Speeches (Lines) for Isabella
in "Measure for Measure"

Total: 129

# Act, Scene, