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Much Ado About Nothing
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Navigate this workMuch Ado About Nothing
Act 4, scene 1
At the wedding, Claudio publicly denounces Hero as a lewd woman. He is supported in his story by Don Pedro and Don John. Hero faints and her accusers depart. The Friar believes in her innocence and proposes that Leonato announce that she has died. This news, the Friar thinks, will make Claudio remember his love for her. After the others depart, Benedick and Beatrice admit they love each other, and Benedick reluctantly agrees to challenge Claudio to a duel.Enter Prince, ⌜John the⌝ Bastard, Leonato, Friar,
Claudio, Benedick, Hero, and Beatrice, ⌜with
LEONATO 1711 Come, Friar Francis, be brief, only to the
1712 plain form of marriage, and you shall recount their
1713 particular duties afterwards.
FRIAR, ⌜to Claudio⌝ 1714 You come hither, my lord, to marry
1715 5 this lady?
CLAUDIO 1716 No.
LEONATO 1717 To be married to her.—Friar, you come to
1718 marry her.
FRIAR 1719 Lady, you come hither to be married to this
1720 10 count?
HERO 1721 I do.
FRIAR 1722 If either of you know any inward impediment
1723 why you should not be conjoined, I charge you on
1724 your souls to utter it.
CLAUDIO 1725 15Know you any, Hero?
HERO 1726 None, my lord.
FRIAR 1727 Know you any, count?
LEONATO 1728 I dare make his answer, none.
CLAUDIO 1729 O, what men dare do! What men may do!
1730 20 What men daily do, not knowing what they do!
BENEDICK 1731 How now, interjections? Why, then, some
1732 be of laughing, as ah, ha, he!
1733 Stand thee by, friar.—Father, by your leave,
1734 Will you with free and unconstrainèd soul
1735 25 Give me this maid, your daughter?
1736 As freely, son, as God did give her me.
1737 And what have I to give you back whose worth
1738 May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
1739 Nothing, unless you render her again.
1740 30 Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.—
1741 There, Leonato, take her back again.
1742 Give not this rotten orange to your friend.
1743 She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor.
1744 Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
1745 35 O, what authority and show of truth
1746 Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
1747 Comes not that blood as modest evidence
1748 To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
1749 All you that see her, that she were a maid,
1750 40 By these exterior shows? But she is none.
1751 She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.
1752 Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
1753 What do you mean, my lord?
CLAUDIO 1754 Not to be married,
1755 45 Not to knit my soul to an approvèd wanton.
1756 Dear my lord, if you in your own proof
1757 Have vanquished the resistance of her youth,
1758 And made defeat of her virginity—
1759 I know what you would say: if I have known her,
1760 50 You will say she did embrace me as a husband,
p. 1271761 And so extenuate the forehand sin.
1762 No, Leonato,
1763 I never tempted her with word too large,
1764 But, as a brother to his sister, showed
1765 55 Bashful sincerity and comely love.
1766 And seemed I ever otherwise to you?
1767 Out on thee, seeming! I will write against it.
1768 You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
1769 As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown.
1770 60 But you are more intemperate in your blood
1771 Than Venus, or those pampered animals
1772 That rage in savage sensuality.
1773 Is my lord well that he doth speak so wide?
1774 Sweet prince, why speak not you?
PRINCE 1775 65 What should I
1777 I stand dishonored that have gone about
1778 To link my dear friend to a common stale.
1779 Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
1780 70 Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
BENEDICK 1781 This looks not like a nuptial.
HERO 1782 True! O God!
CLAUDIO 1783 Leonato, stand I here?
1784 Is this the Prince? Is this the Prince’s brother?
1785 75 Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?
1786 All this is so, but what of this, my lord?
1787 Let me but move one question to your daughter,
p. 1291788 And by that fatherly and kindly power
1789 That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
1790 80 I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
1791 O, God defend me, how am I beset!—
1792 What kind of catechizing call you this?
1793 To make you answer truly to your name.
1794 Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
1795 85 With any just reproach?
CLAUDIO 1796 Marry, that can Hero!
1797 Hero itself can blot out Hero’s virtue.
1798 What man was he talked with you yesternight
1799 Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
1800 90 Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
1801 I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.
1802 Why, then, are you no maiden.—Leonato,
1803 I am sorry you must hear. Upon mine honor,
1804 Myself, my brother, and this grievèd count
1805 95 Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
1806 Talk with a ruffian at her chamber window,
1807 Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
1808 Confessed the vile encounters they have had
1809 A thousand times in secret.
1810 100 Fie, fie, they are not to be named, my lord,
1811 Not to be spoke of!
1812 There is not chastity enough in language,
1813 Without offense, to utter them.—Thus, pretty lady,
1814 I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
1815 105 O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been
p. 1311816 If half thy outward graces had been placed
1817 About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
1818 But fare thee well, most foul, most fair. Farewell,
1819 Thou pure impiety and impious purity.
1820 110 For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love
1821 And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
1822 To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
1823 And never shall it more be gracious.
1824 Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?
