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A room in the prison.
Enter DUKE disguised as before, CLAUDIO, and PROVOST.

So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?

The miserable have no other medicine

But only hope:

I've hope to live, and am prepared to die,

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, (10)

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 runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble;

For all the accommodations that thou bear'st

Are nursed 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 provokes; yet grossly fear'st

Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself;

For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains

That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;

For what thou hast not, still thou strivest 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, (30)

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 ail 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. (41)

I humbly thank you.

To sue to live, I find I seek to die;

And seeking death, find life: let it come on.


What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!

Who's there? come in: the wish deserves a welcome.

Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.

Most holy sir, I thank you.

My business is a word or two with Claudio.

And very welcome. Look, signior, here's your sister. (50)

Provost, a word with you.

As many as you please.

Bring me to hear them speak, where

I may be concealed.
[Exeunt Duke and Provost.

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: (60)

Therefore your best appointment make with speed;

To-morrow you set on.

Is there no remedy?

None, but such remedy as, to save a head,

To cleave a heart in twain.

But is there any?

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.

Perpetual durance?

Ay, just; perpetual durance, a restraint,

Though all the world's vastidity you had,

To a determined scope. (70)

But in what nature?

In such a one as, you consenting to't,

Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,

And leave you naked.

Let me know the point.

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. Darest thou die?

The sense of death is most in apprehension;

And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, (80)

In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great

As when a giant dies.

Why give you me this shame?

Think you I can a resolution fetch

From flowery tenderness? If I must die,

I will encounter darkness as a bride,

And hug it in mine arms.

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, (90)

Whose settled visage and deliberate word

Nips youth i' the head and follies doth emmew

As falcon doth the fowl, is yet a devil;

His filth within being cast, he would appear

A pond as deep as hell.

The prenzie Angelo!

O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,

The damned'st body to invest and cover

In prenzie guards! Dost thou think, Claudio?

If I would yield him my virginity,

Thou mightst be freed.

O heavens! it cannot be. (100)

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.

Thou shalt not do't

O, were it but my life,

I'ld throw it down for your deliverance

As frankly as a pin.

Thanks, dear Isabel.

Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.

Yes. Has he affections in him,

That thus can make him bite the law by the nose,

When he would force it? Sure, it is no sin;

Or of the deadly seven it is the least.

Which is the least?

If it were damnable, he being so wise,

Why would he for the momentary trick

Be perdurably fined? O Isabel!

What says my brother?

Death is a fearful thing.

And shamed life a hateful.

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;

To lie in cold obstruction and to rot; (120)

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 (130)

That age, ache, penury and imprisonment

Can lay on nature is a paradise

To what we fear of death.

Alas, alas!

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.

O you beast!

O faithless coward! O dishonest wretchl

Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?

Is't not a kind of incest, to take life (140)

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 issued 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.

Nay, hear me, Isabel.

O, fie, fie, fie!

Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade. (150)

Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd:

'Tis best that thou diest quickly.

O hear me, Isabella!
Re-enter DUKE.

Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

What is your will?

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.

I have no superfluous leisure; my stay
must be stolen out of other affairs; but I will
attend you awhile.
[Walks apart.

Son, I have overheard what hath
passed 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
judgement 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.

Let me ask my sister pardon. I am
so out of love with life that I will sue to be
rid of it.

Hold you there: farewell.
[Exit Claudio.
Provost, a word with you!
Re-enter PROVOST.

What's your will, father?

That now you are come, you will be
gone. Leave me awhile with the maid: my
mind promises with my habit no loss shall
touch her by my company.

In good time.
Exit Provost. sabella comes forward.

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 conveyed
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?

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 deceived in Angelo! If ever
he return and I can speak to him, I will open
my lips in vain, or discover his government.

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 business. (212)

Let me hear you speak farther. I
have spirit to do any thing that appears not
foul in the truth of my spirit.

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? (219)

I have heard of the lady, and good
words went with her name.

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 wrecked 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.

Can this be so? did Angelo so leave

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, bestowed 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.

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?

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

Show me how, good father.

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 this 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?

The image of it gives me content
already; and I trust it will grow to a most
prosperous perfection.

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 quickly. (280)

I thank you for this comfort. Fare
you well, good father.
Exeunt severally.


The street before the prison.
Enter, on one side, DUKE disguised as before;
on the other, ELBOW, and Officers
with POMPEY.

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.

O heavens! what stuff is here?

'Twas never merry world since, of two
usuries, the merriest was put down, and the
worser allowed by order of law a furred gown
to keep him warm; and furred with fox and
lambskins too, to signify, that craft, being
richer than innocency, stands for the facing. (12)

Come your way, sir. 'Bless you, good
father friar.

And you, good brother father. What
offence hath this man made you, sir?

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.

Fie, sirrah! a bawd, a wicked bawd! (21)

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. (29)

Indeed, it does stink in some sort,
sir; but yet, sir, I would prove--

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.

