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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.

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 baes, 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, a' cannot. Dogb. 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.

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.

Dogb. 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. [Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.

Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE.

Bora. What! Conrade!

Watch. [Aside.] Peace! stir not. Bora. Conrade, I say!

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

Bora. Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought, there would a scab follow.

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Bora. That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest, that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man. Con. Yes, it is apparel.

Bora. I mean, the fashion.

Con. Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

Bora. Tush! I may as well say, the fool's the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is?

Watch. [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. Bora. Didst thou not hear somebody?

Con. No: 'twas the vane on the house.

Bora. Sees 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? sometime, fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers in the reechy 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 cod-piece seems as massy as his club?

Con. 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?

Bora. 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.

Con. And thought they Margaret was Hero? Bora. 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 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 her with what he saw over-night, and send her home again without a husband.

1 Watch. We charge you in the prince's name, stand.

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

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Hero. No, pray thee, good Meg, I'll wear this. Marg. By my troth, it's not so good; and I warrant, your cousin will say so.

Hero. My cousin's a fool, and thou art another. I'll wear none but this.

Marg. I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair were a thought browner; and your gown's a most rare fashion, i'faith. I saw the duchess of Milan's gown, that they praise so.

Hero. O, that exceeds, they say.

Marg. By my troth, it's but a night-gown in respect of yours: cloth o'gold, and cuts, and laced with silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves, and skirts round, under-borne with a bluish tinsel; but for a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion, yours is worth ten on't.

Hero. God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceeding heavy!

Marg. "Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a

man.

Hero. Fie upon thee! art not ashamed? Marg. Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? Is not marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord honourable without marriage? I think,

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Beat. What means the fool, trow?

Marg. Nothing I; but God send every one their heart's desire!

Hero. These gloves the count sent me, they are an excellent perfume.

Beat. I am stuffed, cousin, I cannot smell. Marg. A maid, and stuffed! there's goodly catching of cold.

Beat. O, God help me! God help me! how long have you profess'd apprehension?

Marg. Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?

Beat. It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your cap.-By my troth, I am sick.

Marg. Get you some of this distilled carduus benedictus, and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm.

Hero. There thou prick'st her with a thistle. Beat. Benedictus! why benedictus? you have some moral in this benedictus.

Marg. Moral? no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think, perchance, that I think you are in love: nay, by'r lady, I am not such a fool to think what I list; nor I list not to think what I can; nor, indeed, I cannot think, if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you are in love, or that you will be in love, or that you can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and now is he become a man: he swore he would never marry; and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats his meat without grudging and how you may be converted, I know not, but, methinks, you look with your eyes as other women do.

Beat. What pace is this that thy tongue keeps? Marg. Not a false gallop.

Re-enter URSULA.

Urs. Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, signior Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the town, are come to fetch you to church.

Hero. Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula. [Exeunt.

SCENE V.-Another Room in LEONATO's House. Enter LEONATO, with DOG BERRY and Verges. Leon. What would you with me, honest neighbour?

Dogb. Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you, that decerns you nearly.

Leon. Brief, I pray you; for, you see, it is a busy time with me.

Dogb. Marry, this it is, sir.

Verg. Yes, in truth it is, sir.

Leon. What is it, my good friends?

Dogb. Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt, as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.

Verg. Yes, I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man, and no honester than I.

Dogb. Comparisons are odorous; palabras, neighbour Verges.

Leon. Neighbours, you are tedious.

Dogb. It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke's officers; but, truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your worship. Leon. All thy tediousness on me? ha!

Dogb. Yea, an 'twere a thousand pound more than 'tis; for I hear as good exclamation on your worship, as of any man in the city, and though I be but a poor man, I am glad to hear it.

Verg. And so am I.

Leon. I would fain know what you have to say. Verg. Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your worship's presence, have ta'en a couple of as arrant knaves as any in Messina.

Dogb. A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they say, when the age is in, the wit is out. God help us! it is a world to see!-Well said, i'faith, neighbour Verges:-well, God's a good man: an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul, i'faith, sir: by my troth he is, as ever broke bread; but, God is to be worshipped: all men are not alike; alas, good neighbour! Leon. Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of

you.

Dogb. Gifts, that God gives.
Leon. I must leave you.

Dogb. One word, sir. Our watch, sir, have, indeed, comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.

