Much Ado About Nothing

  Complete Text  of the Shakespeare Play
With Definitions of Difficult Words and Explanations of Difficult Passages

Edited by Michael J. Cummings

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The following version of Much Ado About Nothing is based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." Annotations (notes and definitions) appear in boldface surrounded by brackets.


Benedick: Young lord from Padua, Italy, who thinks he despises Beatrice but really loves her. He is friendly, has a quick and witty tongue, and generally maintains an even temperament.
Beatrice: Niece of the governor of Messina. She thinks she despises Benedick but really loves him. Like Benedick, she has a quick and witty tongue. Beatrice is loyal to her friends.
Leonato: Nobleman and governor of Messina who is the uncle of Beatrice and the father of Hero.
Don Pedro: Prince of Aragon, a region in northeastern Spain. He led his army to victory in a war against his brother, Don John. Don Pedro is intelligent, confidant, diplomatic, and gallant.
Claudio: Young lord from Florence, Italy, who distinguished himself in the war against Don John. Claudio falls in love with Leonato's daughter, Hero. He seems knightly and pure, but his conversations suggest that his attraction to Hero results partly from the fact that she will one day become a wealthy heiress.
Don John: Don Pedro's bastard brother, a wicked fellow who was defeated by Don Pedro. Although Don John has far fewer lines than other characters, it is his desire for revenge against his battlefield foe, Claudio, that causes the deception, confusion, and mix-ups that drive the plot.
Hero: Leonato's prim, proper, beautiful, gentle, and obedient daughter. She falls in love with Claudio but becomes the innocent victim of a plot that turns Claudio against her. She is the cousin of Beatrice.
Margaret: Hero's attendant. She has a penchant for speaking risqué wisecracks and witticisms. Margaret is the girlfriend of Borachio.
Ursula: Another of Hero's attendants.
Antonio: Leonato's brother.
Balthazar: Don Pedro's attendant.
Borachio: A comrade and cat's-paw of Don John and the boyfriend of Margaret. He is a key participant in Don's John's scheme to ruin Hero's reputation, he
Conrade: Comrade of Don John.
Friar Francis: Priest who helps Hero regain her reputation.
Dogberry: Constable of Messina. He is memorable as a comic character for his bumbling manner and ludicrous malapropisms. A malapropism is the unintentional misuse of a word as a result of confusing its pronunciation with that of another word.
Verges: Headborough and sidekick of Dogberry.
Hugh Oatcake, George Seacoal: The only two of Dogberry's men who can read and write.
Sexton: Man who helps Dogberry and his police force to expose the plot against Hero.
Boy: Errand boy for Benedick.
Minor Characters: Messengers, Watchmen, Attendants.

Protagonists: Benedick and Beatrice, arguably, because they are both real, hotblooded characters who are far more interesting than the other protagonist candidates, Claudio and Hero. The latter two are less animated, rather shallow characters, who idealize courtly love.
Antagonists: Don John; mix-ups and misconceptionsText

Text of Much Ado About Nothing

Annotations by Michael J. Cummings

Act 1, Scene 1: Before Leonato's house.
Act 1, Scene 2: A room in Leonato's house.
Act 1, Scene 3: Another room in Leonato's house.

Act 2, Scene 1: A hall in Leonato's house.
Act 2, Scene 2: Another room in Leonato's house.
Act 2, Scene 3: Leonato's garden.

Act 3, Scene 1: Leonato's garden.
Act 3, Scene 2: A room in Leonato's house.
Act 3, Scene 3: A street.
Act 3, Scene 4: A room in Leonato's house.
Act 3, Scene 5: Another room in Leonato's house.

Act 4, Scene 1: The inside of a church.
Act 4, Scene 2: A prison.

Act 5, Scene 1: Before Leonato's house.
Act 5, Scene 2: Leonato's garden.
Act 5, Scene 3: The inside of a church.
Act 5, Scene 4: A room in Leonato's house.

Act 1, Scene 1

Before Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE and others, with a Messenger.
LEONATO:  I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon [Aragon] comes this night to Messina.   
MESSENGER:  He is very near by this: he was not three leagues [9 miles, or 4.82 kilometers] off when I left him.   
LEONATO:  How many gentlemen have you lost in this action [fighting]?            5
MESSENGER:  But few of any sort, and none of name. [Only a few with a high rank, and none from the nobility.]   
LEONATO:  A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers [all his men]. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine [native or resident of Florence, Italy] called Claudio.   
MESSENGER:  Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how.   
[Much deserved . . . you how: Claudio certainly deserves praise, and Don Pedro will remember how well he did. Though young, Claudio performed like a seasoned veteran. He was a lamb who fought like a lion. In fact, he performed so well that I lack words to describe his feats.]
LEONATO:  He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.   
MESSENGER:  I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.            10
[joy could . . . bitterness: His uncle's joy was so great that he could not help weeping.]
LEONATO:  Did he break out into tears?   
MESSENGER:  In great measure.   
LEONATO:  A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that are so washed: how much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!   
BEATRICE:  I pray you is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no? 
[Mountanto: Montanto or montant, a fencing term for an upward thrust of a sword. Signior Mountanto means Mr. Mountanto, a title that Beatrice uses to refer to Benedick. It has a measure of ridicule in it. It is as if she is calling him Mr. Big Shot.]
MESSENGER:  I know none of that name, lady: there was none such in the army of any sort.            15
LEONATO:  What is he that you ask for, niece?   
HERO:  My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.   
MESSENGER:  O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.   
BEATRICE:  He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the flight; and my uncle’s fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
[He set up . . . killing: He posted notices here in Messina challenging Cupid to an archery contest. My uncle's jester took up the challenge on behalf of Cupid but proposed that birdbolts (blunted arrowheads) be used in the contest. Anyway, tell me how many Benedick killed in battle and eaten? I promised him I would eat everyone that he killed.]
[Cupid: In classical mythology, the Roman name for the Greek god of love, Eros. Cupid was despicted as an archer whose arrows "wounded" young men and women with love.]
LEONATO:  Faith, niece, you tax [criticize] Signior Benedick too much; but he’ll be meet with [do the same to] you, I doubt it not.            20
MESSENGER:  He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.   
BEATRICE:  You had musty victual [you must have eaten bad food], and he hath holp [has helped] to eat it: he is a very valiant trencherman [eater]; he hath an excellent stomach.   
MESSENGER:  And a good soldier too, lady.   
BEATRICE:  And a good soldier to [compared to] a lady; but what is he to a lord?   
MESSENGER:  A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honourable virtues.            25
BEATRICE:  It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man; but for the stuffing [but as to the stuffing],—well, we are all mortal [well, we all have our faults].   
LEONATO:  You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt [between] Signior Benedick and her: they never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.   
BEATRICE:  Alas! he gets nothing by that [he always comes up short]. In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting [limping] off, and now is the whole man governed with one! so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
[if he have . . . brother: If he is smart enough to keep himself warm, that's the only difference between him and his horse. He has only enough intelligence left to pass as a human being. Who's his best buddy now? Every month he has a new sworn brother.]   
MESSENGER:  Is ’t possible?   
BEATRICE:  Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.            30
[he wears . . . block: His loyalty changes as fast as the fashion of his hat. As soon as the hatmaker gets another wooden block to shape a new hat, Benedick buys the hat.]
MESSENGER:  I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books [not a favorite of yours in your book].
BEATRICE:  No; an [if] he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young squarer [disputant; quarreler] now that will make [that is loyal enough to him to make] a voyage with him to the devil?   
MESSENGER:  He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.   
BEATRICE:  O Lord! he [Claudio] will hang upon him like a disease: he [Benedick] is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker [infected person] runs presently [goes immediately] mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a’ [before he] be cured.   
MESSENGER:  I will hold friends with you, lady. [I will try to remain on your good side, lady. (Because the messenger realizes that Beatrice has a sharp and witty tongue, he won't do anything to arouse her ire.)]            35
BEATRICE:  Do, good friend.   
LEONATO:  You will never run mad, niece. [You will never catch Benedick's pestilence and go mad, niece.]   
BEATRICE:  No, not till a hot January.   
MESSENGER:  Don Pedro is approached.   
Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR, and Others.             40

DON PEDRO:  Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble [the burden and expense of hosting me and my men]: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost [such trouble], and you encounter [welcome] it.   
LEONATO:  Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.   
DON PEDRO:  You embrace your charge [your burden] too willingly. I think this is your daughter.   
LEONATO:  Her mother hath many times told me so.   
BENEDICK:  Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?            45
LEONATO:  Signior Benedick, no; for then you were a child.   
[Her mother hath . . . a child: Leonato is joking when he says that his wife has assured him (line 44) that Hero was not fathered by another man. After Benedick plays along in line 45, Leonato replies that Benedick could not have been the father; for he was only a child when Hero was conceived.]
DON PEDRO:  You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.   
[You have . . . father: His answer topped your question, Benedick. It showed what kind of man you are with the ladies. But as for Hero, one can tell that she is Leonato's daughter, for she looks so much like him. Be happy, lady, that you look like your honorable father.]
BENEDICK:  If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.   
BEATRICE:  I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks [notices; listens to] you.   
BENEDICK:  What! my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?            50
BEATRICE:  Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.   
BENEDICK:  Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of [by] all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.   
BEATRICE:  A dear happiness to women: they would else [otherwise] have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that [I am grateful that I also love no one]: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.   
BENEDICK:  God keep your ladyship still in that mind; so some gentleman or other shall ’scape a predestinate scratched face.   
[God keep . . . face: May God preserve your man-hating state of mind so that no gentleman will get close enough to you to get a scratched face.]
BEATRICE:  Scratching could not make it worse, an [if] ’twere such a face as yours were.            55
BENEDICK:  Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. [You'd make a good teacher for a parrot, since you keep saying the same things over and over.]  
BEATRICE:  A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours. [A bird that speaks what I say is better than a beast that speaks what you say.]  
BENEDICK:  I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. [I wish my horse had the speed and endurance of your tongue.] But keep your way, i’ God’s name; I have done.   
BEATRICE:  You always end with a jade’s trick: I know you of old.
[jade: Old, worn-out horse. Beatrice is saying that Benedick always ends their verbal jousting by collapsing like a tired old horse.]  
DON PEDRO:  This is the sum of all, Leonato: Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the least a month, and he heartily prays some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.            60
LEONATO:  If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.  [To DON JOHN.]  Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.   
DON JOHN:  I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.   
LEONATO:  Please it your Grace lead on?   
DON PEDRO:  Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.  [Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO.   
[Exeunt: Stage direction indicating that two or more characters—or all characters—leave the stage.]
CLAUDIO:  Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?            65
BENEDICK:  I noted her not; but I looked on her.   
CLAUDIO:  Is she not a modest young lady?   
BENEDICK:  Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?   
CLAUDIO:  No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.   
BENEDICK:  Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.            70
CLAUDIO:  Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her. [Now don't joke around. Tell me what you really think of her.] 
BENEDICK:  Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?   
CLAUDIO:  Can the world buy such a jewel?   
BENEDICK:  Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow, or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?   
[But speak . . . song: Are you being serious or just fooling around, like a knave, as if to tell me that Cupid can spot a hare at some distance and that Vulcan is a skilled carpenter? (In classical mythology, Cupid, the god of love, was sometimes depicted in artworks as blindfolded; Vulcan was the blacksmith god, not a carpenter.) So come on, tell me what's on your mind.]
CLAUDIO:  In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.            75
BENEDICK:  I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such matter: there’s her cousin [Beatrice] an [if] she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?   
CLAUDIO:  I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn to the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.   
BENEDICK:  Is ’t come to this, i’ faith? Hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? [Isn't there one man left who will stay single so that he won't have to wonder whether his wife has been unfaithful?] Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score [of age sixty] again? Go to, i’ faith; an [if] thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke [bar attached to the necks of a team of oxen and hitched to a cart, plow, etc.], wear the print [imprint of the yoke] of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look! Don Pedro is returned to seek you.   
Re-enter DON PEDRO.
DON PEDRO:  What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato’s?            80
BENEDICK:  I would your Grace would constrain [force] me to tell.   
DON PEDRO:  I charge [command] thee on thy allegiance.   
BENEDICK:  You hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb man; I would have you think so; but on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance: he is in love. With who? now that is your Grace’s part. Mark how short his answer is: with Hero, Leonato’s short daughter.   
CLAUDIO:  If this were so, so were it uttered.   
BENEDICK:  Like the old tale, my lord: "it is not so, not ’twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so."            85
CLAUDIO:  If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise. 
DON PEDRO:  Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.   
CLAUDIO:  You speak this to fetch me in, my lord. [You're trying to trick me, my lord.]  
DON PEDRO:  By my troth [truly], I speak my thought.   
CLAUDIO:  And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.            90
BENEDICK:  And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.   
CLAUDIO:  That I love her, I feel.   
DON PEDRO:  That she is worthy, I know.   
BENEDICK:  That I neither feel how she should be loved nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake. 
[That I neither . . . stake: I find it difficult to believe that she could be loved or could be worthy. Set fire to me but I won't change my opinion. I would rather die at the stake.]
DON PEDRO:  Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty. [You never did believe that a woman's beauty could captivate a man.]         95
CLAUDIO:  And never could maintain his part but in the force of his will. [And never could stand his ground with sound reason instead of bullying tactics.]   
BENEDICK:  That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is,—for the which I may go the finer,—I will live a bachelor.   
[but that I . . . bachelor:  But I will never put myself in the position of a husband whose wife is unfaithful to him. Because I will never do women the injustice of mistrusting any of them, I will give myself the right of trusting none of them. The point is that I will go on living as a bachelor.]
DON PEDRO:  I shall see thee, ere [before] I die, look [turn] pale with love.   
BENEDICK:  With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with love: prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a balladmaker’s pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.   
[With anger . . . Cupid:  I may become pale with anger, sickness, or hunger—but never with love. If you can prove that I look pale because of  love instead of drinking too much, pick out my eyes with a balladmaker's pen and hang me up as a Cupid sign on the door of a brothel.]
DON PEDRO:  Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.            100
[Well . . . argument: Well, if you fail to live up to this vow, you will become a notable example of men who surrendered to love.]
BENEDICK:  If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.
[If I do . . . Adam: Archers sometimes placed a cat in a wicker basket or a barrel and used it as a target. Adam is apparently a reference to the legendary English archer, Adam Bell, who was believed to be as skillful an archer as Robin Hood.]
DON PEDRO:  Well, as time shall try:   
"In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke."
["In time . . . yoke":  Quotation from The Spanish Tragedy, by Thomas Kyd (1558-1594). The quotation says that eventually even a savage bull is tamed. Benedick will also be tamed, by love, Don Pedro maintains.]   
BENEDICK:  The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it [bear the burden of love], pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write, "Here is good horse to hire," let them signify under my sign "Here you may see Benedick the married man."   
[pluck off . . . forehead: A husband whose wife was unfaithful was called a cuckold. A cuckold was sometimes depicted in artworks as having horns on his head. Benedick is saying here that if he married, his wife's infidelity would make him a cuckold. He would then be depicted in a painting as having horns.]
CLAUDIO:  If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad [your wife's infidelity would make you go insane].           105
DON PEDRO:  Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver [arrows] in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly [you will soon shake with the fever of love].   
BENEDICK:  I look for an earthquake too then.   
DON PEDRO:  Well, you will temporize with the hours.  [Well, you are merely biding time until love catches up with you.] In the meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair [go] to Leonato’s: commend me to him and tell him I will not fail him at supper; for indeed he hath made great preparation.   
BENEDICK:  I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I commit you—   
CLAUDIO:  To the tuition of God: from my house, if I had it,—            110
DON PEDRO:  The sixth of July: your loving friend, Benedick.   
[lines 109-111: Benedick says he will report Don Pedro's message to Leonato. Then he begins to say good-bye as if concluding a letter ("and so I commit you—"). Claudio interrupts to complete Benedick's conclusion: "to the tuition of God". ("I commit you to the tuition of God" was a way of saying farewell, similar to "Go with God," "adieu," or "vaya con dios." Literally, the words mean "I commit you to the guardianship of God.") Don Pedro completes the imaginary letter by adding the date and complimentary close.]
BENEDICK:  Nay, mock not, mock not.  The body of your discourse is sometime [sometimes] guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere [before] you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience: and so I leave you.  [Exit.   
[Nay . . . leave you: Don't mock me. By the way, what you say sometimes contains fragments of wit stitched together, but they pull apart too easily. Before you stitch together any more fragments of old wit to mock someone, you ought to take a look at yourselves to see who really deserves mockery.]
CLAUDIO:  My liege, your highness now may do me good.   
[My liege . . . good: My lord, I need your assistance.]
DON PEDRO:  My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,   
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn            115
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.   
[My love . . . good: My love is yours to call upon. Just tell me how I can help you, and I will oblige you.]
CLAUDIO:  Hath Leonato any son, my lord?   
DON PEDRO:  No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.
[Hath Leonato . . . heir: Claudio asks whether Leonato has any son who will inherit his father's money and property. Don Pedro answers that Hero is an only child and is therefore the sole heir. It was not uncommon in the Elizabethan Age for a young man to inquire about a young lady's future financial assets before deciding to woo her.]
Dost thou affect [like] her, Claudio?   
CLAUDIO:  O! my lord,            120
When you went onward on this ended action,   
I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,   
That lik’d, but had a rougher task in hand   
Than to drive liking to the name of love;   
[When you . . . of love: When we went to war, I looked at her with a soldier's eye. I liked her but was too preoccupied with preparing for battle to turn liking her into loving her.]
But now I am return’d, and that war-thoughts            125
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms   
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,   
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,   
Saying, I lik’d her ere I went to wars.
[But now . . . to wars: But now that I have returned, all thoughts of war have vanished. What occupies my mind are soft and delicate desires that prompt me to acknowledge how beautiful young Hero is. How right I was to like her before I went to war.]  
DON PEDRO:  Thou wilt be like a lover presently,            130
And tire the hearer with a book of words.   
[Thou . . . words: You will soon act like a lover and tire your listeners with endless praise of her.]
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,   
And I will break with her, and with her father,   
And thou shalt have her. Was ’t not to this end   
That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?            135
[If thou . . . story: If you love fair Hero, prize that love. Meanwhile, I will break the news to Hero and her father so that you may court her. Wasn't this the reason you told me of your feelings for her?]
CLAUDIO:  How sweetly do you minister to love,   
That know love’s grief by his complexion!   
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,   
I would have salv’d it with a longer treatise.   
[How sweetly . . . treatise: How kind it is of you to help me—you who understand the pangs of love that I am experiencing. But I don't want you to think I am acting too hastily in this matter. Maybe I should have given you a longer explanation of why I love her.]
DON PEDRO:  What need the bridge much broader than the flood?            140
The fairest grant is the necessity.   
[What need . . . necessity: There is no need to lengthen a bridge that already spans the river. In other words, you have already told me enough. The best thing I can do for you now is to assist you, when the necessity of expressing your feelings for Hero tug at you.]
Look, what will serve is fit: ’tis once, thou lov’st,   
And I will fit thee with the remedy.   
[Look . . . remedy: Look, whatever I can do to help will be appropriate. It was enough for me to hear you say that you love Hero. All right, I will do what I can to get the two of you together.]
I know we shall have revelling to-night:   
I will assume thy part in some disguise,            145
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio;   
And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart,   
And take her hearing prisoner with the force   
And strong encounter of my amorous tale:   
[And take . . . amorous tale:  And capture her attention with the power of a love story]
Then, after to her father will I break;            150
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.   
In practice let us put it presently.  [Exeunt.   
[Then . . . presently: Then afterward I will speak with her father about you and Hero, and she shall be yours. Now let's put this plan in motion.]

