true speaking, I’ll offend
nobody: is there any harm in ‘the heavier for a
husband’? None, I think, and it be the right husband
and the right wife; otherwise ’tis light, and not
heavy: ask my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes. 1525


Hero.   Good morrow, coz.

Beatrice.   Good morrow, sweet Hero.

Hero.   Why how now? do you speak in the sick tune?

Beatrice.   I am out of all other tune, methinks. 1530

Margaret.   Clap’s into ‘Light o’ love;’ that goes without a
burden: do you sing it, and I’ll dance it.

Beatrice.   Ye light o’ love, with your heels! then, if your
husband have stables enough, you’ll see he shall
lack no barns. 1535

Margaret.   O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.

Beatrice.   ’Tis almost five o’clock, cousin; tis time you were
ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill: heigh-ho!

Margaret.   For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?

Beatrice.   For the letter that begins them all, H. 1540

Margaret.   Well, and you be not turned Turk, there’s no more
sailing by the star.

Beatrice.   What means the fool, trow?

Margaret.   Nothing I; but God send every one their heart’s desire!

Hero.   These gloves the count sent me; they are an 1545
excellent perfume.

Beatrice.   I am stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.

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

Beatrice.   O, God help me! God help me! how long have you
professed apprehension? 1550

Margaret.   Even since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?

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

Margaret.   Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus,
and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm. 1555

Hero.   There thou prickest her with a thistle.

Beatrice.   Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in
this Benedictus.

Margaret.   Moral! no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I
meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think perchance 1560
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 1565
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 1570
your eyes as other women do.

Beatrice.   What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?

Margaret.   Not a false gallop.

Re-enter URSULA

Ursula.   Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior 1575
Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the
town, are come to fetch you to church.

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


ACT III, Scene v

Another room in LEONATO’S house.


Leonato.   What would you with me, honest neighbour?

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

Leonato.   Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with me.

Dogberry.   Marry, this it is, sir. 1585

Verges.   Yes, in truth it is, sir.

Leonato.   What is it, my good friends?

Dogberry.   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, 1590
in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.

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

Dogberry.   Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.

Leonato.   Neighbours, you are tedious. 1595

Dogberry.   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 it in
my heart to bestow it all of your worship.

Leonato.   All thy tediousness on me, ah? 1600

Dogberry.   Yea, an ’twere a thousand pound more than ’tis; 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.

Verges.   And so am I. 1605

Leonato.   I would fain know what you have to say.

Verges.   Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your
worship’s presence, ha’ ta’en a couple of as arrant
knaves as any in Messina.

Dogberry.   A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they 1610
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 1615
broke bread; but God is to be worshipped; all men
are not alike; alas, good neighbour!

Leonato.   Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.

Dogberry.   Gifts that God gives.

Leonato.   I must leave you. 1620

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

Leonato.   Take their examination yourself and bring it me: I
am now in great haste, as it may appear unto you. 1625

Dogberry.   It shall be suffigance.

Leonato.   Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.

Enter a Messenger

Messenger.   My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to
her husband. 1630

Leonato.   I’ll wait upon them: I am ready.

Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger

Dogberry.   Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis Seacole;
bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we
are now to examination these men. 1635

Verges.   And we must do it wisely.

Dogberry.   We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here’s
that 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. 1640


ACT IV, Scene i

A church.


Leonato.   Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain
form of marriage, and you shall recount their 1645
particular duties afterwards.

Friar Francis.   You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady.

Claudio.   No.

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

Friar Francis.   Lady, you come hither to be married to this count. 1650

Hero.   I do.

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

Claudio.   Know you any, Hero? 1655

Hero.   None, my lord.

Friar Francis.   Know you any, count?

Leonato.   I dare make his answer, none.

Claudio.   O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily
do, not knowing what they do! 1660

Benedick.   How now! interjections? Why, then, some be of
laughing, as, ah, ha, he!

Claudio.   Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave:
Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter? 1665

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

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

Don Pedro.   Nothing, unless you render her again.

