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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Measure for Measure

Part 1 out of 2

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The DUKE'S palace


DUKE. Escalus!
ESCALUS. My lord.
DUKE. Of government the properties to unfold
Would seem in me t' affect speech and discourse,
Since I am put to know that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you; then no more remains
But that to your sufficiency- as your worth is able-
And let them work. The nature of our people,
Our city's institutions, and the terms
For common justice, y'are as pregnant in
As art and practice hath enriched any
That we remember. There is our commission,
From which we would not have you warp. Call hither,
I say, bid come before us, Angelo. Exit an ATTENDANT
What figure of us think you he will bear?
For you must know we have with special soul
Elected him our absence to supply;
Lent him our terror, dress'd him with our love,
And given his deputation all the organs
Of our own power. What think you of it?
ESCALUS. If any in Vienna be of worth
To undergo such ample grace and honour,
It is Lord Angelo.


DUKE. Look where he comes.
ANGELO. Always obedient to your Grace's will,
I come to know your pleasure.
DUKE. Angelo,
There is a kind of character in thy life
That to th' observer doth thy history
Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
Are not thine own so proper as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike
As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd
But to fine issues; nor Nature never lends
The smallest scruple of her excellence
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,
Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech
To one that can my part in him advertise.
Hold, therefore, Angelo-
In our remove be thou at full ourself;
Mortality and mercy in Vienna
Live in thy tongue and heart. Old Escalus,
Though first in question, is thy secondary.
Take thy commission.
ANGELO. Now, good my lord,
Let there be some more test made of my metal,
Before so noble and so great a figure
Be stamp'd upon it.
DUKE. No more evasion!
We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice
Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours.
Our haste from hence is of so quick condition
That it prefers itself, and leaves unquestion'd
Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,
As time and our concernings shall importune,
How it goes with us, and do look to know
What doth befall you here. So, fare you well.
To th' hopeful execution do I leave you
Of your commissions.
ANGELO. Yet give leave, my lord,
That we may bring you something on the way.
DUKE. My haste may not admit it;
Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do
With any scruple: your scope is as mine own,
So to enforce or qualify the laws
As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand;
I'll privily away. I love the people,
But do not like to stage me to their eyes;
Though it do well, I do not relish well
Their loud applause and Aves vehement;
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.
ANGELO. The heavens give safety to your purposes!
ESCALUS. Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!
DUKE. I thank you. Fare you well. Exit
ESCALUS. I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
To have free speech with you; and it concerns me
To look into the bottom of my place:
A pow'r I have, but of what strength and nature
I am not yet instructed.
ANGELO. 'Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,
And we may soon our satisfaction have
Touching that point.
ESCALUS. I'll wait upon your honour. Exeunt

A street

Enter Lucio and two other GENTLEMEN

LUCIO. If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to
with the King of Hungary, why then all the dukes fall upon
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of
LUCIO. Thou conclud'st like the sanctimonious pirate that went
sea with the Ten Commandments, but scrap'd one out of the
SECOND GENTLEMAN. 'Thou shalt not steal'?
LUCIO. Ay, that he raz'd.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Why, 'twas a commandment to command the
and all the rest from their functions: they put forth to
There's not a soldier of us all that, in the thanksgiving
meat, do relish the petition well that prays for peace.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. I never heard any soldier dislike it.
LUCIO. I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where grace
SECOND GENTLEMAN. No? A dozen times at least.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. What, in metre?
LUCIO. In any proportion or in any language.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. I think, or in any religion.
LUCIO. Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all controversy;
for example, thou thyself art a wicked villain, despite of
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Well, there went but a pair of shears between
LUCIO. I grant; as there may between the lists and the velvet.
Thou art the list.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. And thou the velvet; thou art good velvet;
a three-pil'd piece, I warrant thee. I had as lief be a list
an English kersey as be pil'd, as thou art pil'd, for a
velvet. Do I speak feelingly now?
LUCIO. I think thou dost; and, indeed, with most painful
feeling of
thy speech. I will, out of thine own confession, learn to
thy health; but, whilst I live, forget to drink after thee.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?
SECOND GENTLEMAN. Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted


LUCIO. Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation comes! I have
purchas'd as many diseases under her roof as come to-
SECOND GENTLEMAN. To what, I pray?
SECOND GENTLEMAN. To three thousand dolours a year.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Ay, and more.
LUCIO. A French crown more.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Thou art always figuring diseases in me, but
art full of error; I am sound.
LUCIO. Nay, not, as one would say, healthy; but so sound as
that are hollow: thy bones are hollow; impiety has made a
of thee.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. How now! which of your hips has the most
MRS. OVERDONE. Well, well! there's one yonder arrested and
to prison was worth five thousand of you all.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Who's that, I pray thee?
MRS. OVERDONE. Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Claudio to prison? 'Tis not so.
MRS. OVERDONE. Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him arrested; saw
carried away; and, which is more, within these three days his
head to be chopp'd off.
LUCIO. But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so. Art
thou sure of this?
MRS. OVERDONE. I am too sure of it; and it is for getting Madam
Julietta with child.
LUCIO. Believe me, this may be; he promis'd to meet me two
since, and he was ever precise in promise-keeping.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. Besides, you know, it draws something near to
speech we had to such a purpose.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. But most of all agreeing with the
LUCIO. Away; let's go learn the truth of it.
Exeunt Lucio and GENTLEMEN
MRS. OVERDONE. Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat,
with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.


How now! what's the news with you?
POMPEY. Yonder man is carried to prison.
MRS. OVERDONE. Well, what has he done?
POMPEY. A woman.
MRS. OVERDONE. But what's his offence?
POMPEY. Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
MRS. OVERDONE. What! is there a maid with child by him?
POMPEY. No; but there's a woman with maid by him. You have not
heard of the proclamation, have you?
MRS. OVERDONE. What proclamation, man?
POMPEY. All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be pluck'd
MRS. OVERDONE. And what shall become of those in the city?
POMPEY. They shall stand for seed; they had gone down too, but
a wise burgher put in for them.
MRS. OVERDONE. But shall all our houses of resort in the
suburbs be
pull'd down?
POMPEY. To the ground, mistress.
MRS. OVERDONE. Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth!
What shall become of me?
POMPEY. Come, fear not you: good counsellors lack no clients.
Though you change your place you need not change your trade;
be your tapster still. Courage, there will be pity taken on
you that have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you
be considered.
MRS. OVERDONE. What's to do here, Thomas Tapster? Let's
POMPEY. Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to
and there's Madam Juliet. Exeunt