Act 1, Scene 2

A room in Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting.
LEONATO:  How now, brother! Where is my cousin [nephew], your son? Hath he provided this music [for the evening party]?  
ANTONIO:  He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet dreamt not of.  
LEONATO:  Are they good? [Is it good news?]            5
ANTONIO:  As the event stamps them: but they have a good cover; they show well outward. [As the event . . . outward: We won't know that until later. But at first glance the news looks good.] The prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached alley [walkway lined with intertwining branches or vines] in my orchard, were thus much overheard by a man of mine: the prince discovered [revealed] to Claudio that he [Don Pedro] loved my niece your daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if he found her accordant [receptive; pleased], he meant to take the present time by the top and instantly break with you of it [inform you of it].  
LEONATO:  Hath the fellow any wit [intelligence] that told you this?  
ANTONIO:  A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and question him yourself.  
LEONATO:  No, no; we will hold it as a dream till it appear itself: but I will acquaint my daughter withal [with everything], that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure [by chance] this be true. Go you, and tell her of it.

Enter ANTONIO'S son with a musician and attendants.

Cousins, you know what you have to do. O! I cry you mercy, friend; go you with me, and I will use your skill. Good cousin, have a care this busy time.  [Exeunt.

Act 1, Scene 3

Another room in Leonato's house.
CONRADE:  What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out of measure sad? [What's going on, my lord? Why are you so sad?] 
DON JOHN:  There is no measure in the occasion that breeds; therefore the sadness is without limit. [What caused my sadness is boundless. Thus, my sadness is also boundless.] 
CONRADE:  You should hear [listen to] reason.            5
DON JOHN:  And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?  
CONRADE:  If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance [at least the strength to bear it patiently].
DON JOHN:  I wonder that thou, being,—as thou say’st thou art,—born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man’s jests; eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no man’s business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.  
[I wonder . . . in his humour: I wonder why you are preaching to me about how to cure my sadness when you yourself were born under the influence of Saturn and therefore tend to be melancholy. I cannot hide what I am—the bastard brother of a prince. I am sad when I have cause and will not smile at any man's jokes. I eat when I am hungry and will not wait for the socially approved hour. When I am drowsy, I will sleep and will not get up to attend to any man's business. I will laugh when I am merry but will not flatter anyone.]
CONRADE:  Yea; but you must not make the full show of this till you may do it without controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath ta’en you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.
[Yea; but . . . harvest: I understand. But you must restrain yourself until you are sure you can do what you want without causing yourself problems. You recently rebelled against your brother. Thankfully, though, he has taken you back into his good graces. If you're having problems, root yourself in the goodwill of your brother until the time is right for you to act boldly.]
DON JOHN:  I had rather be a canker [disease] in a hedge than a rose in his grace; and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any [I'd rather be disdained by all than to bow to anyone]: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog [people trust me only when I wear a muzzle and have a weight attached to my leg]; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.            10
CONRADE:  Can you make no use of your discontent?  
DON JOHN:  I make all use of it, for I use it only. [Yes, I use it, for it is the only thing I use.] Who comes here?  

What news, Borachio?  
BORACHIO:  I came yonder from a great supper: the prince, your brother, is royally entertained by Leonato; and I can give you intelligence [a report] of an intended marriage.            15
DON JOHN:  Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness?  
[Will it . . . unquietness: Will this development provide me any opportunity to cause trouble? Who is the fool who plans to marry a noisy woman?]
BORACHIO:  Marry [by the Virgin Mary], it is your brother’s right hand.  
DON JOHN:  Who? the most exquisite Claudio?  
BORACHIO:  Even he.  
DON JOHN:  A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks he?            20
BORACHIO:  Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.  
DON JOHN:  A very forward March-chick! [Why she's practically a child!] How came you to this? [How did you find this out?]  
BORACHIO:  Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty room, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference: I whipt me behind the arras, and there heard it agreed upon that the prince should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.  
[Being entertained . . . Count Claudio: I was hired to perfume the rooms. While I was smoking up one room with incense, Don Pedro and Claudio came by talking in serious tones. So I quickly hid behind a tapestry and heard them say that Don Pedro would woo Hero and then give her to Count Claudio.]
DON JOHN:  Come, come; let us thither [let us go there]: this may prove food to my displeasure [this may be my opportunity to cause trouble]. That young start-up [upstart] hath all the glory of my overthrow [of overthrowing me in my fight with my brother]: if I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?  
CONRADE, BORACHIO:  To the death, my lord.            25
DON JOHN:  Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were of my mind! Shall we go prove what’s to be done?  
[Let's . . . done: Let's go to the great supper. They are in high spirits because they have subdued me. Too bad the cook doesn't think like me. If he did, he would poison the food. Shall we go discover what's to be done?]
BORACHIO:  We’ll wait upon your lordship.  [Exeunt.

Act 2, Scene 1

A hall in Leonato's house.

LEONATO:  Was not Count John here at supper?  
And.  I saw him not.  
BEATRICE:  How tartly [sour] that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am heart-burned an hour after.            5
HERO:  He is of a very melancholy disposition.  
BEATRICE:  He were an excellent man that were made just in the mid-way 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.  
[He were . . . tattling: An excellent man would be midway between Don John and Benedick: the one is like a statue and says nothing; the other is like my lady's oldest son, who never stops talking.]
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 a spring in his step and a good foot [with good looks and a spring in his step], uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman in the world, if a’ [he] could get her good will.  
LEONATO:  By my troth [truly], niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of [sharp with] thy tongue.            10
ANTONIO:  In faith, she’s too curst [bad-tempered].  
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.
[Too curst . . . none: To be too bad-tempered is to be more than just bad-tempered. Therefore, God won't punish me. As the old saying goes, "God sends a bad-tempered cow short horns." But if I am too bad-tempered, God won't send me any horns at all. (Horns may be a phallic symbol, representing the penis.)]
LEONATO:  So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns?  
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.  
[Just . . . woollen: That's right. And if God sends me no husband, I will be forever grateful. Lord! I could not endure a husband with a beard. I'd rather sleep with a woolen blanket.]
LEONATO:  You may light on a husband that hath no beard.            15
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.
[therefore I will . . . hell: Therefore I would rather take a payment of sixpence from an animal keeper 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 [see pluck off], 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.  
ANTONIO:  [To HERO.]  Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by your father [your father's choice of a husband].  
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.’            20
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 over-mastered with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl [mixture of clay, minerals, and other elements]? No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren; and truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred. 
[Adam's sons . . . kindred: The Bible (Genesis 2:7) says that Adam was made of the dust of the earth. Therefore, Adam's sons—Cain, Abel, Seth, and the rest of mankind—were also made of dust. Beatrice says that she will not marry a man made of earth. She also says that Adam's sons are her relatives and that it would be a sin to marry a relative.]
LEONATO:  [To Hero.] Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind [if the prince asks to marry you], you know your answer.  
BEATRICE:  The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him there is measure in everything, 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.
[The fault . . . his grave: Beatrice compares courtship to music. She tells Hero that the prince must court her by keeping "good time"—the beat, the rhythm, and so on. If he tries to speed things up—that is, if he tries to hurry the romance—Hero should tell him he is going too fast, Beatrice says. Beatrice then tells Hero that "wooing, wedding, and repenting" are like a Scotch jig (a leaping and kicking dance) and a cinque-pace (the first five steps of a stately dance). The first dance, wooing, is "hot and hasty," like the Scotch jig. The second dance, the wedding, is dignified and traditional, like the cinque-pace. The third dance, repenting, is a hobble, with short, quick steps that lead to the grave.]
LEONATO:  Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly. [You understand things with superior insight.]           25
BEATRICE:  I have a good eye, uncle: I can see a church by daylight. [I can see what is easy to recognize.]  
LEONATO:  The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.  
DON PEDRO:  Lady, will you walk about with your friend [with me]?  
HERO:  So [if] you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.            30
DON PEDRO:  With me in your company?  
HERO:  I may say so, when I please.  
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!
[When I . . . face: I will say so if I like your face. I hope it isn't as ugly as the mask covering it.] 
DON PEDRO:  My visor is Philemon’s roof; within the house is Jove.            35
[Philemon: In classical mythology, a peasant of Phrygia (in present-day Turkey) who received a reward after hosting in his humble home the disguised king of the gods. The Romans called this god Jove, or Jupiter; the Greeks called him Zeus.]
HERO:  Why, then, your visor should be thatch’d [as in thatched roof].  
DON PEDRO:  Speak low, if you speak love.  [Takes her aside.  
BALTHAZAR:  Well, I would you did like me.  
MARGARET:  So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many ill qualities. [I wish you wouldn't, for I have many bad qualities.]  
BALTHAZAR:  Which is one?            40
MARGARET:  I say my prayers aloud.  
BALTHAZAR:  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.
[Answer, clerk: Say amen again, clerk. (In the Church of England, the pastor recited the prayers and the parish clerk recited the responses.)]          45
BALTHAZAR:  No more words: the clerk is answered.  
URSULA:  I know you well enough: you are Signior Antonio.  
ANTONIO:  At a word, I am not.  
URSULA:  I know you by the waggling [shaking; wobbling] of your head.  
ANTONIO:  To tell you true, I counterfeit [pretend to be] him.            50
URSULA:  You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were the very man. Here’s his [he has a] 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 end.
[Come . . . end: Ursula is mocking Antonio when she says he can't hide his "excellent wit," for Antonio has not exhibited any outstanding wit in his short replies.)] 
BEATRICE:  Will you not tell me who told you so?  
BENEDICK:  No, you shall pardon me.            55
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.
[That I was . . . said so: You said that I was disdainful and that I took my jests out of The Hundred Merry Tales. Well, only Signior Benedick would say such things. (The Hundred Merry Tales was a book of jests and anecdotes published in 1526.)] 
BENEDICK:  What’s he?  
BEATRICE:  I am sure you know him well enough.            60
BENEDICK:  Not I, believe me.  
BEATRICE:  Did he never make you laugh?  
BENEDICK:  I pray you, what [who] is he?  
BEATRICE:  Why, he is the prince’s jester: a very dull fool; only his gift [his only gift] is in devising impossible slanders: none but libertines delight in him; and the commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany [insulting manner]; 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 [in this room]: I would he had boarded me [I wish he had tried to attack me with his insults! I'd show him a thing or two].
BENEDICK:  When I know the gentleman, I’ll tell him what you say.            65
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.  [Music within.]  We must follow the leaders.  
[Do . . . that night: Do so. He'll make a jest or two about me. But, because no one will laugh at him or pay attention to him, he will become sad and depressed. Then he will lose his appetite, so a partridge wing will be saved.]
[Music within: Stage direction indicating that music is being played offstage.]
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 but DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO.  
DON JOHN:  Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to break [speak] with him about it. The ladies follow her and but one visor [masked person] remains.  
BORACHIO:  And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.            70
DON JOHN:  Are you not 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 [she is below him in rank]: you may do the part of an honest man in it.  
CLAUDIO:  How know you he loves her?  
DON JOHN:  I heard him swear his affection.            75
BORACHIO:  So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.  
DON JOHN:  Come, let us to the banquet.  [Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.  
CLAUDIO:  Thus answer I in name of Benedick,  
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.  
’Tis certain so; the prince woos for himself. [The prince has betrayed me by deciding to woo Hero for himself.]            80
Friendship is constant in all other things  
Save in the office and affairs of love:  
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues [Everyone in love should speak for himself];  
Let every eye negotiate for itself  
And trust no agent [go-between]; for beauty is a witch            85
Against whose charms faith [loyalty to a friend] melteth into blood [passion for the beloved].  
This is an accident of hourly proof,  
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!  
Re-enter BENEDICK.
BENEDICK:  Count Claudio?            90
CLAUDIO:  Yea, the same.  
BENEDICK:  Come, will you go with me?  
CLAUDIO:  Whither? [Where?] 
BENEDICK:  Even to the next willow [symbol of lost love], about your own business, count. What fashion will you wear the garland of? [How will you wear the willow garland?]  About your neck, like a usurer’s chain [like the expensive chain of a moneylender]? or under your arm, like a lieutenant’s scarf?[or draped across your chest 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.            95
BENEDICK:  Why, that’s spoken like an honest drovier [cattle dealer or herdsman]: so they sell bullocks [castrated bulls]. But did you think the prince would have served you thus?  
CLAUDIO:  I pray you, leave me.  
BENEDICK:  Ho! now you strike like the blind man: ’twas the boy that stole your meat, and you’ll beat the post. [Someone wronged you, but you are lashing out at me.] 
CLAUDIO:  If it will not be, I’ll leave you. [If you won't leave, I will.]  [Exit.  
BENEDICK:  Alas! poor hurt fowl. Now will he creep into sedges. But, that my lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! [As to Beatrice, she knew my identity but pretended not to know me.] The prince’s fool [court jester]! 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.            100
[Yea, but . . . as I may: However, I do myself wrong. I am not the prince's court jester. It is the bitter Beatrice who says that I am, pretending to speak for all the world. Well, I'll get back at her.]
Re-enter DON PEDRO.
DON PEDRO:  Now, signior, where’s the count? Did you see him?  
BENEDICK:  Troth [Truly], my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. [I have told him about a story going around.] I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a warren. [I found him here as melancholy as a rabbit confined to his lonlely hole.] 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 [and I offered to keep him company while he was in the doldrums] 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 school-boy, who, being overjoy’d with finding a bird’s nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.            105
[The flat . . . steals it: Benedick is saying that Claudio called Don Pedro's attention to Hero's beauty. Then, when Don Pedro looked upon her beauty, he stole Hero from Claudio.]
DON PEDRO:  Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in the stealer. [Is trust a sin? The sinner is 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 bird’s nest.  
[Yet it . . . next: It would not have been wrong to make Claudio a garland out of the willow leaves, then use the branch to beat you. As I understand it, you were the one who stole Hero from him.]
DON PEDRO:  I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner. [I just want to teach the birds in the nest to sing, and return the nest and the birds to the owner.] 
BENEDICK:  If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, you say honestly.  [Well, if you're saying that you want to "teach" Hero to love Claudio, I'll believe you when she actually does so.]
DON PEDRO:  The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the gentleman that danced with her told her she is much wronged by you.            110
BENEDICK:  O! she misused me past the endurance of a block [of wood]: an oak but with one green leaf on it, would have answered her [a half-dead oak tree would have been provoked enough to reply to her insults]: my very visor [mask] began to assume life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been myself [not realizing who I was], that I was the prince’s jester; that I was duller than a great thaw [duller than watching ice thaw]; huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance [skill] upon me, that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards [daggers], and every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as her terminations [as terrible as the terms she used], 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 had left him [endowed with paradise] before he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have turned spit [have made Hercules turn the spit over a kitchen fire], yea, and have cleft [split] his club to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the infernal Ate [Atë, goddess of ruin and mischief in classical mythology] in good apparel. I would to God some scholar [sorcerer] would conjure her, for certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose because they would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet, horror and perturbation follow her.  
[people . . . thither: People would sin on purpose to go to hell, knowing that she would not be there to annoy them.]
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 [opposite side of the world] that you can devise to send me on; I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch of Asia; bring you the length of Prester John’s foot; fetch you a hair off the Great Cham’s beard; do you any embassage [mission] to the Pigmies, rather than hold three words’ conference with this harpy. You have no employment for me?
[Prester John: Legendary king of a Christian nation in Asia]
[Great Cham: Title of the ruler in Mongolia and certain other Asian countries in medieval times]
[harpy: In classical mythology, a monster that was part woman and part bird of prey. Here, Benedick is comparing Beatrice to a harpy.]
DON PEDRO:  None, but to desire your good company.            115
BENEDICK:  O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not: I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.  [Exit. 
[O, God . . . Tongue: Benedick compares Beatrice  to food—specifically to the tongue of certain animals (such as cows, lambs, and pigs). Cooked and seasoned tongue was considered a delicacy. Of course, when Benedick says he cannot "endure my Lady Tongue," he is referring to Beatrice's verbal assaults.]
DON PEDRO:  Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.  
BEATRICE:  Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a double heart for a single one: marry, once before he won it of me with false dice, therefore your Grace may well say I have lost it.
[Indeed . . . lost it: Indeed, my lord, he lent me his heart for a while, and I gave it back to him as a double heart—his heart and mine united.But he didn't accept my offer, so I suppose I have lost his heart.]
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.            120
[So I would . . . fools: For my part, I hope that he doesn't put me down (in a marriage bed) so that I won't become the mother fools like him.]
DON PEDRO:  Why, how now, count! wherefore [why] 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 well; but civil count, civil as an orange [Seville orange, which is yellow], and something of that jealous complexion.            125
DON PEDRO:  I’ faith, lady, I think your blazon [description] to be true; though, I’ll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit [idea] is false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won; I have broke with [broken the news to] her father, and, his good will obtained; name the day of marriage, and God give thee joy!  
LEONATO:  Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes: his Grace hath made the match, and all 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 [Hero]; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.            130
DON PEDRO:  In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.  
BEATRICE:  Yea, my lord; I thank it [my heart], poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of care [keeps away from distress]. My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.  
CLAUDIO:  And so she doth, cousin.  
BEATRICE:  Good Lord, for alliance! [Thank God for romantic alliances!] Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. [Everyone except me goes out to the world, but I remain indoors because 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.            135
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.
[I would . . . by them: I would rather have a husband picked out by your father. Do you have a brother like you? Your father's sons would make ideal husbands, if a young lady could catch up with 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.
[No, my lord . . . matter: No, my lord, unless I could have another for workdays. You are like Sunday clothes, which are too expensive to wear during the week. But please pardon my words, your Grace. I was born to speak with a merry tongue, not a serious one.]
DON PEDRO:  Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question [without 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!            140
LEONATO:  Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?  
BEATRICE:  I cry you mercy, uncle. By your Grace’s pardon. [Oh, forgive me, uncle. I'll do it now. Please pardon me, your Grace.] [Exit.  
DON PEDRO:  By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.  
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.            145
LEONATO:  O! by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.  
DON PEDRO:  She were an excellent wife for Benedick.  
LEONATO:  O Lord! my lord, if they were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad.  
DON PEDRO:  Count Claudio, when mean you to go to church [when will the wedding take place]?  
CLAUDIO:  To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all his rites.            150
LEONATO:  Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just seven-night [only a week]; and a time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind [to consider all the questions I have on this matter].  
DON PEDRO:  Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing [an interval]; 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 [gladly; happily] 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 [though it would cost me ten sleepless nights].  
CLAUDIO:  And I, my lord.  
DON PEDRO:  And you too, gentle Hero?            155
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. [And Benedick does have merits.] 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 [with your two helpers], 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.  [Exeunt.  
[If we can do . . . drift: If we can do this, we will be doing Cupid's work, for we are gods of love. Go with me, and I will tell you my plan.]

