Much Ado About Nothing
Please see the bottom of this page for detailed explanatory notes and related resources.
|ACT II SCENE I ||A hall in LEONATO'S house.|| |
| ||Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others.|| |
|LEONATO ||Was not Count John here at supper?|| |
|ANTONIO ||I saw him not.|| |
|BEATRICE ||How tartly that gentleman looks! 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.|| 9|
|LEONATO ||Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's|| |
| ||mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signior|| |
| ||Benedick's face,--|| |
|BEATRICE ||With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money|| |
| ||enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman|
| ||in the world, if a' could get her good-will.|| |
|LEONATO ||By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a|| |
| ||husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.|| |
|ANTONIO ||In faith, she's too curst.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's|
| ||sending that way; for it is said, 'God sends a curst|| |
| ||cow short horns;' but to a cow too curst he sends none.|| |
|LEONATO ||So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.|| 23|| |
|BEATRICE ||Just, if he send me no husband; for the which|| |
| ||blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and|
| ||evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a|| |
| ||beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.|| |
|LEONATO ||You may light on a husband that hath no beard.|| |
|BEATRICE ||What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel|| |
| ||and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? 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.|| |
|LEONATO ||Well, then, go you 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.|| 43|| |
|ANTONIO ||To HERO. Well, niece, I trust you will be|| |
| ||ruled by your father.|
|BEATRICE ||Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy|| |
| ||and say 'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all|| |
| ||that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else|| |
| ||make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please|| |
| ||me.'|| 50|
|LEONATO ||Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Not till God make men of some other metal than|| |
| ||earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be|| |
| ||overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make|| |
| ||an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?|
| ||No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren;|| |
| ||and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.|| |
|LEONATO ||Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince|| |
| ||do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.|| |
|BEATRICE ||The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be|| 60|
| ||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.|
|LEONATO ||Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.|| 70|| |
|BEATRICE ||I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.|| |
|LEONATO ||The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.|| |
| ||All put on their masks|| |
| ||Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, DON JOHN, BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA and others, masked.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Lady, will you walk about with your friend?|| |
|HERO ||So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,|
| ||I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||With me in your company?|| |
|HERO ||I may say so, when I please.|| 80|| |
|DON PEDRO ||And when please you to say so?|| |
|HERO ||When I like your favour; for God defend the lute|
| ||should be like the case!|| |
|DON PEDRO ||My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.|| |
|HERO ||Why, then, your visor should be thatched.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Speak low, if you speak love.|| |
| ||Drawing her aside.|| |
|BALTHASAR ||Well, I would you did like me.|
|MARGARET ||So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many|| |
| ||ill-qualities.|| 90|| |
|BALTHASAR ||Which is one?|| |
|MARGARET ||I say my prayers aloud.|| |
|BALTHASAR ||I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.|
|MARGARET ||God match me with a good dancer!|| |
|BALTHASAR ||Amen.|| |
|MARGARET ||And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is|| |
| ||done! Answer, clerk.|| |
|BALTHASAR ||No more words: the clerk is answered.|
|URSULA ||I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio.|| 101|| |
|ANTONIO ||At a word, I am not.|| |
|URSULA ||I know you by the waggling of your head.|| |
|ANTONIO ||To tell you true, I counterfeit him.|| |
|URSULA ||You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were|
| ||the very man. Here's his dry hand up and down: you|| |
| ||are he, you are he.|| |
|ANTONIO ||At a word, I am not.|| |
|URSULA ||Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your|| |
| ||excellent wit? can virtue hide itself? Go to,|
| ||mum, you are he: graces will appear, and there's an|| |
| ||end.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Will you not tell me who told you so?|| 111|| |
|BENEDICK ||No, you shall pardon me.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Nor will you not tell me who you are?|
|BENEDICK ||Not now.|| |
|BEATRICE ||That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit|| |