LUCIO following

CLAUDIO. Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th' world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
PROVOST. I do it not in evil disposition,
But from Lord Angelo by special charge.
CLAUDIO. Thus can the demigod Authority
Make us pay down for our offence by weight
The words of heaven: on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.
LUCIO. Why, how now, Claudio, whence comes this restraint?
CLAUDIO. From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty;
As surfeit is the father of much fast,
So every scope by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,
A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.
LUCIO. If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send
certain of my creditors; and yet, to say the truth, I had as
have the foppery of freedom as the morality of imprisonment.
What's thy offence, Claudio?
CLAUDIO. What but to speak of would offend again.
LUCIO. What, is't murder?
LUCIO. Lechery?
CLAUDIO. Call it so.
PROVOST. Away, sir; you must go.
CLAUDIO. One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.
LUCIO. A hundred, if they'll do you any good. Is lechery so
CLAUDIO. Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract
I got possession of Julietta's bed.
You know the lady; she is fast my wife,
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order; this we came not to,
Only for propagation of a dow'r
Remaining in the coffer of her friends.
From whom we thought it meet to hide our love
Till time had made them for us. But it chances
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment,
With character too gross, is writ on Juliet.
LUCIO. With child, perhaps?
CLAUDIO. Unhappily, even so.
And the new deputy now for the Duke-
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,
Or whether that the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;
Whether the tyranny be in his place,
Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I stagger in. But this new governor
Awakes me all the enrolled penalties
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by th' wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round
And none of them been worn; and, for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me. 'Tis surely for a name.
LUCIO. I warrant it is; and thy head stands so tickle on thy
shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it
Send after the Duke, and appeal to him.
CLAUDIO. I have done so, but he's not to be found.
I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter,
And there receive her approbation;
Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him.
I have great hope in that; for in her youth
There is a prone and speechless dialect
Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.
LUCIO. I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the
which else would stand under grievous imposition, as for the
enjoying of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus
foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.
CLAUDIO. I thank you, good friend Lucio.
LUCIO. Within two hours.
CLAUDIO. Come, officer, away. Exeunt

A monastery


DUKE. No, holy father; throw away that thought;
Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
To give me secret harbour hath a purpose
More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth.
FRIAR. May your Grace speak of it?
DUKE. My holy sir, none better knows than you
How I have ever lov'd the life removed,
And held in idle price to haunt assemblies
Where youth, and cost, a witless bravery keeps.
I have deliver'd to Lord Angelo,
A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me travell'd to Poland;
For so I have strew'd it in the common ear,
And so it is received. Now, pious sir,
You will demand of me why I do this.
FRIAR. Gladly, my lord.
DUKE. We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong steeds,
Which for this fourteen years we have let sleep;
Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threat'ning twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not to use, in time the rod
Becomes more mock'd than fear'd; so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.
FRIAR. It rested in your Grace
To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleas'd;
And it in you more dreadful would have seem'd
Than in Lord Angelo.
DUKE. I do fear, too dreadful.
Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,
'Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done,
When evil deeds have their permissive pass
And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,
I have on Angelo impos'd the office;
Who may, in th' ambush of my name, strike home,
And yet my nature never in the fight
To do in slander. And to behold his sway,
I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,
Visit both prince and people. Therefore, I prithee,
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally in person bear me
Like a true friar. Moe reasons for this action
At our more leisure shall I render you.
Only, this one: Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be. Exeunt

A nunnery


ISABELLA. And have you nuns no farther privileges?
FRANCISCA. Are not these large enough?
ISABELLA. Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more,
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.
LUCIO. [ Within] Ho! Peace be in this place!
ISABELLA. Who's that which calls?
FRANCISCA. It is a man's voice. Gentle Isabella,
Turn you the key, and know his business of him:
You may, I may not; you are yet unsworn;
When you have vow'd, you must not speak with men
But in the presence of the prioress;
Then, if you speak, you must not show your face,
Or, if you show your face, you must not speak.
He calls again; I pray you answer him. Exit FRANCISCA
ISABELLA. Peace and prosperity! Who is't that calls?


LUCIO. Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
Proclaim you are no less. Can you so stead me
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place, and the fair sister
To her unhappy brother Claudio?
ISABELLA. Why her 'unhappy brother'? Let me ask
The rather, for I now must make you know
I am that Isabella, and his sister.
LUCIO. Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you.
Not to be weary with you, he's in prison.
ISABELLA. Woe me! For what?
LUCIO. For that which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks:
He hath got his friend with child.
ISABELLA. Sir, make me not your story.
LUCIO. It is true.
I would not- though 'tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing, and to jest,
Tongue far from heart- play with all virgins so:
I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted,
By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
And to be talk'd with in sincerity,
As with a saint.
ISABELLA. You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.
LUCIO. Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, 'tis thus:
Your brother and his lover have embrac'd.
As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb
Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.
ISABELLA. Some one with child by him? My cousin Juliet?
LUCIO. Is she your cousin?
ISABELLA. Adoptedly, as school-maids change their names
By vain though apt affection.
LUCIO. She it is.
ISABELLA. O, let him marry her!
LUCIO. This is the point.
The Duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
In hand, and hope of action; but we do learn,
By those that know the very nerves of state,
His givings-out were of an infinite distance
From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
And with full line of his authority,
Governs Lord Angelo, a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth, one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He- to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have for long run by the hideous law,
As mice by lions- hath pick'd out an act
Under whose heavy sense your brother's life
Falls into forfeit; he arrests him on it,
And follows close the rigour of the statute
To make him an example. All hope is gone,
Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
To soften Angelo. And that's my pith of business
'Twixt you and your poor brother.
ISABELLA. Doth he so seek his life?
LUCIO. Has censur'd him
Already, and, as I hear, the Provost hath
A warrant for his execution.
ISABELLA. Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good?
LUCIO. Assay the pow'r you have.
ISABELLA. My power, alas, I doubt!
LUCIO. Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo,
And let him learn to know, when maidens sue,
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely theirs
As they themselves would owe them.
ISABELLA. I'll see what I can do.
LUCIO. But speedily.
ISABELLA. I will about it straight;
No longer staying but to give the Mother
Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you.
Commend me to my brother; soon at night
I'll send him certain word of my success.
LUCIO. I take my leave of you.
ISABELLA. Good sir, adieu. Exeunt


