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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

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how could Master Froth do the constable's wife any harm? I would
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; next,
this is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected
POMPEY. By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than
any of us all.
ELBOW. Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicket varlet; the time is
yet to come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or
POMPEY. Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
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 that
thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him continue in his
courses till thou know'st what they are.
ELBOW. Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou wicked
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 you,
Master Froth, and you will hang them. Get you gone, and let me
hear no more of you.
FROTH. I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come into
any room in a taphouse but I am drawn in.
ESCALUS. Well, no more of it, Master Froth; farewell. [Exit FROTH]
Come you hither to me, Master Tapster; what's your name, Master
POMPEY. Pompey.
ESCALUS. What else?
POMPEY. Bum, sir.
ESCALUS. Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you; so
that, in the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the Great. Pompey,
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 better
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 you
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 of
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, you
need not to fear the bawds.
ESCALUS. There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you: but it
is but heading and hanging.
POMPEY. If you head and hang all that offend that way but for ten
year together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for more
heads; if this law hold in Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest
house in it, after threepence a bay. If you live to see this come
to pass, say Pompey told you so.
ESCALUS. Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your prophecy,
hark you: I advise you, let me not find you before me again upon
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 whipt.
So for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
POMPEY. I thank your worship for your good counsel; [Aside] but I
shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better determine.
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 wrong
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, the
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; what's
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 him,
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 speens,
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 sicles 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 Eve, 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 company!
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 have
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 out
of other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.
[Walks apart]
DUKE. Son, I have overheard what hath pass'd between you and your
sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he hath
made an assay of her virtue to practise his judgment with the
disposition of natures. She, having the truth of honour in her,
hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to
receive. I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be true;
therefore prepare yourself to death. Do not satisfy your
resolution with hopes that are fallible; to-morrow you must die;
go to your knees and make ready.
CLAUDIO. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life
that I will sue to be rid of it.
DUKE. Hold you there. Farewell. [Exit CLAUDIO] Provost, a word with

Re-enter PROVOST

PROVOST. What's your will, father?
DUKE. That, now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me a while
with the maid; my mind promises with my habit no loss shall touch
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 goodness;
but grace, being the soul of your complexion, shall keep the body
of it ever fair. The assault that Angelo hath made to you,
fortune hath convey'd to my understanding; and, but that frailty
hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How
will you do to content this substitute, and to save your brother?
ISABELLA. I am now going to resolve him; I had rather my brother
die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But, O, how
much is the good Duke deceiv'd in Angelo! If ever he return, and
I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his
DUKE. That shall not be much amiss; yet, as the matter now stands,
he will avoid your accusation: he made trial of you only.
Therefore fasten your ear on my advisings; to the love I have in
doing good a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe
that you may most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited
benefit; redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain to
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 her
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 his
sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman:
there she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward
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 discoveries
of dishonour; in few, bestow'd her on her own lamentation, which
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 from
the world! What corruption in this life that it will let this man
live! But how out of this can she avail?
DUKE. It is a rupture that you may easily heal; and the cure of it
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 her
first affection; his unjust unkindness, that in all reason should
have quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the current,
made it more violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo; answer his
requiring with a plausible obedience; agree with his demands to
the point; only refer yourself to this advantage: first, that
your stay with him may not be long; that the time may have all
shadow and silence in it; and the place answer to convenience.
This being granted in course- and now follows all: we shall
advise this wronged maid to stead up your appointment, go in your
place. If the encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may
compel him to her recompense; and here, by this, is your brother
saved, your honour untainted, the poor Mariana advantaged, and
the corrupt deputy scaled. The maid will I frame and make fit for
his attempt. If you think well to carry this as you may, the
doubleness of the benefit defends the deceit from reproof. What
think you of it?
ISABELLA. The image of it gives me content already; and I trust it
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; there,
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 father.
Exeunt severally

