Page images

Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.


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

I humbly thank you.

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

Enter ISABElla.

Isab. What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!
Prov. Who's there? come in: the wish deserves a welcome.
Duke. Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.

Claud. Most holy sir, I thank you.

Isab. My business is a word or two with Claudio.

Prov. And very welcome. Look, signior, here's your sister.
Duke. Provost, a word with you.

Prov. As many as you please.

Duke. Bring them to speak, where I may be conceal'd,

Yet hear them.


[Exeunt DUKE and Provost

Now sister, what's the comfort?

Isab. Why, as all comforts are; most good indeed.

Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,

Intends you for his swift embassador,

Where you shall be an everlasting lieger;

Therefore your best appointment make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.


Is there no remedy?

Isab. None, but such remedy, as, to save a head, To cleave a heart in twain.


But is there any?

Isab. 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 ? Isab. Ay, just perpetual durance; a restraint, Though all the world's vastidity you had,

To a determin'd scope.


But in what nature?

Isab. In such a one as (you consenting to't) Would bark your honor from that trunk you bear,

And leave you naked.


Let me know the point.
Isab. O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
Lest thou a feverish life should'st entertain,

And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honor. Dar'st thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon,
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.

Isab. 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,—

Whose settled visage and deliberate word

Nips youth i' the head, and follies doth enmew,
As falcon doth the fowl,-is yet a devil.
Claud. The princely Angelo?

O heavens! it cannot be.

Isab. O, were it but my life,

I'd throw it down for your deliverance

As frankly as a pin.


Thanks, dear Isabella.

Isab. Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-morrow.

Claud. O Isabel !

Isab. What says my brother?

Isab. And shamed life a hateful.

Death is a fearful thing.

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

To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions 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 thoughts
Imagine howling!-'tis too horrible!

The weariest and most loathed worldly life,
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise

To what we fear of death.

Isab. 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.

Isab. O, faithless coward! O, dishonest wretch 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.

Claud. Nay, hear me, Isabel.


'Tis best that thou diest quickly.

O, fye, fye, fye!


The Duke overhears the conversation between Claudio and his sister, and touched with the virtue and dignity of Isabel's character, he plans a mode by which Claudio may escape the penalty of the Law, and Angelo shall receive a well-merited punishment for his abuse of power.


King John, is the first of that series of Dramas, written by our Poet to illustrate some of the most important events in English history. The old chroniclers furnished him with abundant material for his labors; but in this Play he has taken a chronicle historical Drama, entitled "The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England," and by his incomparable powers of transmutation, he has presented us with a vivid life-stirring picture of the eventful reign of this, one of the weakest monarchs that ever wayed the sceptre of England.

The chief interest in this Drama, is centred in the events connected with the Lady Constance and her son Arthur; we have therefore confined our selections to the scenes in which their mournful history is portrayed.



PRINCE HENRY, his son; afterwards King Henry III.

ARTHUR, Duke of Bretagne, son of Geffrey, late Duke of Bretagne, the elder brother of King John.

WILLIAM MARESHALL, Earl of Pembroke.

GEFFREY FITZ-PETER, Earl of Essex, chief justiciary of England.
WILLIAM LONGSWORD, Earl of Salisbury.

ROBERT BIGOT, Earl of Norfolk.

HUBERT DE BURGH, chamberlain to the King.

ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, son of Sir Robert Faulconbridge.

PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE, his half-brother, illegitimate son to King

Richard the First.

JAMES GURNEY, servant to Lady Faulconbridge.

PETER, of Pomfret, a prophet.

PHILIP, King of France.

LEWIS, the Dauphin.


Cardinal PANDULPH, the Pope's legate.

MELUN, a French lord.

CHATILLON, ambassador from France to King John.

ELINOR, the widow of King Henry II., and mother of King John.
CONSTANCE, mother to Arthur.

BLANCH, daughter to Alphonso, King of Castile, and niece to
King John.


Lords, Ladies, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officers,
Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.

SCENE.-Sometimes in ENGLAND, and sometim s in FRANCE.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

We commence our extracts at the period when King John invades France with a numerous army, to chastise Philip for espousing the cause of Prince Arthur, the rightful heir to the English throne.

The contending armies of England and France, meet before the city of Angiers; and after a battle, in which each party claims the victory, a peace is declared between the Sovereigns, to be cemented by the marriage of the French King's son, to Blanch, the niece of John. Philip further engages to break his league with the Lady Constance, and her son. The indignation and grief of the widowed mother, is beautifully depicted in the following scene.

SCENE. ANGIERS. The French King's Tent.


Const. Gone to be married! gone to swear a peace!
False blood to false blood join'd! Gone to be friends!
Shall Lewis have Blanch? and Blanch those provinces ?
It is not so; thou hast mis-spoke, misheard;
Be well advis'd, tell o'er thy tale again:
It cannot be; thou dost but say, 'tis so:
I trust, I may not trust thee; for thy word
Is but the vain breath of a common man:
Believe me, I do not believe thee, man;
I have a king's oath to the contrary.
Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me,
For I am sick, and capable of fears;

Oppress'd with wrongs, and therefore full of fears;
A widow, husbandless, subject to fears;

A woman, naturally born to fears;

And though thou now confess, thou didst but jest,
With my vex'd spirits I cannot take a truce,
But they will quake and tremble all this day.
What dost thou mean by shaking of thy head?

« PreviousContinue »