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[Exit Provost.

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 it,
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.
Escal. Be it as your wisdom will.


Where is the provost ?

Prov. Here, if it like your honor.


See that Claudio

Be executed by nine to-morrow morning:
Bring him his confessor, let him be prepar'd;
For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.

Escal. Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:

Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none;

And some condemned for a fault alone.

SCENE.-Another Room in the same.

Enter Provost and a Servant.

Serv. He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight.

I'll tell him of you.

Prov. Pray you do.-[Exit Servant.]—I'll know

His pleasure; may be, he will relent.



Now, what's the matter, provost ?

Prov. Is it your will Claudio shall die to-morrow? Ang. Did I not tell thee, yea? hadst thou not order? Why dost thou ask again?

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Serv. Here is the sister of the man condemn'd, Desires access to you.

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Prov. Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,

And to be shortly of a sisterhood,

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Prov. Save your honor!

[Exit Servant

Ang. Stay a little while.-[To ISAB.]-You are welcome ·

What's your will?

Isab. I am a woful suitor to your honor
Please but your honor hear me.

Well, what's your suit?
Isab. 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.


Well; the matter? Isab. I have a brother is condemn'd to die :

I do beseech you, let it be his fault,

And not my brother.

Ang. Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it!
Why, every fault's condemn'd, ere it be done :
Mine was the very cipher of a function,

To find the faults, whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.


O just, but severe law!
I had a brother then.-Must he needs die?

Maiden, no remedy.
Isab. Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven, nor man, grieve at the mercy.
Ang. I will not do't.


But can you, if you would?
Ang. Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.
Isab. 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?


He's sentenc'd; 'tis too late.

Isab. 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.
Ang. Pray you, begone.

Isab. 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.

Ang. Your brother is a forfeit of the law, And you but waste your words.

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.

Be you content, fair maid;
It is the law, not I, condemns your brother:
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him ;-he must die to-morrow.
Isab. To-morrow? O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him:
He's not prepar'd 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.

Ang. The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept: Those many had not dar'd to do that evil,

If the first man 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 now, or by remissness new-conceiv'd,
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,)
Are now to have no successive degrees,
But, where they live, to end.


Yet show some pity.

Ang. 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.

Isab. So you must be the first that gives this sentence;

And he, that suffers: O, it is excellent

To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous

To use it like a giant.

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 assur'd,
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.

We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:
Great men may jest with saints: 'tis wit in them;
But, in the less, foul profanation.

That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

Ang. Why do you put these sayings upon me?
Isab. 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.

Ang. [Aside.]

She speaks, and 'tis

Such sense, that my sense breeds with it.Fare you well.
Isab. Gentle my lord, turn back.

Ang. I will bethink me :-Come again to-morrow.

Isab. Hark, how I'll bribe you: Good my lord, turn back.
Ang. How! bribe me?

Isab. Ay, with such gifts, that heaven shall share with you.
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 sunrise: prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.

Well: come to me

Isab. Heaven keep your honor safe! At what hour to-morrow

Shall I attend your lordshi>?


Isab. Save your honor!

At any time 'fore noon.



Isabella visits Angelo, at the time appointed, and renews her suit. The apparently stern dispenser of Justice, makes dishonorable proposals to her, as the price of her brother's life; she indignantly repels him; and hastens to the prison where Claudio is confined, to tell him that he must prepare for death.

The Duke is made acquainted with Claudio's situation, and visits him in his disguise as a Friar.

SCENE.-A Room in the Prison.

Enter DUKE, CLAUDIO, and Provost.

Duke. So, then you hope of pardon from lord Angelo ?
Claud. The miserable have no other medicine,

But only hope:

I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.

Duke. 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 skiey influences,)

That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,

Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool;
For him thou labor'st by thy flight to shun,

And yet run'st toward him still: Thou art not noble,
For all the accommodations that thou bear'st,

Are nurs❜d by baseness: Thou art 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 provok'st; 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 striv'st 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 art poor;
For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee:

Thou hast nor youth, nor age;

But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both: for all 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,
Yet in this life

That bears the name of life?

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