Scene II.
The street before the prison

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

ELBOW. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will needs
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 merriest
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, to
signify that craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the
ELBOW. Come your way, sir. Bless you, good father friar.
DUKE. And you, good brother father. What offence hath this man made
you, sir?
ELBOW. Marry, sir, he hath offended the law; and, sir, we take him
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 warning.
The deputy cannot abide a whoremaster; if he be a whoremonger,
and comes before him, he were as good go a mile on his errand.
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 friend
of mine.
LUCIO. How now, noble Pompey! What, at the wheels of Caesar? Art
thou led in triumph? What, is there none of Pygmalion's images,
newly made woman, to be had now for putting the hand in the
pocket and extracting it clutch'd? What reply, ha? What say'st
thou to this tune, matter, and method? Is't not drown'd i' th'
last rain, ha? What say'st thou, trot? Is the world as it was,
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 still,
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; ever
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 thee
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 a
bawd, why, 'tis his right. Bawd is he doubtless, and of
antiquity, too; bawd-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to
the prison, Pompey. You will turn good husband now, Pompey; you
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 will
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 news?
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 is
well allied; but it is impossible to extirp it quite, friar, till
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 begot
between two stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he makes
water his urine is congeal'd ice; that I know to be true. And he
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 rebellion
of a codpiece to take away the life of a man! Would the Duke that
is absent have done this? Ere he would have hang'd a man for the
getting a hundred bastards, he would have paid for the nursing a
thousand. He had some feeling of the sport; he knew the service,
and that instructed him to mercy.
DUKE. I never heard the absent Duke much detected for women; he was
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 use
was to put a ducat in her clack-dish. The Duke had crotchets in
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; and
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 teeth
and the lips; but this I can let you understand: the greater file
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 but
testimonied in his own bringings-forth, and he shall appear to
the envious a scholar, a statesman, and a soldier. Therefore you
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 dearer
LUCIO. Come, sir, I know what I know.
DUKE. I can hardly believe that, since you know not what you speak.
But, if ever the Duke return, as our prayers are he may, let me
desire you to make your answer before him. If it be honest you
have spoke, you have courage to maintain it; I am bound to call
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 you.
LUCIO. I fear you not.
DUKE. O, you hope the Duke will return no more; or you imagine me
too unhurtful an opposite. But, indeed, I can do you little harm:
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 Duke
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 would
have dark deeds darkly answered; he would never bring them to
light. Would he were return'd! Marry, this Claudio is condemned
for untrussing. Farewell, good friar; I prithee pray for me. The
Duke, I say to thee again, would eat mutton on Fridays. He's not
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 your
MRS. OVERDONE. My lord, this is one Lucio's information against me.
Mistress Kate Keepdown was with child by him in the Duke's time;
he promis'd her marriage. His child is a year and a quarter old
come Philip and Jacob; I have kept it myself; and see how he goes
about to abuse me.
ESCALUS. That fellow is a fellow of much license. Let him be call'd
before us. Away with her to prison. Go to; no more words. [Exeunt
OFFICERS with MISTRESS OVERDONE] Provost, my brother Angelo will
not be alter'd: Claudio must die to-morrow. Let him be furnish'd
with divines, and have all charitable preparation. If my brother
wrought by my pity, it should not be so with him.
PROVOST. So please you, this friar hath been with him, and advis'd
him for th' entertainment of death.
ESCALUS. Good even, good father.
DUKE. Bliss and goodness on you!
ESCALUS. Of whence are you?
DUKE. Not of this country, though my chance is now
To use it for my time. I am a brother
Of gracious order, late come from the See
In special business from his Holiness.
ESCALUS. What news abroad i' th' world?
DUKE. None, but that there is so great a fever on goodness that the
dissolution of it must cure it. Novelty is only in request; and,
as it is, as dangerous to be aged in any kind of course as it is
virtuous to be constant in any undertakeing. There is scarce
truth enough alive to make societies secure; but security enough
to make fellowships accurst. Much upon this riddle runs the
wisdom of the world. This news is old enough, yet it is every
day's news. I pray you, sir, of what disposition was the Duke?
ESCALUS. One that, above all other strifes, contended especially to
know himself.
DUKE. What pleasure was he given to?
ESCALUS. Rather rejoicing to see another merry than merry at
anything which profess'd to make him rejoice; a gentleman of all
temperance. But leave we him to his events, with a prayer they
may prove prosperous; and let me desire to know how you find
Claudio prepar'd. I am made to understand that you have lent him
DUKE. He professes to have received no sinister measure from his
judge, but most willingly humbles himself to the determination of
justice. Yet had he framed to himself, by the instruction of his
frailty, many deceiving promises of life; which I, by my good
leisure, have discredited to him, and now he is resolv'd to die.
ESCALUS. You have paid the heavens your function, and the prisoner
the very debt of your calling. I have labour'd for the poor
gentleman to the extremest shore of my modesty; but my brother
justice have I found so severe that he hath forc'd me to tell him
he is indeed Justice.
DUKE. If his own life answer the straitness of his proceeding, it
shall become him well; wherein if he chance to fail, he hath
sentenc'd himself.
ESCALUS. I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
DUKE. Peace be with you! Exeunt ESCALUS and PROVOST

He who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself to know,
Grace to stand, and virtue go;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self-offences weighing.
Shame to him whose cruel striking
Kills for faults of his own liking!
Twice treble shame on Angelo,
To weed my vice and let his grow!
O, what may man within him hide,
Though angel on the outward side!
How may likeness, made in crimes,
Make a practice on the times,
To draw with idle spiders' strings
Most ponderous and substantial things!
Craft against vice I must apply.
With Angelo to-night shall lie
His old betrothed but despised;
So disguise shall, by th' disguised,
Pay with falsehood false exacting,
And perform an old contracting. Exit

Act IV. Scene I.
The moated grange at Saint Duke's

Enter MARIANA; and BOY singing


Take, O, take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn;
But my kisses bring again, bring again;
Seals of love, but seal'd in vain, seal'd in vain.

