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Much Ado About Nothing: Act I, Scene 1

Much Ado About Nothing
Act I, Scene 1

Scene 1

Messina. Before Leonato’s house.

  1. Enter Leonato, governor of Messina, Hero his daughter, and
  2. Beatrice his niece, with a Messenger.

Leonato

1 - 2
  1. I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this
  2. night to Messina.

Messenger

3 - 4
  1. He is very near by this, he was not three leagues off when I
  2. left him.

Leonato

5
  1. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Messenger

6
  1. But few of any sort, and none of name.

Leonato

7 - 9
  1. A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full
  2. numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestow’d much honor
  3. on a young Florentine call’d Claudio.

Messenger

10 - 14
  1. Much deserv’d on his part, and equally rememb’red by Don
  2. Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age,
  3. doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath
  4. indeed better bett’red expectation than you must expect of
  5. me to tell you how.

Leonato

15 - 16
  1. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of
  2. it.

Messenger

17 - 19
  1. I have already deliver’d him letters, and there appears much
  2. joy in him, even so much that joy could not show itself
  3. modest enough without a badge of bitterness.

Leonato

20
  1. Did he break out into tears?

Messenger

21
  1. In great measure.

Leonato

22 - 24
  1. A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than
  2. those that are so wash’d. How much better is it to weep at
  3. joy than to joy at weeping!

Beatrice

25 - 26
  1. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto return’d from the wars or
  2. no?

Messenger

27 - 28
  1. I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the
  2. army of any sort.

Leonato

29
  1. What is he that you ask for, niece?

Hero

30
  1. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.

Messenger

31
  1. O, he’s return’d, and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beatrice

32 - 37
  1. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challeng’d Cupid at
  2. the flight, and my uncle’s fool, reading the challenge,
  3. subscrib’d for Cupid, and challeng’d him at the burbolt. I
  4. pray you, how many hath he kill’d and eaten in these wars?
  5. But how many hath he kill’d? For indeed I promis’d to eat
  6. all of his killing.

Leonato

38 - 39
  1. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much, but he’ll
  2. be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Messenger

40
  1. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

Beatrice

41 - 42
  1. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it. He is a
  2. very valiant trencherman, he hath an excellent stomach.

Messenger

43
  1. And a good soldier too, lady.

Beatrice

44
  1. And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord?

Messenger

45 - 46
  1. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuff’d with all honorable
  2. virtues.

Beatrice

47 - 48
  1. It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuff’d man. But for
  2. the stuffingwell, we are all mortal.

Leonato

49 - 51
  1. You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of
  2. merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet
  3. but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.

Beatrice

52 - 58
  1. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of
  2. his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man
  3. govern’d with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep
  4. himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between
  5. himself and his horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath
  6. left to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion
  7. now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.

Messenger

59
  1. Is’t possible?

Beatrice

60 - 61
  1. Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the fashion
  2. of his hat: it ever changes with the next block.

Messenger

62
  1. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beatrice

63 - 65
  1. No, and he were, I would burn my study. But I pray you, who
  2. is his companion? Is there no young squarer now that will
  3. make a voyage with him to the devil?

Messenger

66
  1. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Beatrice

67 - 70
  1. O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner
  2. caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently
  3. mad. God help the noble Claudio! If he have caught the
  4. Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere ’a be cur’d.

Messenger

71
  1. I will hold friends with you, lady.

Beatrice

72
  1. Do, good friend.

Leonato

73
  1. You will never run mad, niece.

Beatrice

74
  1. No, not till a hot January.

Messenger

75
  1. Don Pedro is approach’d.
  1. Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and Don John
  2. the Bastard.

Don Pedro

76 - 77
  1. Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble? The
  2. fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.

Leonato

78 - 81
  1. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your
  2. Grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but
  3. when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes
  4. his leave.

Don Pedro

82 - 83
  1. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your
  2. daughter.

Leonato

84
  1. Her mother hath many times told me so.

Benedick

85
  1. Were you in doubt, sir, that you ask’d her?

