Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 3

BALTHAZAR.
And an ill singer, my lord.

DON PEDRO.
Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.

BENEDICK.
[Aside.] An 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.

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?

CLAUDIO.
O! ay: —
[Aside to DON PEDRO] Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits. 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?

LEONATO.
By my troth, 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.

DON PEDRO.
May be she doth but counterfeit.

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.

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.

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.

CLAUDIO.
[Aside.] He hath ta'en the infection: hold it up.

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 you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your
daughter told us of.

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; 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 her, that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will do a
desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.

DON PEDRO.
It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other, if she will
not discover it.

CLAUDIO.
To what end? he would make but a sport of it and torment the poor
lady worse.

DON PEDRO.
An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an excellent sweet
lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.

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