ACT II. Scene I.
A hall in ANGELO'S house


ANGELO. We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
ESCALUS. Ay, but yet
Let us be keen, and rather cut a little
Than fall and bruise to death. Alas! this gentleman,
Whom I would save, had a most noble father.
Let but your honour know,
Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time coher'd with place, or place with wishing,
Or that the resolute acting of our blood
Could have attain'd th' effect of your own purpose
Whether you had not sometime in your life
Err'd in this point which now you censure him,
And pull'd the law upon you.
ANGELO. 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny
The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice,
That justice seizes. What knows the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't,
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offence
For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
ESCALUS. Be it as your wisdom will.
ANGELO. Where is the Provost?
PROVOST. Here, if it like your honour.
ANGELO. See that Claudio
Be executed by nine to-morrow morning;
Bring him his confessor; let him be prepar'd;
For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage. Exit PROVOST
ESCALUS. [Aside] Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;
Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none,
And some condemned for a fault alone.


ELBOW. Come, bring them away; if these be good people in a
commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses in common
I know no law; bring them away.
ANGELO. How now, sir! What's your name, and what's the matter?
ELBOW. If it please your honour, I am the poor Duke's
and my name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, sir, and do
in here before your good honour two notorious benefactors.
ANGELO. Benefactors! Well- what benefactors are they? Are they
ELBOW. If it please your honour, I know not well what they are;
precise villains they are, that I am sure of, and void of all
profanation in the world that good Christians ought to have.
ESCALUS. This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
ANGELO. Go to; what quality are they of? Elbow is your name?
dost thou not speak, Elbow?
POMPEY. He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.
ANGELO. What are you, sir?
ELBOW. He, sir? A tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that serves a
woman; whose house, sir, was, as they say, pluck'd down in
suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house, which, I think,
is a
very ill house too.
ESCALUS. How know you that?
ELBOW. My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your
ESCALUS. How! thy wife!
ELBOW. Ay, sir; whom I thank heaven, is an honest woman-
ESCALUS. Dost thou detest her therefore?
ELBOW. I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she,
this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her
for it is a naughty house.
ESCALUS. How dost thou know that, constable?
ELBOW. Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman
cardinally given, might have been accus'd in fornication,
adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
ESCALUS. By the woman's means?
ELBOW. Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means; but as she spit
his face, so she defied him.
POMPEY. Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
ELBOW. Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man,
prove it.
ESCALUS. Do you hear how he misplaces?
POMPEY. Sir, she came in great with child; and longing, saving
honour's reverence, for stew'd prunes. Sir, we had but two in
house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in
fruit dish, a dish of some three pence; your honours have
such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very good dishes.
ESCALUS. Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.
POMPEY. No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the
right; but to the point. As I say, this Mistress Elbow,
being, as
I say, with child, and being great-bellied, and longing, as I
said, for prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said,
Master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I
said, and, as I say, paying for them very honestly; for, as
know, Master Froth, I could not give you three pence again-
FROTH. No, indeed.
POMPEY. Very well; you being then, if you be rememb'red,
the stones of the foresaid prunes-
FROTH. Ay, so I did indeed.
POMPEY. Why, very well; I telling you then, if you be
that such a one and such a one were past cure of the thing
wot of, unless they kept very good diet, as I told you-
FROTH. All this is true.
POMPEY. Why, very well then-
ESCALUS. Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose: what was
done to Elbow's wife that he hath cause to complain of? Come
to what was done to her.
POMPEY. Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
ESCALUS. No, sir, nor I mean it not.
POMPEY. Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's leave.
I beseech you, look into Master Froth here, sir, a man of
fourscore pound a year; whose father died at Hallowmas- was't
at Hallowmas, Master Froth?
FROTH. All-hallond eve.
POMPEY. Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir,
sitting, as
I say, in a lower chair, sir; 'twas in the Bunch of Grapes,
where, indeed, you have a delight to sit, have you not?
FROTH. I have so; because it is an open room, and good for
POMPEY. Why, very well then; I hope here be truths.
ANGELO. This will last out a night in Russia,
When nights are longest there; I'll take my leave,
And leave you to the hearing of the cause,
Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.
ESCALUS. I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
[Exit ANGELO] Now, sir, come on; what was done to Elbow's
once more?
POMPEY. Once?- sir. There was nothing done to her once.
ELBOW. I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my
POMPEY. I beseech your honour, ask me.
ESCALUS. Well, sir, what did this gentleman to her?
POMPEY. I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face. Good
Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a good purpose.
your honour mark his face?
ESCALUS. Ay, sir, very well.
POMPEY. Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.
ESCALUS. Well, I do so.
POMPEY. Doth your honour see any harm in his face?
ESCALUS. Why, no.
POMPEY. I'll be suppos'd upon a book his face is the worst
about him. Good then; if his face be the worst thing about
how could Master Froth do the constable's wife any harm? I
know that of your honour.
ESCALUS. He's in the right, constable; what say you to it?
ELBOW. First, an it like you, the house is a respected house;
this is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected
POMPEY. By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person
any of us all.
ELBOW. Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet; the time
yet to come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or
POMPEY. Sir, she was respected with him before he married with
ESCALUS. Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity? Is this
ELBOW. O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked Hannibal! I
respected with her before I was married to her! If ever I was
respected with her, or she with me, let not your worship
think me
the poor Duke's officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or
I'll have mine action of batt'ry on thee.
ESCALUS. If he took you a box o' th' ear, you might have your
action of slander too.
ELBOW. Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't your
worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?
ESCALUS. Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him
thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him continue in
courses till thou know'st what they are.
ELBOW. Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou
varlet, now, what's come upon thee: thou art to continue now,
thou varlet; thou art to continue.
ESCALUS. Where were you born, friend?
FROTH. Here in Vienna, sir.
ESCALUS. Are you of fourscore pounds a year?
FROTH. Yes, an't please you, sir.
ESCALUS. So. What trade are you of, sir?
POMPEY. A tapster, a poor widow's tapster.
ESCALUS. Your mistress' name?
POMPEY. Mistress Overdone.
ESCALUS. Hath she had any more than one husband?
POMPEY. Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.
ESCALUS. Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I
would not have you acquainted with tapsters: they will draw
Master Froth, and you will hang them. Get you gone, and let
hear no more of you.
FROTH. I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come
any room in a taphouse but I am drawn in.
ESCALUS. Well, no more of it, Master Froth; farewell. [Exit
Come you hither to me, Master Tapster; what's your name,
POMPEY. Pompey.
ESCALUS. What else?
POMPEY. Bum, sir.
ESCALUS. Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you;
that, in the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the Great.
you are partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever you colour it in
being a
tapster. Are you not? Come, tell me true; it shall be the
for you.
POMPEY. Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
ESCALUS. How would you live, Pompey- by being a bawd? What do
think of the trade, Pompey? Is it a lawful trade?
POMPEY. If the law would allow it, sir.
ESCALUS. But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall
not be
allowed in Vienna.
POMPEY. Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the youth
the city?
ESCALUS. No, Pompey.
POMPEY. Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then. If
your worship will take order for the drabs and the knaves,
need not to fear the bawds.
ESCALUS. There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you: but
is but heading and hanging.
POMPEY. If you head and hang all that offend that way but for
year together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for
heads; if this law hold in Vienna ten year, I'll rent the
house in it, after threepence a bay. If you live to see this
to pass, say Pompey told you so.
ESCALUS. Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your
hark you: I advise you, let me not find you before me again
any complaint whatsoever- no, not for dwelling where you do;
if I
do, Pompey, I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd
Caesar to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you
So for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
POMPEY. I thank your worship for your good counsel; [Aside] but
shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better
Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade;
The valiant heart's not whipt out of his trade. Exit
ESCALUS. Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master
Constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?
ELBOW. Seven year and a half, sir.
ESCALUS. I thought, by the readiness in the office, you had
continued in it some time. You say seven years together?
ELBOW. And a half, sir.
ESCALUS. Alas, it hath been great pains to you! They do you
to put you so oft upon't. Are there not men in your ward
sufficient to serve it?
ELBOW. Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters; as they are
chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I do it for some
piece of money, and go through with all.
ESCALUS. Look you, bring me in the names of some six or seven,
most sufficient of your parish.
ELBOW. To your worship's house, sir?
ESCALUS. To my house. Fare you well. [Exit ELBOW]
What's o'clock, think you?
JUSTICE. Eleven, sir.
ESCALUS. I pray you home to dinner with me.
JUSTICE. I humbly thank you.
ESCALUS. It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
But there's no remedy.
JUSTICE. Lord Angelo is severe.
ESCALUS. It is but needful:
Mercy is not itself that oft looks so;
Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.
But yet, poor Claudio! There is no remedy.
Come, sir. Exeunt

