From Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons.
11 If either of you, &c. A partial quotation, obviously, from
the Liturgy of the Church. Compare v. 4. 29, 30.
20 Interjections, &c. Quoting from some old grammar,
perhaps the one used by Shakespeare himself at Stratford. It
is like Sir Toby's "diluculo surgere" in Twelfth Night, ii. 3. 3.
The editors compare Lyly's Endimion, iii. 3 —
"T. Hey ho!
E. What's that?
T. An interjection, whereof some are of mourning: as eho, vah."
As I have already said (iii. 3, beginning), it is pretty clear (to
me) that Shakespeare had read Lyly's play.
36 That blood. Hero's blush.
38 Were. The subjunctive is curious; an attraction, perhaps,
to the mood of the preceding verb. So Love's Labour's Lost,
iv. 3, 118 — "Thou for whom Jove would swear
Juno but an Ethiop were." — Abbott, p. 267.
Or it may be a case of oratio obliqua after the verb of saying.
43 Dear. Dissyllable; a scansion very common with monosyllables ending in r or re, preceded by long vowel; e.g. where, fear, near, tear. For a good instance cf. Lear, i. 4. 297...
45 Defeat. For defeat = 'destruction' cf. Hamlet, ii. 2. 597-98 —
"Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made."
And for the verb cf. Sonnet 61, and Othello, iv. 2. 160.
Derivation, French defaire = 'to undo,' 'render null and void;' so that in these passages the word bears its strict signification.
51 Seeming. As Iago says of Desdemona, "She that, so young, could give out such a seeming," Othello, iii. 3. 209.
Some editors read, "Out on thy seeming!" There is not much
to choose here between Quarto and Folio.
Write against. 'Declare against' (Schmidt.) Cf. Cymbeline, iii. 5. 32, "I'll write against them, detest them." Not elsewhere.
52 Dian. The type of purity. "Queen of virgins," All's Well, i. 3. 120; "Fresh as Dian's visage," Othello, iii. 3. 387.
56 Wide; i.e. 'of the mark.' Cf. Lear, iv. 7. 50, "Still,
57 Sweet prince. Some editors assign the speech to Claudio,
against the authority of Quarto and Folios.
62 Nuptial. Shakespeare prefers the singular to the plural
form. So funeral in many passages; very rarely funerals.
68 Kindly. 'Natural.' See note on kind, i. i. 25, and compare 2 Henry IV, iv. 5. 84, "Washing with kindly tears his
gentle cheeks." So in the Litany, "Kindly fruits of the earth;" Unkindly, in Paradise Lost, iii. 456, "Abortive, monstrous, or
unkindly mixt;" and Hamlet's "Kindless villain." (ii. 2. 609.)
76 Itself. 'Herself;' but the pronoun is curious. The
editors compare Cymbeline, iii. 4. 160, "Woman its pretty self."
86 Liberal. 'Licentious.' To whom Borachio has made the
confession, or when, does not appear.
87 Encounters. 'Meetings.'
95 If half thy outward graces, &c. A favourite thought with
Shakespeare, that beauty of the face should be answered by
beauty of the soul. Cf. Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 399-404, and
99 I'll lock up, &c. As a matter of fact Claudio does nothing
of the sort. In act v he is quite ready to marry Hero's
102 Gracious. 'Attractive,' 'that finds favour.'
123 On the rearward. 'After the reproaches heaped upon
you.' Rearward occurs in one other place, Sonnet 90. 6, "In the rearward of a conquered woe."
125 Frame. 'Disposition of things.'
126 One too much. Exactly what Capulet says of Juliet in
Romeo and Juliet, iii. 5. 166-168.
135 Was to myself not mine. 'Lost all sense of self in my
love for her.'
153-156 I have adopted the arrangement proposed by the
Cambridge editors. They think that something has dropped
out of the text after course of fortune, leaving the Friar's first
sentence incomplete. As usually printed the passage stands —
"Hear me a little;
For I have only silent been so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark'd
A thousand ..."
