Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Much Ado about Nothing
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Much Ado about Nothing
Act V. Scene II.
Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting.
  Bene.  Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.
  Marg.  Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?
  Bene.  In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou deservest it.        5
  Marg.  To have no man come over me! why, shall I always keep below stairs?
  Bene.  Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches.
  Marg.  And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit, but hurt not.
  Bene.  A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice. I give thee the bucklers.
  Marg.  Give us the swords, we have bucklers of our own.        10
  Bene.  If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.
  Marg.  Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.
  Bene.  And therefore will come.  [Exit MARGARET.
        The god of love,
        That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
        How pitiful I deserve,—
I mean, in singing; but in loving, Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of pandars, and a whole book full of these quondam carpet-mongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and over as my poor self, in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rime; I have tried: I can find out no rime to ‘lady’ but ‘baby,’ an innocent rime; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rime; for ‘school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rime; very ominous endings: no, I was not born under a riming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?        15
  Beat.  Yea, signior; and depart when you bid me.
  Bene.  O, stay but till then!
  Beat.  ‘Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere I go, let me go with that I came for; which is, with knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.
  Bene.  Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.
  Beat.  Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I will depart unkissed.        20
  Bene.  Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge, and either I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
  Beat.  For them all together; which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?
  Bene.  ‘Suffer love,’ a good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.
  Beat.  In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.
  Bene.  Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.        25
  Beat.  It appears not in this confession: there’s not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.
  Bene.  An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the time of good neighbours. If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps.
  Beat.  And how long is that think you?
  Bene.  Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in rheum: therefore it is most expedient for the wise,—if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary,—to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is praiseworthy. And now tell me, how doth your cousin?
  Beat.  Very ill.        30
  Bene.  And how do you?
  Beat.  Very ill too.
  Bene.  Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I leave you too, for here comes one in haste.
  Urs.  Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder’s old coil at home: it is proved, my Lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you come presently?        35
  Beat.  Will you go hear this news, signior?
  Bene.  I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle’s.  [Exeunt.

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