From Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons.
1 Cousin. Really 'nephew.' But these terms of relationship were used very loosely. So nephew is put for cousin in
I Henry VI, ii. 5. 64; for grandchild in Othello, i. i. 112;
and in Marlowe's Dido Queen of Carthage, ii. I. 335, Venus addresses Ascanius thus: "Sleep, my sweet nephew, in these
cooling streams." Spenser, in the Faerie Queene, book iii. canto 3, stanza 13, has coosen = 'kindred;' and elsewhere he uses nephews exactly in the same sense as the Latin nepotes. Derivation, consobrinus, 'the child of a mother's sister.'
6 As the event, &c. 'That shall be as the issue shows.' Only
the later Folios read event; first Folio and Quarto have events.
8 Thick-pleached. 'Closely interwoven.' Pleach is from the
Old French plessier "to plash, plait young branches, one within
another." (Cotgrave.) ... We have "hedges even-pleached" in Henry V. v. 2. 42; and "pleached arms" = 'folded arms' in Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 14. 73. Compare, too, the present play, iii. i. 7. In old-fashioned gardens one sometimes finds
rows of yew-trees along a pathway trained to meet overhead,
and so form a "thick-pleached alley."
9 Orchard. 'Garden.' Cf. Hamlet, i. 5. 35, "Sleeping in my orchard." Orchard only means 'herb-gard,' from A. S. wyrtgeard, and the literal use of the word is regular in Shakespeare and
Elizabethan writers. So "Orchard of the Hesperides" frequently
takes the place of the more usual "Garden of the Hesperides."
12 Accordant. 'Willing.'
13 To take the present time, &c. An exact parallel occurs in
All's Well, V. 3. 39, "Let's take the instant by the forward
top." Everyone will recollect the proverb, "Take time by the
forelock," and some will remember Othello, iii. i. 52, 53 —
"To take the saf'st occasion by the front
To bring you in again."
18 Appear itself. Perhaps the verb is reflexive. Dyce would
21 Enter Attendants. So the Cambridge editors. The quarto
and folios have no stage-direction, and the close of the scene is
rather confusing. Probably Antonio leaves the stage after
Leonato says, "Go you, and tell her of it." In the remaining lines Leonato must be speaking to the attendants, though it is
strange that he should address them as cousins, even if we interpret cousins to mean kinsmen.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/much_1_2.html >.