previous next



A hall in ANGELO'S house.
Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, and a Justice, Provost, Officers, and other Attendants, behind.

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 cohered 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.

'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't

Because we see it; but what we do not see

We tread upon, and never think of it.

You may not so extenuate his offence

For I have had such faults; but rather tell me, (29)

When I, that censure him, do so offend,

Let mine own judgement pattern out my death,

And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.

Be it as your wisdom will.

Where is the provost?

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.
[Exit Provost.


Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:

Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none:

40And some condemned for a fault alone. Enter ELBOW, and Officers with FROTH and POMPEY.

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.

How now, sir! What's your name?
and what's the matter?

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. (51)

Benefactors? Well; what benefactors
are they? are they not malefactors?

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

This comes off well; here's a wise

Go to: what quality are they of?
Elbow is your name? why dost though not
speak, Elbow? (61)

He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.

What are you, sir?

He, sir! a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd;
one that serves a bad woman; whose house,
sir, was, as they say, plucked down in the
suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house,
which, I think, is a very ill house too.

How know you that? (69)

My wife, sir, whom I detest before
heaven and your honour,--

How? thy wife?

Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an
honest woman,--

Dost thou detest her therefore?

I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as
well as she, that this house, if it be not a
bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for it is a
naughty house.

How dost thou know that, constable?

Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she
had been a woman cardinally given, might
have been accused in fornication, adultery,
and all uncleanliness there.

By the woman's means?

Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's
means: but as she spit in his face, so she defied

Sir, if it please your honour, this is
not so.

Prove it before these varlets here, thou
honourable man; prove it. (90)

Do you hear how he misplaces?

Sir, she came in great with child; and
longing, saving your honour's reverence, for
stewed prunes; sir, we had but two in the
house, which at that very distant time stood, as
it were, in a fruit-dish, a dish of some threepence;
your honours have seen such dishes; they
are not China dishes, but very good dishes,--

Go to, go to: no matter for the dish,

No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you
are therein in the right: but to the point. As
I say, this Mistress Elbow, being, as I say,
with child, and being great-bellied, and longing,
as I said, for prunes; and having but two
in the dish, as I said, Master Froth here, this
very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and,
as I say, paying for them very honestly; for,
as you know, Master Froth, I could not give
you three-pence again.

No, indeed.

Very well; you being then, if you be
remembered, cracking the stones of the foresaid
prunes,-- (112)

Ay, so I did indeed.

Why, very well; I telling you then, if
you be remembered, that such a one and such
a one were past cure of the thing you wot of,
unless they kept very good diet, as I told you,--

All this is true.

Why, very well, then,--

Come, you are a tedious fool: to the
purpose. What was done to Elbow's wife,
that he hath cause to complain of? Come me
to what was done to her.

Sir, your honour cannot come to that

No, sir, nor I mean it not.

Sir, but you shall come to it, by your
honour's leave. And, I beseech you, look into
Master Froth here, sir; a man of fourscore
pound a year; whose father died at Hallowmas:
was't not a Hallowmas, Master Froth? (130)

All-hallond eve.

Why, very well; I hope here be
truth. He, sir, sitting, as I say, in a lower
chair, sir; 'twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where
indeed you have a delight to sit, have you

I have so; because it is an open
room and good for winter.

Why, very well, then; I hope here
be truths.

This will last out a night in Russia, (140)

When nights are longest there: I'll take my leave,

And leave you to the hearing of the cause;

Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.

I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
[Exit Angelo.

Now. sir come on: what was done to Elbow's
wife, once more?

Once, sir? there was nothing done to
her once.

I beseech you, sir, ask him what this
man did to my wife. (150)

I beseech your honour, ask me.

Well, sir; what did this gentleman
to her?

I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's
face. Good Master Froth, look upon
his honour; 'tis for a good purpose. Doth
your honour mark his face?

Ay, sir, very well.

Nay, I beseech ycu, mark it well.

Well, I do so,

Doth your honour see any harm in
his face?

Why, no.

I'll be supposed upon a book, his face
is the worst thing about him. Good, then; if
his face be the worst thing about him, how
could Master Froth do the constable's wife any
harm? I would know that of your honour.

He's in the right. Constable, what
say you to it?

First, an it like you, the house is a respected
house; next, this is a respected fellow;
and his mistress is a respected woman.

By this hand, sir, his wife is a more
respected person than any of us all.

Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked
varlet! the time is yet to come that she was
ever respected with man, woman, or child.

Sir, she was respected with him before
he married with her. (180)

Which is the wiser here? Justice or
Iniquity? Is this true?

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 battery on thee. (189)

If he took you a box o' the ear, you
might have your action of slander too.

Marry, I thank your good worship for
it. What is't your worship's pleasure I shall
do with this wicked caitiff?

Truly, officer, because he hath some
offences in him that thou wouldst discover if
thou couldst let him continue in his courses
till thou knowest what they are.