Claudio.   Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness. 1670
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 1675
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: 1680
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

Leonato.   What do you mean, my lord?

Claudio.   Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton. 1685

Leonato.   Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish’d the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity,—

Claudio.   I know what you would say: if I have known her,
You will say she did embrace me as a husband, 1690
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. 1695

Hero.   And seem’d I ever otherwise to you?

Claudio.   Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
But you are more intemperate in your blood 1700
Than Venus, or those pamper’d animals
That rage in savage sensuality.

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

Leonato.   Sweet prince, why speak not you?

Don Pedro.   What should I speak? 1705
I stand dishonour’d, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.

Leonato.   Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?

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

Benedick.   This looks not like a nuptial. 1710

Hero.   True! O God!

Claudio.   Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the prince? is this the prince’s brother?
Is this face Hero’s? are our eyes our own?

Leonato.   All this is so: but what of this, my lord? 1715

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

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

Hero.   O, God defend me! how am I beset! 1720
What kind of catechising call you this?

Claudio.   To make you answer truly to your name.

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

Claudio.   Marry, that can Hero; 1725
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.

Hero.   I talk’d with no man at that hour, my lord. 1730

Don Pedro.   Why, then are you no maiden. Leonato,
I am sorry you must hear: upon mine honour,
Myself, my brother and this grieved count
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window 1735
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess’d the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.

Don John.   Fie, fie! they are not to be named, my lord,
Not to be spoke of; 1740
There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

Claudio.   O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been placed 1745
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, 1750
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.

Leonato.   Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?

HERO swoons

Beatrice.   Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down? 1755

Don John.   Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.


Benedick.   How doth the lady?

Beatrice.   Dead, I think. Help, uncle! 1760
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!

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

Beatrice.   How now, cousin Hero! 1765

Friar Francis.   Have comfort, lady.

Leonato.   Dost thou look up?

Friar Francis.   Yea, wherefore should she not?

Leonato.   Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny 1770
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, 1775
Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature’s frame?
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand 1780
Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
Who smirch’d thus and mired with infamy,
I might have said ‘No part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins’?
But mine and mine I loved and mine I praised 1785
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 1790
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh!

Benedick.   Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
I know not what to say. 1795

Beatrice.   O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!

Benedick.   Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

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

Leonato.   Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made 1800
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash’d it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.

Friar Francis.   Hear me a little; for I have only been 1805
Silent so long and given way unto
This course of fortune
By noting of the lady I have mark’d
A thousand blushing apparitions
To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames 1810
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, 1815
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error. 1820

Leonato.   Friar, it cannot be.
Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
Is that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury; she not denies it:
Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse 1825
That which appears in proper nakedness?

Friar Francis.   Lady, what man is he you are accused of?

Hero.   They know that do accuse me; I know none:
If I know more of any man alive
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, 1830
Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father,
Prove you that any man with me conversed
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death! 1835

Friar Francis.   There is some strange misprision in the princes.

Benedick.   Two of them have the very bent of honour;
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practise of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies. 1840

Leonato.   I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention, 1845
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
Ability in means and choice of friends, 1850
To quit me of them throughly.

Friar Francis.   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, 1855
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. 1860

Leonato.   What shall become of this? what will this do?

Friar Francis.   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. 1865
She dying, as it must so be maintain’d,
Upon the instant that she was accused,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excused
Of every hearer: for it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth 1870
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, 1875
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, 1880
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she lived indeed; then shall he mourn,
If ever love had interest in his liver,
And wish he had not so accused her,
No, though he thought his accusation true. 1885
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 1890
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. 1895

Benedick.   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 1900
Should with your body.

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

Friar Francis.   ’Tis well consented: presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure. 1905
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding-day
Perhaps is but prolong’d: have patience and endure.

Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE

Benedick.   Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

Beatrice.   Yea, and I will weep a while longer. 1910

Benedick.   I will not desire that.

Beatrice.   You have no reason; I do it freely.

Benedick.   Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

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

Benedick.   Is there any way to show such friendship? 1915

Beatrice.   A very even way, but no such friend.

Benedick.   May a man do it?

