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  • Title: Much Ado About Nothing (Quarto 1, 1600)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (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.