William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing in the complete original text.
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Much Ado about Nothing

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Act II. Scene III.

Scene III.—LEONATO'S Garden.


Bene. Boy!

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

followed by BALTHAZAR and Musicians.
D. Pedro. Come, shall we hear this music?
Claud. Yea, my good lord. How still the
evening is,
As hush'd on purpose to grace harmony!
D. Pedro. See you where Benedick hath hid
Claud. O! very well, my lord: the music
We'll fit the kid-fox with a penny-worth.
D. Pedro. Come, Balthazar, we'll hear that
song again.
Balth. O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.
D. Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency,
To put a strange face on his own perfection.
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.
Balth. Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy; yet he wooes;
Yet will he swear he loves.
D. Pedro. Nay, pray thee, come;
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.
Balth. Note this before my notes;
There's not a note of mine that's worth the
D. Pedro. Why these are very crotchets that
he speaks;
Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing! [Music.
Bene. Now, divine air! now is his soul ra-
vished! 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.
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting an your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
D. Pedro. By my troth, a good song.
Balth. And an ill singer, my lord.
D. Pedro. Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well
enough for a shift.
Bene. [Aside.] 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 night-raven, come
what plague could have come after it.
D. Pedro. Yea, marry; dost thou hear,
Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some excellent
music, for to-morrow night we would have it at
the Lady Hero's chamber-window.
Balth. The best I can, my lord.
D. Pedro. Do so: farewell. [Exeunt BALTHA-
ZAR and Musicians.] Come hither, Leonato:
what was it you told me of to-day, that your niece
Beatrice was in love with Signior Benedick?
Claud. O! ay:—[Aside to D. PEDRO.] Stalk
on, stalk on; the fowl sits. I did never think
that lady would have loved any man.
Leon. No, nor I neither; but most wonderful
that she should so dote on Signior Benedick,
whom she hath in all outward behaviours-seemed
ever to abhor.
Bene. [Aside.] Is't possible? Sits the wind in
that corner?
Leon. 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
D. Pedro. May be she doth but counterfeit.
Claud. Faith, like enough.
Leon. O God! counterfeit! There was never
counterfeit of passion came so near the life of
passion as she discovers it
D. Pedro. Why, what effects of passion shows
Claud. [Aside.] Bait the hook well: this fish
will bite.
Leon. What effects, my lord? She will sit you;
[To CLAUDIO.] You heard my daughter tell you
Claud. She did, indeed.
D. Pedro. How, how, I pray you? You amaze
me: I would have thought her spirit had been
invincible against all assaults of affection.
Leon. I would have sworn it had, my lord;
especially against Benedick.
Bene. [Aside.] I should think this a gull, bat
that the white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery
cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.
Claud. [Aside.] He hath ta'en the infection:
hold it up.
D. Pedro. Hath she made her affection known
to Benedick?
Leon. No; and swears she never will: that's
her torment.
Claud. 'Tis true, indeed; so your daughter
says: 'Shall I,' says she, 'that have so oft en-
countered him with scorn, write to him that I
love him?'
Leon. This says she new when she is begin-
ning to write to him; for she'll be up twenty
times a night, and there win she sit in her smock
till she have writ a sheet of paper: my daughter
tells us all.
Claud. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I
remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of.
Leon. O! when she had writ it, and was read-
ing it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice be-
tween the sheet?
Claud. That.
Leon. O! she tore the letter into a thousand
halfpence; railed at herself, that she should be
so immodest 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.'
Claud. Then down upon her knees she falls,
weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays,
curses; 'O sweet Benedick! God give me pa-
Leon. She doth indeed; my daughter says
so; and the ecstasy hath so much overborne her,
that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will
do a desperate outrage to herself. It is very
D. Pedro. It were good that Benedick knew
of it by some other, if she will not discover it.
Claud. To what end? he would but make a
sport of it and torment the poor lady worse.
D. 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.
Claud. And she is exceeding wise.
D. Pedro. In everything but in loving Bene-
Leon. O! my lord, wisdom and blood com-
bating 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.
D. Pedro. I would she had bestowed this
dotage on me; I would have daffed all other
respects and made her half myself. I pray you,
tell Benedick of it, and hear what a' will say.
Leon. Were it good, think you?
Claud. Hero thinks surely she will die; for
she says she 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.
D. Pedro. She doth well: if she should make
tender of her love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn
it; for the man,—as you know all,—hath a con-
temptible spirit.
Claud. He is a very proper man.
D. Pedro. He hath indeed a good outward
Claud. 'Fore God, and in my mind, very wise.
D. Pedro. He doth indeed show some sparks
that are like wit.
Leon. And I take him to be valiant.
D. 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 them with a most Christian-like
Leon. 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.
D. Pedro. And so will he do; for the man
doth fear God, 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?
Claud. Never tell him, my lord: let her wear
it out with good counsel.
Leon. Nay, that's impossible: she may wear
her heart out first.
D. 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 mo-
destly examine himself, to see how much he is
unworthy to have so good a lady.
Leon. My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.
Claud. [Aside.] If he do not dote on her upon
this, I will never trust my expectation.
D. Pedro. [Aside.] Let there be the same net
spread for her; and that must your daughter
and her gentlewoman carry. The 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.
Bene. [Advancing from the arbour.] 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: 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 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 horribly
in love with her. I may chance have some odd
quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, be-
cause 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. 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! she's a fair
lady: I do spy some marks of love in her.

Beat. Against my will I am sent to bid you
come in to dinner.
Bene. Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your
Beat. 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.
Bene. You take pleasure then in the message?
Beat. Yea, just so much as you may take
upon a knife's point, and choke a daw withal.
You have no stomach, signior: fore you well.
Bene. Ha! ' Against my will I am sent to bid
you come in to dinner,' there's a double mean-
ing in that. 'I took 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. [Exit.
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