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Much Ado about Nothing

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Act III, Scene 3

A street.


[Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch]

  • Verges. Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
    salvation, body and soul. 1325
  • Dogberry. Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if
    they should have any allegiance in them, being
    chosen for the prince's watch.
  • Verges. Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.
  • Dogberry. First, who think you the most desertless man to be 1330
  • First Watchman. Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can
    write and read.
  • Dogberry. Come hither, neighbour Seacole. God hath blessed
    you with a good name: to be a well-favoured man is 1335
    the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.
  • Dogberry. You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well,
    for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make
    no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, 1340
    let that appear when there is no need of such
    vanity. You are thought here to be the most
    senseless and fit man for the constable of the
    watch; therefore bear you the lantern. This is your
    charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are 1345
    to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.
  • Dogberry. Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and
    presently call the rest of the watch together and
    thank God you are rid of a knave. 1350
  • Verges. If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none
    of the prince's subjects.
  • Dogberry. True, and they are to meddle with none but the
    prince's subjects. You shall also make no noise in
    the streets; for, for the watch to babble and to 1355
    talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.
  • Watchman. We will rather sleep than talk: we know what
    belongs to a watch.
  • Dogberry. Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet
    watchman; for I cannot see how sleeping should 1360
    offend: only, have a care that your bills be not
    stolen. Well, you are to call at all the
    ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.
  • Dogberry. Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if 1365
    they make you not then the better answer, you may
    say they are not the men you took them for.
  • Dogberry. If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue
    of your office, to be no true man; and, for such 1370
    kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them,
    why the more is for your honesty.
  • Watchman. If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay
    hands on him?
  • Dogberry. Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they 1375
    that touch pitch will be defiled: the most peaceable
    way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him
    show himself what he is and steal out of your company.
  • Verges. You have been always called a merciful man, partner.
  • Dogberry. Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more 1380
    a man who hath any honesty in him.
  • Verges. If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call
    to the nurse and bid her still it.
  • Watchman. How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?
  • Dogberry. Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake 1385
    her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her
    lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.
  • Dogberry. This is the end of the charge:—you, constable, are
    to present the prince's own person: if you meet the 1390
    prince in the night, you may stay him.
  • Verges. Nay, by'r our lady, that I think a' cannot.
  • Dogberry. Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows
    the statutes, he may stay him: marry, not without
    the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought 1395
    to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a
    man against his will.
  • Verges. By'r lady, I think it be so.
  • Dogberry. Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be
    any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your 1400
    fellows' counsels and your own; and good night.
    Come, neighbour.
  • Watchman. Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here
    upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed.
  • Dogberry. One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you watch 1405
    about Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being
    there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night.
    Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.



  • Conrade. Here, man; I am at thy elbow.
  • Borachio. Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a 1415
    scab follow.
  • Conrade. I will owe thee an answer for that: and now forward
    with thy tale.
  • Borachio. Stand thee close, then, under this pent-house, for
    it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, 1420
    utter all to thee.
  • Watchman. [Aside] Some treason, masters: yet stand close.
  • Borachio. Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.
  • Conrade. Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?
  • Borachio. Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any 1425
    villany should be so rich; for when rich villains
    have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what
    price they will.
  • Borachio. That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that 1430
    the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is
    nothing to a man.
  • Conrade. Yes, the fashion is the fashion. 1435
  • Borachio. Tush! I may as well say the fool's the fool. But
    seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion
  • Watchman. [Aside] I know that Deformed; a' has been a vile
    thief this seven year; a' goes up and down like a 1440
    gentleman: I remember his name.
  • Borachio. Didst thou not hear somebody?
  • Conrade. No; 'twas the vane on the house.
  • Borachio. Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this
    fashion is? how giddily a' turns about all the hot 1445
    bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty?
    sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers
    in the reeky painting, sometime like god Bel's
    priests in the old church-window, sometime like the
    shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry, 1450
    where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?
  • Conrade. All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears
    out more apparel than the man. But art not thou
    thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
    shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion? 1455
  • Borachio. Not so, neither: but know that I have to-night
    wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the
    name of Hero: she leans me out at her mistress'
    chamber-window, bids me a thousand times good
    night,—I tell this tale vilely:—I should first 1460
    tell thee how the prince, Claudio and my master,
    planted and placed and possessed by my master Don
    John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable encounter.
  • Conrade. And thought they Margaret was Hero?
  • Borachio. Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the 1465
    devil my master knew she was Margaret; and partly
    by his oaths, which first possessed them, partly by
    the dark night, which did deceive them, but chiefly
    by my villany, which did confirm any slander that
    Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore 1470
    he would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning
    at the temple, and there, before the whole
    congregation, shame her with what he saw o'er night
    and send her home again without a husband.
  • Second Watchman. Call up the right master constable. We have here
    recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that
    ever was known in the commonwealth.
  • First Watchman. And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a'
    wears a lock. 1480
  • First Watchman. Never speak: we charge you let us obey you to go with us.
  • Borachio. We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken 1485
    up of these men's bills.
  • Conrade. A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.