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Much Ado About Nothing

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ACT II SCENE I A hall in LEONATO'S house. 
LEONATO Was not Count John here at supper? 
ANTONIO I saw him not. 
BEATRICE How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see 
 him but I am heart-burned an hour after.
HERO He is of a very melancholy disposition. 
BEATRICE He were an excellent man that were made just in the 
 midway between him and Benedick: the one is too 
 like an image and says nothing, and the other too 
 like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling. 9
LEONATO Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count John's 
 mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signior 
 Benedick's face,-- 
BEATRICE With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money 
 enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman
 in the world, if a' could get her good-will. 
LEONATO By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a 
 husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue. 
ANTONIO In faith, she's too curst. 
BEATRICE Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's
 sending that way; for it is said, 'God sends a curst 
 cow short horns;' but to a cow too curst he sends none. 
LEONATO So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns. 23 
BEATRICE Just, if he send me no husband; for the which 
 blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and
 evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a 
 beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen. 
LEONATO You may light on a husband that hath no beard. 
BEATRICE What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel 
 and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a
 beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no 
 beard is less than a man: and he that is more than 
 a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a 
 man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take 
 sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
 apes into hell. 
LEONATO Well, then, go you into hell? 
BEATRICE No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet 
 me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and 
 say 'Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to
 heaven; here's no place for you maids:' so deliver 
 I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the 
 heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and 
 there live we as merry as the day is long. 43 
ANTONIO To HERO. Well, niece, I trust you will be 
 ruled by your father.
BEATRICE Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy 
 and say 'Father, as it please you.' But yet for all 
 that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else 
 make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please 
 me.' 50
LEONATO Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband. 
BEATRICE Not till God make men of some other metal than 
 earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be 
 overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make 
 an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
 No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; 
 and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred. 
LEONATO Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince 
 do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer. 
BEATRICE The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be 60
 not wooed in good time: if the prince be too 
 important, tell him there is measure in every thing 
 and so dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero: 
 wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, 
 a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot
 and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as 
 fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a 
 measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes 

repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the

 cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
LEONATO Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly. 70 
BEATRICE I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight. 
LEONATO The revellers are entering, brother: make good room. 
 All put on their masks 
DON PEDRO Lady, will you walk about with your friend? 
HERO So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing,
 I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away. 
DON PEDRO With me in your company? 
HERO I may say so, when I please. 80 
DON PEDRO And when please you to say so? 
HERO When I like your favour; for God defend the lute
 should be like the case! 
DON PEDRO My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove. 
HERO Why, then, your visor should be thatched. 
DON PEDRO Speak low, if you speak love. 
 Drawing her aside. 
BALTHASAR Well, I would you did like me.
MARGARET So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many 
 ill-qualities. 90 
BALTHASAR Which is one? 
MARGARET I say my prayers aloud. 
BALTHASAR I love you the better: the hearers may cry, Amen.
MARGARET God match me with a good dancer! 
MARGARET And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is 
 done! Answer, clerk. 
BALTHASAR No more words: the clerk is answered.
URSULA I know you well enough; you are Signior Antonio. 101 
ANTONIO At a word, I am not. 
URSULA I know you by the waggling of your head. 
ANTONIO To tell you true, I counterfeit him. 
URSULA You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were
 the very man. Here's his dry hand up and down: you 
 are he, you are he. 
ANTONIO At a word, I am not. 
URSULA Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your 
 excellent wit? can virtue hide itself? Go to,
 mum, you are he: graces will appear, and there's an 
BEATRICE Will you not tell me who told you so? 111 
BENEDICK No, you shall pardon me. 
BEATRICE Nor will you not tell me who you are?
BENEDICK Not now. 
BEATRICE That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit 
 out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales:'--well this was 
 Signior Benedick that said so. 
BENEDICK What's he?
BEATRICE I am sure you know him well enough. 
BENEDICK Not I, believe me. 120 
BEATRICE Did he never make you laugh? 
BENEDICK I pray you, what is he? 
BEATRICE Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool;
 only his gift is in devising impossible slanders: 
 none but libertines delight in him; and the 
 commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany; 
 for he both pleases men and angers them, and then 
 they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in
 the fleet: I would he had boarded me. 
BENEDICK When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you say. 131 
BEATRICE Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me; 
 which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at, 
 strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a
 partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no 
 supper that night. 
 We must follow the leaders. 
BENEDICK In every good thing. 
BEATRICE Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
 the next turning. 
 Dance. Then exeunt all except DON JOHN, BORACHIO,and CLAUDIO. 
DON JOHN Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath 
 withdrawn her father to break with him about it. 
 The ladies follow her and but one visor remains. 142 
BORACHIO And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.
DON JOHN Are not you Signior Benedick? 
CLAUDIO You know me well; I am he. 
DON JOHN Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: 
 he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him 
 from her: she is no equal for his birth: you may
 do the part of an honest man in it. 
CLAUDIO How know you he loves her? 150 
DON JOHN I heard him swear his affection. 
BORACHIO So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night. 
DON JOHN Come, let us to the banquet.
CLAUDIO Thus answer I in the name of Benedick, 
 But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio. 
 'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself. 
 Friendship is constant in all other things 
 Save in the office and affairs of love:
 Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues; 160 
 Let every eye negotiate for itself 
 And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch 
 Against whose charms faith melteth into blood. 
 This is an accident of hourly proof,
 Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero! 
 Re-enter BENEDICK. 
BENEDICK Count Claudio? 
CLAUDIO Yea, the same. 
BENEDICK Come, will you go with me? 168 
CLAUDIO Whither?
BENEDICK Even to the next willow, about your own business, 
 county. What fashion will you wear the garland of? 
 about your neck, like an usurer's chain? or under 
 your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear 
 it one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.
CLAUDIO I wish him joy of her. 
BENEDICK Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they 
 sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would 
 have served you thus? 
CLAUDIO I pray you, leave me. 179
BENEDICK Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the 
 boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post. 
CLAUDIO If it will not be, I'll leave you. 
BENEDICK Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges. 
 But that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not
 know me! The prince's fool! Ha? It may be I go 
 under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I 
 am apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it 
 is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice 
 that puts the world into her person and so gives me
 out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may. 190 
 Re-enter DON PEDRO. 
DON PEDRO Now, signior, where's the count? did you see him? 
BENEDICK Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. 
 I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a 
 warren: I told him, and I think I told him true,
 that your grace had got the good will of this young 
 lady; and I offered him my company to a willow-tree, 
 either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or 
 to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped. 
DON PEDRO To be whipped! What's his fault?
BENEDICK The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being 201 
 overjoyed with finding a birds' nest, shows it his 
 companion, and he steals it. 
DON PEDRO Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The 
 transgression is in the stealer.
BENEDICK Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, 
 and the garland too; for the garland he might have 
 worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on 
 you, who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest. 
DON PEDRO I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
 the owner. 211 
BENEDICK If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, 
 you say honestly. 
DON PEDRO The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the 
 gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
 wronged by you. 
BENEDICK O, she misused me past the endurance of a block! 