Enter DUKE, disguised as before

MARIANA. Break off thy song, and haste thee quick away;
Here comes a man of comfort, whose advice
Hath often still'd my brawling discontent. Exit BOY
I cry you mercy, sir, and well could wish
You had not found me here so musical.
Let me excuse me, and believe me so,
My mirth it much displeas'd, but pleas'd my woe.
DUKE. 'Tis good; though music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good and good provoke to harm.
I pray you tell me hath anybody inquir'd for me here to-day. Much
upon this time have I promis'd here to meet.
MARIANA. You have not been inquir'd after; I have sat here all day.


DUKE. I do constantly believe you. The time is come even now. I
shall crave your forbearance a little. May be I will call upon
you anon, for some advantage to yourself.
MARIANA. I am always bound to you. Exit
DUKE. Very well met, and well come.
What is the news from this good deputy?
ISABELLA. He hath a garden circummur'd with brick,
Whose western side is with a vineyard back'd;
And to that vineyard is a planched gate
That makes his opening with this bigger key;
This other doth command a little door
Which from the vineyard to the garden leads.
There have I made my promise
Upon the heavy middle of the night
To call upon him.
DUKE. But shall you on your knowledge find this way?
ISABELLA. I have ta'en a due and wary note upon't;
With whispering and most guilty diligence,
In action all of precept, he did show me
The way twice o'er.
DUKE. Are there no other tokens
Between you 'greed concerning her observance?
ISABELLA. No, none, but only a repair i' th' dark;
And that I have possess'd him my most stay
Can be but brief; for I have made him know
I have a servant comes with me along,
That stays upon me; whose persuasion is
I come about my brother.
DUKE. 'Tis well borne up.
I have not yet made known to Mariana
A word of this. What ho, within! come forth.

Re-enter MARIANA

I pray you be acquainted with this maid;
She comes to do you good.
ISABELLA. I do desire the like.
DUKE. Do you persuade yourself that I respect you?
MARIANA. Good friar, I know you do, and have found it.
DUKE. Take, then, this your companion by the hand,
Who hath a story ready for your ear.
I shall attend your leisure; but make haste;
The vaporous night approaches.
MARIANA. Will't please you walk aside?
DUKE. O place and greatness! Millions of false eyes
Are stuck upon thee. Volumes of report
Run with these false, and most contrarious quest
Upon thy doings. Thousand escapes of wit
Make thee the father of their idle dream,
And rack thee in their fancies.


Welcome, how agreed?
ISABELLA. She'll take the enterprise upon her, father,
If you advise it.
DUKE. It is not my consent,
But my entreaty too.
ISABELLA. Little have you to say,
When you depart from him, but, soft and low,
'Remember now my brother.'
MARIANA. Fear me not.
DUKE. Nor, gentle daughter, fear you not at all.
He is your husband on a pre-contract.
To bring you thus together 'tis no sin,
Sith that the justice of your title to him
Doth flourish the deceit. Come, let us go;
Our corn's to reap, for yet our tithe's to sow. Exeunt

The prison


PROVOST. Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man's head?
POMPEY. If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a
married man, he's his wife's head, and I can never cut of a
woman's head.
PROVOST. Come, sir, leave me your snatches and yield me a direct
answer. To-morrow morning are to die Claudio and Barnardine. Here
is in our prison a common executioner, who in his office lacks a
helper; if you will take it on you to assist him, it shall redeem
you from your gyves; if not, you shall have your full time of
imprisonment, and your deliverance with an unpitied whipping, for
you have been a notorious bawd.
POMPEY. Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind; but yet
I will be content to be a lawful hangman. I would be glad to
receive some instructions from my fellow partner.
PROVOST. What ho, Abhorson! Where's Abhorson there?