1825 115 Why, how now, cousin, wherefore sink you down?
1826 Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
1827 Smother her spirits up.
⌜Claudio, Prince, and Don John exit.⌝
1828 How doth the lady?
BEATRICE 1829 Dead, I think.—Help, uncle!—
1830 120 Hero, why Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
1831 O Fate, take not away thy heavy hand!
1832 Death is the fairest cover for her shame
1833 That may be wished for.
BEATRICE 1834 How now, cousin Hero?⌜Hero stirs.⌝
FRIAR, ⌜to Hero⌝ 1835 125Have comfort, lady.
LEONATO, ⌜to Hero⌝
1836 Dost thou look up?
FRIAR 1837 Yea, wherefore should she not?
1838 Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly thing
1839 Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
1840 130 The story that is printed in her blood?—
1841 Do not live, Hero, do not ope thine eyes,
1842 For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
p. 1331843 Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
1844 Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
1845 135 Strike at thy life. Grieved I I had but one?
1846 Chid I for that at frugal Nature’s frame?
1847 O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
1848 Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
1849 Why had I not with charitable hand
1850 140 Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
1851 Who, smirchèd thus, and mired with infamy,
1852 I might have said “No part of it is mine;
1853 This shame derives itself from unknown loins”?
1854 But mine, and mine I loved, and mine I praised,
1855 145 And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
1856 That I myself was to myself not mine,
1857 Valuing of her—why she, O she, is fall’n
1858 Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
1859 Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
1860 150 And salt too little which may season give
1861 To her foul tainted flesh!
BENEDICK 1862 Sir, sir, be patient.
1863 For my part, I am so attired in wonder
1864 I know not what to say.
1865 155 O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
1866 Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
1867 No, truly not, although until last night
1868 I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
1869 Confirmed, confirmed! O, that is stronger made
1870 160 Which was before barred up with ribs of iron!
1871 Would the two princes lie and Claudio lie,
1872 Who loved her so that, speaking of her foulness,
1873 Washed it with tears? Hence from her. Let her die!
FRIAR 1874 Hear me a little,
p. 1351875 165 For I have only ⌜silent been⌝ so long,
1876 And given way unto this course of fortune,
1877 By noting of the lady. I have marked
1878 A thousand blushing apparitions
1879 To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames
1880 170 In angel whiteness beat away those blushes,
1881 And in her eye there hath appeared a fire
1882 To burn the errors that these princes hold
1883 Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool,
1884 Trust not my reading nor my observations,
1885 175 Which with experimental seal doth warrant
1886 The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
1887 My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
1888 If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
1889 Under some biting error.
LEONATO 1890 180 Friar, it cannot be.
1891 Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
1892 Is that she will not add to her damnation
1893 A sin of perjury. She not denies it.
1894 Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse
1895 185 That which appears in proper nakedness?
1896 Lady, what man is he you are accused of?
1897 They know that do accuse me. I know none.
1898 If I know more of any man alive
1899 Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
1900 190 Let all my sins lack mercy!—O my father,
1901 Prove you that any man with me conversed
1902 At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
1903 Maintained the change of words with any creature,
1904 Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!
1905 195 There is some strange misprision in the princes.
1906 Two of them have the very bent of honor,
p. 1371907 And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
1908 The practice of it lives in John the Bastard,
1909 Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.
1910 200 I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
1911 These hands shall tear her. If they wrong her honor,
1912 The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
1913 Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
1914 Nor age so eat up my invention,
1915 205 Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
1916 Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
1917 But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
1918 Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
1919 Ability in means and choice of friends,
1920 210 To quit me of them throughly.
FRIAR 1921 Pause awhile,
1922 And let my counsel sway you in this case.
1923 Your daughter here the princes left for dead.
1924 Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
1925 215 And publish it that she is dead indeed.
1926 Maintain a mourning ostentation,
1927 And on your family’s old monument
1928 Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
1929 That appertain unto a burial.
1930 220 What shall become of this? What will this do?
1931 Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
1932 Change slander to remorse. That is some good.
1933 But not for that dream I on this strange course,
1934 But on this travail look for greater birth.
1935 225 She, dying, as it must be so maintained,
1936 Upon the instant that she was accused,
1937 Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused
1938 Of every hearer. For it so falls out
1939 That what we have we prize not to the worth
p. 1391940 230 Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
1941 Why then we rack the value, then we find
1942 The virtue that possession would not show us
1943 Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio.
