A line-by-line translation

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing Translation Act 3, Scene 3

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Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch

DOGBERRY

Are you good men and true?

DOGBERRY

Are you good and honest men?

VERGES

Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation, body and soul.

VERGES

They must be, or else they should suffer salvation of body and soul.

DOGBERRY

Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if they should have any allegiance in them, being chosen for the Prince’s watch.

DOGBERRY

No, that punishment would be too good for them, if they had any allegiance in them when they were chosen to be the Prince's watchmen.

VERGES

Well, give them their charge, neighbor Dogberry.

VERGES

Well, give them their instructions, Sir Dogberry.

DOGBERRY

First, who think you the most desartless man to be constable?

DOGBERRY

First, who do you think is most undeserving to be captain of the watch tonight?

FIRST WATCHMAN

Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacole, for they can write and read.

FIRST WATCHMAN

Hugh Oatcake or George Seacole, sir. Both can read and write.

DOGBERRY

Come hither, neighbor Seacole. God hath blessed you with a good name. To be a well-favored man is the gift of fortune, but to write and read comes by nature.

DOGBERRY

Come here, Sir Seacole. God has blessed you with a good name. To be a good-looking man is a gift of luck, but to know how to read and write comes by nature.

SEACOLE

Both which, Master Constable—

SEACOLE

Both of which, Master Constable—

DOGBERRY

You have. I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your favor, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boastof 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.

DOGBERRY

You have. I knew that would be your answer. Well, sir, thank God for your good looks, and don't boast about this. And as for your reading and writing, only use that when you can't use your looks. You're considered the most senseless and able man here, so you'll carry the lantern and be constable of the watch. These are your instructions: you will comprehend any vagrants you see. You will order all men to halt, in the Prince's name.

SECOND WATCHMAN

How if he will not stand?

SECOND WATCHMAN

What if a man won't stop?

DOGBERRY

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.

DOGBERRY

Why, then, don't bother with him. Let him go, and then call the rest of the watch together, and all of you can thank God that you've gotten rid of a villain.

VERGES

If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the Prince’s subjects.

VERGES

If he won't stop when ordered to, then he's not one of the Prince's subjects.

DOGBERRY

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.

DOGBERRY

True, and you are only supposed to deal with the Prince's subjects.

[To all of the watchmen] You also will be quiet in the streets. For a watchman to babble on and talk is tolerable and not to be endured.

WATCHMAN

We will rather sleep than talk. We know what belongs toa watch.

WATCHMAN

We'll sleep instead of talk. We know what the duties of a watchman are.

DOGBERRY

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. Well, youare to call at all the alehouses and bid those that aredrunk get them to bed.

DOGBERRY

Why, you speak like an old and quiet watchman, for I don't see how sleeping could offend anyone. Just be careful that your weapons don't get stolen. Also, you are to visit all the bars and tell those who are drunk to go to bed.

WATCHMAN

How if they will not?

WATCHMAN

What if they won't?

DOGBERRY

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.

DOGBERRY

Why, then, leave them alone until they're sober. If they don't agree to go home even then, you can say that they aren't the men you thought they were.

WATCHMAN

Well, sir.

WATCHMAN

Very well, sir.

DOGBERRY

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 moreis for your honesty.

DOGBERRY

If you meet a thief, you can suspect him—as a watchman—of being dishonest. And the less you have to do with that kind of man, the more honest you will remain.

WATCHMAN

If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him?

WATCHMAN

If we know he's a thief, then shouldn't we arrest him?

DOGBERRY

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.

DOGBERRY

Truly, your position allows you to, but personally I think that those who touch tar will become unclean themselves. If you do find a thief, the most peaceable thing to do is to let him prove himself a thief by stealing away from your presence.

VERGES

You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

VERGES

You've always been known as a merciful man, partner.

DOGBERRY

Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man who hath any honesty in him.

DOGBERRY

Truly, I wouldn't even a hang a dog, much more a man with any honesty in him.

VERGES

[to the Watch] If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.