ABHORSON. Do you call, sir?
PROVOST. Sirrah, here's a fellow will help you to-morrow in your
execution. If you think it meet, compound with him by the year,
and let him abide here with you; if not, use him for the present,
and dismiss him. He cannot plead his estimation with you; he hath
been a bawd.
ABHORSON. A bawd, sir? Fie upon him! He will discredit our mystery.
PROVOST. Go to, sir; you weigh equally; a feather will turn the
scale. Exit
POMPEY. Pray, sir, by your good favour- for surely, sir, a good
favour you have but that you have a hanging look- do you call,
sir, your occupation a mystery?
ABHORSON. Ay, sir; a mystery.
POMPEY. Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and your
whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using painting, do
prove my occupation a mystery; but what mystery there should be
in hanging, if I should be hang'd, I cannot imagine.
ABHORSON. Sir, it is a mystery.
POMPEY. Proof?
ABHORSON. Every true man's apparel fits your thief: if it be too
little for your thief, your true man thinks it big enough; if it
be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little enough; so
every true man's apparel fits your thief.

Re-enter PROVOST

PROVOST. Are you agreed?
POMPEY. Sir, I will serve him; for I do find your hangman is a more
penitent trade than your bawd; he doth oftener ask forgiveness.
PROVOST. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe to-morrow
four o'clock.
ABHORSON. Come on, bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.
POMPEY. I do desire to learn, sir; and I hope, if you have occasion
to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare; for truly,
sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn.
PROVOST. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.
Th' one has my pity; not a jot the other,
Being a murderer, though he were my brother.


Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death;
'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow
Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine?
CLAUDIO. As fast lock'd up in sleep as guiltless labour
When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones.
He will not wake.
PROVOST. Who can do good on him?
Well, go, prepare yourself. [Knocking within] But hark, what
Heaven give your spirits comfort! Exit CLAUDIO
[Knocking continues] By and by.
I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
For the most gentle Claudio.

Enter DUKE, disguised as before

Welcome, father.
DUKE. The best and wholesom'st spirits of the night
Envelop you, good Provost! Who call'd here of late?
PROVOST. None, since the curfew rung.
DUKE. Not Isabel?
DUKE. They will then, ere't be long.
PROVOST. What comfort is for Claudio?
DUKE. There's some in hope.
PROVOST. It is a bitter deputy.
DUKE. Not so, not so; his life is parallel'd
Even with the stroke and line of his great justice;
He doth with holy abstinence subdue
That in himself which he spurs on his pow'r
To qualify in others. Were he meal'd with that
Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous;
But this being so, he's just. [Knocking within] Now are they
come. Exit PROVOST
This is a gentle provost; seldom when
The steeled gaoler is the friend of men. [Knocking within]
How now, what noise! That spirit's possess'd with haste
That wounds th' unsisting postern with these strokes.

Re-enter PROVOST

PROVOST. There he must stay until the officer
Arise to let him in; he is call'd up.
DUKE. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet
But he must die to-morrow?
PROVOST. None, sir, none.
DUKE. As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
You shall hear more ere morning.
PROVOST. Happily
You something know; yet I believe there comes
No countermand; no such example have we.
Besides, upon the very siege of justice,
Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
Profess'd the contrary.

This is his lordship's man.
DUKE. And here comes Claudio's pardon.
MESSENGER. My lord hath sent you this note; and by me this further
charge, that you swerve not from the smallest article of it,
neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow; for
as I take it, it is almost day.
PROVOST. I shall obey him. Exit MESSENGER
DUKE. [Aside] This is his pardon, purchas'd by such sin
For which the pardoner himself is in;
Hence hath offence his quick celerity,
When it is borne in high authority.
When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended
That for the fault's love is th' offender friended.
Now, sir, what news?
PROVOST. I told you: Lord Angelo, belike thinking me remiss in mine
office, awakens me with this unwonted putting-on; methinks
strangely, for he hath not us'd it before.
DUKE. Pray you, let's hear.
PROVOST. [Reads] 'Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let
Claudio be executed by four of the clock, and, in the afternoon,
Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have Claudio's
head sent me by five. Let this be duly performed, with a thought
that more depends on it than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not
to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.'
What say you to this, sir?
DUKE. What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in th'
PROVOST. A Bohemian born; but here nurs'd up and bred.
One that is a prisoner nine years old.
DUKE. How came it that the absent Duke had not either deliver'd him
to his liberty or executed him? I have heard it was ever his
manner to do so.
PROVOST. His friends still wrought reprieves for him; and, indeed,
his fact, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to
an undoubted proof.
DUKE. It is now apparent?
PROVOST. Most manifest, and not denied by himself.
DUKE. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How seems he to
be touch'd?
PROVOST. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a
drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless, of what's past,
present, or to come; insensible of mortality and desperately
DUKE. He wants advice.
PROVOST. He will hear none. He hath evermore had the liberty of the
prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not; drunk many
times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft
awak'd him, as if to carry him to execution, and show'd him a
seeming warrant for it; it hath not moved him at all.
DUKE. More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost,
honesty and constancy. If I read it not truly, my ancient skill
beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning I will lay myself
in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is no
greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath sentenc'd him. To
make you understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but four
days' respite; for the which you are to do me both a present and
a dangerous courtesy.
PROVOST. Pray, sir, in what?
DUKE. In the delaying death.
PROVOST. Alack! How may I do it, having the hour limited, and an
express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view
of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the
DUKE. By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if my instructions
may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning executed,
and his head borne to Angelo.
PROVOST. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.
DUKE. O, death's a great disguiser; and you may add to it. Shave
the head and tie the beard; and say it was the desire of the
penitent to be so bar'd before his death. You know the course is
common. If anything fall to you upon this more than thanks and
good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I will plead against
it with my life.
PROVOST. Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.
DUKE. Were you sworn to the Duke, or to the deputy?
PROVOST. To him and to his substitutes.
DUKE. You will think you have made no offence if the Duke avouch
the justice of your dealing?
PROVOST. But what likelihood is in that?
DUKE. Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you
fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor persuasion, can
with ease attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to pluck
all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of
the Duke. You know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is
not strange to you.
PROVOST. I know them both.
DUKE. The contents of this is the return of the Duke; you shall
anon over-read it at your pleasure, where you shall find within
these two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows
not; for he this very day receives letters of strange tenour,
perchance of the Duke's death, perchance entering into some
monastery; but, by chance, nothing of what is writ. Look, th'
unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put not yourself into
amazement how these things should be: all difficulties are but
easy when they are known. Call your executioner, and off with
Barnardine's head. I will give him a present shrift, and advise
him for a better place. Yet you are amaz'd, but this shall
absolutely resolve you. Come away; it is almost clear dawn.