1944 When he shall hear she died upon his words,
1945 235 Th’ idea of her life shall sweetly creep
1946 Into his study of imagination,
1947 And every lovely organ of her life
1948 Shall come appareled in more precious habit,
1949 More moving, delicate, and full of life,
1950 240 Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
1951 Than when she lived indeed. Then shall he mourn,
1952 If ever love had interest in his liver,
1953 And wish he had not so accused her,
1954 No, though he thought his accusation true.
1955 245 Let this be so, and doubt not but success
1956 Will fashion the event in better shape
1957 Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
1958 But if all aim but this be leveled false,
1959 The supposition of the lady’s death
1960 250 Will quench the wonder of her infamy.
1961 And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
1962 As best befits her wounded reputation,
1963 In some reclusive and religious life,
1964 Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.
1965 255 Signior Leonato, let the Friar advise you.
1966 And though you know my inwardness and love
1967 Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,
1968 Yet, by mine honor, I will deal in this
1969 As secretly and justly as your soul
1970 260 Should with your body.
LEONATO 1971 Being that I flow in grief,
1972 The smallest twine may lead me.
1973 ’Tis well consented. Presently away,
p. 1411974 For to strange sores strangely they strain the
1975 265 cure.—
1976 Come, lady, die to live. This wedding day
1977 Perhaps is but prolonged. Have patience and
⌜All but Beatrice and Benedick⌝ exit.
BENEDICK 1979 Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
BEATRICE 1980 270Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
BENEDICK 1981 I will not desire that.
BEATRICE 1982 You have no reason. I do it freely.
BENEDICK 1983 Surely I do believe your fair cousin is
BEATRICE 1985 275Ah, how much might the man deserve of me
1986 that would right her!
BENEDICK 1987 Is there any way to show such friendship?
BEATRICE 1988 A very even way, but no such friend.
BENEDICK 1989 May a man do it?
BEATRICE 1990 280It is a man’s office, but not yours.
BENEDICK 1991 I do love nothing in the world so well as
1992 you. Is not that strange?
BEATRICE 1993 As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
1994 possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you,
1995 285 but believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess
1996 nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my
BENEDICK 1998 By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me!
BEATRICE 1999 Do not swear and eat it.
BENEDICK 2000 290I will swear by it that you love me, and I will
2001 make him eat it that says I love not you.
BEATRICE 2002 Will you not eat your word?
BENEDICK 2003 With no sauce that can be devised to it. I
2004 protest I love thee.
BEATRICE 2005 295Why then, God forgive me.
BENEDICK 2006 What offense, sweet Beatrice?
BEATRICE 2007 You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was
2008 about to protest I loved you.
p. 143BENEDICK 2009 And do it with all thy heart.
BEATRICE 2010 300I love you with so much of my heart that
2011 none is left to protest.
BENEDICK 2012 Come, bid me do anything for thee.
BEATRICE 2013 Kill Claudio.
BENEDICK 2014 Ha! Not for the wide world.
BEATRICE 2015 305You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
⌜She begins to exit.⌝
BENEDICK 2016 Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
BEATRICE 2017 I am gone, though I am here. There is no
2018 love in you. Nay, I pray you let me go.
BENEDICK 2019 Beatrice—
BEATRICE 2020 310In faith, I will go.
BENEDICK 2021 We’ll be friends first.
BEATRICE 2022 You dare easier be friends with me than
2023 fight with mine enemy.
BENEDICK 2024 Is Claudio thine enemy?
BEATRICE 2025 315Is he not approved in the height a villain
2026 that hath slandered, scorned, dishonored my kinswoman?
2027 O, that I were a man! What, bear her in
2028 hand until they come to take hands, and then, with
2029 public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated
2030 320 rancor—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his
2031 heart in the marketplace.
BENEDICK 2032 Hear me, Beatrice—
BEATRICE 2033 Talk with a man out at a window! A proper
BENEDICK 2035 325Nay, but Beatrice—
BEATRICE 2036 Sweet Hero, she is wronged, she is slandered,
2037 she is undone.
BENEDICK 2038 Beat—
BEATRICE 2039 Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony,
2040 330 a goodly count, Count Comfect, a sweet
2041 gallant, surely! O, that I were a man for his sake! Or
2042 that I had any friend would be a man for my sake!
2043 But manhood is melted into curtsies, valor into
p. 1452044 compliment, and men are only turned into tongue,
2045 335 and trim ones, too. He is now as valiant as Hercules
2046 that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man
2047 with wishing; therefore I will die a woman with
BENEDICK 2049 Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love
2050 340 thee.
BEATRICE 2051 Use it for my love some other way than
2052 swearing by it.
BENEDICK 2053 Think you in your soul the Count Claudio
2054 hath wronged Hero?
BEATRICE 2055 345Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.
BENEDICK 2056 Enough, I am engaged. I will challenge
2057 him. I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By
2058 this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account.
2059 As you hear of me, so think of me. Go comfort your
2060 350 cousin. I must say she is dead, and so farewell.