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How I have ever lov'd the life remov'd,
And held in idle price to haunt assemblies
Where youth, and cost, and 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?
Fri. Gladly, my lord.
Duke. We have strict statutes and most biting laws, -
The needful bits and curbs for headstrong steeds, –
Which for these fourteen years we have let sleep,
Even like an o'er-grown 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.
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.
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 the ambush of my name, strike home,
And yet my nature never in the fight,
To do it slander. And to behold his
I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,
Visit both prince and people: therefore, I pr’ythee,
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally in person bear me
Like a true friar. More 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.
SCENE V.-A Nunnery.
Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA.
Isab. And have you nuns no further privileges ?
Fran. Are not these large enough?
Isab. Yes, truly: I speak not as desiring more,
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votaries of St. Clare.
Lucio. Ho! Peace be in this place!
Who's that which calls ? Fran. It is a man's voice. Gentle Isabella, Turn you the key, and know his business of him; You
may, 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.
Isab. 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?
Isab. 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.
Isab. 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.
Isab. Sir, make me not your story.
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 ensky'd and sainted;
By your renouncement an immortal spirit;
And to be talk'd with in sincerity,
As with a saint.
Isab. You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.
Lucio. Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, 'tis thus: Your brother and his lover have embraced : 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.
Isab. Some one with child by him?–My cousin Juliet? Lucio. Is she your cousin ?
Isab. Adoptedly; as schoolmaids change their names
By vain though apt affection.
She it is.
Isab. O, let him marry her!
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.
Isab. Doth he so seek his life?
Has censur'd him
Already; and, as I hear, the provost hath
A warrant for his execution.
Isab. Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good.
Lucio. Assay the power you have.
Isab. My power! alas, I doubt,-
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.
Isab. I'll see what I can do.
Isab. 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.
Good sir, adieu. [Exeunt.
SCENE I.-A Hall in ANGELO's Houise.
Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a JUSTICE, PROVOST,
Officers, and other Attendants.
Ang. 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.
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 your blood
Could have attain'd the 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.
Ang. '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 know the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it,
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.
Escal. Be it as your wisdom will.
Where is the provosi?
Prov. Here, if it like your honour.
See that Claudio
Be executed by nine to-morrow morning:
Bring him his confessor; let him be prepared ;
For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
Escal. Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall:
Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none;
And some condemnéd for a fault alone.
Enter ELBOW, FROTH, Clown, Officers, &c. Elb. Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know no law; bring them away.
Ang. How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
Elb. If it please your honour, I am the poor duke's constable, and my name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good honour two notorious benefactors.
Ang. Benefactors! Well; what benefactors are they? are they not malefactors?
Elb. If it please your honour, I know not well what they are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure of; and void of all profanation in the world that good Christians ought to have
Escal. This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
Ang. Go to ;—what quality are they of? Elbow is your name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?