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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.

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