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ACT III. Scene III. 


A street.

Enter Dogberry and his compartner [Verges], with the Watch.

 DOG.

Are you good men and true?

 VERG.

Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation,
body and soul.

 DOG.

Nay, that were a punishment too good for them if they should
have any allegiance in them, being chosen for the Prince's watch.

 VERG.

Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

 DOG.

First, who think you the most desartless man to be constable?

 FIRST WATCH.

Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they can write
and read.

 DOG.

Come hither, neighbour Seacoal. God hath bless'd you with a
good name. To be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune, but
to write and read comes by nature.

 SECOND WATCH.

Both which, Master Constable--

 DOG.

You have. I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your
favour, sir, why, give God thanks and make no boast of it; and
for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no
need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most
senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch. Therefore
bear you the lanthorn. This is your charge: you shall comprehend
all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the Prince's
name.

 SECOND WATCH.

How if 'a will not stand?

 DOG.

Why then, take no note of him, but let him go, and presently
call the rest of the watch together and thank God you are rid of
a knave.

 VERG.

If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the
Prince's subjects.

 DOG.

True, and they are to meddle with none but the Prince's
subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets; for for
the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable, and not to be
endured.

 SECOND WATCH.

We will rather sleep than talk. We know what belongs to
a watch.

 DOG.

Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman, for I
cannot see how sleeping should offend. Only have a care that your
bills be not stol'n. Well, you are to call at all the alehouses
and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

 SECOND WATCH.

How if they will not?

 DOG.

Why then, let them alone till they are sober. If they make you
not then the better answer, You may say they are not the men you
took them for.

 SECOND WATCH.

Well, sir.

 DOG.

If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your
office, to be no true man; and for such kind of men, the less you
meddle or make with them, why, the more your honesty.

 SECOND WATCH.

If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on
him?

 DOG.

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 do
take a thief, is to let him show himself what he is, and steal
out of your company.

 VERG.

You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

 DOG.

Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man who
hath any honesty in him.

 VERG.

If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the
nurse and bid her still it.

 SECOND WATCH.

How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

 DOG.

Why then, depart in peace and let the child wake her with
crying; for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will
never answer a calf when he bleats.

 VERG.

'Tis very true.

 DOG.

This is the end of the charge: you, constable, are to present
the Prince's own person. If you meet the Prince in the night,
you may stay him.

 VERG.

Nay, by'r lady, that I think 'a cannot.

 DOG.

Five shillings to one on't with any man that knows the
statutes, he may stay him! Marry, 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.

 VERG.

By'r lady, I think it be so.

 DOG.

Ha, ah, ha! Well, masters, good night. An there be any matter
of weight chances, call up me. Keep your fellows' counsels and
your own, and good night. Come, neighbour.

 SECOND WATCH.

Well, masters, we hear our charge. Let us go sit here
upon the church bench till two, and then all to bed.

 DOG.

One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you watch about
Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being there tomorrow,
there is a great coil to-night. Adieu. Be vigitant, I beseech
you

Exeunt [Dogberry and Verges].

Enter Borachio and Conrade.

 BORA.

What, Conrade!

 SECOND WATCH.

[aside] Peace! stir not!

 BORA.

Conrade, I say!

 CON.

Here, man. I am at thy elbow.

 BORA.

Mass, and my elbow itch'd! I thought there would a scab
follow.

 CON.

I will owe thee an answer for that; and now forward with thy
tale.

 BORA.

Stand thee close then under this penthouse, for it drizzles
rain, and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee.

 SECOND WATCH.

[aside] Some treason, masters. Yet stand close.

 BORA.

Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.

 CON.

Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?

 BORA.

Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any villany
should be so rich; for when rich villains have need of poor ones,
poor ones may make what price they will.

 CON.

I wonder at it.

 BORA.

That shows thou art unconfirm'd. Thou knowest that the
fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man.

 CON.

Yes, it is apparel.

 BORA.

I mean the fashion.

 CON.

Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

 BORA.

Tush! I may as well say the fool's the fool. But seest thou
not what a deformed thief this fashion is?

 SECOND WATCH.

[aside] I know that Deformed. 'A bas been a vile thief
this seven year; 'a goes up and down like a gentleman. I remember
his name.

 BORA.

Didst thou not hear somebody?

 CON.

No; 'twas the vane on the house.

 BORA.

Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this fashion is?
how giddily 'a turns about all the hot-bloods between fourteen
and five-and-thirty? sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's
soldiers in the reechy painting, sometime like god Bel's priests
in the old church window, sometime like the shaven Hercules in
the smirch'd worm-eaten tapestry, where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?

 CON.

All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears out more
apparel than the man. But art not thou thyself giddy with the
fashion too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale into telling
me of the fashion?

 BORA.

Not so neither. But know that I have to-night wooed Margaret,
the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the name of Hero. She leans me
out at her mistress' chamber window, bids me a thousand times
good night--I tell this tale vilely; I should first tell thee how
the Prince, Claudio and my master, planted and placed and
possessed by my master Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this
amiable encounter.

 CON.

And thought they Margaret was Hero?

 BORA.

Two of them did, the Prince and Claudio; but the devil my
master knew she was Margaret; and partly by his oaths, which
first possess'd them, partly by the dark night, which did deceive
them, but chiefly by my villany, which did confirm any slander
that Don John had made, away went Claudio enrag'd; swore he
would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning at the temple,
and there, before the whole congregation, shame her with what he
saw o'ernight and send her home again without a husband.

 SECOND WATCH.

We charge you in the Prince's name stand!

 FIRST WATCH.

Call up the right Master Constable. We have here
recover'd the most dangerous piece of lechery that ever was known
in the commonwealth.

 SECOND WATCH.

And one Deformed is one of them. I know him; 'a wears a
lock.

 CON.

Masters, masters--

 FIRST WATCH.

You'll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.

 CON.

Masters--

 SECOND WATCH.

Never speak, we charge you. Let us obey you to go with
us.

 BORA.

We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken up of
these men's bills.

 CON.

A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.

Exeunt.

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