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 V. Scene IV.
 
A Room in LEONATO’S House.
 
Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, BENEDICK, BEATRICE, MARGARET, URSULA, FRIAR FRANCIS, and HERO.
  Friar.  Did I not tell you she was innocent?
  Leon.  So are the prince and Claudio, who accus’d her
Upon the error that you heard debated:        5
But Margaret was in some fault for this,
Although against her will, as it appears
In the true course of all the question.
  Ant.  Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.
  Bene.  And so am I, being else by faith enforc’d        10
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
  Leon.  Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
And when I send for you, come hither mask’d:
The prince and Claudio promis’d by this hour        15
To visit me.  [Exeunt ladies.
        You know your office, brother;
You must be father to your brother’s daughter,
And give her to young Claudio.
  Ant.  Which I will do with confirm’d countenance.        20
  Bene.  Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
  Friar.  To do what, signior?
  Bene.  To bind me, or undo me; one of them.
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.        25
  Leon.  That eye my daughter lent her: ’tis most true.
  Bene.  And I do with an eye of love requite her.
  Leon.  The sight whereof I think, you had from me,
From Claudio, and the prince. But what’s your will?
  Bene.  Your answer, sir, is enigmatical:        30
But, for my will, my will is your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d
In the state of honourable marriage:
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
  Leon.  My heart is with your liking.        35
  Friar.        And my help.
Here come the prince and Claudio.
 
Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, with Attendants.
  D. Pedro.  Good morrow to this fair assembly.
  Leon.  Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:        40
We here attend you. Are you yet determin’d
To-day to marry with my brother’s daughter?
  Claud.  I’ll hold my mind, were she an Ethiop.
  Leon.  Call her forth, brother: here’s the friar ready.  [Exit ANTONIO.
  D. Pedro.  Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter,        45
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
  Claud.  I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
Tush! fear not, man, we’ll tip thy horns with gold,
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,        50
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
When he would play the noble beast in love.
  Bene.  Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low:
And some such strange bull leap’d your father’s cow,
And got a calf in that same noble feat,        55
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
  Claud.  For this I owe you: here come other reckonings.
 
Re-enter ANTONIO, with the ladies masked.
Which is the lady I must seize upon?
  Ant.  This same is she, and I do give you her.        60
  Claud.  Why, then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.
  Leon.  No, that you shall not, till you take her hand
Before this friar, and swear to marry her.
  Claud.  Give me your hand: before this holy friar,
I am your husband, if you like of me.        65
  Hero.  And when I liv’d, I was your other wife:  [Unmasking.
And when you lov’d, you were my other husband.
  Claud.  Another Hero!
  Hero.        Nothing certainer:
One Hero died defil’d, but I do live,        70
And surely as I live, I am a maid.
  D. Pedro.  The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
  Leon.  She died, my lord, but whiles her slander liv’d.
  Friar.  All this amazement can I qualify:
When after that the holy rites are ended,        75
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death:
Meantime, let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.
  Bene.  Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?
  Beat.  [Unmasking.]  I answer to that name.        80
What is your will?
  Bene.  Do not you love me?
  Beat.        Why, no; no more than reason.
  Bene.  Why, then, your uncle and the prince and Claudio
Have been deceived; for they swore you did.        85
  Beat.  Do not you love me?
  Bene.        Troth, no; no more than reason.
  Beat.  Why, then, my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula,
Are much deceiv’d; for they did swear you did.
  Bene.  They swore that you were almost sick for me.        90
  Beat.  They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
  Bene.  ’Tis no such matter. Then, you do not love me?
  Beat.  No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
  Leon.  Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
  Claud.  And I’ll be sworn upon ’t that he loves her;        95
For here’s a paper written in his hand,
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
Fashion’d to Beatrice.
  Hero.        And here’s another,
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her pocket,        100
Containing her affection unto Benedick.
  Bene.  A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity.
  Beat.  I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.
  Bene.  Peace! I will stop your mouth.  [Kisses her.
  D. Pedro.  How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?        105
  Bene.  I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of witcrackers cannot flout me out of my humour. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No; if a man will be beaten with brains, a’ shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it, for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but, in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.
  Claud.  I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double-dealer; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
  Bene.  Come, come, we are friends. Let’s have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts and our wives’ heels.
  Leon.  We’ll have dancing afterward.
  Bene.  First, of my word; therefore play, music! Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife: there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.        110
 
Enter a Messenger.
  Mes.  My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight,
And brought with armed men back to Messina.
  Bene.  Think not on him till to-morrow: I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers!  [Dance.  Exeunt.
 
 
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