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And here it rests, that you 'll procure the vicar To stay for me at church 'twixt twelve and
one, And, in the lawful name of marrying, To give our hearts united ceremony. Host. Well, husband your device; I'll to
the vicar. Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a priest. Fent. So shall I evermore be bound to
thee; Besides, I 'll make a present recompense.
I warrant, to your content. Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good hearts, what ado here is to bring you together! Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that you are so cross'd.
Fal. Come up into my chamber. [Exeunt. SCENE VI. (Another room in the Garter Inn.)
Enter FENTON and Host. Host. Master Fenton, talk not to me; my mind is heavy. I will give over all. Fent. Yet hear me speak. Assist me in my
purpose, And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee A hundred pound in gold more than your loss. 5
Host. I will hear you, Master Fenton; and I will at the least keep your counsel. Fent. From time to time I have acquainted
you With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page ; Who mutually hath answer'd my affection, So far forth as herself might be ber chooser, Even to my wish. I have a letter from her Of such contents as you will wonder at; The mirth whereof so larded with my mat
ter, That neither singly can be manifested, Without the show of both. Fat Falstaff Hath a great scene. The image of the jest I'U show you here at large. Hark, good mine
host. To-night at Herne's oak, just 'twixt twelve Must my sweet Nan present the Fairy Queen; The purpose why, is here; in which disguise, While other jests are something rank on foot, Her father hath commanded her to slip Away with Slender and with him at Eton Immediately to marry. She hath consented. 25 Now, sir, Her mother, ever strong against that match And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed That he shall likewise shuffle her away While other sports are tasking of their minds, And at the deanery, where a priest attends, 31 Straight marry her. To this her mother's plot She seemingly obedient likewise hath Made promise to the doctor. Now, thus it
rests : Her father means she shall be all in white, And in that habit, when Slender sees his
time To take her by the hand and bid her go, She shall go with him. Her mother hath in
tended, The better to denote her to the doctor, For they must all be mask'd and vizarded, That quaint in green she shall be loose enrob’d, With ribands pendent, flaring 'bout her head; And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe, To pinch her by the hand, and, on that token, The maid hath given consent to go with him. Host. Which means she to deceive, father or
mother? Fent. Both, my good host, to go along with
SCENE I. (A room in the Garter Inn.] Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS QUICKLY, Fal. Prithee, no more prattling; go. I'll hold. This is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. Away! go. Thev say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. Away!
Quick. I'll provide you a chain; and I'll do what I can to get you a pair of horns.
Fal. Away, I say ; time wears. Hold up your head, and mince. (Exit Mrs. Quickly.)
[Enter FORD.) How now, Master Brook ! Master Brook, the [10 matter will be known to-night, or never. Be you in the park about midnight, at Herne's oak, and you shall see wonders.
Förd. Went you not to her yesterday, sir, as you told me you had appointed ?
Fal. I went to her, Master Brook, as you see, like
a poor old man; but I came from her, Master Brook, like a poor old woman. That same knave Ford, her husband, hath the finest mad devil of jealousy in him, Master Brook, that ever govern'd frenzy. I will tell you. He is beat me grievously, in the shape of a woman; for in the shape of man, Master Brook, I fear not Goliath with a weaver's beam; because I know also life is a shuttle. I am in haste; go along with me. I'll tell you all, Master Brook. Tas Since I pluck'd geese, play'd truant and whipp'd top, I knew not what 't was to be beaten till lately. Follow me. I'll tell you strange things of this knave Ford, on whom to night I will be revenged, and I will deliver (* his wife into your hand. Follow. Strange things in hand, Master Brook! Follow. Exeunt.
SCENE II. [Windsor Park.] Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER. Page. Come, come ; we'll couch i' the castleditch till we see the light of our fairies. Remember, son Slender, my daughter,
Sler. Ay, forsooth; I have spoke with her and we have a nay-word how to know one s another. I come to her in white, and cry
mum"; she cries “budget"; and by that we know one another.
Shal. That's good too; but what needs either your
mum” or her “budget"? The
white will decipher her well enough. It hath struck ten o'clock.
Page. The night is dark; light and spirits will become it well. Heaven prosper our sport! No man means evil but the devil, and we shall know him by his horns. Let's away; follow
(Exeunt, 18 SCENE III. (A street leading to the Park.] Enter MISTRESS Page, MISTRESS FORD, and
DOCTOR Caius. Mrs. Page. Master Doctor, my daughter is in green. When you see your time, take her by the hand, away, with her to the deanery, and dispatch' it quickly. Go before into the park; we two must go together.
