MEASURE FOR MEASURE


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Act II

Scene I A hall In ANGELO's house.

[Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, and a Justice, Provost,
Officers, and other Attendants, behind]
ANGELO 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.
ESCALUS 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.
ANGELO '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,
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
ESCALUS Be it as your wisdom will.
ANGELO Where is the provost?
Provost Here, if it like your honour.
ANGELO 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]
ESCALUS [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:
And some condemned for a fault alone.
[Enter ELBOW, and Officers with FROTH and POMPEY]
ELBOW 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.
ANGELO How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
ELBOW 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.
ANGELO Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they? are
they not malefactors?
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
ANGELO Go to: what quality are they of? Elbow is your
name? why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
POMPEY He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.
ANGELO What are you, sir?
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS How know you that?
ELBOW My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,--
ESCALUS How? thy wife?
ELBOW Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,--
ESCALUS Dost thou detest her therefore?
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS How dost thou know that, constable?
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS By the woman's means?
ELBOW Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means: but as she
spit in his face, so she defied him.
POMPEY Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
ELBOW Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable
man; prove it.
ESCALUS Do you hear how he misplaces?
POMPEY 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 three-pence; your honours have seen
such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very
good dishes,--
ESCALUS Go to, go to: no matter for the dish, sir.
POMPEY 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.
POMPEY Very well: you being then, if you be remembered,
cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes,--
FROTH Ay, so I did indeed.
POMPEY 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.
POMPEY Why, very well, then,--
ESCALUS 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.
POMPEY Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
ESCALUS No, sir, nor I mean it not.
POMPEY 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 four-score pound a year; whose
father died at Hallowmas: was't not at Hallowmas,
Master Froth?
FROTH All-hallond eve.
POMPEY Why, very well; I hope here be truths. 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.
POMPEY Why, very well, then; I hope here be truths.
ANGELO This will last out a night in Russia,
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.
ESCALUS I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
[Exit ANGELO]
Now, sir, come on: what was done to Elbow's wife, once more?
POMPEY Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once.
ELBOW I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
POMPEY I beseech your honour, ask me.
ESCALUS Well, sir; what did this gentleman to her?
POMPEY 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?
ESCALUS Ay, sir, very well.
POMPEY Nay; I beseech you, mark it well.
ESCALUS Well, I do so.
POMPEY Doth your honour see any harm in his face?
ESCALUS Why, no.
POMPEY 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.
ESCALUS He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?
ELBOW First, an it like you, the house is a respected
house; next, this is a respected fellow; and his
mistress is a respected woman.
POMPEY By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected
person than any of us all.
ELBOW Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet! the
time has yet to come that she was ever respected
with man, woman, or child.
POMPEY Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
ESCALUS Which is the wiser here? Justice or Iniquity? Is
this true?
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS If he took you a box o' the ear, you might have your
action of slander too.
ELBOW Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't
your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?
ESCALUS 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.
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS Where were you born, friend?
FROTH Here in Vienna, sir.
ESCALUS Are you of fourscore pounds a year?
FROTH Yes, an't please you, sir.
ESCALUS So. What trade are you of, sir?
POMPHEY Tapster; a poor widow's tapster.
ESCALUS Your mistress' name?
POMPHEY Mistress Overdone.
ESCALUS Hath she had any more than one husband?
POMPEY Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.
ESCALUS Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. 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.
FROTH I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never
come into any room in a tap-house, but I am drawn
in.
ESCALUS Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell.
[Exit FROTH]
Come you hither to me, Master tapster. What's your
name, Master tapster?
POMPEY Pompey.
ESCALUS What else?
POMPEY Bum, sir.
ESCALUS 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.
POMPEY Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
ESCALUS How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What
do you think of the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?
POMPEY If the law would allow it, sir.
ESCALUS But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall
not be allowed in Vienna.
POMPEY Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the
youth of the city?
ESCALUS No, Pompey.
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.
ESCALUS There are pretty orders beginning, I can tell you:
it is but heading and hanging.
POMPEY 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.
ESCALUS 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.
POMPEY 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 is not whipt out of his trade.
[Exit]
ESCALUS Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master
constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?
ELBOW Seven year and a half, sir.
ESCALUS I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had
continued in it some time. You say, seven years together?
ELBOW And a half, sir.
ESCALUS 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?
ELBOW 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.
ESCALUS Look you bring me in the names of some six or seven,
the most sufficient of your parish.
ELBOW To your worship's house, sir?
ESCALUS To my house. Fare you well.
[Exit ELBOW]
What's o'clock, think you?
Justice Eleven, sir.
ESCALUS I pray you home to dinner with me.
Justice I humbly thank you.
ESCALUS It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
But there's no remedy.
Justice Lord Angelo is severe.
ESCALUS 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]

