William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing in the complete original text.
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Much Ado about Nothing

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Act III. Scene III.

Scene III.—A Street.

Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES, with
the Watch.

Dogb. Are you good men and true?
Verg. Yea, or else it were pity but they should
suffer salvation, body and soul.
Dogb. Nay, that were a punishment too good
for them, if they should have any allegiance in
them, being chosen for the prince's watch.
Verg. Well, give them their charge, neighbour
Dogb. First, who think you the most desart-
less man to be constable?
First. Watch. Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George
Seacoal; for they can write and read.
Dogb. Come hither, neighbour Seacoal. God
hath blessed you with a good name: to be a
well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to
write and read comes by nature.
Sec. Watch. Both which, Master constable,—
Dogb. 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, 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 con-
stable of the watch; therefore bear you the lant-
horn. This is your charge: you shall comprehend
all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand,
in the prince's name.
Watch. How, if a' will not stand?
Dogb. 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.
Verg. If he will not stand when he is bidden,
he is none of the prince's subjects.
Dogb. 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.
Sec. Watch. We will rather sleep than talk:
we know what belongs to a watch.
Dogb. 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 alehouses, and bid those that are
drunk get them to bed.
Watch. How if they will not?
Dogb. 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.
Watch. Well, sir.
Dogb. 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
Sec. Watch. If we know him to be a thief,
shall we not lay hands on him?
Dogb. 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.
Verg. You have been always called a merciful
man, partner.
Dogb. Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will,
much more a man who hath any honesty in him.
Verg. If you hear a child cry in the night,
you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.
Sec. Watch. How if the nurse be asleep and
will not hear us?
Dogb. 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.
Verg. 'Tis very true.
Dogb. This is the end of the charge. You
constable, are to present the prince's own per-
son: if you meet the prince in the night, you
may stay him.
Verg. Nay, by'r lady, that I think, a' cannot.
Dogb. Five shillings to one on't, with any
man that knows the statues, he may stay him:
marry, not without the prince be willing; for,
indeed, the watch ought to offend no man, and
it is an offence to stay a man against his will.
Verg. By'r lady, I think it be so.
Dogb. Ha, ah, 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, neighbour.
Sec. Watch. Well, masters, we hear our charge:
let us go sit here upon the church-bench till two,
and then all go to bed.
Dogb. One word more, honest neighbours. I
pray you, watch about Signior Leonato's door;
for the wedding being there to-morrow, there is
a great coil to-night. Adieu; be vigitant, I be-
seech you. [Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.

Bora. What, Conrade!
Watch. [Aside.] Peace! stir not.
Bora. Conrade, I say!
Con. Here, man, I am at thy elbow.
Bora. Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought
there would a scab follow.
Con. I will owe thee an answer for that; and
now forward with thy tale.
Bora. Stand thee close then under this pent-
house, for it drizzles rain, and I will, like a true
drunkard, utter all to thee.
Watch. [Aside.] Some treason, masters; yet
stand close.
Bora. Therefore know, I have earned of Don
John a thousand ducats.
Con. Is it possible that any villany should be
so dear?
Bora. Thou wouldst rather ask if it were
possible any villain should be so rich; for when
rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones
may make what price they will.
Con. I wonder at it.
Bora. That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou
knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat,
or a cloak, is nothing to a man.
Con. Yes, it is apparel.
Bora. I mean, the fashion.
Con. Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
Bora. Tush! I may as well say the fool's the
fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief
this fashion is?
Watch. [Aside.] I know that Deformed; a'
has been a vile thief this seven years; a' goes
up and down like a gentleman: I remember his
Bora. Didst thou not hear somebody?
Con. No: 'twas the vane on the house.
Bora. 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? sometime fashioning them like Pharaoh's
soldiers in the reechy painting; sometime like god
Bel's priests in the old church-window; some-
time like the shaven Hercules in the smirched
worm-eaten tapestry, where his cod-piece seems
as massy as his club?
Con. 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?
Bora. Not so, neither; but know, that I have
to-night wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentle-
woman, 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 vile-
ly:—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.
Con. And thought they Margaret was Hero?
Bora. Two of them did, the prince and Clau-
dio; 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 with-
out a husband.
First. Watch. We charge you in the prince's
name, stand!
Sec. Watch. Call up the right Master con-
stable. We have here recovered the most dan-
gerous piece of lechery that ever was known in
the commonwealth.
First. Watch. And one Deformed is one of
them: I know him, a' wears a lock.
Con. Masters, masters!
Sec. Watch. You'll be made bring Deformed
forth, I warrant you.
Con. Masters,—
First. Watch. Never speak: we charge you
let us obey you to go with us.
Bora. We are like to prove a goodly com-
modity, being taken up of these men's bills.
Con. A commodity in question, I warrant
you. Come, we'll obey you. [Exeunt.
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