Another room in ANGELO'S house


SERVANT. He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight.
I'll tell him of you.
PROVOST. Pray you do. [Exit SERVANT] I'll know
His pleasure; may be he will relent. Alas,
He hath but as offended in a dream!
All sects, all ages, smack of this vice; and he
To die for 't!


ANGELO. Now, what's the matter, Provost?
PROVOST. Is it your will Claudio shall die to-morrow?
ANGELO. Did not I tell thee yea? Hadst thou not order?
Why dost thou ask again?
PROVOST. Lest I might be too rash;
Under your good correction, I have seen
When, after execution, judgment hath
Repented o'er his doom.
ANGELO. Go to; let that be mine.
Do you your office, or give up your place,
And you shall well be spar'd.
PROVOST. I crave your honour's pardon.
What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?
She's very near her hour.
ANGELO. Dispose of her
To some more fitter place, and that with speed.

Re-enter SERVANT

SERVANT. Here is the sister of the man condemn'd
Desires access to you.
ANGELO. Hath he a sister?
PROVOST. Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,
And to be shortly of a sisterhood,
If not already.
ANGELO. Well, let her be admitted. Exit SERVANT
See you the fornicatress be remov'd;
Let her have needful but not lavish means;
There shall be order for't.

Enter Lucio and ISABELLA

PROVOST. [Going] Save your honour!
ANGELO. Stay a little while. [To ISABELLA] Y'are welcome;
your will?
ISABELLA. I am a woeful suitor to your honour,
Please but your honour hear me.
ANGELO. Well; what's your suit?
ISABELLA. There is a vice that most I do abhor,
And most desire should meet the blow of justice;
For which I would not plead, but that I must;
For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war 'twixt will and will not.
ANGELO. Well; the matter?
ISABELLA. I have a brother is condemn'd to die;
I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.
PROVOST. [Aside] Heaven give thee moving graces.
ANGELO. Condemn the fault and not the actor of it!
Why, every fault's condemn'd ere it be done;
Mine were the very cipher of a function,
To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.
ISABELLA. O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] Give't not o'er so; to him again, entreat
Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown;
You are too cold: if you should need a pin,
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it.
To him, I say.
ISABELLA. Must he needs die?
ANGELO. Maiden, no remedy.
ISABELLA. Yes; I do think that you might pardon him.
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.
ANGELO. I will not do't.
ISABELLA. But can you, if you would?
ANGELO. Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.
ISABELLA. But might you do't, and do the world no wrong,
If so your heart were touch'd with that remorse
As mine is to him?
ANGELO. He's sentenc'd; 'tis too late.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] You are too cold.
ISABELLA. Too late? Why, no; I, that do speak a word,
May call it back again. Well, believe this:
No ceremony that to great ones longs,
Not the king's crown nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
If he had been as you, and you as he,
You would have slipp'd like him; but he, like you,
Would not have been so stern.
ANGELO. Pray you be gone.
ISABELLA. I would to heaven I had your potency,
And you were Isabel! Should it then be thus?
No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge
And what a prisoner.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] Ay, touch him; there's the vein.
ANGELO. Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.
ISABELLA. Alas! Alas!
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.
ANGELO. Be you content, fair maid.
It is the law, not I condemn your brother.
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him. He must die to-morrow.
ISABELLA. To-morrow! O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him.
He's not prepar'd for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of season; shall we serve heaven
With less respect than we do minister
To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you.
Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There's many have committed it.
LUCIO. [Aside] Ay, well said.
ANGELO. The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.
Those many had not dar'd to do that evil
If the first that did th' edict infringe
Had answer'd for his deed. Now 'tis awake,
Takes note of what is done, and, like a prophet,
Looks in a glass that shows what future evils-
Either now or by remissness new conceiv'd,
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born-
Are now to have no successive degrees,
But here they live to end.
ISABELLA. Yet show some pity.
ANGELO. I show it most of all when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall,
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;
Your brother dies to-morrow; be content.
ISABELLA. So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he that suffers. O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength! But it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] That's well said.
ISABELLA. Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would never be quiet,
For every pelting petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder,
Nothing but thunder. Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt,
Splits the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle. But man, proud man,
Dress'd in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] O, to him, to him, wench! He will relent;
He's coming; I perceive 't.
PROVOST. [Aside] Pray heaven she win him.
ISABELLA. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself.
Great men may jest with saints: 'tis wit in them;
But in the less foul profanation.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] Thou'rt i' th' right, girl; more o' that.