| ||out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales:'--well this was|| |
| ||Signior Benedick that said so.|| |
|BENEDICK ||What's he?|
|BEATRICE ||I am sure you know him well enough.|| |
|BENEDICK ||Not I, believe me.|| 120|| |
|BEATRICE ||Did he never make you laugh?|| |
|BENEDICK ||I pray you, what is he?|| |
|BEATRICE ||Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool;|
| ||only his gift is in devising impossible slanders:|| |
| ||none but libertines delight in him; and the|| |
| ||commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany;|| |
| ||for he both pleases men and angers them, and then|| |
| ||they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in|
| ||the fleet: I would he had boarded me.|| |
|BENEDICK ||When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say.|| 131|| |
|BEATRICE ||Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me;|| |
| ||which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at,|| |
| ||strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a|
| ||partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no|| |
| ||supper that night.|| |
| ||Music.|| |
| ||We must follow the leaders.|| |
|BENEDICK ||In every good thing.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at|
| ||the next turning.|| |
| ||Dance. Then exeunt all except DON JOHN, BORACHIO,and CLAUDIO.|| |
|DON JOHN ||Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath|| |
| ||withdrawn her father to break with him about it.|| |
| ||The ladies follow her and but one visor remains.|| 142|| |
|BORACHIO ||And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.|
|DON JOHN ||Are not you Signior Benedick?|| |
|CLAUDIO ||You know me well; I am he.|| |
|DON JOHN ||Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:|| |
| ||he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him|| |
| ||from her: she is no equal for his birth: you may|
| ||do the part of an honest man in it.|| |
|CLAUDIO ||How know you he loves her?|| 150|| |
|DON JOHN ||I heard him swear his affection.|| |
|BORACHIO ||So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.|| |
|DON JOHN ||Come, let us to the banquet.|
| ||Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.|| |
|CLAUDIO ||Thus answer I in the name of Benedick,|| |
| ||But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.|| |
| ||'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.|| |
| ||Friendship is constant in all other things|| |
| ||Save in the office and affairs of love:|
| ||Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues;|| 160|| |
| ||Let every eye negotiate for itself|| |
| ||And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch|| |
| ||Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.|| |
| ||This is an accident of hourly proof,|
| ||Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!|| |
| ||Re-enter BENEDICK.|| |
|BENEDICK ||Count Claudio?|| |
|CLAUDIO ||Yea, the same.|| |
|BENEDICK ||Come, will you go with me?|| 168|| |
|BENEDICK ||Even to the next willow, about your own business,|| |
| ||county. What fashion will you wear the garland of?|| |
| ||about your neck, like an usurer's chain? or under|| |
| ||your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear|| |
| ||it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.|
|CLAUDIO ||I wish him joy of her.|| |
|BENEDICK ||Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they|| |
| ||sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would|| |
| ||have served you thus?|| |
|CLAUDIO ||I pray you, leave me.|| 179|
|BENEDICK ||Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the|| |
| ||boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.|| |
|CLAUDIO ||If it will not be, I'll leave you.|| |
| ||Exit|| |
|BENEDICK ||Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges.|| |
| ||But that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not|
| ||know me! The prince's fool! Ha? It may be I go|| |
| ||under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I|| |
| ||am apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it|| |
| ||is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice|| |
| ||that puts the world into her person and so gives me|
| ||out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.|| 190|| |
| ||Re-enter DON PEDRO.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Now, signior, where's the count? did you see him?|| |
|BENEDICK ||Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame.|| |
| ||I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a|| |
| ||warren: I told him, and I think I told him true,|
| ||that your grace had got the good will of this young|| |
| ||lady; and I offered him my company to a willow-tree,|| |
| ||either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or|| |
| ||to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||To be whipped! What's his fault?|
|BENEDICK ||The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being|| 201|| |
| ||overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his|| |
| ||companion, and he steals it.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The|| |
| ||transgression is in the stealer.|
|BENEDICK ||Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,|| |
| ||and the garland too; for the garland he might have|| |
| ||worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on|| |
| ||you, who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to|
| ||the owner.|| 211|| |