Beatrice.   It is a man’s office, but not yours.

Benedick.   I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is
not that strange? 1920

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

Benedick.   By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me. 1925

Beatrice.   Do not swear, and eat it.

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

Beatrice.   Will you not eat your word?

Benedick.   With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest 1930
I love thee.

Beatrice.   Why, then, God forgive me!

Benedick.   What offence, sweet Beatrice?

Beatrice.   You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
protest I loved you. 1935

Benedick.   And do it with all thy heart.

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

Benedick.   Come, bid me do any thing for thee.

Beatrice.   Kill Claudio. 1940

Benedick.   Ha! not for the wide world.

Beatrice.   You kill me to deny it. Farewell.

Benedick.   Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

Beatrice.   I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
you: nay, I pray you, let me go. 1945

Benedick.   Beatrice,—

Beatrice.   In faith, I will go.

Benedick.   We’ll be friends first.

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

Benedick.   Is Claudio thine enemy? 1950

Beatrice.   Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands; and then, with public
accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour, 1955
—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
in the market-place.

Benedick.   Hear me, Beatrice,—

Beatrice.   Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!

Benedick.   Nay, but, Beatrice,— 1960

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

Benedick.   Beat—

Beatrice.   Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I 1965
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 1970
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.

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

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

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

Beatrice.   Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul. 1975

Benedick.   Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him. I will
kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,
Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you
hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your
cousin: I must say she is dead: and so, farewell. 1980


ACT IV, Scene ii

A prison.

Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and pthe Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO

Dogberry.   Is our whole dissembly appeared?

Verges.   O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton. 1985

Sexton.   Which be the malefactors?

Dogberry.   Marry, that am I and my partner.

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

Sexton.   But which are the offenders that are to be
examined? let them come before master constable. 1990

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

Borachio.   Borachio.

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

Conrade.   I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade. 1995

Dogberry.   Write down, master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do
you serve God?

Conrade.   with Borachio Yea, sir, we hope.

Dogberry.   Write down, that they hope they serve God: and
write God first; for God defend but God should go 2000
before such villains! Masters, it is proved already
that you are little better than false knaves; and it
will go near to be thought so shortly. How answer
you for yourselves?

Conrade.   Marry, sir, we say we are none. 2005

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

Borachio.   Sir, I say to you we are none. 2010

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

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

Dogberry.   Yea, marry, that’s the eftest way. Let the watch 2015
come forth. Masters, I charge you, in the prince’s
name, accuse these men.

First Watchman.   This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince’s
brother, was a villain.

Dogberry.   Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat 2020
perjury, to call a prince’s brother villain.

Borachio.   Master constable,—

Dogberry.   Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look,
I promise thee.

Sexton.   What heard you him say else? 2025

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

Dogberry.   Flat burglary as ever was committed.

Verges.   Yea, by mass, that it is.

Sexton.   What else, fellow? 2030

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

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

Sexton.   What else? 2035

Watchman.   This is all.

Sexton.   And this is more, masters, than you can deny.
Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away;
Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner
refused, and upon the grief of this suddenly died. 2040
Master constable, let these men be bound, and
brought to Leonato’s: I will go before and show
him their examination.


Dogberry.   Come, let them be opinioned. 2045

Verges.   Let them be in the hands—

Conrade.   Off, coxcomb!

Dogberry.   God’s my life, where’s the sexton? let him write
down the prince’s officer coxcomb. Come, bind them.
Thou naughty varlet! 2050

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

Dogberry.   Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not
suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not 2055
that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of
piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness.
I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer,
and, which is more, a householder, and, which is
more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in 2060
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 every
thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
I had been writ down an ass! 2065


ACT V, Scene i

Before LEONATO’S house.


Antonio.   If you go on thus, you will kill yourself:
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
Against yourself. 2070

Leonato.   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. 2075
Bring me a father that so loved his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm’d like mine,
And bid him speak of patience;
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine
And let it answer every strain for strain, 2080
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,
Bid sorrow wag, cry ’hem!’ when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk 2085
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, 2090
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air and agony with words:
No, no; ’tis all men’s office to speak patience 2095
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. 2100

Antonio.   Therein do men from children nothing differ.

