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About this item. Specifications Number of Pages: Benedick, who insists that he will never get married, soon finds himself constantly quarreling with sharp-tongued Beatrice, Hero's beautiful cousin. The plot thickens when the scheming Don John slanders Hero in a spiteful attempt to bring unhappiness to the lovers. Finally a grand masquerade ball provides the setting for an amusing muddle of mistaken identities. True love triumphs at last for Claudio and Hero--and also for Beatrice and Benedick.
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The complete original text is laid out side by side with the full modern translation. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet dreamt not of. The prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached alley in mine orchard, were thus much overheard by a man of mine: the prince discovered to Claudio that he loved my niece your daughter and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance: and if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present time by the top and instantly break with you of it.
LEONATO No, no; we will hold it as a dream till it appear itself: but I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you and tell her of it. Enter Attendants. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man's jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man's leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man's business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humour. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.
DON JOHN I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain.
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I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and seek not to alter me. Who comes here? I never can see him but I am heart-burned an hour after.
HERO He is of a very melancholy disposition. BEATRICE He were an excellent man that were made just in the midway between him and Benedick: the one is too like an image and says nothing, and the other too like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen. He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell.
BEATRICE No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and say 'Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here's no place for you maids:' so deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust?
No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred. BEATRICE The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him there is measure in every thing and so dance out the answer.
For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave. All put on their masks. DON JOHN Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with mine.
How canst thou cross this marriage? Go you to the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio--whose estimation do you mightily hold up--to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero. Look you for any other issue?
Much Ado About Nothing: Arden Performance Editions
BORACHIO Go, then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the prince and Claudio, as,--in love of your brother's honour, who hath made this match, and his friend's reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid,--that you have discovered thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer them instances; which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at her chamber-window, hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended wedding,--for in the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent,--and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero's disloyalty that jealousy shall be called assurance and all the preparation overthrown.
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I will only be bold with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth: he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.
DON PEDRO There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be a fancy that he hath to strange disguises; as, to be a Dutchman today, a Frenchman to-morrow, or in the shape of two countries at once, as, a German from the waist downward, all slops, and a Spaniard from the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a fancy to this foolery, as it appears he hath, he is no fool for fancy, as you would have it appear he is.
Old signior, walk aside with me: I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak to you, which these hobby-horses must not hear. God hath blessed you with a good name: to be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature. Well, for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lantern.
This is your charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the prince's name. Second Watchman How if a' will not stand? You shall also make no noise in the streets; for, for the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.
Watchman We will rather sleep than talk: we know what belongs to a watch. Well, you are to call at all the ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed. Watchman How if they will not?
No Fear Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing: Act 1 Scene 1
DOGBERRY Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if they make you not then the better answer, you may say they are not the men you took them for. Watchman Well, sir. DOGBERRY If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why the more is for your honesty.
Watchman If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him? DOGBERRY Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they that touch pitch will be defiled: the most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him show himself what he is and steal out of your company. Watchman How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us? DOGBERRY Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.
DOGBERRY This is the end of the chargeyou, constable, are to present the prince's own person: if you meet the prince in the night, you may stay him. DOGBERRY Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows the statutes, he may stay him: marry, not without the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a man against his will. Well, masters, good night: an there be any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your fellows' counsels and your own; and good night.
Come, neighbour. Watchman Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed. I pray you watch about Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night. Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you. HERO And bid her come hither. DOGBERRY Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.
DOGBERRY It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all of your worship. Well said, i' faith, neighbour Verges: well, God's a good man; an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul, i' faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread; but God is to be worshipped; all men are not alike; alas, good neighbour! DOGBERRY One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.
Enter a Messenger. A church. HERO I do. HERO None, my lord. Why, then, some be of laughing, as, ah, ha, he! Father, by your leave: Will you with free and unconstrained soul Give me this maid, your daughter? There, Leonato, take her back again: Give not this rotten orange to your friend; She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.
Behold how like a maid she blushes here!