Much Ado About Nothing

Synopsis: Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well.
161 min

I learn in this letter

that Don Pedro of Aragon

comes this night to Messina!

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.

A victory is twice itself when the achiever

brings home full numbers.

I find here that Don Pedro

hath bestowed much honor

on a young Florentine called Claudio!

Much deserved on his part

and equally remembered 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

bettered expectation

than you must expect of me to

tell you how.

I pray you, is Signior Mountanto

returned from the war or no?

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.

He's returned,

and as pleasant as ever he was.

I pray you, how many hath

he killed and eaten in these wars?

But how many hath he killed?

For indeed I promised

to eat all of his killing.

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.

You had musty victual,

and he hath help to eat them:

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?

- A lord to a lord. A man to a man.

- Stuffed with all honourable virtues.

- It is so indeed.

He is no less than a stuffed man.

But for the stuffing, well...

We are all mortal.

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.

Alas! he gets nothing by that.

In our last conflict four of his

five wits went halting off,

and now is the whole man

governed with one:

Who is his companion now?

He hath every month

a new sworn brother.

- Is't possible?

- 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.

No; an he were, I would burn my study.

But, I pray you, who is his companion?

Is there no young squarer now

will make a voyage with him to the devil?

He is most in the company

of the right noble Claudio.

Oh, 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 1,000 pounds ere he be cured.

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 approaching!

Good Signior Leonato,

are you come to meet your trouble?

The fashion of the world is to

avoid cost, and you encounter it.

Never came trouble to my house

in the likeness of your grace.

You embrace your charge too willingly.

I think this is your daughter.

Her mother hath many times told me so.

Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?

Signior Benedick, no;

for then were you a child.

You have it full, Benedick!

Truly, the lady fathers herself.

Be happy, lady; for you are like an

honourable father.

If Signior Leonato be her father,

She would not have her father's head

on her shoulders for all Messina,

as like him as she is.

I wonder that you will still be talking,

Signior Benedick. Nobody marks you.

What, my dear Lady Disdain!

Are you yet living?

Is it possible disdain should die,

when she hath such meet food

to feed it as Signior Benedick?

Courtesy itself must convert to disdain

if you come in her presence.

Then is courtesy a turncoat.

But it is certain I am loved of all

ladies, only you excepted.

I would I could find in my heart that I had

not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.

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 humour for that.

I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow

than a man swear he loves me.

God keep your ladyship

still in that mind,

so some gentleman or other shall

'scape a predestinate scratched face.

Scratching could not make it worse,

an 'twere such a face as yours were.

You are a rare parrot.

A bird of my tongue

is better than a beast of yours.

I would my horse had the speed of your tongue,

and so good a continuer.

But keep your way, in God's name.

I have done.

You always end with a jade's trick.

I know you of old.

This is the sum of all,

Signior Claudio, 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.

Don John, let me bid

you welcome, my lord.

Being reconciled 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?

- We will go together.


Didst thou note the daughter

of Signior Leonato?

- I noted her not, but I looked on her.

- Is she not a modest young lady?

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 a professed tyrant to their sex?

No. I pray thee speak in sober judgment.


I' faith, methinks she's too tall

for a great praise,

too brown for a fair praise,

and too lean for a large praise.

Only this commendation I can afford her,

Were she other than she is,

she were unhandsome,

being no other but as she is,

I do not like her.

Thou thinkest I am in sport.

I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her.

Would you buy her

that you inquire after her?

- Can the world buy such a jewel?

- Yea, and a case to put it into.

But speak you this with a sad brow?

Come, in what key shall a man take you,

to go in the song?

In mine eyes she is the sweetest lady

that ever I looked on.

I can see yet without spectacles

and I see no such matter.

There's her cousin, an' she

were not possessed with a fury,

exceeds her as much in beauty as the

first of May doth the last of December.

I hope you have no intent

to turn husband. Have you?

I would scarce trust myself,

though I had sworn the contrary,

if Hero would be my wife.

Is't come to this?

Shall I never see a bachelor

of three-score again?

I' faith; if thou wilt needs

thrust thy neck into a yoke,

wear the print of it

and sigh away Sundays, go to.

What secret hath held you

here that you followed not?

I would your grace

would constrain me to tell.

I charge thee on thy allegiance.

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? That is your grace's part.

Mark how short his answer is:

- With Hero, Leonato's long daughter!

- If this were so, so were it uttered.

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