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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Dogberry Administers Justice

From “Much Ado About Nothing


Dogb.Is our whole dissembly appeared?

Verg.Oh, a stool and a cushion for the sexton!

Sexton.Which be the malefactors?

Dogb.Marry, that am I and my partner.

Verg.Nay, that’s certain. We have the exhibition to examine.

Sexton.But which are the offenders that are to be examined? Let them come before master constable.

Dogb.Yea, marry, let them come before me. What Is your name, friend?


Dogb.Pray, write down—Borachio.—Yours, sirrah?

Con.I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade.

Dogb.Write down—master gentleman Conrade.—Masters, do you serve God?

Con., Bora.Yea, sir, we hope.

Dogb.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?

Con.Marry, sir, we are none.

Dogb.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.

Bora.Sir, I say to you, we are none.

Dogb.Well, stand aside.—’Fore God, they are both in a tale. Have you writ down, that they are none?

Sexton.Master constable, you go not the way to examine: you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.

Dogb.Yea, marry, that’s the eftest way.—Let the watch come forth.—Masters, I charge you, in the prince’s name, accuse these men.

1st Watch.This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince’s brother, was a villain.

Dogb.Write down—Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat perjury, to call a prince’s brother villain.

Bora.Master constable—

Dogb.Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look, I promise thee.

Sexton.What heard you him say else?

2d Watch.Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of Don John, for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.

Dogb.Flat burglary as ever was committed!

Verg.Yea, by the mass, that it is.

Sexton.What else, fellow?

1st Watch.And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly, and not marry her.

Dogb.O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.

Sexton.What else?

2d Watch.This is all.

Sexton.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.(Exit.)

Dogb.Come, let them be opinioned.

Verg.Let them be in the hands—

Con.Off, coxcomb!

Dogb.God’s my life! Where’s the sexton? Let him write down—the prince’s officer, coxcomb.—Come, bind them.—Thou naughty varlet!

Con.Away! You are an ass! you are an ass!

Dogb.Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years?—Oh, 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 in Messina; and ore 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 everything handsome about him.—Bring him away.—Oh, that I had been writ down an ass!