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SCENE I

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

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.

Escal.
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.

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'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.

Escal.
Be it as your wisdom will.

Ang.
Where is the provost?

Prov.
Here, if it like your honour.

Ang.
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.


Escal.
[Aside]

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.


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. (51)

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 though not
speak, Elbow? (61)

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

Ang.
What are you, sir?

Elb.
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.

Escal.
How know you that? (69)

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

Escal.
How? thy wife?

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

Escal.
Dost thou detest her therefore?

Elb.
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.

Escal.
How dost thou know that, constable?

Elb.
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.

Escal.
By the woman's means?

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

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

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

Escal.
Do you hear how he misplaces?

Pom.
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,--

Escal.
Go to, go to: no matter for the dish,
sir.

Pom.
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.

Froth.
No, indeed.

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

Froth.
Ay, so I did indeed.

Pom.
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,--

Froth.
All this is true.

Pom.
Why, very well, then,--

Escal.
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.

Pom.
Sir, your honour cannot come to that
yet.

Escal.
No, sir, nor I mean it not.

Pom.
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)

Froth.
All-hallond eve.

Pom.
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
not?

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

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

Ang.
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.

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

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

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

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

Pom.
I beseech your honour, ask me.

Escal.
Well, sir; what did this gentleman
to her?

Pom.
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?

Escal.
Ay, sir, very well.

Pom.
Nay, I beseech ycu, mark it well.

Escal.
Well, I do so,

Pom.
Doth your honour see any harm in
his face?

Escal.
Why, no.

Pom.
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elb.
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)

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

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

Escal.
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.

Elb.
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)

Escal.
Where were you born, friend?

Froth.
Here in Vienna, sir.

Escal.
Are you of fourscore pounds a year?

Froth.
Yes, an't please you, sir.

Escal.
So. What trade are you of, sir?

Pom.
A tapster; a poor widow's tapster.

Escal.
Your mistress' name?

Pom.
Mistress Overdone. (210)

Escal.
Hath she had any more than one
husband?

Pom.
Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.

Escal.
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)

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

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

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

Pom.
Pompey.

Escal.
What else?

Pom.
Bum, sir.

Escal.
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.

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

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

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

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

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

Escal.
No, Pompey.

Pom.
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.

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

Pom.
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.

Escal.
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.

Pom.
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.


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

Elb.
Seven year and a half, sir.

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

Elb.
And a half, sir.

Escal.
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?

Elb.
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.

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

Elb.
To your worship's house, sir?

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

Just.
Eleven, sir.

Escal.
I pray you home to dinner with me.

Just.
I humbly thank you.

Escal.
It grieves me for the death of Claudio;

But there's no remedy.

Just.
Lord Angelo is severe.

Escal.
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.

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