Much Ado About Nothing: Act 2, Scene 1



           Enter LEONATO, [ANTONIO]
           his brother, HERO his daughter,
           and BEATRICE his niece, [MARGARET,
           URSULA,] and a KINSMAN.

      LEONATO
  1   Was not Count John here at supper?

      ANTONIO
  2   I saw him not.

      BEATRICE
3. tartly: sourly.
  3   How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can
4. am heart-burn'd: suffer from heartburn [sour stomach].
  4   see him but I am heart-burn'd an hour after.

      HERO
  5   He is of a very melancholy disposition.

      BEATRICE
6. He were: a man would be.
  6   He were an excellent man that were made
  7   just in the midway between him and Benedick:
8. image: statue.
  8   the one is too like an image and says nothing,
9. my lady's eldest son: i.e., a spoiled child.
  9   and the other too like my lady's eldest son,
10. tattling: babbling.
 10   evermore tattling.

      LEONATO
 11   Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in
 12   Count John's mouth, and half Count John's
 13   melancholy in Signior Benedick's face,—

      BEATRICE
 14   With a good leg and a good foot, uncle,
 15   and money enough in his purse, such a
 16   man would win any woman in the world,
 17   if a' could get her good will.

      LEONATO
 18   By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
19. shrewd: sharp, satirical.
 19   husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

      ANTONIO
20. curst: ill-tempered.
 20   In faith, she's too curst.

      BEATRICE
 21   Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen
22-23. that way: in that respect.  'God sends a curst cow short horns': —This proverb means that people who are "curst" (ill-tempered) often don't have the ability to do any real harm. Beatrice turns this proverb to her favor by saying that since she is "too curst" she has no horns at all, and will therefore do no one any harm.
 22   God's sending that way; for it is said, 'God
 23   sends a curst cow short horns'; but to a cow
 24   too curst he sends none.

      LEONATO
 25   So, by being too curst, God will send you
 26   no horns.

      BEATRICE
27. Just: just so. if he send me no husband: She implies that God, in sending her a husband, would also send horns; i.e., that her husband would certainly be a cuckold.
 27   Just, if he send me no husband; for the
 28   which blessing I am at him upon my knees
 29   every morning and evening. Lord, I could
 30   not endure a husband with a beard on his
31. lie in the woollen: sleep between woollen blankets, without sheets. —Lying in the woollen would be a scratchy experience, like kissing a bearded man.
 31   face: I had rather lie in the woollen.

      LEONATO
 32   You may light on a husband that hath no
 33   beard.

      BEATRICE
 34   What should I do with him? dress him in my
 35   apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman?
 36   He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he
37-38. he that  . . .  me: —In Shakespeare's time the type of man considered most attractive was a youth; Beatrice apparently shares that taste. 38-39. he  . . .  him: —I think Beatrice means that only a real man could put up with her. 40. in earnest: as advance payment for. berrord: bear-ward or bear-herd, one who exhibits bears (and sometimes apes). 41. lead his apes into hell: —Old maids were said to lead apes in hell.
 37   that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that
 38   is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is
 39   less than a man, I am not for him: therefore, I will
 40   even take sixpence in earnest of the berrord, and
 41   lead his apes into hell.

      LEONATO
 42   Well, then, go you into hell?

      BEATRICE
 43   No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet
 44   me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head,
 45   and say 'Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to
46-48. so deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens: i.e., so I leave my apes with the devil and journey to Saint Peter and the heavens. 48. bachelors: unmarried persons of either sex.
 46   heaven; here's no place for you maids': so deliver
 47   I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter
 48   for the heavens; he shows me where the bachelors
 49   sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.

      ANTONIO [To Hero.]
 50   Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled
 51   by your father.

      BEATRICE
52. cur'sy: curtsy.
 52   Yes, faith; it is my cousin's duty to make cur'sy
 53   and say 'Father, as it please you'. But yet for all
 54   that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or
 55   else make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it
 56   please me'.

      LEONATO
 57   Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted
 58   with a husband.

      BEATRICE
59. metal: substance.
 59   Not till God make men of some other metal
 60   than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
 61   overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? to
 62   make an account of her life to a clod of wayward
63. marl: clay, earth.
 63   marl? No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my
64-65. match in my kindred: i.e., marry close relatives.
 64   brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in
 65   my kindred.