VERGES

[To the WATCHMEN] If you hear a child crying in the night, you must call to the nurse and tell her to quiet it.

WATCHMAN

How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

WATCHMAN

What if the nurse is asleep and won't listen to us?

DOGBERRY

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.

DOGBERRY

Why then, leave quietly and let the child wake up the nurse with its crying. The ewe that won't listen to her lamb when it bleats will never listen to a calf.

VERGES

'Tis very true.

VERGES

It's very true.

DOGBERRY

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.

DOGBERRY

This is the end of your instructions. You, constable, are representing the Prince himself. If you meet the Prince in the night, you can detain him.

VERGES

Nay, by 'r Lady, that I think he cannot.

VERGES

No, by the Virgin Mary, I don't think he can.

DOGBERRY

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 offense to stay a man against his will.

DOGBERRY

I'd bet five to one that he can—ask any man who knows the acts of Parliament. Although, you can't stop the Prince unless the Prince is willing to stop, for the watch shouldn't offend anyone—and it's an offense to detain a man against his will.

VERGES

By 'r lady, I think it be so.

VERGES

By the Virgin Mary, I think that's true.

DOGBERRY

Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night. An there be anymatter of weight chances, call up me. Keep your fellows' counsels and your own; and good night.—Come, neighbor.

DOGBERRY

Ha, ha, ha! Well, sirs, goodnight. If anything important comes up, call on me. Keep each other's advice, and your own. Good night.

[To VERGES] Come, friend.

WATCHMAN

Well, masters, we hear our charge. Let us go sit here upon the church bench till two, and then all to bed.

WATCHMAN

Well, sirs, we've heard our instructions. Let's sit here on the church bench until two o'clock, and then all go to bed.

DOGBERRY

One word more, honest neighbors. I pray you watch about Signior Leonato’s door, for the wedding being there tomorrow, there is a great coil tonight. Adieu, bevigitant, I beseech you.

DOGBERRY

One more thing, honest sirs. Please watch over Sir Leonato's house. The wedding will be there tomorrow, and there's a lot happening there tonight. Farewell, and be vigitant, I beg you.

Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES

Enter BORACHIO and CONRAD

BORACHIO

What Conrad!

BORACHIO

Hey, Conrad!

SEACOALE

[aside] Peace! Stir not.

SEACOALE

[To himself] Quiet! Don't move.

BORACHIO

Conrad, I say!

BORACHIO

Conrad, I say!

CONRAD

Here, man. I am at thy elbow.

CONRAD

Here, man, I'm at your elbow.

BORACHIO

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

BORACHIO

Christ, my elbow itched, and I thought I felt a scab there.

CONRAD

I will owe thee an answer for that. And now forward with thy tale.

CONRAD

I'll get you back for that later. Now continue with your story.

BORACHIO

Stand thee close, then, under this penthouse, for it drizzles rain, and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee.

BORACHIO

Stand close, then, under this overhang—it's drizzling. Like a true drunkard, I'll tell you everything.

WATCHMAN

[aside] Some treason, masters. Yet stand close.

WATCHMAN

[To the other WATCHMEN so that only they can hear] There's some villainy going on here, gentlemen. Keep hidden.

BORACHIO

Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.

BORACHIO

You should know that I've earned a thousand gold pieces from Don John.

CONRAD

Is it possible that any villainy should be so dear?

CONRAD

Is it possible that any villainy could be so expensive?

BORACHIO

Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any villainy should be so rich. For when rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.

BORACHIO

Instead you should ask if it's possible that any villain could be so rich. For when rich villains need poor ones, then the poor villains can name their price.

CONRAD

I wonder at it.

CONRAD

I'm amazed.

BORACHIO

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

BORACHIO

That shows that you're inexperienced. You know that the style of a man's jacket, hat, or cloak doesn't make the man, right?

CONRAD

Yes, it is apparel.

CONRAD

Yes, it's just clothing.

BORACHIO

I mean the fashion.