Leonato.   I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood;
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods 2105
And made a push at chance and sufferance.

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

Leonato.   There thou speak’st reason: nay, I will do so.
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied; 2110
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince
And all of them that thus dishonour her.

Antonio.   Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.


Don Pedro.   Good den, good den. 2115

Claudio.   Good day to both of you.

Leonato.   Hear you. my lords,—

Don Pedro.   We have some haste, Leonato.

Leonato.   Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord:
Are you so hasty now? well, all is one. 2120

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

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

Claudio.   Who wrongs him?

Leonato.   Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou:— 2125
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
I fear thee not.

Claudio.   Marry, beshrew my hand,
If it should give your age such cause of fear:
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword. 2130

Leonato.   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, 2135
Thou hast so wrong’d mine innocent child and me
That I am forced 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; 2140
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, framed by thy villany!

Claudio.   My villany? 2145

Leonato.   Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.

Don Pedro.   You say not right, old man.

Leonato.   My lord, my lord,
I’ll prove it on his body, if he dare,
Despite his nice fence and his active practise, 2150
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.

Claudio.   Away! I will not have to do with you.

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

Antonio.   He shall kill two of us, and men indeed: 2155
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. 2160

Leonato.   Brother,—

Antonio.   Content yourself. God knows I loved 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: 2165
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!

Leonato.   Brother Antony,—

Antonio.   Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,—
Scrambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys, 2170
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. 2175

Leonato.   But, brother Antony,—

Antonio.   Come, ’tis no matter:
Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.

Don Pedro.   Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter’s death: 2180
But, on my honour, she was charged with nothing
But what was true and very full of proof.

Leonato.   My lord, my lord,—

Don Pedro.   I will not hear you.

Leonato.   No? Come, brother; away! I will be heard. 2185

Antonio.   And shall, or some of us will smart for it.


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


Claudio.   Now, signior, what news? 2190

Benedick.   Good day, my lord.

Don Pedro.   Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part
almost a fray.

Claudio.   We had like to have had our two noses snapped off
with two old men without teeth. 2195

Don Pedro.   Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had
we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.

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

Claudio.   We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are 2200
high-proof melancholy and would fain have it beaten
away. Wilt thou use thy wit?

Benedick.   It is in my scabbard: shall I draw it?

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

Claudio.   Never any did so, though very many have been beside 2205
their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the
minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.

Don Pedro.   As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
sick, or angry?

Claudio.   What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat, 2210
thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.

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

Claudio.   Nay, then, give him another staff: this last was
broke cross. 2215

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

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

Benedick.   Shall I speak a word in your ear?

Claudio.   God bless me from a challenge! 2220

Benedick.   Aside to CLAUDIO 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 2225
hear from you.

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

Don Pedro.   What, a feast, a feast?

Claudio.   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 2230
curiously, say my knife’s naught. Shall I not find
a woodcock too?

Benedick.   Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.

Don Pedro.   I’ll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the
other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit: ‘True,’ 2235
said 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.’ 2240
’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 2245
virtues: yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou
wast the properest man in Italy.

Claudio.   For the which she wept heartily and said she cared

Don Pedro.   Yea, that she did: but yet, for all that, an if she 2250
did not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly:
the old man’s daughter told us all.

Claudio.   All, all; and, moreover, God saw him when he was
hid in the garden.

Don Pedro.   But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns on 2255
the sensible Benedick’s head?

Claudio.   Yea, and text underneath, ‘Here dwells Benedick the
married man’?

Benedick.   Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave
you now to your gossip-like humour: you break jests 2260
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 2265
Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet: and, till
then, peace be with him.


Don Pedro.   He is in earnest.

Claudio.   In most profound earnest; and, I’ll warrant you, for 2270
the love of Beatrice.

Don Pedro.   And hath challenged thee.

Claudio.   Most sincerely.

