A line-by-line translation

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing Translation Act 1, Scene 1

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

Enter LEONATO, Governor of Messina; HERO, his daughter; and BEATRICE his niece, with a MESSENGER

LEONATO

I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.

LEONATO

[Holding a letter] This letter says that Don Pedro of Aragon is coming to Messina tonight.

MESSENGER

He is very near by this. He was not three leagues off when I left him.

MESSENGER

He must be very close by now. He was less than nine miles away when I left him.

LEONATO

How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

LEONATO

How many men did you lose in this battle?

MESSENGER

But few of any sort, and none of name.

MESSENGER

Not many, and no one with any notable rank or reputation.

LEONATO

A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings homefull numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young Florentine called Claudio.

LEONATO

A victory is twice as great when the victor comes home without losing any soldiers. This letter also says that Don Pedro has given great honors to a young man from Florence named 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 alion. He hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how.

MESSENGER

The honors are well-deserved, and Don Pedro has bestowed them fairly. Claudio has achieved things that no one would expect from such a young man. He has the look of a lamb, but he fights like a lion. Indeed, he's surpassed all expectations by so much that you can't expect me to describe him properly.

LEONATO

He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

LEONATO

He has an uncle here in Messina who will be very glad to hear about this.

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.

MESSENGER

I've already delivered letters to him, and he seemed overjoyed. Indeed, he got so emotional that he couldn't restrain his tears.

LEONATO

Did he break out into tears?

LEONATO

Did he really start crying?

MESSENGER

In great measure.

MESSENGER

Yes, heavily.

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!

LEONATO

That's the result of a natural overflow of affection for family members. There's no face more honest than one washed by tears. And how much better it is to weep for joy than to laugh in sadness!

BEATRICE

I pray you, is Signor Montanto returned from the wars or no?

BEATRICE

Please, has Sir Montanto returned from the battle or not?

MESSENGER

I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the army of any sort.

MESSENGER

I don't know anyone by that name, my lady. There never was a Sir Montanto in our army.

LEONATO

What is he that you ask for, niece?

LEONATO

Who is it you're asking about, niece?

HERO

My cousin means Signor Benedick of Padua.

HERO

My cousin means Sir Benedick of Padua.

MESSENGER

Oh, he’s returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.

MESSENGER

Oh, he's returned, and he's as witty and cheerful as ever.

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.

BEATRICE

Benedick once put up signs here in Messina challenging Cupid to an archery contest. My uncle's jester read the challenge, accepted on Cupid's behalf, and challenged Benedick with blunt arrows. But please tell me, how many men has he killed and eaten in these battles? For I promised to eat any man he could kill.

LEONATO

Faith, niece, you tax Signor Benedick too much, but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not.

LEONATO

Honestly, niece, you criticize Sir Benedick too much. But I don't doubt that he'll give as good as he gets.

MESSENGER

He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

MESSENGER

He served well in this war, my lady.

BEATRICE

You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it. He is a very valiant trencherman. He hath an excellent stomach.

BEATRICE

You had stale food, and he helped you eat it. He's a very brave eater. He has an excellent stomach for eating.

MESSENGER

And a good soldier too, lady.

MESSENGER

And a stomach for fighting too, my lady. He's a good soldier.

BEATRICE

And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord?

BEATRICE

A good soldier compared to a lady, but what is he compared to a lord?

MESSENGER

A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honorable virtues.

MESSENGER

He's a lord to a lord and a man to a man. He's stuffed full of honorable virtues.

BEATRICE

It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man. But for the stuffing—well, we are all mortal.

BEATRICE

Indeed he is. He's nothing more than a dummy—a stuffed man. But as for what he's stuffed with—well, we all have our faults.

LEONATO

You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her. They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.

LEONATO

Sir, you mustn't misunderstand my niece. There is a kind of cheerful war between her and Sir Benedick. Whenever they meet there's always a battle of wits.

BEATRICE

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.

BEATRICE

And he never gains anything from such battles. In our last encounter, all his wits but one went limping off, leaving him with only enough wit to keep himself warm and distinguish himself from his horse. But who is his companion now? Every month he has a new best friend.

MESSENGER

Is ’t possible?

MESSENGER

Is that possible?