      LEONATO
66-68. if the prince ... answer: i.e., if Don Pedro proposes marriage you must accept.
 66   Daughter, remember what I told you: if the
 67   prince do solicit you in that kind, you know
 68   your answer.

      BEATRICE
 69   The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you
70. in good time: with propriety. —Beatrice is making a punning reference to the "time" (regular rhythm) of music. 71. important: importunate, pressing. measure: (1) moderation; (2) slow, stately dance.
 70   be not wooed in good time: if the prince be
 71   too important, tell him there is measure in
 72   every thing and so dance out the answer. For,
 73   hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting,
74. cinquepace: a lively five step dance.
 74   is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinquepace:
75. the first suit: (1) the first of a set of dances; (2) the first stage of a relationship: wooing. 76. full: fully, quite.  mannerly-modest: becomingly moderate in tempo. 77. state and ancientry: dignity and traditional stateliness.
 75   the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and
 76   full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest,
 77   as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then
 78   comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into
 79   the cinquepace faster and faster, till he sink into
 80   his grave.

      LEONATO
81. apprehend passing shrewdly: perceive with unusual sharpness.

82-83. I can see a church by daylight: i.e., I can see what is obvious.
 81   Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

      BEATRICE
 82   I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church
 83   by daylight.

      LEONATO
 84   The revellers are entering, brother: make
 85   good room.

        [They put on their masks.]

as maskers: —It's a masked ball. As soon as the locals hear that their guests are arriving, they put on their masks. The guests arrive with their masks already on ("as maskers"), so that supposedly no one knows the identity of their dance partners.
        Enter [as maskers] Prince [Don] Pedro,
        Claudio, and Benedick, and Balthasar,
        [Borachio,] and Don John.

      DON PEDRO
86. walk about: (1) dance; (2) stroll around.
 86   Lady, will you walk about with your
87. friend: —Don Pedro is using this word in the sense of "lover," but the word "friend" did not necessarily mean "sex partner," as "lover" does now (C.E. 2015). Don Pedro is being gallant because he has promised that he will pretend to be Claudio, and woo Hero on Claudio's behalf.  88.  softly: gently.
 87   friend?

      HERO
 88   So you walk softly and look sweetly and
 89   say nothing, I am yours for the walk; and
 90   especially when I walk away.

      DON PEDRO
 91   With me in your company?

      HERO
 92   I may say so, when I please.

      DON PEDRO
 93   And when please you to say so?

      HERO
94. favor: face. God defend the lute should be like the case: i.e., God forbid that your face should as ugly as your mask.
 94   When I like your favor; for God defend the lute
 95   should be like the case!

      DON PEDRO
96. visor: mask. Philemon's roof: Philemon and his wife Baucis entertained Jove in their peasant cottage, unaware of his identity.
 96   My visor is Philemon's roof; within
 97   the house is Jove.

      HERO
98. thatched: roofed with thatch (as peasant cottages generally were).
 98   Why, then, your visor should be thatched.

      DON PEDRO
 99   Speak low, if you speak love.

           [They move aside.]

      BALTHASAR
100   Well, I would you did like me.

      MARGARET
101   So would not I, for your own sake; for I have
102. ill: bad.
102   many ill qualities.

      BALTHASAR
103   Which is one?

      MARGARET
104   I say my prayers aloud.

      BALTHASAR
105   I love you the better: the hearers may
106   cry, Amen.

      MARGARET
107   God match me with a good dancer!

      BALTHASAR
108   Amen.

      MARGARET
109   And God keep him out of my sight when the dance
110. Answer, clerk: i.e., say amen (= so be it) again. It was the duty of the parish clerk to say the responses at church services.
110   is done! Answer, clerk.

      BALTHASAR
111   No more words: the clerk is answered.

           [They move aside.]

      URSULA
112   I know you well enough; you are Signior
113   Antonio.

      ANTONIO
114. At a word: in short.
114   At a word, I am not.

      URSULA
115   I know you by the waggling of your head.

      ANTONIO
116. I counterfeit him: I am pretending to be him.
116   To tell you true, I counterfeit him.