ISABELLA. That in the captain's but a choleric word
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] Art avis'd o' that? More on't.
ANGELO. Why do you put these sayings upon me?
ISABELLA. Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
That skins the vice o' th' top. Go to your bosom,
Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
That's like my brother's fault. If it confess
A natural guiltiness such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.
ANGELO. [Aside] She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense that my sense breeds with it.- Fare you well.
ISABELLA. Gentle my lord, turn back.
ANGELO. I will bethink me. Come again to-morrow.
ISABELLA. Hark how I'll bribe you; good my lord, turn back.
ANGELO. How, bribe me?
ISABELLA. Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA) You had marr'd all else.
ISABELLA. Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,
Or stones, whose rate are either rich or poor
As fancy values them; but with true prayers
That shall be up at heaven and enter there
Ere sun-rise, prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.
ANGELO. Well; come to me to-morrow.
LUCIO. [To ISABELLA] Go to; 'tis well; away.
ISABELLA. Heaven keep your honour safe!
ANGELO. [Aside] Amen; for I
Am that way going to temptation
Where prayers cross.
ISABELLA. At what hour to-morrow
Shall I attend your lordship?
ANGELO. At any time 'fore noon.
ISABELLA. Save your honour! Exeunt all but ANGELO
ANGELO. From thee; even from thy virtue!
What's this, what's this? Is this her fault or mine?
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?
Not she; nor doth she tempt; but it is I
That, lying by the violet in the sun,
Do as the carrion does, not as the flow'r,
Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be
That modesty may more betray our sense
Than woman's lightness? Having waste ground enough,
Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary,
And pitch our evils there? O, fie, fie, fie!
What dost thou, or what art thou, Angelo?
Dost thou desire her foully for those things
That make her good? O, let her brother live!
Thieves for their robbery have authority
When judges steal themselves. What, do I love her,
That I desire to hear her speak again,
And feast upon her eyes? What is't I dream on?
O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint,
With saints dost bait thy hook! Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue. Never could the strumpet,
With all her double vigour, art and nature,
Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid
Subdues me quite. Ever till now,
When men were fond, I smil'd and wond'red how. Exit

A prison

Enter, severally, DUKE, disguised as a FRIAR, and PROVOST

DUKE. Hail to you, Provost! so I think you are.
PROVOST. I am the Provost. What's your will, good friar?
DUKE. Bound by my charity and my blest order,
I come to visit the afflicted spirits
Here in the prison. Do me the common right
To let me see them, and to make me know
The nature of their crimes, that I may minister
To them accordingly.
PROVOST. I would do more than that, if more were needful.


Look, here comes one; a gentlewoman of mine,
Who, falling in the flaws of her own youth,
Hath blister'd her report. She is with child;
And he that got it, sentenc'd- a young man
More fit to do another such offence
Than die for this.
DUKE. When must he die?
PROVOST. As I do think, to-morrow.
[To JULIET] I have provided for you; stay awhile
And you shall be conducted.
DUKE. Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?
JULIET. I do; and bear the shame most patiently.
DUKE. I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
And try your penitence, if it be sound
Or hollowly put on.
JULIET. I'll gladly learn.
DUKE. Love you the man that wrong'd you?
JULIET. Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.
DUKE. So then, it seems, your most offenceful act
Was mutually committed.
JULIET. Mutually.
DUKE. Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.
JULIET. I do confess it, and repent it, father.
DUKE. 'Tis meet so, daughter; but lest you do repent
As that the sin hath brought you to this shame,
Which sorrow is always toward ourselves, not heaven,
Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it,
But as we stand in fear-
JULIET. I do repent me as it is an evil,
And take the shame with joy.
DUKE. There rest.
Your partner, as I hear, must die to-morrow,
And I am going with instruction to him.
Grace go with you! Benedicite! Exit
JULIET. Must die to-morrow! O, injurious law,
That respites me a life whose very comfort
Is still a dying horror!
PROVOST. 'Tis pity of him. Exeunt

ANGELO'S house


ANGELO. When I would pray and think, I think and pray
To several subjects. Heaven hath my empty words,
Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue,
Anchors on Isabel. Heaven in my mouth,
As if I did but only chew his name,
And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
Of my conception. The state whereon I studied
Is, like a good thing being often read,
Grown sere and tedious; yea, my gravity,
Wherein- let no man hear me- I take pride,
Could I with boot change for an idle plume
Which the air beats for vain. O place, O form,
How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
To thy false seeming! Blood, thou art blood.
Let's write 'good angel' on the devil's horn;
'Tis not the devil's crest.


How now, who's there?
SERVANT. One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.
ANGELO. Teach her the way. [Exit SERVANT] O heavens!
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
Making both it unable for itself
And dispossessing all my other parts
Of necessary fitness?
So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons;
Come all to help him, and so stop the air
By which he should revive; and even so
The general subject to a well-wish'd king
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
Must needs appear offence.


