I were but little happy, if I could say how much.

{In the following scene from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” young Claudio and Hero are told they get to spend their lives together, and they have very little to say. Shakespeare certainly had characters who could carry on with the best of them, but he also knew when less is more. I love this exchange. In case you don’t know the story, Count Claudio and Hero (yes, a woman) are the lovers, Leonardo is Hero’s father, and Beatrice is her cousin.}

Leonardo: Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes. His Grace hath made the match, and all grace say amen to it.

Beatrice: Speak, Count, ’tis your cue.

Claudio: Silence is the perfectest herald of joy; I were but little happy, if I could say how much! Lady, as you are mine, I am yours. I give away myself for you, and dote upon the exchange.

Beatrice: Speak, cousin, or (if you cannot) stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.

{From Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene 1. I think the movie version with Kenneth Branaugh is a great introduction to this play, and to Shakespeare in general.}

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One response

  1. The sentence – I were but little happy, if I could say how much! – was in a thin volume of poems I received for Christmas when I was about 10 years of age. Seeing Shakespeare’s name at the bottom, I was surprised (and gratified!) at the time that I grasped its meaning. Thank you for sharing your love of The Bard!

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