      URSULA
117   You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were
118. dry hand: —A sign of age. up and down: all over, exactly.
118   the very man. Here's his dry hand up and down: you
119   are he, you are he.

      ANTONIO
120   At a word, I am not.

      URSULA
121   Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your
122. virtue: excellence (of any kind). —Ursula is making a joke; Antonio's "excellent wit" consists entirely of denying that he is Antonio.  123.  mum: be silent.  124.  an end: no more to be said.
122   excellent wit? can virtue hide itself? Go to,
123   mum, you are he: graces will appear, and
124   there's an end.

           [They move aside.]

      BEATRICE
125   Will you not tell me who told you so?

      BENEDICK
126   No, you shall pardon me.

      BEATRICE
127   Nor will you not tell me who you are?

      BENEDICK
128   Not now.

      BEATRICE
129   That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
130. 'Hundred Merry Tales': a popular collection of jests and tales, first published 38 years before Shakespeare's birth. —Beatrice is saying that Benedick accused her of getting her wit from an old joke book.
130   out of the 'Hundred Merry Tales':—well this was
131   Signior Benedick that said so.

      BENEDICK
132   What's he?

      BEATRICE
133   I am sure you know him well enough.

      BENEDICK
134   Not I, believe me.

      BEATRICE
135   Did he never make you laugh?

      BENEDICK
136   I pray you, what is he?

      BEATRICE
137. dull: stupid.
137   Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool;
138. only his gift: i.e., his only talent. impossible: incredible.
138   only his gift is in devising impossible slanders:
139. libertines: i.e., jerks who will laugh at any insult.
139   none but libertines delight in him; and the
140. villainy: insulting rudeness.
140   commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany;
141   for he both pleases men and angers them, and then
142   they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in
143. fleet: i.e., company drifting about the room [with pun on "fleet of ships"]. boarded: come alongside a ship to attempt an attack on it. —Beatrice's point is that she could easily counter Benedick's rude wit. I believe she knows who she is talking to and is teasing Benedick.
143   the fleet: I would he had boarded me.

      BENEDICK
144   When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him
145   what you say.

      BEATRICE
146. break a comparison: crack a joke by making a scornful comparison.
146   Do, do: he'll but break a comparison or two on me;
147   which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at,
148-150. there's a partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no supper that night: —Previously, Beatrice sarcastically referred to Benedick as "a very valiant trencherman." Now she is making the same kind of joke by understatement; it's not just a "partridge wing" that will be saved, but a huge meal.
148   strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a
149   partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat no
150   supper that night.

           [Music for the dance begins.]

151. leaders: i.e., of the dance.
151   We must follow the leaders.

      BENEDICK
152   In every good thing.

      BEATRICE
153   Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
154   the next turning.

           Dance. [Then] exeunt [all but DON JOHN,
           BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO].

      DON JOHN
155-157. Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath withdrawn her father to break with him about it: surely my brother loves Hero and has taken her father aside to talk with him about marrying her.  —Though earlier Borachio reported to Don John "that the prince should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to Count Claudio," now Don John seems convinced that Don Pedro means to marry Hero himself.
155   Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath
156   withdrawn her father to break with him about
157   it. The ladies follow her and but one visor
158   remains.

      BORACHIO
159   And that is Claudio: I know him by his
160   bearing.

      DON JOHN
161   Are not you Signior Benedick?

      CLAUDIO
162   You know me well; I am he.

      DON JOHN
163. very near my brother in his love: a very close, intimate friend of my brother's
163   Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:
164   he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade
165   him from her: she is no equal for his birth:
166   you may do the part of an honest man in it.

      CLAUDIO
167   How know you he loves her?

      DON JOHN
168   I heard him swear his affection.

      BORACHIO
169   So did I too; and he swore he would marry
170   her tonight.

      DON JOHN
171. banquet: light repast of sweets, fruit, and wine.
171   Come, let us to the banquet.

           Exeunt. Manet Claudio.

