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to the trick:8 If you will hang me for it, you may, but I had rather it would please you, I might be whipp'd.
Duke. Whipp'd first, sir, and hang'd after.
Lucio. I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore! Your highness said even now, I made you a duke; good my lord, do not recompense me, in making me a cuckold.
Duke. Upon mine honour, thou shalt marry her. Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal Remit thy other forfeits :-Take him to prison: And see our pleasure herein executed.
Lucio. Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging.
Duke. Sland'ring a prince deserves it.-
8 - according to the trick:) To the trick of the times.
9— that is more gratulate.] Some other reward in store for him, more acceptable than thanks.
Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline,
? Of this play, the light or comick part is very natural and pleasing, but the grave scenes, if a few passages be excepted, have more labour than elegance. The plot is rather intricate than artful. The time of the action is indefinite; some time, we know not how much, must have elapsed between the recess of the Duke and the imprisonment of Claudio; for he must have learned the story of Mariana in his disguise, or he delegated his power to a man already known to be corrupted. The unities of action and place are sufficiently preserved. JOHNSON,
* Much ADO ABOUT NOTHING.] The story is taken from Ariosto, Orl. Fur. B. V. POPE.
It is true, as Mr. Pope has observed, that somewhat resembling the story of this play is to be found in the fifth Book of the Orlando Furioso. In Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II. c. iv. as remote an original may be traced. A novel, however, of Belleforest, copied from another of Bandello, seems to have furnished Shakspeare with his fable, as it approaches nearer in all its particulars to the play before us, than any other performance known to be extant. I have seen so many versions from this once popular collection, that I entertain no doubt but that a great majority of the tales it comprehends have made their appearance in an English dress. Of that particular story which I have just mentioned, viz. the 18th history in the third volume, no translation has hitherto been met with. This play was entered at Stationers' Hall, Aug. 23, 1600.
STEEVENS. Ariosto is continually quoted for the fable of Much Ado about Nothing; but I suspect our poet to have been satisfied with the Geneura of Turberville. « The tale (says Harrington) is a pretie comical matter, and hath bin written in English verse some few years past, learnedly and with good grace, by M. George Turbervil.” Ariosto, fol. 1591, p. 39. FARMER.
I suppose this comedy to have been written in 1600, in which year it was printed. MALONE.