Much Ado About Nothing
|ACT III SCENE IV||HERO’s apartment.|
|Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.|
|HERO||Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire|
|her to rise.|
|URSULA||I will, lady.|
|HERO||And bid her come hither.|
|MARGARET||Troth, I think your other rabato were better.|
|HERO||No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.|
|MARGARET||By my troth, ‘s not so good; and I warrant your|
|cousin will say so.|
|HERO||My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another: I’ll wear|
|none but this.||11|
|MARGARET||I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair|
|were a thought browner; and your gown’s a most rare|
|fashion, i’ faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan’s|
|gown that they praise so.|
|HERO||O, that exceeds, they say.|
|MARGARET||By my troth, ‘s but a night-gown in respect of|
|yours: cloth o’ gold, and cuts, and laced with|
|silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves,|
|and skirts, round underborne with a bluish tinsel:|
|but for a fine, quaint, graceful and excellent|
|fashion, yours is worth ten on ‘t.|
|HERO||God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is|
|MARGARET||‘Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man.|
|HERO||Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?|
|MARGARET||Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? Is not|
|marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord|
|honourable without marriage? I think you would have|
|me say, ‘saving your reverence, a husband:’ and bad|
|thinking do not wrest true speaking, I’ll offend|
|nobody: is there any harm in ‘the heavier for a|
|husband’? None, I think, and it be the right husband|
|and the right wife; otherwise ’tis light, and not||33|
|heavy: ask my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes.|
|HERO||Good morrow, coz.|
|BEATRICE||Good morrow, sweet Hero.|
|HERO||Why how now? do you speak in the sick tune?|
|BEATRICE||I am out of all other tune, methinks.|
|MARGARET||Clap’s into ‘Light o’ love;’ that goes without a|
|burden: do you sing it, and I’ll dance it.|
|BEATRICE||Ye light o’ love, with your heels! then, if your|
|husband have stables enough, you’ll see he shall|
|lack no barns.|
|MARGARET||O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.||45|
|BEATRICE||‘Tis almost five o’clock, cousin; tis time you were|
|ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill: heigh-ho!|
|MARGARET||For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?|
|BEATRICE||For the letter that begins them all, H.|
|MARGARET||Well, and you be not turned Turk, there’s no more|
|sailing by the star.|
|BEATRICE||What means the fool, trow?|
|MARGARET||Nothing I; but God send every one their heart’s desire!|
|HERO||These gloves the count sent me; they are an||55|
|BEATRICE||I am stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.|
|MARGARET||A maid, and stuffed! there’s goodly catching of cold.|
|BEATRICE||O, God help me! God help me! how long have you|
|MARGARET||Even since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?|
|BEATRICE||It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your|
|cap. By my troth, I am sick.|
|MARGARET||Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus,|
|and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm.|
|HERO||There thou prickest her with a thistle.|
|BEATRICE||Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in|
|MARGARET||Moral! no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I|
|meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think perchance|
|that I think you are in love: nay, by’r lady, I am|
|not such a fool to think what I list, nor I list|
|not to think what I can, nor indeed I cannot think,|
|if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you|
|are in love or that you will be in love or that you|
|can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and|
|now is he become a man: he swore he would never|
|marry, and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats|
|his meat without grudging: and how you may be|
|converted I know not, but methinks you look with|
|your eyes as other women do.||82|
|BEATRICE||What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?|
|MARGARET||Not a false gallop.|
|URSULA||Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior|
|Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the|
|town, are come to fetch you to church.|
|HERO||Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.|
Next: Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, Scene 5
Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 4
From Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons.
6 Rabato. The rabato (or rebato, from Old French rebatre) was a kind of collar or ruff, such as we see in portraits of the period. It was kept in its place by means of stiff wires, and these wires were sometimes called rabatos, though Autolycus preferred the old-fashioned title, “poking-sticks of steel,” Winter’s Tale, iv. 4. 228.
12 Tire. ‘Head-dress.’ “Tire of Venetian admittance” (fashion), Merry Wives, iii. 3. 61.
16 That exceeds. ‘Is fine beyond words.’ Cf. use of “passing” to signify anything very remarkable.
17 Night-gown. ‘Dressing-gown.’
18 Cuts. The edges of the dress shaped so as to fall gracefully.
19 Side sleeves. Worn over the ordinary sleeve, and made so long as to touch the ground. Even men affected them.
20 Underborne. ‘Trimmed.’ Only here in this sense; elsewhere, e.g. John, iii. i. 65, underbear = ‘endure.’
Tinsel. ‘Bright trimming with silver in it.’ French, etincelle; Latin, scintilla. The word suggested anything that had a silvery, flashing surface. So Herrick speaks of a moonbeam “tinselling the streams;” and tinsel-slippered is Milton’s epithet for Thetis, whom Homer had described as silver-footed. See Comus, 877.