      CLAUDIO
172   Thus answer I in the name of Benedick,
173   But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
174. certain: certainly.
174   'Tis certain so; the prince woos for himself.
175   Friendship is constant in all other things
176. office: business.
176   Save in the office and affairs of love:
177. all: let all.
177   Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues;
178   Let every eye negotiate for itself
179. agent: go-between.
179   And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
180. Against whose charms: in the face of whose spells. faith melteth into blood: honor gives way to passion. 181. accident of hourly proof: occurrence that can be seen to take place every hour. 182. mistrusted: suspected, took account of.
180   Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
181   This is an accident of hourly proof,
182   Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

           Enter BENEDICK.

      BENEDICK
183   Count Claudio?

      CLAUDIO
184   Yea, the same.

      BENEDICK
185   Come, will you go with me?

      CLAUDIO
186   Whither?

      BENEDICK
187. next: nearest. willow: —The willow was a symbol of lost love. 188. county: count.
187   Even to the next willow, about your own
188   business, county. What fashion will you
189. garland: i.e., garland of willow.
189   wear the garland of? about your neck, like
190. usurer's chain: —Costly chains were worn by rich people, including usurers (money lenders).  under your arm: i.e., draped over the right shoulder and resting on the left hip. 192. one way: one way or another.
190   an usurer's chain? or under your arm, like
191   a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it
192   one way, for the prince hath got your Hero.

      CLAUDIO
193   I wish him joy of her.

      BENEDICK
194. drovier: drover, cattle dealer. —Claudio is pretending to not care that Don Pedro has got Hero's love, and Benedick is mocking his defensiveness. 196. served you thus: i.e., have played a trick on you like this.
194   Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so
195   they sell bullocks. But did you think the prince
196   would have served you thus?

      CLAUDIO
197   I pray you, leave me.

      BENEDICK
198. the blind man: — Benedick is apparently alluding to some story, but it's not known what story. Nevertheless, Benedick's meaning is clear: Claudio is angry at the messenger (Benedick) who brings the bad news. 200. post: messenger. —As in postman.
198   Ho! now you strike like the blind man:
199   'twas the boy that stole your meat, and
200   you'll beat the post.

      CLAUDIO
201   If it will not be, I'll leave you.

           Exit.

      BENEDICK
202-203. creep into sedges: i.e., find himself a hiding-place. —Sedges are rushes or stands of coarse grass that provide cover for birds.
202   Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into
203   sedges. But that my Lady Beatrice should know
204   me, and not know me! The prince's fool! Ha? It
205   may be I go under that title because I am merry.
206   Yea, but so I am apt to do myself wrong; I am
207-209. it is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person and so gives me out: it is the despicable, though stinging, disposition of Beatrice which represents her attitudes as the attitude of all the world and thus portrays me [as the "prince's fool"].
207   not so reputed: it is the base, though bitter,
208   disposition of Beatrice that puts the world
209   into her person and so gives me out. Well,
210   I'll be revenged as I may.

           Enter the Prince [DON PEDRO].

      DON PEDRO
211   Now, signior, where's the count? did
212   you see him?

      BENEDICK
213-214. Troth: in truth. Lady Fame: Dame Rumor. 214‑215. lodge in a warren: burrow in a rabbit warren. Rabbits were proverbially melancholy.
213   Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady
214   Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a
215   lodge in a warren: I told him, and I think I told
216   him true, that your grace had got the good will
217   of this young lady; and I offered him my company
218   to a willow-tree, either to make him a garland, as
219. bind him up a rod: tie several willow switches into a whip.
219   being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being
220   worthy to be whipped.

      DON PEDRO
221   To be whipped! What's his fault?

      BENEDICK
222. flat: simple, downright.
222   The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being
223   overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his
224   companion, and he steals it.

      DON PEDRO
225. a trust: i.e., the placing of one's trust in a person.
225   Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
226   transgression is in the stealer.

      BENEDICK
227   Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,
228   and the garland too; for the garland he might have
229. bestowed: i.e., used.
229   worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed
230   on you, who, as I take it, have stolen
231   his bird's nest.

      DON PEDRO
232. them: i.e., the baby birds in the nest.
232   I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
233   the owner.

      BENEDICK
234. answer your saying: correspond to what you say.
234   If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,
235   you say honestly.

      DON PEDRO
236. to: with.
236   The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
237   gentleman that danced with her told her she
238   is much wronged by you.

      BENEDICK
239   O, she misused me past the endurance of
240   a block! an oak but with one green leaf on
241   it would have answered her; my very visor
242   began to assume life and scold with her. She
243   told me, not thinking I had been myself, that
244-245. duller than a great thaw: —During a great thaw, roads are muddy and impassable, and there's nothing to do but stay dully at home. 246. impossible conveyance: incredible dexterity. 247. man at a mark: man set up as a target.
244   I was the prince's jester, that I was duller than
245   a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such
246   impossible conveyance upon me that I stood like
247   a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me.
248   She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her
249. terminations: terms, names [as in "name-calling"]. 250‑251. infect to the north star: i.e., stink up the whole world.
249   breath were as terrible as her terminations, there
250   were no living near her; she would infect to the
251   north star. I would not marry her, though she were
252   endowed with all that Adam had left him before he
253-254. Hercules have turned spit: —Omphale forced the captive Hercules to put on women's clothes and spin among her maids. Turning the spit over a cooking fire would be even more humiliating. 256. Ate: goddess of mischief and discord.
253   transgressed: she would have made Hercules have
254   turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make the
255   fire too. Come, talk not of her: you shall find her the
256   infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some
257. scholar: i.e., one familiar with the proper words for exorcising evil spirits.
257   scholar would conjure her; for certainly, while she
258   is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a
259   sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose, because
260   they would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet,
261   horror and perturbation follows her.

      DON PEDRO
262   Look, here she comes.

           Enter CLAUDIO and BEATRICE,
           [LEONATO, and HERO].

      BENEDICK
263   Will your grace command me any service to the
264   world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now
265   to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me
266. tooth-picker: toothpick.
267. the length of: i.e., a measurement of.
268. Prester John: a legendary Far Eastern emperor and Christian priest. 269. Cham: Khan of Tartary, ruler of the Mongols. Pigmies: a legendary small race which beset Hercules in his sleep. 271. harpy: a mythical monster with the face and trunk of a woman and the wings and talons of a bird of prey. ...more

266   on; I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the
267   furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of
268   Prester John's foot, fetch you a hair off the great
269   Cham's beard, do you any embassage to the Pigmies,
270   rather than hold three words' conference with this
271   harpy. You have no employment for me?

      DON PEDRO
272   None, but to desire your good
273   company.

      BENEDICK
274   O God, sir, here's a dish I love not: I cannot
275   endure my Lady Tongue.

           Exit.

      DON PEDRO
276   Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
277   Signior Benedick.

      BEATRICE
278-282. Indeed  . . .  awhile: —This speech appears to be an allusion to an earlier flirtation between Benedick and Beatrice. 279. use: usury, interest.  double heart: —Beatrice could mean that she loved Benedick twice as much as he loved her. Or she could mean that her heart was "double": insincere and deceitful. 280. false dice: loaded dice.
278   Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I
279   gave him use for it, a double heart for his single
280   one: marry, once before he won it of me with false
281   dice, therefore your grace may well say I have
282   lost it.

      DON PEDRO
283   You have put him down, lady, you have
284. put him down: got the better of him (in the battle of wits).
284   put him down.

      BEATRICE
285-286. So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother of fools: i.e., I wouldn't want him to put me down (= have sex with me), because of the danger getting pregnant and becoming a mother of fools.
285   So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I
286   should prove the mother of fools. I have brought
287   Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

      DON PEDRO
288   Why, how now, count! wherefore are
289   you sad?

      CLAUDIO
290   Not sad, my lord.

      DON PEDRO
291   How then? sick?

      CLAUDIO
292   Neither, my lord.

      BEATRICE
293   The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry,
294. civil: (1) grave, serious; (2) Seville (a homophone). —The oranges of Seville are extremely sour. 295. something: somewhat. jealous complexion: i.e., yellow, associated with a jaundiced attitude and jealousy.
294   nor well; but civil count, civil as an orange,
295   and something of that jealous complexion.

      DON PEDRO
296. blazon: description.
296   I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;
297. so: i.e., jealous. conceit: idea.
297   though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is
298   false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name,
299   and fair Hero is won: I have broke with her
300   father, and his good will obtained: name the
301   day of marriage, and God give thee joy!

