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Sc. I


DUKE. Dear Son, 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


DUKE. Provost, a word with you.


As many as you please.

DUKE. Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be 51 [Exeunt DUKE and Provost.



Now, Sister, what's the comfort?

ISAB. Why, as all comforts are—most good in deed :

Lord Angelo, having affairs to Heaven,

Intends you for his swift ambassador,

Where you shall be an everlasting leiger.1

Therefore your best appointment2 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?


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ISAB. In such a one as (you consenting to 't)

Would bark your honour 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 feverous life should'st entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour! Dar'st thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension,

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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 emmew,1


As falcon doth the fowl-is yet a Devil.

His filth within being cast, he would appear

A pond as deep as Hell.


The primsie1 Angelo?

ISAB. O, 'tis the cunning livery of Hell

The damned'st body to invest and cover

In primsie guards!5 Dost thou think, Claudio,

If I would yield him my virginity,

Thou might'st be freed.


O, Heavens! it cannot be.

ISAB. Yes, he would give't thee, from this rank

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Thou shalt not do 't. 100


Thanks, dear Isabel.


ISAB. Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-morrow.
CLAUD. Yes.-Has he affections' in him,

That thus can make him bite the Law by the nose,
When he would force it? Sure it is no sin,

Or of the deadly Seven it is the least.

ISAB. Which is the least?

1 (falconry) constrain to lie close. 2 by shaking her bells. 5 trappings. 6 licence to sin in this one way. 7 impulses.

Sc. I

3 purged.

4 austere.

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8 enforce. 257

ACT III CLAUD. If it were damnable, he being so wise,

Sc. I

Why, would he for the momentary trick

Be perdurably fin'd?-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 motion1 to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted2 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!


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Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair,
For such a warped slip of wilderness*

Ne'er issu'd from his blood! Take my defiance:5
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.


1 show.

2 delighting.

3 forefend.

+ wilding shoot.

5 refusal.

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DUKE. Vouchsafe a word, young Sister, but one word.
ISAB. What is your will?


DUKE. Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by-
and-by have some speech with you. The satisfaction
I would require is likewise your own benefit.
ISAB. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen
out of other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.
DUKE. [aside to CLAUDIO.] Son, I have overheard what
hath pass'd between you and your sister. Angelo had
never the purpose to corrupt her: only he hath made
an assay of her virtue, to practise his judgment with
the disposition of natures. She, having the truth of
honour in her, hath made him that gracious denial
which he is most glad to receive. I am Confessor to
Angelo, and I know this to be true; therefore prepare
yourself to death. Do not satisfy your resolution with
hopes that are fallible: to-morrow you must die; go to
your knees, and make ready.

CLAUD. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of
love with life that I will sue to be rid of it.

DUKE. Hold you there.1 Farewell.

Re-enter Provost.

Provost, a word with you.

PROV. What's your will, Father?


DUKE. That now you are come, you will be gone.



me awhile with the maid: my mind promises with my

habit, no loss shall touch her by my company.
[Exit Provost.

PROV. In good time.2
DUKE. The hand, that hath made you fair, hath made
you good: the goodness, that is cheap in beauty, makes
beauty brief in goodness; but Grace, being the soul of
your complexion, shall keep the body of it ever fair.

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Sc. I

The assault that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath convey'd to my understanding; and, but that frailty hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How will you do to content this Substitute and to save your brother?


ISAB. I am now going to resolve him: I had rather my brother die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But, O, how much is the good Duke deceiv'd in Angelo! If ever he return, and I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his Government.


DUKE. That shall not be much amiss. Yet, as the
matter now stands, he will avoid your accusation: he
made trial of you only. Therefore, fasten your ear on
my advisings: to the love I have in doing good a
remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe that
you may most uprighteously do a poor wrong'd lady
a merited benefit; redeem your brother from the angry
Law; do no stain to your own gracious person; and
much please the absent Duke, if, peradventure, he shall
ever return to have hearing of this business.
ISAB. Let me hear you speak further. I have spirit to
do any thing that appears not foul in the truth of
my spirit.


DUKE. Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great soldier who miscarried at sea?

ISAB. I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.


DUKE. She should this Angelo have married: was affianc'd to her oath, and the nuptial appointed: between which time of the contract and limit1 of the solemnity, her brother Frederick was wrack'd at sea, having in that perish'd vessel the dowry of his sister. But mark, how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman there she lost a noble and renown'd brother, in his love toward her ever most kind and natural; with him the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage-dowry; with both, her combinate husband, this well-seeming Angelo.

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