Quaint. ‘Dainty.’ Really from cognitus, but confused with comptus. O.F. coint, “quaint, compt, neat, fine.” (Cotgrave.)
29 “Saving your reverence, a husband.” The Globe Edition, following Quarto and Folios, treats the whole passage as a quotation, and rightly. Hero (her maid implies) was so prudish, that the very mention of the word husband required an apology. In most editions only a husband is placed between marks of quotations.
30 Wrest. ‘Misinterpret.’ “This ill-wresting world,” Sonnet 140.
39 Clap us into. ‘Let us begin.’ “Shall we clap into ‘t roundly?” As You Like It, v. 3. 11.
Light o’ love. A favourite old song often referred to. Cf. the Two Gentlemen of Verona, i. 2. 83-85. The original words have been lost; the music is given in Chappell’s Popular Music, p. 222.
40 Without a burden. This agrees with the above-noted passage in the Two Gentlemen, “The burden of a song, in the old acceptation of the word, was the base, foot or undersong. It was sung throughout, and not merely at the end of the verse,” Popular Music of the Olden Time, p. 222. Chaucer uses the word in its strict sense —
“This Sompnour bar to him a stif burdoun,
Was never trompe of half so gret a soun.”
From French bourdon, ‘a drone-bee,’ ‘humming of bees,’ ‘drone of a bag-pipe;’ probably of imitative origin. (Skeat.)
43 No barns. Meaning bairns (‘children’). Perdita in the Winter’s Tale, iii. 3. 70, is “a barne; a very pretty barne.” The Middle English form of bairn was barn; hence the joke was more obvious then. Bairn = ‘that which is born;’ same root as fero.
44 Construction. ‘Interpretation.’
45 With my heels. A way of showing contempt. Cf. Merchant of Venice, ii. 2. 33. Obviously Margaret refers to the first part of Beatrice’s speech.
46 Five o’clock. As far as I know, this is quite the most matutinal marriage in Shakespeare.
49 For the letter. A quibble on H and ache, the latter having been pronounced aitch. For aches (the substantive) as a dissyllable cf.Tempest, i. 2. 370, “Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar;” and Timon of Athens, i. I. 257, “Aches contract and starve your supple joints.” Curiously enough the verb was pronounced as now. Cf. Comedy of Errors iii. I. 58. One of Heywood’s Epigrams says —
“H is worst among letters in the crossrow (alphabet),
For if thou find him either in thine elbow,
In thy arm, or leg, in any degree;
In thine head, or teeth, or toe, or knee;
Into what place soever H may pike him.
Wherever thou find ache thou shalt not like him.”
50 Turned Turk. ‘Changed utterly;’ i.e. ‘become a convert to love.’ The phrase is not uncommon. Cf. Hamlet, iii. 2. 287, and Othello, ii. 2. 170, where the quibble is clear. I find it in one of Sedley’s comedies, Bellamira, iv. 6, “I will turn Turk, but I will avoid wine hereafter.” It always means ‘to change completely.’
51 The star. The Polestar, beautifully described elsewhere as “The star to every wandering bark,” Sonnet 116. So Fletcher, in theFaithful Shepherdess, i. 2, speaks of —
“That fair star
That guides the wandering seaman through the deep.”
Compare Julius Caesar, iii. I. 60. By = ‘according to.’
56 Perfume. Nares quotes several passages which show that it was a regular practice to scent gloves. Autolycus, in the Winter’s Tale, iv. 4. 222, has “Gloves as sweet as damask roses.”
60 Apprehension. ‘Cleverness,’ ‘wit;’ not ‘fear,’ as now. Compare ii. I. 84, “You apprehend shrewdly.”
65 Carduus Benedictus. Thought at one time to be “a sovereign aid” in all sorts of ailments; especially potent “to expel any evil symptom from the heart;” hence appropriately mentioned here. According to Ellacombe, the blessed thistle was “supposed even to cure the plague, which was the highest praise that could be given to a medicine in those days.”
70 Moral. ‘Hidden meaning.’ Moralise, the verb, often signifies ‘to explain the meaning,’ ‘interpret.’ Cf. As You Like It, ii. I. 44, “Did he not moralise this spectacle?” Of course, by “some moral” Beatrice meant an allusion to Benedick.
80 Eats his meat, &c. Referring, possibly, to some lost proverb. None of the notes are worth reproducing. In such passages of conventional and occasionally coarse sparring some allusions must escape us. We know Elizabethan life well, but not quite well enough to be able to explain every casual touch.
84 A false gallop. Evidently a proverbial phrase. Cf. As You Like It, iii. 2. 119, “This is the very false gallop.” Nash has it in one of his pamphlets, Pierce Pennilesse (1593), “I would trot a false gallop through the rest of his ragged (i,e, ‘rugged’) verses.” The idea is that of a horse thrown out of its paces and moving in a jerky fashion, or as Shakespeare says, a “forc’d gait,” 1 Henry IV, iii. i. 135.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons, 1890.