Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 3

ACT III. Scene 3. A Street.

[Enter DOGBERRY and 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 blessed 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, 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 stolen. 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 is for 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 defiled. 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.

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