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Much Ado About Nothing: Act 1, Scene 1

Much Ado About Nothing
Act 1, 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

3 - 4
  1. I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this
  2. night to Messina.

Messenger

5 - 6
  1. He is very near by this, he was not three leagues off when I
  2. left him.

Leonato

7
  1. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Messenger

8
  1. But few of any sort, and none of name.

Leonato

9 - 11
  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

12 - 16
  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

17 - 18
  1. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of
  2. it.

Messenger

19 - 21
  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

22
  1. Did he break out into tears?

Messenger

23
  1. In great measure.

Leonato

24 - 26
  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

27 - 28
  1. I pray you, is Signior Mountanto return’d from the wars or
  2. no?

Messenger

29 - 30
  1. I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the
  2. army of any sort.

Leonato

31
  1. What is he that you ask for, niece?

Hero

32
  1. My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.

Messenger

33
  1. O, he’s return’d, and as pleasant as ever he was.

Beatrice

34 - 39
  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

40 - 41
  1. Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much, but he’ll
  2. be meet with you, I doubt it not.

Messenger

42
  1. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

Beatrice

43 - 44
  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

45
  1. And a good soldier too, lady.

Beatrice

46
  1. And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord?

Messenger

47 - 48
  1. A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuff’d with all honorable
  2. virtues.

Beatrice

49 - 50
  1. It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuff’d man. But for
  2. the stuffingwell, we are all mortal.

Leonato

51 - 53
  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

54 - 60
  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

61
  1. Is’t possible?

Beatrice

62 - 63
  1. Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the fashion
  2. of his hat: it ever changes with the next block.

Messenger

64
  1. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

Beatrice

65 - 67
  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

68
  1. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

Beatrice

69 - 72
  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

73
  1. I will hold friends with you, lady.

Beatrice

74
  1. Do, good friend.

Leonato

75
  1. You will never run mad, niece.

Beatrice

76
  1. No, not till a hot January.

Messenger

77
  1. Don Pedro is approach’d.
  1. Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and Don John
  2. the Bastard.

Don Pedro

80 - 81
  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

82 - 85
  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

86 - 87
  1. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your
  2. daughter.

Leonato

88
  1. Her mother hath many times told me so.

Benedick

89
  1. Were you in doubt, sir, that you ask’d her?

Leonato

90
  1. Signior Benedick, no, for then were you a child.

Don Pedro

91 - 93
  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

94 - 96
  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

97 - 98
  1. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick,
  2. nobody marks you.

Benedick

99
  1. What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?

Beatrice

100 - 102
  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

103 - 105
  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

106 - 109
  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

110 - 111
  1. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman
  2. or other shall scape a predestinate scratch’d face.

Beatrice

112 - 113
  1. Scratching could not make it worse, and ’twere such a face
  2. as yours were.

Benedick

114
  1. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

Beatrice

115
  1. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Benedick

116 - 117
  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

118
  1. You always end with a jade’s trick, I know you of old.

Don Pedro

119 - 123
  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

124 - 127
  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

128
  1. I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Leonato

129
  1. Please it your Grace lead on?

Don Pedro

130
  1. Your hand, Leonato, we will go together.
  1. Exeunt. Manent Benedick and Claudio.

Claudio

132
  1. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

Benedick

133
  1. I noted her not, but I look’d on her.

Claudio

134
  1. Is she not a modest young lady?

Benedick

135 - 137
  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

138
  1. No, I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

Benedick

139 - 143
  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

144 - 145
  1. Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how
  2. thou lik’st her.

Benedick

146
  1. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

Claudio

147
  1. Can the world buy such a jewel?

Benedick

148 - 151
  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

152
  1. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I look’d on.

Benedick

153 - 157
  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

158 - 159
  1. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
  2. contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Benedick

160 - 164
  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

166 - 167
  1. What secret hath held you here, that you follow’d not to
  2. Leonato’s?

Benedick

168
  1. I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.

Don Pedro

169
  1. I charge thee on thy allegiance.

Benedick

170 - 174
  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

175
  1. If this were so, so were it utt’red.

Benedick

176 - 177
  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

178 - 179
  1. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be
  2. otherwise.

Don Pedro

180
  1. Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.

Claudio

181
  1. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

Don Pedro

182
  1. By my troth, I speak my thought.

Claudio

183
  1. And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

Benedick

184
  1. And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

Claudio

185
  1. That I love her, I feel.

Don Pedro

186
  1. That she is worthy, I know.

Benedick

187 - 189
  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

190 - 191
  1. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of
  2. beauty.

Claudio

192 - 193
  1. And never could maintain his part but in the force of his
  2. will.

Benedick

194 - 200
  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

201
  1. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

Benedick

202 - 206
  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

207 - 208
  1. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt
  2. prove a notable argument.

Benedick

209 - 211
  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

212 - 213
  1. Well, as time shall try:
  2. In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.”

Benedick

214 - 218
  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

219
  1. If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

Don Pedro

220 - 221
  1. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou
  2. wilt quake for this shortly.

Benedick

222
  1. I look for an earthquake too then.

Don Pedro

223 - 226
  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

227 - 228
  1. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage, and
  2. so I commit you

Claudio

229
  1. To the tuition of God. From my houseif I had it

Don Pedro

230
  1. The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.

Benedick

231 - 234
  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

236
  1. My liege, your Highness now may do me good.

Don Pedro

237 - 239
  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

240
  1. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

Don Pedro

241 - 242
  1. No child but Hero, she’s his only heir.
  2. Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

Claudio

243 - 252
  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

253 - 258
  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

259 - 262
  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

263 - 275
  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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