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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 ?
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,
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life

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.


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

I'd throw it down for your deliverance

As frankly as a pin.


my life,

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 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.
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.

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