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Lor. The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,

When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise,-in 'such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And, with an unthrift love,* did run from Venice,

As far as Belmont.

And in such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well ;
Stealing her soul with 'many vows of faith-

And ne'er a 'true one!

And in such a night
Did pretty Jessica, (like a little shrew,)

'Slander her love,-and he'forgave it her! Jes. I would 'out-night you did no body come; But, hark, I hear the footing of a 'man.

Launcelot, as he approaches, is heard calling:
Laun. Solá, solá! wo ha, ho! solá, solá! Master Lorenzo,

and Mistress Lorenzo! there 's a post come from my
master, with his horno full of good news: my master

will be here ere morning.
Lorenzo at once directs the Attendants to be ready with music to
welcome their mistress home : then, influenced by the soft beauty
of an Italian night-scene, he says to his bride :
Lor. How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank !

Here we will sit, and let the sounds of music
"Creep in our ears: soft stillness, and the night,
'Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold ;
There 's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,
But in his motion, like an angel, sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim :
'Such harmony is in immortal 'souls:
But, whilst this muddy vesture of 'decay

Doth grossly close us in, we cannot 'hear it.
The Musicians begin. After listening for a time, Jessica pen-
sively says:
Jes. I am never 'merry when I hear sweet music.





Aspendthrift lover.

binserted word.

c the postman's instrument. d small plates (0. R. pattens). e Plato's idea was, that a Syrev sat on each planet, singing a song in harmony with the others. 10. R. cherubins.

& similar. h 0, R. close in it.



Lor. The reason is, your spirits are attentive :

For do but note a wild and wanton herd,-
If any air of 'music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,-
Their 'savage eyes turned to a 'modest gaze,
By the sweet power of music: Therefore the Poet
Did feign--that Orpheus" drew trees, stones, and

Since nought so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
But music, for the time, doth 'change his nature.
The man that hath 'no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with 'concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils ;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus';'

Let no such man be 'trusted : 'Mark the music.
The Lady Portia and her maid Nerissa are the first to arrive.
Portia, pleased with everything, says:
Por. That light we see is burning in 'my hall.

How 'far that little candle throws his beams !

So shines a good deed in a naughty world. After a slight delay, Bassanio and Gratiano reach the mansion, accompanied by the released Merchant, Antonio: but no sooner has he been formally introduced to the Lady Portia, and welcomed by her, than Gratiano and Nerissa are overheard-quarreling: Gra. By yonder moon, I 'swear you do me wrong;

In 'faith, I gave it to the judge's 'clerk:
Would he were 'hanged that had it, for my part,
Since 'you do take it, love, so much at heart.

The Lady Portia, pretending surprize, advances :
Por. A quarrel, ho, already! what's the matter?
Gra. About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring

That she did give to me; whose posyd was,
For all the world, like 'cutler's poetry

Upon a knife-Love me, and leave me not.
Ner. What talk you of the posy, or the value ?

You 'swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death,
And that it should lie with you in your 'grave.
Gave it a judge's clerk! but well I know
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on 's face that had it.

a the son of Apollo and Calliope, whose music afferted inanimate objects. bemotionless. c deity of Hell, son of Chaos and Darkness.

d betrothal or engagement rings were usually inscribed with a motto or posy (O. R poesie).


*Gra. He will,—an if he live to be a 'man.
Ner. Ay, if a 'woman live to be a man.
Gra. Now, by this hand, I gave it to a 'youth,

A kind of 'boy,—a little 'scrubbéd boy,-
No higher than thyself,—the judge's clerk ;
A 'prating boy, that begged it as a 'fee :
I could not for my heart deny it him.

Portia gravely censures Gratiano:
Por. You were to 'blame, I must be plain with you,

To part so slightly with your wife's 'first gift.
I gave 'my love a ring, and made him swear
'Never to part with it; and here he stands:
I dare be sworn for him, 'he would not leave it,
Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth
That the 'world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too great a cause of grief :
An 't were to 'me, I should be 'mad at it!

Bassanio, in the utmost perplexity, mutters : Bass. [Aside.) Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,

And swear I lost the ring 'defending it.
Gra. My lord Bassanio gave his ring away

Unto the 'Judge that begged it, and, indeed,
'Deserved it too; and then the boy, his 'Clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begged 'mine;
And neither man, nor master, would take aught

'But the two rings. Por.

