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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.
Logb. 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 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 to talk, is most tolerable and not to be endured.
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 be not stolen:4_Well,
bills be not stolen :) A bill is still carried by the watchmen at Litchfield. It was the old weapon of English infantry, which, says Temple, gave the most ghastly and deplorable wounds. It may be called securis falcata. Fohnson.
About Shakspeare's time halberds were the weapons borne by the watchmen, as appears from Blount’s Voyage to the Levant: "- certaine Janizaries, who with great staves guard each street, as our night watchmen with holberds in London.” Reed.
The weapons to which the care of Dogberry extends, are men. tioned in Glapthorne's Wit in a Constable, 1639:
you are to call at all the ale-houses, and bid those that are drunks 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,
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.6
Well said, neighbours; “You're chatting wisely o'er your bills and lanthorns,
“ As becomes watchmen of discretion." Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592:
the watch “ Are coming tow’rd our house with glaives and bills."
Steevens. - bid those that are drunk – ] Thus the quarto, 1600. “The folio, 1623, reads~"bid them that,” &c. Steevens.
6 If you hear a child cry, &c.] It is not impossible but that part of this scene was intended as a burlesque on The Statutes of the Streets, imprinted by Wolfe, in 1595. Among these I find the following:
22. “No man shall blowe any horne in the night, within this citie, or whistle after the houre of nyne of the clock in the night, under paine of imprisonment.
23. « No man shall use to go with visoures, or disguised by night, under like paine of imprisonment. 24. “Made that night-walkers, and evisdroppers, like punish25. “No hammer-man, as a smith, a pewterer, a founder, and
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, 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.
all artificers making great sound, shall not worke after the houre of nyne at night, &c.
30.“ No man shall, after the houre of nyne at night, keepe any rule, whereby any such suddaine outcry be made in the still of the night, as making any affray, or beating his wyfe, or servant, or singing, or revyling in his house, to the disturbaunce of his neighbours, under payne of iis. ind.” &c. &c.
Ben Jonson, however, appears to have ridiculed this scene in the Induction to his Bartholomew-Fair:
“And then a substantial watch to have stole in upon 'em, and taken them away with mistaking words, as the fashion is in the stage practice.” Steevens.
Mr. Steevens observes, and I believe justly, that Ben Jonson intended to ridicule this scene in his Induction to BartholomewFair; yet in his Tale of a Tub, he makes his wise men of Finsbury speak just in the same style, and blunder in the same manner, without any such intention. M. Mason.
the statues,] Thus the folio, 1623. The quarto, 1600, reads--the statutes." But whether the blunder was designed by the poet, or created by the printer, must be left to the consi. deration of our readers. Steevens.
keep your fellows' counsels and your own,] This is part of the oath of a grand juryman; and is one of many proofs of Shakspeare's having been very conversant, at some period of his life, with legal proceedings and courts of justice. Malone.
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 tonight: Adieu, be vigitant, I beseech you.
[Exeunt DogB. and VERG. Enier BORACHIO and CONRADE. Bora. What! ConradezWatch. Peace, stir not.
[Aside. Bora. Conrade, I say! Con. Here, man, I am at thy elbow.
Bora. Mass, and my elbow itch'd; I thought, there would a scab follow.
Con. I will owe thee an answer for that; and now forward with thy tale.
Bora. Stand thee close then under this pent-house, for it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, 9 utter all to thee.
Watch. [Aside] Some treason, masters; yet stand close.
Bora. Therefore know, I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.
Con. Is it possible that any villainy should be so dear?
Bora. Thou should'st rather ask, if it were possible any villainy should be so rich;1 for when rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.
Con. I wonder at it.
Bora. That shows, thou art unconfirm’d:2 Thou knowest, that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man.
Con. Yes, it is apparel.
like a true drunkard,] I suppose, it was on this account that Shakspeare called him Borachio, from Boraccho, Spanish, a drunkard; or Borracha, a leathern receptacle for wine. Steevens.
any villainy should be so rich;] The sense absolutely requires us to read, villain. Warburton. The old reading may stand. Steevens.
- thou art unconfirm’d:] i. e. unpractised in the ways of the world. Warburton.
Con. Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
Bora. Tush! I may as well say, the fool's the fool. But see'st thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is?
Watch. I know that Deformed; he has been a vile thief this seven year; he goes up and down like a gentleman: I remember his name.
Bora. Didst thou not hear somebody?
Bora. Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this fashion is? how giddily he turns about all the hot bloods, between fourteen and five and thirty? sometime, fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers in the reechy painting;3 sometime, like god Bel's priests in the old church window; sometime, like the shaven Hercules'
reechy painting;] Is painting discoloured by smoke. So, In Hans Beer Pot's Invisible Comedy, 1618:
he look'd so reechily,
- like god Bel's priests -] Alluding to some awkward representation of the story of Bel and the Dragon, as related in the Apocrypha. Steevens.
- sometime, like the shaven Hercules &c.] By the shaven Hercules is meant Sampson, the usual subject of old tapestry. In this ridicule on the fashion, the poet has not unartfully given a stroke at the barbarous workmanship of the common tapestry hangings, then so much in use. The same kind of raillery Cer. vantes has employed on the like occasion, when he brings his knight and 'squire to an inn, where they found the story of Dido and Æneas represented in bad tapestry. On Sancho's seeing the tears fall from the eyes of the forsaken queen as big as walnuts, he hopes that when their achievements became the general subject for these sorts of works, that fortune will send them a better artist.-What authorised the poet to give this name to Sampson was the folly of certain Christian mythologists, who pretend that the Grecian Hercules was the Jewish Sampson. The retenue of our author is to be commended: The sober audience of that time would have been offended with the mention of a venerable name on so light an occasion. Shakspeare is indeed sometimes licentious in these matters: But to do him justice, he generally seems to have a sense of religion, and to be under its influence. What Pedro
says of Benedick, in this comedy, may be well enough applied to him: The man doth fear God, however it seems not to be in him by some large jests he will make. Warburton.
I believe that Shakspeare knew nothing of these Christian mythologists, and by the shaven Hercules meant only Hercules when