The prison


POMPEY. I am as well acquainted here as I was in our house of
profession; one would think it were Mistress Overdone's own
house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young
Master Rash; he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old
ginger, nine score and seventeen pounds, of which he made five
marks ready money. Marry, then ginger was not much in request,
for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one Master
Caper, at the suit of Master Threepile the mercer, for some four
suits of peach-colour'd satin, which now peaches him a beggar.
Then have we here young Dizy, and young Master Deepvow, and
Master Copperspur, and Master Starvelackey, the rapier and dagger
man, and young Dropheir that kill'd lusty Pudding, and Master
Forthlight the tilter, and brave Master Shootie the great
traveller, and wild Halfcan that stabb'd Pots, and, I think,
forty more- all great doers in our trade, and are now 'for the
Lord's sake.'


ABHORSON. Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.
POMPEY. Master Barnardine! You must rise and be hang'd, Master
ABHORSON. What ho, Barnardine!
BARNARDINE. [Within] A pox o' your throats! Who makes that noise
there? What are you?
POMPEY. Your friends, sir; the hangman. You must be so good, sir,
to rise and be put to death.
BARNARDINE. [ Within ] Away, you rogue, away; I am sleepy.
ABHORSON. Tell him he must awake, and that quickly too.
POMPEY. Pray, Master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and
sleep afterwards.
ABHORSON. Go in to him, and fetch him out.
POMPEY. He is coming, sir, he is coming; I hear his straw rustle.


ABHORSON. Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?
POMPEY. Very ready, sir.
BARNARDINE. How now, Abhorson, what's the news with you?
ABHORSON. Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers;
for, look you, the warrant's come.
BARNARDINE. You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not
fitted for't.
POMPEY. O, the better, sir! For he that drinks all night and is
hanged betimes in the morning may sleep the sounder all the next

Enter DUKE, disguised as before

ABHORSON. Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father.
Do we jest now, think you?
DUKE. Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are
to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with
BARNARDINE. Friar, not I; I have been drinking hard all night, and
I will have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my
brains with billets. I will not consent to die this day, that's
DUKE. O, Sir, you must; and therefore I beseech you
Look forward on the journey you shall go.
BARNARDINE. I swear I will not die to-day for any man's persuasion.
DUKE. But hear you-
BARNARDINE. Not a word; if you have anything to say to me, come to
my ward; for thence will not I to-day. Exit
DUKE. Unfit to live or die. O gravel heart!
After him, fellows; bring him to the block.


