Much Ado About Nothing: Act 5, Scene 2



           Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET.

      BENEDICK
  1   Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve
2-3. helping me to the speech of Beatrice: i.e., calling Beatrice to talk to me.
  2   well at my hands by helping me to the speech
  3   of Beatrice.

      MARGARET
  4   Will you then write me a sonnet in praise
  5   of my beauty?

      BENEDICK
6. high style: i.e., epic grandeur. —Other editors say that Benedick puns on "stile," which is a set of steps for crossing a fence, but I don't get the joke. 7. come over: exceed. in comely truth: (1) in good truth; (2) by virtue of your beauty.
  6   In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living
  7   shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou
  8   deservest it.

      MARGARET
9. To have no man come over me!: To have no man make love to me! (? ...more) 10. keep below stairs: i.e., stay in the servant's quarters.
  9   To have no man come over me! why, shall I always
 10   keep below stairs?

      BENEDICK
 11   Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's
 12   mouth; it catches.

      MARGARET
 13   And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit,
 14   but hurt not.

      BENEDICK
 15   A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
16-17. I give thee the bucklers: —This is an expression meaning "I give up. You win." A buckler is a small, round shield, as depicted in the image above.
 16   woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give
 17   thee the bucklers.

      MARGARET
18-19. we have bucklers of our own: —This is a bawdy joke. A buckler would often be mounted with a raised circle of iron in center, the purpose of which was to catch the tip of the opponent's sword.
 18   Give us the swords; we have bucklers of
 19   our own.

      BENEDICK
 20   If you use them, Margaret, you must put in
21. pikes: spikes in the center of a shield. vice: screw. —In the drawing below, taken from a Renaissance manual of combat, the buckler has a pike.
 21   the pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous
 22   weapons for maids.

      MARGARET
 23   Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I
 24   think hath legs.


           Exit MARGARET.

      BENEDICK
 25   And therefore will come.

           [Sings.]

26-29. The god  . . .  deserve: —These lines are probably a version of the first lines of a love song of Shakespeare's time. 29. How pitiful I deserve: how much I deserve pity for my love-suffering. —But in his next lines, "I mean in singing," Benedick speaks as though he meant "how little credit I deserve (when I sing love songs)."  30. Leander: —Leander swam the Hellespont nightly to see his love Hero....more 31. Troilus: —Troilus was another faithful lover in an old story....more  32. quondam carpet-mongers: ancient carpet-knights. —"Carpet-knights" was a scornful term for knights who didn't actually fight, but did their service at court, kneeling on carpets.
 26      The god of love,
 27      That sits above,
 28      And knows me, and knows me,
 29      How pitiful I deserve —

 30   I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good
 31   swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
 32   a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mongers,
 33   whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
 34   blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned
 35   over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I
 36   cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find
37. innocent: silly, childish.
 37   out no rhyme to 'lady' but 'baby', an innocent
38. for 'scorn', 'horn', a hard rhyme:
38-39. for 'school', 'fool', a babbling rhyme:
 38   rhyme; for 'scorn', 'horn', a hard rhyme; for
 39   'school', 'fool', a babbling rhyme; very ominous
 40   endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet,
41. festival terms: elevated language suitable for a special occasion.
 41   nor I cannot woo in festival terms.

           Enter BEATRICE.

 42   Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called
 43   thee?

      BEATRICE
44. Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me: —Benedick has just expressed surprise and delight that Beatrice will come when he calls for her. In response, Beatrice says that she will also leave when he asks her to, BUT the word "bid" also means "command," so that Beatrice is also saying, "I'll leave if you start ordering me around."
 44   Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.

      BENEDICK
 45   O, stay but till then!

      BEATRICE
 46   'Then' is spoken; fare you well now: and yet,
47. that I came: what I came for.
 47   ere I go, let me go with that I came; which
 48   is, with knowing what hath passed between
 49   you and Claudio.

      BENEDICK
 50   Only foul words; and thereupon I will
 51   kiss thee.

      BEATRICE
 52   Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is
53. noisome: ill-smelling.
 53   but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome;
 54   therefore I will depart unkissed.

      BENEDICK
55-56. his right sense: its correct meaning.

57. undergoes my challenge: i.e., has received my challenge to a duel. 58. hear from him: i.e., receive his acceptance of my challenge. 59. subscribe: publically proclaim.
60. parts: character traits.
 55   Thou hast frighted the word out of his right
 56   sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell
 57   thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge;
 58   and either I must shortly hear from him, or I
 59   will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee
 60   now, tell me for which of my bad parts didst
 61   thou first fall in love with me?

      BEATRICE
62. politic: shrewdly managed.


65. suffer: (1) experience; (2) suffer from.
 62   For them all together; which maintained so politic
 63   a state of evil that they will not admit any good
 64   part to intermingle with them. But for which of my
 65   good parts did you first suffer love for me?

      BENEDICK
66. epithet: i.e., expression.
 66   Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love
 67   indeed, for I love thee against my will.

      BEATRICE
 68   In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart!
 69   If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
 70   yours; for I will never love that which my friend
 71   hates.

      BENEDICK
72. wise: (1) witty; (2) wise.
 72   Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

      BEATRICE
73. It appears not in this confession: your wisdom is not shown by this declaration that you are wise.
 73   It appears not in this confession: there's not
 74   one wise man among twenty that will praise
 75   himself.

      BENEDICK
76. instance: proverb, maxim (i.e., that a wise man does not praise himself). 77. time of good neighbors: good old days when neighbors were willing to speak well of one another.
79. in monument: i.e., in memory.
 76   An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in
 77   the time of good neighbors. If a man do not erect
 78   in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live
 79   no longer in monument than the bell rings and the
 80   widow weeps.

      BEATRICE
 81   And how long is that, think you?

      BENEDICK
82. Question: that is the question. clamour: noise, such as weeping and wailing. 83. rheum: tears and snot.
84. Don Worm, his conscience: —A person's conscience was often referred to as a gnawing worm. 85. trumpet: trumpeter.
 82   Question: why, an hour in clamour and a
 83   quarter in rheum: therefore is it most expedient
 84   for the wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find
 85   no impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet
 86   of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much
 87   for praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness,
 88   is praiseworthy: and now tell me, how doth your
 89   cousin?

      BEATRICE
 90   Very ill.

      BENEDICK
 91   And how do you?

      BEATRICE
 92   Very ill too.

      BENEDICK
 93   Serve God, love me and mend. There will I
 94   leave you too, for here comes one in haste.

           Enter URSULA.

      URSULA
 95   Madam, you must come to your uncle.
96. old coil: great confusion, much ado.
 96   Yonder's old coil at home: it is proved my
 97   Lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the
98. abused: deceived.
 98   prince and Claudio mightily abused; and
 99   Don John is the author of all, who is fled
100. presently: immediately.
100   and gone. Will you come presently?

      BEATRICE
101   Will you go hear this news, signior?

      BENEDICK
102. die: —"Die" was often used as slang for "experience an orgasm."
102   I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and
103   be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will
104   go with thee to thy uncle's.

           Exeunt.