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D. Pedro. For my life, to break with him about Beatrice.
Claud. "Tis even so: Hero and Margaret have by this played their parts with Beatrice; and then the two bears will not bite one another when they meet.
Enter Don John.
D. John. My lord and brother,
you. D. Pedro. Good den, brother. D. John. If your leisure served, I would speak
D. Pedro. In private ?
D. John. If it please you :-yet Count Claudio may hear; for what I would speak of concerns him.
D. Pedro. What's the matter?
D. John. Means your lordship to be married tomorrow?
[To CLAUDIO. D. Pedro. You know, he does.
D. John. I know not that, when he knows what I know.
Claud. If there be any impediment, I pray you, discover it.
D. John. You may think, I love you not; let that appear hereafter, and aim better at me by that I now will manifest: For my brother, I think, he holds you well; and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect your ensuing marriage: surely, suit ill spent, and labour ill bestowed !
D. Pedro. Why, what's the matter?
D. John. I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances shortened, (for she hath been too long a talking of,) the lady is disloyal.
Claud. Who? Hero?
D. John. Even she; Leonato's Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero.
Claud. Disloyal ?
D. John. The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I could say, she were worse; think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. der not till further warrant: go but with me to-night, you shall see her chamber-window entered ; even the night before her wedding-day: if you love her then, to-morrow wed her: but it would better fit your honour to change your mind.
Claud. May this be so?
D. John. If you dare not trust that you see, confess not that
will follow me, I will show you enough; and when you have seen more, and heard more, proceed accordingly.
Claud. If I see any thing to-night why I should not marry her to-morrow; in the congregation, where I should wed, there will I shame her.
D. Pedro. And as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join with thee to disgrace her.
D. John. I will disparage her no farther, till you are my witnesses: bear it coldly but till midnight, and let the issue show itself.
D. Pedro. O day untowardly turned !
[Exeunt. SCENE III. A Street.
So will you say,
Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES 1, with the Watch.
Dogb. Are you good men and true?
Verg. Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation, body and soul.
1 The first of these worthies is named from the Dog-berry or female cornel, a shrub that grows in every county in England. Verges is only the provincial pronunciation of verjuice.
Dogb. Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if they should have any allegiance in them, being chosen for the prince's watch.
Verg. Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.
Dogb. First, who think you the most desartless man to be constable ?
1 Watch. Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they can write and read.
Dogb. 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.
2 Watch. Both which, master constable,
Dogb. 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.
2 Watch. How if he will not stand ?
Dogb. 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.
Verg. If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the prince's subjects.
Dogb. 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.
2 To charge his fellows seems to have been a regular part of the duty of the constable. So in A New Trick to cheat the Devil, 1639, My watch is set-charge given and all at peace.'
2 Watch. We will rather sleep than talk; we know what belongs to a watch.
Dogb. 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 3 be not stolen :—Well, you are to call at all the alehouses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.
2 Watch. How if they will not ?.
Dogb. 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.
2 Watch. Well, sir.
Dogb. 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.
2 Watch. If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him ?
Dogb. 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.
Verg. You have been always called a merciful man, partner.
Dogb. Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will; much more a man, who hath any honesty in him.
Verg. If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse, and bid her still it 4.
2 Watch. How if the nurse be asleep, and will not hear us.
Dogb. Why then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying: for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baas, will never answer a calf when he bleats.
Verg. "Tis very true.
Dogb. 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.
Verg. Nay, by’r lady, that, I think, he cannot.
Dogb. Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows the statues, 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.
Verg. By'r lady, I think, it be so.
Dogb. 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.
2 Watch. Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here upon the church-bench till two, and then all to-bed.
4 It is not impossible but that a part of this scene was intended as a burlesque upon ‘The Statutes of the Streets, imprinted by Wolfe in 1595.
5 This is part of the oath of a grand juryman, and is one of many proofs of Shakspeare's having been very conversant with legal proceedings and courts of justice at some period of his life.