Much Ado About Nothing
Act I, Scene 1
Messina. Before Leonato’s house.
- Enter Leonato, governor of Messina, Hero his daughter, and
- Beatrice his niece, with a Messenger.
Leonato1 - 2
- I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this
- night to Messina.
Messenger3 - 4
- He is very near by this, he was not three leagues off when I
- left him.
- How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
- But few of any sort, and none of name.
Leonato7 - 9
- A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full
- numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestow’d much honor
- on a young Florentine call’d Claudio.
Messenger10 - 14
- Much deserv’d on his part, and equally rememb’red by Don
- Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age,
- doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath
- indeed better bett’red expectation than you must expect of
- me to tell you how.
Leonato15 - 16
- He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of
Messenger17 - 19
- I have already deliver’d him letters, and there appears much
- joy in him, even so much that joy could not show itself
- modest enough without a badge of bitterness.
- Did he break out into tears?
- In great measure.
Leonato22 - 24
- A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than
- those that are so wash’d. How much better is it to weep at
- joy than to joy at weeping!
Beatrice25 - 26
- I pray you, is Signior Mountanto return’d from the wars or
Messenger27 - 28
- I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the
- army of any sort.
- What is he that you ask for, niece?
- My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
- O, he’s return’d, and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beatrice32 - 37
- He set up his bills here in Messina, and challeng’d Cupid at
- the flight, and my uncle’s fool, reading the challenge,
- subscrib’d for Cupid, and challeng’d him at the burbolt. I
- pray you, how many hath he kill’d and eaten in these wars?
- But how many hath he kill’d? For indeed I promis’d to eat
- all of his killing.
Leonato38 - 39
- Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much, but he’ll
- be meet with you, I doubt it not.
- He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
Beatrice41 - 42
- You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it. He is a
- very valiant trencherman, he hath an excellent stomach.
- And a good soldier too, lady.
- And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord?
Messenger45 - 46
- A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuff’d with all honorable
Beatrice47 - 48
- It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuff’d man. But for
- the stuffing—well, we are all mortal.
Leonato49 - 51
- You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of
- merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet
- but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.
Beatrice52 - 58
- Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of
- his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man
- govern’d with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep
- himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between
- himself and his horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath
- left to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion
- now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
- Is’t possible?
Beatrice60 - 61
- Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the fashion
- of his hat: it ever changes with the next block.
- I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beatrice63 - 65
- No, and he were, I would burn my study. But I pray you, who
- is his companion? Is there no young squarer now that will
- make a voyage with him to the devil?
- He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beatrice67 - 70
- O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner
- caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently
- mad. God help the noble Claudio! If he have caught the
- Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere ’a be cur’d.
- I will hold friends with you, lady.
- Do, good friend.
- You will never run mad, niece.
- No, not till a hot January.
- Don Pedro is approach’d.
- Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and Don John
- the Bastard.
Don Pedro76 - 77
- Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble? The
- fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Leonato78 - 81
- Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your
- Grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but
- when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes
- his leave.
Don Pedro82 - 83
- You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your
- Her mother hath many times told me so.
- Were you in doubt, sir, that you ask’d her?
- Signior Benedick, no, for then were you a child.
Don Pedro87 - 89
- 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 honorable father.
Benedick90 - 92
- If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his
- head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she
Beatrice93 - 94
- I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick,
- nobody marks you.
- What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?
Beatrice96 - 98
- 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.
Benedick99 - 101
- Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am lov’d 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.
Beatrice102 - 105
- A dear happiness to women, they would else have been
- troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold
- blood, I am of your humor for that: I had rather hear my dog
- bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
Benedick106 - 107
- God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman
- or other shall scape a predestinate scratch’d face.
Beatrice108 - 109
- Scratching could not make it worse, and ’twere such a face
- as yours were.
- Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
- A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Benedick112 - 113
- I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a
- continuer. But keep your way a’ God’s name, I have done.
- You always end with a jade’s trick, I know you of old.
Don Pedro115 - 119
- 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 hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
Leonato120 - 122
- If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.
- To Don John.
- Let me bid you welcome, my lord, being reconcil’d to the
- Prince your brother: I owe you all duty.
- I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.
- Please it your Grace lead on?
- Your hand, Leonato, we will go together.
- Exeunt. Manent Benedick and Claudio.
- Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
- I noted her not, but I look’d on her.