Scene II Another room in the same.

[Enter Provost and a Servant]
Servant He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight
I'll tell him of you.
Provost 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!
[Enter ANGELO]
ANGELO Now, what's the matter. Provost?
Provost Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?
ANGELO Did not I tell thee yea? hadst thou not order?
Why dost thou ask again?
Provost Lest I might be too rash:
Under your good correction, I have seen,
When, after execution, judgment hath
Repented o'er his doom.
ANGELO Go to; let that be mine:
Do you your office, or give up your place,
And you shall well be spared.
Provost I crave your honour's pardon.
What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?
She's very near her hour.
ANGELO Dispose of her
To some more fitter place, and that with speed.
[Re-enter Servant]
Servant Here is the sister of the man condemn'd
Desires access to you.
ANGELO Hath he a sister?
Provost Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,
And to be shortly of a sisterhood,
If not already.
ANGELO Well, let her be admitted.
[Exit Servant]
See you the fornicatress be removed:
Let have needful, but not lavish, means;
There shall be order for't.
[Enter ISABELLA and LUCIO]
Provost God save your honour!
ANGELO Stay a little while.
[To ISABELLA]
You're welcome: what's your will?
ISABELLA I am a woeful suitor to your honour,
Please but your honour hear me.
ANGELO Well; what's your suit?
ISABELLA There is a vice that most I do abhor,
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.
ANGELO Well; the matter?
ISABELLA I have a brother is condemn'd to die:
I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.
Provost [Aside] Heaven give thee moving graces!
ANGELO Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?
Why, every fault's condemn'd ere it be done:
Mine were the very cipher of a function,
To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.
ISABELLA O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] 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!
ISABELLA Must he needs die?
ANGELO Maiden, no remedy.
ISABELLA Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.
ANGELO I will not do't.
ISABELLA But can you, if you would?
ANGELO Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.
ISABELLA 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?
ANGELO He's sentenced; 'tis too late.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] You are too cold.
ISABELLA Too late? why, no; I, that do speak a word.
May call it back again. Well, believe this,
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.
ANGELO Pray you, be gone.
ISABELLA 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.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA]
Ay, touch him; there's the vein.
ANGELO Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.
ISABELLA 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 judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.
ANGELO Be you content, fair maid;
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.
ISABELLA 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.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] Ay, well said.
ANGELO 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.
ISABELLA Yet show some pity.
ANGELO 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.
ISABELLA So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he, that suffer's. O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] That's well said.
ISABELLA 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,
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.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] O, to him, to him, wench! he
will relent;
He's coming; I perceive 't.
Provost [Aside] Pray heaven she win him!
ISABELLA We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:
Great men may jest with saints; 'tis wit in them,
But in the less foul profanation.
LUCIO Thou'rt i' the right, girl; more o, that.
ISABELLA That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] Art avised o' that? more on 't.
ANGELO Why do you put these sayings upon me?
ISABELLA 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.
ANGELO [Aside] She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense, that my sense breeds with it. Fare you well.
ISABELLA Gentle my lord, turn back.
ANGELO I will bethink me: come again tomorrow.
ISABELLA Hark how I'll bribe you: good my lord, turn back.
ANGELO How! bribe me?
ISABELLA Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] You had marr'd all else.
ISABELLA Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,
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.
ANGELO Well; come to me to-morrow.
LUCIO [Aside to ISABELLA] Go to; 'tis well; away!
ISABELLA Heaven keep your honour safe!
ANGELO [Aside] Amen:
For I am that way going to temptation,
Where prayers cross.
ISABELLA At what hour to-morrow
Shall I attend your lordship?
ANGELO At any time 'fore noon.
ISABELLA 'Save your honour!
[Exeunt ISABELLA, LUCIO, and Provost]
ANGELO From thee, even from thy virtue!
What's this, what's this? Is this her fault or mine?
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?
Ha!
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
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?
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. Even till now,
When men were fond, I smiled and wonder'd how.
[Exit]

Scene III A room in a prison.