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. (40)

That we were all, as some would seem to be,

From our fault as faults from seeming, free!

His neck will come to your waist,--a cord, sir.

I spy comfort; I cry bail. Here's a
gentleman and a friend of mine.
Enter 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 clutched? What reply, ha? What
sayest thou to this tune, matter and method?
Is't not drowned i' the last rain, ha? What
sayest 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?

Still thus, and thus; still worse!

How doth my dear morsel, thy mis-
tress? Procures she still, ha? (58)

Troth, sir, she hath eaten up all her
beef, and she is herself in the tub.

Why, 'tis good; it is the right of it;
it must be so: ever your fresh whore and your
powdered bawd: an unshunned consequence;
it must be so. Art going to prison, Pompey?

Yes, faith, sir.

Why, 'tis not amiss, Pompey: Farewell:
go say I sent thee thither. For debt,
Pompey, or how?

For being a bawd, for being a bawd.

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.

I hope, sir, your good worship will
be my bail.

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. (82)

And you.

Does Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha?

Come your ways, sir; come.

You will not bail me, then, sir?

Then, Pompey, nor now. What
news abroad, friar? what news?

Come your ways, sir; come.

Go to kennel, Pompey; go.
[Exeunt Elbow, Pompey and Officers.]

What news, friar, of the duke?

I know none. Can you tell me of any?

Some say he is with the Emperor of
Russia; other some, he is in Rome: but where
is he, think you?

I know not where; but wheresoever,
I wish him well.

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. (102)

He does well in't.

A little more lenity to lechery would
do no harm in him: something too crabbed
that way, friar.

It is too general a vice, and severity
must cure it.

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?

How should he be made, then?

Some report a sea-maid spawned
him; some, that he was begot between two
stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he
makes water his urine is congealed ice; that I
know to be true: and he is a motion generative;
that's infallible. (119)

You are pleasant, sir, and speak

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 hanged
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.

I never heard the absent duke much
detected for women; he was not inclined that
way. (131)

O, sir, you are deceived.

'Tis not possible.

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 do him wrong, surely. (138)

Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy
fellow was the duke: and I believe I know
the cause of his withdrawing.

What, I prithee, might be the cause?

No, pardon; 'tis a secret must be
locked 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.

Wise! why, no question but he was.

A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing

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 darkened in your malice.

Sir, I know him, and I love him. (159)

Love talks with better knowledge,
and knowledge with dearer love.

Come, sir, I know what I know.

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? (169)

Sir, my name is Lucio; well known
to the duke.

He shall know you better, sir, if I
may live to report you.

I fear you not.

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.

I'll be hanged first: thou art deceived
in me, friar. But no more of this. Canst thou
tell if Claudio die to-morrow or no? (181)

Why should he die, sir?

Why? For filling a bottle with a
tun-dish. I would the duke we talk of were
returned again: this ungenitured 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 returned!
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.

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? (200)

But who comes here? Enter ESCALUS, PROVOST, and Officers with

Go; away with her to prison!

Mrs Ov.
Good my lord, be good to me;
your honour is accounted a merciful man;
good my lord.

Double and treble admonition, and
still forfeit in the same kind! This would
make mercy swear and play the tyrant. (208)

A bawd of eleven years' continuance,
may it please your honour.

Mrs Ov.
My lord, this is one Lucio's information
against me. Mistress Kate Keepdown
was with child by him in the duke's time; he
promised 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!

That fellow is a fellow of much
license: let him be called before us. Away
with her to prison! Go to; no more words.
[Exeunt Officers with Mistress Ov.
Provost, my brother
Angelo will not be altered; Claudio
must die to-morrow: let him be furnished
with divines, and have all charitable preparation.
If my brother wrought by my pity, it
should not be so with him.

So please you, this friar hath been
with him, and advised him for the entertainment
of death.

Good even, good father.

Bliss and goodness on you!

Of whence are you? (230)

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.

What news abroad i' the world?

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
it is as dangerous to be aged in any kind of
course, as it is virtuous to be constant in any
undertaking. 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?

One that, above all other strifes,
contended especially to know himself.

What pleasure was he given to?

Rather rejoicing to see another merry,
than merry at any thing which professed to
make him rejoice: a gentlemen 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 prepared.
I am made to understand that you
have lent him visitation.

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 is he resolved to die.

You have paid the heavens your function,
and the prisoner the very debt of your
calling. I have laboured for the poor gentleman
to the extremest shore of my modesty: but my
brother justice have I found so severe, that he
hath forced me to tell him he is indeed Justice.

If his own life answer the straitness
of his proceeding, it shall become him well;
wherein if he chance to fail, he hath sentenced

I am going to visit the prisoner.
Fare you well.

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 (280)

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,

Making practice on the times,

To draw with idle spiders' strings (290)

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 the disguised,

Pay with falsehood false exacting,

And perform an old contracting.

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