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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 ?
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;
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;
Thou hast nor youth, nor age;
But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old, and rich,
Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
To sue to live, I find, I seek to die;
I humbly thank you.
And, seeking death, find life: Let it come on.
Isab. What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!
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.
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;
Is there no remedy?
But is there any?
If you'll implore it, that will free your life,
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.
And six or seven winters more respect
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,
O heavens! it cannot be.
Isab. O, were it but
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;
The weariest and most loathed worldly life,
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:
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 swayed 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.
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
JAMES GURNEY, servant to Lady Faulconbridge.
PETER, of Pomfret, a prophet.
PHILIP, King of France.
LEWIS, the Dauphin.
ARCHDUKE of AUSTRIA.
Cardinal PANDULPH, the Pope's legate.