Act 2, Scene 2

Another room in Leonato's house.
DON JOHN:  It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of Leonato.  
BORACHIO:  Yea, my lord; but I can cross [block; prevent] it.  
DON JOHN:  Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable [agreeable] to me: I am sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with mine [whatever sabotages his plans is fine with me]. How canst thou cross this marriage?            5
BORACHIO:  Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly [so secretly] that no dishonesty shall appear in me.  
DON JOHN:  Show me briefly how.  
BORACHIO:  I think I told your lordship, a year since [ago], how much I am in the favour of Margaret, the waiting-gentlewoman to Hero.  
DON JOHN:  I remember.  
BORACHIO:  I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, appoint her to look out at her lady’s chamber-window.            10
[I can . . . window: I can get her to look out of her lady's chamber window at any time during the night.]
DON JOHN:  What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?  
BORACHIO:  The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to the prince your brother; spare not to tell him, that he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio,—whose estimation do you mightily hold up,—to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
[Go you . . . Hero: Go to Don Pedro and tell him he has compromised his honor by arranging the marriage of Claudio to a prostitute.]  
DON JOHN:  What proof shall I make of that? [What proof can I offer that Hero is a prostitute?] 
BORACHIO:  Proof enough to misuse [deceive] the prince, to vex Claudio, to undo Hero, and kill Leonato. Look you for any other issue [Is there something else you want done]?  
DON JOHN:  Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing. [To get back at them, I will try anything.]            15
BORACHIO:  Go, then; find me a meet hour [the right time] to draw Don Pedro and the Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal [devotion; dedication; concern] both to the prince and Claudio, as—in love of your brother’s honour, who hath made this match, and his friend’s [Claudio's] reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid [to be deceived into thinking that Hero is an innocent virgin],—that you have discovered thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer them instances [examples of her behavior], which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at her chamber-window, hear me call Margaret Hero; hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended wedding: for in the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent; and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero’s disloyalty, that jealousy shall be called assurance, and all the preparation [for the wedding] overthrown.  
DON JOHN:  Grow this to what adverse issue it can [After you put the finishing touches on the plan], I will put it in practice. Be cunning in the working this, and thy fee is a thousand ducats [coins of gold or silver].  
BORACHIO:  Be you constant [persistent] in the accusation, and my cunning shall not shame me.  
DON JOHN:  I will presently go learn their day of marriage.  [Exeunt.

Act 2, Scene 3

Leonato's garden.

Enter a Boy.
Boy.  Signior?            5
BENEDICK:  In my chamber-window lies a book; bring it hither [here] to me in the orchard.  
Boy.  I am here already, sir.  
BENEDICK:  I know that; but I would have thee hence [have you go to the chamber], and here again.  [Exit Boy.]  I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love: and such a man is Claudio. I have known, when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife [wind instrument used in wartime]; and now had he rather hear the tabor [small drum] and the pipe [wind instrument used for parties and other amusements]: I have known, when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armour [suit of armor]; and now will he lie ten nights awake, carving the fashion of [designing] a new doublet [close-fitting jacket]. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is he turned orthographer [one who studies words and their positions in sentences]; his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted, and see with these eyes? [Will I fall in love, and act like him?] I cannot tell; I think not: I will not be sworn but love may transform me to an oyster; but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool.
[I will not be . . . I can't be sure that love wouldn't turn me into a fool.  Until love can prove me wrong by making a fool of me, I'll go right on believing that it can't.]
One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen [offer a price for] her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse [conversation], an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what colour it please God. Ha! the prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour [in the garden arbor].  [Withdraws.   
Enter DON PEDRO, LEONATO, and CLAUDIO, followed by BALTHAZAR and Musicians.
DON PEDRO:  Come, shall we hear this music?            10
CLAUDIO:  Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,  
As hush’d on purpose to grace harmony!  
DON PEDRO:  See you where Benedick hath hid himself?  
CLAUDIO:  O! very well, my lord: the music ended,  
We’ll fit the kid-fox with a penny-worth.            15
[O! very . . . penny-worth: Oh, yes, I see him well, my lord. When the music ends, we'll teach that foxy fellow a thing or two.]
DON PEDRO:  Come, Balthazar, we’ll hear that song again.  
BALTHAZAR:  O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice  
To slander music any more than once.
[O! good . . .once: Oh, my good lord, please don't make me ruin that song again with my bad voice.]
DON PEDRO:  It is the witness still of excellency,  
To put a strange face on his own perfection.            20
[It is . . . perfection: Balthazar tries to downplay his excellence as a singer.]
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo [coax you] no more.  
BALTHAZAR:  Because you talk of wooing, I will sing;  
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit  
To her he thinks not worthy; yet he woos;  
Yet will he swear he loves.            25
[Because you . . . loves: You say you like my singing. You remind me of suitors who swear they love certain women when they really don't.]
DON PEDRO: Nay, pray thee, come;  
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,  
Do it in notes.  
[Nay, pray . . . notes: Come, now. If you're going to protest any longer, do so with musical notes.]
BALTHAZAR:  Note this before my notes;  
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.            30
DON PEDRO:  Why these are very crotchets [in music, quarter notes] that he speaks;  
Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing!  [Music.   
BENEDICK:  Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all’s done.
[sheeps' guts: The material used to make strings for violins and other instruments]
[hale souls: The music is so beautiful that it can attract a soul right out of a body.]
[Well, a . . . done: Well, I'd rather listen to a horn than a stringed instrument.]
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo [more]
Of dumps [sorrowful or solemn subjects] so dull and heavy;
The fraud [deceit] of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy [leafy].
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
DON PEDRO:  By my troth [truly], a good song.  
BALTHAZAR:  And an ill singer, my lord.            35
DON PEDRO:  Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift [well enough to pass the time].  
BENEDICK:  [Aside.]  An [if] he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would have hanged him; and I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the night-raven, come what plague could have come after it.  
[Aside: Stage direction indicating that a character is speaking to himself, out of the hearing range of others onstage. Sometimes a character directs an aside to a nearby character or characters. The audience can hear everything.]
[and I pray . . . after it: I pray to God that his voice is not a bad omen, like the cry of a night raven, which can signal the coming of a plague or some other disaster. In fact, I would rather listen to a raven than to Balthazar.]
DON PEDRO:  Yea, marry; dost thou hear, Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some excellent music, for to-morrow night we would have it at the Lady Hero’s chamber-window.  
BALTHAZAR:  The best I can, my lord.  
DON PEDRO:  Do so: farewell.  [Exeunt BALTHAZAR and Musicians.]  Come hither, Leonato: what was it you told me of to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signior Benedick?            40
CLAUDIO:  O! ay:—[Aside to D. PEDRO.]  Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits. [Keep it up, keep it up. Benedick is in the arbor listening.]
I did never think that lady would have loved any man.  
LEONATO:  No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor.  
BENEDICK:  [Aside.]  Is ’t possible? Sits the wind in that corner? [Is that where the wind is blowing?]  
LEONATO:  By my troth [truly], my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it but that she loves him with an enraged affection: it is past the infinite of thought [it is beyond understanding].  
DON PEDRO:  May be she doth but counterfeit [pretend].            45
CLAUDIO:  Faith, like enough.  
LEONATO:  O God! counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of passion came so near the life of passion as she discovers it. [Pretending? She seems so sincere, so passionate.]
DON PEDRO:  Why, what effects of passion shows she?  
CLAUDIO:  [Aside.]  Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.  
LEONATO:  What effects, my lord? She will sit you;  [To CLAUDIO.]  You heard my daughter tell you how.            50
CLAUDIO:  She did, indeed.  
DON PEDRO:  How, how, I pray you? You amaze me: I would have thought her spirit had been invincible against all assaults of affection.  
LEONATO:  I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially against Benedick.  
BENEDICK:  [Aside.]  I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.
[I should . . . reverence: I would think they are playing a trick on me. But I doubt it, because an old and dignified fellow like Leonato would not take part in knavery.]  
CLAUDIO:  [Aside.]  He hath ta’en the infection [he has taken the bait]: hold it up [let's fish him in].            55
DON PEDRO:  Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?  
LEONATO:  No; and swears she never will: that’s her torment.  
CLAUDIO:  ’Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: ‘Shall I,’ says she, ‘that have so oft encountered him with scorn, write to him that I love him?’  
LEONATO:  This says she now when she is beginning to write to him; for she’ll be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper: my daughter tells us all.  
CLAUDIO:  Now [now that] you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of.            60
LEONATO:  O! when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?  
CLAUDIO:  That.  
LEONATO:  O! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence [tiny pieces]; railed at herself, that she should be so immodest to write to one that she knew would flout her: ‘I measure him,’ says she, ‘by my own spirit; for I should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I love him, I should.’  
CLAUDIO:  Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; ‘O sweet Benedick! God give me patience!’  
LEONATO:  She doth indeed; my daughter says so; and the ecstasy hath so much overborne [overcome] her, that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will do a desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.            65
DON PEDRO:  It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other [some other person], if she will not discover it [will not reveal her love for him].  
CLAUDIO:  To what end? he would but make a sport of it and torment the poor lady worse.  
DON PEDRO:  An [if] he should, it were an alms [it would be an act of charity] to hang him. She’s an excellent sweet lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.  
CLAUDIO:  And she is exceeding wise.  
DON PEDRO:  In everything but in loving Benedick.            70
LEONATO:  O! my lord, wisdom and blood [passion for Benedick] combating in so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.  
DON PEDRO:  I would she had bestowed this dotage [love] on me; I would have daffed [disregarded] all other respects [matters] and made her half myself [made her my wife]. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what a’ [he] will say.  
LEONATO:  Were it good, think you?  
CLAUDIO:  Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she will die if he love her not, and she will die ere [before] she make her love known, and she will die if he woo her, rather than she will bate [stop; hold back] one breath of her accustomed crossness.     
DON PEDRO:  She doth well: if she should make tender of [if she should offer him] her love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it; for the man,—as you know all,—hath a contemptible spirit.            75
CLAUDIO:  He is a very proper [handsome] man.  
DON PEDRO:  He hath indeed a good outward happiness [appearance].  
CLAUDIO:  ’Fore [before] God, and in my mind, very wise.  
DON PEDRO:  He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit [show some signs of intelligence]
LEONATO:  And I take him to be valiant.            80
DON PEDRO:  As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes them with a most Christian-like fear.  
[Hector: In Homer's Iliad, the brave leader of the Trojans in the war between Troy and Greece.]
LEONATO:  If he do fear God, a’ [he] must necessarily keep peace: if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.  
DON PEDRO:  And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, howsoever [even though] it seems not in him by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?  
CLAUDIO:  Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with good counsel [let her get over her feelings for him by biding her time while thinking things through].  
LEONATO:  Nay, that’s impossible: she may wear her heart out first.            85
DON PEDRO:  Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter: let it cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see how much he is unworthy to have so good a lady.  
LEONATO:  My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.  
CLAUDIO:  [Aside.]  If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my expectation. [If he doesn't dote on her as a result of what he heard, I will be be very surprised.]  
DON PEDRO:  [Aside.]  Let there be the same net spread for her; and that must your daughter and her gentlewoman carry. The sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of another’s dotage, and no such matter: that’s the scene that I would see, which will be merely a dumbshow. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.  [Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO.  
[Let there be . . . to dinner: Let your daughter and her servant spread the same net for Beatrice. The result will be that Beatrice thinks Benedick loves her and that Benedick thinks Beatrice loves him even though neither has said so. I'm eager to see what happens after the net is spread and the two of them confront each other. Their natural tendency is to insult each other, but this time they may end up saying nothing. It would be a dumbshow—that is, a pantomime. Let's send Beatrice to call Benedick to dinner.]
BENEDICK:  [Advancing from the arbour.]  This can be no trick: the conference was sadly borne [their conversation had a serious tone]. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady [Beatrice]: it seems, her affections have their full bent [her affections for me are deep]. Love me! why, it must be requited [why, I must return her love]. I hear how I am censured [criticized]: they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from her; they say too that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to marry: I must not seem proud [I must not respond to her by showing pride]: happy are they that hear their detractions, and can put them to mending [that hear of their faults and can correct them]. They say the lady is fair: ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: ’tis so, I cannot reprove [contradict] it; and wise, but for loving me: by my troth [truly], it is no addition to her wit [no testament to her intelligence], nor no great argument of [for] her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? [I may be the butt of some jokes and few insults here and here, because I have spoken so long against marriage. But can't a man change his ways?] A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour [of the brain dissuade me from courting her]? No; the world must be peopled. When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day! she’s a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in her.            90
BEATRICE:  Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.  
BENEDICK:  Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.  
BEATRICE:  I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would not have come.  
BENEDICK:  You take pleasure then in the message?            95
BEATRICE:  Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point, and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior: fare you well.  [Exit.  
[Yea, just . . . well: Yes, I take as much pleasure in delivering the message as you would take in a knife point poking you or in choking a daw (a type of crow). Have you lost your stomach for dinner? Well, good-bye,]
BENEDICK:  Ha! ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner,’ there’s a double meaning in that. ‘I took no more pains for those thanks than you took pains to thank me,’ that’s as much as to say, Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew [an outcast]. I will go get her picture.  [Exit.