Caius. I know vat I have to do. Adieu. Mrs. Page. Fare you well, sir. (Exit Caius.] My husband will not rejoice so much at the abuse of Falstaff as he will chafe at the doctor's marrying, my daughter. But 't is no matter; better a little chiding than a great deal of heart-break.
Mrs. Ford. Where is Nan now and her troop of fairies, and the Welsh devil Hugh?
Mrs. Page. They are all couch'd in a pit hard by Herne's oak, with obscur'd lights ; which, at the very instant of Falstaff's and is onr meeting, they will at once display to the night.
Mrs. Ford. That cannot choose but amaze him.
Mrs. Page. If he be not amaz'd, he will be mock'd; if he be amaz’d, he will every way be mock'd.
Mrs. Ford. We'll betray him finely.
Mrs. Ford. The hour draws on. To the oak, to the oak!
[Exeunt. 26 SCENE IV. (Windsor Park.) Enter Sir Hugh Evans (disguised), and (others
as] Fairies. Evans. Trib, trib, fairies; come; and remember your parts. Be pold, I pray you. Follow me into the pit, and when I give the watch-'ords, do as I pid you. Come, come; trib, trib.
(Exeunt. SCENE V. (Another part of the Park.] Enter FALSTAFF with a buck's head upon him.
Fal. The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute draws on. Now, the hot-blooded gods assist me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy Europa; love set on thy horns. O powerful love! that, in some respects, makes a beast a man, in some other, a man a beast. [s Yon were also, Jupiter, a swan for the love of Leda. O omnipotent Love! how near the god drew to the complexion of a goose! A fault done first in the form of a beast. O Jove, a beastly fanlt! And then another fault in the 10
semblance of a fowl; think on 't, Jove; a foul fault! When gods have hot backs, what shall poor men do? For me, I am here a Windsor stag; and the fattest, 'I think, i' the forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can (15 blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here? My doe? Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.
Mrs. Ford. Sir John! art thou there, my deer? my male deer?
Fal. My doe with the black scut! Let the (20 sky rain potatoes ; let it thunder to the tune of “Green Sleeves," hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes ; let there come a tempest of provocation. I will shelter me here.
Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page is come with me, sweetheart.
Fal. Divide me like a brib'd buck, each a haunch. I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk, and my horns I bequeath your husbands. Am I a (30 woodman, ha? Speak I like Herne the hunter ? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience; he makes restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!
(Noise within.] Mrs. Page. Alas, what noise ? Mrs. Ford. Heaven forgive our sins ! Fal. What should this be? Mrs. Ford. I Mrs. Page. )
Away, away! [They run off.) Fal. I think the devil will not have me damn’d, lest the oil that's in me should set hell on fire; he would never else cross me thus. Enter Sir Hugh Evans, like a Satyr, and boys
dressed like Fairies Pistol, as Hobgoblin); MISTRESS QUICKLY, like the Queen of Fairies ; they sing a song about him and afterward speak. Quick. Fairies, black, grey, green, and white, You moonshine revellers, and shades of night, You orphan heirs of fixed destiny, Attend your office and your quality. Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes. Pist. Elves, list your names. Silence, you
airy toys! Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap, Where fires thou find'st unrak'd and hearthe
unswept, There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry; Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery.. 60 Fal. They are fairies; he that speaks to
them shall die. I'll wink and couch ; no man their works must eye.
[Lies down upon his face.) Evans. Where's Bead? Go you, and where
you find a maid That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said, Rein up the organs of her fantasy; Sleep she as sound as careless infancy. But those as sleep and think not on their sins, Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides,
and shins. Quick. About, about;, Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out. Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room, That it may stand till the perpetual doom,
In state as wholesome as in state 't is fit,
selves in order set; And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be, To guide our measure round about the tree. But, stay; I smell a man of middle-earth.
Fal. Heavens defend me from that Welsh (85 fairy, lest he transform me to a piece of cheese! Pist. Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even
in thy birth.
Pist. A trial, come.
[They put the tapers to his fingers,
and he starts. Fal. Oh, oh, oh! Quick. Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire! About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme; 95 And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.
THE Song. Fie on sinful fantasy! Fie on lust and luxury! Lust is but a bloody fire, Kindled with unchaste desire, Fed in heart, whose flames aspire As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher. Pinch him, fairies, mutually!