BORACHIO

No, I mean the fashion of the clothing.

CONRAD

Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

CONRAD

Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

BORACHIO

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

BORACHIO

Pshaw, I might as well say that the fool's the fool. But don't you see what a deformed thief fashion is?

WATCHMAN

[aside] 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.

WATCHMAN

[To the other WATCHMEN so that only they can hear] I know that man Deformed. He's been a terrible thief for the last seven years. He walks about like he's a gentleman. I remember his name.

BORACHIO

Didst thou not hear somebody?

BORACHIO

Did you hear somebody?

CONRAD

No, ’twas the vane on the house.

CONRAD

No, it was just the weathervane on the house.

BORACHIO

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, sometimes 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 codpiece seems as massy as his club?

BORACHIO

As I was saying, don't you see what a deformed thief fashion is? It makes all the hot-blooded young men go crazy, sometimes dressing up like the Pharaoh's soldiers in that dirty old painting, sometimes like the pictures in old church windows of the priests of the god Baal, and sometimes like the picture of Hercules in that dusty, worm-eaten tapestry, where his codpiece is as big as a club!

CONRAD

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?

CONRAD

I understand all this, and I can see that clothes are discarded because of changing fashions before they can get worn out. But aren't you crazy about fashion, too, since you've changed out of your story to start going on about fashion?

BORACHIO

Not so, neither. But know that I have tonight wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero’s gentlewoman, by the nameof Hero. She leans me out at her mistress' chamber window, bids me a thousand times good night. I tell thistale 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.

BORACHIO

No, I'm not. But you should know that tonight I seduced Margaret, Lady Hero's serving woman, and called her "Hero" the whole time. She leaned out of her mistress's bedroom window and told me goodnight a thousand times. But I'm telling this story badly. I should first tell you how my master Don John filled the Prince and Claudio with suspicion about Hero's virtue, and arranged that they should witness this lovers' meeting from the garden.

CONRAD

And thought they Margaret was Hero?

CONRAD

And they thought that Margaret was Hero?

BORACHIO

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 meether as he was appointed next morning at the temple, andthere, before the whole congregation, shame her with what he saw o'ernight and send her home again without a husband.

BORACHIO

Two of them did—the Prince and Claudio—but the devil, my master, knew it was Margaret. It was partly because of his testimony that they suspected Hero in the first place. They were also tricked by the dark, deceiving night, but it was mostly my villainy, which confirmed all of Don John's slander against Hero. Claudio went away enraged, swearing that he would meet Hero at the temple the next day as planned, and there, before the whole congregation, would shame her with his testimony and send her home again without a husband.

SECOND WATCHMAN

We charge you, in the Prince’s name, stand!

SECOND WATCHMAN

In the Prince's name, we command you to halt!

FIRST WATCHMAN

Call up the right Master Constable. We have here recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that ever was known in the commonwealth.

FIRST WATCHMAN

Call up the reverend Master Constable Dogberry. We have here recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that was ever seen in this country.

SECOND WATCHMAN

And one Deformed is one of them. I know him; he wears a lock.

SECOND WATCHMAN

And the criminal Deformed is one of them. I know him; he has a long lock of hair.

CONRAD

Masters, masters—

CONRAD

Gentlemen, gentlemen—

SECOND WATCHMAN

[to BORACHIO] You’ll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.

SECOND WATCHMAN

[To BORACHIO] You'll be forced to bring Deformed forward, I promise you.

FIRST WATCHMAN

Masters, never speak, we charge you, let us obey you go with us.

FIRST WATCHMAN

Sirs, don't speak. We order you, let us obey you to come with us.

BORACHIO

We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken upof these men’s bills.

BORACHIO

We're probably a valuable catch for these fools.

CONRAD

A commodity in question, I warrant you.—Come, we’ll obey you.

CONRAD

Well, our value is about to be judged, I'll bet.

[To the FIRST WATCHMAN] All right, we'll obey you.

Exeunt

Much ado about nothing
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.