Much Ado About Nothing - Act 2, scene 3
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Act 2, scene 3
Leonato, Claudio, and Don Pedro stage a conversation for Benedick to overhear. They talk about Beatrice’s desperate love for Benedick, about their fears that her suffering will destroy her, and about how Benedick would mock Beatrice if he knew of her love. Benedick decides that he must love Beatrice in return.Enter Benedick alone.
BENEDICK 0858 Boy!
BOY 0859 Signior?
BENEDICK 0860 In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it
0861 hither to me in the orchard.
BOY 0862 5I am here already, sir.
BENEDICK 0863 I know that, but I would have thee hence
0864 and here again.⌜Boy⌝ exits.
0865 I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
0866 another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors
0867 10 to love, will, after he hath laughed at such
0868 shallow follies in others, become the argument of
0869 his own scorn by falling in love—and such a man is
0870 Claudio. I have known when there was no music
0871 with him but the drum and the fife, and now had he
0872 15 rather hear the tabor and the pipe; I have known
0873 when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a
0874 good armor, and now will he lie ten nights awake
0875 carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont
0876 to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest
0878 his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so
0879 many strange dishes. May I be so converted and see
0880 with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not. I will not
0881 be sworn but love may transform me to an oyster,
0882 25 but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an
0883 oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool.
0884 One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet
0885 I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all
0886 graces be in one woman, one woman shall not
0887 30 come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain;
0888 wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen
0889 her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not
0890 near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good
0891 discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
0892 35 be of what color it please God. Ha! The Prince and
0893 Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbor.
Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Balthasar
PRINCE 0894 Come, shall we hear this music?
0895 Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
0896 As hushed on purpose to grace harmony!
PRINCE, ⌜aside to Claudio⌝
0897 40 See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
CLAUDIO, ⌜aside to Prince⌝
0898 O, very well my lord. The music ended,
0899 We’ll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
0900 Come, Balthasar, we’ll hear that song again.
0901 O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
0902 45 To slander music any more than once.
0903 It is the witness still of excellency
0904 To put a strange face on his own perfection.
0905 I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.
0906 Because you talk of wooing, I will sing,
0907 50 Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
0908 To her he thinks not worthy, yet he woos,
0909 Yet will he swear he loves.
PRINCE 0910 Nay, pray thee, come,
0911 Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
0912 55 Do it in notes.
BALTHASAR 0913 Note this before my notes:
0914 There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.
0915 Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks!
0916 Note notes, forsooth, and nothing.⌜Music plays.⌝
BENEDICK, ⌜aside⌝ 0917 60Now, divine air! Now is his soul
0918 ravished. Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should
0919 hale souls out of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my
0920 money, when all’s done.
0921 Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
0922 65 Men were deceivers ever,
0923 One foot in sea and one on shore,
0924 To one thing constant never.
0925 Then sigh not so, but let them go,
0926 And be you blithe and bonny,
0927 70 Converting all your sounds of woe
0928 Into Hey, nonny nonny.
0929 Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,
0930 Of dumps so dull and heavy.
0931 The fraud of men was ever so,
0932 75 Since summer first was leavy.
0934 And be you blithe and bonny,
0935 Converting all your sounds of woe
0936 Into Hey, nonny nonny.
PRINCE 0937 80By my troth, a good song.
BALTHASAR 0938 And an ill singer, my lord.
PRINCE 0939 Ha, no, no, faith, thou sing’st well enough for a
BENEDICK, ⌜aside⌝ 0941 An he had been a dog that should
0942 85 have howled thus, they would have hanged him. And
0943 I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as
0944 lief have heard the night raven, come what plague
0945 could have come after it.
PRINCE 0946 Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray
0947 90 thee get us some excellent music, for tomorrow
0948 night we would have it at the Lady Hero’s chamber
BALTHASAR 0950 The best I can, my lord.
PRINCE 0951 Do so. Farewell.Balthasar exits.
0952 95 Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
0953 today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
0954 Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO 0955 O, ay. ⌜Aside to Prince.⌝ Stalk on, stalk on; the
0956 fowl sits.—I did never think that lady would have
0957 100 loved any man.
LEONATO 0958 No, nor I neither, but most wonderful that
0959 she should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she
0960 hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to
BENEDICK, ⌜aside⌝ 0962 105Is ’t possible? Sits the wind in that
LEONATO 0964 By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to
0965 think of it, but that she loves him with an enraged
0966 affection, it is past the infinite of thought.
PRINCE 0967 110Maybe she doth but counterfeit.
CLAUDIO 0968 Faith, like enough.
0970 of passion came so near the life of passion as
0971 she discovers it.
PRINCE 0972 115Why, what effects of passion shows she?
CLAUDIO, ⌜aside to Leonato⌝ 0973 Bait the hook well; this fish
0974 will bite.
LEONATO 0975 What effects, my lord? She will sit you—you
0976 heard my daughter tell you how.
CLAUDIO 0977 120She did indeed.
PRINCE 0978 How, how I pray you? You amaze me. I would
0979 have thought her spirit had been invincible against
0980 all assaults of affection.
LEONATO 0981 I would have sworn it had, my lord, especially
0982 125 against Benedick.
BENEDICK, ⌜aside⌝ 0983 I should think this a gull but that the
0984 white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot,
0985 sure, hide himself in such reverence.
CLAUDIO, ⌜aside to Prince⌝ 0986 He hath ta’en th’ infection.
0987 130 Hold it up.
PRINCE 0988 Hath she made her affection known to
LEONATO 0990 No, and swears she never will. That’s her
CLAUDIO 0992 135’Tis true indeed, so your daughter says. “Shall
0993 I,” says she, “that have so oft encountered him with
0994 scorn, write to him that I love him?”