Don Pedro.   What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
doublet and hose and leaves off his wit! 2275

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

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

Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO

Dogberry.   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.

Don Pedro.   How now? two of my brother’s men bound! Borachio
one! 2285

Claudio.   Hearken after their offence, my lord.

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

Dogberry.   Marry, sir, they have committed false report;
moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily,
they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have 2290
belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust
things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.

Don 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 2295
to their charge.

Claudio.   Rightly reasoned, and in his own division: and, by
my troth, there’s one meaning well suited.

Don Pedro.   Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus
bound to your answer? this learned constable is 2300
too cunning to be understood: what’s your offence?

Borachio.   Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine answer:
do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have
deceived even your very eyes: what your wisdoms
could not discover, these shallow fools have brought 2305
to light: who in the night overheard me confessing
to this man how Don John your brother incensed me
to slander the Lady Hero, how you were brought into
the orchard and saw me court Margaret in Hero’s
garments, how you disgraced her, when you should 2310
marry her: my villany they have upon record; which
I had rather seal with my death than repeat over
to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my
master’s false accusation; and, briefly, I desire
nothing but the reward of a villain. 2315

Don Pedro.   Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?

Claudio.   I have drunk poison whiles he utter’d it.

Don Pedro.   But did my brother set thee on to this?

Borachio.   Yea, and paid me richly for the practise of it.

Don Pedro.   He is composed and framed of treachery: 2320
And fled he is upon this villany.

Claudio.   Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I loved it first.

Dogberry.   Come, bring away the plaintiffs: by this time our
sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter: 2325
and, masters, do not forget to specify, when time
and place shall serve, that I am an ass.

Verges.   Here, here comes master Signior Leonato, and the
Sexton too.

Re-enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, with the Sexton

Leonato.   Which is the villain? let me see his eyes,
That, when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him: which of these is he?

Borachio.   If you would know your wronger, look on me.

Leonato.   Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill’d 2335
Mine innocent child?

Borachio.   Yea, even I alone.

Leonato.   No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself:
Here stand a pair of honourable men;
A third is fled, that had a hand in it. 2340
I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death:
Record it with your high and worthy deeds:
’Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.

Claudio.   I know not how to pray your patience;
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself; 2345
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn’d I not
But in mistaking.

Don Pedro.   By my soul, nor I:
And yet, to satisfy this good old man, 2350
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he’ll enjoin me to.

Leonato.   I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
That were impossible: but, I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here 2355
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour ought in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb
And sing it to her bones, sing it to-night:
To-morrow morning come you to my house, 2360
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew: my brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,
And she alone is heir to both of us:
Give her the right you should have given her cousin, 2365
And so dies my revenge.

Claudio.   O noble sir,
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
I do embrace your offer; and dispose
For henceforth of poor Claudio. 2370

Leonato.   To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
Who I believe was pack’d in all this wrong,
Hired to it by your brother. 2375

Borachio.   No, by my soul, she was not,
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me,
But always hath been just and virtuous
In any thing that I do know by her.

Dogberry.   Moreover, sir, which indeed is not under white and 2380
black, this plaintiff here, the offender, did call
me ass: I beseech you, let it be remembered in his
punishment. And also, the watch heard them talk of
one Deformed: they say be wears a key in his ear and
a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God’s 2385
name, the which he hath used so long and never paid
that now men grow hard-hearted and will lend nothing
for God’s sake: pray you, examine him upon that point.

Leonato.   I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.

Dogberry.   Your worship speaks like a most thankful and 2390
reverend youth; and I praise God for you.

Leonato.   There’s for thy pains.

Dogberry.   God save the foundation!

Leonato.   Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.

Dogberry.   I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I 2395
beseech your worship to correct yourself, for the
example of others. God keep your worship! I wish
your worship well; God restore you to health! I
humbly give you leave to depart; and if a merry
meeting may be wished, God prohibit it! Come, neighbour. 2400


Leonato.   Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.

Antonio.   Farewell, my lords: we look for you to-morrow.

Don Pedro.   We will not fail.

