Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Grechen Minton
Not Peer Reviewed

Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)

Enter the Constables, Borachio, and the Towne Clerke
in gownes.
Keeper. Is our whole dissembly appeard?
2000Cowley. O a stoole and a cushion for the Sexton.
Sexton. Which be the malefactors?
Andrew. Marry that am I, and my partner.
Cowley. Nay that's certaine, wee haue the exhibition
to examine.
2005Sexton. But which are the offenders that are to be ex-
amined, let them come before master Constable.
Kemp. Yea marry, let them come before mee, what is
your name, friend?
Bor. Borachio.
2010Kem. Pray write downe Borachio. Yours sirra.
Con. I am a Gentleman sir, and my name is Conrade.
Kee. Write downe Master gentleman Conrade: mai-
sters, doe you serue God: maisters, it is proued alreadie
that you are little better than false knaues, and it will goe
2015neere to be thought so shortly, how answer you for your
Con. Marry sir, we say we are none.
Kemp. A maruellous witty fellow I assure you, but I
will goe about with him: come you hither sirra, a word
2020in your eare sir, I say to you, it is thought you are false
Bor. Sir, I say to you, we are none.
Kemp. Well, stand aside, 'fore God they are both in
a tale: haue you writ downe that they are none?
2025Sext. Master Constable, you goe not the way to ex-
amine, you must call forth the watch that are their ac-
Kemp. Yea marry, that's the eftest way, let the watch
come forth: masters, I charge you in the Princes name,
2030accuse these men.
Watch 1. This man said sir, that Don Iohn the Princes
brother was a villaine.
Kemp. Write down, Prince Iohn a villaine: why this
is flat periurie, to call a Princes brother villaine.
2035Bora. Master Constable.
Kemp. Pray thee fellow peace, I do not like thy looke
I promise thee.
Sexton. What heard you him say else?
Watch 2. Mary that he had receiued a thousand Du-
2040kates of Don Iohn, for accusing the Lady Hero wrong-
Kemp. Flat Burglarie as euer was committed.
Const. Yea by th'masse that it is.
Sexton. What else fellow?
2045Watch 1. And that Count Claudio did meane vpon his
words, to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly, and
not marry her.
Kemp. O villaine! thou wilt be condemn'd into euer-
lasting redemption for this.
2050Sexton. What else?
Watch. This is all.
Sexton. And this is more masters then you can deny,
Prince Iohn is this morning secretly stolne away: Hero
was in this manner accus'd, in this very manner refus'd,
2055and vpon the griefe of this sodainely died: Master Con-
stable, let these men be bound, and brought to Leonato,
I will goe before, and shew him their examination.
Const. Come, let them be opinion'd.
Sex. Let them be in the hands of Coxcombe.
2060Kem. Gods my life, where's the Sexton? let him write
downe the Princes Officer Coxcombe: come, binde them
thou naughty varlet.
Couley. Away, you are an asse, you are an asse.
Kemp. Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not
2065suspect my yeeres? O that hee were heere to write mee
downe an asse! but masters, remember that I am an asse:
though it be not written down, yet forget not yt I am an
asse: No thou villaine, yu art full of piety as shall be prou'd
vpon thee by good witnesse, I am a wise fellow, and
2070which is more, an officer, and which is more, a houshoul-
der, and which is more, as pretty a peece of flesh as any in
Messina, and one that knowes the Law, goe to, & a rich
fellow enough, goe to, and a fellow that hath had losses,
and one that hath two gownes, and euery thing hand-
2075some about him: bring him away: O that I had been writ
downe an asse!