The city gate.
MARIANA veiled, ISABELLA, and FRIAR PETER, at their stand.

My very worthy cousin, fairly met!

Our old and faithful friend, we are glad to see you.

Ang. and Escal.
Happy return be to your royal

Many and hearty thankings to you both.

We have made inquiry of you; and we hear

Such goodness of your justice, that our soul

Cannot but yield you forth to public thanks,

Forerunning more requital.

You make my bonds still greater.

O, your desert speaks loud; and I should wrong it, (10)

To lock it in the wards of covert bosom,

When it deserves, with characters of brass,

A forted residence 'gainst the tooth of time

And razure of oblivion. Give me your hand,

And let the subject see, to make them know

That outward courtesies would fain proclaim

Favours that keep within. Come, Escalus,

You must walk by us on our other hand;

And good supporters are you.
FRIAR PETER and ISABELLA come forward.

Fri. P.
Now is your time: speak loud and kneel before him. (20)

Justice, O royal duke! Vail your regard

Upon a wrong'd, I would fain have said, a maid!

O worthy prince, dishonour not your eye

By throwing it on any other object

Till you have heard me in my true complaint

And given me justice, justice, justice, justice!

Relate your wrongs; in what? by whom? be brief.

Here is Lord Angelo shall give you justice:

Reveal yourself to him.

O worthy duke,

You bid me seek redemption of the devil:

Hear me yourself; for that which I must speak (31)

Must either punish me, not being believed,

Or wring redress from you. Hear me, O hear me, here!

My lord, her wits, I fear me, are not firm:

She hath been a suitor to me for her brother

Cut off by course of justice,--

By course of justice!

And she will speak most bitterly and strange.

Most strange, but yet most truly, will I speak:

That Angelo's forsworn; is it not strange?

That Angelo's a murderer; is't not strange? (40)

That Angelo is an adulterous thief,

An hypocrite, a virgin-violator;

Is it not strange and strange?

Nay, it is ten times strange.

It is not truer he is Angelo

Than this is all as true as it is strange:

Nay, it is ten times true; for truth is truth

To the end of reckoning.

Away with her! Poor soul,

She speaks this in the infirmity of sense.

O prince, I conjure thee, as thou believest

There is another comfort than this world, (50)

That thou neglect me not, with that opinion

That I am touch'd with madness! Make not impossible

That which but seems unlike: 'tis not impossible

But one, the wicked'st caitiff on the ground,

May seem as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute

As Angelo; even so may Angelo,

In all his dressings, characts, titles, forms,

Be an arch-villain; believe it, royal prince:

If he be less, he's nothing; but he's more,

Had I more name for badness.

By mine honesty, (60)

If she be mad,--as I believe no other,--

Her madness hath the oddest frame of sense,

Such a dependency of thing on thing,

As e'er I heard in madness.

O gracious duke,

Harp not on that, nor do not banish reason

For inequality; but let your reason serve

To make the truth appear where it seems hid,

And hide the false seems true.

Many that are not mad

Have, sure, more lack of reason. What would you say?

I am the sister of one Claudio, (70)

Condemn'd upon the act of fornication

To lose his head; condemn'd by Angelo;

I, in probation of a sisterhood,

Was sent to by my brother; one Lucio

As then the messenger,--

That's I, an't like your grace;

I came to her from Claudio, and desired her

To try her gracious fortune with Lord Angelo

For her poor brother's pardon.

That's he indeed.

You were not bid to speak.

No, my good lord;

Nor wish'd to hold my peace.

I wish you now, then; (80)

Pray you, take note of it: and when you have

A business for yourself, pray heaven you then

Be perfect.

I warrant your honour.

The warrant's for yourself; take heed to't.

This gentleman told somewhat of my tale,--


It may be right; but you are i' the wrong

To speak before your time. Proceed.

I went

To this pernicious caitiff deputy,--

That's somewhat madly spoken.

Pardon it; (90)

The phrase is to the matter.

Mended again. The matter; proceed.

In brief, to set the needless process by,

How I persuaded, how I pray'd, and kneel'd,

How he refell'd me, and how I replied,--

For this was of much length,--the vile conclusion

I now begin with grief and shame to utter:

He would not, but by gift of my chaste body

To his concupiscible intemperate lust,

Release my brother; and, after much debatement, (100)

My sisterly remorse confutes mine honour,

And I did yield to him: but the next morn betimes,

His purpose surfeiting, he sends a warrant

For my poor brother's head.