|BENEDICK ||If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,|| |
| ||you say honestly.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the|| |
| ||gentleman that danced with her told her she is much|
| ||wronged by you.|| |
|BENEDICK ||O, she misused me past the endurance of a block!|| |
| ||an oak but with one green leaf on it would have|| |
| ||answered her; my very visor began to assume life and|| |
| ||scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been|
| ||myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was|| |
| ||duller than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest|| |
| ||with such impossible conveyance upon me that I stood|| |
| ||like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at|| |
| ||me. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs:|| 220|
| ||if her breath were as terrible as her terminations,|| |
| ||there were no living near her; she would infect to|| |
| ||the north star. I would not marry her, though she|| |
| ||were endowed with all that Adam bad left him before|| |
| ||he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have|
| ||turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make|| |
| ||the fire too. Come, talk not of her: you shall find|| |
| ||her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God|| |
| ||some scholar would conjure her; for certainly, while|| |
| ||she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a|| 230|
| ||sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose, because they|| |
| ||would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet, horror|| |
| ||and perturbation follows her.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Look, here she comes.|| |
| ||Enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO.|| |
|BENEDICK ||Will your grace command me any service to the|
| ||world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now|| |
| ||to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on;|| |
| ||I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the|| |
| ||furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of|| |
| ||Prester John's foot, fetch you a hair off the great|| 240|
| ||Cham's beard, do you any embassage to the Pigmies,|| |
| ||rather than hold three words' conference with this|| |
| ||harpy. You have no employment for me?|| |
|DON PEDRO ||None, but to desire your good company.|| |
|BENEDICK ||O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot|
| ||endure my Lady Tongue.|| |
| ||Exit|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of|| |
| ||Signior Benedick.|| 252|| |
|BEATRICE ||Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave|| |
| ||him use for it, a double heart for his single one:|
| ||marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,|| |
| ||therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.|| |
|BEATRICE ||So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I|| |
| ||should prove the mother of fools. I have brought|
| ||Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?|| |
|CLAUDIO ||Not sad, my lord.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||How then? sick?|| |
|CLAUDIO ||Neither, my lord.|
|BEATRICE ||The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor|| 266|| |
| ||well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and|| |
| ||something of that jealous complexion.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;|| |
| ||though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is|
| ||false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and|| |
| ||fair Hero is won: I have broke with her father,|| |
| ||and his good will obtained: name the day of|| |
| ||marriage, and God give thee joy!|| 274|| |
|LEONATO ||Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my|
| ||fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an|| |
| ||grace say Amen to it.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Speak, count, 'tis your cue.|| |
|CLAUDIO ||Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were|| |
| ||but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as|
| ||you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for|| |
| ||you and dote upon the exchange.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth|| |
| ||with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.|| 285|| |
|BEATRICE ||Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on|| |
| ||the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his|| |
| ||ear that he is in her heart.|| |
|CLAUDIO ||And so she doth, cousin.|| |
|BEATRICE ||Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the|
| ||world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a|| |
| ||corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.|| |
|BEATRICE ||I would rather have one of your father's getting.|| |
| ||Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your|
| ||father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Will you have me, lady?|| |
|BEATRICE ||No, my lord, unless I might have another for|| |
| ||working-days: your grace is too costly to wear|| |
| ||every day. But, I beseech your grace, pardon me: I|
| ||was born to speak all mirth and no matter.|| 301|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best|| |
| ||becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in|| |
| ||a merry hour.|| |
|BEATRICE ||No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there|
| ||was a star danced, and under that was I born.|| |