That is, by noting = 'in consequence of my noting,' gives the
Friar's reason for his silence: "I have been silent because I
have been observing." I much prefer the first way of taking
the lines, which, by the way, are printed as prose in the Quarto
and first Folio.
153 Course of fortune. 'Course of events.'
162 Experimental seed. 'The seal of experience;' an instance of adjective and substantive = compound substantive.
Schmidt gives a number of parallels; e.g. — to take a single
example — "A partial slander" = 'reproach of partiality,' Richard II, ii. i. 3. 241. Compare, too, the present play, v. i. 24,
"Preceptial medicine" = 'the medicine of precepts.'
Doth. Singular, although the antecedent, observations, is
plural; but the relative in Shakespeare is hopelessly irregular.
Abbott has a long list of parallel passages — pp. 167, 168.
Some editors, quite needlessly, emend to observation.
164 Reverence. 'Dignity as an old man.'
177 Prove. Conditional. "If you can prove, then refuse
181 Misprision. 'Mistake.' Cf. meprende, meprise. Old
French, mes, 'badly,' 'ill;' and Low Latin prensionem, Cf. Sonnet 87, 11. 12 —
"So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again."
182 Bent. 'Inclination.' "Bent of love," Romeo and Juliet, ii. 2. 143. See note on ii. 3. 207.
184 Practice. 'Plot,' 'contrivance.' So "unhatched practice" in Othello iii. 4. 141.
Lives. 'Lies,' which Sidney Walker would read. The change
is not necessary. Shakespeare often uses to live as an equivalent
of to be.
190 Eat. Using the past tense to avoid possible confusion
with infinitive termination. Cf. 2 Henry IV, iv. 5. 165. So
smit for smitten, strove for striven, drove for driven, &c.
(Abbott, p. 244.)
191 Havoc. The same word, apparently, as A. S. hafoc, 'a
hawk.' The hawk being a bird of prey, the connection is fairly obvious. "Cry havoc" is certainly a term from falconry. (Julius
Caesar, iii. I. 273.
193 Kind. 'Way.' Cf. ii. I. 58. The rhyme is rather
awkward. Capell proposed cause.
201 Ostentation. Five syllables. The termination -tion, especially if preceded by c, is very frequently treated as two
syllables at the end of a verse; rarely so in the middle of a
line. (Abbott, pp. 367, 368.)
203 Hang mournful epitaphs. Such an epitaph as Claudio
affixes to the tomb in act v. sc. 3. Compare Henry V, i. 2, 233,
"Worshipped with a waxen epitaph," where "worshipped" = 'honoured.' Sometimes these laudatory lines were fastened to
the hearse or coffin, an obsolete practice which Gifford explains
at some length in his Ben Jonson, vol. ix. p. 58.
205 Become of this? 'What will be the result of this?'
207 Remorse. 'Pity.'
216 Rack. 'Exaggerate.' Some editors, rank.
224 Moving, delicate. Hyphened by most editors, unnecessarily. Moving, 'appealing to the emotions.'
241 Inwardness. 'Intimacy.'
245 Being that I flow. 'Since I am lost in grief.' The
sentiment is that expressed in Milton's The Passion, 54, "Grief
is easily beguiled." For being = 'seeing that,' 'it being the case
that,' cf. 2 Henry IV, ii, i. 200.
251 The scene still continues — incongruously, rather, to our
taste — in the church.
259 Even. 'Plain.'
287 I am gone. A way of saying that she stays against her
will. Benedick has refused her request: how can there be anything further between them?
295 In the height. 'Completely,' 'an utter villain.' So
"Traitor to the height" in Henry VIII, i. 2. 214.
297 Bear her in hand. 'Buoy with false hopes.' So Macbeth,
iii. I. 81.
308 Counties. 'Counts.' So "County Paris" in Romeo and
Juliet, v. 3. 239, and "County Palatine" in Merchant of Venice, i. 2. 49. From Latin comes.
309 Count Comfect. 'A sugar-plum count' or, as Beatrice
adds, 'sweet gallant.'
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_4_1.html >.