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About this text

  • Title: Much Ado About Nothing (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Gretchen Minton
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-516-2

    Copyright Gretchen Minton. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Gretchen 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    Not Peer Reviewed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.