Claudio.   To-night I’ll mourn with Hero. 2405

Leonato.   To the Watch Bring you these fellows on. We’ll
talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.

Exeunt, severally

ACT V, Scene ii

LEONATO’S garden.

Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting

Benedick.   Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at
my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.

Margaret.   Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?

Benedick.   In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living
shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou 2415
deservest it.

Margaret.   To have no man come over me! why, shall I always
keep below stairs?

Benedick.   Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches.

Margaret.   And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit, 2420
but hurt not.

Benedick.   A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give
thee the bucklers.

Margaret.   Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own. 2425

Benedick.   If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the
pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.

Margaret.   Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.

Benedick.   And therefore will come.



The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,— 2435
I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good
swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers,
whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned 2440
over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I
cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find
out no rhyme to ‘lady’ but ‘baby,’ an innocent
rhyme; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rhyme; for,
’school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rhyme; very ominous 2445
endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet,
nor I cannot woo in festival terms.


Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?

Beatrice.   Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me. 2450

Benedick.   O, stay but till then!

Beatrice.   ’Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere
I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with
knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.

Benedick.   Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee. 2455

Beatrice.   Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I
will depart unkissed.

Benedick.   Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense,
so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee 2460
plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge; and either
I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe
him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me for
which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?

Beatrice.   For them all together; which maintained so politic 2465
a state of evil that they will not admit any good
part to intermingle with them. But for which of my
good parts did you first suffer love for me?

Benedick.   Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love
indeed, for I love thee against my will. 2470

Beatrice.   In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart!
If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.

Benedick.   Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

Beatrice.   It appears not in this confession: there’s not one 2475
wise man among twenty that will praise himself.

Benedick.   An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in
the lime of good neighbours. If a man do not erect
in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live
no longer in monument than the bell rings and the 2480
widow weeps.

Beatrice.   And how long is that, think you?

Benedick.   Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in
rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the
wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no 2485
impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his
own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for
praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your cousin?

Beatrice.   Very ill. 2490

Benedick.   And how do you?

Beatrice.   Very ill too.

Benedick.   Serve God, love me and mend. There will I leave
you too, for here comes one in haste.


Ursula.   Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder’s old
coil at home: it is proved my Lady Hero hath been
falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily
abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is
fed and gone. Will you come presently? 2500

Beatrice.   Will you go hear this news, signior?

Benedick.   I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be
buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with
thee to thy uncle’s.


ACT V, Scene iii

A church.

Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and three or four with tapers

Claudio.   Is this the monument of Leonato?

Lord.   It is, my lord.

Claudio.   Reading out of a scroll
Done to death by slanderous tongues 2510
Was the Hero that here lies:
Death, in guerdon of her wrongs,
Gives her fame which never dies.
So the life that died with shame
Lives in death with glorious fame. 2515
Hang thou there upon the tomb,
Praising her when I am dumb.
Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.

Pardon, goddess of the night, 2520
Those that slew thy virgin knight;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about her tomb they go.
Midnight, assist our moan;
Help us to sigh and groan, 2525
Heavily, heavily:
Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be uttered,
Heavily, heavily.

Claudio.   Now, unto thy bones good night! 2530
Yearly will I do this rite.

Don Pedro.   Good morrow, masters; put your torches out:
The wolves have prey’d; and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey. 2535
Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.

Claudio.   Good morrow, masters: each his several way.

Don Pedro.   Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds;
And then to Leonato’s we will go.

Claudio.   And Hymen now with luckier issue speed’s 2540
Than this for whom we render’d up this woe.


ACT V, Scene iv

A room in LEONATO’S house.


Friar Francis.   Did I not tell you she was innocent? 2545

Leonato.   So are the prince and Claudio, who accused her
Upon the error that you heard debated:
But Margaret was in some fault for this,
Although against her will, as it appears
In the true course of all the question. 2550

Antonio.   Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.

Benedick.   And so am I, being else by faith enforced
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.

Leonato.   Well, daughter, and you gentle-women all,
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves, 2555
And when I send for you, come hither mask’d.