This is most likely!

O, that it were as like as it is true!

By heaven, fond wretch, thou know'st not what thou speak'st,

Or else thou art suborn'd against his honour

In hateful practice. First, his integrity

Stands without blemish. Next, it imports no reason

That with such vehemency he should pursue

Faults proper to himself: if he had so offended

He would have weigh'd thy brother by himself

And not have cut him off. Some one hath set you on:

Confess the truth, and say by whose advice

Thou camest here to complain.

And is this all?

Then, O you blessed ministers above,

Keep me in patience, and with ripen'd time

Unfold the evil which is here wrap't up

In countenance! Heaven shield your grace from woe,

As I, thus wrong'd, hence unbelieved go! (120)

I know you'ld fain be gone. An officer!

To prison with her! Shall we thus permit

A blasting and a scandalous breath to fall

On him so near us? This needs must be a practice.

Who knew of your intent and coming hither?

One that I would were here, Friar Lodowick.

A ghostly father, belike. Who knows that Lodowick?

My lord, I know him; 'tis a meddling friar;

I do not like the man: had he been lay, my lord,

For certain words he spake against your grace

In your retirement, I had swinged him soundly. (131)

Words against me! this is a good friar, belike!

And to set on this wretched woman here

Against our substitute! Let this friar be found.

But yesternight, my lord, she and that friar,

I saw them at the prison: a saucy friar,

A very scurvy fellow.

Fri. P.
Blessed be your royal grace!

I have stood by, my lord, and I have heard

Your royal ear abused. First, hath this woman (140)

Most wrongfully accused your substitute,

Who is as free from touch or soil with her

As she from one ungot.

We did believe no less.

Know you that Friar Lodowick that she speaks of?

Fri. P.
I know him for a man divine and holy;

Not scurvy, nor a temporary meddler,

As he's reported by this gentleman;

And, on my trust, a man that never yet

Did, as he vouches, misreport your grace.

My lord, most villanously; believe it. (150)

Fri. P.
Well, he in time may come to clear himself;

But at this instant he is sick, my lord,

Of a strange fever. Upon his mere request,

Being come to knowledge that there was complaint

Intended 'gainst Lord Angelo, came I hither,

To speak, as from his mouth, what he doth know

Is true and false; and what he with his oath

And all probation will make up full clear,

Whensoever he's convented. First, for this woman,

To justify this worthy nobleman, (160)

So vulgarly and personally accused,

Her shall you hear disproved to her eyes,

Till she herself confess it.

Good friar, let's hear it.
Isabella is carried off guarded; and
Mariana comes forward.

Do you not smile at this, Lord Angelo?

O heaven, the vanity of wretched fools!

Give us some seats. Come, cousin Angelo;

In this I'll be impartial; be you judge

Of your own cause. Is this the witness, friar?

First let her show her face, and after speak.

Pardon, my lord; I will not show my face (170)

Until my husband bid me.

What, are you married?

No, my lord.

Are you a maid?

No, my lord.

A widow, then?

Neither, my lord.

Why, you are nothing then: neither
maid, widow, nor wife?

My lord, she may be a punk; for
many of them are neither maid, widow, nor
wife. (181)

Silence that fellow: I would he had some cause
To prattle for himself.

Well, my lord.

My lord, I do confess I ne'er was married;

And I confess besides I am no maid:

I have known my husband; yet my husband

Knows not that ever he knew me.

He was drunk then, my lord: it can
be no better,

For the benefit of silence, would
thou wert so too! (192)

Well, my lord.

This is no witness for Lord Angelo.

Now I come to't, my lord:

She that accuses him of fornication,

In self-same manner doth accuse my husband,

And charges him, my lord, with such a time

When I'll depose I had him in mine arms

With all the effect of love.

Charges she more than me?

Not that I know. (201)

No? you say your husband.

Why, just, my lord, and that is Angelo,

Who thinks he knows that he ne'er knew my body,

But knows he thinks that he knows Isabel's.

This is a strange abuse. Let's see thy face.

My husband bids me; now I will

This is that face, thou cruel Angelo,

Which once thou sworest was worth the looking on;

This is the hand which, with a vow'd contract,

Was fast belock'd in thine; this is the body

That took away the match from Isabel,

And did supply thee at thy garden-house

In her imagined person.

Know you this woman?

Carnally, she says.

