Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Grechen Minton
Not Peer Reviewed

Much Ado About Nothing (Quarto 1, 1600)

Enter Dogbery and his compartner with the Watch.
Dog. Are you good men and true?
Verges Yea, or else it were pitty but they should suffer sal-
uation body and soule.
Dog. Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if
1335they should haue any allegeance in them, being chosen for the
Princes watch.
Verges Well, giue them their charge, neighbour Dog-
Dogbery First, who thinke you the most desartlesse man
1340to be Constable?
Watch 1 Hugh Ote-cake sir, or George Sea-cole, for they
can write and reade.
Dogbery Come hither neighbor Sea-cole. God hath blest
you with a good name: to be a welfauoured man, is the gift of
1345Fortune, but to write and reade, comes by nature.
Watch 2 Both which maister Constable.
Dogbery You haue: I knew it would be your answer: wel,
for your fauour sir, why giue God thanks, and make no boast
1350of it, and for your writing and reading, let that appeere when
there is no neede 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 lanthorne: this is your charge, You
shall comprehend all vagrom men, you are to bidde any man
1355stand, in the Princes name.
Watch 2 How if a will not stand?
Dogbery Why then take no note of him, but let him goe,
and presently call the rest of the watch together, and thanke
1360god you are ridde of a knaue.
Verges If he wil not stand when he is bidden, he is none of
the Princes subiects.
Dogbery True, and they are to meddle with none but the
Princes subiects: you shall also make no noise in the streetes:
1365for, for the watch to babble and to talke, is most tollerable, and
not to be indured.
Watch We will rather sleepe than talke, we know what be-
longs to a watch.
Dogbery Why you speake like an antient and most quiet
1370watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend: one-
ly haue a care that your billes bee not stolne: well, you are to
cal at al the alehouses, and bid those that are drunke get them to
Watch How if they will not?
1375Dogbery Why then let them alone til they are sober, if they
make you not then the better answer, you may say, they are not
the men you tooke them for.
Watch Well sir.
Dogbery If you meete a thiefe, you may suspect him, by
1380vertue of your office, to be no true man: and for such kind of
men, the lesse you meddle or make with them, why the more
is for your honesty.
Watch If we know him to be a thiefe, shal we not lay hands
on him?
1385Dogbery Truely by your office you may, but I thinke they
that touch pitch will be defilde: the most peaceable way for
you, if you doe take a thiefe, is, to let him shew himselfe what
he is, and steale out of your companie.
Verges You haue beene alwayes called a mercifull manne,
1390Dog. Truely I would not hang a dogge 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 stil it.
Watch How if the nurse be asleepe and will not heare vs.
Dog. Why then depart in peace, and let the child wake her
with crying, for the ewe that will not heare her lamb when it
baes, will neuer answer a calfe when he bleates.
1400Verges Tis very 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 stay him.
Verges Nay birlady that I thinke a cannot.
1405Dog. Fiue shillings to one on't with any man that knowes
the statutes, he may stay him, mary 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.
1410Verges Birlady I thinke it be so.
Dog. Ha ah ha, wel masters good night, and there be any
matter of weight chaunces, cal vp me, keepe your fellowes
counsailes, and your owne, and good night, come neigh-
1415Watch Well masters, we heare our charge, let vs goe sitte
here vppon the church bench till twoo, and then all to
Dog. One word more, honest neighbors, I pray you watch
about signior Leonatoes doore, for the wedding being there to
1420morrow, there is a great coyle to night, adiew, be vigitant I be-
seech 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 answer for that, and now forward
1430with thy tale.
Bor. Stand thee close then vnder this penthouse, for it
drissells raine, and I will, like a true drunckard, vtter all to
Watch Some treason masters, yet stand close.
1435Bor. Therefore know, I haue earned of Dun Iohn a thou-
sand ducates.
Con. Is it possible that any villanie should be so deare?
Bor. Thou shouldst rather aske if it were possible any vil-
lanie shuld be so rich? for when rich villains haue need of poor
1440ones, 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 dublet, or a hat, or a cloake, is nothing to a
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 seest
1450thou not what a deformed theefe this fashion is?
Watch I know that deformed, a has bin a vile theefe, this
vij. yeere, a goes vp and downe like a gentle man: I remember
his name.
Bor. Didst thou not heare some body?
1455Con. No, twas the vane on the house.
Bor. Seest thou not (I say) what a deformed thiefe this fashi-
on is, how giddily a turnes about all the Hot-blouds, between
foureteene and fiue and thirtie, sometimes fashioning them
like Pharaoes souldiours in the rechie painting, sometime like
1460god Bels priests in the old church window, sometime like the
shauen Hercules in the smircht worm-eaten tapestry, where
his cod-peece seemes as massie as his club.
Con. Al this I see, and I see that the fashion weares out more
1465apparrell then the man, but art not thou thy selfe giddy 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 name of
1470Hero, she leanes me out at her mistris chamber window, bids
me a thousand times good night: I tell this tale vildly. I should
first tel thee how the prince Claudio and my master planted,
and placed, and possessed, by my master Don Iohn, saw a farre
off in the orchard this amiable incounter.
Conr. And thought they Margaret was Hero?
Bar. Two of them did, the prince and Claudio, but the di-
uel my master knew she was Margaret, and partly by his oths,
which first possest them, partly by the darke night which did
1480deceiue them, but chiefely, by my villany, which did confirme
any slander that Don Iohn had made, away went Claudio en-
ragde, swore he would meet her as he was apointed next mor-
ning at the Temple, and there, before the whole congregation
shame her, with what he saw o're night, and send her home a-
1485gaine without a husband.
Watch 1 We charge you in the princes name stand.
Watch 2 Call vppe the right maister Constable, wee haue
here recouerd the most dangerous peece of lechery, that euer
1490was knowne in the common wealth.
Watch 1 And one Deformed is one of them, I know him, a
weares a locke.
Conr Masters, masters.
Watch 2 Youle be made bring deformed forth I warrant
Conr Masters, neuer speake, we charge you, let vs obey you
to go with vs.
Bor. We are like to proue a goodly commoditie, being ta-
ken vp of these mens billes.
1500Conr. A commodity in question I warrant you, come weele
obey you.