ACT III
Scene 3
 

A street.

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

DOGBERRY
Are you good men and true?

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

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

VERGES
Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

DOGBERRY
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.

DOGBERRY
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--

DOGBERRY
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?

DOGBERRY
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.

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

DOGBERRY
True, and they are to meddle with none but the Prince's subjects.
You shall also make no noise in the streets; 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.

DOGBERRY
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?

DOGBERRY
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.

DOGBERRY
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?

DOGBERRY
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.

VERGES
You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

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

VERGES
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?

DOGBERRY
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.

VERGES
'Tis very true.

DOGBERRY
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.

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

DOGBERRY
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.

VERGES
By'r lady, I think it be so.

DOGBERRY
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.

DOGBERRY
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.]

BORACHIO
What, Conrade!

SECOND WATCH
[aside] Peace! stir not!

BORACHIO
Conrade, I say!

CONRADE
Here, man. I am at thy elbow.

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

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

BORACHIO
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.

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

CONRADE
Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?

BORACHIO
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.

CONRADE
I wonder at it.

BORACHIO
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.

CONRADE
Yes, it is apparel.

BORACHIO
I mean the fashion.

CONRADE
Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

BORACHIO
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.

BORACHIO
Didst thou not hear somebody?

CONRADE
No; 'twas the vane on the house.

BORACHIO
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?

CONRADE
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?

BORACHIO
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.

CONRADE
And thought they Margaret was Hero?

BORACHIO
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.

CONRADE
Masters, masters--

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

CONRADE
Masters--

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

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

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

[Exeunt.]