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When evil deeds have their permissive pass,

And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,
I have on Angelo impos'd the office;

Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home,
And yet my nature never in the sight,

To do it slander: And to behold his sway,

I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,

Visit both prince and people therefore, I pr'ythee,
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally in person bear me

Like a true friar. More reasons for this action,
At our more leisure shall I render you;
Only, this one:-Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite

Is more to bread than stone: Hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be.



Angelo assumes the government, with rigid severity; he calls into enactment, old laws, long disused, and makes offenders pay the utmost penalty for their transgressions. Claudio, a profligate young gentleman, is condemned to death, under one of these revived laws. He prevails on his sister Isabella, a young novice, to leave the cloister, and go in person to Angelo, and endeavor to obtain a pardon from the Lord Deputy.

SCENE.—A hall in Angelo's House.


Ang. We must not make a scare-crow 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.


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 honor know,

(Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,)

That, in the working of your own affections,

Had time coher'd 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.

Ang. "Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny,

[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.


Hath he a sister?

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.

Isub. 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

-Fare you well.

Such sense, that my sense breeds with it.

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 lordship?


Isab. Save your honor!

At any time 'fore noon.


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