BEATRICE

Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.

BEATRICE

Entirely possible. He wears his loyalty like he wears his hats—always changing with the latest fashions.

MESSENGER

I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.

MESSENGER

I see that this gentleman isn't included in your good book, my lady.

BEATRICE

No. An he were, I would burn my study. But I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young squarer nowthat will make a voyage with him to the devil?

BEATRICE

No. And if he were in my good book, I'd burn down my library. But please tell me, who is his friend now? Isn't there some quarrelsome young man who will go along with Benedick on his voyage to hell?

MESSENGER

He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.

MESSENGER

He spends most of his time in the company of the most noble Claudio.

BEATRICE

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.

BEATRICE

Oh Lord, Benedick will cling to him like a disease! Benedick is easier to catch than the plague, and the person he's infected immediately goes insane. God help the noble Claudio! If he's caught the Benedick, he'll lose all his money before he can be cured.

MESSENGER

I will hold friends with you, lady.

MESSENGER

I'll make sure to stay on your good side, my lady.

BEATRICE

Do, good friend.

BEATRICE

Do, good friend.

LEONATO

You will never run mad, niece.

LEONATO

You will never "catch the Benedick," niece.

BEATRICE

No, not till a hot January.

BEATRICE

No, not until there's a hot January.

MESSENGER

Don Pedro is approached.

MESSENGER

Don Pedro is here.

Enter DON PEDRO, Prince of Aragon, with CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, and DON JOHN the bastard

DON PEDRO

Good Signor Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.

DON PEDRO

Good Sir Leonato, have you come to meet your burden—the burden of hosting me and all my followers? Most people avoid expense, but you 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.

LEONATO

You are never a burden to my house, your Grace. When a burden leaves, comfort should replace it. But when you leave, you take happiness with you and leave behind only sorrow.

DON PEDRO

You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.

DON PEDRO

You welcome your troubles too cheerfully. [Turning to HERO] This must be your daughter.

LEONATO

Her mother hath many times told me so.

LEONATO

That's what her mother keeps telling me.

BENEDICK

Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?

BENEDICK

Sir, did you doubt that she was your daughter, since you had to ask?

LEONATO

Signor Benedick, no, for then were you a child.

LEONATO

No, Sir Benedick, for you were only a child then—not yet old enough to seduce my wife.

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 honorable father.

DON PEDRO

He got you back, Benedick! I can tell from this what kind of a man you are, and that you have a reputation with women. But seriously, the lady proves who her father is by her resemblance to him.

[To HERO] Be happy, my lady, for you resemble an honorable father.

LEONATO and DON PEDRO move to one side, still talking

BENEDICK

If Signor Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.

BENEDICK

Even if Sir Leonato is her father, she wouldn't want to resemble an old man, no matter how similar she is to him.

BEATRICE

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick. Nobody marks you.

BEATRICE

I'm surprised that you're still talking, Sir Benedick. Nobody's paying attention to you.

BENEDICK

What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?

BENEDICK

Oh, it's my dear Lady Scorn! Haven't you died from boredom yet?

BEATRICE

Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itselfmust convert to disdain if you come in her presence.

BEATRICE

How could Scorn die when she has such a plentiful supply of food in the form of Sir Benedick? When you're around, even Lady Courtesy must transform into Lady Scorn.

BENEDICK

Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of 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.

BENEDICK

Then Lady Courtesy is a traitor. But, truly, all ladies love me, except you. And I wish I could say that I wasn't so hard-hearted, for I really don't love anyone.

BEATRICE

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 humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

BEATRICE

What a stroke of good fortune for women. Otherwise they would all be plagued by a terrible suitor. I thank God and my own cold blood that I feel the same way, and don't love anyone. I would rather hear my dog bark at a crow than hear a man swear that he loves me.

BENEDICK

God keep your Ladyship still in that mind, so some gentle-man or other shall ’scape a predestinate scratched face.

BENEDICK

Your Ladyship, may God preserve you in that state of mind forever, so that some poor gentleman will escape having his face scratched up.

BEATRICE

Scratching could not make it worse an ’twere such a face as yours were.

BEATRICE

If it's a face like yours then scratching couldn't make it look any worse.

