Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Much Ado about Nothing
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Much Ado about Nothing
 
Act III. Scene I.
 
LEONATO’S Garden.
 
Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.
  Hero.  Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio:        5
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say that thou overheard’st us,
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honey-suckles, ripen’d by the sun,        10
Forbid the sun to enter; like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it. There will she hide her,
To listen our propose. This is thy office;
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.        15
  Marg.  I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.  [Exit.
  Hero.  Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick:
When I do name him, let it be thy part        20
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice: of this matter
Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.        25
 
Enter BEATRICE, behind.
        Now begin;
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
  Urs.  The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish        30
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture.
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.        35
  Hero.  Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.  [They advance to the bower.
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggerds of the rock.        40
  Urs.        But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
  Hero.  So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.
  Urs.  And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
  Hero.  They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;        45
But I persuaded them, if they lov’d Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.
  Urs.  Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed        50
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
  Hero.  O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man;
But nature never fram’d a woman’s heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;        55
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,        60
She is so self-endear’d.
  Urs.        Sure, I think so;
And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.
  Hero.  Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,        65
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d,
But she would spell him backward: if fair-fac’d,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;        70
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out,
And never gives to truth and virtue that        75
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
  Urs.  Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
  Hero.  No; not to be so odd and from all fashions
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable.
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,        80
She would mock me into air: O! she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover’d fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with mocks,        85
Which is as bad as die with tickling.
  Urs.  Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.
  Hero.  No; rather I will go to Benedick,
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I’ll devise some honest slanders        90
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
  Urs.  O! do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment,—
Having so swift and excellent a wit        95
As she is priz’d to have,—as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
  Hero.  He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
  Urs.  I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,        100
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.
  Hero.  Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
  Urs.  His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.        105
When are you married, madam?
  Hero.  Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
I’ll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.
  Urs.  She’s lim’d, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.        110
  Hero.  If it prove so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.  [Exeunt HERO and URSULA.
  Beat.  [Advancing.]  What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
  Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!        115
  No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
  Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
  To bind our loves up in a holy band,        120
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.  [Exit.
 
 
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