LEONATO 0995 This says she now when she is beginning to
0996 write to him, for she’ll be up twenty times a night,
0997 140 and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ
0998 a sheet of paper. My daughter tells us all.
CLAUDIO 0999 Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember
1000 a pretty jest your daughter told ⌜us of.⌝
LEONATO 1001 O, when she had writ it and was reading it
1002 145 over, she found “Benedick” and “Beatrice” between
1003 the sheet?
CLAUDIO 1004 That.
1006 railed at herself that she should be so
1007 150 immodest to write to one that she knew would flout
1008 her. “I measure him,” says she, “by my own spirit,
1009 for I should flout him if he writ to me, yea, though I
1010 love him, I should.”
CLAUDIO 1011 Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps,
1012 155 sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses:
1013 “O sweet Benedick, God give me patience!”
LEONATO 1014 She doth indeed, my daughter says so, and
1015 the ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my
1016 daughter is sometimes afeared she will do a desperate
1017 160 outrage to herself. It is very true.
PRINCE 1018 It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
1019 other, if she will not discover it.
CLAUDIO 1020 To what end? He would make but a sport of it
1021 and torment the poor lady worse.
PRINCE 1022 165An he should, it were an alms to hang him.
1023 She’s an excellent sweet lady, and, out of all suspicion,
1024 she is virtuous.
CLAUDIO 1025 And she is exceeding wise.
PRINCE 1026 In everything but in loving Benedick.
LEONATO 1027 170O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in
1028 so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that
1029 blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have
1030 just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
PRINCE 1031 I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I
1032 175 would have daffed all other respects and made her
1033 half myself. I pray you tell Benedick of it, and hear
1034 what he will say.
LEONATO 1035 Were it good, think you?
CLAUDIO 1036 Hero thinks surely she will die, for she says
1037 180 she will die if he love her not, and she will die ere
1038 she make her love known, and she will die if he woo
1039 her rather than she will bate one breath of her
1040 accustomed crossness.
1042 185 her love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it, for the man,
1043 as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
CLAUDIO 1044 He is a very proper man.
PRINCE 1045 He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
CLAUDIO 1046 Before God, and in my mind, very wise.
PRINCE 1047 190He doth indeed show some sparks that are like
CLAUDIO 1049 And I take him to be valiant.
PRINCE 1050 As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing
1051 of quarrels you may say he is wise, for either he
1052 195 avoids them with great discretion or undertakes
1053 them with a most Christianlike fear.
LEONATO 1054 If he do fear God, he must necessarily keep
1055 peace. If he break the peace, he ought to enter into
1056 a quarrel with fear and trembling.
PRINCE 1057 200And so will he do, for the man doth fear God,
1058 howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests
1059 he will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall
1060 we go seek Benedick and tell him of her love?
CLAUDIO 1061 Never tell him, my lord, let her wear it out
1062 205 with good counsel.
LEONATO 1063 Nay, that’s impossible; she may wear her
1064 heart out first.
PRINCE 1065 Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter.
1066 Let it cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I
1067 210 could wish he would modestly examine himself to
1068 see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.
LEONATO 1069 My lord, will you walk? Dinner is ready.
⌜Leonato, Prince, and Claudio begin to exit.⌝
CLAUDIO, ⌜aside to Prince and Leonato⌝ 1070 If he do not
1071 dote on her upon this, I will never trust my
1072 215 expectation.
PRINCE, ⌜aside to Leonato⌝ 1073 Let there be the same net
1074 spread for her, and that must your daughter and her
1075 gentlewomen carry. The sport will be when they
1077 220 such matter. That’s the scene that I would see,
1078 which will be merely a dumb show. Let us send her
1079 to call him in to dinner.
⌜Prince, Leonato, and Claudio exit.⌝
BENEDICK, ⌜coming forward⌝ 1080 This can be no trick. The
1081 conference was sadly borne; they have the truth of
1082 225 this from Hero; they seem to pity the lady. It seems
1083 her affections have their full bent. Love me? Why, it
1084 must be requited! I hear how I am censured. They
1085 say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive the love
1086 come from her. They say, too, that she will rather
1087 230 die than give any sign of affection. I did never think
1088 to marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they
1089 that hear their detractions and can put them to
1090 mending. They say the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can
1091 bear them witness. And virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot
1092 235 reprove it. And wise, but for loving me; by my troth,
1093 it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of
1094 her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her! I
1095 may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of
1096 wit broken on me because I have railed so long
1097 240 against marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A
1098 man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot
1099 endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and
1100 these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the
1101 career of his humor? No! The world must be peopled.
1102 245 When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not
1103 think I should live till I were married. Here comes
1104 Beatrice. By this day, she’s a fair lady. I do spy some
1105 marks of love in her.
BEATRICE 1106 Against my will, I am sent to bid you come
1107 250 in to dinner.
BENEDICK 1108 Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.
1110 you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I
1111 would not have come.
BENEDICK 1112 255You take pleasure then in the message?
BEATRICE 1113 Yea, just so much as you may take upon a
1114 knife’s point and choke a daw withal. You have no
1115 stomach, signior. Fare you well.She exits.
BENEDICK 1116 Ha! “Against my will I am sent to bid you
1117 260 come in to dinner.” There’s a double meaning in
1118 that. “I took no more pains for those thanks than
1119 you took pains to thank me.” That’s as much as to
1120 say “Any pains that I take for you is as easy as
1121 thanks.” If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I
1122 265 do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.