Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Much Ado About Nothing: Act 3, Scene 5

           Enter LEONATO and the Constable
Headborough: petty constable.
         [DOGBERRY] and the Headborough [VERGES].

  1   What would you with me, honest neighbor?

2. confidence: malapropism for "conference." 3. decerns: malapropism for "concerns."  nearly: intimately.
  2   Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with
  3   you that decerns you nearly.

  4   Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy
  5   time with me.

Dogberry and Verges
  6   Marry, this it is, sir.

  7   Yes, in truth it is, sir.

  8   What is it, my good friends?

9. Goodman: title for one just below the rank of gentleman.

11. blunt: —I don't know what word Dogberry might be groping for, but he means "sharp." 12. honest as the skin between his brows: —This is a proverbial expression meaning that the person is totally honest.
  9   Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the
 10   matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so
 11   blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but,
 12   in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.

 13   Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any
 14   man living that is an old man and no honester
 15   than I.

16. odorous: malapropism for "odious." palabras: short for Spanish pocas palabras, "few words."
 16   Comparisons are odorous: palabras,
 17   neighbor Verges.

 18   Neighbors, you are tedious.

 19   It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the
 20   poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part,
 21   if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in
22. of: —Dogberry means to say "on your worship," but he has actually said "from your worship."
 22   my heart to bestow it all of your worship.

 23   All thy tediousness on me, ah?

24. and: even if.
25. exclamation: —Whatever Dogberry means to say, he has used a word that usually means "accusation."
 24   Yea, and 'twere a thousand pound more than 'tis;
 25   for I hear as good exclamation on your worship
 26   as of any man in the city; and though I be but a
 27   poor man, I am glad to hear it.

 28   And so am I.

 29   I would fain know what you have to say.

30. tonight: last night. excepting: malapropism for "respecting." —Verges intends something like, "Excuse me for speaking of such disrespectable things in your presence," but he has actually said that Leonato is the worst of all the "arrant knaves" in Messina. However, Verges has managed to convey some actual information: that two "arrant knaves" are in custody.
34. when the age is in, the wit is out: 35. it is a world to see: —A proverbial phrase meaning "It's a wonder to see." 36. God's a good man: —Another proverbial phrase.>>> 36-37. an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind: —Yet another proverbial phrase. >>>
39. God is to be worshipped: i.e., we must praise God for whatever he sees fit to bestow.
 30   Marry, sir, our watch tonight, excepting your
 31   worship's presence, ha' ta'en a couple of as arrant
 32   knaves as any in Messina.

 33   A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they
 34   say, when the age is in, the wit is out: God help
 35   us! it is a world to see. Well said, i' faith, neighbor
 36   Verges: well, God's a good man; an two men ride
 37   of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul,
 38   i' faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread;
 39   but God is to be worshipped; all men are not alike;
 40   alas, good neighbor!

 41   Indeed, neighbor, he comes too short of
 42   you.

 43   Gifts that God gives.

 44   I must leave you.

 45   One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed
46. comprehended: malapropism for "apprehended." —A further humorous irony is that "comprehended" means "understood," and Dogberry rarely understands anything or makes himself understood.  aspicious: malapropism for "suspicious." —"Aspicious," which is not a word, sounds like "auspicious."
 46   comprehended two aspicious persons, and
 47   we would have them this morning examined
 48   before your worship.

 49   Take their examination yourself and bring
 50   it me: I am now in great haste, as it may
 51   appear unto you.

52. suffigance: malapropism for "sufficient."
 52   It shall be suffigance.

 53   Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.

           [Enter a MESSENGER.]

54. they stay: everyone is waiting.
 54   My lord, they stay for you to give your
 55   daughter to her husband.

56. wait upon: attend.
 56   I'll wait upon them: I am ready.

           [Exeunt Leonato and Messenger.]

 57   Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis Seacole;
 58   bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we
59. to examination: malapropism for "examine" or "conduct an examination of."
 59   are now to examination these men.

 60   And we must do it wisely.

 61   We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here's
62. non-come: shortened form of non compos mentis, "not of sound mind." —Maybe Dogberry means that they will outwit the knaves that they are going to question. 64. excommunication: —Maybe Dogberry thinks that an "excommunication" is a communication that comes out of a judicial hearing.
 62   that shall drive some of them to a non-come:
 63   only get the learned writer to set down our
 64   excommunication and meet me at the gaol.