| ||Cousins, God give you joy!|| |
|LEONATO ||Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?|| |
|BEATRICE ||I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon.|| |
| ||Exit|| |
|DON PEDRO ||By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.|| 312|
|LEONATO ||There's little of the melancholy element in her, my|| |
| ||lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps, and|| |
| ||not ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say,|| |
| ||she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked|| |
| ||herself with laughing.|
|DON PEDRO ||She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.|| |
|LEONATO ||O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.|| 320|| |
|DON PEDRO ||She were an excellent wife for Benedict.|| |
|LEONATO ||O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married,|| |
| ||they would talk themselves mad.|
|DON PEDRO ||County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?|| |
|CLAUDIO ||To-morrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love|| |
| ||have all his rites.|| |
|LEONATO ||Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just|| |
| ||seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all|
| ||things answer my mind.|| 330|| |
|DON PEDRO ||Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing:|| |
| ||but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go|| |
| ||dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of|| |
| ||Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signior|
| ||Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of|| |
| ||affection the one with the other. I would fain have|| |
| ||it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if|| |
| ||you three will but minister such assistance as I|| |
| ||shall give you direction.|
|LEONATO ||My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten|| |
| ||nights' watchings.|| 340|| |
|CLAUDIO ||And I, my lord.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||And you too, gentle Hero?|| |
|HERO ||I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my|
| ||cousin to a good husband.|| |
|DON PEDRO ||And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that|| |
| ||I know. Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble|| |
| ||strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I|| |
| ||will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she|
| ||shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your|| |
| ||two helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in|| |
| ||despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he|| |
| ||shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this,|| |
| ||Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be|
| ||ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me,|| |
| ||and I will tell you my drift.|| |
| ||Exeunt|| |
Next: Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, Scene 2
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1
From Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons.
9 Like my lady's eldest son. Some popular allusion, perhaps, the key to which has been lost. As the words stand they are
17 Shrewd, 'Sharp,' 'bitter.' Cf. shrewish. The original
meaning of the word was 'malicious;' thence came the idea
'bad,' 'evil.' So "Shrewd days and nights" in As You Like It,
V, 4. 179 = 'times of ill-fortune.'...
18 Curst, 'Ill-tempered,' like an animal.
24 If he send me, &c. Quibbling on horns as the symbol
of the husband whose wife is unfaithful.
27 In the woollen. 'In woollen blankets without the sheets.' So usually explained, but I believe Mr. Marshall is right in his
suggestion that "to lie in the woollen" = 'to be dead,' since the
practice of burying persons in woollen stuffs was very general,
and even enjoined by Act of Parliament temp. Charles II.
36 Bear-herd. 'Bear-leader.' Spelled berrord in Quarto and
first and second Folios. The word occurs elsewhere [e.g.
Taming of the Shrew, Induction, 2. 21; 2 Henry IV, i. 2. 192); never, however, in the form bearward, which many editors
venture to print. Rolfe remarks, "The apes rode on the bear led about by the bear-herd;" but Shakespeare appears to be
referring to some popular custom of which we have no account.
Lead his apes in hell. Alluding to an old superstition not
complimentary to unmarried ladies. Says a character in an old song printed in Bullen's Lyrics from Elizabethan Song Books,
p. 44 —
"I marriage would forswear,
Katherine, in the Taming of the Shrew, ii. i. 34, thought that
it would be her fate to "lead apes in hell." [*Although the origin of the saying is unknown, it might be a reference to the popularity of small monkeys as pets during Shakespeare's day; elderly ladies being fond of pets to keep them company.]
But that I hear men tell
That she that dies a maid
Must lead an ape in hell."
42 For the heavens! It seems best to place the stop after Saint Peter, taking for the heavens' with what follows, and
treating it as a vague oath. Cf. Merchant of Venice, ii. 2. 13.
The Globe Edition prints and away to Saint Peter for the heavens, with which reading the words must bear, I suppose, their natural sense, 'bound for the heavens.' Perhaps, however, a quibble on the double meaning of the phrase is intended.
55 Marl, A rich kind of earth. Wayward, because crumbly.
61 Important, 'Importunate,' as in Lear, iv. 4. 26, "Mourning and important tears," where the Folios, however, read importun'd.