Act 3, Scene 1

Leonato's garden.
HERO:  Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour;  
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice  
Proposing [conversing] with the prince and Claudio:            5
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursula  
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse  
Is all of her; say that thou overheard’st us,  
And bid her steal into the pleached bower [viny arbor],  
Where honey-suckles, ripen’d by the sun,            10
Forbid the sun to enter; like favourites,  
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride  
Against that power that bred [created] it. There will she hide her,  
To listen our propose [to eavesdrop on our conversation]. This is thy office;  
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.            15
MARGARET:  I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.  [Exit.  
HERO:  Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,  
As we do trace this alley [walkway] up and down,  
Our talk must only be of Benedick:  
When I do name him, let it be thy part            20
To praise him more than ever man did merit.  
My talk to thee must be how Benedick  
Is sick in love with Beatrice: of this matter  
Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,  
That only wounds by hearsay.            25
Enter BEATRICE, behind.
Now begin;  
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing [small wading bird], runs  
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.  
URSULA:  The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish            30
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,  
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:  
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now  
Is couched in the woodbine coverture [climbing vines providing cover for Beatrice].  
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.            35
HERO:  Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing  
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.  [They advance to the bower.  
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;  
I know her spirits are as coy and wild  
As haggerds [haggards: wild hawks] of the rock.            40
URSULA:  But are you sure  
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?  
HERO:  So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord [my future husband, Claudio].  
URSULA:  And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?  
HERO:  They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;            45
But I persuaded them, if they lov’d Benedick,  
To wish him [to tell him to] wrestle with [hold back any show of] affection,  
And never to let Beatrice know of it.  
URSULA:  Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman  
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed            50
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?  
[Deserve . . . upon: Deserve to share a marriage bed with Beatrice?]
HERO:  O god of love! I know he doth deserve  
As much as may be yielded to a man;  
But nature never fram’d a woman’s heart  
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;            55
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,  
Misprising [scorning; undervaluing] what they look on, and her wit  
Values itself so highly, that to her  
All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,  
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,            60
She is so self-endear’d [so self-centered].  
URSULA:  Sure, I think so;  
And therefore certainly it were not good  
She knew his love, lest she make sport [lest she laugh] at it.  
HERO:  Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,            65
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d,  
But she would spell him backward [say his good qualities are bad ones]: if fair-fac’d,  
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;  
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick,  
[drawing . . . antick: Antick is an archaic word for a buffoon or a clown. Thus, Hero is saying that nature used a buffoon as a model when shaping Benedick.]
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;            70
If low, an agate [gemstone] very vilely cut;  
If speaking, why, a vane [weathervane] blown with all winds [blown in every direction];  
If silent, why, a block [an immovable block of stone] moved with none.  
So turns she every man the wrong side out,  
And never gives to truth and virtue that            75
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
[And never . . . purchaseth: And never gives any deserving and meritorious man the compliment he deserves]
URSULA:  Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.  
HERO:  No; not to be so odd and from all fashions [to be so odd and so disdainful of acceptable behavior]  
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable.  
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,            80
She would mock me into air: O! she would laugh me  
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.  
Therefore let Benedick, like cover’d fire,  
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:  
It were a better death than die with mocks,            85
Which is as bad as die with tickling.  
URSULA:  Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.  
HERO:  No; rather I will go to Benedick,  
And counsel him to fight against his passion.  
And, truly, I’ll devise some honest slanders            90
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know  
How much an ill word may empoison liking.  
URSULA:  O! do not do your cousin such a wrong.  
She cannot be so much without true judgment,—  
Having so swift and excellent a wit            95
As she is priz’d to have,—as to refuse  
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick. 
[She cannot . . . Benedick: With such a quick and excellent mind, she cannot be so foolish as to refuse so rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.]
HERO:  He is the only man of Italy,  
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
[He is . . .  Claudio: He is the only real man in Italy except for my dear Claudio.] 
URSULA:  I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,            100
Speaking my fancy [mind]: Signior Benedick,  
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,  
Goes foremost in report through Italy.  
HERO:  Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.  
URSULA:  His excellence did earn it, ere [before] he had it.            105
When are you married, madam?  
HERO:  Why, every day, to-morrow. [Why, every day, beginning tomorrow.] Come, go in:  
I’ll show thee some attires [wedding dresses], and have thy counsel  
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.  
URSULA: [Aside.]  She’s lim’d, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.            110
[lim'd: Limed. Birdlime was a sticky mixture spread on tree branches to trap birds. Beatrice has been "birdlimed."]
HERO:  If it prove so, then loving goes by haps [then love smites people in varying ways]:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.  [Exeunt HERO and URSULA.  
BEATRICE:  [Advancing.]  What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?  
Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much?  
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu [French for good-bye]!            115
No glory lives behind the back of such.  
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee [return your love],  
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:  
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee  
To bind our loves up in a holy band,            120
For others say thou dost deserve, and I  
Believe it better than reportingly.  [Exit.

Act 3, Scene 2

A room in Leonato's house.
DON PEDRO:  I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and then go I toward Arragon. [I'll stay here until after your marriage, then go to Aragon (in northern Spain).] 
CLAUDIO:  I’ll bring you thither [accompany you there], my lord, if you’ll vouchsafe [allow] me.  
DON PEDRO:  Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss of your marriage, as to show a child his new coat and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth: he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid’s bow-string, and the little hangman dare not shoot at him. He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.            5
BENEDICK:  Gallants, I am not as I have been.  
LEONATO:  So say I: methinks you are sadder [more serious].  
CLAUDIO:  I hope he be in love.  
DON PEDRO:  Hang him, truant! there’s no true drop of blood in him, to be truly touched with love. If he be sad, he wants money.  
[Hang . . . money: Hang it all, Claudio! There's isn't a drop of blood in him that can be affected by love. If he's in a serious mood, he must need money.]
BENEDICK:  I have the tooth-ache.            10
DON PEDRO:  Draw [pull] it.  
BENEDICK:  Hang it.  
CLAUDIO:  You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
[You . . . afterwards: Claudio is playing with words, using "hang" and "draw" to allude to an especially cruel death penalty used in England beginning in 1283 for persons convicted of high treason. The convicted person was first hanged. While he was still alive, he was cut down. Then, the following actions were carried out. The person's intestines and sex organs were removed and burned. The person may still have been alive at this point. Then ropes were attached to the person's legs and arms. Horses pulled his body apart. For good measure, he was beheaded. This type of execution became known as "drawing and quartering," because the condemned person's body was drawn by the horses into four parts, or quarters.]
DON PEDRO:  What! sigh for [are you still compaining about] the tooth-ache?  
LEONATO:  Where is but a humour or a worm? [Do you suppose it's caused by a body fluid or a worm?]            15
BENEDICK:  Well, every one can master a grief but he that has it.  
CLAUDIO:  Yet say I, he is in love. [Maybe love is causing the toothache.]  
DON PEDRO:  There is no appearance of fancy [love] in him, unless it be a fancy that he hath to [unless it be his love for] strange disguises; as, to be a Dutchman to-day, a French-man to-morrow, or in the shape of two countries at once, as a German from the waist downward, all slops [loose pants], and a Spaniard from the hip upward, no doublet [no jacket]. Unless he have a fancy to this foolery, as it appears he hath [unless he likes to disguise himself, as it appears that he does] he is no fool for fancy [love], as you would have it appear he is.  
CLAUDIO:  If he be not in love with some woman, there is no believing old signs: a’ [he] brushes his hat a mornings; what should that bode? 
[If he be . . . bode: If he is not in love with some woman, then all the symptoms of love that he exhibits—symptoms everyone used to diagnose love since ancient times—are no longer reliable. By the way, he brushes his hat in the morning. What does that mean?]
DON PEDRO:  Hath any man seen him at the barber’s?            20
CLAUDIO:  No, but the barber’s man hath been seen with him; and the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuffed tennis-balls.  
[and the old . . . balls: And the old ornamentation on his cheeks, his beard, has been shaved off and used to stuff tennis balls.]
LEONATO:  Indeed he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a beard.  
DON PEDRO:  Nay, a’ [he] rubs himself with civet [secretion of a catlike animal used to make perfume]: can you smell him out by that?  
CLAUDIO:  That’s as much as to say the sweet youth’s in love.  
DON PEDRO:  The greatest note [most obvious sign] of it is his melancholy [seriousness; somberness].            25
CLAUDIO:  And when was he wont [inclined] to wash his face?  
DON PEDRO:  Yea, or to paint himself [to wear makeup]? for the which, I hear what they say of him.
[or to  . . .  of him: Or to wear makeup? You should hear what people say about him for doing this.]  
CLAUDIO:  Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into a lute-string, and new-governed by stops [frets on the lute].
[Nay, but . . . stops: Another thing is that he doesn't mock people or make jests anymore. It's as if he has become a string on a lute that plays nothing but love songs.]
DON PEDRO:  Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him [that tells a somber tale about him]. Conclude, conclude he is in love.  
CLAUDIO:  Nay, but I know who loves him.            30
DON PEDRO:  That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows him not.
[That would . . . not: I think I know, too—someone who doesn't know him.]  
CLAUDIO:  Yes, and his ill conditions; and in despite of all, dies for him.  
[Yes . . . him: Yes, she does know him, and she also knows all about his bad habits. But, in spite of everything, she would die for him.]
DON PEDRO:  She shall be buried with her face upwards. [In other words, she won't be buried face downward, like someone who has committed suicide.] 
BENEDICK:  Yet is this no charm for the tooth-ache. Old signior [Leonato], walk aside with me: I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak to you, which these hobby-horses [fools; clowns] must not hear.  [Exeunt BENEDICK and LEONATO.  
DON PEDRO:  For my life, to break with him about Beatrice. [On my life, I think he's going to ask Leonato for the hand of Beatrice.]            35
CLAUDIO:  ’Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this played their parts with Beatrice, and then the two bears will not bite one another when they meet.  
DON JOHN:  My lord and brother, God save you!  
DON PEDRO:  Good den [day], brother.  
DON JOHN:  If your leisure served, I would speak with you.            40
DON PEDRO:  In private?  
DON JOHN:  If it please you; yet Count Claudio may [should] hear, for what I would speak of concerns him.  
DON PEDRO:  What’s the matter?  
DON JOHN:  [To CLAUDIO.]  Means your lordship to be married to-morrow?  
DON PEDRO:  You know he does.            45
DON JOHN:  I know not that, when he knows what I know. [I know that he might not want to get married when he knows what I know.]
CLAUDIO:  If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it.  
DON JOHN:  You may think I love you not: let that appear hereafter [we'll deal with that later], and aim better at me by that I now will manifest. For my brother, I think he holds you well, and in dearness of heart hath holp [helped] to effect [arrange] your ensuing marriage; surely suit ill-spent, and labour ill bestowed [surely you've wasted your time and effort on this matter]!  
DON PEDRO:  Why, what’s the matter?  
DON JOHN:  I came hither [here] to tell you; and circumstances shortened,—for she hath been too long a talking of,—the lady is disloyal.            50
CLAUDIO:  Who, Hero?  
DON JOHN:  Even she: Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero.  
CLAUDIO:  Disloyal?  
DON JOHN:  The [That] word’s too good to paint out her wickedness; I could say, she were worse: think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not till further warrant: go but with me to-night [Hold your questions about this for the time being. Go with me tonight and] you shall see her chamber-window entered, even the night before her wedding-day: if you love her then, to-morrow wed her; but it would better fit your honour to change your mind.  
CLAUDIO:  May this be so?            55
DON PEDRO:  I will not think it.  
DON JOHN:  If you dare not trust that [what] you see, confess not that you know. If you will follow me, I will show you enough; and when you have seen more and heard more, proceed accordingly.  
CLAUDIO:  If I see any thing to-night why I should not marry her to-morrow, in the congregation, where I should wed, there will I shame her.  
DON PEDRO:  And, as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join with thee to disgrace her.  
DON JOHN:  I will disparage her no further till you are my witnesses: bear it coldly but till midnight, and let the issue show itself.            60
DON PEDRO:  O day untowardly turned! [Oh, day adversely turned!]  
CLAUDIO:  O mischief strangely thwarting!  [Oh, strange mischief thwarting my marriage.]  
DON JOHN:  O plague right well prevented!  So will you say when you have seen the sequel. [Oh, a plague prevented. So will you say when you see what happens next.] [Exeunt.

Act 3, Scene 3

A street.
Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES, with the Watch.

