Act V - Scene I

[Before Leonato's House.]

[Enter Leonato and his brother Antonio.]

If you go on thus, you will kill yourself,
And 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief
Against yourself.
I pray thee cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless(5)
As water in a sieve. Give not me counsel,
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine.
Bring me a father that so loved his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelmed like mine,(10)
And bid him speak to me of patience.
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus, and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form.(15)
If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
Bid sorrow wag, cry ‘hem’ when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk
With candle-wasters—bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.(20)
But there is no such man; for, brother, men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,(25)
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air and agony with words.
No, no! 'Tis all men's office to speak patience
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man's virtue nor sufficiency(30)
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel.
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
I pray thee peace. I will be flesh and blood;(35)
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself.(40)
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
There thou speak'st reason. Nay, I will do so.
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied;
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince,
And all of them that thus dishonour her.(45)

[Enter Prince Don Pedro and Claudio.]

Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.
Good den, good den.
Good day to both of you.
Hear you, my lords!
We have some haste, Leonato.(50)
Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord.
Are you so hasty now? Well, all is one.
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
If he could right himself with quarrelling,
Some of us would lie low.(55)
Who wrongs him?
Marry, thou dost wrong me, thou dissembler, thou!
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
I fear thee not.
Marry, beshrew my hand(60)
If it should give your age such cause of fear.
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.
Tush, tush, man! never fleer and jest at me.
I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
As under privilege of age to brag(65)
What I have done being young, or what would do,
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wronged mine innocent child and me
That I am forced to lay my reverence by
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,(70)
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child;
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
And she lied buried with her ancestors;
O, in a tomb where never scandal slept,(75)
Save this of hers, framed by thy villainy!
My villainy?
Thine, Claudio; thine I say.
You say not right, old man.
My lord, my lord,(80)
I'll prove it on his body if he dare,
Despite his nice fence and his active practice,
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
Away! I will not have to do with you.
Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast killed my child.(85)
If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
He shall kill two of us, and men indeed.
But that's no matter; let him kill one first.
Win me and wear me! Let him answer me.
Come, follow me, boy.(90)
Come, sir boy, come follow me.
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence!
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Brother Anthony—
Hold you content. What, man! I know them, yea,(95)
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,
Scambling, outfacing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go anticly, and show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,(100)
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
And this is all.
But, brother Anthony—
Come, 'tis no matter.
Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.(105)
Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter's death;
But, on my honour, she was charged with nothing
But what was true, and very full of proof.
My lord, my lord—(110)
I will not hear you.
No? Come, brother, away!—I will be heard.
And shall, or some of us will smart for it.

[Enter Benedict.]

[Exeunt Leonato and Antonio.]

See, see! Here comes the man we went to seek.
Now, signior, what news?(115)
Good day, my lord.
Welcome, signior. You are almost come to part
almost a fray.
We had liked to have had our two noses snapped off
with two old men without teeth.(120)
Leonato and his brother. What think'st thou? Had
we fought, I doubt we should have been too young for
In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came to
seek you both.(125)
We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are
high-proof melancholy, and would fain have it beaten
away. Wilt thou use thy wit?
It is in my scabbard. Shall I draw it?
Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?(130)
Never any did so, though very many have been
beside their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the
minstrel—draw to pleasure us.
As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
sick or angry?(135)
What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat,
thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career an you
charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.
Nay then, give him another staff; this last was broke(140)
By this light, he changes more and more. I think
he be angry indeed.
If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
Shall I speak a word in your ear?(145)
God bless me from a challenge!
You are a villain. I jest not; I will
make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when
you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You
have killed a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on(150)
you. Let me hear from you.

[Aside to Claudio]

Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.
What, a feast, a feast?
I' faith, I thank him, he hath bid me to a calf's head
and a capon, the which if I do not carve most curiously, say(155)
my knife's naught. Shall I not find a woodcock too?
Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
I'll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the other
day. I said thou hadst a fine wit: ‘True,’ said she, ‘a fine little
one.’ ‘No,’ said I, ‘a great wit.’ ‘Right,’ says she, ‘a great gross(160)
one.’ ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘a good wit.’ ‘Just,’ said she, ‘it hurts
nobody.’ ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘the gentleman is wise.’ ‘Certain,’ said
she, a wise gentleman.' ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘he hath the tongues.’
‘That I believe’ said she, ‘for he swore a thing to me on
Monday night which he forswore on Tuesday morning.(165)
There's a double tongue; there's two tongues.’ Thus did she
an hour together transshape thy particular virtues. Yet at
last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man
in Italy.
For the which she wept heartily and said she cared not.(170)
Yea, that she did; but yet, for all that, an if she did
not hate him deadly, she would love him dearly. The old
man's daughter told us all.
All, all! and moreover, God saw him when he was hid
in the garden.(175)
But when shall we set the savage bull's horns on
the sensible Benedick's head?
Yea, and text underneath, ‘Here dwells Benedick, the
married man’?
Fare you well, boy; you know my mind. I will leave(180)
you now to your gossiplike humour. You break jests as braggards
do their blades, which God be thanked hurt not. My
lord, for your many courtesies I thank you. I must discontinue
your company. Your brother the bastard is fled from
Messina. You have among you killed a sweet and innocent(185)
lady. For my Lord Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet; and
till then peace be with him.


