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 V. Scene I.

Act V. Scene I.—Before LEONATO'S House.


Ant. If you go on thus, you will kill yourself;
And 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief
Against yourself.
Leon. I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
As water in a sieve: give not me counsel;
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine:
Bring me a father that so lov'd his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm'd like mine,
And bid him speak of patience;
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form:
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard;
Bid sorrow wag, cry 'hem' when he should
Patch grief with proverbs; make misfortune
With candle-wasters; bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.
But there is no such man; for, brother, men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air and agony with words.
No, no; 'tis all men's office to speak patience
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man's virtue nor sufficiency
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel:
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
Ant. Therein do men from children nothing
Leon. I pray thee, peace! I will be flesh and
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Ant. Yet bend not all the harm upon your-
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
Leon. There thou speak'st reason: nay, I will
do so.
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied;
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the
And all of them that thus dishonour her.
Ant. Here come the prince and Claudio

D. Pedro. Good den, good den.
Claud. Good day to both of you.
Leon. Hear you, my lords,—
D. Pedro. We have some haste, Leonato.
Leon. Some haste, my lord! well, fare you
well, my lord:
Are you so hasty now?—well, all is one.
D. Pedro. Nay, do not quarrel with us, good
old man.
Ant. If he could right himself with quar-
Some of us would lie low.
Claud. Who wrongs him?
Leon. Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dis-
sembler, thou.
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
I fear thee not.
Claud. Marry, beshrew my hand,
If it should give your age such cause of fear.
In faith, ray hand meant nothing to my sword.
Leon. Tush, tush, man! never fleer and jest
at me:
I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
As, under privilege of age, to brag
What I have done being young, or what would do,
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me
That I am forc'd to lay my reverence by,
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child:
Thy slander hath gone through and through her
And she lies buried with her ancestors;
O! in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, fram'd by thy villany!
Claud. My villany?
Leon. Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.
D. Pedro. You say not right, old man.
Leon. My lord, my lord,I'll prove it on his body, if he
Despite his nice fence and his active practice,
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
Claud. Away! I will not have to do with you.
Leon. Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast
kill'd my child;
If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
Ant. He shall kill two of us, and men indeed:
But that's no matter; let him kill one first:
Win me and wear me; let him answer me.
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, fol-
low me.
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Leon. Brother,—
Ant. Content yourself. God knows I lov'd
my niece;
And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains,
That dare as well answer a man indeed 89
As I dare take a serpent by the tongue.
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!
Leon. Brother Antony,—
Ant. Hold you content. What, man! I know
them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost
Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go antickly, show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst:
And this is all!
Leon. But, brother Antony,—
Ant. Come, 'tis no matter:
Do not you meddle, let me deal in this.
D. Pedro. Gentlemen both, we will not wake
your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter's death;
But, on my honour, she was charg'd with no-
But what was true and very full of proof.
Leon. My lord, my lord—
D. Pedro. I will not hear you.
Leon. No?
Come, brother, away. I will be heard.—
Ant. And shall, or some of us will-smart
for it. [Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO.

D. Pedro. See, see; here comes the man we
went to seek.
Claud. Now, signior, what news?
Bene. Good day, my lord.
D. Pedro. Welcome, signior: you are almost
come to part almost a fray.
Claud. We had like to have had our two
noses snapped off with two old men without
D. Pedro. Leonato and his brother. What
thinkest thou? Had we fought, I doubt we
should have been too young for them.
Bene. In a false quarrel there is no true
valour. I came to seek yon both.
Claud. We have been up and down to seek
thee; for we are high-proof melancholy, and
would fain have it beaten away. Wilt thou use
thy wit?
Bene. It is in my scabbard; shall I draw it?
D. Pedro. Dost thou wear thy wit by thy
Claud. Never any did so, though very many
have been beside their wit. I will bid thee draw,
as we do the minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.
D. Pedro. As I am an honest man, he looks
pale. Art thou sick, or angry?
Claud. What, courage, man! What though
care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in
thee to kill care.
Bene. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career,
an you charge it against me. I pray you choose
another subject.
Claud. Nay then, give him another staff:
this last was broke cross.
D. Pedro. By this light, he changes more and
more; I think he be angry indeed.
Claud. If he be, he knows how to turn his
Bene. Shall I speak a word in your ear?
Claud. God bless me from a challenge!
Bene. [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 hear from you.
Claud. Well I will meet you, so I may have
good cheer.
D. Pedro. What, a feast, a feast?
Claud. I' faith, I thank him; he hath bid me
to a calf's-head and a capon, the which if I do
not carve most curiously, say my knife's naught.
Shall I not find a woodcock too?
Bene. Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes
D. Pedro. I'll tell thee how Beatrice praised
thy wit the other day. I said, thou hadst a fine
wit. 'True,' says she, 'a fine little one.' 'No,'
said I, 'a great wit.' 'Right,' said she, 'a great
gross one.' 'Nay,' said I, 'a good wit.' 'Just,'
said she, 'it hurts nobody.' 'Nay,' said I, 'the
gentleman is wise.' 'Certain,' said she, 'a wise
gentleman.' 'Nay,' said I, 'he hath the tongues.'
'That I believe,' said she, 'for he swore a thing to
me on Monday night, which he forswore on
Tuesday morning: there's a double tongue;
there's two tongues.' Thus did she, an hour
together, trans-shape thy particular virtues; yet
at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the
properest man in Italy.
Claud. For the which she wept heartily and
said she cared not.
D. Pedro. Yea, that she did; but yet, for all
that, an if she did not hate him deadly, she
would love him dearly. The old man's daughter
told us all.
Claud. All, all; and moreover. God saw him
when he was hid in the garden.
D. Pedro. But when shall we set the sa-
vage bull's horns on the sensible Benedick's
Claud. Yea, and text underneath, 'Here
dwells Benedick the married man!'
Bene. Fare you well, boy: you know my
mind. I will leave you now to your gossip-like
humour: you break jests as braggarts do their
blades, which. God be thanked, hurt not. My
lord, for your many courtesies I thank you: I must
discontinue your company. Your brother the
bastard is fled from Messina: you have, among
you, killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my
Lord Lack-beard there, he and I shall meet; and
till then, peace be with him. [Exit.
D. Pedro. He is in earnest.
Claud. In most profound earnest; and, I'll
warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.
D. Pedro. And hath challenged thee?
Claud, Most sincerely.
D. Pedro. What a pretty thing man is when
he goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off
his wit!
Claud. He is then a giant to an ape; but then
is an ape a doctor to such a man.
D. Pedro. But, soft you; let me be: pluck
up, my heart, and be sad! Did he not say my
brother was fled?

Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with
Dogb. Come, you, sir: if justice cannot tame
you, she shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her
balance. Nay, an you be a cursing hypocrite
once, you must be looked to.
D. Pedro. How now! two of my brother's
men bound! Borachio, one!
Claud. Hearken after their offence, my lord.
D. Pedro. Officers, what offence have these
men done?
Dogb. Marry, sir, they have committed false
report; moreover, they have spoken untruths;
secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly,
they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have
verified unjust things; and to conclude, they
are lying knaves.
D. Pedro. First, I ask thee what they have
done; thirdly, I ask thee what's their offence;
sixth and lastly, why they are committed; and,
to conclude, what you lay to their charge?
Claud. Rightly reasoned, and in his own
division; and, by my troth, there's one meaning
well suited.
D. Pedro. Who have you offended, masters,
that you are thus bound to your answer? this
learned constable is too cunning to be under-
stood. What's your offence?
Bora. Sweet prince, let me go no further
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 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 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.
D. Pedro. Runs not this speech like iron
through your blood?
Claud. I have drunk poison whiles he ut-
ter'd it.
D. Pedro. But did my brother set thee on
to this?
Bora. Yea; and paid me richly for the prac-
tice of it.
D. Pedro. He is compos'd and fram'd of
And fled he is upon this villany.
Claud. Sweet Hero! now thy image doth
In the rare semblance that I lov'd it first.
Dogb. Come, bring away the plaintiffs: by
this time our sexton hath reformed Signior
Leonato of the matter. And masters, do not
forget to specify, when time and place shall
serve, that I am an ass.
Verg. Here, here comes Master Signior Leo-
nato, and the sexton too.

Re-enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, and the
Leon. Which is the villain? Let me see his
That, when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him. Which of these is he?
Bora. If you would know your wronger, look
on me.
Leon. Art thou the slave that with thy breath
hast kill'd
Mine innocent child?
Bora. Yea, even I alone.
Leon. No, not so, villain; thou beliest thy-
Here stand a pair of honourable men;
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
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.
Claud. I know not how to pray your pa-
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge your-
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn'd I not
But in mistaking.
D. Pedro. By my soul, nor I:
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he'll enjoin me to.
Leon. I cannot bid you bid my daughter
That were impossible; but, I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour aught 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,
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
And so dies my revenge.
Claud. O noble sir,
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
I do embrace your offer; and dispose
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
Leon. To-morrow then I will expect your
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,
Hir'd to it by your brother.
Bora. 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 anything that I do know by her.
Dogb. Moreover, sir,—which, indeed, is not
under white and 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 he wears a key in his ear and a lock
hanging by it, and borrows money in God's
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.
Leon. I thank thee for thy care and honest
Dogb. Your worship speaks like a most
thankful and reverend youth, and I praise God
for you.
Leon. There's for thy pains.
Dogb. God save the foundation!
Leon. Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner,
and I thank thee.
Dogb. I leave an arrant knave with your
worship; which I beseech your worship to cor-
rect 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.
Leon. Until to-morrow morning, lords, fare-
Ant. Farewell, my lords: we look for you
D. Pedro. We will not fail.
Claud. To-night I'll mourn with Hero.
Leon. [To the Watch.] Bring you these fel-
lows on. We'll talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd
fellow. [Exeunt.
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