67 Measure, 'A dance'; properly 'a slow and stately dance,' as we see from what follows. Jaques, in As You Like It, V. 4. 199, is "for other than for dancing measures." For the pun on measure in line 62, cf. Richard II. iii. 4. 6-9 —
"Lady. Madam, we'll dance.
68 Cinque-pace. Corrupted by Sir Toby into sink-a-pace,
Twelfth Night, i. 3. 139. Old-fashioned folk complained that people would dance galliards, lavoltas, and suchlike new-fangled
measures, while "he which hath no more but the plaine sinque-pace is no better accompted then a verie bungler." (Barnabe
Riche in his Farewell to the Militarie Profession.)
"The Queen. My legs can keep no measure in delight,
When my poor heart no measure keeps in grief."
75 Friend. 'Lover.' "If you have a friend here, convey him," Merry Wives, iii. 3. 124.
82 Favour. 'Face.' The case of course, is the visor or
mask which Don Pedro wears.
84-86 The lines form a couplet of the old fourteen-syllable
metre frequent in popular ballad verse, and Dyce was probably
right in his suggestion that really they are a quotation from
some forgotten poem, and should be printed as such. The
reference, of course, is to the classical story of Baucis and Philemon. (Ovid, Metamorphoses, viii.) Shakespeare may have
come across the tale in Golding's translation, though I believe
myself that the poet was a good enough scholar to read Ovid in
the original. However, this touches on the well-worn "little |
Latin and less Greek" question, on which Farmer in the last
century, and Professor Baynes in this, have said all that there is
85 Iove. So the Quarto; the Folios read love, an obvious slip.
98 Answer, clerk; viz., "Amen." Cf. Sonnet 85, "And like unlettered clerk still cry, 'Amen.'"
102 At a word. 'Briefly.' German kurz und gut. Cf. Merry Wives, i. I. 109.
103 Waggling. Cotgrave has, "Triballer: to wagle, or dangle
up and downe." Of course, only a frequentative form of wag.
105 So ill-well. 'Well, because the likeness is so close; ill,
because you cut such a sorry figure.'
106 Dry hand. Supposed to be the sign of a cold disposition, not prone to love. So Twelfth Night, i. 3. 77, and Othello,
iii. 4. 36-38, for the opposite sign.
116 "Hundred Merry Tales." A popular jest-book, of which
a perfect copy (dated 1526) is still extant in the University
Library at Gottingen. The Tales have been reprinted as a
literary curiosity .... Possibly they were written by John Heywood, author of the Epigrams and some dreary Interludes of which
"The Four Ps" is occasionally readable.
124 Impossible. 'Extravagant.'
128 In the fleet. 'One of the guests present.' The metaphor
is carried on in boarded me.
129 Boarded. 'Accosted.' So Twelfth Night, i. 3. 60, and
Merry Wives, ii. I. 92. French aborder, 'approach.'
132 Break. So "break a jest," in act v. i. 89. Cf. too ii. 3. 245.
146-47 Near ... in his love. So Richard II, iii. i. 17,
"Near to the king in blood, and near in love." Near (with or
without a preposition) frequently implies 'attached to,' whether
by relationship or affection.
147 Enamoured on. Compare "enamoured upon," in I
Henry IV, v. 2. 70-71. ...
163 Faith melteth into blood. Faithblood = 'passion,' as often.
164 An accident of hourly proof. 'Something which you may
verify any day.'
165 Which I mistrusted not. Only two feet. Lines with two
redundant syllables after the third or fourth foot are not uncommon ...
170 Willow. Typical of unhappy love, and unhappiness generally. Chosen possibly in refrence to Psalm cxxxvii. 2. So
Dyer, Folk-lore of Shakespeare, p. 105. Dido stood "with a
willow in her hand," Merchant of Venice, v. 10; and "Willow, willow," is the burden of Desdemona's song, Othello, iv. 3.
