Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 15:17

Much Ado About Nothing

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare. First published in 1600, it was likely first performed in the winter of 1598-1599.


Act IEdit

  • A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • 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.
    • Messenger, scene i


  • How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
    • Leonato, scene i


  • A very valiant trencher-man.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • Beatrice: What is he to a lord?
    Messenger: A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues.
    Beatrice: It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuffed man, but for the stuffing, — Well, we are all mortal.
    • Scene i


  • They never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit between them.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • 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.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • Messenger: I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
    Beatrice: No; an he were, I would burn my study.
    • Scene i


  • 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 he be cured.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • Don Pedro: The fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter 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.
    • Scene i


  • Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
    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.
    • Scene i


  • Benedick: 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 have been troubled with a pernicious suitor.
    • Scene i


  • I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer.
    • Benedick, scene i


  • I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
    • Don Pedro, scene i


  • 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?
    • Benedick, scene i


  • Benedick: Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?
    Claudio: Can the world buy such a jewel?
    • Scene i


  • Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again?
    • Benedick, scene i


  • Like the old tale, my lord: it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.
    • Benedick, scene i


  • Don Pedro: By my troth, I speak my thought.
    Claudio: And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
    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.
    • Scene i


  • 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.
    • Benedick, scene i


  • Don Pedro: In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.
    Benedick: The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, 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.
    • Scene i


  • Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience: and so I leave you.
    • Benedick, scene i

Act IIEdit

  • He is of a very melancholy disposition.
    • Hero, scene i


  • He that hath a beard is more than a youth; and he that hath no beard is less than a man.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • As merry as the day is long.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by day-light.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • Speak low, if you speak love.
    • Don Pedro, scene i


  • Friendship is constant in all other things,
    Save in the office and affairs of love:
    Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
    Let every eye negotiate for itself,
    And trust no agent: for beauty is a witch
    Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
    • Claudio, scene i


  • I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.
    • Beatrice, scene i


  • Don Pedro: Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of 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.
    • Scene i


  • Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how much.
    • Claudio, scene i


  • If we can do this, then Cupid is no longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we are the only love-gods.
    • Don Pedro, scene i


  • He was wont to speak plain, and to the purpose.
    • Benedick, scene iii


  • 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.

    • Balthazar, scene iii


  • Sits the wind in that corner?
    • Benedick, scene iii


  • Shall quips, and sentences, and these paper bullets of the brain, awe a man from the career of his humour? 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.
    • Benedick, scene iii

Act IIIEdit

  • Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
    • Hero, scene i


  • From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth.
    • Don Pedro, scene ii


  • Every one can master a grief, but he that has it.
    • Benedick, scene ii


  • Are you good men and true?
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • To be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • The most senseless and fit man.
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • You shall comprehend all vagrom men.
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • 2 Watch: How if 'a 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.
    • scene iii


  • Is most tolerable, and not to be endured.
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if they make you not then the better answer, you may say, they are not the men you took them for.
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • 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 company.
    • Dogberry, scene iii


  • I know that Deformed.
    • 1 Watch, scene iii


  • The fashion wears out more apparel than the man.
    • Conrade, scene iii


  • I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man, and no honester than I.
    • Verges, scene v


  • Comparisons are odorous.
    • Dogberry, scene v


  • If I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.
    • Dogberry, scene v


  • A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they say, When the age is in, the wit is out.
    • Dogberry, scene v

Act IVEdit

  • O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do, not knowing what they do!
    • Claudio, scene i


  • O, what authority and show of truth
    Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
    • Claudio, scene i


  • I never tempted her with word too large;
    But, as a brother to his sister, show’d
    Bashful sincerity and comely love.
    • Claudio, scene i


  • I have mark’d
    A thousand blushing apparitions
    To start into her face; a thousand innocent shames
    In angel whiteness beat away those blushes.
    • Friar, scene i


  • For it so falls out
    That what we have we prize not to the worth,
    Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack’d and lost,
    Why, then we rack the value; then we find
    The virtue, that possession would not show us
    Whiles it was ours.
    • Friar, scene i


  • The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
    Into his study of imagination;
    And every lovely organ of her life,
    Shall come apparell’d in more precious habit,
    More moving-delicate, and full of life,
    Into the eye and prospect of his soul.
    • Friar, scene i


  • I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?
    • Benedick, scene i


  • Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves; and it will go near to be thought so shortly.
    • Dogberry, scene ii


  • Yea, marry, that's the eftest way.
    • Dogberry, scene ii


  • Flat burglary, as ever was committed.
    • Dogberry, scene ii


  • O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.
    • Dogberry, scene ii


  • O, that he were here to write me down — an ass! — but, masters, remember, that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.
    • Dogberry, scene ii


  • A fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns, and every thing handsome about him.
    • Dogberry, scene ii


Act VEdit

  • Patch grief with proverbs.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • Men
    Can counsel, and speak comfort to that grief
    Which they themselves not feel.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • Charm ache with air, and agony with words.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • ’T is all men’s office to speak patience
    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.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • For there was never yet philosopher,
    That could endure the tooth-ache patiently.
    • Leonato, scene i


  • Some of us will smart for it.
    • Antonio, scene i


  • I was not born under a rhyming planet.
    • Benedick, scene ii


  • Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I will depart unkissed.
    • Beatrice, scene ii


  • Done to death by slanderous tongues.
    • Claudio, scene iii


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