'What ring gave you, my lord ? Not that, I hope, which you received of 'me? Bass. If I could add a 'lie unto a fault,

I'would deny it; but you see, my finger

Hath not the ring upon it: it is gone.
Por. Even 'so void is your false 'heart-of 'truth!
Bass. Sweet Portia,

If you did know to 'whom I gave the ring,
If you did know 'for whom I gave the ring,

And would conceive for 'what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I 'left the ring,
When nought would be accepted 'but the ring,

You would abate the strength of your displeasure. Por. If you had known the 'virtue of the ring,

Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,


a stunted.

ÞO. R. ynkinde.

e magical power,

Or your own honour to 'retain the ring,
You would not then have 'parted with the ring !
Nerissa 'teaches me what to believe:

I'll die for 't, but some 'woman had the ring.
Bass. No, by mine 'honour, madam! by my 'soul!

'No woman had it; but a Civil Doctor ;)
Even he that had held-up the very 'life
Of my dear friend. Pardon me, good lady;
For, by these blesséd candles of the night,
Had you been there, I think you would have 'begged

The ring of me, to 'give the worthy Doctor. Antonio interposes; and Portia consents to accept him as surety for Bassanio's faith. Then the two ladies, presenting to their husbands the same rings that had been received from them, a merry explanation ensues. The Lady Portia addresses her friends : Por. You are all 'amazed !

Here is a letter, read it at your leisure;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you shall find, that Portia was the doctor,
Nerissa there, her clerk. Lorenzo here
Shall witness, 'I set-forth as soon as you,
And even but now 'returned; I have not yet

my house. Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have 'better news in store for 'you ;
'Three of your argosies are come to 'harbour.
You shall not know by what strange accident

I chanced to get this letter.

I am dumb.
Bass. Were you the Doctor, and I knew you not?
Gra. Were you indeed the Clerk ?

It is almost morning;
And yet, I am sure, you are not satisfied
Of these events at 'full. Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.



*O. R. containe,

b doctor of civil law. • O. R. chanced on.

o interrogatories.

d inserted word. Scene-in Messina.b


The Comedy of “Much Ado about Nothing'' was first performed in 1600, and printed in the same year. The early copy differs but little from that in the collected works of Shakespeare, (published in 1623,) except in the division into Acts, which were not indicated in the first quarto edition.

This play furnishes one of the most striking examples of Shakespeare's art in making an old story the nucleus of a new one; and incorporating the incidents of both into a harmonious whole. The Old Story is that of a lady endangered by the personation of her own waiting-woman-a popular tradition in many countries and theme of many authors. It forms a tale of chivalry in Ariosto's “Orlando Furioso:b" it is made the vehicle of a high moral lesson by Spenser in his “ Faerie Queene:c" and it is the foundation of a love romance—with the same denouement as in Shakespeare's version-in an Italian noveld by Matteo Bandello, who was Bishop of Agen about the middle of the sixteenth century. The New Story—that of Benedict and Beatrice,-is Shakespeare's own; no trace of these characters is found in either of the older versions, although they seem to be naturally connected. Indeed, the play was frequently presented to its early audiences under the title of “ Benedick and Beatrice:" but the author's 'own title has been properly preserved in all the printed copies—in which we find, interwoven in the plot, several forms of “Much Ado,” as well as several kinds of “ Nothing."

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The Characters retained in this Condensation are:
Don PEDRO, Prince of Arragon.' BORACHIO, Followers of Don
Don John, his illegitimate Brother. CONRADE, John.
CLAUDIO, young Lord of


Two City Officers. Florence.'

BENEDICK, a young Lord of Friar FRANCIS.

LEONATO, Governor of Messina."

HERO, Daughter to Leonato.

BEATRICE, Niece to Leonato.
ANTONIO, his Brother.

MARGARET,? Genilewomen attend-
BALTHAZAR, Attendant on Don URSULA, inc on Hero

Messengers, Watchmen, &c.

a The Stationers' Register (of August 23, 1600,) contains the following double entry: “And. Wise and Wm. Aspley) Much Adoe about Nothing.

Second Part of King Henry the Fourt, with the Humours of Sir John Falstaff, written by Mr. Shakspere.

The following is from the title-page of this first quarto : “Much adoe about Nothing. As it hath been sundrie times publikely acted by the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. London 1600."

b see the story of “Ariodantes and Geneura," books 5 and 6.

c in the “ Book of Temperance," Book 2, canto iv.
d see his twenty-second tale-the story of “ Felicia Lionata.”
• Arragon-a province in the north-east of Spain (south of the Pyrenees).

f Florence-the capital of Tuscany, on the Arno.
& Padua-capital of a province of the same name, in northern Italy.
h Messina--the chief city of the Island of Sicily, in the Mediterranean.

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