Indeed, this refrain meets us in many places, always with the same associations; e.g. in the Two Noble Kinsmen, iv. I. 79-80 --
"Then she sung
Nothing but 'Willow, willow, willow;'"
and Massinger's Maid of Honour, v. i —
"You may cry 'Willow, willow' for your brother."
Claudio is to wear a willow garland as a sign
that he has lost his love, Hero.
172 Usurer's chain. Referring, says Mr. Marshall, to "the gold chains worn by the more wealthy merchants of that day,
many of whom were bankers, and lent out money at interest."
182 If it will not be. 'If you will not leave me.'
188 Though bitter. So Quarto and Folios; but Johnson's "the bitter" is tempting. Though bitter seems to be thrown in
as a qualification of base; with what sense I cannot see.
189 That puts, &c. 'That claims to express the general
opinion of the world about me.'
194 A lodge in a warren. The lodge in which the keeper of
a rabbit warren lived would naturally be a dismal place. Cf. use of "grange" for any desolate, lonely house; e.g. in Othello,
i. I. 106, "My house is not a grange." And of course in
Tennyson's Moated Grange.
196 This. Hero. As she is not present, this has been
changed by some editors to the.
214 Quarrel to you. To = 'motion against.' (Abbott, p. 123.) Cf. Coriolanus iv. 5. 133, "Had we no quarrel else to
Rome." So Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 248.
217 Misus'd. 'Abused.' So As You Like It, iv. I. 205.
218 Block. As we say, "blockhead." So iii. i. 67.
223 Impossible conveyance. 'Extraordinary sharpness.' I can
see no great difficulty in the expression. Impossible here, as in
line 143, has a vaguely intensitive sense, merely heightening the
idea suggested by the word with which it is combined; and
conveyance implies 'cuteness,' 'trickery.' Polite people never
steal; they "convey." (Merry Wives, i. 3. 32.) Beatrice
passed jest after jest upon Benedick with all the dexterity of a
225 Speaks poniards. Exactly Hamlet's "speak daggers" (iii 2. 414). Compare, too, Macbeth, iii. 3. 146, "There's
daggers in men's smiles."
226 Terminations. 'Words.'
230 Have turned. Probably the past infinitive is used through
attraction to previous have. So Abbott, p. 260. We may
compare such an expression as "I hoped to have seen him;" now a solecism, but in Elizabethan English a not uncommon
turn of phrase.
232 Ate. 'As the goddess of Discord.'
233 Some scholar. That is, someone who could speak Latin,
the proper tongue in which to exorcise spirits and uncanny
folk. When the ghost first appears in Hamlet, Marcellus says,
"Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio." (i. i. 42.)
234-237 Very vaguely expressed, but meaning apparently
that life in hell and life in a sanctuary are much the same, if
Beatrice be present. Benedick and Beatrice try to be so desperately clever and sharp that at times their repartee overreaches
itself, and becomes nearly unintelligible.
236 Thither; viz., to hell, so as to be [rid] of Beatrice.
243 Prester John. Prester, or Presbyter, John was one of
the great mediaeval myths — a fabulous monarch who ruled in
the uttermost parts of Asia, professed Christianity, corresponded with the Pope, and maintained a magnificent Court. The old
travellers of the Mandeville, Howell, and William Sanday type, are great on the subject of this Eastern potentate and his glories;
in particular is there a very circumstantial account of his palace in the travels of Mr. Edward Webbe, reprinted by Professor
Arber. Allusions similar to the present one occur constantly in the literature of the time; but how the story arose, or what
element of truth there is in them, no one can say.
244 The great Cham, 'The Khan of Tartary.'
245 The Pigmies. The somewhat legendary nation of dwarfs,
the whereabouts of whose land I cannot fix. Different writers
have assigned them to different countries — India, Ethiopia, and
so on; but all agree that the Pigmies were attacked each year
in the spring-time by flocks of cranes. Milton refers to them in
Paradise Lost i. 575-6, as
"That small infantry
Warr'd on by cranes."