      LEONATO
302   Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
303-304. all grace: i.e., the grace of God.
303   fortunes: his grace hath made the match, and all
304   grace say Amen to it.

      BEATRICE
305   Speak, count, 'tis your cue.

      CLAUDIO
306   Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were
307   but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady,
308   as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself
309   for you and dote upon the exchange.

      BEATRICE
310   Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
311   with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.

      DON PEDRO
312   In faith, lady, you have a merry
313   heart.

      BEATRICE
314   Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps
315. windy: windward; i.e., safe.
315   on the windy side of care. My cousin tells
316   him in his ear that he is in her heart.

      CLAUDIO
317   And so she doth, cousin.

      BEATRICE
318-319. goes every one to the world: i.e., everyone gets married. 319. sunburnt: i.e., unattractive. —In Shakespeare's time, white was thought beautiful, and being tan was associated with poverty and ignorance.
318   Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to
319   the world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
320   corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

      DON PEDRO
321   Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

      BEATRICE
322. getting: begetting.
322   I would rather have one of your father's getting.
323   Hath your grace ne'er a brother like you? Your
324   father got excellent husbands, if a maid could
325   come by them.

      DON PEDRO
326   Will you have me, lady?

      BEATRICE
327   No, my lord, unless I might have another for
328   working-days: your grace is too costly to wear
329   every day. But, I beseech your grace, pardon me:
330. matter: substance, sense.
330   I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

      DON PEDRO
331   Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
332   becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
333   a merry hour.

      BEATRICE
334. my mother cried: —Beatrice makes a jest out of the fact that childbirth is a painful experience.
334   No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
335   was a star danced, and under that was I born.
336   Cousins, God give you joy!

      LEONATO
337   Niece, will you look to those things I told
338   you of?

      BEATRICE
339   I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's
340   pardon.

           Exit Beatrice.

      DON PEDRO
341   By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.

      LEONATO
342. melancholy element: i.e., earth, associated with melancholy.
342   There's little of the melancholy element in her, my
343   lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps, and
344. ever: always.
344   not ever sad then; for I have heard my daughter say,
345. unhappiness: misfortune.
345   she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked
346   herself with laughing.

      DON PEDRO
347   She cannot endure to hear tell of a
348   husband.

      LEONATO
349   O, by no means: she mocks all her wooers
350. suit: courtship, pursuit of her.
350   out of suit.

      DON PEDRO
351   She were an excellent wife for
352   Benedict.

      LEONATO
353   O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married,
354   they would talk themselves mad.

      DON PEDRO
355-356. go to church: marry.
355   County Claudio, when mean you to go
356   to church?

      CLAUDIO
357   Tomorrow, my lord: time goes on crutches till love
358   have all his rites.

      LEONATO
359-360. a just seven-night: exactly a week.
359   Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just
360   seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all
361. answer my mind: correspond with my wishes.
361   things answer my mind.

      DON PEDRO
362. breathing: interval, delay.
362   Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing:
363   but, I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go
364   dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of
365   Hercules' labours; which is, to bring Signior
366   Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of
367   affection the one with the other. I would fain have
368   it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if
369. minister: furnish, supply.
369   you three will but minister such assistance as I
370   shall give you direction.

      LEONATO
371. am for you: accept your proposal.  371‑372. though it cost me ten watchings: even if I had to stay awake all night for ten nights.
371   My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
372   nights' watchings.

      CLAUDIO
373   And I, my lord.

      DON PEDRO
374   And you too, gentle Hero?

      HERO
375   I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
376   cousin to a good husband.

      DON PEDRO
377   And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
378   I know. Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble
379. approved: tested. honesty: honor.
379   strain, of approved valour and confirmed honesty. I
380   will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she
381   shall fall in love with Benedick; and I, with your
382. practice on: scheme against.
382   two helps, will so practice on Benedick that,
383. in despite of: notwithstanding. his queasy stomach: i.e., his squeamishness about love and marriage.
383   in despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he
384   shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this,
385   Cupid is no longer an archer: his glory shall be
386   ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with me,
387. drift: i.e., plan.
387   and I will tell you my drift.

           Exeunt.