Act 3, 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 desertless man to be

First Watchman. Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can 
write and read.

Dogberry. Come hither, neighbour Seacole. 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 Watchman. 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 lantern. This is your 
charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are
to bid any man stand, in the prince’s name.

Second Watchman. 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.

Watchman. 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 
ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

Watchman. 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.

Watchman. 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.

Watchman. 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.

Watchman. 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 our 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, ha, 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.

Watchman. 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 to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night. 
Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.


Borachio. What Conrade!

Watchman. [Aside] Peace! stir not.

Borachio. Conrade, I say!

Conrade. Here, man; I am at thy elbow.

Borachio. Mass, and my elbow itched; 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 pent-house, for 
it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard,
utter all to thee.

Watchman. [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 unconfirmed. 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 

Watchman. [Aside] I know that Deformed; a’ has 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 reeky painting, sometime like god Bel’s 
priests in the old church-window, sometime like the 
shaven Hercules in the smirched 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 possessed 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 enraged; 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’er night 
and send her home again without a husband.

First Watchman. We charge you, in the prince’s name, stand!

Second Watchman. Call up the right master constable. We have here 
recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that 
ever was known in the commonwealth.

First Watchman. And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a’ 
wears a lock.

Conrade. Masters, masters,—

Second Watchman. You’ll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.

Conrade. Masters,—

First Watchman. 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.