William Shakespeare: Much Ado about Nothing, Act IV, Scene II
Enter Dogberry, Verges, and Sexton, in gowns; and the Watch, with Conrade and Borachio
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?
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.
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.
Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat perjury, to call a prince's brother villain.
Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of Don John for accusing the Lady Hero wrongfully.
And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly. and not marry her.
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.
God's my life, where's the sexton? let him write down the prince's officer coxcomb. Come, bind them. Thou naughty varlet!
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!