[Comment: Dogberry, Verges, and members of the watch sometimes misuse words unintentionally, creating a humorous effect. An example is Verges' use of salvation for damnation (line 4).  A misuse of a word in this way is called a malapropism.]
DOGBERRY:  Are you good men and true?  
VERGES:  Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation [damnation], body and soul.  
DOGBERRY:  Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if they should have any allegiance [disloyalty] in them, being chosen for the prince’s watch.            5
VERGES:  Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.  
DOGBERRY:  First, who think you the most desartless [deserving] man to be constable?  
FIRST WATCH:  Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they can write and read.  
DOGBERRY:  Come hither, neighbour Seacoal. God hath blessed you with a good name [reputation]: to be a well-favoured man [man with many good qualities] is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature [education].  
SECOND WATCH:  Both which, Master constable,—            10
DOGBERRY:  You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most senseless [sensible] and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lanthorn [lantern]. This is your charge: you shall comprehend [apprehend] all vagrom [vagrant] men; you are to bid any man stand, in the prince’s name.  
WATCHMAN:  How, if a’ [he] will not stand?  
DOGBERRY:  Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and presently call the rest of the watch together, and thank God you are rid of a knave.  
VERGES:  If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the prince’s subjects.  
DOGBERRY:  True, and they are to meddle [deal] with none but the prince’s subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets: for, for the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable [intolerable] and not to be endured.            15
SECOND WATCH:  We will rather sleep than talk: we know what belongs to a watch [what a watch is supposed to do].  
DOGBERRY:  Why, you speak like an ancient [experienced] and most quiet watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend; only have a care that your bills [poleaxes or similar weapons] be not stolen. Well, you are to call at all the alehouses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.  
WATCHMAN:  How if they will not?  
DOGBERRY:  Why then, let them alone till they are sober: if they make you not then the better answer [if they give you any problems], you may say they are not the men you took them for.  
WATCHMAN:  Well, sir.            20
DOGBERRY:  If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true [honest] man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why, the more is for your honesty.  
SECOND WATCH:  If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him?  
DOGBERRY:  Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they that touch pitch [tar-like substance] will be defiled. The most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is, to let him show himself what he is and steal out of your [his] company.  
VERGES:  You have been always called a merciful man, partner.  
DOGBERRY:  Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more [much less] a man who hath any honesty in him.            25
VERGES:  If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.  
SECOND WATCH:  How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?  
DOGBERRY:  Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baas, will never answer a calf when he bleats [moos].  
VERGES:  ’Tis very true.  
DOGBERRY:  This is the end of the charge. You constable, are to present [represent] the prince’s own person: if you meet the prince in the night, you may stay [stop] him.            30
VERGES:  Nay, by ’r lady [by Our Lady (the Virgin Mary)], that I think, a’ [he] cannot.  
DOGBERRY:  Five shillings to one on ’t, with any man that knows the statues [statutes], he may stay him: marry, not without the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man, and it is an offence to stay a man against his will.  
VERGES:  By ’r lady, I think it be so.  
DOGBERRY:  Ha, ah, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be any matter of weight chances [if there be any important matter that happens], call up me: keep your fellows’ counsels and your own, and good night. Come, neighbour.  
SECOND WATCH:  Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here upon the church-bench till two, and then all go to bed.            35
DOGBERRY:  One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you, watch about Signior Leonato’s door; for the wedding being there to-morrow, there is a great coil [a lot going on there] to-night. Adieu [French for good-bye]; be vigitant [vigilant], I beseech you.  [Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.  
BORACHIO:  What, Conrade!  
WATCHMAN:  [Aside.]  Peace! stir not.  
BORACHIO:  Conrade, I say!            40
CONRADE:  Here, man, I am at thy elbow.  
BORACHIO:  Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a scab follow.  
[Mass: By the mass, referring to the Roman Catholic Eucharistic liturgy]
[scab: vile fellow]
CONRADE:  I will owe thee an answer for that; and now forward with thy tale.  
BORACHIO:  Stand thee close then under this penthouse [balcony; jutting part of a building], for it drizzles rain, and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee.  
WATCHMAN:  [Aside.]  Some treason, masters; yet stand close.            45
BORACHIO:  Therefore know, I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats [silver or gold coins].  
CONRADE:  Is it possible that any villany should be so dear [should cost so much]?  
BORACHIO:  Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any villany should be so rich; for when rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.  
CONRADE:  I wonder at it. [I have my doubts.] 
BORACHIO:  That shows thou art unconfirmed [inexperienced]. Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to [does nothing to change] a man.            50
CONRADE:  Yes, it is apparel.  
BORACHIO:  I mean, the fashion [the kind of apparel].  
CONRADE:  Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
BORACHIO:  Tush! I may as well say the fool’s the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is? [But don't you see how fashion deceives us?] 
WATCHMAN:  [Aside.]  I know that Deformed; a’ [he] has been a vile thief this seven years; a’ goes up and down like a gentleman: I remember his name.            55
BORACHIO:  Didst thou not hear somebody?  
CONRADE:  No: ’twas the vane on the house.  
BORACHIO:  Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed [deceitful] thief this fashion is? how giddily he turns about all the hot bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty? sometime fashioning them like Pharaoh’s soldiers in the reechy painting; sometime like god Bel’s priests in the old church-window; sometime like the shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry, where his cod-piece seems as massy as his club?  
[Seest . . . club: Borachio is trying to explain that clothes enable a person to dress like someone he is not—a playboy, a soldier, a clergyman, or even Hercules. In doing so, the person deceives the public.
[Bel: Title for gods in Mesopotamian religion. It means lord.]
[cod-piece: A codpiece, which is a pouch, bag, or flap on the front of a man's breeches, covering the genitals.]
CONRADE:  All this I see, and I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man [and I see that a fashion goes out of style before a man can wear it out]. But art not thou thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion? [But aren't you overly concerned with changing fashions? After all, you changed from your conversation about our task at hand to a story about fashion.] 
BORACHIO:  Not so, neither; but know, that I have to-night wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero’s gentlewoman, by the name of Hero: she leans me out at her mistress’ chamber-window, bids me a thousand times good night,—I tell this tale vilely:—I should first tell thee how the prince, Claudio, and my master, planted and placed and possessed by my master Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable encounter.            60
[Not so . . . encounter: No, I didn't. But you should know that tonight I wooed Margaret, Hero's servant. I called her by the name of Hero while she was leaning out of her mistress's bedroom window. She bid me a thousand good nights. Don Pedro, Claudio, and my master, Don John, witnessed this amiable encounter from the orchard.]
CONRADE:  And thought they Margaret was Hero?  
BORACHIO:  Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the devil my master, knew she was Margaret; and partly by his oaths, which first possessed them, partly by the dark night, which did deceive them, but chiefly by my villany, which did confirm any slander that Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore he would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning at the temple, and there, before the whole congregation, shame her with what he saw o’er night, and send her home again without a husband.  
[Two of them . . . husband: Don Pedro and Claudio believed Margaret was Hero, and Don John knew that it was wasn't. But Don Pedro and Claudio were quick to believe that it was Hero because Don John swore that it was and because it was too dark to see faces. My villainy in this trickery backed up what Don John told them. Claudio went away enraged. He swore that at the wedding ceremony tomorrow he would shame her before the whole congregation and send her home without a husband.]
FIRST WATCH:  We charge [arrest] you in the prince’s name, stand!  
SECOND WATCH:  Call up the right Master constable. We have here recovered [discovered, a malapropism] the most dangerous piece of lechery [treachery, a malapropism] that ever was known in the commonwealth.  
FIRST WATCH:  And one Deformed [see lines 54-55] is one of them: I know him, a’ [he] wears a lock [of hair].            65
CONRADE:  Masters, masters!  
SECOND WATCH:  You’ll be made [to] bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.  
CONRADE:  Masters,—  
FIRST WATCH:  Never speak: we charge you let us obey [order] you to go with us.  
BORACHIO:  We are like to prove a goodly commodity [to be important prisoners], being taken up of these men’s bills [taken by these armed men].            70
CONRADE:  A commodity in question [your importance is in question], I warrant you. Come, we’ll obey you. [Exeunt.

Act 3, Scene 4

A room in Leonato's house.
HERO:  Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire her to rise.  
URSULA:  I will, lady.  
HERO:  And bid her come hither [here].            5
URSULA:  Well.  [Exit.  
MARGARET:  Troth [truly], I think your other rabato [starched collar that stands rigid in the back and on the sides] were better.  
HERO:  No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.  
MARGARET:  By my troth’s not so good; and I warrant your cousin [Beatrice] will say so.  
HERO:  My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another: I’ll wear none but this.            10
MARGARET:  I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair were a thought browner; and your gown’s a most rare fashion, i’ faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan’s gown that they praise so.  
[tire: Archaic term for headdress. Within apparently means what is inside the headdress—a wig.]
HERO:  O! that exceeds [that gown is exceedingly beautiful], they say.  
MARGARET:  By my troth’s but a night-gown in respect of yours: cloth o’ gold, and cuts [slits to reveal the color beneath], and laced with silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves [decorative sleeves worn over the sleeves of the dress], and skirts round, underborne [trimmed] with a bluish tinsel; but for a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion, yours is worth ten on ’t.  
[By my . . . on 't: Margaret says the Duchess of Milan's wedding dress is only a nightgown compared to Hero's wedding dress, with all of its glittering appointments. In fact, says Margaret, Hero's dress is ten times better than the Duchess of Milan's dress.]
HERO:  God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is exceeding heavy. [God give me joy in wearing it, for my heart is heavy with anxiety.]  
MARGARET:  ’Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man. [Your body will soon be even heavier with the weight of a man on it.]           15
HERO:  Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?  
MARGARET:  Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? is not marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord honourable without marriage? I think you would have me say, "saving your reverence, a husband": an [if] bad thinking do not wrest [minsinterpret] true speaking, I’ll offend nobody. Is there any harm in ‘the heavier for a husband?’ None, I think, an [if] it be the right husband and the right wife; otherwise ’tis light, and not heavy: ask my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes.
[Of what . . . husband?": Ashamed of what? Of speaking honorably? Is not marriage honorable even in a beggar? Is not Claudio honorable without marriage? Margaret then tells Hero that she is so modest and priggish that she even thinks the word husband is vulgar. "Saving your reverence" is a mock apology for uttering the word husband.]


HERO:  Good morrow, coz [cousin].  
BEATRICE:  Good morrow, sweet Hero.            20
HERO:  Why, how now! do you speak in the sick tune? [Why does your voice seem to be in moody tune?] 
BEATRICE:  I am out of all other tune, methinks. [That's the only tune I can speak in.]  
MARGARET:  Clap’s into ‘Light o’ love;’ that goes without a burden: do you sing it, and I’ll dance it.  
[Clap's . . . dance it: Lead us in a rendition of "Light o' Love," which has no baritone or bass notes. You sing it and I'll dance it.]
BEATRICE:  Ye light o’ love with your heels! then, if your husband have stables enough, you’ll see he shall lack no barns.  
[Ye light . . . heels: You're so light with love that your heels hardly touch the floor when you dance.]
[then, if . . . barns: Figuratively, if your husband provides enough rooms, you'll have plenty of children to fill them. (Barns is a pun. Margaret means bairns, an archaic word for children.)]
MARGARET:  O illegitimate construction [interpretation]! I scorn that with my heels. [Oh, you're singing that wrong. I scorn it by tapping my heels.]           25
BEATRICE:  ’Tis almost five o’clock, cousin; ’tis time you were ready. By my troth [truly], I am exceeding ill. Heigh-ho!  
MARGARET:  For a hawk, a horse, or a husband? [Are you heigh-hoing for a hawk, a horse, or a husband?] 
BEATRICE:  For the letter that begins them all: H. [For the letter that begins all those words: H. But Beatrice apparently is pretending that H is spelled phonetically as ache, not aitch, because she is sick with an ache. This is a rather clumsy play on words.]
MARGARET:  Well, an [if] you be not turned Turk, there’s no more sailing by the star. 
[Well . . . star: Well, if you decided to embrace love completely, there's no more sailing by the star.]
BEATRICE:  What means the fool, trow?            30
[trow: I ask; I wonder]
MARGARET:  Nothing I; but God send every one their heart’s desire!  
HERO:  These gloves the count sent me; they are an excellent perfume. [These gloves the count sent me really smell good.]  
BEATRICE:  I am stuffed, cousin, I cannot smell. [My nose is stuffed up, cousin; I cannot smell.] 
MARGARET:  A maid, and stuffed! there’s goodly catching of cold.  
[A maid . . . cold:  Margaret's language is vulgar: A virgin who has been stuffed by a man! That's a goodly way to catch a cold.]
BEATRICE:  O, God help me! God help me! how long have you professed apprehension?            35
[how long . . . apprehension: How long have been trying to say witty things?]
MARGARET:  Ever since you left it [ever since you quit saying witty things.] Doth not my wit become me rarely!  
BEATRICE:  It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your cap. By my troth [truly], I am sick.  
[It is . . . cap: It becomes you, all right, like the clothes a court jester wears. You should wear your wit in your jester's cap.]
MARGARET:  Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus [herbal remedy commonly referred to as holy thistle], and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm.  
HERO:  There thou prick’st her with a thistle.  
BEATRICE:  Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in this Benedictus? [are you recommending Benedictus because it has a hidden meaning, namely that you think Benedick is the cause of my illness?]           40
MARGARET:  Moral! [Hidden meaning!] no, by my troth [truly], I have no moral meaning; I meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think, perchance, that I think you are in love: nay, by ’r lady [by Our Lady], I am not such a fool to think what I list [please]; nor I list [please] not to think what I can; nor, indeed, I cannot think, if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you are in love, or that you will be in love, or that you can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and now is he become a man: he swore he would never marry; and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats his meat without grudging: and how you may be converted, I know not; but methinks you look with your eyes as other women do.  
BEATRICE:  What pace is this that thy tongue keeps? [Why are you speaking so fast and so incoherently?] 
MARGARET:  Not a false gallop. [I may be speaking fast, but I'm telling the truth.] 
Re-enter URSULA.
URSULA:  Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the town, are come to fetch you to church.            45
HERO:  Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.  [Exeunt.

Act 3, Scene 5

Another room in Leonato's house.

LEONATO:  What would you with me, honest neighbour?  
DOGBERRY:  Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you, that decerns [concerns] you nearly [personally].  
LEONATO:  Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with me.            5
DOGBERRY:  Marry, this it is, sir.  
VERGES:  Yes, in truth it is, sir.  
LEONATO:  What is it, my good friends?  
DOGBERRY:  Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: [he's] an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt [sharp], as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.  
VERGES:  Yes, I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man and no honester than I.            10
[Yes . . . than I: Yes, thank God, I am as honest as any man living—that is, any old man who is no more honest than I.]
DOGBERRY:  Comparisons are odorous [odious]: palabras [don't speak too many words], neighbour Verges.  
LEONATO:  Neighbours, you are tedious.  
DOGBERRY:  It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke’s officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.  
[It pleases . . . worship: Dogberry apparently doesn't know the meaning of tedious (tiresome.)]
LEONATO:  All thy tediousness on me! ha?  
DOGBERRY:  Yea, an [if] ’t were a thousand pound more than ’tis; for I hear as good exclamation [acclaim; praise] on your worship, as of any man in the city, and though I be but a poor man, I am glad to hear it.            15
VERGES:  And so am I.  
LEONATO:  I would fain [willingly; like to] know what you have to say.  
VERGES:  Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your worship’s presence, ha’ ta’en a couple of as arrant [complete; thoroughgoing] knaves as any in Messina.  
DOGBERRY:  A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they say, ‘when the age is in, the wit is out.’ God help us! it is a world to see! Well said, i’ faith, neighbour Verges: well, God’s a good man; an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul, i’ faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread: but God is to be worshipped: all men are not alike; alas! good neighbour.  
[A good . . . neighbour: He's a good old man, sir; but he likes to jabber on. When a man is in old age, his wit his out. God help us! What a world! Well said, Verges, truly. Well, God is good. If two men ride on a horse, one must sit behind. Verges is honest, sir, as honest as anyone who has ever broken bread. But not all men have as much intelligence or talent as other men. Too bad. Is it not so, good neighbor?]
LEONATO:  Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.            20
DOGBERRY:  Gifts that God gives. [God gave me my gifts.] 
LEONATO:  I must leave you.  
DOGBERRY:  One word, sir: our watch, sir, hath indeed comprehended [apprehended] two aspicious [suspicious] persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.  
LEONATO:  Take their examination yourself, and bring it me: I am now in great haste, as may appear unto you.  
DOGBERRY:  It shall be suffigance [sufficient].            25
LEONATO:  Drink some wine ere [before] you go: fare you well.  
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER:  My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to her husband.  
LEONATO:  I’ll wait upon them: I am ready.  [Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger.  
DOGBERRY:  Go, good partner, go, get you to [go get] Francis Seacoal; bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol [alternate spelling of jail]: we are now to examination [examine] these men.            30
VERGES:  And we must do it wisely.  
DOGBERRY:  We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here’s that shall drive some of them to a non-come: only get the learned writer to set down our excommunication [communication; message], and meet me at the gaol [jail].  [Exeunt.