Leonato

86
  1. Signior Benedick, no, for then were you a child.

Don Pedro

87 - 89
  1. You have it full, Benedick. We may guess by this what you
  2. are, being a man. Truly the lady fathers herself. Be happy,
  3. lady, for you are like an honorable father.

Benedick

90 - 92
  1. If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his
  2. head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she
  3. is.

Beatrice

93 - 94
  1. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick,
  2. nobody marks you.

Benedick

95
  1. What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?

Beatrice

96 - 98
  1. Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet
  2. food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must
  3. convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.

Benedick

99 - 101
  1. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am lov’d of
  2. all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in
  3. my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.

Beatrice

102 - 105
  1. A dear happiness to women, they would else have been
  2. troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold
  3. blood, I am of your humor for that: I had rather hear my dog
  4. bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

Benedick

106 - 107
  1. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman
  2. or other shall scape a predestinate scratch’d face.

Beatrice

108 - 109
  1. Scratching could not make it worse, and ’twere such a face
  2. as yours were.

Benedick

110
  1. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

Beatrice

111
  1. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Benedick

112 - 113
  1. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a
  2. continuer. But keep your way a’ God’s name, I have done.

Beatrice

114
  1. You always end with a jade’s trick, I know you of old.

Don Pedro

115 - 119
  1. That is the sum of all: LeonatoSignior Claudio and Signior
  2. Benedickmy dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell
  3. him we shall stay here at the least a month, and he heartily
  4. prays some occasion may detain us longer. I dare swear he is
  5. no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.

Leonato

120 - 122
  1. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.
  2. To Don John.
  3. Let me bid you welcome, my lord, being reconcil’d to the
  4. Prince your brother: I owe you all duty.

Don John

123
  1. I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Leonato

124
  1. Please it your Grace lead on?

Don Pedro

125
  1. Your hand, Leonato, we will go together.
  1. Exeunt. Manent Benedick and Claudio.

Claudio

126
  1. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

Benedick

127
  1. I noted her not, but I look’d on her.

Claudio

128
  1. Is she not a modest young lady?

Benedick

129 - 131
  1. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my
  2. simple true judgment? Or would you have me speak after my
  3. custom, as being a profess’d tyrant to their sex?

Claudio

132
  1. No, I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

Benedick

133 - 137
  1. Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise, too
  2. brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise;
  3. only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other
  4. than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as
  5. she is, I do not like her.

Claudio

138 - 139
  1. Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how
  2. thou lik’st her.

Benedick

140
  1. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

Claudio

141
  1. Can the world buy such a jewel?

Benedick

142 - 145
  1. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a
  2. sad brow? Or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid
  3. is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in
  4. what key shall a man take you to go in the song?

Claudio

146
  1. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I look’d on.

Benedick

147 - 151
  1. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter.
  2. There’s her cousin, and she were not possess’d with a fury,
  3. exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the
  4. last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn
  5. husband, have you?

Claudio

152 - 153
  1. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
  2. contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Benedick

154 - 158
  1. Is’t come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but
  2. he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a
  3. bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i’ faith, and thou wilt
  4. needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and
  5. sigh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is return’d to seek you.
  1. Enter Don Pedro.

Don Pedro

159 - 160
  1. What secret hath held you here, that you follow’d not to
  2. Leonato’s?

Benedick

161
  1. I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.

Don Pedro

162
  1. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Benedick

163 - 167
  1. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as a dumb man; I
  2. would have you think so; but on my allegiance, mark you
  3. this, on my allegiance, he is in love. With who? Now that is
  4. your Grace’s part. Mark how short his answer is: with Hero,
  5. Leonato’s short daughter.

Claudio

168
  1. If this were so, so were it utt’red.

Benedick

169 - 170
  1. Like the old tale, my lord: It is not so, nor ’twas not so,
  2. but indeed, God forbid it should be so.”

Claudio

171 - 172
  1. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be
  2. otherwise.

Don Pedro

173
  1. Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.