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. (202)

Where were you born, friend?

Here in Vienna, sir.

Are you of fourscore pounds a year?

Yes, an't please you, sir.

So. What trade are you of, sir?

A tapster; a poor widow's tapster.

Your mistress' name?

Mistress Overdone. (210)

Hath she had any more than one

Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.

Nine! Come hither to me. Master
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. (218)

I thank your worship. For mine
own part, I never come into any room in a
tap-house, but I am drawn in.

Well, no more of it, Master Froth:
farewell. [Exit Froth.

Come you hither to me,
Master tapster. What's your name, Master


What else?

Bum, sir.

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.

Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that
would live.

How would you live, Pompey? by
being a bawd? What do you think of the
trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?

If the law would allow it, sir. (240)

But the law will not allow it, Pompey;
nor it shall not be allowed in Vienna.

Does your worship mean to geld and
splay all the youth of the city?

No, 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.

There are pretty orders beginning, I
can tell you: it is but heading and hanging.

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 three-pence a bay:
if you live to see this come to pass, say Pompey
told you so.

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.

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.

Come hither to me, Master Elbow;
come hither, Master constable. How long
have you been in this place of constable?

Seven year and a half, sir.

I thought, by your readiness in the
office, you had continued in it some time. You
say, seven years together?

And a half, sir.

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?

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.

Look you bring me in the names of
some six or seven, the most sufficient of your

To your worship's house, sir?

To my house. Fare you well.
[Exit Elbow. (296)
What's o'clock, think you?

Eleven, sir.

I pray you home to dinner with me.

I humbly thank you.

It grieves me for the death of Claudio;

But there's no remedy.

Lord Angelo is severe.

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.


Another room in the same.
Enter PROVOST and a Servant.

He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight:

I'll tell him of you.

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!

Now, what's the matter, provost?

Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?

Did not I tell thee yea? hadst thou not order?

Why dost thou ask again?

Lest I might be too rash: (10)

Under your good correction. I have seen,

When, after execution, judgement hath

Repented o'er his doom.

Go to; let that be mine:

Do you your office. or give up your place,

And you shall well be spared.

I crave your honour's pardon.

What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?

She's very near her hour.

Dispose of her

To some more fitter place, and that with speed.
Re-enter Servant.

Here is the sister of the man condemn'd

Desires access to you.

Hath he a sister? (20)

Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,

And to be shortly of a sisterhood,

If not already.

Well, let her be admitted.
[Exit Servant.

See you the fornicatress be removed:

Let her have needful, but not lavish, means;

There shall be order for't.

God save your honour!

Stay a little while. To Isab.

You're welcome: what's your will?

I am a woeful suitor to your honour,

Please but your honour hear me.

Well; what's your suit?

There is a vice that most I do abhor, (30)

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.

Well; the matter?

I have a brother is condemn'd to die:

I do beseech you, let it be his fault,

And not my brother.


Heaven give thee moving graces!

Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?

Why, every fault's condemn'd ere it be done: (39)

Mine were the very cipher of a function,

To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,

And let go by the actor.

O just but severe law!

I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!

[Aside to Isab.]

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!

Must he needs die?

Maiden, no remedy.

Yes; I do think that you might pardon him, (50)

And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.

I will not do't.

But can you, if you would?

Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.

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?

He's sentenced; 'tis too late.

[Aside to Isab.]

You are too cold.

Too late? why, no; I, that do speak a word,

May call it back again. Well, believe this, (59)

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 slipt like him; but he, like you,

Would not have been so stern.

Pray you, be gone.

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.

[Aside to Isab.]
Ay, touch him; there's the vein.

Your brother is a forfeit of the law,

And you but waste your words.

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 judgement, should

But judge you as you are? O, think on that;

And mercy then will breathe within your lips

Like man new made.

Be you content, fair maid; (80)

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 tomorrow.

To-morrow! O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him!

He's not prepared 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.

[Aside to Isab.]

Ay, well said. (90)

The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept:

Those many had not dared to do that evil,

If the first that did the 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 new, or by remissness new-conceived,

And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,

Are now to have no successive degrees,

But, ere they live, to end.

Yet show some pity. (100)

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.

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.

[Aside to Isab.]

That's well said. (110)

Could great men thunder

As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er 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

Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak

Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,

Drest in a little brief authority,

Most ignorant of what he's most assured, (120)

His glassy essence, like an angry ape,

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,

Would all themselves laugh mortal.

[Aside to Isab.]

O, to him, to him, wench! he will relent;

He's coming; I perceive't.


Pray heaven she win him!

We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:

Great men may jest with saints; 'tis wit in them,

But in the less foul profanation.

Thou'rt i' the right, girl; more o' that. (130)

That in the captain's but a choleric word,

Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

[Aside to Isab.]

Art avised o' that? more on't.

Why do you put these sayings upon me?

