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Einleitung.

Shakspere's Much Ado about Nothing erschien im Jahre 1600 in einer Einzelausgabe mit folgendem Titel: Much adoe about Nothing As it hath been sundrie times publikely acted by the right honourable, the Lord Chamberlain e his seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. — London Printed by V. S. for Andrew Wise and William Apsley. 1600. – Der Text dieser Ausgabe in Quarto ist im Ganzen ziemlich correct und weicht auch nicht erheblich ab von dem Text der Folioausgabe von 1623, in welcher das Drama als das sechste in der Reihe der Comedies abgedruckt steht, hier zuerst in Acte, wenn auch nicht in Scenen eingetheilt, und ohne ein Personenverzeichniss, welches Rowe seiner Ausgabe (1709) beifügte. - In demselben Jahre, in welchem die Quarto erschien, und zwar unterm 23. August 1600, wurde Much Ado about Nothing zugleich mit King Henry IV. Second Part in die Register der Buchhändlergilde eingetragen, nachdem kurz vorher, laut eines Vermerks vom 4. August, in denselben Registern die Veröffentlichung des Stückes durch einen andern Verleger gehindert worden

Eine frühere Notiz als diese hat sich bisher nicht nachweisen lassen, und das Stillschweigen, mit welchem Francis Meres in seinem Buche Palladis Tamia 1598 unter den Dramen Shakspere's dieses Drama übergeht, macht es neben den inneren Merkmalen des Styls und des Verses wahrscheinlich, dass es in der Zwischenzeit, 1598-1600, geschrieben und aufgeführt worden ist.

Der ernstere Theil des Stoffes, der Claudio's Täuschung und Hero's Ehrenkränkung enthält, war zu Shakspere's Zeit in England in verschiedenen Bearbeitungen bekannt: zunächst in der Episode von Ariodant und Genevra aus Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, welche bereits in zwei Englischen Uebersetzungen, von Beverley und von Turbervile, existirte, ehe 1591 Harington das ganze Gedicht Ariost's in Englischen Versen erscheinen liess. Auch ein jetzt verloren gegangenes Drama desselben Inhalts war im Jahre 1582-1583 vorhanden und damals vor der Königin Elisabeth durch die Schüler der Londoner Stiftsschule der Merchant Tailors Company

war.

aufgeführt worden, wie aus folgender Notiz der von Cunningham edirten Accounts of the Revels at Court erhellt: A Historie of Ariodante and Gencuora showed before her Matie on Shrovetuesdaie at night enacted by Mr. Mulcasters children. – Dieselbe Geschichte, nur mit veränderten Namen, hat auch Edmund Spenser in seine Faerie Queene eingeflochten. Am nächsten der Shakspere'schen Behandlung, jedoch mit Entlehnung einiger Züge aus den andern Quellen, sei es Ariost und Spenser, oder vielleicht das vorerwähnte ältere Drama, kommt eine Novelle des Biondello, deren Ueberschrift im Original lautet: Come il Signore Timbreo di Cardona, essendo col Re Piero d'Arragona in Messina, s'innamora di Felicia Lionata; e i varii fortuncvoli accidenti, che avvennero prima che per moglie la prendesse. - In welcher Weise Shakspere aus dieser Novelle, die er jedenfalls nur in ihren allgemeinsten Umrissen benutzt hat, schöpfte, ist jetzt nicht mehr nachzuweisen. Wir begnügen uns deshalb mit der kurzen Analyse, welche Skottowe von dieser Erzählung giebt:

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Fenicia, the daughter of Lionato, a gentleman of Messina, is betrothed to Timbreo di Cardona. Girondo, a disappointed lover of the young lady, resolves, if possible, to prevent the marriage. He insinuates to Timbreo that his mistress is disloyal, and offers to show him a stranger scaling her chamber-window. Timbreo accepts the invitation, and witnesses the hired servant of Girondo, in the dress of a gentleman, ascending a ladder and entering the house of Lionato. Stung with rage and jealousy, Timbreo the next morning accuses his innocent mistress to her father, and rejects the alliance. Fenicia sinks into a swoon; a dangerous illness succeeds; and to stifle all reports injurious to her fame, Lionato proclaims that she is dead. Her funeral rights are performed in Messina, while in truth she lies concealed in the obscurity of a country residence.

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The thought of having occasioned the death of an innocent and lovely female strikes Girondo with horror; in the agony of remorse he confesses his villainy to Timbreo, and they both throw themselves on the mercy, and

, ask forgiveness, of the insulted family of Fenicia. On Timbreo is imposed only the penance of espousing a lady whose face he should not see previous to his marriage: instead of a new bride, whom he expected, he is presented, at the nuptial altar, with his injured and beloved Fenicia.