Act 4, Scene 1

The inside of a church.
LEONATO:  Come, Friar Francis, be brief: only to the plain form of marriage, and you shall recount their particular duties afterwards.  
FRIAR:  You come hither [here], my lord, to marry this lady?  
CLAUDIO:  No.            5
LEONATO:  To be married to her, friar; you come to marry her.  
FRIAR:  Lady, you come hither [here] to be married to this count?  
HERO:  I do.  
FRIAR:  If either of you know any inward impediment, why you should not be conjoined, I charge you, on your souls, to utter it.  
CLAUDIO:  Know you any, Hero?            10
HERO:  None, my lord.  
FRIAR:  Know you any, count?  
LEONATO:  I dare make his answer; none.  
CLAUDIO:  O! what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do, not knowing what they do!  
BENEDICK:  How now! Interjections? Why then, some be of laughing, as ah! ha! he!            15
CLAUDIO:  Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave:  
Will you with free and unconstrained soul  
Give me this maid, your daughter?  
LEONATO:  As freely, son, as God did give her me.  
CLAUDIO:  And what have I to give you back whose worth            20
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?  
DON PEDRO:  Nothing, unless you render her again. [Nothing, unless you return her to Leonato.]  
CLAUDIO:  Sweet prince, you learn [teach] me noble thankfulness.  
There, Leonato, take her back again:  
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;            25
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour [She's just an imitation of honor].  
Behold! how like a maid [virgin] she blushes here.  
O! what authority and show of truth  
Can cunning sin cover itself withal.  
Comes not that blood as modest evidence            30
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,  
[Comes not . . . virtue: Isn't that blush a sign that she is virtuous?]
All you that see her, that she were a maid [virgin],  
By these exterior shows? But she is none:  
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;  
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.            35
LEONATO:  What do you mean, my lord?  
CLAUDIO:  Not to be married,  
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton [to a proven whore].  
LEONATO:  Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,  
Have vanquish’d the resistance of her youth,            40
And made defeat of her virginity,—
[Dear . . . virginity: My dear lord, if you have seduced her and taken her virginity—] 
CLAUDIO:  I know what you would say: if I have known [have had sexual relations with] her,  
You’ll say she did embrace me as a husband,  
And so extenuate [mitigate; lessen]  the ’forehand [beforehand] sin:  
No, Leonato,            45
I never tempted her with word too large [I never tempted her with sweet talk];  
But, as a brother to his sister, show’d  
Bashful sincerity and comely [beautiful] love.  
HERO:  And seem’d I ever otherwise to you? [And did I seem promiscuous to you?]  
CLAUDIO:  Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:            50
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,  
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;  
[You seem . . . blown: You led me to believe that you were like the Roman goddess of chastity and the moon, Diana—as pure as a flower bud before it reproduces.]
But you are more intemperate in your blood  
Than Venus, or those pamper’d animals  
That rage in savage sensuality.            55
[Venus: Goddess of love in ancient Roman mythology. Her Greek name was Aphrodite.]
HERO:  Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide [so hatefully of me?]  
LEONATO:  Sweet prince, why speak not you?  
DON PEDRO:  What should I speak?  
I stand dishonour’d, that have gone about  
To link my dear friend to a common stale [prostitute].            60
LEONATO:  Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?  
DON JOHN:  Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.  
BENEDICK:  This looks not like a nuptial [wedding].  
HERO:  True! O God!  
CLAUDIO:  Leonato, stand I here?            65
Is this the prince? Is this the prince’s brother?  
Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?  
LEONATO:  All this is so; but what of this, my lord?  
CLAUDIO:  Let me but move one question to your daughter;  
And by that fatherly and kindly power            70
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.  
LEONATO:  I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.  
HERO:  O, God defend me! how am I beset!  
What kind of catechizing [questioning] call you this?  
CLAUDIO:  To make you answer truly to your name.            75
HERO:  Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name  
With any just reproach? [Who can dirty my name with undeniable evidence?]
CLAUDIO:  Marry, that can Hero:  
Hero itself can blot out Hero’s virtue.  
[that can . . . virtue: All we have to do is say the name Hero, which is so filthy that it can blot out any virtue you claim for yourself.]
What man was he talk’d with you yesternight            80
Out at your window, betwixt [between] twelve and one?  
Now, if you are a maid [virgin], answer to this.  
HERO:  I talk’d with no man at that hour, my lord.  
DON PEDRO:  Why, then are you no maiden [no longer a virgin]. Leonato,  
I am sorry you must hear: upon mine honour,            85
Myself, my brother, and this grieved count,  
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,  
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;  
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,  
Confess’d the vile encounters they have had            90
A thousand times in secret.  
DON JOHN:  Fie, fie! they are not to be nam’d, my lord,  
Not to be spoke of;  
There is not chastity enough in language  
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,            95
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.  
[Fie . . . misgovernment: For shame! For shame! It is better not to talk about her misbehavior. To speak of it would offend any listener. Pretty lady, I am sorry that you cannot control your passions.]
CLAUDIO:  O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been,  
If half thy outward graces had been plac’d  
About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!  
[O Hero . . . heart: Oh, Hero, what a wonderful wife you would be if you were half as good on the inside as you are on the outside.]
But fare thee well, most foul, most fair! farewell,            100
Thou pure impiety, and impious purity!  
For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love,  
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,  
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,  
And never shall it more be gracious.            105
[But fare . . . gracious: But good-bye, you who are pure and polluted at the same time. I'll lock the gates of love against you and from now on will only wonder about the extent of your infidelity. Never again shall I be gracious toward you.]
LEONATO:  Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?  [HERO swoons [faints].  
BEATRICE:  Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down? [why are you fainting?] 
DON JOHN:  Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light, [Let's go. Now that her wrongdoing has been exposed, she can't endure the public disgrace.] 
Smother her spirits up.  [Exeunt DON PEDRO, DON JOHN and CLAUDIO.  
BENEDICK:  How doth the lady? [How is she doing?]          110
BEATRICE:  Dead, I think! help, uncle!  
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick!  
LEONATO:  O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand:  
Death is the fairest cover for her shame            115
That may be wish’d for.  
BEATRICE:  How now, cousin Hero!  
FRIAR:  Have comfort, lady.  
LEONATO:  Dost thou look up?  
FRIAR:  Yea; wherefore [why] should she not?            120
LEONATO:  Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing  
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny  
The story that is printed in her blood?  
[Wherefore . . . blood: Why? Here's why: Everything on earth cries shame upon her. Can she deny the story that has been told about her?]
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes;  
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,            125
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,  
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,  
Strike at thy life. Griev’d I, I had but one?  
Chid I for that at frugal nature’s frame?  
O! one too much by thee. Why had I one?            130
[For, did . . . I one: If I thought you would not die quickly, if I thought you were strong enough to endure your shames, I myself would try to kill you and accept the punishment for my crime. Am I grieved that I had only one child? Do I rebuke nature for giving me only one? The truth is that one child was one too many. Why was I cursed with her?]
Why ever wast thou lovely in mine eyes?  
Why had I not with charitable hand  
Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,  
Who smirched thus, and mir’d with infamy,  
I might have said, ‘No part of it is mine;            135
This shame derives itself from unknown loins?’  
[Why had . . . loins: Why hadn't I taken in the ragged and dirty child of a beggar at my gates? While rearing it, I could have told people that no part of this child was mine. It came from an unknown mother.]
But mine, and mine I lov’d, and mine I prais’d,  
And mine that I was proud on [of], mine so much  
That I myself was to myself not mine,  
Valuing of her; why, she—O! she is fallen            140
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea  
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,  
And salt too little which may season give  
To her foul-tainted flesh.  
[mine so much . . . flesh: I loved her so much that I had no life of my own. I thought only of her. Oh, she has falllen into a pit of ink that even the sea has too little water to clean her and too little salt to preserve her rotting flesh.]
BENEDICK:  Sir, sir, be patient.            145
For my part, I am so attir’d in [so full of] wonder,  
I know not what to say.  
BEATRICE:  O! on my soul, my cousin is belied! [being lied about]
BENEDICK:  Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?  
BEATRICE:  No, truly, not; although, until last night,            150
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.  
LEONATO:  Confirm’d, confirm’d! O! that is stronger made,  
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron.  
[Confirm'd . . . iron: You just further confirmed her guilt, the proof of which was already ironclad.]
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie,  
Who lov’d her so, that, speaking of her foulness,            155
Wash’d it with tears? Hence [go] from her! let her die.  
FRIAR:  Hear me a little;  
For I have only been silent so long,  
And given way unto this course of fortune,  
By noting of the lady: I have mark’d            160
A thousand blushing apparitions  
To start into her face; a thousand innocent shames  
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes;  
[Hear me . . . those blushes: Listen to me. As others were talking, I remained silent as I observed a thousand blushes appear on her face, then a thousand innocent shames turn that same face into angelic whiteness.]
And in her eye there hath appear’d a fire,  
To burn the errors that these princes hold            165
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;  
Trust not my reading nor my observations,  
Which with experimental seal doth warrant  
The tenour of my book; trust not my age,  
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,            170
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here  
Under some biting error.  
[And in her . . . biting error: I saw in her eye a fire that longed to burn away the errors that these princes hold against her innocent truth. If I am wrong about her, call me a fool. Don't trust my judgment, based on years of experience. Don't trust my age, my reverence, my calling if you can show me that there was no error made when this sweet lady was accused wrongdoing.]
LEONATO:  Friar, it cannot be.  
Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left  
Is, that she will not add to her damnation            175
A sin of perjury: she not denies it.
[Thou seest . . . denies it: You can see that the only goodness she has left is that she will not add the sin of perjury to her damnation. She has not denied her guilt.]  
Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse  
That which appears in proper nakedness?  
FRIAR:  Lady, what man is he you are accus’d of?  
HERO:  They know that do accuse me, I know none;            180
If I know more of any man alive  
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,  
Let all my sins lack mercy! O, my father!  
[They know . . . mercy: Only those who accuse me know the name of the man. I don't. If I have committed a wrong with any man alive, let all my sins lack mercy.]
Prove you that any man with me convers’d  
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight            185
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,  
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.  
FRIAR:  There is some strange misprision [misunderstanding] in the princes.  
BENEDICK:  Two of them have the very bent of honour;  
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,            190
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,  
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies [who makes it his job to commit villainy].  
LEONATO:  I know not. If they speak but truth of her,  
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,  
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.            195
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine.  
Nor age so eat up my invention,  
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,  
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,  
But they shall find, awak’d in such a kind,            200
Both strength of limb and policy of mind,  
Ability in means and choice of friends,  
To quit me of them throughly [thoroughly].  
FRIAR:  Pause awhile,  
And let my counsel sway you in this case.            205
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;  
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,  
And publish it [make it known] that she is dead indeed:  
Maintain a mourning ostentation [mourn openly];  
And on your family’s old monument            210
Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites  
That appertain unto a burial.  
LEONATO:  What shall become of this? What will this do?  
FRIAR:  Marry, this well carried [done right] shall on her behalf  
Change slander to remorse; that is some good:            215
But not for that dream I on this strange course,  
But on this travail look for greater birth [look for an opportunity to prove her innocence].  
She dying, as it must be so maintain’d,  
Upon the instant that she was accus’d,  
Shall be lamented, pitied and excus’d            220
Of every hearer; for it so falls out [so happens]  
That what we have we prize not to the worth  
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack’d and lost,  
Why, then we rack [realize; see] the value, then we find  
The virtue that possession would not show us            225
Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio:  
When he shall hear she died upon his words,  
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep  
Into his study of imagination,  
And every lovely organ of her life            230
Shall come apparell’d in more precious habit [shall be dressed in more precious innocence],  
More moving-delicate, and full of life  
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,  
Than when she liv’d indeed: then shall he mourn,—  
If ever love had interest in his liver,—            235
And wish he had not so accused her,  
No, though he thought his accusation true.  
Let this be so, and doubt not but success  
Will fashion the event in better shape  
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.            240
[doubt not . . . likelihood: If you follow my advice, have no doubt that this episode will resolve itself for the better.]
But if all aim but this be levell’d false,  
The supposition of the lady’s death  
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:  
And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,—  
As best befits her wounded reputation,—            245
In some reclusive and religious life,  
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.  
[But if . . . injuries: But if my plan fails, at least the supposition of her death will stop people from wondering about what she did. In this case, you may wish to conceal her in a convent, away from all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.]
BENEDICK:  Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:  
And though you know my inwardness and love  
Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,            250
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this  
As secretly and justly as your soul  
Should with your body.  
LEONATO:  Being that I flow in grief,  
The smallest twine may lead me.            255
[Being that . . . lead me: Because I am in deep grief, I will hold onto the smallest bit of hope to see where it leads.]
FRIAR:  ’Tis well consented: presently away;  
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.  
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding day  
Perhaps is but prolong’d: have patience and endure.  [Exeunt FRIAR, HERO, and LEONATO.  
['Tis well . . . .endure: You have the right attitude. Now let's leave this place; keep in mind that strange predicaments require strange remedies. Come, lady, you must die to live. Perhaps your wedding is only postponed, not canceled. Be patient and endure.]
BENEDICK:  Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?            260
BEATRICE:  Yea, and I will weep a while longer.  
BENEDICK:  I will not desire that.   
BEATRICE:  You have no reason; I do it freely.  
BENEDICK:  Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.  
BEATRICE:  Ah! how much might the man deserve of me that would right her [that could prove she's innocent].            265
BENEDICK:  Is there any way to show such friendship? [Is there anything I can do in that regard?] 
BEATRICE:  A very even way, but no such friend. [There's a way to help her, but I don't think anyone would want to do it.]  
BENEDICK:  May a man do it?  
BEATRICE:  It is a man’s office, but not yours.  
BENEDICK:  I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?            270
BEATRICE:  As strange as the thing I know not [It's as strange as what we we just witnessed.] It were as possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you; but believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin. [I am too busy with worry for my cousin.] 
BENEDICK:  By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.  
BEATRICE:  Do not swear by it, and eat it. [Don't make such vows. You may have to eat your words later.]  
BENEDICK:  I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.  
BEATRICE:  Will you not eat your word?            275
BENEDICK:  With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.  
BEATRICE:  Why then, God forgive me!  
BENEDICK:  What offence, sweet Beatrice? [Forgive you for what?] 
BEATRICE:  You have stayed me in a happy hour:
I was about to protest I loved you.            280
[You have . . . loved you: For not being the first one to say what you did: "I love you."]
BENEDICK:  And do it with all thy heart.  
BEATRICE:  I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest [that I have nothing left to stand in the way of our love].  
BENEDICK:  Come, bid me do anything for thee.  
BEATRICE:  Kill Claudio.  
BENEDICK:  Ha! not for the wide world.            285
BEATRICE:  You kill me to deny it [my request]. Farewell.  
BENEDICK:  Tarry, sweet Beatrice.  
BEATRICE:  I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in you: nay, I pray you, let me go.  
BENEDICK:  Beatrice,—  
BEATRICE:  In faith, I will go.            290
BENEDICK:  We’ll be friends first.  
BEATRICE:  You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy. [Now I understand. It's easier for you to be my friend than to fight my enemy.]  
BENEDICK:  Is Claudio thine enemy?  
BEATRICE:  Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O! that I were a man. What! bear her in hand until they come to take hands, and then, with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.  
[What! bear her . . . market-place: He had the audacity to hold her hand until the time came for them to join hands and pledge their wedding vows. Then he unleashed public accusation, slander, and hatred upon her. O, God, I wish I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace.]
BENEDICK:  Hear me, Beatrice,—            295
BEATRICE:  Talk with a man out at a window! a proper saying! [They say she was talking with a man outside her window. That can't be true.] 
BENEDICK:  Nay, but Beatrice,—  
BEATRICE:  Sweet Hero! she is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.  
BENEDICK:  Beat—  
BEATRICE:  Princes and counties [counts]! Surely, a princely testimony, a goodly Count Comfect [confection—that is, candy]; a sweet gallant, surely! O! that I were a man for his sake, or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake! [Oh, I wish I were a man, or had a man for a friend.] But manhood is melted into curtsies, valour into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.            300
[But manhood . . . grieving: But there are no real fighting men left. They just bow and compliment each other; they're all talk and little action. A man can become as valiant as Hercules simply by telling a lie and swearing it's the truth. I can't be a man by wishing I were one. Therefore, I will die a grieving woman.]
BENEDICK:  Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.  
BEATRICE:  Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.  
BENEDICK:  Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?  
BEATRICE:  Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.  
BENEDICK:  Enough! I am engaged, I will challenge him. I will kiss your hand, and so leave you. By this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account [shall pay dearly for what he said]. As you hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your cousin: I must say she is dead; and so, farewell.  [Exeunt.