How now, fair maid?
ISABELLA. I am come to know your pleasure.
ANGELO. That you might know it would much better please me
Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.
ISABELLA. Even so! Heaven keep your honour!
ANGELO. Yet may he live awhile, and, it may be,
As long as you or I; yet he must die.
ISABELLA. Under your sentence?
ISABELLA. When? I beseech you; that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
That his soul sicken not.
ANGELO. Ha! Fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
To pardon him that hath from nature stol'n
A man already made, as to remit
Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven's image
In stamps that are forbid; 'tis all as easy
Falsely to take away a life true made
As to put metal in restrained means
To make a false one.
ISABELLA. 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
ANGELO. Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly.
Which had you rather- that the most just law
Now took your brother's life; or, to redeem him,
Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
As she that he hath stain'd?
ISABELLA. Sir, believe this:
I had rather give my body than my soul.
ANGELO. I talk not of your soul; our compell'd sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.
ISABELLA. How say you?
ANGELO. Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak
Against the thing I say. Answer to this:
I, now the voice of the recorded law,
Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life;
Might there not be a charity in sin
To save this brother's life?
ISABELLA. Please you to do't,
I'll take it as a peril to my soul
It is no sin at all, but charity.
ANGELO. Pleas'd you to do't at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.
ISABELLA. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it! You granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your answer.
ANGELO. Nay, but hear me;
Your sense pursues not mine; either you are ignorant
Or seem so, craftily; and that's not good.
ISABELLA. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good
But graciously to know I am no better.
ANGELO. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
Proclaim an enshielded beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, display'd. But mark me:
To be received plain, I'll speak more gross-
Your brother is to die.
ANGELO. And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.
ANGELO. Admit no other way to save his life,
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But, in the loss of question, that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desir'd of such a person
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-binding law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this supposed, or else to let him suffer-
What would you do?
ISABELLA. As much for my poor brother as myself;
That is, were I under the terms of death,
Th' impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death as to a bed
That longing have been sick for, ere I'd yield
My body up to shame.
ANGELO. Then must your brother die.
ISABELLA. And 'twere the cheaper way:
Better it were a brother died at once
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.
ANGELO. Were not you, then, as cruel as the sentence
That you have slander'd so?
ISABELLA. Ignominy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses: lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.
ANGELO. You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather prov'd the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.
ISABELLA. O, pardon me, my lord! It oft falls out,
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean:
I something do excuse the thing I hate
For his advantage that I dearly love.
ANGELO. We are all frail.
ISABELLA. Else let my brother die,
If not a fedary but only he
Owe and succeed thy weakness.
ANGELO. Nay, women are frail too.
ISABELLA. Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves,
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
Women, help heaven! Men their creation mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail;
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.
ANGELO. I think it well;
And from this testimony of your own sex,
Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames, let me be bold.
I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none;
If you be one, as you are well express'd
By all external warrants, show it now
By putting on the destin'd livery.
ISABELLA. I have no tongue but one; gentle, my lord,
Let me intreat you speak the former language.
ANGELO. Plainly conceive, I love you.
ISABELLA. My brother did love Juliet,
And you tell me that he shall die for't.
ANGELO. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.
ISABELLA. I know your virtue hath a license in't,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.
ANGELO. Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.
ISABELLA. Ha! little honour to be much believ'd,
And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!
I will proclaim thee, Angelo, look for't.
Sign me a present pardon for my brother
Or, with an outstretch'd throat, I'll tell the world aloud
What man thou art.
ANGELO. Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoil'd name, th' austereness of my life,
My vouch against you, and my place i' th' state,
Will so your accusation overweigh
That you shall stifle in your own report,
And smell of calumny. I have begun,
And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;
Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes
That banish what they sue for; redeem thy brother
By yielding up thy body to my will;
Or else he must not only die the death,
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
To ling'ring sufferance. Answer me to-morrow,
Or, by the affection that now guides me most,
I'll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
Say what you can: my false o'erweighs your true. Exit
ISABELLA. To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue
Either of condemnation or approof,
Bidding the law make curtsy to their will;
Hooking both right and wrong to th' appetite,
To follow as it draws! I'll to my brother.
Though he hath fall'n by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour
That, had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he'd yield them up
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorr'd pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:
More than our brother is our chastity.
I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest. Exit


The prison

Enter DUKE, disguised as before, CLAUDIO, and PROVOST

DUKE. So, then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
CLAUDIO. The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope:
I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.
DUKE. Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life.
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep. A breath thou art,
Servile to all the skyey influences,
That dost this habitation where thou keep'st
Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art Death's fool;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun
And yet run'st toward him still. Thou art not noble;
For all th' accommodations that thou bear'st
Are nurs'd by baseness. Thou 'rt by no means valiant;
For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
And that thou oft provok'st; yet grossly fear'st
Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself;
For thou exists on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;
For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get,
And what thou hast, forget'st. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
After the moon. If thou art rich, thou'rt poor;
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And Death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none;
For thine own bowels which do call thee sire,
The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,
But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both; for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid moe thousand deaths; yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.
CLAUDIO. I humbly thank you.
To sue to live, I find I seek to die;
And, seeking death, find life. Let it come on.
ISABELLA. [Within] What, ho! Peace here; grace and good
PROVOST. Who's there? Come in; the wish deserves a welcome.
DUKE. Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.
CLAUDIO. Most holy sir, I thank you.


ISABELLA. My business is a word or two with Claudio.
PROVOST. And very welcome. Look, signior, here's your sister.
DUKE. Provost, a word with you.
PROVOST. As many as you please.
DUKE. Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be conceal'd.
CLAUDIO. Now, sister, what's the comfort?
As all comforts are; most good, most good, indeed.
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger.
Therefore, your best appointment make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.
CLAUDIO. Is there no remedy?
ISABELLA. None, but such remedy as, to save a head,
To cleave a heart in twain.
CLAUDIO. But is there any?
ISABELLA. Yes, brother, you may live:
There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
If you'll implore it, that will free your life,
But fetter you till death.
CLAUDIO. Perpetual durance?
ISABELLA. Ay, just; perpetual durance, a restraint,
Though all the world's vastidity you had,
To a determin'd scope.
CLAUDIO. But in what nature?
ISABELLA. In such a one as, you consenting to't,
Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,
And leave you naked.
CLAUDIO. Let me know the point.
ISABELLA. O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.
CLAUDIO. Why give you me this shame?
Think you I can a resolution fetch
From flow'ry tenderness? If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride
And hug it in mine arms.
ISABELLA. There spake my brother; there my father's grave
Did utter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die:
Thou art too noble to conserve a life
In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,
Whose settled visage and deliberate word
Nips youth i' th' head, and follies doth enew
As falcon doth the fowl, is yet a devil;
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.
CLAUDIO. The precise Angelo!
ISABELLA. O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell
The damned'st body to invest and cover
In precise guards! Dost thou think, Claudio,
If I would yield him my virginity
Thou mightst be freed?
CLAUDIO. O heavens! it cannot be.
ISABELLA. Yes, he would give't thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still. This night's the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest to-morrow.
CLAUDIO. Thou shalt not do't.
ISABELLA. O, were it but my life!
I'd throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.
CLAUDIO. Thanks, dear Isabel.
ISABELLA. Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-morrow.
CLAUDIO. Yes. Has he affections in him
That thus can make him bite the law by th' nose
When he would force it? Sure it is no sin;
Or of the deadly seven it is the least.
ISABELLA. Which is the least?
CLAUDIO. If it were damnable, he being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary trick
Be perdurably fin'd?- O Isabel!
ISABELLA. What says my brother?
CLAUDIO. Death is a fearful thing.
ISABELLA. And shamed life a hateful.
CLAUDIO. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling- 'tis too horrible.
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment,
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
ISABELLA. Alas, alas!
CLAUDIO. Sweet sister, let me live.
What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.
ISABELLA. O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of incest to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance;
Die; perish. Might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
No word to save thee.
CLAUDIO. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
ISABELLA. O fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade.
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd;
'Tis best that thou diest quickly.
CLAUDIO. O, hear me, Isabella.