PROVOST. Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?
DUKE. A creature unprepar'd, unmeet for death;
And to transport him in the mind he is
Were damnable.
PROVOST. Here in the prison, father,
There died this morning of a cruel fever
One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate,
A man of Claudio's years; his beard and head
Just of his colour. What if we do omit
This reprobate till he were well inclin'd,
And satisfy the deputy with the visage
Of Ragozine, more like to Claudio?
DUKE. O, 'tis an accident that heaven provides!
Dispatch it presently; the hour draws on
Prefix'd by Angelo. See this be done,
And sent according to command; whiles I
Persuade this rude wretch willingly to die.
PROVOST. This shall be done, good father, presently.
But Barnardine must die this afternoon;
And how shall we continue Claudio,
To save me from the danger that might come
If he were known alive?
DUKE. Let this be done:
Put them in secret holds, both Barnardine and Claudio.
Ere twice the sun hath made his journal greeting
To the under generation, you shall find
Your safety manifested.
PROVOST. I am your free dependant.
DUKE. Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo.
Now will I write letters to Angelo-
The Provost, he shall bear them- whose contents
Shall witness to him I am near at home,
And that, by great injunctions, I am bound
To enter publicly. Him I'll desire
To meet me at the consecrated fount,
A league below the city; and from thence,
By cold gradation and well-balanc'd form.
We shall proceed with Angelo.

Re-enter PROVOST

PROVOST. Here is the head; I'll carry it myself.
DUKE. Convenient is it. Make a swift return;
For I would commune with you of such things
That want no ear but yours.
PROVOST. I'll make all speed. Exit
ISABELLA. [ Within ] Peace, ho, be here!
DUKE. The tongue of Isabel. She's come to know
If yet her brother's pardon be come hither;
But I will keep her ignorant of her good,
To make her heavenly comforts of despair
When it is least expected.


ISABELLA. Ho, by your leave!
DUKE. Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter.
ISABELLA. The better, given me by so holy a man.
Hath yet the deputy sent my brother's pardon?
DUKE. He hath releas'd him, Isabel, from the world.
His head is off and sent to Angelo.
ISABELLA. Nay, but it is not so.
DUKE. It is no other.
Show your wisdom, daughter, in your close patience,
ISABELLA. O, I will to him and pluck out his eyes!
DUKE. You shall not be admitted to his sight.
ISABELLA. Unhappy Claudio! Wretched Isabel!
Injurious world! Most damned Angelo!
DUKE. This nor hurts him nor profits you a jot;
Forbear it, therefore; give your cause to heaven.
Mark what I say, which you shall find
By every syllable a faithful verity.
The Duke comes home to-morrow. Nay, dry your eyes.
One of our covent, and his confessor,
Gives me this instance. Already he hath carried
Notice to Escalus and Angelo,
Who do prepare to meet him at the gates,
There to give up their pow'r. If you can, pace your wisdom
In that good path that I would wish it go,
And you shall have your bosom on this wretch,
Grace of the Duke, revenges to your heart,
And general honour.
ISABELLA. I am directed by you.
DUKE. This letter, then, to Friar Peter give;
'Tis that he sent me of the Duke's return.
Say, by this token, I desire his company
At Mariana's house to-night. Her cause and yours
I'll perfect him withal; and he shall bring you
Before the Duke; and to the head of Angelo
Accuse him home and home. For my poor self,
I am combined by a sacred vow,
And shall be absent. Wend you with this letter.
Command these fretting waters from your eyes
With a light heart; trust not my holy order,
If I pervert your course. Who's here?


LUCIO. Good even. Friar, where's the Provost?
DUKE. Not within, sir.
LUCIO. O pretty Isabella, I am pale at mine heart to see thine eyes
so red. Thou must be patient. I am fain to dine and sup with
water and bran; I dare not for my head fill my belly; one
fruitful meal would set me to't. But they say the Duke will be
here to-morrow. By my troth, Isabel, I lov'd thy brother. If the
old fantastical Duke of dark corners had been at home, he had
lived. Exit ISABELLA
DUKE. Sir, the Duke is marvellous little beholding to your reports;
but the best is, he lives not in them.
LUCIO. Friar, thou knowest not the Duke so well as I do; he's a
better woodman than thou tak'st him for.
DUKE. Well, you'll answer this one day. Fare ye well.
LUCIO. Nay, tarry; I'll go along with thee; I can tell thee pretty
tales of the Duke.
DUKE. You have told me too many of him already, sir, if they be
true; if not true, none were enough.
LUCIO. I was once before him for getting a wench with child.
DUKE. Did you such a thing?
LUCIO. Yes, marry, did I; but I was fain to forswear it: they would
else have married me to the rotten medlar.
DUKE. Sir, your company is fairer than honest. Rest you well.
LUCIO. By my troth, I'll go with thee to the lane's end. If bawdy
talk offend you, we'll have very little of it. Nay, friar, I am a
kind of burr; I shall stick. Exeunt

