The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1138  Monday, 9 June 2003

From:           James Doyle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 8 Jun 2003 21:30:22 +0100
Subject:        Dogberry's Inscrutable Grace

Jack Heller wrote:

>>DOGBERRY [referring to Verges]: A good old man, sir, he will be talking;
>>as they say, 'When the age is in, the wit is out', God help us, it is a
>>world to see! Well said, i'fath, neighbor Verges; well, God's a good
>>man, and two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul,
>>i'faith, sir, by my troth he is, as ever broke bread; but God is to be
>>worshipped, all men are not alike, alas, good neighbour!
>>LEONATO: Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.
>>DOGBERRY: Gifts that God gives.
>>LEONATO: I must leave you. (3.5.32 - 42)

>>With "Gifts that God gives," Dogberry might be referring to Verges's honesty,
>>but "gifts" is a plural word, so what else are God's gifts? Dogberry's
>>allusion to God's grace seems to lack place in the context.

It's only a minor item in the essay, but I was interested, particularly
in the context of the ongoing discussion of actors vs scholars, see this
suggested reading of Dogberry's lines.  Having misread Leonato's comment
as a compliment - 'for all his virtues, Verges is still your inferior' -
Dogberry modestly dismisses his *own* virtues as God's gifts.  In
performance, it seems the only tone that works; Dogberry is unbearably
wordy when complimenting someone else, and completely tongue-tied when
(as he thinks) on the receiving end.

James Doyle

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