This page contains the original text of Act 4, Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare’s original Much Ado About Nothing text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts and Scenes are linked to from the bottom of this page.
ACT 4. SCENE 2. A prison.
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and Sexton, in gowns; and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO
Is our whole dissembly appeared?
O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton.
Which be the malefactors?
Marry, that am I and my partner.
Nay, that’s certain; we have the exhibition to examine.
But which are the offenders that are to be
examined? let them come before master constable.
Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your
Pray, write down, Borachio. Yours, sirrah?
I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade.
Write down, master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do
you serve God?
Yea, sir, we hope.
Write down, that they hope they serve God: and
write God first; for God defend but God should go
before such villains! Masters, it is proved already
that you are little better than false knaves; and it
will go near to be thought so shortly. How answer
you for yourselves?
Marry, sir, we say we are none.
A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you: but I
will go about with him. Come you hither, sirrah; a
word in your ear: sir, I say to you, it is thought
you are false knaves.
Sir, I say to you we are none.
Well, stand aside. ‘Fore God, they are both in a
tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?
Master constable, you go not the way to examine:
you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.
Yea, marry, that’s the eftest way. Let the watch
come forth. Masters, I charge you, in the prince’s
name, accuse these men.
This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince’s
brother, was a villain.
Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat
perjury, to call a prince’s brother villain.
Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look,
I promise thee.
What heard you him say else?
Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of
Don John for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.
Flat burglary as ever was committed.
Yea, by mass, that it is.
What else, fellow?
And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to
disgrace Hero before the whole assembly. and not marry her.
O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting
redemption for this.
This is all.
And this is more, masters, than you can deny.
Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away;
Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner
refused, and upon the grief of this suddenly died.
Master constable, let these men be bound, and
brought to Leonato’s: I will go before and show
him their examination.
Come, let them be opinioned.
Let them be in the hands–
God’s my life, where’s the sexton? let him write
down the prince’s officer coxcomb. Come, bind them.
Thou naughty varlet!
Away! you are an ass, you are an ass.
Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not
suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not
that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of
piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness.
I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer,
and, which is more, a householder, and, which is
more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in
Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a
rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath
had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every
thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
I had been writ down an ass!
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