ANGELO'S house


ESCALUS. Every letter he hath writ hath disvouch'd other.
ANGELO. In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions show much
like to madness; pray heaven his wisdom be not tainted! And why
meet him at the gates, and redeliver our authorities there?
ESCALUS. I guess not.
ANGELO. And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his
ent'ring that, if any crave redress of injustice, they should
exhibit their petitions in the street?
ESCALUS. He shows his reason for that: to have a dispatch of
complaints; and to deliver us from devices hereafter, which
shall then have no power to stand against us.
ANGELO. Well, I beseech you, let it be proclaim'd;
Betimes i' th' morn I'll call you at your house;
Give notice to such men of sort and suit
As are to meet him.
ESCALUS. I shall, sir; fare you well.
ANGELO. Good night. Exit ESCALUS
This deed unshapes me quite, makes me unpregnant
And dull to all proceedings. A deflow'red maid!
And by an eminent body that enforc'd
The law against it! But that her tender shame
Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
How might she tongue me! Yet reason dares her no;
For my authority bears a so credent bulk
That no particular scandal once can touch
But it confounds the breather. He should have liv'd,
Save that his riotous youth, with dangerous sense,
Might in the times to come have ta'en revenge,
By so receiving a dishonour'd life
With ransom of such shame. Would yet he had liv'd!
Alack, when once our grace we have forgot,
Nothing goes right; we would, and we would not. Exit

Fields without the town

Enter DUKE in his own habit, and Friar PETER

DUKE. These letters at fit time deliver me. [Giving letters]
The Provost knows our purpose and our plot.
The matter being afoot, keep your instruction
And hold you ever to our special drift;
Though sometimes you do blench from this to that
As cause doth minister. Go, call at Flavius' house,
And tell him where I stay; give the like notice
To Valentinus, Rowland, and to Crassus,
And bid them bring the trumpets to the gate;
But send me Flavius first.
PETER. It shall be speeded well. Exit FRIAR


DUKE. I thank thee, Varrius; thou hast made good haste.
Come, we will walk. There's other of our friends
Will greet us here anon. My gentle Varrius! Exeunt

A street near the city gate


ISABELLA. To speak so indirectly I am loath;
I would say the truth; but to accuse him so,
That is your part. Yet I am advis'd to do it;
He says, to veil full purpose.
MARIANA. Be rul'd by him.
ISABELLA. Besides, he tells me that, if peradventure
He speak against me on the adverse side,
I should not think it strange; for 'tis a physic
That's bitter to sweet end.
MARIANA. I would Friar Peter-


ISABELLA. O, peace! the friar is come.
PETER. Come, I have found you out a stand most fit,
Where you may have such vantage on the Duke
He shall not pass you. Twice have the trumpets sounded;
The generous and gravest citizens
Have hent the gates, and very near upon
The Duke is ent'ring; therefore, hence, away. Exeunt


The city gate

Enter at several doors DUKE, VARRIUS, LORDS; ANGELO, ESCALUS, Lucio,

DUKE. My very worthy cousin, fairly met!
Our old and faithful friend, we are glad to see you.
ANGELO, ESCALUS. Happy return be to your royal Grace!
DUKE. Many and hearty thankings to you both.
We have made inquiry of you, and we hear
Such goodness of your justice that our soul
Cannot but yield you forth to public thanks,
Forerunning more requital.
ANGELO. You make my bonds still greater.
DUKE. O, your desert speaks loud; and I should wrong it
To lock it in the wards of covert bosom,
When it deserves, with characters of brass,
A forted residence 'gainst the tooth of time
And razure of oblivion. Give me your hand.
And let the subject see, to make them know
That outward courtesies would fain proclaim
Favours that keep within. Come, Escalus,
You must walk by us on our other hand,
And good supporters are you.