And in the same book, line 781, he places their territory
"beyond the Indian mount;" i.e. mount Imaus.
254 Use. 'Interest.' Cf. Sonnet 6, "That use is not forbidden usury;" and usance in the Merchant of Venice, i. 3. 46.
267 Civil as an orange. A quibble on civil and Seville. The
editors quote Cotgrave: "Aigre — Douce: A civile orange, or
orange that is betweene sweet and sower." Beatrice therefore means that Claudio has a touch of bitterness in his character,
polite though he seems.
268 That jealous complexion; viz., yellow, which symbolised
jealousy. Cf. the Winter's Tale, ii. 3. 106-7 —
"'Mongst all colours
No yellow in't, lest she suspect."
And the Merry Wives, i. 3. 113. In the Merchant of Venice,
iii. 2. 110, and the very difficult passage in Othello, iii. 3. 116,
jealousy is "the green-ey'd monster;" and stage-tradition assigns a dress partly green, partly yellow, to the suspicious
husband Ford in the Merry Wives.
269 Blazon. 'Description;' viz., of Claudio. Blazon is a
term taken from heraldry, and properly the verb meant 'to
describe a shield,' from which came the general sense of
'depicting,' 'describing.' Cf. Sonnet 106, "The blazon of
sweet beauty's best."
278 Cue. Cue is generally derived from queue, 'a tail;' i.e. 'the last word of the previous speaker's part.' It has been
suggested, however, that the word got its theatrical sense from a confusion with the capital letter Q, short for quando, which
was marked on the acting version of a play given to each actor,
thus showing him when he had to begin to speak. For its use
in Shakespeare cf. Othello, i. 2. 83, "Were it my cue to fight,"
and Midsummer Night's Dream, v. I. 185. "Turn" is the
closest alternative that I can think of.
283 Stop his mouth. Compare v. 4. 92.
287 The windy side. That is, 'the safe side.' Sir Andrew, in
Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 181, kept "o' the windy side of the law." The metaphor is either from shooting or from seamanship.
290 Good Lord, for alliance. 'Heaven send me a marriage;' i.e. 'an anticipation of heigh-ho for a husband.' This seems to
me the most natural interpretation.
Goes ... to the world. 'Gets married.' Cf. All's Well, i. 3. 20-21, and "A woman of the world" in As You Like It,
v. 3. 5.
291 Sunburned. 'Without attractions.' Used thus in Trolius and Cressida, i. 3. 282, "The Grecian dames are sunburnt."
We have already seen (i. 160) that a fair complexion was the Elizabethan ideal of beauty.
312 Pleasant-spirited. 'Witty.' Cf. "pleasant," i. I. 34,
326 Time goes on crutches. We may remember Rosalind's
account of times, "Divers paces with divers persons," As You
Like It, iii. 2. 331-335.
329 Just. 'Exact.' Now used only as adverb in this sense.
Cf. Merchant of Venice, iv. I. 327, "A just pound." See
Abbott, p. 26.
332 Breathing. 'Delay.' So Lucrece, 1720. Cf. I Henry
IV. v. 4. 15, "We breathe too long" = 'tarry.'
351 Queasy. 'Squeamish.' A Scandinavian word. In Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 2. 20, queasy = 'disgusted with,'
"Queasy with his insolence."
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/much_2_1.html >.
Types of Shakespearean Comedy
Exploring the Nature of Shakespearean Comedy
Much Ado About Nothing: Plot Summary
How to Study Shakespeare: Five steps to success
reading a Shakespeare play
Going to a Play in Elizabethan London
Entertainment in Elizabethan England
The King's Men
Shakespeare's Blank Verse
Shakespeare Characters A to Z
Top 10 Shakespeare Plays
Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes
How many plays did Shakespeare write?
Words Shakespeare Invented
What Inspired Shakespeare?
Quotations About William Shakespeare