BENEDICK

Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

BENEDICK

You'd be great at teaching parrots—you say the same things over and over again.

BEATRICE

A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

BEATRICE

Better a bird that talks like me than a beast that talks like you—unable to say anything at all.

BENEDICK

I would my horse had the speed of your tongue and so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God’s name. I have done.

BENEDICK

I wish my horse were as fast as your tongue, and could go on and on in the same way. But have it your way, for God's sake. I'm done.

BEATRICE

You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old.

BEATRICE

You always drop out of the horse race before it's over. I know how you are.

LEONATO and DON PEDRO come forward

DON PEDRO

That 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.

DON PEDRO

And that's everything that's happened since we last saw each other, Leonato.

[To CLAUDIO and BENEDICK] Sir Claudio and Sir Benedick, my dear friend Leonato has invited you all to stay here. I told him we'll stay for at least a month, and he begged us to stay longer. I swear that he's not just being polite, but is sincere.

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.

LEONATO

My lord, if you swear it, you won't be lying. 

[To DON JOHN]
Let me welcome you as well, my lord. Now that you and your brother are reconciled, I owe you the same allegiance I owe to Don Pedro.

DON JOHN

I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.

DON JOHN

I thank you. I'm a man of few words, but I thank you.

LEONATO

Please it your Grace lead on?

LEONATO

Do you want to lead us all inside, your Grace?

DON PEDRO

Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.

DON PEDRO

Give me your hand, Leonato. We'll go together.

Exeunt. Manent BENEDICK and CLAUDIO

CLAUDIO

Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?

CLAUDIO

Benedick, did you notice Sir Leonato's daughter?

BENEDICK

I noted her not, but I looked on her.

BENEDICK

I saw her, but I didn't see anything worth noting.

CLAUDIO

Is she not a modest young lady?

CLAUDIO

Isn't she a well-mannered 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?

BENEDICK

Are you asking me that honestly, and want my true opinion? Or do you want me to criticize her in the way that I'm known to criticize all women?

CLAUDIO

No, I pray thee speak in sober judgment.

CLAUDIO

No, please speak honestly and seriously.

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.

BENEDICK

Well, to be honest, I think she's too short to be praised highly, too ugly to be praised prettily, and too little to be praised greatly. The only compliment I can give her is this: if she were different than the way she is, she would be ugly. And since she can't be anything but herself, I do not like her.

CLAUDIO

Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how thou lik’st her.

CLAUDIO

You think I'm joking. Please tell me honestly what you think of her.

BENEDICK

Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?

BENEDICK

Why are you asking about her—do you want to buy her?

CLAUDIO

Can the world buy such a jewel?

CLAUDIO

Could anything in the world be enough to buy such a jewel?

BENEDICK

Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this witha 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?

BENEDICK

Yes, and a box to put it in. But are you saying this seriously? Or are you just playing the part of the mocking rascal, saying that blind Cupid is good at catching hares and Vulcan is a good carpenter? Come, tell me what key you're singing in, so I can sing in harmony.

CLAUDIO

In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I lookedon.

CLAUDIO

In my eyes, she seems like the sweetest lady I've ever seen.

BENEDICK

I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter. There’s her cousin, an 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 nointent to turn husband, have you?

BENEDICK

I can still see without glasses, and I don't see it. If her cousin Beatrice didn't have such a temper, she would exceed Hero in beauty more than spring does winter. But I hope you aren't looking to become a husband, are you?

CLAUDIO

I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

CLAUDIO

Even if I had sworn to never marry, I wouldn't trust myself if Hero said she would be my wife.

BENEDICK

Is ’t come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again? Go to, i' faith, an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is returned to seek you.

BENEDICK

Is this what the world's coming to? Honestly, isn't there one man left who can wear his hat without fearing to sprout horns? Will I never see a sixty-year-old bachelor again? Go ahead then, if you insist on putting your neck in the yoke of marriage like an ox, and throwing away your free time. Look, Don Pedro has returned to look for you.

Enter DON PEDRO

DON PEDRO

What secret hath held you here that you followed not to Leonato’s?

DON PEDRO

What secrets have you been telling that kept you from following us to Leonato's?

BENEDICK

I would your grace would constrain me to tell.