Claudio

174
  1. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

Don Pedro

175
  1. By my troth, I speak my thought.

Claudio

176
  1. And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

Benedick

177
  1. And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

Claudio

178
  1. That I love her, I feel.

Don Pedro

179
  1. That she is worthy, I know.

Benedick

180 - 182
  1. That I neither feel how she should be lov’d, nor know how
  2. she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt
  3. out of me; I will die in it at the stake.

Don Pedro

183 - 184
  1. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of
  2. beauty.

Claudio

185 - 186
  1. And never could maintain his part but in the force of his
  2. will.

Benedick

187 - 193
  1. That a woman conceiv’d me, I thank her; that she brought me
  2. up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will
  3. have a rechate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an
  4. invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I
  5. will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself
  6. the right to trust none; and the fine is (for the which I
  7. may go the finer), I will live a bachelor.

Don Pedro

194
  1. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

Benedick

195 - 199
  1. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with
  2. love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I
  3. will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a
  4. ballad-maker’s pen, and hang me up at the door of a
  5. brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.

Don Pedro

200 - 201
  1. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt
  2. prove a notable argument.

Benedick

202 - 204
  1. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me,
  2. and he that hits me, let him be clapp’d on the shoulder, and
  3. call’d Adam.

Don Pedro

205 - 206
  1. Well, as time shall try:
  2. In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.”

Benedick

207 - 211
  1. The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear
  2. it, pluck off the bull’s horns, and set them in my forehead,
  3. and let me be vildly painted, and in such great letters as
  4. they write Here is good horse to hire,” let them signify
  5. under my sign, Here you may see Benedick the married man.”

Claudio

212
  1. If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

Don Pedro

213 - 214
  1. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou
  2. wilt quake for this shortly.

Benedick

215
  1. I look for an earthquake too then.

Don Pedro

216 - 219
  1. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time,
  2. good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato’s, commend me to
  3. him, and tell him I will not fail him at supper, for indeed
  4. he hath made great preparation.

Benedick

220 - 221
  1. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage, and
  2. so I commit you

Claudio

222
  1. To the tuition of God. From my houseif I had it

Don Pedro

223
  1. The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.

Benedick

224 - 227
  1. Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is
  2. sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but
  3. slightly basted on neither. Ere you flout old ends any
  4. further, examine your conscience, and so I leave you.
  1. Exit.

Claudio

228
  1. My liege, your Highness now may do me good.

Don Pedro

229 - 231
  1. My love is thine to teach; teach it but how,
  2. And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
  3. Any hard lesson that may do thee good.

Claudio

232
  1. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

Don Pedro

233 - 234
  1. No child but Hero, she’s his only heir.
  2. Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

Claudio

235 - 244
  1. O my lord,
  2. When you went onward on this ended action,
  3. I look’d upon her with a soldier’s eye,
  4. That lik’d, but had a rougher task in hand
  5. Than to drive liking to the name of love.
  6. But now I am return’d, and that war-thoughts
  7. Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
  8. Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
  9. All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
  10. Saying I lik’d her ere I went to wars.

Don Pedro

245 - 250
  1. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
  2. And tire the hearer with a book of words.
  3. If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
  4. And I will break with her, and with her father,
  5. And thou shalt have her. Was’t not to this end
  6. That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?

Claudio

251 - 254
  1. How sweetly you do minister to love,
  2. That know love’s grief by his complexion!
  3. But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
  4. I would have salv’d it with a longer treatise.

Don Pedro

255 - 267
  1. What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
  2. The fairest grant is the necessity.
  3. Look what will serve is fit: ’tis once, thou lovest,
  4. And I will fit thee with the remedy.
  5. I know we shall have reveling tonight;
  6. I will assume thy part in some disguise,
  7. And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
  8. And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart,
  9. And take her hearing prisoner with the force
  10. And strong encounter of my amorous tale;
  11. Then after to her father will I break,
  12. And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
  13. In practice let us put it presently.
  1. Exeunt.
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