 an oak but with one green leaf on it would have 
 answered her; my very visor began to assume life and 
 scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
 myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was 
 duller than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest 
 with such impossible conveyance upon me that I stood 
 like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at 
 me. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: 220
 if her breath were as terrible as her terminations, 
 there were no living near her; she would infect to 
 the north star. I would not marry her, though she 
 were endowed with all that Adam bad left him before 
 he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have
 turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make 
 the fire too. Come, talk not of her: you shall find 
 her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God 
 some scholar would conjure her; for certainly, while 
 she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a 230
 sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose, because they 
 would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet, horror 
 and perturbation follows her. 
DON PEDRO Look, here she comes. 
BENEDICK Will your grace command me any service to the
 world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now 
 to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on; 
 I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the 
 furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of 
 Prester John's foot, fetch you a hair off the great 240
 Cham's beard, do you any embassage to the Pigmies, 
 rather than hold three words' conference with this 
 harpy. You have no employment for me? 
DON PEDRO None, but to desire your good company. 
BENEDICK O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot
 endure my Lady Tongue. 
DON PEDRO Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of 
 Signior Benedick. 252 
BEATRICE Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave 
 him use for it, a double heart for his single one:
 marry, once before he won it of me with false dice, 
 therefore your grace may well say I have lost it. 
DON PEDRO You have put him down, lady, you have put him down. 
BEATRICE So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I 
 should prove the mother of fools. I have brought
 Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek. 
DON PEDRO Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad? 
CLAUDIO Not sad, my lord. 
DON PEDRO How then? sick? 
CLAUDIO Neither, my lord.
BEATRICE The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor 266 
 well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and 
 something of that jealous complexion. 
DON PEDRO I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; 
 though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is
 false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and 
 fair Hero is won: I have broke with her father, 
 and his good will obtained: name the day of 
 marriage, and God give thee joy! 274 
LEONATO Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
 fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and an 
 grace say Amen to it. 
BEATRICE Speak, count, 'tis your cue. 
CLAUDIO Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were 
 but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as
 you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for 
 you and dote upon the exchange. 
BEATRICE Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth 
 with a kiss, and let not him speak neither. 
DON PEDRO In faith, lady, you have a merry heart. 285 
BEATRICE Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on 
 the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his 
 ear that he is in her heart. 
CLAUDIO And so she doth, cousin. 
BEATRICE Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the
 world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a 
 corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband! 
DON PEDRO Lady Beatrice, I will get you one. 
BEATRICE I would rather have one of your father's getting. 
 Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your
 father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them. 
DON PEDRO Will you have me, lady? 
BEATRICE No, my lord, unless I might have another for 
 working-days: your grace is too costly to wear 
 every day. But, I beseech your grace, pardon me: I
 was born to speak all mirth and no matter. 301 
DON PEDRO Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best 
 becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in 
 a merry hour. 
BEATRICE No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
 was a star danced, and under that was I born. 
 Cousins, God give you joy! 
LEONATO Niece, will you look to those things I told you of? 
BEATRICE I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon. 
DON PEDRO By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady. 312
LEONATO There's little of the melancholy element in her, my 
 lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps, and 
 not ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say, 
 she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked 
 herself with laughing.
DON PEDRO She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband. 
LEONATO O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit. 320 
DON PEDRO She were an excellent wife for Benedict. 
LEONATO O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, 
 they would talk themselves mad.
DON PEDRO County Claudio, when mean you to go to church? 
CLAUDIO To-morrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love 
 have all his rites. 
LEONATO Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just 
 seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
 things answer my mind. 330 
DON PEDRO Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing: 
 but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go 
 dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of 
 Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signior
 Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of 
 affection the one with the other. I would fain have 
 it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if 
 you three will but minister such assistance as I 
 shall give you direction.
LEONATO My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten 
 nights' watchings. 340 
CLAUDIO And I, my lord. 
DON PEDRO And you too, gentle Hero? 
HERO I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
 cousin to a good husband. 
DON PEDRO And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that 
 I know. Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble 
 strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I 
 will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she
 shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your 
 two helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in 
 despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he 
 shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this, 
 Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be
 ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me, 
 and I will tell you my drift. 