He is in earnest.
In most profound earnest; and, I'll warrant you, for
the love of Beatrice.(190)
And hath challenged thee.
Most sincerely.
What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!

[Enter constable Dogberry, and Verges, with the Watch, leading Conrade and Borachio.]

He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a doctor(195)
to such a man.
But, soft you, let me be! Pluck up, my heart, and
be sad! Did he not say my brother was fled?
Come you, sir. If justice cannot tame you, she shall
ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance. Nay, an you be(200)
a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.
How now? two of my brother's men bound?
Borachio one.
Hearken after their offence, my lord.
Officers, what offence have these men done?(205)
Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover,
they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are
slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly,
they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they
are lying knaves.(210)
First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I
ask thee what's their offence; sixth and lastly, why they
are committed; and to conclude, what you lay to their
Rightly reasoned, and in his own division; and by(215)
my troth there's one meaning well suited.
Who have you offended, masters, that you are
thus bound to your answer? This learned constable is too
cunning to be understood. What's your offence?
Sweet prince, let me go no farther to mine answer.(220)
Do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have
deceived even your very eyes. What your wisdoms could
not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light,
who in the night overheard me confessing to this man,
how Don John your brother incensed me to slander the(225)
Lady Hero; how you were brought into the orchard and saw
me court Margaret in Hero's garments; how you disgraced
her when you should marry her. My villainy they have upon
record, which I had rather seal with my death than repeat
over to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my(230)
master's false accusation; and briefly, I desire nothing but the
reward of a villain.
Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
I have drunk poison whiles he uttered it.
But did my brother set thee on to this?(235)
Yea, and paid me richly for the practice of it.
He is composed and framed of treachery,
And fled he is upon this villainy.
Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I loved it first.(240)
Come, bring away the plaintiffs. By this time our
sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato of the matter. And,
masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall
serve, that I am an ass.
Here, here comes Master Signior Leonato, and the(245)
sexton too.

[Enter Leonato, his brother, Antonio, and the sexton.]

Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes,
That, when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him. Which of these is he?
If you would know your wronger, look on me.(250)
Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed
Mine innocent child?
Yea, even I alone.
No, not so, villain! thou beliest thyself.
Here stand a pair of honourable men—(255)
A third is fled—that had a hand in it.
I thank you princes for my daughter's death.
Record it with your high and worthy deeds.
'Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.
I know not how to pray your patience;(260)
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin. Yet sinned I not
But in mistaking.
By my soul, nor I!(265)
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he'll enjoin me to.
I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
That were impossible; but I pray you both,(270)
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour aught in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,
And sing it to her bones—sing it to-night.(275)
To-morrow morning come you to my house,
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that's dead,
And she alone is heir to both of us.(280)
Give her the right you should have giv'n her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.
O noble sir!
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me.
I do embrace your offer; and dispose(285)
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
Who I believe was packed in all this wrong,(290)
Hired to it by your brother.
No, by my soul, she was not;
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me;
But always hath been just and virtuous
In anything that I do know by her.(295)
Moreover, my lord, which indeed is not under
white and black, this plaintiff here, the offender, did call
me ass. I beseech you let it be remembered in his punishment.
And also the watch heard them talk of one
Deformed. They say he wears a key in his ear, and a lock(300)
hanging by it, and borrows money in God's name, the
which he hath used so long and never paid that now men
grow hard-hearted and will lend nothing for God's sake.
Pray you examine him upon that point.
I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.(305)
Your worship speaks like a most thankful and reverent
youth, and I praise God for you.
There's for thy pains.

[Gives money.]