Ein Bruchstück der betreffenden Erzählung aus Spenser's Facrie Queene (Book II Canto IV) möge hier folgen. Die Erzählung ist dem getäuschten Liebhaber, der dem Shakspere'schen Claudio entspricht, in den Mund gelegt:

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What great despight does fortune to thee beare,
Thus lowly to abase thy beautie bright,
That it should not deface all others lesser light?

>

wrought,
That I that lady to my spouse had wonne,
Accord of friendes, consent of parents sought ;
Affyaunce made, my happinesse begonne,
There wanted nought but few rites to be donne,
Which mariage make: that day too farre did

seeme! Most ioyous man,

on whome the shining sunne Did shew his face, myself I did esteeme, And that my falser friend did no lesse ioyous

deeme.

But if she had her least helpe to thee lent,
T" adorne thy forme according thy desart,
Their blazing pride thou wouldest soone have

blent,

>

And staynd their prayses with thy least good

part ;
Ne should faire Claribell with all her art,
Tho' she thy lady be, approach thee neare ;
For proofe thereof, this evening, as thou art.
Aray thyselfe in her most gorgeous geare,
That I may more delight in thy embracement

deare.

>

But, ere that wished day his beame disclosd,
He, either envying my toward good,
Or of himselfe to treason ill disposd,
One day unto me came in friendly mood,
And told, for secret, how he understood
That lady, whom I had to me assynd ,
Had both disdaind her honorable blood,
And eke the faith which she to me did bund;
And therefore wisht me stay, till I my truth

should fynd.

The mayden proud through praise and mad

through love,
Him hearkned to, and soone herselfe arayd ;
The whiles to me the treachour did remove
His craftie engin: and, as he had sayd
Me leading, in a secret corner layd ,
The sad spectatour of my tragedie:
Where left, he went, and his owne false part

playd,

The gnawing anguish, and sharp gelosy,
Which his sad speach infixed in my brest,
Ranckled 80 sore, and festred inwardly,

Disguised like that groome of base degree,
Whom he had feignd th' abuser of my love

to bce.

Then wounde of gealous worme, and shame

of such repriefe.

Eftsoones he came unto th' appointed place,
And with him brought Pryené, rich arayd ,
In Claribellaes clothes : her proper face
I not discerned in that darkesome shade,
But ucend it was my love with whom he

playd.
Ah God! what horrour and tormenting griefe
My hart, my handes, mine eies, and all assayd!
Me liefer were ten thousand deathës priefe

I home retourning, fraught with foule despight,
And chawing vengeaunce all the way I went
Soone as my loathed love appeard in sight,
With wrathfull hand I slew her innocent ;
That after soone I dearely did lament:
For, when the cause of that outrageous deede
Demaunded I made plaine and evident,
Her faultie handmayd, which that bale did breede,
Confest how Philemon her wrought to chaunge

her weede.

Die sonstigen komischen Partien von Much Ado about Nothing und die diesem Kreise angehörenden Personen scheinen ganz und gar Erfindung unseres Dichters zu sein; wenigstens haben sich bisher noch keine von ihm etwa benutzten Quellen dazu nachweisen lassen.

Die alte Erzählung, welche Benedick im Sinne hat, wenn er A. 1, Sc. 1 sagt: Like the old tale, my lord: it is not so, nor it was not so: but indeed God forbid, it should be so, wird von Blakeway aus seiner Erinnerung folgendermassen berichtet:

Once upon a time there was a young lady (called Lady Mary in the story) who had two brothers. One summer they all three went to a countryseat of theirs, which they had not before visited. Among the other gentry in the neighbourhood who came to see them was a Mr. Fox, a bachelor, with whom they, particularly the young lady, were much pleased. He used often to dine with them, and frequently invited Lady Mary to come and see his house. One day that her brothers were absent elsewhere, and she had nothing better to do, she determined to go thither, and accordingly set out unattended. When she arrived at the house and knocked at the door, no one answered. At length she opened it and went in. Over the portal of the hall was written, ,,Be bold, be bold, but not too bold. She advanced: over the staircase, the same inscription. She went up: over the entrance

She went up: over the entrance of a gallery, the same. She proceeded: over the door of a chamber, Be bold, be bold, but not too bold, lest that your heart's-blood should run cold. She opened it-it was full of skeletons, tubs full of blood, &c. Se retreated in haste. Coming down stairs she saw, out of a window, Mr. Fox advancing towards the house, with a drawn sword in one hand, while with the other he dragged along a young lady by her hair. Lady Mary had just time to slip down and hide herself under the stairs before Mr. Fox and his victim arrived at the foot of them. As he pulled the young lady up stairs she caught hold of one of the bannisters with her hand, on which was a rich bracelet. Mr. Fox cut it off with his sword: the hand and bracelet fell into Lady Mary's

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