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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Scenes from the Comedies and Histories
Dogberry Captain of the Watch
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From ‘Much Ado About Nothing

Scene: 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, neighbor Dogberry.
  Dogberry—First, who think you the most desartless man to be constable?        5
  First Watch—Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they can write and read.
  Dogberry—Come hither, neighbor Seacoal. God hath blessed you with a good name: to be a well-favored 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 favor, 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 Watch—How, if ’a will not stand?        10
  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 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 ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.        15
  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?        20
  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 it?        25
  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 offense to stay a man against his will.        30
  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, neighbor.
  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 neighbors. 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 vigilant, I beseech you.  [Exeunt Dogberry and Verges.]
 
 
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