Prescanned Shakespeare.com
presented by Acoustic Learning


Much Ado About Nothing

Act III, Scene 3

A street.
 
[Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch]
 
DOGBERRY
Are you good men and true?
 
VERGES
Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation, body and soul.
 
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, neighbor Dogberry.
 
DOGBERRY
First, who think you the most desertless man to be constable?
 
FIRST WATCHMAN
Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can write and read.
 
DOGBERRY
Come hither, neighbor Seacole. God hath blessed you with a good name: to be a well-favored man is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.
 
SECOND WATCHMAN
Both which, master constable,--
 
DOGBERRY
You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your favor, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, 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 to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.
 
SECOND WATCHMAN
How if he will not stand?
 
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.
 
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 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 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.
 
WATCHMAN
How if they will not?
 
DOGBERRY
Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if they make you not then the better answer, you may say they are not the men you took them for.
 
WATCHMAN
Well, sir.
 
DOGBERRY
If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man; and, for such 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 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 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 her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.
 
VERGES
'Tis very true.
 
DOGBERRY
This is the end of the charge:--you, constable, are to present the prince's own person: if you meet the prince in the night, you may stay him.
 
VERGES
Nay, by our lady, that I think he cannot.
 
DOGBERRY
Five shillings to one on it, with any man that knows the statutes, he may stay him: marry, not without the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man; and it is an offense to stay a man against his will.
 
VERGES
By our 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 fellows' counsels and your own; and good night. Come, neighbor.
 
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 neighbors. I pray you watch about Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being there tomorrow, there is a great coil tonight. Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.
 
[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES. Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE]
 
BORACHIO
What Conrade.
 
WATCHMAN
Peace. stir not.
 
BORACHIO
Conrade, I say.
 
CONRADE
Here, man; I am at thy elbow.
 
BORACHIO
Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a 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, utter all to thee.
 
WATCHMAN
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 villany should be so rich; for when rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.
 
CONRADE
I wonder at it.
 
BORACHIO
That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man.
 
CONRADE
Yes, it is apparel.
 
BORACHIO
I mean, the fashion.
 
CONRADE
Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
 
BORACHIO
Tush. I may as well say the fool's the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is?
 
WATCHMAN
I know that Deformed; he has been a vile thief this seven year; he goes up and down like a 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 he turns about all the hot 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, 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?
 
BORACHIO
Not so, neither: but know that I have tonight 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 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 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 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.
 
FIRST WATCHMAN
We charge you, in the prince's name, stand.
 
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; he wears a lock.
 
CONRADE
Masters, masters,--
 
SECOND WATCHMAN
You'll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.
 
CONRADE
Masters,--
 
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 up of these men's bills.
 
CONRADE
A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.
 
[Exeunt]

← Previous Scene | Next Scene →


Home