Exeunt Ladies

The prince and Claudio promised by this hour
To visit me. You know your office, brother:
You must be father to your brother’s daughter 2560
And give her to young Claudio.

Antonio.   Which I will do with confirm’d countenance.

Benedick.   Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.

Friar Francis.   To do what, signior?

Benedick.   To bind me, or undo me; one of them. 2565
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.

Leonato.   That eye my daughter lent her: ’tis most true.

Benedick.   And I do with an eye of love requite her.

Leonato.   The sight whereof I think you had from me, 2570
From Claudio and the prince: but what’s your will?

Benedick.   Your answer, sir, is enigmatical:
But, for my will, my will is your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d
In the state of honourable marriage: 2575
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.

Leonato.   My heart is with your liking.

Friar Francis.   And my help.
Here comes the prince and Claudio.

Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, and two or three others

Don Pedro.   Good morrow to this fair assembly.

Leonato.   Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:
We here attend you. Are you yet determined
To-day to marry with my brother’s daughter?

Claudio.   I’ll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope. 2585

Leonato.   Call her forth, brother; here’s the friar ready.


Don Pedro.   Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness? 2590

Claudio.   I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
Tush, fear not, man; we’ll tip thy horns with gold
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
When he would play the noble beast in love. 2595

Benedick.   Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low;
And some such strange bull leap’d your father’s cow,
And got a calf in that same noble feat
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.

Claudio.   For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings. 2600

Re-enter ANTONIO, with the Ladies masked

Which is the lady I must seize upon?

Antonio.   This same is she, and I do give you her.

Claudio.   Why, then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.

Leonato.   No, that you shall not, till you take her hand 2605
Before this friar and swear to marry her.

Claudio.   Give me your hand: before this holy friar,
I am your husband, if you like of me.

Hero.   And when I lived, I was your other wife:


And when you loved, you were my other husband.

Claudio.   Another Hero!

Hero.   Nothing certainer:
One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid. 2615

Don Pedro.   The former Hero! Hero that is dead!

Leonato.   She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.

Friar Francis.   All this amazement can I qualify:
When after that the holy rites are ended,
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death: 2620
Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.

Benedick.   Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?

Beatrice.   Unmasking I answer to that name. What is your will?

Benedick.   Do not you love me? 2625

Beatrice.   Why, no; no more than reason.

Benedick.   Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio
Have been deceived; they swore you did.

Beatrice.   Do not you love me?

Benedick.   Troth, no; no more than reason. 2630

Beatrice.   Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula
Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.

Benedick.   They swore that you were almost sick for me.

Beatrice.   They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

Benedick.   ’Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me? 2635

Beatrice.   No, truly, but in friendly recompense.

Leonato.   Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.

Claudio.   And I’ll be sworn upon’t that he loves her;
For here’s a paper written in his hand,
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain, 2640
Fashion’d to Beatrice.

Hero.   And here’s another
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her pocket,
Containing her affection unto Benedick.

Benedick.   A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts. 2645
Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take
thee for pity.

Beatrice.   I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield
upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life,
for I was told you were in a consumption. 2650

Benedick.   Peace! I will stop your mouth.

Kissing her

Don Pedro.   How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

Benedick.   I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of
wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humour. Dost 2655
thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No:
if a man will be beaten with brains, a’ shall wear
nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do
purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any
purpose that the world can say against it; and 2660
therefore never flout at me for what I have said
against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my
conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to
have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be my
kinsman, live unbruised and love my cousin. 2665

Claudio.   I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice,
that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single
life, to make thee a double-dealer; which, out of
question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look
exceedingly narrowly to thee. 2670

Benedick.   Come, come, we are friends: let’s have a dance ere
we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts
and our wives’ heels.

Leonato.   We’ll have dancing afterward.

Benedick.   First, of my word; therefore play, music. Prince, 2675
thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife:
there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.

Enter a Messenger

Messenger.   My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight,
And brought with armed men back to Messina. 2680

Benedick.   Think not on him till to-morrow:
I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him.
Strike up, pipers.




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