PETER. Now is your time; speak loud, and kneel before him.
ISABELLA. Justice, O royal Duke! Vail your regard
Upon a wrong'd- I would fain have said a maid!
O worthy Prince, dishonour not your eye
By throwing it on any other object
Till you have heard me in my true complaint,
And given me justice, justice, justice, justice.
DUKE. Relate your wrongs. In what? By whom? Be brief.
Here is Lord Angelo shall give you justice;
Reveal yourself to him.
ISABELLA. O worthy Duke,
You bid me seek redemption of the devil!
Hear me yourself; for that which I must speak
Must either punish me, not being believ'd,
Or wring redress from you. Hear me, O, hear me, here!
ANGELO. My lord, her wits, I fear me, are not firm;
She hath been a suitor to me for her brother,
Cut off by course of justice-
ISABELLA. By course of justice!
ANGELO. And she will speak most bitterly and strange.
ISABELLA. Most strange, but yet most truly, will I speak.
That Angelo's forsworn, is it not strange?
That Angelo's a murderer, is't not strange?
That Angelo is an adulterous thief,
An hypocrite, a virgin-violator,
Is it not strange and strange?
DUKE. Nay, it is ten times strange.
ISABELLA. It is not truer he is Angelo
Than this is all as true as it is strange;
Nay, it is ten times true; for truth is truth
To th' end of reck'ning.
DUKE. Away with her. Poor soul,
She speaks this in th' infirmity of sense.
ISABELLA. O Prince! I conjure thee, as thou believ'st
There is another comfort than this world,
That thou neglect me not with that opinion
That I am touch'd with madness. Make not impossible
That which but seems unlike: 'tis not impossible
But one, the wicked'st caitiff on the ground,
May seem as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute,
As Angelo; even so may Angelo,
In all his dressings, characts, titles, forms,
Be an arch-villain. Believe it, royal Prince,
If he be less, he's nothing; but he's more,
Had I more name for badness.
DUKE. By mine honesty,
If she be mad, as I believe no other,
Her madness hath the oddest frame of sense,
Such a dependency of thing on thing,
As e'er I heard in madness.
ISABELLA. O gracious Duke,
Harp not on that; nor do not banish reason
For inequality; but let your reason serve
To make the truth appear where it seems hid,
And hide the false seems true.
DUKE. Many that are not mad
Have, sure, more lack of reason. What would you say?
ISABELLA. I am the sister of one Claudio,
Condemn'd upon the act of fornication
To lose his head; condemn'd by Angelo.
I, in probation of a sisterhood,
Was sent to by my brother; one Lucio
As then the messenger-
LUCIO. That's I, an't like your Grace.
I came to her from Claudio, and desir'd her
To try her gracious fortune with Lord Angelo
For her poor brother's pardon.
ISABELLA. That's he, indeed.
DUKE. You were not bid to speak.
LUCIO. No, my good lord;
Nor wish'd to hold my peace.
DUKE. I wish you now, then;
Pray you take note of it; and when you have
A business for yourself, pray heaven you then
Be perfect.
LUCIO. I warrant your honour.
DUKE. The warrant's for yourself; take heed to't.
ISABELLA. This gentleman told somewhat of my tale.
LUCIO. Right.
DUKE. It may be right; but you are i' the wrong
To speak before your time. Proceed.
To this pernicious caitiff deputy.
DUKE. That's somewhat madly spoken.
ISABELLA. Pardon it;
The phrase is to the matter.
DUKE. Mended again. The matter- proceed.
ISABELLA. In brief- to set the needless process by,
How I persuaded, how I pray'd, and kneel'd,
How he refell'd me, and how I replied,
For this was of much length- the vile conclusion
I now begin with grief and shame to utter:
He would not, but by gift of my chaste body
To his concupiscible intemperate lust,
Release my brother; and, after much debatement,
My sisterly remorse confutes mine honour,
And I did yield to him. But the next morn betimes,
His purpose surfeiting, he sends a warrant
For my poor brother's head.
DUKE. This is most likely!
ISABELLA. O that it were as like as it is true!
DUKE. By heaven, fond wretch, thou know'st not what thou speak'st,
Or else thou art suborn'd against his honour
In hateful practice. First, his integrity
Stands without blemish; next, it imports no reason
That with such vehemency he should pursue
Faults proper to himself. If he had so offended,
He would have weigh'd thy brother by himself,
And not have cut him off. Some one hath set you on;
Confess the truth, and say by whose advice
Thou cam'st here to complain.
ISABELLA. And is this all?
Then, O you blessed ministers above,
Keep me in patience; and, with ripened time,
Unfold the evil which is here wrapt up
In countenance! Heaven shield your Grace from woe,
As I, thus wrong'd, hence unbelieved go!
DUKE. I know you'd fain be gone. An officer!
To prison with her! Shall we thus permit
A blasting and a scandalous breath to fall
On him so near us? This needs must be a practice.
Who knew of your intent and coming hither?
ISABELLA. One that I would were here, Friar Lodowick.
DUKE. A ghostly father, belike. Who knows that Lodowick?
LUCIO. My lord, I know him; 'tis a meddling friar.
I do not like the man; had he been lay, my lord,
For certain words he spake against your Grace
In your retirement, I had swing'd him soundly.
DUKE. Words against me? This's a good friar, belike!
And to set on this wretched woman here
Against our substitute! Let this friar be found.
LUCIO. But yesternight, my lord, she and that friar,
I saw them at the prison; a saucy friar,
A very scurvy fellow.
PETER. Blessed be your royal Grace!
I have stood by, my lord, and I have heard
Your royal ear abus'd. First, hath this woman
Most wrongfully accus'd your substitute;
Who is as free from touch or soil with her
As she from one ungot.
DUKE. We did believe no less.
Know you that Friar Lodowick that she speaks of?
PETER. I know him for a man divine and holy;
Not scurvy, nor a temporary meddler,
As he's reported by this gentleman;

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