Pinch him for his villainy! Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him
about, Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out. Here they pinch FALSTAFF and sing about him.
Doctor Caius comes one way, and steals away a boy in green ; SLENDER another way, and takes a boy in white ; and FENTON comes, and steals ANNE PAGE. A noise of hunting is made within. All the Fairies run away. FALSTAFF
pulls off his buck's head, and rises up. Enter Page, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS
FORD, and SHALLOW. Page. Nay, do not fly; I think we have
watch'd you now. Will none but Herne the hunter serve yourturn?
Mrs. Page. I pray you, come, hold up the
jest no higher. Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor
wives? See you these, husband ? Do not these fairy
oaks Become the forest better than the town?
Ford. Now, sir, who's a cuckold now? Master Brook, Falstaff 's a knave, a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, Master Brook ; and, Master Brook, he bath enjoyed nothing of (us Ford's but his buck-basket, his cudgel, and twenty pounds of money, which must be paid to Master Brook. His horses are arrested for it, Master Brook.
Mrs. Ford. Sir John, we have had ill luck ; [12 we could never meet. 'I will never take you for my love again; but I will always count you my deer.
Fal. I do begin to perceive that I am made
Ford. Ay, and an ox too; both the proofs are extant.
Fal. And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought they were not fairies; and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of my powers, drove the (1.30 grossness of the foppery into a receiv'd belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now how wit may be made a Jack-a-Lent, when 't is upon ill employment !
Evans. Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires, and fairies will not pinse you. Ford. Well said, fairy Hugh.
Evans. And leave your jealousies too, J pray you.
Ford. I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able to woo her in good English.
Fal. Have I laid my brain in the sun and dri'd it, that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'erreaching as this ? Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too? Shall I have a coxcomb (145 of frieze? 'T is time I were chok'd with a piece of toasted cheese.
Evans. Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all putter.
Fal. “Seese" and "putter"! Have I liv'd to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is enough to be the decay of lust and late-walking through the realm.
Mrs. Page. Why, Sir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and shoulders, and 155 have given ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our delight?
Ford. What, a hodge-pudding? A bag of flax? Mrs. Page. A puff'd man? Page. Old, cold, wither'd, and of intoler able entrails?
Ford. And one that is as slanderous as Satan?
Evans. And given to fornications, and to taverns, and sack, and wine, and metheglins, and to drinkings, and swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles ?
Fal. Well, I am your theme; you have the start of me. I am dejected; I am not able to answer the Welsh flannel. Ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me. Use me as you will.
Ford. Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one Master Brook, that you have cozen'd of money, to whom you should have been a pan- (176 der. Over and above that you have suffer d, I think to repay that money will be a biting affliction.
Page. Yet be cheerful, knight. Thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house; where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that (180 now laughs at thee. Tell her Master Slender hath married her daughter.
Mrs. Page. (Aside.) Doctors doubt that. If Anne Page be my daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius' wife.
Page. Son, how now ! how now, son! have you dispatch'd ?
Slen. Dispatch'd! I'll make the best in Gloucestershire know on 't. Would I were hang'd, la, else!
Page. Of what, son ?
Slen. I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page, and she's a great lubberly boy. If it had not been i' the church, I (196 would have swing'd him, or he should have swing'd me. If I did not think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir ! - and 't is a postmaster's boy.
Page. Upon my life, then, you took the wrong.
Slen. What need you tell me that? I think so, when I took a boy for a girl. If I had been married to him, for all he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.
Page. Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you how you should know my daughter by her garments ?
Slen. I went to her in white, and cried "mum," and she cri'd "
· budget," as Anne and I had appointed ; and yet it was not [210 Anne, but a postmaster's boy.
Mrs. Page. Good George, be not angry. I knew of your purpose; turn'd my daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the Doctor at the deanery, and there married.
Enter Caius. Caius. Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, cozened. I ha' married oon garsoon, a boy;oon pesant, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page. By gar, I am cozened. Mrs. Page. Why, did you take her in green ?
Caius. Xy, by gar, and 't is a boy. By gar, I'll raise all Windsor.
[Erit. Ford. This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?
Page. My heart misgives me. Here comes Master Fenton.
Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE. How now, Master Fenton! Anne. Pardon, good father! good my mother,
pardon! Page. Now, mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender ? Mrs. Page. Why went you not with Master
Doctor, maid ? Fent. You do amaze her. Hear the truth of it. You would have married her most shamefully, Where there was no proportion held in love. 236 The truth is, she and I, long since contracted, Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us. The offence is holy that she hath committed ; And this deceit loses the name of craft, Of disobedience, or unduteous title, Since therein she doth evitate and shun A thousand irreligious cursed hours, Which forced marriage would have brought
Ford. Stand not amaz'd; here is no remedy. In love the heavens themselves do guide the
state; Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.
Fal. I am glad, though you have ta'en a special stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanc'd. Page. Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven
give thee joy! What cannot be eschew'd must be embrac'd. Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer
are chas'd. Mrs. Page. Well, I will muse no further.
Let it be so. Sir John,
Much Ado About Nothing was entered in the Stationers' Register on August 4 and again on August 24, 1600, and the quarto edition of the play appeared in the same year. Unless this comedy be regarded as the Love's Labour's Won of Palladis Tamia, it is not mentioned in Meres's list, and so probably did not exist in 1598. The title-page of the Quarto states that it had been already “sundry times publicly acted," so that 1599, the date most generally assigned, is not likely to be more than a year wrong either way.
The text of the First Folio was taken from a copy of the Quarto, which, judging from some changes in the stage directions, seems to have been used as a prompter's copy. The present text is based on the Quarto, with some few readings from the Folio and later editions.
The story of Hero and Claudio is derived from the twentieth Novel of Bandello, though it is by no means clear that Shakespeare had direct access to this, especially since there is no trace of an English translation. In Bandello the scene is laid in Messina at the close of a successful war; Don Pedro of Arragon appears as King Piero d'Aragona, and Leonato as Lionato de' Lionati; and the thread of the story is the same as in Shakespeare with these main exceptions: the vil. lain is a disappointed lover of Hero's; there is no Margaret, the deceiving of the bridegroom, Timbreo, being accomplished merely by his being led to see a man enter a window in the heroine's home; the scene in the church, where Claudio casts off Hero, is lacking, the Italian lover sending a friend to the father to announce the breaking off of the match ; Timbreo repents of his own accord of his hasty inference; and the dénouement is brought about by the remorse of the villain. Thus in Shakespeare's main plot the character and motive of Don John are quite different, the deceiving of Claudio is made more plausible, and the humors of Dogberry and Verges are introduced to undo the tangle. The French version of Bandello by Belleforest supplies nothing that is found in the English but lacking in the Italian, and there is no evidence of Shakespeare's having used the translation any more than the original. But a probable source for the scene at Hero's window has been found in the story of Ariodante and Ginevra in the fifth book of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, translated into English in 1591 by Sir John Harington, who tells us that the incident had been stated to be historical. Further, Spenser narrated it in The Faerie Queene (book II, canto iv, stanza 17), omitting, however, the window as the scene of the deception; two other English renderings of the episode are recorded; and, finally, a play on the subject was acted before Queen Elizabeth in 15823. There is, therefore, no difficulty in supposing Shakespeare to have borrowed this detail.
Bandello's story forms the basis of several German and Dutch plays also, only one of which, Jacob Ayrer's Die Schoene Phaenicia, need be mentioned here. This version has come through Belleforest and probably other intermediaries, and varies from both Bandello and Shakespeare in that the deception of the hero is accomplished by a man dressed to personate the heroine. It has been attempted, but without complete success, to show that both Ayrer's play and Much Ado come from a lost English play. The presence of a humorous underplot in both, upon which stress has been laid, is deprived of significance by the marked dissimilarity of these plots and their characters.
The plot in which Beatrice and Benedick are the chief actors has not so far been found elsewhere. The similarity of their mutual relation to that of Rosaline and Biron in Love's Labour's Lost shows that Shakespeare had long had their particular kind of comedy in mind, and he may have invented the underplot to give them scope and to lighten the somewhat sombre story of Hero. On the other hand, it is quite possible that their prototypes may have already appeared in some play now lost, which Shakespeare recast in the present comedy. Traces of such a play have been evident to some scholars in the presence of Hero's mother, Innogen, in two stage directions, and in hints of a previous love affair between Beatrice and Benedick. Moreover, a play called “ Benedicke and Betteris” is recorded as having been acted at the Princess Elizabeth's wedding in 1613, though Much Ado also occurs in the list, and no other play was given twice on that occasion. But these indications afford at most no more than a presumption in favor of the theory of an older play.