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


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1

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

9 Like my lady's eldest son. Some popular allusion, perhaps, the key to which has been lost. As the words stand they are rather pointless.

17 Shrewd, 'Sharp,' 'bitter.' Cf. shrewish. The original meaning of the word was 'malicious;' thence came the idea 'bad,' 'evil.' So "Shrewd days and nights" in As You Like It, V, 4. 179 = 'times of ill-fortune.'...

18 Curst, 'Ill-tempered,' like an animal.

24 If he send me, &c. Quibbling on horns as the symbol of the husband whose wife is unfaithful.

27 In the woollen. 'In woollen blankets without the sheets.' So usually explained, but I believe Mr. Marshall is right in his suggestion that "to lie in the woollen" = 'to be dead,' since the practice of burying persons in woollen stuffs was very general, and even enjoined by Act of Parliament temp. Charles II.

36 Bear-herd. 'Bear-leader.' Spelled berrord in Quarto and first and second Folios. The word occurs elsewhere [e.g. Taming of the Shrew, Induction, 2. 21; 2 Henry IV, i. 2. 192); never, however, in the form bearward, which many editors venture to print. Rolfe remarks, "The apes rode on the bear led about by the bear-herd;" but Shakespeare appears to be referring to some popular custom of which we have no account.
Lead his apes in hell. Alluding to an old superstition not complimentary to unmarried ladies. Says a character in an old song printed in Bullen's Lyrics from Elizabethan Song Books, p. 44 —

"I marriage would forswear,
But that I hear men tell
That she that dies a maid
Must lead an ape in hell."
Katherine, in the Taming of the Shrew, ii. i. 34, thought that it would be her fate to "lead apes in hell." [*Although the origin of the saying is unknown, it might be a reference to the popularity of small monkeys as pets during Shakespeare's day; elderly ladies being fond of pets to keep them company.]

42 For the heavens! It seems best to place the stop after Saint Peter, taking for the heavens' with what follows, and treating it as a vague oath. Cf. Merchant of Venice, ii. 2. 13. The Globe Edition prints and away to Saint Peter for the heavens, with which reading the words must bear, I suppose, their natural sense, 'bound for the heavens.' Perhaps, however, a quibble on the double meaning of the phrase is intended.

55 Marl, A rich kind of earth. Wayward, because crumbly.

61 Important, 'Importunate,' as in Lear, iv. 4. 26, "Mourning and important tears," where the Folios, however, read importun'd.

67 Measure, 'A dance'; properly 'a slow and stately dance,' as we see from what follows. Jaques, in As You Like It, V. 4. 199, is "for other than for dancing measures." For the pun on measure in line 62, cf. Richard II. iii. 4. 6-9 —
"Lady. Madam, we'll dance.
"The Queen. My legs can keep no measure in delight,
When my poor heart no measure keeps in grief."
Ancientry. 'Dignity.'
68 Cinque-pace. Corrupted by Sir Toby into sink-a-pace, Twelfth Night, i. 3. 139. Old-fashioned folk complained that people would dance galliards, lavoltas, and suchlike new-fangled measures, while "he which hath no more but the plaine sinque-pace is no better accompted then a verie bungler." (Barnabe Riche in his Farewell to the Militarie Profession.)

75 Friend. 'Lover.' "If you have a friend here, convey him," Merry Wives, iii. 3. 124.

82 Favour. 'Face.' The case of course, is the visor or mask which Don Pedro wears.

84-86 The lines form a couplet of the old fourteen-syllable metre frequent in popular ballad verse, and Dyce was probably right in his suggestion that really they are a quotation from some forgotten poem, and should be printed as such. The reference, of course, is to the classical story of Baucis and Philemon. (Ovid, Metamorphoses, viii.) Shakespeare may have come across the tale in Golding's translation, though I believe myself that the poet was a good enough scholar to read Ovid in the original. However, this touches on the well-worn "little | Latin and less Greek" question, on which Farmer in the last century, and Professor Baynes in this, have said all that there is to say.)

85 Iove. So the Quarto; the Folios read love, an obvious slip.

98 Answer, clerk; viz., "Amen." Cf. Sonnet 85, "And like unlettered clerk still cry, 'Amen.'"

102 At a word. 'Briefly.' German kurz und gut. Cf. Merry Wives, i. I. 109.

103 Waggling. Cotgrave has, "Triballer: to wagle, or dangle up and downe." Of course, only a frequentative form of wag.

105 So ill-well. 'Well, because the likeness is so close; ill, because you cut such a sorry figure.'

106 Dry hand. Supposed to be the sign of a cold disposition, not prone to love. So Twelfth Night, i. 3. 77, and Othello, iii. 4. 36-38, for the opposite sign.

116 "Hundred Merry Tales." A popular jest-book, of which a perfect copy (dated 1526) is still extant in the University Library at Gottingen. The Tales have been reprinted as a literary curiosity .... Possibly they were written by John Heywood, author of the Epigrams and some dreary Interludes of which "The Four Ps" is occasionally readable.

