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Much Ado About Nothing

Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting.
BENEDICKPray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at
my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice.
MARGARETWill you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?
BENEDICKIn so high a style, Margaret, that no man living 5
shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou
deservest it.
MARGARETTo have no man come over me! why, shall I always
keep below stairs?
BENEDICKThy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches. 10
MARGARETAnd yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit,
but hurt not.
BENEDICKA most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give
thee the bucklers. 15
MARGARETGive us the swords; we have bucklers of our own.
BENEDICKIf you use them, Margaret, you must put in the
pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.
MARGARETWell, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.
BENEDICKAnd therefore will come. 20
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 25
swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers,
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 30
cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find
out no rhyme to ‘lady’ but ‘baby,’ an innocent
rhyme; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rhyme; for,
‘school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rhyme; very ominous
endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet, 35
nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?
BEATRICEYea, signior, and depart when you bid me.
BENEDICKO, stay but till then!
BEATRICE‘Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere 40
I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with
knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.
BENEDICKOnly foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.
BEATRICEFoul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I 45
will depart unkissed.
BENEDICKThou 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 50
him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me for
which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
BEATRICEFor 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 55
good parts did you first suffer love for me?
BENEDICKSuffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love
indeed, for I love thee against my will.
BEATRICEIn spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart!
If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for 60
yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.
BENEDICKThou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
BEATRICEIt appears not in this confession: there’s not one
wise man among twenty that will praise himself.
BENEDICKAn old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in 65
the lime 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.
BEATRICEAnd how long is that, think you? 70
BENEDICKQuestion: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in
rheum: therefore is it 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 75
praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is
praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your cousin?
BENEDICKAnd how do you?
BEATRICEVery ill too. 80
BENEDICKServe God, love me and mend. There will I leave
you too, for here comes one in haste.
URSULAMadam, 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 85
abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is
fed and gone. Will you come presently?
BEATRICEWill you go hear this news, signior?
BENEDICKI will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be
buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with 90
thee to thy uncle’s.

Next: Much Ado About Nothing, Act 5, Scene 3

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