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*** Much ADO ABOUT NOTHING.] The fiory is taken from Ariosto, Ori. Fur. B. V. POPE.
It is true, as Mr. Pope has observed, that somewhat resembling the ftory of this play is to be found in the fifth book of the Orlando Furioso. In Spencer's Faery Queen, B. II. c. iv, as remote an original may be Sraced. 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 ade about Nothing ; but I fufpect out poet to have been satisfied with the Geneur,a 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. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Sbakspeare's Plays, Vol. I. MALONE.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Before Leonato's House. Enter LEONATU, Hero, BEATRICE, and Oibers, aviis
a Messenger. Leon, I learn in this letter, that Don Pedro of Alsagon comes this night to Messina,
Aiell. He is very near by this; he was not thrce leagues off wben I left him.
Leon. How many gentleine. have you loit in this allion ? Mej. But few of any fort, and none of name.
Deon. A viciory is iwice itself, when the archiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath ben stowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
Mil. Much deserved on his part, and equally rememberit by Don Pedro: He hath borne himseif beyond the pro wife of his age : doing, in the figure of a la nb, the feats of a lion : he hath, indeed, better better'd expectation, than you muft. expect of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it. · Meli I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him ; even so much, that joy could not show itself modeft enough, without a badge of bitterness.3
2 Sort is rank, diftinction. I incline, however, to Mr. M. Mason's easier explanation. Of any fort, says he, means of any kind whatsoever.
STEEVENS. 3 This is judiciously expressed. Of all the transports of joy, that which is attended with tears is least offensive ; because, carrying with it this mark of pain, it allays the envy that usually attends another's happiness. This he finely calls a modeft joy, such a one as did not insult the observer by an indication of happiness unmixed with pain.
WARBURTON.. A badge being the distinguishing mark worn in our author's time by the servants of noblemen, &c. on the Neeve of their liveries, with his usual licence he employs the words to signify a mark or token in general.
Leon. Did he break out into tears ?
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness: There are no faces truer 5 than those that are fo washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?
Beat. I pray you, is fignior Montanto returned from the wars, or no?
Mell. I know none of that name, lady ; there was none such in the ariny of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Bear. He fet up his bills here in Messina, 8 and challenged Cupid at the flight : 9 and my uncle's fool, scading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the birdbol.2m. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in
these 4 i. e. in abundance. STEEVINS. 5 That is, none bonefir, none more fincere. JONNSON,
0 --- is signior Montanto returned.] Montante, in Spanish, is a buge two-karded (word, (a title) given, with much humour, to one [whom] the speaker would represent as a boafter or bravado. WARBURTON, Monianto was one of the ancient terms of the fencing-school.
STEEVENS, 7 Not meaning there was none fuch of any order or degree whatever, but that there was none such of any quality above the common. .
WARBUITON. 8 Beatrice means, that Benedick published a general challenge, like a prize-fighter. STE EVENS.
9 Flight (as Mr. Douce observes to me) does not here mean an arrow, but a sort of shooting called roving, or shooting at long lengths. The ar. Tows used at this sport are called fight arrows, as were those used in battle for great distances. STEEVENS.
2 The bird-bolt is a short thick arrow without a point, and spreading at the extremity so much, as to leave a fat surface, about the breadth of a shilling. Such are to this day in use to kill rooks with, and are shot from a cross bow. STEEVENS.
The meaning of the whole is Benedick, from a vain conceit of his influence over women, challenged Cupid at roving (a particular kind of archery, in which flight-arrows are used.) In other words, he challenged him to poot at bearts. The foo!, to ridicule this piece of vanity, in his turn challenged Benedick to shoot at crows with the cross-bow and birdbolt; an inferior kind of archery used by fools, who, for obvious reafons, were not permitted to shoot with pointed arrows : Whence the proverb-16 A fool's bolt is foon fhot." Dovce.