Sirrah, no more!

Enough, my lord.

My lord, I must confess I know this woman:

And five years since there was some speech of marriage

Betwixt myself and her; which was broke off

Partly for that her promised proportions (220)

Came short of composition, but in chief

For that her reputation was disvalued

In levity: since which time of five years

I never spake with her, saw her, nor heard from her,

Upon my faith and honour.

Noble prince,

As there comes light from heaven and words from breath,

As there is sense in truth and truth in virtue,

I am affianced this man's wife as strongly

As words could make up vows: and, my good lord,

But Tuesday night last gone in's garden-house (230)

He knew me as a wife. As this is true,

Let me in safety raise me from my knees;

Or else for ever be confixed here,

A marble monument!

I did but smile till now:

Now, good my lord, give me the scope of justice;

My patience here is touch'd. I do perceive

These poor informal women are no more

But instruments of some more mightier member

That sets them on: let me have way, my lord,

To find this practice out.

Ay, with my heart; (240)

And punish them to your height of pleasure

Thou foolish friar, and thou pernicious woman,

Compact with her that's gone, think'st thou thy oaths,

Though they would swear down each particular saint,

Were testimonies against his worth and credit

That's seal'd in approbation? You, Lord Escalus,

Sit with my cousin; lend him your kind pains

To find out this abuse, whence 'tis derived.

There is another friar that set them on;

Let him be sent for. (250)

Fri. P.
Would he were here, my lord! for he indeed

Hath set the women on to this complaint:

Your provost knows the place where he abides

And he may fetch him.

Go do it instantly.
[Exit Provost.

And you, my noble and well-warranted cousin,

Whom it concerns to hear this matter forth,

Do with your injuries as seems you best,

In any chastisement: I for a while will leave you;

But stir not you till you have well determined

Upon these slanderers.

My lord, we'll do it throughly.
[Exit Duke.

Signior Lucio, did not you say you knew that

Friar Lodowick to be a dishonest person?

'Cucullus non facit monachum:'
honest in nothing but in his clothes; and one
that hath spoke most villanous speeches of the

We shall entreat you to abide here
till he come and enforce them against him: we
shall find this friar a notable fellow. (269)

As any in Vienna, on my word.

Call that same Isabel here once again:

I would speak with her. [Exit an Attendant.

Pray you, my lord, give me leave to question;
you shall see how I'll handle her.

Not better than he, by her own

Say you?

Marry, sir, I think, if you handled
her privately, she would sooner confess: perchance,
publicly, she'll be ashamed.

I will go darkly to work with her. (280)

That's the way; for women are light
at midnight.
with the DUKE in his friar's habit.

Come on, mistress: here's a gentlewoman
denies all that you have said.

My lord, here comes the rascal I
spoke of; here with the provost.

In very good time: speak not you to
him till we call upon you.


Come, sir: did you set these women
on to slander Lord Angelo? they have confessed
you did. (292)

'Tis false.

How! know you where you are?

Respect to your great place! and let the devil

Be sometime honour'd for his burning throne!

Where is the duke? 'tis he should hear me speak.

The duke's in us; and we will hear you speak:

Look you speak justly.

Boldly, at least. But, O, poor souls,

Come you to seek the lamb here of the fox?

Good night to your redress! Is the duke gone?

Then is your cause gone too. The duke's unjust,

Thus to retort your manifest appeal,

And put your trial in the villain's mouth

Which here you come to accuse.

This is the rascal; this is he I spoke of.

Why, thou unreverend and unhallow'd friar,

Is't not enough thou hast suborn'd these women

To accuse this worthy man, but, in foul mouth (310)

And in the witness of his proper ear,

To call him villain? and then to glance from him

To the duke himself, to tax him with injustice?

Take him hence; to the rack with him! We'll touse you

Joint by joint, but we will know his purpose.

What 'unjust'!

Be not so hot; the duke

Dare no more stretch this finger of mine than he

Dare rack his own: his subject am I not,

Nor here provincial. My business in this state

Made me a looker on here in Vienna,

Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble (321)

Till it o'er-run the stew; laws for all faults,

But faults so countenanced, that the strong statutes

Stand like the forfeits in a barber's shop,

As much in mock as mark.

Slander to the state! Away with him to prison!

What can you vouch against him, Signior Lucio?

Is this the man that you did tell us of?