[Enter, severally, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as a
friar, and Provost]
DUKE VINCENTIO Hail to you, provost! so I think you are.
Provost I am the provost. What's your will, good friar?
DUKE VINCENTIO 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.
Provost I would do more than that, if more were needful.
[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 offence
Than die for this.
DUKE VINCENTIO When must he die?
Provost As I do think, to-morrow.
I have provided for you: stay awhile,
[To JULIET]
And you shall be conducted.
DUKE VINCENTIO Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?
JULIET I do; and bear the shame most patiently.
DUKE VINCENTIO I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
And try your penitence, if it be sound,
Or hollowly put on.
JULIET I'll gladly learn.
DUKE VINCENTIO Love you the man that wrong'd you?
JULIET Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.
DUKE VINCENTIO So then it seems your most offenceful act
Was mutually committed?
JULIET Mutually.
DUKE VINCENTIO Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.
JULIET I do confess it, and repent it, father.
DUKE VINCENTIO 'Tis meet so, daughter: but lest you do repent,
As that the sin hath brought you to this shame,
Which sorrow is always towards ourselves, not heaven,
Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it,
But as we stand in fear,--
JULIET I do repent me, as it is an evil,
And take the shame with joy.
DUKE VINCENTIO 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]
JULIET Must die to-morrow! O injurious love,
That respites me a life, whose very comfort
Is still a dying horror!
Provost 'Tis pity of him.
[Exeunt]

Scene IV A room in ANGELO's house.

[Enter ANGELO]
ANGELO 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]
How now! who's there?
Servant One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.
ANGELO Teach her the way.
[Exit Servant]
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?
ISABELLA I am come to know your pleasure.
ANGELO That you might know it, would much better please me
Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.
ISABELLA Even so. Heaven keep your honour!
ANGELO Yet may he live awhile; and, it may be,
As long as you or I yet he must die.
ISABELLA Under your sentence?
ANGELO Yea.
ISABELLA When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
That his soul sicken not.
ANGELO 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.
ISABELLA 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
ANGELO 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?
ISABELLA Sir, believe this,
I had rather give my body than my soul.
ANGELO I talk not of your soul: our compell'd sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.
ISABELLA How say you?
ANGELO Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak
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?
ISABELLA Please you to do't,
I'll take it as a peril to my soul,
It is no sin at all, but charity.
ANGELO Pleased you to do't at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.
ISABELLA That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
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.
ANGELO Nay, but hear me.
Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,
Or seem so craftily; and that's not good.
ISABELLA Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
But graciously to know I am no better.
ANGELO Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
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.
ISABELLA So.
ANGELO And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.
ISABELLA True.
ANGELO 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,
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?
ISABELLA As much for my poor brother as myself:
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 yield
My body up to shame.
ANGELO Then must your brother die.
ISABELLA And 'twere the cheaper way:
Better it were a brother died at once,
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.
ANGELO Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
That you have slander'd so?
ISABELLA Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses: lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.
ANGELO You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather proved the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.
ISABELLA 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,
For his advantage that I dearly love.
ANGELO We are all frail.
ISABELLA Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary, but only he
Owe and succeed thy weakness.
ANGELO Nay, women are frail too.
ISABELLA 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;
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.
ANGELO 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.
ISABELLA I have no tongue but one: gentle my lord,
Let me entreat you speak the former language.
ANGELO Plainly conceive, I love you.
ISABELLA My brother did love Juliet,
And you tell me that he shall die for it.
ANGELO He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.
ISABELLA I know your virtue hath a licence in't,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.
ANGELO Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.
ISABELLA Ha! little honour to be much believed,
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.
ANGELO 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,
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.
[Exit]
ISABELLA 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 fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour.
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.
[Exit]

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