God save the foundation!
Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.(310)
I leave an arrant knave with your worship, which I
beseech your worship to correct yourself, for the example of
others. God keep your worship! I wish your worship well.
God restore you to health! I humbly give you leave to
depart; and if a merry meeting may be wished, God(315)
prohibit it! Come neighbour.

[Exeunt Dogberry and Verges.]

Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.
Farewell, my lords. We look for you to-morrow.
We will not fail.
To-night I'll mourn with Hero.(320)
[To the Watch] Bring you these fellows on.–We'll talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.



  1. Dogberry once again attempts to use overly formal speech to give his words authority. Ironically, this actually undermines his authority, resulting in his failure to communicate effectively. This once again underscores the theme of “nothing.” He speaks many words, but ultimately says nothing.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. By saying that “Hero is belied,” Leonato here reveals that he believes that Hero has been wrongly accused of being unfaithful. His emphasis on what his “soul” tells him illustrates a rare moment in the play in which a character trust’s their feelings over the words and perceptions of others.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. “Beshrew” is an archaic term for “curse.” Claudio says that he was not going for his sword because he would never threaten a man Leonato’s age.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Antonio (Leonato’s brother) attempts to console Leonato in his grief “with words,” but Leonato says that those who are not experiencing grief cannot possibly help or understand those who are. Leonato here highlights the inability of language to console those that are suffering, and the inadequacy of language in general.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Benedick refers to Claudio as “Lord Lackbeard” to insult his lack of a beard and suggesting that Claudio is youthful and “unmanly.” Note too, that Shakespeare here associates beards with combat, further emphasizing the beard as a symbol for masculinity since during Shakespeare’s time women could not fight in battle.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Leonato seeks revenge for the alleged death of Hero, who he says died from the shame of being charged with infidelity. He is particularly interested in punishing Don Pedro and Claudio because, though they didn't lie about Hero's virtue, they readily believed in her loss of virginity.

    — Sarah, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. With the morning of his daughter’s wedding ruined and his honor indirectly affected, Leonato is upset. When Antonio tells Leonato that indulging in grief and self-pity is childish, Leonato responds that even philosophers, who appear godlike and immune to human suffering, will fail to “endure” a “toothache.” Essentially, Leonato is using this example to defend his emotional vulnerability, which is part of human nature.

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. That is, to understand how Margaret got involved with Borachio (and Conrade).

    — Stephen Holliday
  9. That is, I am taking over the responsibility for your prisoner.

    — Stephen Holliday
  10. Dogberry thanks Leonato as if Leonato represents a group of people (the foundation).

    — Stephen Holliday
  11. At this point, Leonato is handing some money to Dogberry to compensate him and the night watch for their efforts.

    — Stephen Holliday
  12. Dogberry is, in his completely confused way, recounting an earlier comment by Borachio in which he said "fashion" was like a deformed thief.  Dogberry and his fellow night-watch members did not understand the metaphorical nature of the comment and assumed Borachio was talking about a deformed person who wore a lock in his hair. Dogberry continually provides comic-relief to an otherwise fairly grim episode.

    — Stephen Holliday
  13. That is, who was innocently caught up in all this wrongdoing.

    — Stephen Holliday
  14. In other words, that will be my future (to be married to Hero's cousin).

    — Stephen Holliday
  15. That is, if your love (for Hero) can require you to do something in Hero's honor.

    — Stephen Holliday
  16. That is, I cannot order you to order my daughter to live again.

    — Stephen Holliday
  17. Leonato sarcastically refers to Don Pedro and Claudio.  Leonato most likely uses honourable to mean self-righteous.

    — Stephen Holliday
  18. What Dogberry means, of course, is that he has been called an ass (by the defendants).

    — Stephen Holliday
  19. That is, I see you now, Hero, as you appeared to me when I first fell in love with you.

    — Stephen Holliday
  20. That is, how you were convinced to condemn Hero just before you were to marry her.

    — Stephen Holliday
  21. Said sarcastically: this scholarly constable is too smart for me to understand.

    — Stephen Holliday
  22. That is, why are you now bound (in handcuffs) and required to answer the charges in court?

    — Stephen Holliday
  23. Claudio is making a joke about the number of charges Dogberry made and the number of questions Don Pedro asked, but he concludes that the charges and questions result in one important meaning.  Claudio doesn't say what that meaning is, but the implication is that Hero has been accused on the basis of false testimony.

    — Stephen Holliday
  24. That is, if Justice cannot convict you (he is referring to Borachio), she will never again be trusted to weigh evidence in her scales.

