Much Ado About Nothing


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Dogberry and his compartner Verges with the

Watch


DOGBERRY

Are you good men and true?
compartner (n.) associate, partner


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.
watch (n.) 1 watchmen, officers, street patrol


VERGES

Well, give them their charge, neighbour
charge (n.) 4 commission, responsibility, official duty

Dogberry.


DOGBERRY

First, who think you the most desartless man
desartless (adj.) underserving, lacking in merit [malapropism for ‘deserving’]

to be constable?
constable (n.) 2 leader of the Watch, chief officer


FIRST WATCHMAN

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
well-favoured (adj.) good-looking, attractive in appearance

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
favour (n.) 1 [facial] appearance, countenance, features, looks

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
comprehend (v.) 2 malapropism for ‘apprehend’

vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the
stand (v.) 3 stop, halt
vagrom (adj.) vagrant, vagabond [malapropism of ‘vagrant’]

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
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

thank God you are rid of a knave.
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


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.


FIRST WATCHMAN

We will rather sleep than talk; we

know what belongs to a watch.
belong (v.) be the duty of, pertain to


DOGBERRY

Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet
ancient, aunchient (adj.) 3 time-worn, experienced, renowned

watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend;

only, have a care that your bills be not stolen. Well, you
bill (n.) 1 [applied to various kinds of long-handled spear-like weapon] halberd; bill-hook See Topics: Weapons

are to call at all the ale-houses, and bid those that are

drunk get them to bed.


SECOND 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.


SECOND 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
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function
true (adj.) 4 honest, upright, law-abiding

kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them,
meddle or make interfere, butt in

why, the more is for your honesty.


SECOND 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.


SECOND 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,
charge (n.) 4 commission, responsibility, official duty

are to present the Prince's own person; if you meet the
present (v.) 1 symbolize, represent, suggest

Prince in the night, you may stay him.
stay (v.) 7 detain, confine, keep


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
statute (n.) 1 law, decree, regulation

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.
counsel (n.) 7 secret, inmost thought, confidence

Come, neighbour.


FIRST 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 Signor Leonato's door, for the wedding

being there tomorrow, there is a great coil to-night.
coil (n.) turmoil, disturbance, fuss

Adieu; be vigitant, I beseech you.

Exeunt Dogberry and Verges

Enter Borachio and Conrade


BORACHIO

What, Conrade!


SECOND 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
owe (v.) 2 repay, compensate, pay back

forward with thy tale.


BORACHIO

Stand thee close then under this pent-house,
close (adv.) 1 closely, staying near
penthouse, pent-house (n.) covered way, sloping porch, overhanging roof

for it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard,

utter all to thee.


SECOND WATCHMAN

(aside)

Some treason, masters; yet

stand close.
close (adv.) 1 closely, staying near


BORACHIO

Therefore know I have earned of Don John a

thousand ducats.


CONRADE

Is it possible that any villainy should be so dear?


BORACHIO

Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible

any villainy 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.
wonder (v.) 1 marvel [at], be astonished [at]


BORACHIO

That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou
unconfirmed (adj.) inexperienced, uninstructed, ignorant

knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a

cloak, is nothing to a man.


CONRADE

Yes, it is apparel.
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count


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?


FIRST 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
thief (n.) villain, scoundrel, rogue, wretch

this fashion is, how giddily 'a turns about all the hot
giddily (adv.) 2 madly, foolishly, insanely

bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty, sometimes
blood (n.) 3 man of fire, hot-blooded fellow, spirited youth

fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers in the

reechy painting, sometime like god Bel's priests in the
reechy (adj.) 2 begrimed by smoke, discoloured, filthy

old church-window, sometime like the shaven Hercules

in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry, where his codpiece
codpiece, cod-piece (n.) 1 cloth case or pocket worn by a man at the front of breeches or hose; also: what it contains See Topics: Clothing
smirched (adj.) marked, soiled, stained

seems as massy as his club?
massy (adj.) massive, heavy, colossal


CONRADE

All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears

out more apparel than the man. But art not thou thyself
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count

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 tonight

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
possess (v.) 1 notify, inform, acquaint

off in the orchard this amiable encounter.
amiable (adj.) 1 amorous, loving, tender
encounter (n.) 4 liaison, intercourse, amorous affair


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
possess (v.) 1 notify, inform, acquaint

dark night, which did deceive them, but chiefly by my

villainy, 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
temple (n.) 1 church

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.
right (adj.) 3 veritable, true, good

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.
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count


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,
goodly (adj.) 1 splendid, excellent, fine
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

being taken up of these men's bills.
bill (n.) 1 [applied to various kinds of long-handled spear-like weapon] halberd; bill-hook See Topics: Weapons
take up (v.) 7 arrest, seize, apprehend


CONRADE

A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come,
question, in on trial, under examination
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

we'll obey you.

Exeunt

 
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