Re-enter DUKE

DUKE. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
ISABELLA. What is your will?
DUKE. Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by
some speech with you; the satisfaction I would require is
likewise your own benefit.
ISABELLA. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen
of other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.
[Walks apart]
DUKE. Son, I have overheard what hath pass'd between you and
sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he
made an assay of her virtue to practise his judgment with the
disposition of natures. She, having the truth of honour in
hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to
receive. I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be
therefore prepare yourself to death. Do not satisfy your
resolution with hopes that are fallible; to-morrow you must
go to your knees and make ready.
CLAUDIO. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with
that I will sue to be rid of it.
DUKE. Hold you there. Farewell. [Exit CLAUDIO] Provost, a word

Re-enter PROVOST

PROVOST. What's your will, father?
DUKE. That, now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me a
with the maid; my mind promises with my habit no loss shall
her by my company.
PROVOST. In good time. Exit PROVOST
DUKE. The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good; the
goodness that is cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in
but grace, being the soul of your complexion, shall keep the
of it ever fair. The assault that Angelo hath made to you,
fortune hath convey'd to my understanding; and, but that
hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How
will you do to content this substitute, and to save your
ISABELLA. I am now going to resolve him; I had rather my
die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But, O,
much is the good Duke deceiv'd in Angelo! If ever he return,
I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover
DUKE. That shall not be much amiss; yet, as the matter now
he will avoid your accusation: he made trial of you only.
Therefore fasten your ear on my advisings; to the love I have
doing good a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe
that you may most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a
benefit; redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain
your own gracious person; and much please the absent Duke, if
peradventure he shall ever return to have hearing of this
ISABELLA. Let me hear you speak farther; I have spirit to do
anything that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.
DUKE. Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not
heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great
soldier who miscarried at sea?
ISABELLA. I have heard of the lady, and good words went with
DUKE. She should this Angelo have married; was affianced to her by oath, and the nuptial appointed; between which time of the
contract and limit of the solemnity her brother Frederick was
wreck'd at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of
sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor
there she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love
her ever most kind and natural; with him the portion and
sinew of
her fortune, her marriage-dowry; with both, her combinate
husband, this well-seeming Angelo.
ISABELLA. Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?
DUKE. Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his
comfort; swallowed his vows whole, pretending in her
of dishonour; in few, bestow'd her on her own lamentation,
she yet wears for his sake; and he, a marble to her tears, is
washed with them, but relents not.
ISABELLA. What a merit were it in death to take this poor maid
the world! What corruption in this life that it will let this
live! But how out of this can she avail?
DUKE. It is a rupture that you may easily heal; and the cure of
not only saves your brother, but keeps you from dishonour in
doing it.
ISABELLA. Show me how, good father.
DUKE. This forenamed maid hath yet in her the continuance of
first affection; his unjust unkindness, that in all reason
have quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the
made it more violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo; answer his
requiring with a plausible obedience; agree with his demands
the point; only refer yourself to this advantage: first, that
your stay with him may not be long; that the time may have
shadow and silence in it; and the place answer to
This being granted in course- and now follows all: we shall
advise this wronged maid to stead up your appointment, go in
place. If the encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may
compel him to her recompense; and here, by this, is your
saved, your honour untainted, the poor Mariana advantaged,
the corrupt deputy scaled. The maid will I frame and make fit
his attempt. If you think well to carry this as you may, the
doubleness of the benefit defends the deceit from reproof.
think you of it?
ISABELLA. The image of it gives me content already; and I trust
will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
DUKE. It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily to
Angelo; if for this night he entreat you to his bed, give him
promise of satisfaction. I will presently to Saint Luke's;
at the moated grange, resides this dejected Mariana. At that
place call upon me; and dispatch with Angelo, that it may be
ISABELLA. I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good
Exeunt severally

Scene II.
The street before the prison

Enter, on one side, DUKE disguised as before; on the other,

ELBOW. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will
buy and sell men and women like beasts, we shall have all the
world drink brown and white bastard.
DUKE. O heavens! what stuff is here?
POMPEY. 'Twas never merry world since, of two usuries, the
was put down, and the worser allow'd by order of law a furr'd
gown to keep him warm; and furr'd with fox on lamb-skins too,
signify that craft, being richer than innocency, stands for
ELBOW. Come your way, sir. Bless you, good father friar.
DUKE. And you, good brother father. What offence hath this man
you, sir?
ELBOW. Marry, sir, he hath offended the law; and, sir, we take
to be a thief too, sir, for we have found upon him, sir, a
strange picklock, which we have sent to the deputy.
DUKE. Fie, sirrah, a bawd, a wicked bawd!
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think
What 'tis to cram a maw or clothe a back
From such a filthy vice; say to thyself
'From their abominable and beastly touches
I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.'
Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.
POMPEY. Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet, sir,
I would prove-
DUKE. Nay, if the devil have given thee proofs for sin,
Thou wilt prove his. Take him to prison, officer;
Correction and instruction must both work
Ere this rude beast will profit.
ELBOW. He must before the deputy, sir; he has given him
The deputy cannot abide a whoremaster; if he be a
and comes before him, he were as good go a mile on his
DUKE. That we were all, as some would seem to be,
From our faults, as his faults from seeming, free.
ELBOW. His neck will come to your waist- a cord, sir.