    — Stephen Holliday
  25. That is, be cheerful, my heart, and seriously consider what he said. Don Pedro is beginning to realize that something important has occurred to change matters.

    — Stephen Holliday
  26. That is, when a man leaves his intelligence behind, he is like a giant to an ape, and an ape is as smart as a doctor compared to a man without intelligence.

    — Stephen Holliday
  27. That is, how childish a man is who puts on his fine clothes but forgets his common sense.

    — Stephen Holliday
  28. As with his earlier use of boy to refer to Claudio, Benedick refers to Claudio's inability to grow a beard, implying that he is not manly enough.  In Shakespeare's time, most men wore beards, and boys looked forward to the time they could grow their first beard.

    — Stephen Holliday
  29. Benedick's simile implies that Claudio is a coward—when braggards (braggarts) break their sword blades, they do so in order to avoid actual combat or dueling.

    — Stephen Holliday
  30. This is a joke on Benedick, who in Act 1 Scene 1, lines 262-68, swore he would never allow the bull's horns (symbolizing marriage)  to be attached to his head. Unlike Claudio, Don Pedro is still not aware that Benedick has challenged Claudio to a duel for having "killed" Hero's reputation.

    — Stephen Holliday
  31. That is, your wit is like the ambling gait of a pony—comfortable but boring.

    — Stephen Holliday
  32. Duels are conducted very formally—when the challenge is issued, it must be formally accepted by the challenged party. 

    — Stephen Holliday
  33. That is, I am going to prove your villainy (his accusations against Hero) in a duel.

    — Stephen Holliday
  34. Because Benedick does not want to offend his patron, Don Pedro, he must issue his challenge privately to Claudio.  At this point, neither Don Pedro nor Claudio understand that Benedick is now opposed to them because of his relationship with Beatrice.

    — Stephen Holliday
  35. That is, Benedick's lance was shattered on his opponent's shield as their lances crossed.

    — Stephen Holliday
  36. This is a metaphor based on jousting—Benedick responds that he will meet Claudio at full gallop (as in a joust).

    — Stephen Holliday
  37. That is, many men have lost their minds [when under stress].

    — Stephen Holliday
  38. That is, in a quarrel based on false information, neither side can win any honor.

    — Stephen Holliday
  39. That is, I think we would have proven old enough to fight them successfully.

    — Stephen Holliday
  40. Antonio says that Leonato's complaint will be heard by everyone or that "some of us," by which he means Don Pedro and Claudio, are going to be hurt (presumably, in a duel.)

    — Stephen Holliday
  41. Antonio implies that men like Claudio, who say that they will defeat their enemies, are merely cowards.

    — Stephen Holliday
  42. The word "scambling" means "quarrelsome, argumentative.  The word "outfacing" means "intimidating, defiant."

    — Stephen Holliday
  43. By calling Claudio sir boy, Antonio is trying very hard to goad Claudio into a fight.  Under other circumstances, Claudio would not let this insult go unanswered.

    — Stephen Holliday
  44. That is, fight me, kill me, and then you can brag about the fight.

    — Stephen Holliday
  45. That is, a person accused of scandal has never been buried here.

    — Stephen Holliday
  46. Claudio has reacted to Leonato's speech by reflexively grabbing the hilt of his sword, as any soldier might do when insulted.

    — Stephen Holliday
  47. That is, you incredible liar!  Leonato's use of thou rather than the more polite* you* indicates his disgust with Claudio.

    — Stephen Holliday
  48. When Antonio sarcastically refers to "some of us" he refers to Claudio and Don Pedro, the accusers of Hero.  The implication is that if Leonato started a fight, he would kill Claudio and Don Pedro.

    — Stephen Holliday
  49. Don Pedro, who understands the meaning of Leonato's "all is one," warns him not to start a fight.

    — Stephen Holliday
  50. Leonato, still expressing the grief he feels, tells Don Pedro that nothing matters anymore.

    — Stephen Holliday
  51. That is, despite the fact that the [Greek] gods are described as not suffering, we humans shove aside bad luck and suffering.

    — Stephen Holliday
  52. That is, no man's strength or morality will help him when he has to endure such grief.

    — Stephen Holliday
  53. Leonato is commenting on the uselessness of trying to soften true grief. He likens it to using silk thread to bind people who are crazy.

    — Stephen Holliday
  54. That is, if someone experiences real grief, words become meaningless as passion takes over.

    — Stephen Holliday
  55. That is, say something like "ahem," a sound for clearing the throat, meaning nothing, instead of the sound of sorrow like a groan.

    — Stephen Holliday