Act 4, Scene 2

A prison.
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and SEXTON, in gowns; and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.
DOGBERRY:  Is our whole dissembly [assembly] appeared?  
VERGES:  O! a stool and a cushion for the sexton.  
Sexton.  Which be the malefactors [wrongdoers]?            5
DOGBERRY:  Marry, that am I and my partner.  
VERGES:  Nay, that’s certain: we have the exhibition [malapropism for commission or experience] to examine.  
Sexton.  But which are the offenders that are to be examined? let them come before Master constable.  
DOGBERRY:  Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your name, friend?  
BORACHIO:  Borachio.            10
DOGBERRY:  Pray write down Borachio. Yours, sirrah?  
CONRADE:  I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade.  
DOGBERRY:  Write down Master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do you serve God?  
CONRADE & BORACHIO:  Yea, sir, we hope.  
DOGBERRY:  Write down that they hope they serve God: and write God first; for God defend but God should go before such villains! Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves, and it will go near to be thought so shortly [and we'll just about prove it shortly]. How answer you for yourselves?            15
CONRADE:  Marry, sir, we say we are none.  
DOGBERRY:  A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but I will go about with him [but I will trick him]. Come you hither, sirrah; a word in your ear: sir, I say to you, it is thought you are false knaves.  
BORACHIO:  Sir, I say to you we are none.  
DOGBERRY:  Well, stand aside. ’Fore [before] God, they are both in a tale [they both say the same thing]. Have you writ down, that they are none?  
Sexton.  Master constable, you go not the way to examine: you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.            20
DOGBERRY:  Yea, marry, that’s the eftest [easiest] way. Let the watch come forth. Masters, I charge you, in the prince’s name, accuse these men.  
FIRST WATCH:  This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince’s brother, was a villain.  
DOGBERRY:  Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat perjury, to call a prince’s brother villain.  
BORACHIO:  Master constable,—  
DOGBERRY:  Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look, I promise thee.            25
Sexton.  What heard you him say else?  
SECOND WATCH:  Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of Don John for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.  
DOGBERRY:  Flat burglary as ever was committed.  
VERGES:  Yea, by the mass, that it is.  
Sexton.  What else, fellow?            30
FIRST WATCH:  And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly, and not marry her.  
DOGBERRY:  O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption [punishment; damnation; hell] for this.  
Sexton.  What else?  
SECOND WATCH:  This is all.  
Sexton.  And this is more, masters, than you can deny. Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away: Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner refused, and, upon the grief of this, suddenly died. Master constable, let these men be bound, and brought to Leonato’s: I will go before and show him their examination.  [Exit.            35
[And this . . . examination: This is more than you two men can deny. By the way, Prince John secretly ran away this morning. Hero was accused in the manner the watchmen described, and the grief she suffered killed her. Master constable, tie up these men and take them to Leonato. I will go ahead of you and show him the examination.]
DOGBERRY:  Come, let them be opinioned [pionioned]. [Come, let them be bound by the arms.]  
VERGES:  Let them be in the hands—  
CONRADE:  Off, coxcomb [fool; buffoon]!  
DOGBERRY:  God’s my life! where’s the sexton? let him write down the prince’s officer coxcomb [officer was called a coxcomb]. Come, bind them. Thou naughty varlet [villain]!  
CONRADE:  Away! you are an ass; you are an ass.            40
DOGBERRY:  Dost thou not suspect [respect] my place [position]? Dost thou not suspect [respect] my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! but, masters, remember that I am [called] an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety [impiety], as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and, which is more, an officer; and, which is more, a householder; and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any in Messina; and one that knows the law, go to [and you can go to hell]; and a rich fellow enough, go to [and you can go to hell]; and a fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!  [Exeunt.  

Act 5, Scene 1

Before Leonato's house.
ANTONIO:  If you go on thus, you will kill yourself;  
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief  
Against yourself.            5
[And 'tis . . . yourself: And it's not wise to add more grief to your already-heavy burden.]
LEONATO:  I pray thee, cease thy counsel [stop giving me advice],  
Which falls into mine ears as profitless  
As water in a sieve: give not me counsel;  
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear  
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine:            10
[But such . . . mine: Except for someone who's been wronged the way I have been]
Bring me a father that so lov’d his child,  
Whose joy of her is overwhelm’d like mine,  
And bid him speak of patience;  
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,  
And let it answer every strain [grief] for strain [grief],            15
As thus for thus and such a grief for such,  
In every lineament [feature; symptom; way], branch, shape, and form:  
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard;  
Bid sorrow wag, cry ‘hem’ when he should groan,  
Patch grief with proverbs; make misfortune drunk            20
With candle-wasters; bring him yet to me,  
And I of him will gather patience.  
[If such . . . patience: If such a person can smile and stroke his beard, telling me to say good-bye to sorrow, bring him to me. If he merely clears his throat instead of groaning—or recites proverbs that banish grief—bring him to me. If he learns how to ease misfortune by reading advice in books under the light of many candles, bring him to me. I will learn to be patient from such a man.]
But there is no such man; for, brother, men  
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief  
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,            25
Their counsel turns to passion, which before  
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,  
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,  
Charm ache with air and agony with words. 
[But there is  . . . with words: [But there is no such man. Antonio, it's easy for men give advice and comfort to a grieving person. But if those men never experienced the pain of that grieving person, their advice means nothing. However, if they have tasted terrible grief, they forget about all their supposed remedies and lapse into confused anguish. You can't tie up terrible grief or anguish with a silken thread. You can't banish heartache or agony with magical charms or with well-meaning words.]
No, no; ’tis all men’s office to speak patience            30
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,  
But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency  
To be so moral when he shall endure  
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel:  
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.            35
[No . . . advertisement: All men preach patience to those who suffer under the load of sorrow. But these same men show no patience when they themselves experience great sorrow. Therefore, don't give me any advice. My griefs are too great to be relieved by any advice you give me.]
ANTONIO:  Therein do men from children nothing differ.  
LEONATO:  I pray thee, peace! I will be flesh and blood;
[I pray . . . blood: Please be quiet! I am made of flesh and blood, not philosophical ideas.]
For there was never yet philosopher  
That could endure the toothache patiently,  
However they have writ the style of gods            40
And made a push at chance and sufferance.  
[However . . . sufferance: In spite of what they have written down about coping with pain and unforeseen misfortune.]
ANTONIO:  Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;  
Make those that do offend you suffer too.  
[But you're enduring all the suffering yourself. Make those who offended you suffer too.]
LEONATO:  There thou speak’st reason: nay, I will do so.  
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied;            45
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince,  
And all of them that thus dishonour her.  
[There . . . dishonour her: Now that make's sense. My soul tells me that Hero is the victim of lies. I'll tell that to Claudio, Don Pedro, and all the rest of them who dishonor her.]
ANTONIO:  Here come the prince and Claudio hastily.  
DON PEDRO:  Good den, good den. [Good day, good day.]           50
CLAUDIO:  Good day to both of you.  
LEONATO:  Hear you, my lords,—  
DON PEDRO:  We have some haste, Leonato. [We're in a hurry, Leonato.]  
LEONATO:  Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord:  
Are you so hasty now?—well, all is one.            55
[Some . . . is one: In a hurry! Well, farewell. I guess you can just run off now that my daughter is dead. Well, it doesn't matter.]
DON PEDRO:  Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.  
ANTONIO:  If he could right himself with quarrelling,  
Some of us would lie low.  
[If he . . . low: If he could get justice by quarreling, you would need to stay out of his way.]
CLAUDIO:  Who wrongs him?  
LEONATO:  Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler [pretender; deceiver], thou.            60
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;  
I fear thee not.  
CLAUDIO:  Marry, beshrew [curse] my hand,  
If it should give your age such cause of fear.  
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.            65
LEONATO:  Tush, tush, man! never fleer [smirk] and jest at me:  
I speak not like a dotard [senile old man] nor a fool,  
As, under privilege of age, to brag  
What I have done being young, or what would do,  
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,            70
Thou hast so wrong’d mine innocent child and me  
That I am forc’d to lay my reverence by,  
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,  
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.  
[I speak not . . . man: I am no fool. Nor am I a senile old man who hides behind his age while bragging about what he did when he was young or what he would do if he were not old. Claudio, because you have wronged my innocent child and me, I am forced to lay my old age aside and, with grey hairs and bruises from the past, challenge you to a duel.]
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child:             75
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,  
And she lies buried with her ancestors;  
O! in a tomb where never scandal slept,  
Save this of hers, fram’d by thy villany!  
CLAUDIO:  My villany?            80
LEONATO:  Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.  
DON PEDRO:  You say not right, old man.  
LEONATO:  My lord, my lord,  
I’ll prove it on his body, if he dare,  
Despite his nice fence [skill at fencing] and his active practice,            85
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.  
CLAUDIO:  Away! I will not have to do with you.  
LEONATO:  Canst thou so daff [disregard] me? Thou hast kill’d my child;  
If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.  
ANTONIO:  He shall kill two of us, and men indeed:            90
But that’s no matter; let him kill one first:  
Win me and wear me; let him answer me.  
[He shall . . . answer me: He'll have to kill both of us, and we are both real men. Let him kill me and boast about it. Let him answer me.]
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me.  
Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence; [I'll parry your sword thrusts] 
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.            95
LEONATO:  Brother,—  
ANTONIO:  Content yourself. God knows I lov’d my niece;  
And she is dead, slander’d to death by villains,  
That dare as well answer a man indeed  
As I dare take a serpent by the tongue.            100
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks [knaves], milksops!  
LEONATO:  Brother Antony,—  
ANTONIO:  Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,  
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,  
Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,            105
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,  
Go antickly, show outward hideousness,  
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,  
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;  
And this is all!            110
[Hold you . . . is all: Just let me speak, okay? I know them, yes, and what they're worth, even to the tiniest part. They may wear the latest fashions, but they like to scuffle with you and defy you. They lie, cheat, flout, scorn, and slander you while prancing about in their fancy clothes. They behave hideously and threaten you with dangerous words, if they dare. That's the sum of it.]
LEONATO:  But, brother Antony,—  
ANTONIO:  Come, ’tis no matter:  
Do not you meddle, let me deal in [with] this.  
DON PEDRO:  Gentlemen both, we will not wake [test] your patience.   
My heart is sorry for your daughter’s death;            115
But, on my honour, she was charg’d with nothing  
But what was true and very full of proof.  
LEONATO:  My lord, my lord—  
DON PEDRO: I will not hear you. [I will not listen to you.] 
LEONATO:  No?            120
Come, brother, away. I will be heard.—  
ANTONIO:  And shall, or some of us will smart for it [or somebody will get hurt].  [Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO.  
DON PEDRO:  See, see; here comes the man we went to seek.  
CLAUDIO:  Now, signior, what news?            125
BENEDICK:  Good day, my lord.  
DON PEDRO:  Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part almost a fray. [If you had arrived a moment sooner, you might have become involved in a fray.] 
CLAUDIO:  We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth. [We almost had our noses bitten off by two old men without teeth.] 
DON PEDRO:  Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.
[Had we . . . them: Had we fought, I think we would have been too inexperienced to hold them back. (Don Pedro is using irony.)] 
BENEDICK:  In a false quarrel there is no true valour. [In an unfair fight, there is no true valor.]  I came to seek you both.           130
CLAUDIO:  We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high-proof melancholy, and would fain [like to] have it beaten away. Wilt thou use thy wit?  
BENEDICK:  It is in my scabbard; shall I draw it?  
DON PEDRO:  Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side? [The scabbard holding his sword hangs at his side.] 
CLAUDIO:  Never any did so, though very many have been beside their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.
[I will bid  . . . us: I will bid you to draw your weapon, just as we bid musicians to draw the bows they use to wield against the strings of their instruments. Go ahead, draw, and show us some moves.]  
DON PEDRO:  As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou sick, or angry?            135
CLAUDIO:  What, courage, man! What though care [worry; fear] killed a cat, thou hast mettle [strength] enough in thee to kill care.  
BENEDICK:  Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.  
[Sir . . . me: Sir, my wit can defeat your wit even if you poise it against me like a charging knight in a joust. (Career can mean charging forward at great speed.)]
CLAUDIO:  Nay then, give him another staff: this last was broke cross. [Give him another lance. His other one broke in half.] 
DON PEDRO:  By this light, he changes more and more: I think he be angry indeed. [His mood is changing more and more. I think he's angry.] 
CLAUDIO:  If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle. [Turning a girdle (belt) around was similar to throwing down a gauntlet—that is, challenging someone to a duel.]           140
BENEDICK:  Shall I speak a word in your ear?  
CLAUDIO:  God bless [protect] me from a challenge!  
BENEDICK:  [Aside to CLAUDIO.]  You are a villain; I jest not: I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you.  
[I will make . . . cowardice: I will duel you in any way you like. Choose the weapons and time. Do so or I will call you a coward.]
CLAUDIO:  Well I will meet you, so I may have good cheer. [I will meet you and have myself a good time.]  
DON PEDRO:  What, a feast, a feast?            145
CLAUDIO:  I’ faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a [feast of] calf’s-head and a capon, the which if I do not carve most curiously, say my knife’s naught [he'll say I don't know how to use a knife]. Shall I not find a woodcock too?  
BENEDICK:  Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily. [Sir, your wit limps along at a slow pace.]  
DON PEDRO:  I’ll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit. ‘True,’ says she, ‘a fine little one.’ ‘No,’ said I, ‘a great wit.’ ‘Right,’ said she, ‘a great gross [coarse; vulgar] one.’ ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘a good wit.’ ‘Just,’ said she, ‘it hurts nobody.’ [Yes, it's so good it doesn't hurt anybody. It's ineffective.] ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘the gentleman is wise [is a wisecracker].’ ‘Certain,’ said she, ‘a wise gentleman’ [a wise old gentleman]. ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘he hath the tongues’[he speaks many languages].That I believe,’ said she, ‘for he swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning: there’s a double tongue; there’s two tongues.’ Thus did she, an hour together, trans-shape [reshape] thy particular virtues; yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man in Italy.  
CLAUDIO:  For the which she wept heartily and said she cared not.  
DON PEDRO:  Yea, that she did; but yet, for all that, an if she did not hate him deadly [to death], she would love him dearly. The old man’s daughter told us all.            150
CLAUDIO:  All, all; and moreover, God saw him when he was hid in the garden.  
DON PEDRO:  But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns on the sensible Benedick’s head? [See pluck off for the meaning of horns.]  
CLAUDIO:  Yea, and text underneath, ‘Here dwells Benedick the married man!’  
BENEDICK:  Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave you now to your gossip-like [trivial; not piercing] humour: you break jests as braggarts do their blades, which, God be thanked, hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you: I must discontinue your company. Your brother the bastard is fled from Messina: you have, among you, killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord Lack-beard there, he and I shall meet; and till then, peace be with him.  [Exit.  
[Lack-beard: An insult saying Claudio is not a real man, for he doesn't even have a beard.]
DON PEDRO:  He is in earnest.            155
CLAUDIO:  In most profound earnest; and, I’ll warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.  
DON PEDRO:  And hath challenged thee?  
CLAUDIO:  Most sincerely.  
DON PEDRO:  What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off his wit! [What a pretty thing is a man when he walks about in his dueling clothes but forgets to wear his wit (intelligence).]  
CLAUDIO:  He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a doctor to such a man. [Even so, he is a giant compared to an ape, but then again an ape is a scholar compared to such a man.]          160
DON PEDRO:  But, soft you; let me be: pluck up, my heart, and be sad! Did he not say my brother was fled? [But wait a minute. Let me pluck up my heart and be serious for a minute. Didn't he say my brother ran away? (Don Pedro is beginning to realize he doesn't know the whole story concerning the accusations against Hero.)]
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.
DOGBERRY:  Come, you, sir: if justice cannot tame [convict] you, she shall ne’er weigh more reasons in her balance. Nay, an [if] you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.  
DON PEDRO:  How now! two of my brother’s men bound! Borachio, one!  [What now? Two of my brother's men are tied up. One is Borachio.]
CLAUDIO:  Hearken after [inquire about] their offence, my lord.            165
DON PEDRO:  Officers, what offence have these men done?  
DOGBERRY:  Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders [slanderers]; sixth and lastly, they have belied [lied about] a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they are lying knaves.  
DON PEDRO:  First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what’s their offence; sixth and lastly, why they are committed [in custody]; and, to conclude, what you lay to their charge [what are you charging them with]
CLAUDIO:  Rightly reasoned, and in his own division [and in his own language]; and, by my troth, there’s one meaning well suited [and, in truth, there's only one meaning to everything he says].  
DON PEDRO:  Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer [that you are thus bound to await trial]? this learned constable is too cunning to be understood. What’s your offence?            170
BORACHIO:  Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer: do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have deceived even your very eyes: what your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light; who, in the night overheard me confessing to this man how Don John your brother incensed [urged] me to slander the Lady Hero; how you were brought into the orchard and saw me court Margaret in Hero’s garments; how you disgraced her, when you should marry her [have her marry Claudio]. My villany they have upon record; which I had rather seal with my death than repeat over to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my master’s false accusation; and, briefly, I desire nothing but the reward of a villain.  
DON PEDRO:  Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?  
CLAUDIO:  I have drunk poison whiles he utter’d it.  
DON PEDRO:  But did my brother set thee on to this?  
BORACHIO:  Yea; and paid me richly for the practice of it.            175
DON PEDRO:  He is compos’d and fram’d of treachery:  
And fled he is upon [because of] this villany.  
CLAUDIO:  Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear  
In the rare semblance [likeness] that I lov’d it first.  
DOGBERRY:  Come, bring away the plaintiffs [defendants]: by this time our sexton hath reformed [informed] Signior Leonato of the matter. And masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass.            180
VERGES:  Here, here comes Master Signior Leonato, and the sexton too.  
Re-enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, and the Sexton.
LEONATO:  Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes,  
That, when I note another man like him,  
I may avoid him. Which of these is he?            185
BORACHIO:  If you would know your wronger, look on me.  
LEONATO:  Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill’d  
Mine innocent child?  
BORACHIO:  Yea, even I alone.  
LEONATO:  No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself [misrepresent the fact]:            190
Here stand a pair of honourable men;  
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.  
I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death:  
Record it with your high and worthy deeds.  
’Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.            195
CLAUDIO:  I know not how to pray your patience;  
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;  
Impose me to what penance your invention  
Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn’d I not  
But in mistaking.            200
DON PEDRO:  By my soul, nor I:  
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,  
I would bend under any heavy weight  
That he’ll enjoin me to.  
LEONATO:  I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;            205
That were impossible: but, I pray you both,  
Possess [tell] the people in Messina here  
How innocent she died; and if your love  
Can labour aught [anything] in sad invention,  
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,            210
And sing it to her bones: sing it to-night.  
[and if your . . . to-night: And if your love can produce a worthy tribute to her, put it in the form of an epitaph and hang it on her tomb. Then sing the words to her tonight.]
To-morrow morning come you to my house,  
And since you could not be my son-in-law,  
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,  
Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,            215
And she alone is heir to both of us:  
Give her the right you should have given her cousin,  
And so dies my revenge.  
CLAUDIO: O noble sir,  
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!            220
I do embrace your offer; and dispose  
For henceforth of poor Claudio.  
[and dispose . . . Claudio: And put myself at your disposal from now on.]
LEONATO:  To-morrow then I will expect your coming;  
To-night I take my leave. This naughty man  
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,            225
Who, I believe, was pack’d in [took part in] all this wrong,  
Hir’d to it by your brother.  
BORACHIO:  No, by my soul she was not;  
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me;  
But always hath been just and virtuous            230
In anything that I do know by her.  
DOGBERRY:  Moreover, sir,—which, indeed, is not under white and black,—this plaintiff here, the offender, did call me ass: I beseech you, let it be remembered in his punishment. And also, the watch heard them talk of one Deformed: they say he wears a key in his ear and a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God’s name, the which he hath used so long and never paid, that now men grow hard-hearted, and will lend nothing for God’s sake. Pray you, examine him upon that point.  
[Moreover . . .that point: Moreover, sir, the defendant here called me an ass. That offense was not written down in black ink on white paper. I beg you, remember that fact when the time comes to punish him. And also, the watch heard these men talk about a man named Deformed. (See 3.3.54-55.) They say he has a key and a lock hanging from his ear. He borrows money in God's name. But because he never pays it back, other men have become hard-hearted and refuse to lend money in God's name. Please examine this man on this point.]
LEONATO:  I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.  
DOGBERRY:  Your worship speaks like a most thankful and reverend youth, and I praise God for you.  
LEONATO:  There’s for thy pains. [Leonato gives him money.]            235
DOGBERRY:  God save the foundation! [God save the noble source of this gift.] 
LEONATO:  Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.  
DOGBERRY:  I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I beseech your worship to correct yourself [I beseech your worship to punish him], for the example of others. God keep your worship! I wish your worship well; God restore you to [maintain your good] health! I humbly give you [beg your] leave to depart, and if a merry meeting may be wished, God prohibit [permit] it! Come, neighbour.  [Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.  
LEONATO:  Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.  
ANTONIO:  Farewell, my lords: we look for you to-morrow.            240
DON PEDRO:  We will not fail.  
CLAUDIO:  To-night I’ll mourn with Hero.  [Exeunt DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO.  
LEONATO:  [To the WATCHMAN:]  Bring you these fellows on. We’ll talk with Margaret,  
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.  [Exeunt.
[Bring . . . fellow: Bring these villains with us. We need to talk with Margaret to find out how she got involved with this evil Borachio.]