POMPEY. I spy comfort; I cry bail. Here's a gentleman, and a
of mine.
LUCIO. How now, noble Pompey! What, at the wheels of Caesar?
thou led in triumph? What, is there none of Pygmalion's
newly made woman, to be had now for putting the hand in the
pocket and extracting it clutch'd? What reply, ha? What
thou to this tune, matter, and method? Is't not drown'd i'
last rain, ha? What say'st thou to't? Is the world as it
man? Which is the way? Is it sad, and few words? or how? The
trick of it?
DUKE. Still thus, and thus; still worse!
LUCIO. How doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? Procures she
POMPEY. Troth, sir, she hath eaten up all her beef, and she is
herself in the tub.
LUCIO. Why, 'tis good; it is the right of it; it must be so;
your fresh whore and your powder'd bawd- an unshunn'd
consequence; it must be so. Art going to prison, Pompey?
POMPEY. Yes, faith, sir.
LUCIO. Why, 'tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell; go, say I sent
thither. For debt, Pompey- or how?
ELBOW. For being a bawd, for being a bawd.
LUCIO. Well, then, imprison him. If imprisonment be the due of
bawd, why, 'tis his right. Bawd is he doubtless, and of
antiquity, too; bawd-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me
the prison, Pompey. You will turn good husband now, Pompey;
will keep the house.
POMPEY. I hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail.
LUCIO. No, indeed, will I not, Pompey; it is not the wear. I
pray, Pompey, to increase your bondage. If you take it not
patiently, why, your mettle is the more. Adieu trusty Pompey.
Bless you, friar.
DUKE. And you.
LUCIO. Does Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha?
ELBOW. Come your ways, sir; come.
POMPEY. You will not bail me then, sir?
LUCIO. Then, Pompey, nor now. What news abroad, friar? what
ELBOW. Come your ways, sir; come.
LUCIO. Go to kennel, Pompey, go.


What news, friar, of the Duke?
DUKE. I know none. Can you tell me of any?
LUCIO. Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other some,
he is
in Rome; but where is he, think you?
DUKE. I know not where; but wheresoever, I wish him well.
LUCIO. It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from the
state and usurp the beggary he was never born to. Lord Angelo
dukes it well in his absence; he puts transgression to't.
DUKE. He does well in't.
LUCIO. A little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in him;
something too crabbed that way, friar.
DUKE. It is too general a vice, and severity must cure it.
LUCIO. Yes, in good sooth, the vice is of a great kindred; it
well allied; but it is impossible to extirp it quite, friar,
eating and drinking be put down. They say this Angelo was not

made by man and woman after this downright way of creation.
Is it
true, think you?
DUKE. How should he be made, then?
LUCIO. Some report a sea-maid spawn'd him; some, that he was
between two stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he
water his urine is congeal'd ice; that I know to be true. And
is a motion generative; that's infallible.
DUKE. You are pleasant, sir, and speak apace.
LUCIO. Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the
of a codpiece to take away the life of a man! Would the Duke
is absent have done this? Ere he would have hang'd a man for
getting a hundred bastards, he would have paid for the
nursing a
thousand. He had some feeling of the sport; he knew the
and that instructed him to mercy.
DUKE. I never heard the absent Duke much detected for women; he
not inclin'd that way.
LUCIO. O, sir, you are deceiv'd.
DUKE. 'Tis not possible.
LUCIO. Who- not the Duke? Yes, your beggar of fifty; and his
was to put a ducat in her clack-dish. The Duke had crotchets
him. He would be drunk too; that let me inform you.
DUKE. You do him wrong, surely.
LUCIO. Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy fellow was the Duke;
I believe I know the cause of his withdrawing.
DUKE. What, I prithee, might be the cause?
LUCIO. No, pardon; 'tis a secret must be lock'd within the
and the lips; but this I can let you understand: the greater
of the subject held the Duke to be wise.
DUKE. Wise? Why, no question but he was.
LUCIO. A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.
DUKE. Either this is envy in you, folly, or mistaking; the very
stream of his life, and the business he hath helmed, must,
upon a
warranted need, give him a better proclamation. Let him be
testimonied in his own bringings-forth, and he shall appear
the envious a scholar, a statesman, and a soldier. Therefore
speak unskilfully; or, if your knowledge be more, it is much
dark'ned in your malice.
LUCIO. Sir, I know him, and I love him.
DUKE. Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with
LUCIO. Come, sir, I know what I know.
DUKE. I can hardly believe that, since you know not what you
But, if ever the Duke return, as our prayers are he may, let
desire you to make your answer before him. If it be honest
have spoke, you have courage to maintain it; I am bound to
upon you; and I pray you your name?
LUCIO. Sir, my name is Lucio, well known to the Duke.
DUKE. He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to report
LUCIO. I fear you not.
DUKE. O, you hope the Duke will return no more; or you imagine
too unhurtful an opposite. But, indeed, I can do you little
you'll forswear this again.
LUCIO. I'll be hang'd first. Thou art deceiv'd in me, friar.
But no
more of this. Canst thou tell if Claudio die to-morrow or no?
DUKE. Why should he die, sir?
LUCIO. Why? For filling a bottle with a tun-dish. I would the
we talk of were return'd again. This ungenitur'd agent will
unpeople the province with continency; sparrows must not
build in
his house-eaves because they are lecherous. The Duke yet
have dark deeds darkly answered; he would never bring them to

light. Would he were return'd! Marry, this Claudio is
for untrussing. Farewell, good friar; I prithee pray for me.
Duke, I say to thee again, would eat mutton on Fridays. He's
past it yet; and, I say to thee, he would mouth with a beggar
though she smelt brown bread and garlic. Say that I said so.
Farewell. Exit
DUKE. No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
But who comes here?


ESCALUS. Go, away with her to prison.
MRS. OVERDONE. Good my lord, be good to me; your honour is
accounted a merciful man; good my lord.
ESCALUS. Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in the
same kind! This would make mercy swear and play the tyrant.
PROVOST. A bawd of eleven years' continuance, may it please
MRS. OVERDONE. My lord, this is one Lucio's information against
Mistress Kate Keepdown was with child by him in the Duke's
he promis'd her marriage. His child is a year and a quarter
come Philip and Jacob; I have kept it myself; and see how he
about to abuse me.
ESCALUS. That fellow is a fellow of much license. Let him be
before us. Away with her to prison. Go to; no more words.
OFFICERS with MISTRESS OVERDONE] Provost, my brother Angelo
not be alter'd: Claudio must die to-morrow. Let him be
with divines, and have all charitable preparation. If my
wrought by my pity, it should not be so with him.
PROVOST. So please you, this friar hath been with him, and
him for th' entertainment of death.

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