Because authority, though it err like others,

Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself,

That skins the vice o' the 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.


She speaks, and 'tis (142)

Such sense, that my sense breeds with it. Fare you well.

Gentle my lord, turn back.

I will bethink me: come again tomorrow.

Hark how I'll bribe you: good my lord, turn back.

How! bribe me?

Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.

[Aside to Isab.]

You had marr'd all else.

Not with fond shekels of the tested gold, (150)

Or stones whose rates 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.

Well; come to me to-morrow.

[Aside to Isab.]

Go to; 'tis well; away!

Heaven keep your honour safe!



For I am that way going to temptation,

Where prayers cross.

At what hour to-morrow

Shall I attend your worship? (160)

At any time 'fore noon.

'Save your honour!
[Exeunt Isabella, Luclo, and Provost.

From thee, even from thy virtue! (10)

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 flower,

Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be

That modesty may more betray our sense (170)

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? (180)

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 smiled and wonder'd how.


A room in a prison.
Enter, severally, DUKE disguised as a friar, and PROVOST.

Hail to you, provost! so I think you are.

I am the provost. What's your will, good friar?

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.

I would do more than that, if more were needed. Enter JULIET.

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, sentenced; a young man

More fit to do another such office

Than die tor this.

When must he die?

As I do think, to-morrow,

I have provided for you: stay awhile, [To Juliet.]

And you shall be conducted.

Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry? (20)

I do; and bear the shame most patiently.

I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,

And try your penitence, if it be sound,

Or hollowly put on.

I'll gladly learn.

Love you the man that wrong'd you?

Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.

So then it seems your most offenceful act

Was mutually committed?


Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.

I do confess it, and repent it, father. (30)

'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,--

I do repent me, as it is an evil,

And take the shame with joy.

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.

Must die to-morrow! O injurious love,

That respites me a life, whose very comfort

Is still a dying horror!

'Tis pity of him. [Exeunt.


A room in ANGELO'S house.

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 fear'd 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. Enter a SERVANT.

Now now! who's there?

One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.

Teach her the way. [Exit Serv.

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. Enter ISABELLA.

How now, fair maid? (31)

I am come to know your pleasure.

That you might know it, would much better please me

Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.

Even so. Heaven keep your honour!

Yet may he live awhile; and, it may be,

As long as you or I: yet he must die.

Under your sentence?


When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve, (40)

Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted

That his soul sicken not.

Ha! fie, these filthy vices! It were as good

To pardon him that hath from nature stolen

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. (50)

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

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?

Sir, believe this,

I had rather give my body than my soul.

I talk not of your soul: our compell'd sins

Stand more for number than for accompt.

How say you?

Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak (60)

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?

Please you to do't.

I'll take it as a peril to my soul,

It is no sin at all, but charity.

Pleased you to do't at peril of your soul,

Were equal poise of sin and charity.

That I do beg his life if it be sin, (70)

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.

Nay, but hear me.

Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,

Or seem so craftily; and that's not good.

Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,

But graciously to know I am no better.

Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright

When it doth tax itself; as these black masks (80)

Proclaim an enshield 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.


And his offence is so, as it appears,

Accountant to the law upon that pain.


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, (91)

Finding yourself desired of such a person,

Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,

Could fetch your brother from the manacles

Of the all-building 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?

As much for my poor brother as myself: (100)

That is, were I under the terms of death,

The impression of keen whips I'ld wear as rubies,

And strip myself to death, as to a bed

That longing have been sick for, ere I'ld

My body up to shame.

Then must your brother die.

And 'twere the cheaper way:

Better it were a brother died at once,

Than that a sister, by redeeming him,

Should die for ever.

Were not you then as cruel as the sentence (110)

That you have slander'd so?

Ignomy in ransom and free pardon

Are of two houses: lawful mercy

Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;

And rather proved the sliding of your brother

A merriment than a vice.

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, (120)

For his advantage that I dearly love,

We are all frail.

Else let my brother die,

If not a feodary, but only he

Owe and succeed thy weakness.

Nay, women are frail too.

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; (129)

For we are soft as our complexions are,

And credulous to false prints.

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 destined livery.

I have no tongue but one: gentle my lord, (140)

Let me entreat you speak the former language.

Plainly conceive, I love you.

My brother did love Juliet,

And you tell me that he shall die for it.

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

I know your virtue hath a license in't,

Which seems a little fouler than it is,

To pluck on others.

Believe me, on mine honour,

My words express my purpose.

Ha! little honour to be much believed, (150)

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.

Who will believe thee, Isabel?

My unsoil'd name, the austereness of my life,

My vouch against you, and my place i' the state,

Will so your accusation overweigh,

That you shall stifle in your own report

And smell of calumny. I have begun, (160)

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 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.

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 court'sy to their will;

Hooking both right and wrong to the 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, (180)

That, had he twenty heads to tender down

On twenty bloody blocks, he'ld 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

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: