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Sc. II

ACT IV PROV. He will hear none: he hath evermore had the liberty of the Prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not; drunk many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awak'd him, as if to carry him to execution, and shew'd him a seeming warrant for it: it hath not mov'd him at all. 150 DUKE. More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost, honesty and constancy: if I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning,' I will lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have a warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo, who hath sentenc'd him. To make you understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but four days' respite; for the which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous courtesy.

PROV. Pray, Sir, in what?

DUKE. In the delaying death.


PROV. Alack! how may I do it, having the hour
limited; and an express command, under penalty, to
deliver his head in the view of Angelo? I may make
my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the smallest.
DUKE. By the vow of mine Order, I warrant you, if my
instructions may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be
this morning executed, and his head borne to Angelo.
PROV. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover
the favour.
DUKE. O, Death's a great disguiser: and you may add
to it. Shave the head, and tie the beard; and say
it was the desire of the penitent to be so bar'd2 before
his death. You know, the course is common. If
any thing fall to you upon this, more than thanks
and good fortune, by the Saint whom I profess I will
plead against it with my life.

PROV. Pardon me, good Father: it is against my oath.
DUKE. Were you sworn to the Duke or to the Deputy?
PROV. To him, and to his Substitutes.



DUKE. You will think you have made no offence, if the
Duke avouch the justice of your dealing?

PROV. But what likelihood is in that?

1 having full confidence in my insight.

2 razored.

go further Look you,

DUKE. Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since
I see you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor
persuasion can with ease attempt you, I will
than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you.
Sir, here is the hand and seal of the Duke: you know
the character, I doubt not; and the signet is not
strange to you.

PROV. I know them both.


DUKE. The contents of this is the return of the Duke;
you shall anon over-read it at your pleasure; where
you shall find within these two days he will be here.
This is a thing that Angelo knows not: for he this
very day receives letters of strange tenor; perchance
of the Duke's death; perchance entering into some
monastery; but, by chance,' nothing of what is writ.
Look, the unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put
not yourself into amazement how these things should
be: all difficulties are but easy when they are known.
Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine's head:
I will give him a present shrift, and advise him for a
better place. Yet you are amaz'd;2 but this shall
absolutely resolve you. Come away: it is almost clear

SCENE III. Another Room in the Same.

Enter Clown.


CLO. I am as well acquainted here as I was in our house of profession: one would think it were Mistress Overdone's own house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young Master Rash: he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds, of which he made five marks ready money: marry, then, ginger was not much in request, for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one Master Caper, at the suit of Master Three-Pile the mercer, for some four suits of peach-colour'd satin, which now peaches1 him a beggar. Then have we here young Dizy, and young Master Deep-vow, and Master Copperspur, and Master Starve3 bargain. 4 (slang) betrays.

1 as it happens.

2 confounded.

Sc. II



Lackey the rapier and dagger-man, and young Dropheir that kill'd lusty Pudding, and Master Forthright the tilter, and brave Master Shootie the great traveller, and wild Half-Can that stabb'd Pots, and, I think, forty more: all great doers in our trade, and are now For the Lord's sake.1


ABHOR. Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.


CLO. Master Barnardine!-You must rise and be hang'd,
Master Barnardine!

ABHOR. What, ho, Barnardine!

BARNAR. [within.] A pox o' your throats! Who makes that noise there? What are you?

CLO. Your friends, Sir: the hangman. You must be so
good, Sir, to rise and be put to death.

BARNAR. [within.] Away, you rogue, away! I am sleepy.
ABHOR. Tell him he must awake, and that quickly too.
CLO. Pray, Master Barnardine, awake till you are executed,
and sleep afterwards.

ABHOR. Go in to him, and fetch him out.


CLO. He is coming, Sir, he is coming: I hear his straw rustle.

ABHOR. Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?

CLO. Very ready, Sir.


BARNAR. HOW now, Abhorson? What's the news with you?


ABHOR. Truly, Sir, I would desire you to clap into your
prayers; for, look you, the warrant's come.
BARNAR. You rogue, I have been drinking all night:
I am not fitted for 't.

CLO. O, the better, Sir; for he that drinks all night,
and is hang'd betimes in the morning, may sleep the
sounder all the next day.

Enter DUKE.

ABHOR. LOOK you, Sir, here comes your ghostly Father.
Do we jest now, think you?

DUKE. Sir, induc'd by my charity, and hearing how

1 the gaoled and begging debtor's plea for alms.

hastily you are to depart, I am come to advise you, ACT IV comfort you, and pray with you. 50 Sc. III

BARNAR. Friar, not I: I have been drinking hard all
night, and I will have more time to prepare me, or
they shall beat out my brains with billets. I will not
consent to die this day, that's certain.

DUKE. O, Sir, you must: and therefore I beseech you
Look forward on the journey you shall go.

BARNAR. I swear I will not die to-day for any man's

DUKE. But hear you

BARNAR. Not a word: if you have any thing to say to me, come to my ward; for thence will not I to-day. [exit.

Enter Provost.

DUKE. Unfit to live, or die. O, gravel heart!—

After him, fellows; bring him to the block.


[Exeunt ABHORSON and Clown.
PROV. Now, Sir, how do you find the prisoner?
DUKE. A creature unprepar'd, unmeet for death,
And to transport him in the mind he is
Were damnable.


Here in the Prison, Father,

There died this morning of a cruel fever
One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate,
A man of Claudio's years; his beard and head
Just of his colour. What if we do omit

This reprobate till he were well inclin'd,

And satisfy the Deputy with the visage
Of Ragozine, more like to Claudio?

DUKE. O, 'tis an accident that Heaven provides!
Dispatch it presently; the hour draws on
Prefix'd by Angelo. See this be done,
And sent according to command, whiles I
Persuade this rude wretch willingly to die.
PROV. This shall be done, good Father, presently.
But Barnardine must die this afternoon;
And how shall we continue Claudio,

To save me from the danger that might come
If he were known alive?





Let this be done:

Put them in secret holds, both Barnardine

And Claudio.

Ere twice the Sun hath made his journal1 greeting

To the under generation, you shall find

Your safety manifested.

PROV. I am your free dependant.


And send the head to Angelo.

Quick, dispatch,


[Exit Provost.

Now will I write letters to Angelo

The Provost, he shall bear them-whose contents
Shall witness to him I am near at home,

And that by great injunctions I am bound

To enter publicly: him I'll desire

To meet me at the consecrated Fount

A league below the City; and from thence,
By cold gradation and well-balanc'd form,
We shall proceed with Angelo.

Enter Provost.

PROV. Here is the head; I'll carry it myself.
DUKE. Convenient is it! Make a swift return;
For I would commune with you of such things
That want no ear but your's.


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I'll make all speed. [exit.

ISAB. [within.] Peace, ho, be here!

DUKE. The tongue of Isabel. She's come to know

If yet her brother's pardon be come hither:

But I will keep her ignorant of her good,

To make her heavenly comforts of despair
When it is least expected.


ISAB. Ho! by your leave.

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DUKE. Good morning to you, fair and gracious Daughter.
ISAB. The better, given me by so holy a man.

Hath yet the Deputy sent my brother's pardon?

DUKE. He hath releas'd him, Isabel, from the world:

His head is off, and sent to Angelo.

ISAB. Nay, but it is not so.

1 diurnal.

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