Act 1: Scene 1
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the
wars or no?
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.
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it:
he is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
And a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord?
It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:
but for the stuffing,–well, we are all mortal.
Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last
conflict four of his five wits went halting 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.
Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as
the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray
you, who is his companion? Is there no young
squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: he
is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker
runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if
he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a
thousand pound ere a’ be cured.
Do, good friend.
No, not till a hot January.
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks you.
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.
A dear happiness to women: they would else have
been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God
and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I
had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man
swear he loves me.
Scratching could not make it worse, an ’twere such
a face as yours were.
A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
You always end with a jade’s trick: I know you of old.
Act 2: Scene 1
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see
him but I am heart-burned an hour after.
He were an excellent man that were made just in the
midway 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.
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman
in the world, if a’ could get her good-will.
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.
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.
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.
No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet
me, like an old cuckold, 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.
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
Not till God make men of some other metal than
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make
an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren;
and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.
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 every thing
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.
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.
Will you not tell me who told you so?
Nor will you not tell me who you are?
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.
I am sure you know him well enough.
Did he never make you laugh?
Why, he is the prince’s jester: a very dull fool;
only his gift is in devising impossible slanders:
none but libertines delight in him; and the
commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany;
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: I would he had boarded me.
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.
We must follow the leaders.
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
the next turning.
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
him use for it, a double heart for his single one:
marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.
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.
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.
Speak, count, ’tis your cue.
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on
the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his
ear that he is in her heart.
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the
world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a
corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!
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.
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, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
was a star danced, and under that was I born.
Cousins, God give you joy!
I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace’s pardon.
Act 2: Scene 3
Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
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.
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.
Act 3: Scene 1
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!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
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;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.
Act 3: Scene 4
Good morrow, sweet Hero.
I am out of all other tune, methinks.
Ye light o’ love, with your heels! then, if your
husband have stables enough, you’ll see he shall
lack no barns.
‘Tis almost five o’clock, cousin; tis time you were
ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill: heigh-ho!
For the letter that begins them all, H.
What means the fool, trow?
I am stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.
O, God help me! God help me! how long have you
It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your
cap. By my troth, I am sick.
Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in
What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?
Act 4: Scene 1
Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down?
Dead, I think. Help, uncle!
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
How now, cousin Hero!
O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
No, truly not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
You have no reason; I do it freely.
Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!
A very even way, but no such friend.
It is a man’s office, but not yours.
As strange as the thing I know not. 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.
Do not swear, and eat it.
Will you not eat your word?
Why, then, God forgive me!
You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
protest I loved you.
I love you with so much of my heart that none is
left to protest.
You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
you: nay, I pray you, let me go.
In faith, I will go.
You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.
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.
Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!
Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.
Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; 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! But
manhood is melted into courtesies, 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.
Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.
Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.
Act 5: Scene 2
Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.
‘Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere
I go, let me go with that I came; which is, with
knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.
Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I
will depart unkissed.
For them all together; which maintained so politic
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?
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.
It appears not in this confession: there’s not one
wise man among twenty that will praise himself.
And how long is that, think you?
Very ill too.
Will you go hear this news, signior?
Act 5: Scene 4
[Unmasking] I answer to that name. What is your will?
Why, no; no more than reason.
Do not you love me?
Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula
Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.
They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
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.