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Much Ado About Nothing

DON JOHN It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the
daughter of Leonato.
BORACHIO Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.
DON JOHN Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him,
and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?
BORACHIO Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no
dishonesty shall appear in me.
DON JOHN Show me briefly how.  10
BORACHIO I think I told your lordship a year since, how much
I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting
gentlewoman to Hero.
DON JOHN I remember.
BORACHIO I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night,
appoint her to look out at her lady’s chamber window.
DON JOHN What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?
BORACHIO The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that  20
he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned
Claudio–whose estimation do you mightily hold
up–to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
DON JOHN What proof shall I make of that?
BORACHIO Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,
to undo Hero and kill Leonato. Look you for any
other issue?
DON JOHN Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing.
BORACHIO Go, then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and
the Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know
that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the  32
prince and Claudio, as,–in love of your brother’s
honour, who hath made this match, and his friend’s
reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the
semblance of a maid,–that you have discovered
thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial:
offer them instances; which shall bear no less
likelihood than to see me at her chamber-window,
hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me
Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night  40
before the intended wedding,–for in the meantime I
will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be
absent,–and there shall appear such seeming truth
of Hero’s disloyalty that jealousy shall be called
assurance and all the preparation overthrown.
DON JOHN Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put  46
it in practise. Be cunning in the working this, and
thy fee is a thousand ducats.
BORACHIO Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning
shall not shame me.
DON JOHN I will presently go learn their day of marriage.

Next: Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 2

From Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons.

19 Temper. ‘Mix.’ Always used of compounding poisons; e.g. Hamlet, v. 2. 339, “It is a poison tempered by himself.”

22 Estimation. ‘Value,’ ‘worth.’ So All’s Well, v. 3. 4. A word very variously used in Shakespeare.

25 Misuse. ‘Deceive.’

32 Intend. ‘Pretend.’ Cf. Richard III. iii. 5. 8; iii. 7. 45.

37 Instances. ‘Proofs.’ “O, instance strong as heaven itself,” Troilus and Cressida, v, 2. 155.

40 [Claudio] … I think Claudio must be a slip for Borachio, and that Theobald was right in making the change, which many editors have adopted. The Globe Edition marks the passage as corrupt, a sign that the text of Quarto and Folios is at least open to great suspicion.

43 Seeming truth. ‘Apparent proof.’ Folios have truths.

45 Preparation. For the marriage.

46 Grow this. ‘Let this come.’


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons, 1890.