BENEDICK

Your Grace will have to command me to tell.

DON PEDRO

I charge thee on thy allegiance.

DON PEDRO

I command you by your allegiance to me. Tell me.

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— [to DON PEDRO] 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.

BENEDICK

Do you hear this, Count Claudio? I can keep secrets like a mute man, and I want you to know that. But my allegiance is to Don Pedro—look, I have to tell him because of my allegiance—

[To DON PEDRO] Claudio is in love. With whom? Now, that's what your Grace is supposed to ask next. See how short the answer is: with Hero, Leonato's short daughter.

CLAUDIO

If this were so, so were it uttered.

CLAUDIO

If that were true, then that would be the thing to say.

BENEDICK

Like the old tale, my lord: “It is not so nor ’twas not so but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.”

BENEDICK

See how he denies his crime, my lord, like the man in the old tale "Mr. Fox." "It isn't true and it wasn't true, and God forbid that it should be true."

CLAUDIO

If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.

CLAUDIO

If my passions don't change very soon, God forbid that it should not be true.

DON PEDRO

Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.

DON PEDRO

If you really love Hero, then I approve. The lady is very deserving of love.

CLAUDIO

You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.

CLAUDIO

You're saying this to trick me into confessing, my lord.

DON PEDRO

By my troth, I speak my thought.

DON PEDRO

Truthfully, I'm saying what I really think.

CLAUDIO

And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.

CLAUDIO

And honestly, my lord, I also said what I thought when I said that I loved her.

BENEDICK

And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.

BENEDICK

And truthfully and honestly I swear, my lord, that I did the same when I said this was a bad idea.

CLAUDIO

That I love her, I feel.

CLAUDIO

I feel that I love her.

DON PEDRO

That she is worthy, I know.

DON PEDRO

And I know that she is worthy.

BENEDICK

That I neither feel how she should be loved nor know how she should be worthy is the opinion that fire cannotmelt out of me. I will die in it at the stake.

BENEDICK

And I neither feel how she could be loved nor know how she could be worthy. Even fire couldn't melt this opinion out of me. I'd say it even if you burned me at the stake for it.

DON PEDRO

Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.

DON PEDRO

You've always been a stubborn dissenter in the way you scorn beauty.

CLAUDIO

And never could maintain his part but in the force of his will.

CLAUDIO

And you can't give any good reasons for your argument—just sheer willfulness.

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 willlive a bachelor.

BENEDICK

A woman conceived me, and I thank her for that. Then she brought me up, and I give her humble thanks for that, too. But all other women will have to pardon me if I don't want to be made a fool of by having hunting horns grow from my forehead. Because I don't want to insult any particular woman by mistrusting her, I'll just protect myself by avoiding and mistrusting them all. And the result of this is that I'll live as a bachelor, and have more money to spend on fine clothes.

DON PEDRO

I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

DON PEDRO

Before I die, I swear I'll see you turn pale with lovesickness.

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 ballad-maker’s pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel house for the sign of blind Cupid.

BENEDICK

I'll turn pale with anger, with illness, or with hunger—but never with love, my lord. If you can show that I'll ever be so weak with love that I can't be strengthened by a few cups of wine, you can pluck out my eyes with a love-poet's pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel's house, where the sign of blind Cupid usually goes.

DON PEDRO

Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wiltprove a notable argument.

DON PEDRO

Well, if you ever do change your mind and fall in love, you'll become an extreme example for everyone to gossip about.

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.

BENEDICK

If I do, you can use me for target practice. And if any man hits me, let him be patted on the back and called a hero.

DON PEDRO

Well, as time shall try. In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.

DON PEDRO

Well, time will tell. Even the savage bull eventually wears the yoke.

BENEDICK

The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedickbear 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.”

BENEDICK

The savage bull may wear it. But if the sensible Benedick ever takes up the yoke of marriage, then pluck off the bull's horns and put them on my forehead—for I'll soon be a cuckold like the rest. And let me be painted gaudily, and hang a sign around my neck, with big letters. Instead of what the sign usually says, "Here is a good horse to hire," the sign will say, "Here is Benedick, the married man."

CLAUDIO

If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.

CLAUDIO

If that ever happened, you'd go horn-mad.