Leon. Take their examination yourself, and bring it me: I am now in great haste, as it may appear unto you.

Dogb. It shall be suffigance.

Leon. Drink some wine ere you go. Fare you well.

Enter a Messenger.

Mess. My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to her husband.

Leon. I'll wait upon them: I am ready. [Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger. Dogb. Go, good partner, go; get you to Francis Seacoal; bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we are now to examination these men. Verg. And we must do it wisely.

Dogb. We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here's that shall drive some of them to a non com: only get the learned writer to set down our excommunication, and meet me at the gaol. [Exeunt.

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Hero. I do.

Friar. If either of you know any inward impediment, why you should not be conjoined, I charge you on your souls to utter it.

Claud. Know you any, Hero?

Hero. None, my lord.

Friar. Know you any, Count?
Leon. I dare make his answer; none.

Claud. O, what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do, not knowing what they do!

Bene. How now! Interjections? Why then, some be of laughing, as, ha! ha! he!

Claud. Stand thee by, friar.-Father, by your leave:

Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?

Leon. As freely, son, as God did give her me. Claud. And what have I to give you back, whose worth

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There, Leonato; take her back again :
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.-
Behold, how like a maid she blushes here:
O, what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
Comes not that blood, as modest evidence,
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows? But she is none:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

Leon. What do you mean, my lord?
Claud.
Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.

Leon. Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof, Have vanquish'd the resistance of her youth, And made defeat of her virginity,

Claud. I know what you would say: if I have known her,

You'll say, she did embrace me as a husband,
And so extenuate the 'forehand sin:
No, Leonato,

I never tempted her with word too large;
But, as a brother to his sister, showed
Bashful sincerity, and comely love.

Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?
Claud. Out on the seeming! I will write against it,
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;

But you are more intemperate in your blood
Than Venus, or those pamper'd animals
That rage in savage sensuality.

Hero. Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?
Leon. Sweet prince, why speak not you?
D. Pedro.
What should I speak?
I stand dishonour'd, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.

Leon. Are these things spoken, or do I but dream? John. Sir, they are spoken, and these things are

true.

Bene. This looks not like a nuptial.
Hero.
True? O God!

Claud. Leonato, stand I here?

Is this the prince? Is this the prince's brother? Is this face Hero's? Are our eyes our own?

Leon. All this is so; but what of this, my lord? Claud. Let me but move one question to your daughter,

And, by that fatherly and kindly power
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.

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Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber window;
Who hath, indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.

John. Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,

John. Fie, fie! they are not to be nam'd, my lord, Not to be spoken of;

Friar. Hear me a little;

There is not chastity enough in language,
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady, For I have only been silent so long,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.

And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions

Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been placed
About thy thoughts, and counsels of thy heart!
But, fare thee well, most foul, most fair! farewell,
Thou pure impiety, and impious purity!
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eye-lids shall conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.

Leon. Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?
[HERO Swoons.
Beat. Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink
you down?

Smother her spirits up.

[Exeunt Don PEDRO, JOHN, and CLAUDIO. Bene. How doth the lady? Beat. Dead, I think :-help, uncle !Hero! why, Hero!-Uncle !-Signior Benedick!friar!

Leon. O fate! take not away thy heavy hand:
Death is the fairest cover for her shame,
That may be wish'd for.

cousin Hero?

Beal.
How now,
Friar. Have comfort, lady.
Leon. Dost thou look up?
Friar.
Yea; wherefore should she not?
Leon. Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly
thing

Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?—
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes;
For did I think thou would'st not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy
shames,

Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Griev'd I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates;
Who smirched thus, and mir'd with infamy,
I might have said, "No part of it is mine,
This shame derives itself from unknown loins?"
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on; mine so much,
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, she-O! she is fallen
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
And salt too little, which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh!

Bene.

Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,
I know not what to say.

Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
Beat. No, truly, not; although, until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

Leon. Confirm'd, confirm'd! O, that is stronger
made,

Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie,
Who lov'd her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence! from her; let her
die.

To start into her face; a thousand innocent shames,
In angel whiteness, beat away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear'd a fire,
To burn the errors that these princes hold
Against her maiden truth.-Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading, nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenour of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.

Leon.
Friar, it cannot be.
Thou seest, that all the grace that she hath left,
Is, that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury: she not denies it.

Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears in proper nakedness?

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Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?
Hero. They know, that do accuse me: I know

none.

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