'Tis he, my lord. Come hither,
goodman baldpate: do you know me? (330)

I remember you, sir, by the sound
of your voice: I met you at the prison, in the
absence of the duke.

O, did you so? And do you remember
what you said of the duke?

Most notedly, sir.

Do you so, sir? And was the duke
a fleshmonger, a fool, and a coward, as you
then reported him to be?

You must, sir, change persons with
me, ere you make that my report: you, indeed.
spoke so of him; and much more, much worse.

O thou damnable fellow! Did not
I pluck thee by the nose for thy speeches?

I protest I love the duke as I love

Hark, how the villain would close
now, after his treasonable abuses!

Such a fellow is not to be talked
withal. Away with him to prison! Where is
the provost? Away with him to prison! lay
bolts enough upon him: let him speak no more.
Away with those giglots too, and with the
other confederate companion!

[To Provost]

Stay, sir; stay awhile.

What, resists he? Help him, Lucio.

Come, sir; come, sir; come, sir;
foh, sir! Why, you bald-pated, lying rascal,
you must be hooded, must you? Show your
knave's visage, with a pox to you! show your
sheep-biting face, and be hanged an hour!
Will't not off?
Pulls off the friar's hood, and discovers
the Duke.

Thou art the first knave that e'er madest a duke.

First, provost, let me bail these gentle three.
[To Lucio]

Sneak not away, sir; for the friar and you

Must have a word anon. Lay hold on him.

This may prove worse than hanging.

[To Escalus]

What you have spoke I pardon: sit you down:

We'll borrow place of him. [To Angelo]

Sir, by your leave.

Hast thou or word, or wit, or impudence,

That yet can do thee office? If thou hast, (370)

Rely upon it till my tale be heard,

And hold no longer out.

O my dread lord,

I should be guiltier than my guiltiness,

To think I can be undiscernible,

When I perceive your grace, like power divine,

Hath look'd upon my passes. Then, good prince,

No longer session hold upon my shame,

But let my trial be mine own confession:

Immediate sentence then and sequent death

Is all the grace I beg.

Come hither, Mariana.

Say, wast thou e'er contracted to this woman? (381)

I was, my lord.

Go take her hence, and marry her instantly.

Do you the office, friar; which consummate,

Return him here again. Go with him, provost.
[Exeunt Angelo, Mariana, Friar Peter and Provost.

My lord, I am more amazed at his dishonour

Than at the strangeness of it.

Come hither, Isabel.

Your friar is now your prince: as I was then

Advertising and holy to your business; (389)

Not changing heart with habit, I am still

Attorney'd at your service.

O, give me pardon,

That I, your vassal, have employ'd and pain'd

Your unknown sovereignty

You are pardon'd, Isabel:

And now, dear maid, be you as free to us.

Your brother's death, I know, sits at your heart;

And you may marvel why I obscured myself,

Laboring to save his life, and would not rather

Make rash remonstrance of my hidden power

Than let him so be lost. O most kind maid,

It was the swift celerity of his death,

Which I did think with slower foot came on, (401)

That brain'd my purpose. But, peace be with him!

That life is better life, past fearing death,

Than that which lives to fear: make it your comfort,

So happy is your brother.

I do, my lord.

For this new-married man approaching here,

Whose salt imagination yet hath wrong'd

Your well defended honour, you must pardon

For Mariana's sake: but as he adjudged your brother,--

Being criminal, in double violation (410)

Of sacred chastity and of promise-breach

Thereon dependent, for your brother's life,--

The very mercy of the law cries out

Most audible, even from his proper tongue,

'An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!

Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;

like doth quit like, and MEASURE still FOR MEASURE.

Then Angelo, thy fault's thus manifested;

Which, though thou wouldst deny, denies thee vantage.

We do condemn thee to the very block (420)

Where Claudio stoop'd to death, and with like haste.

Away with him!

O my most gracious lord,

I hope you will not mock me with a husband.

It is your husband mock'd you with a husband.

Consenting to the safeguard of your honour,

I thought your marriage fit; else imputation,

For that he knew you, might reproach your life

And choke your good to come: for his possessions,

Although by confiscation they are ours,

We do instate and widow you withal,

To buy you a better husband.

O my dear lord, (431)

I crave no other, nor no better man.

Never crave him; we are definitive.

Gentle my liege,--

You do but lose your labour.

Away with him to death! [To Lucio]

Now, sir, to you.

O my good lord! Sweet Isabel, take my part;

Lend me your knees, and all my life to come

I'll lend you all my life to do you service.

