Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

SCENE IV. A Room in Angelo's House. Enter ANGELO. Ang. When I would pray and think, I think and pray To several subjects: heaven hath my empty words; Whilst my intention, 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 feard 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 still art blood : Let's write good angel on the devil's horn, 'Tis not the devil's crest.

Enter Servant.
How now, who's there?

Serv. One Isabel, a sister,
Desires access to you.
Ang. Teach her the way.

[Ex. Seru.
O heavens !
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart;
Making both it unable for itself,
And dispossessing all the 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.

[1] Here Shakespeare judiciously distinguishes the different operations of high place upon different minds. Fools are frighted, and wise men are allured. who cannot judge but by the eye, are easily awed by splendour; those who consider men as well as conditions, are easily persuaded to love the appearance of virtue digo Dified with power.

JOHNSON [2] So the Duke had before (act i. sc. 2.) expressed his dislike to popular ap: plause. I cannot help thinking that Shakespeare, in these two passages, intended to flatter that unkingly weakness of James I. which made him so impatient of the crowds that flocked to see him, especially upon his first coming, that, as some of our historians he restrained them by proclamation.

TYRWHIT

Those

say,

Enter ISABELLA.
How now, fair maid ?

Isab. I am come to know your pleasure.
Ang. That you might know it, would much better

please me,
Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.

Isab. Even so ?-Heaven keep your honour! [Retiring.

Ang. Yet may he live a while; and, it may be,
As long as you, or I : Yet he must die.

Isab. Under your sentence ?
Ang. Yea.

Isab. When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
Longer, or shorter, he may be so fitted,
That his soul sicken not.

Ang. Ha! Fye, these filthy vices ! It were as good
To pardon him, that hath from nature stolen
A man already made, as to remit
Their sawcy 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 mettle in restrained means,
To make a false one.

Isab. 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.

Ang. Say you so ? then I shall poze 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 ?

Isab. Sir, believe this,
I had rather give my body than my soul.

Ang. I talk not of your soul ; Our compellid sins
Stand more for number than accompt.

Isab. How say you?

Ang. Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak
Against the thing I say. Answer to this ;
1, 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?

Isab. Please you to do't,
V'll take it as a peril to my soul,
It is no sin at all, but charity.

Ang. Pleas'd you to do't, at peril of your soul,

[ocr errors]

Were equal poize of sin and charity.

Isab. 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.

Ang. Nay, but hear me :
Your sense pursues not mine : either you are ignorant,
Or seem so, craftily; and that's not good.

Isab. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
But graciously to know I am no better.

Ang. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright,
When it doth tax itself: as these black masks
Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could displayed.-But mark me ;
To be received plain, I'll speak more gross :
Your brother is to die.

Isab. So.

Ang. And his offence is so, as it appears
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

Isab. True.
Ang. 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 let him suffer ;
What would

you

do ?
Isab. As much for my poor brother, as myself:
That is, Were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing I have been sick for, ere I'd yield
My body up to shame.

Ang. Then must your brother die.
Isab. And 'twere the cheaper way ;
[3] The reasoning is thus : Angelo asks, Whether there might not be a charity
un sin to save this brother? Isabella answers, That if Angelo will save him, she
will stake her soul that it were charity, not sin. Angelo replies, That if Isabella
would save him at the hazard of her soul, it would be not indeed no sin, but a sin
to which the charity would be equivalent.

JOHNS.

Better it were, a brother died at once,
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.

Ang. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
That
you

have slander'd so ? Isab. Ignomy in ransom, and free pardon, Are of two houses : lawful

mercy is Nothing akin to foul redemption.

Ang. 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.

Isab. O, pardon me, my lord ; it oft falls out,
To have what we'd have, we speak not what we mean :
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.

Ang. We are all frail.

Isab. Else let my brother die, If not a feodary, but only he, Owe, and succeed by weakness.

Ang. Nay, women are frail too.
Isab 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 as soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.

Ang. 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,

Ignomy-So the word ignominy was formerly written. REED.

This is so obscure, but the allusion so fine, that it deserves to be explained. A feodary was one that in the times of vassalage held lands of the chief lord, under the tenure of paying rent and service: which tenures were called feuda amongst the Goths.

• Now,' says Angelo, we are all frail;' · Yes,' replies Isabella, if all mankind were not feodaries, who owe what they are to this tenure of imbecility, and who succeed each other by the same tenure, as well as my brother, I would give him up. The comparing mankind, lying under the weight of original sin, to a feodary, who owes suit and service to his lord, is, I think, not ill imagined.

JOHNSON [6] To owe is, in this place, to own, to hold, to have possession.

JOHNSON Her meaning is, that “men debase their nature by taking advantage of such weak pitiful creatures."-Edin. Mag. Nov. 1806. STEVENS

Vol. I.

[ocr errors]

By putting on the destin'd livery.

Isab. I have no tongue but one : gentle my lord, Let me entreat you speak the former language.

Ang. Plainly conceive, I love you.

Isab. My brother did love Juliet; and you tell me, That he shall die for it.

Ang. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.

Isab. I know, your virtue hath a license in't,..
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.

Ang. Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.

Isab. Ha ! little honour to be much believ'd,
And most pernicious purpose !-Seeming, seeming !
I will proclaim thee, Angelo ; look fort :
Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
Or, with an outstretch'd throat, I'll tell the world
Aloud, what man thou art.

Ang. 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 over-weigh,
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 lingering sufferance : Answer me to-morrow,
Or, by th' 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.

Isab. To whom shall 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!

[8] Alluding to the licences given by ministers to their spies, to go into all sus. pected companies, and join in the language of malcontents.

I suspect Warburton's interpretation to be more ingenious than just. The obvious meaning is--" I know your virtue assumes an air of licentiousness which is not natural to you, on purpose to try me."--Ed. Mag. 1806. STEEVENS.

[9] Seeming, seeming--Hypocrisy, hypocrisy; counterfeit virtue.

WARB.

JOHNS.

« ZurückWeiter »