Act 5, Scene 2

Leonato's garden.
Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting.
BENEDICK:  Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice [by calling Margaret for me].  
MARGARET:  Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?  
BENEDICK:  In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it [get over]; for, in most comely truth, thou deservest it.            5
MARGARET:  To have no man come over me! why, shall I always keep below stairs?  
BENEDICK:  Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches [as the greyhound's mouth when it snaps shut].  
MARGARET:  And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils [swords with blunted tips], which hit, but hurt not.  
BENEDICK:  A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice. I give thee the bucklers.  
[buckler: Small shield attached to the forearm or held by a handle on the back. "I give thee the bucklers" means that Benedick recognizes Margaret as the winner of their match of wits.]
MARGARET:  Give us the swords, we have bucklers of our own. [Another example of Margaret unabashed witticisms. Swords and bucklers appear to represent the male and femal sex organs.]            10
BENEDICK:  If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.  
[pike: Spike sometimes affixed to the center of the buckler with a screw (vice). (Benedick is responding to Margaret's witticism. Notice the phrase "dangerous weapons for maids.")]
MARGARET:  Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.  
BENEDICK:  And therefore will come.  [Exit MARGARET.
The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,—
I mean, in singing; but in loving, Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of pandars, and a whole book full of these quondam carpet-mongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and over as my poor self, in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rime; I have tried: I can find out no rime to ‘lady’ but ‘baby,’ an innocent rime; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rime; for ‘school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rime; very ominous endings: no, I was not born under a riming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms. 
[I mean . . . terms: I mean to say that I am pitiful in singing. However, in loving I exceed in intensity the love that Leander andTroilus (in classical mythology, characters in love stories) felt for their ladies. In fact, my love is greater than the love celebrated in a whole book of poetry about legendary lovers whose names flow rhythmically in poetry. Why, they were never so truly in love as my poor self. I cannot capture my love in rhyme; I have tried. I can find no rime for lady but baby, an innocent rhyme. For scorn there is horn, a hard rhyme; for school there is fool, a babbling rhyme. According to astrology, I was not born under a planet that imparts the gift of rhyme. Nor can I woo in the language of merrymakers at festivals.]
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee? [Beatrice, did you come because I called you?]            15
BEATRICE:  Yea, signior; and depart when you bid me.  
BENEDICK:  O, stay but till then!  
BEATRICE:  ‘Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere [before] I go, let me go with that I came for; which is, with knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.  
BENEDICK:  Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.  
BEATRICE:  Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome [annoying]; therefore I will depart unkissed.            20
BENEDICK:  Thou hast frighted the word [the word foul in line 20] out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge, and either I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?  
BEATRICE:  For them all together; which maintained so politic [complete] a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?  
BENEDICK:  ‘Suffer love,’ a good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.  
BEATRICE:  In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.  
BENEDICK:  Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.            25
BEATRICE:  It appears not in this confession: there’s not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself. [How can you be wise? According to the old saying, not even one wise man in twenty will praise himself. Since you just praised yourself, you're not wise.] 
BENEDICK:  An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the time of good neighbours. [That saying no longer applies in today's world.] If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere [before] he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps.  
BEATRICE:  And how long is that think you?  
BENEDICK:  Question: why, an hour in clamour [an hour for bell-ringing] and a quarter in rheum [and fifteen minutes for weeping]: therefore it is most expedient for the wise,—if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary [if my concscience does not gnaw at me like a worm]—to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is praiseworthy. And now tell me, how doth your cousin?  
BEATRICE:  Very ill.            30
BENEDICK:  And how do you?  
BEATRICE:  Very ill too.  
BENEDICK:  Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I leave you too, for here comes one in haste.  

URSULA:  Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder’s old coil at home [there is a lot of commontion at his home]: it is proved, my Lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you come presently?            35
BEATRICE:  Will you go hear this news, signior?  
BENEDICK:  I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle’s.  [Exeunt.

Act 5, Scene 3

The inside of a church.
Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and Attendants, with music and tapers [thin candles].
CLAUDIO:  Is this the monument of Leonato?  
A Lord.  It is, my lord.  
CLAUDIO:  [Reads from a scroll.]

Done to death by slanderous tongues
Was the Hero that here lies:
Death, in guerdon [reward] of her wrongs,
Gives her fame which never dies.
So the life that died with shame
Lives in death with glorious fame.             5

[Claudio hangs a scroll]

Hang thou there upon the tomb,  
Praising her when I am dumb [dead].  

Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.  

Pardon, goddess of the night,
Those that slew thy virgin knight;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about her tomb they go.
Midnight, assist our moan;
Help us to sigh and groan,
Heavily, heavily:
Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be uttered [mourned],
Heavily, heavily.
CLAUDIO:  Now, unto thy bones good night! [Now unto your bones, Hero, I bid good night!]          10
Yearly will I do this rite.  
DON PEDRO:  Good morrow, masters: put your torches out.  
The wolves have prey’d; and look, the gentle day,  
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about  
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey.            15
Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.  
[Phoebus: Phoebus Apollo, the sun god in classical mythology. He was depicted as driving a golden chariot (the sun) across the sky each day.]
CLAUDIO:  Good morrow [good day; good morning], masters: each his several [separate] way.  
DON PEDRO:  Come, let us hence [go], and put on other weeds [clothes];  
And then to Leonato’s we will go.  
CLAUDIO:  And Hymen [in classical mythology, the god of marriage] now with luckier issue [child of Leonato] speed ’s, [speed us]            20
Than this for whom we render’d up this woe!  [Exeunt.  

Act 5, Scene 4

A room in Leonato's house.
FRIAR:  Did I not tell you she was innocent?  
LEONATO:  So are the prince and Claudio, who accus’d her  
Upon the error that you heard debated:            5
But Margaret was in some fault for this,  
Although against her will, as it appears  
In the true course of all the question.  
ANTONIO:  Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.  
BENEDICK:  And so am I, being else by faith enforc’d            10
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.  
[And so . . . for it: I'm glad too. Otherwise, I would have had to fight a duel with young Claudio.]
LEONATO:  Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,  
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,  
And when I send for you, come hither [here] mask’d:  
The prince and Claudio promis’d by this hour            15
To visit me.  [Exeunt ladies.  
You know your office, brother;  
You must be father to your brother’s daughter,  
And give her to young Claudio.  
ANTONIO:  Which I will do with confirm’d countenance [which I will do without giving our secret away].            20
BENEDICK:  Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.  
FRIAR:  To do what, signior?  
BENEDICK:  To bind me, or undo me; one of them.  
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,  
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.            25
LEONATO:  That eye my daughter lent her: ’tis most true.  
BENEDICK:  And I do with an eye of love requite her. [And I only have eyes for her.] 
LEONATO:  The sight whereof I think, you had from me,  
From Claudio, and the prince. But what’s your will?  
BENEDICK:  Your answer, sir, is enigmatical [puzzling]:            30
But, for my will, my will is your good will  
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d  
In the state of honourable marriage:  
[But, for . . . marriage: But, as for my will, I desire you to approve a marriage today between Beatrice and me.]
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.  
LEONATO:  My heart is with your liking.            35
FRIAR:  And my help.  
Here come the prince and Claudio.  
Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, with Attendants.
DON PEDRO:  Good morrow [good day; good morning] to this fair assembly.  
LEONATO:  Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:            40
We here attend you. Are you yet determin’d  
To-day to marry with my brother’s daughter?  
CLAUDIO:  I’ll hold my mind, were she an Ethiop [Ethiopian].  
LEONATO:  Call her forth, brother: here’s the friar ready.  [Exit ANTONIO.  
DON PEDRO:  Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter,            45
That you have such a February face,  
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?  
CLAUDIO:  I think he thinks upon the savage bull.  
Tush! fear not, man, we’ll tip thy horns with gold,  
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,            50
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,  
[Europa in line 50 refers to the continent of Europe. Europa in line 51 refers to a Phoenician princess in Greek mythology. The king of the gods, Zeus (Roman name Jupiter or Jove), fell in love with her, then took the form of a gentle white bull and mingled with a herd of her father's cattle. When Europa saw it, she stroked the bull and climbed onto its back. Zeus (Jove) then abducted her to the Mediterranean island of Crete. She became queen of Crete and bore Zeus three children.]
When he would play the noble beast in love.  
BENEDICK:  Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low:  
And some such strange bull leap’d your father’s cow,  
And got a calf in that same noble feat,            55
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.  
[Bull Jove . . . bleat: As a bull, Jove bellowed (or mooed) amiably. It was such a strange bull that leaped on your father's cow and begot a calf that looked and sounded just like you.]
CLAUDIO:  For this I owe you: here come other reckonings.  
[For this . . . reckonings: I'll pay you back for that insult. Here come other matters requiring attention.]
Re-enter ANTONIO, with the ladies masked.
Which is the lady I must seize upon?  
ANTONIO:  This same is she, and I do give you her.            60
CLAUDIO:  Why, then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.  
LEONATO:  No, that you shall not, till you take her hand  
Before this friar, and swear to marry her.  
CLAUDIO:  Give me your hand: before this holy friar,  
I am your husband, if you like of me.            65
HERO:  And when I liv’d, I was your other wife:  [Unmasking.  
And when you lov’d, you were my other husband.  
CLAUDIO:  Another Hero!  
HERO: Nothing certainer:  
One Hero died defil’d, but I do live,            70
And surely as I live, I am a maid [virgin].  
DON PEDRO:  The former Hero! Hero that is dead!  
LEONATO:  She died, my lord, but whiles her slander liv’d.  
FRIAR:  All this amazement can I qualify:  
When after that the holy rites are ended,            75
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death:  
Meantime, let wonder seem familiar,  
And to the chapel let us presently.  
BENEDICK:  Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?  
BEATRICE:  [Unmasking.]  I answer to that name.            80
What is your will?  
BENEDICK:  Do not you love me?  
BEATRICE:  Why, no; no more than reason.  
BENEDICK:  Why, then, your uncle and the prince and Claudio  
Have been deceived; for they swore you did.            85
BEATRICE:  Do not you love me?  
BENEDICK:  Troth [truly], no; no more than reason.  
BEATRICE:  Why, then, my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula,  
Are much deceiv’d; for they did swear you did.  
BENEDICK:  They swore that you were almost sick for me.            90
BEATRICE:  They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.  
BENEDICK:  ’Tis no such matter. Then, you do not love me?  
BEATRICE:  No, truly, but in friendly recompense. [Only as a friend.]  
LEONATO:  Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.  
CLAUDIO:  And I’ll be sworn upon ’t that he loves her;            95
For here’s a paper written in his hand,  
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,  
Fashion’d to Beatrice.  
HERO:  And here’s another,  
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her pocket,            100
Containing her affection unto Benedick.  
BENEDICK:  A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for [out of] pity.  
BEATRICE:  I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption [were wasting away for lack of my love].  
BENEDICK:  Peace! I will stop your mouth.  [Kisses her.  
DON PEDRO:  How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?            105
BENEDICK:  I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of witcrackers [wisecracking persons] cannot flout [drive] me out of my humour [good humor]. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram [clever or witty statement]? No; if a man will be beaten with brains [beaten by the opinions of others], a’ [he] shall wear nothing handsome about him [he won't wear handsome clothes for fear that someone will criticize them]. In brief, since I do purpose [plan] to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it [I won't think about what people will say about the marriage]; and therefore never flout [poke fun] at me for what I have said against it [marriage], for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but, in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.  
CLAUDIO:  I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double-dealer; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
[I had . . . to thee: I had well hoped that you would have refused to marry Beatrice. That decision would have given me an opportunity to force you to marry and then turn you into an unfaithful husband, which. Of course, that's what you will be if Beatrice doesn't keep a close eye on you.]
BENEDICK:  Come, come, we are friends. Let’s have a dance ere [before] we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts and our wives’ heels.  
LEONATO:  We’ll have dancing afterward.  
BENEDICK:  First, of my word; therefore play, music! Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife: there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.            110
[First . . . horn: No, we'll have dancing first. Let's have music! Don Pedro, you are sad. Get yourself a wife. Your scepter as a prince will receive more respect if you are married.]
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER:  My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight,  
And brought with armed men back to Messina.  
BENEDICK: Think not on him till to-morrow: I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers!  [Dance.  Exeunt.