124 Impossible. 'Extravagant.'

128 In the fleet. 'One of the guests present.' The metaphor is carried on in boarded me.

129 Boarded. 'Accosted.' So Twelfth Night, i. 3. 60, and Merry Wives, ii. I. 92. French aborder, 'approach.'

132 Break. So "break a jest," in act v. i. 89. Cf. too ii. 3. 245.

146-47 Near ... in his love. So Richard II, iii. i. 17, "Near to the king in blood, and near in love." Near (with or without a preposition) frequently implies 'attached to,' whether by relationship or affection.

147 Enamoured on. Compare "enamoured upon," in I Henry IV, v. 2. 70-71. ...

163 Faith melteth into blood. Faithblood = 'passion,' as often.

164 An accident of hourly proof. 'Something which you may verify any day.'

165 Which I mistrusted not. Only two feet. Lines with two redundant syllables after the third or fourth foot are not uncommon ...

170 Willow. Typical of unhappy love, and unhappiness generally. Chosen possibly in refrence to Psalm cxxxvii. 2. So Dyer, Folk-lore of Shakespeare, p. 105. Dido stood "with a willow in her hand," Merchant of Venice, v. 10; and "Willow, willow," is the burden of Desdemona's song, Othello, iv. 3. Indeed, this refrain meets us in many places, always with the same associations; e.g. in the Two Noble Kinsmen, iv. I. 79-80 -- "Then she sung
Nothing but 'Willow, willow, willow;'"
and Massinger's Maid of Honour, v. i —
"You may cry 'Willow, willow' for your brother."
Claudio is to wear a willow garland as a sign that he has lost his love, Hero.

172 Usurer's chain. Referring, says Mr. Marshall, to "the gold chains worn by the more wealthy merchants of that day, many of whom were bankers, and lent out money at interest."

182 If it will not be. 'If you will not leave me.'

188 Though bitter. So Quarto and Folios; but Johnson's "the bitter" is tempting. Though bitter seems to be thrown in as a qualification of base; with what sense I cannot see.

189 That puts, &c. 'That claims to express the general opinion of the world about me.'

194 A lodge in a warren. The lodge in which the keeper of a rabbit warren lived would naturally be a dismal place. Cf. use of "grange" for any desolate, lonely house; e.g. in Othello, i. I. 106, "My house is not a grange." And of course in Tennyson's Moated Grange.

196 This. Hero. As she is not present, this has been changed by some editors to the.

214 Quarrel to you. To = 'motion against.' (Abbott, p. 123.) Cf. Coriolanus iv. 5. 133, "Had we no quarrel else to Rome." So Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 248.

217 Misus'd. 'Abused.' So As You Like It, iv. I. 205.

218 Block. As we say, "blockhead." So iii. i. 67.

223 Impossible conveyance. 'Extraordinary sharpness.' I can see no great difficulty in the expression. Impossible here, as in line 143, has a vaguely intensitive sense, merely heightening the idea suggested by the word with which it is combined; and conveyance implies 'cuteness,' 'trickery.' Polite people never steal; they "convey." (Merry Wives, i. 3. 32.) Beatrice passed jest after jest upon Benedick with all the dexterity of a professional juggler.

225 Speaks poniards. Exactly Hamlet's "speak daggers" (iii 2. 414). Compare, too, Macbeth, iii. 3. 146, "There's daggers in men's smiles."

226 Terminations. 'Words.'

230 Have turned. Probably the past infinitive is used through attraction to previous have. So Abbott, p. 260. We may compare such an expression as "I hoped to have seen him;" now a solecism, but in Elizabethan English a not uncommon turn of phrase.

232 Ate. 'As the goddess of Discord.'

233 Some scholar. That is, someone who could speak Latin, the proper tongue in which to exorcise spirits and uncanny folk. When the ghost first appears in Hamlet, Marcellus says, "Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio." (i. i. 42.)

234-237 Very vaguely expressed, but meaning apparently that life in hell and life in a sanctuary are much the same, if Beatrice be present. Benedick and Beatrice try to be so desperately clever and sharp that at times their repartee overreaches itself, and becomes nearly unintelligible.

