Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Grechen Minton
Not Peer Reviewed

Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

Enter Dogbery and his compartner with the watch.
Dog. Are you good men and true?
Verg. Yea, or else it were pitty but they should suffer
saluation body and soule.
Dogb. Nay, that were a punishment too good for
1335them, if they should haue any allegiance in them, being
chosen for the Princes watch.
Verges. Well, giue them their charge, neighbour
Dog. First, who thinke you the most desartlesse man
1340to be Constable?
Watch. 1. Hugh Ote-cake sir, or George Sea-coale, for
they can write and reade.
Dogb. Come hither neighbour Sea-coale, God hath
blest you with a good name: to be a wel-fauoured man,
1345is the gift of Fortune, but to write and reade, comes by
Watch 2. Both which Master Constable
Dogb. You haue: I knew it would be your answere:
well, for your fauour sir, why giue God thankes, & make
1350no boast of it, and for your writing and reading, let that
appeare when there is no need of such vanity, you are
thought heere to be the most senslesse and fit man for the
Constable of the watch: therefore beare you the lan-
thorne: this is your charge: You shall comprehend all
1355vagrom men, you are to bid any man stand in the Prin-
ces name.
Watch 2. 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
1360thanke God you are ridde of a knaue.
Verges. If he will not stand when he is bidden, hee is
none of the Princes subiects.
Dogb. True, and they are to meddle with none but
the Princes subiects: you shall also make no noise in the
1365streetes: for, for the Watch to babble and talke, is most
tollerable, and not to be indured.
Watch. We will rather sleepe than talke, wee know
what belongs to a Watch.
Dog. Why you speake like an ancient and most quiet
1370watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend:
only haue a care that your bills be not stolne: well, you
are to call at all the Alehouses, and bid them that are
drunke get them to bed.
Watch. How if they will not?
1375Dogb. Why then let them alone till they are sober, if
they make you not then the better answere, you may say,
they are not the men you tooke them for.
Watch. Well sir.
Dogb. If you meet a theefe, you may suspect him, by
1380vertue of your office, to be no true man: and for such
kinde of men, the lesse you meddle or make with them,
why the more is for your honesty.
Watch. If wee know him to be a thiefe, shall wee not
lay hands on him.
1385Dogb. Truly by your office you may, but I think they
that touch pitch will be defil'd: the most peaceable way
for you, if you doe take a theefe, is, to let him shew him-
selfe what he is, and steale out of your company.
Ver. You haue bin alwaies cal'd a merciful mã partner.
1390Dog. Truely I would not hang a dog by my will, much
more a man who hath anie honestie in him.
Verges. If you heare a child crie in the night you must
call to the nurse, and bid her still it.
Watch. How if the nurse be asleepe and will not
1395heare vs?
Dog. Why then depart in peace, and let the childe
wake her with crying, for the ewe that will not heare
her Lambe when it baes, will neuer answere a calfe when
he bleates.
1400Verges. 'Tis verie true.
Dog. This is the end of the charge: you constable
are to present the Princes owne person, if you meete the
Prince in the night, you may staie him.
Verges. Nay birladie that I thinke a cannot.
1405Dog. Fiue shillings to one on't with anie man that
knowes the Statutes, he may staie him, marrie not with-
out 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.
1410Verges. Birladie I thinke it be so.
Dog. Ha, ah ha, well masters good night, and there be
anie matter of weight chances, call vp me, keepe your
fellowes counsailes, and your owne, and good night,
come neighbour.
1415Watch. Well masters, we heare our charge, let vs go
sit here vpon the Church bench till two, and then all to
Dog. One word more, honest neighbors. I pray you
watch about signior Leonatoes doore, for the wedding be-
1420ing there to morrow, there is a great coyle to night,
adiew, be vigitant I beseech you.
Enter Borachio and Conrade.
Bor. What, Conrade?
Watch. Peace, stir not.
1425Bor. Conrade I say.
Con. Here man, I am at thy elbow.
Bor. Mas and my elbow itcht, I thought there would
a scabbe follow.
Con. I will owe thee an answere for that, and now
1430forward with thy tale.
Bor. Stand thee close then vnder this penthouse, for it
drissels raine, and I will, like a true drunkard, vtter all to
Watch. Some treason masters, yet stand close.
1435Bor. Therefore know, I haue earned of Don Iohn a
thousand Ducates.
Con. Is it possible that anie villanie should be so deare?
Bor. Thou should'st rather aske if it were possible a-
nie villanie should be so rich? for when rich villains haue
1440neede of poore ones, poore ones may make what price
they will.
Con. I wonder at it.
Bor. That shewes thou art vnconfirm'd, thou knowest
that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloake, is no-
1445thing to a man.
Con. Yes, it is apparell.
Bor. I meane the fashion.
Con. Yes the fashion is the fashion.
Bor. Tush, I may as well say the foole's the foole, but
1450seest thou not what a deformed theefe this fashion is?
Watch. I know that deformed, a has bin a vile theefe,
this vii. yeares, a goes vp and downe like a gentle man:
I remember his name.
Bor. Did'st thou not heare some bodie?
1455Con. No, 'twas the vaine on the house.
Bor. Seest thou not (I say) what a deformed thiefe
this fashion is, how giddily a turnes about all the Hot-
blouds, betweene foureteene & fiue & thirtie, sometimes
fashioning them like Pharaoes souldiours in the rechie
1460painting, sometime like god Bels priests in the old
Church window, sometime like the shauen Hercules in
the smircht worm eaten tapestrie, where his cod-peece
seemes as massie as his club.
Con. All this I see, and see that the fashion weares out
1465more apparrell then the man; but art not thou thy selfe
giddie with the fashion too that thou hast shifted out of
thy tale into telling me of the fashion?
Bor. Not so neither, but know that I haue to night
wooed Margaret the Lady Heroes gentle-woman, by the
1470name of Hero, she leanes me out at her mistris chamber-
vvindow, bids me a thousand times good night: I tell
this tale vildly. I should first tell thee how the Prince
Claudio and my Master planted, and placed, and possessed
by my Master Don Iohn, saw a far off in the Orchard this
1475amiable incounter.
Con. And thought thy Margaret was Hero?
Bor. Two of them did, the Prince and Claudio, but the
diuell my Master knew she was Margaret and partly by
his oathes, which first possest them, partly by the darke
1480night which did deceiue them, but chiefely, by my villa-
nie, which did confirme any slander that Don Iohn had
made, away vvent Claudio enraged, swore hee vvould
meete her as he was apointed next morning at the Tem-
ple, and there, before the whole congregation shame her
1485with vvhat he saw o're night, and send her home againe
vvithout a husband.
Watch. 1. We charge you in the Princes name stand.
Watch. 2. Call vp the right master Constable, vve haue
here recouered the most dangerouspeece of lechery, that
1490euer vvas knowne in the Common-wealth.
Watch. 1. And one Deformed is one of them, I know
him, a vveares a locke.
Conr. Masters, masters.
Watch. 2. Youle be made bring deformed forth I war-
1495rant you,
Conr. Masters, neuer speake, vve charge you, let vs o-
bey you to goe vvith vs.
Bor. We are like to proue a goodly commoditie, be-
ing taken vp of these mens bils.
1500Conr. A commoditie in question I warrant you, come
vveele obey you.