- Is she not a modest young lady?
Benedick129 - 131
- Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my
- simple true judgment? Or would you have me speak after my
- custom, as being a profess’d tyrant to their sex?
- No, I pray thee speak in sober judgment.
Benedick133 - 137
- Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise, too
- brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise;
- only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other
- than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as
- she is, I do not like her.
Claudio138 - 139
- Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how
- thou lik’st her.
- Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?
- Can the world buy such a jewel?
Benedick142 - 145
- Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a
- sad brow? Or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid
- is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in
- what key shall a man take you to go in the song?
- In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I look’d on.
Benedick147 - 151
- I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter.
- There’s her cousin, and she were not possess’d with a fury,
- exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the
- last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn
- husband, have you?
Claudio152 - 153
- I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
- contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Benedick154 - 158
- Is’t come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but
- he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a
- bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i’ faith, and thou wilt
- needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and
- sigh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is return’d to seek you.
- Enter Don Pedro.
Don Pedro159 - 160
- What secret hath held you here, that you follow’d not to
- I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.
- I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Benedick163 - 167
- You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as a dumb man; I
- would have you think so; but on my allegiance, mark you
- this, on my allegiance, he is in love. With who? Now that is
- your Grace’s part. Mark how short his answer is: with Hero,
- Leonato’s short daughter.
- If this were so, so were it utt’red.
Benedick169 - 170
- Like the old tale, my lord: “It is not so, nor ’twas not so,
- but indeed, God forbid it should be so.”
Claudio171 - 172
- If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be
- Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.
- You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
- By my troth, I speak my thought.
- And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
- And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
- That I love her, I feel.
- That she is worthy, I know.
Benedick180 - 182
- That I neither feel how she should be lov’d, 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 Pedro183 - 184
- Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of
Claudio185 - 186
- And never could maintain his part but in the force of his
Benedick187 - 193
- That a woman conceiv’d me, I thank her; that she brought me
- up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will
- have a rechate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an
- invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I
- will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself
- the right to trust none; and the fine is (for the which I
- may go the finer), I will live a bachelor.
- I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Benedick195 - 199
- With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with
- love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I
- will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a
- ballad-maker’s pen, and hang me up at the door of a
- brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.
Don Pedro200 - 201
- Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt
- prove a notable argument.
Benedick202 - 204
- If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me,
- and he that hits me, let him be clapp’d on the shoulder, and
- call’d Adam.
Don Pedro205 - 206
- Well, as time shall try:
- “In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.”
Benedick207 - 211
- 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 vildly painted, and in such great letters as
- they write “Here is good horse to hire,” let them signify
- under my sign, “Here you may see Benedick the married man.”
- If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
Don Pedro213 - 214
- Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou
- wilt quake for this shortly.
- I look for an earthquake too then.
Don Pedro216 - 219
- Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time,
- 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.
Benedick220 - 221
- I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage, and
- so I commit you—
- To the tuition of God. From my house—if I had it—
- The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.
Benedick224 - 227
- Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is
- sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but
- slightly basted on neither. Ere you flout old ends any
- further, examine your conscience, and so I leave you.
- My liege, your Highness now may do me good.
Don Pedro229 - 231
- 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.
- Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
Don Pedro233 - 234
- No child but Hero, she’s his only heir.
- Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
Claudio235 - 244
- O my lord,
- When you went onward on this ended action,
- I look’d upon her with a soldier’s eye,
- That lik’d, but had a rougher task in hand
- Than to drive liking to the name of love.
- But now I am return’d, and that war-thoughts
- Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
- Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
- All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
- Saying I lik’d her ere I went to wars.
Don Pedro245 - 250
- Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
- And tire the hearer with a book of words.
- If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
- And I will break with her, and with her father,
- And thou shalt have her. Was’t not to this end
- That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?
Claudio251 - 254
- How sweetly you do minister to love,
- That know love’s grief by his complexion!
- But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
- I would have salv’d it with a longer treatise.
Don Pedro255 - 267
- What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
- The fairest grant is the necessity.
- Look what will serve is fit: ’tis once, thou lovest,
- And I will fit thee with the remedy.
- I know we shall have reveling tonight;
- I will assume thy part in some disguise,
- And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
- And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart,
- And take her hearing prisoner with the force
- And strong encounter of my amorous tale;
- Then after to her father will I break,
- And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
- In practice let us put it presently.