236 Thither; viz., to hell, so as to be [rid] of Beatrice.

243 Prester John. Prester, or Presbyter, John was one of the great mediaeval myths — a fabulous monarch who ruled in the uttermost parts of Asia, professed Christianity, corresponded with the Pope, and maintained a magnificent Court. The old travellers of the Mandeville, Howell, and William Sanday type, are great on the subject of this Eastern potentate and his glories; in particular is there a very circumstantial account of his palace in the travels of Mr. Edward Webbe, reprinted by Professor Arber. Allusions similar to the present one occur constantly in the literature of the time; but how the story arose, or what element of truth there is in them, no one can say.

244 The great Cham, 'The Khan of Tartary.'

245 The Pigmies. The somewhat legendary nation of dwarfs, the whereabouts of whose land I cannot fix. Different writers have assigned them to different countries — India, Ethiopia, and so on; but all agree that the Pigmies were attacked each year in the spring-time by flocks of cranes. Milton refers to them in Paradise Lost i. 575-6, as
"That small infantry
Warr'd on by cranes."
And in the same book, line 781, he places their territory "beyond the Indian mount;" i.e. mount Imaus.

254 Use. 'Interest.' Cf. Sonnet 6, "That use is not forbidden usury;" and usance in the Merchant of Venice, i. 3. 46.

267 Civil as an orange. A quibble on civil and Seville. The editors quote Cotgrave: "Aigre — Douce: A civile orange, or orange that is betweene sweet and sower." Beatrice therefore means that Claudio has a touch of bitterness in his character, polite though he seems.

268 That jealous complexion; viz., yellow, which symbolised jealousy. Cf. the Winter's Tale, ii. 3. 106-7 —
"'Mongst all colours
No yellow in't, lest she suspect."
And the Merry Wives, i. 3. 113. In the Merchant of Venice, iii. 2. 110, and the very difficult passage in Othello, iii. 3. 116, jealousy is "the green-ey'd monster;" and stage-tradition assigns a dress partly green, partly yellow, to the suspicious husband Ford in the Merry Wives.

269 Blazon. 'Description;' viz., of Claudio. Blazon is a term taken from heraldry, and properly the verb meant 'to describe a shield,' from which came the general sense of 'depicting,' 'describing.' Cf. Sonnet 106, "The blazon of sweet beauty's best."

278 Cue. Cue is generally derived from queue, 'a tail;' i.e. 'the last word of the previous speaker's part.' It has been suggested, however, that the word got its theatrical sense from a confusion with the capital letter Q, short for quando, which was marked on the acting version of a play given to each actor, thus showing him when he had to begin to speak. For its use in Shakespeare cf. Othello, i. 2. 83, "Were it my cue to fight," and Midsummer Night's Dream, v. I. 185. "Turn" is the closest alternative that I can think of.

283 Stop his mouth. Compare v. 4. 92.

287 The windy side. That is, 'the safe side.' Sir Andrew, in Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 181, kept "o' the windy side of the law." The metaphor is either from shooting or from seamanship.

290 Good Lord, for alliance. 'Heaven send me a marriage;' i.e. 'an anticipation of heigh-ho for a husband.' This seems to me the most natural interpretation.

Goes ... to the world. 'Gets married.' Cf. All's Well, i. 3. 20-21, and "A woman of the world" in As You Like It, v. 3. 5.

291 Sunburned. 'Without attractions.' Used thus in Trolius and Cressida, i. 3. 282, "The Grecian dames are sunburnt." We have already seen (i. 160) that a fair complexion was the Elizabethan ideal of beauty.

312 Pleasant-spirited. 'Witty.' Cf. "pleasant," i. I. 34, with note.

326 Time goes on crutches. We may remember Rosalind's account of times, "Divers paces with divers persons," As You Like It, iii. 2. 331-335.

329 Just. 'Exact.' Now used only as adverb in this sense. Cf. Merchant of Venice, iv. I. 327, "A just pound." See Abbott, p. 26.

332 Breathing. 'Delay.' So Lucrece, 1720. Cf. I Henry IV. v. 4. 15, "We breathe too long" = 'tarry.'

351 Queasy. 'Squeamish.' A Scandinavian word. In Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 2. 20, queasy = 'disgusted with,' "Queasy with his insolence."

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) < >.


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