DON PEDRO

Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.

DON PEDRO

Well, if Cupid hasn't used up all his arrows in lustful Venice, then he'll soon have his revenge by making you shake with love.

BENEDICK

I look for an earthquake too, then.

BENEDICK

It's just as likely that there'll be an earthquake.

DON PEDRO

Well, you temporize with the hours. In the meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato’s. Commend me to him and tell him I will not fail him at supper, for indeed he hath made great preparation.

DON PEDRO

Well, you'll grow milder as time passes. But in the meantime hurry to Leonato's, good Sir Benedick. Give him my compliments and tell him that I'll be there for dinner, since I know he's done a lot of preparation for it.

BENEDICK

I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage, and so I commit you—

BENEDICK

I think I have enough wit left in me to handle such a mission. And so I commit you

CLAUDIO

To the tuition of God. From my house, if I had it—

CLAUDIO

—into God's hands. From my house—if I had a house—

DON PEDRO

The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.

DON PEDRO

The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.

BENEDICK

Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is sometimes 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

Now, don't make fun. Sometimes you two might decorate your conversation with little fragments of wit, but they don't hold together very well. Before you show off your witty scraps any longer, take a look at your conscience, and you'll see that I speak the truth. And with that I leave you.

Exit

CLAUDIO

My liege, your highness now may do me good.

CLAUDIO

My lord, you can really help me now.

DON PEDRO

My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how, And thou shalt see how apt it is to learnAny hard lesson that may do thee good.

DON PEDRO

I'm eager to help. Just let me what I can do, and you'll see how good I am at learning even the hardest lesson.

CLAUDIO

Hath Leonato any son, my lord?

CLAUDIO

Does Leonato have any sons, my lord?

DON PEDRO

No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.Dost thou affect her, Claudio?

DON PEDRO

He has no child but Hero, who is his only heir. Do you love her, Claudio?

CLAUDIO

O, my lord, When you went onward on this ended action, I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye, That liked but had a rougher task in hand Than to drive liking to the name of love. But now I am returned and that war thoughts Have left their places vacant, in their rooms Come thronging soft and delicate desires, All prompting me how fair young Hero is, Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.

CLAUDIO

Oh my lord, when we left to fight the war that's now over, I looked at Hero with a soldier's eyes. And I liked her, but my mind was too filled with the rough tasks ahead to change liking into loving. But now that I've returned and my thoughts of war are gone, they've been replaced with soft and delicate desires that all lead me to one thing: how beautiful young Hero is, and how I must have liked her even before I went off to war.

DON PEDRO

Thou wilt be like a lover presently And tire the hearer with a book of words. 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?

DON PEDRO

Soon you'll be a true lover, and wear out everyone who listens to you with endless speeches about your feelings. If you love the beautiful Hero, then enjoy it. I'll bring up the subject to her and to her father, and soon you'll have her as your wife. Isn't this the result you were looking for when you told me this story?

CLAUDIO

How sweetly you do minister to love, That know love’s grief by his complexion! But lest my liking might too sudden seem, I would have salved it with a longer treatise.

CLAUDIO

You can see how lovesick I am without even asking, and you take care of me so kindly! But I didn't want to seem to hasty in my feelings, so I was going to smooth them over with a longer explanation.

DON PEDRO

What need the bridge much broader than the flood? The fairest grant is the necessity. Look what will serve is fit. 'Tis once, thou lovest, And I will fit thee with the remedy. I know we shall have reveling tonight. I will assume thy part in some disguise 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. Then after to her father will I break, And the conclusion is, she shall be thine. In practice let us put it presently.

DON PEDRO

Why build a bridge wider than the river it's crossing? You don't have to say more than what gets the point across. The best gift is one that's needed most, and whatever gets the job done will work. You are in love, and that's that. I'll get you what you need to cure your sickness. I know we'll have a party tonight. I'll disguise myself and tell Hero that I am Claudio, and in private I'll tell her all about my feelings for her. When she hears, she'll be taken prisoner by the force of my tale of love. Then I'll talk to her father, and in the end she'll be yours. Now let's put this plan into action right away.

Exeunt

Much ado about nothing
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Much Ado Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 1146 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 25,393 quotes covering 1146 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms
Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.