Against all sense you do importune her:

Should she kneel down in mercy of this fact.

Her brother's ghost his paved bed would break,

And take her hence in horror. (441)


Sweet Isabel, do yet but kneel by me;

Hold up your hands, say nothing; I'll speak all.

They say, best men are moulded out of faults;

And, for the most, become much more the better

For being a little bad: so may my husband.

O Isabel, will you not lend a knee?

He dies for Claudio's death.

Most bounteous sir,

Look, if it please you, on this man condemn'd, (450)

As if my brother lived: I partly think

A due sincerity govern'd his deeds,

Till he did look on me: since it is so,

Let him not die. My brother had but justice,

In that he did the thing for which he died:

For Angelo,

His act did not o'ertake his bad intent,

And must be buried but as an intent

That perish'd by the way: thoughts are no subjects;

Intents but merely thoughts.

Merely, my lord. (460)

Your suit's unprofitable; stand up, I say.

I have bethought me of another fault.

Provost, how came it Claudio was beheaded

At an unusual hour?

It was commanded so.

Had you a special warrant for the deed?

No, my good lord; it was by private message.

For which I do discharge you of your office:

Give up your keys.

Pardon me, noble lord:

I thought it was a fault, but knew it not;

Yet did repent me, after more advice: (470)

For testimony whereof, one in the prison,

That should by private order else have died,

I have reserved alive.

What's he?

His name is Barnardine.

I would thou hadst done so by Claudio.

Go fetch him hither; let me look upon him.
[Exit Provost.

I am sorry, one so learned and so wise

As you, Lord Angelo, have still appear'd,

Should slip so grossly, both in the heat of blood,

And lack of temper'd judgement afterward.

I am sorry that such sorrow I procure: (480)

And so deep sticks it in my penitent heart

That I crave death more willingly than mercy;

'Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it.
CLAUDIO muffled, and JULIET.

Which is that Barnardine?

This, my lord.

There was a friar told me of this man.

Sirrah, thou art said to have a stubborn soul,

That apprehends no further than this world,

And squarest thy life according. Thou'rt condemn'd:

But, for those earthly faults, I quit them all;

And pray thee take this mercy to provide

For better times to come. Friar, advise him; (491)

I leave him to your hand. What muffled fellow's that?

This is another prisoner that I saved,

Who should have died when Claudio lost his head;

As like almost to Claudio as himself.
[Unmuffles Claudio.

[To Isabella]

If he be like your brother, for his sake

Is he pardon'd; and for your lovely sake,

Give me your hand and say you will be mine,

He is my brother too: but fitter time for that.

By this Lord Angelo perceives he's safe; (500)

Methinks I see a quickening in his eye.

Well, Angelo, your evil quits you well:

Look that you love your wife; her worth worth yours.

I find an apt remission in myself;

And yet here's one in place I cannot pardon.
[To Lucio]

You, sirrah, that knew me for a fool, a coward,

One all of luxury, an ass, a madman;

Wherein have I so deserved of you,

That you extol me thus?

'Faith, my lord, I spoke it but according
to the trick. If you will hang me for
it, you may; but I had rather it would please
you I might be whipt.

Whipt first, sir, and hanged after.

Proclaim it, provost, round about the city,

Is any woman wrong'd by this lewd fellow,

As I have heard him swear himself there's one

Whom he begot with child, let her appear,

And he shall marry her: the nuptial finish'd,

Let him be whipt and hang'd.

I beseech your highness, do not marry
me to a whore. Your highness said even now,
I made you a duke: good my lord, do not
recompense me in making me a cuckold.

Upon mine honour, thou shalt marry her.

Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal

Remit thy other forfeits. Take him to prison;

And see our pleasure herein executed.

Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing
to death, whipping, and hanging. (530)

Slandering a prince deserves it.
[Exeunt Officers with Lucio.

She, Claudio, that you wrong'd, look you restore.

Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo:

I have confess'd her and I know her virtue.

Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness:

There's more behind that is more gratulate.

Thanks, provost, for thy care and secrecy:

We shall employ thee in a worthier place.

Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home

The head of Ragozine for Claudio's: (540)

The offence pardons itself. Dear Isabel,

I have a motion much imports your good;

Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline,

What's mine is yours and what is yours is mine.

So, bring us to our palace; where we'll show

What's yet behind, that's meet you all should know.

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: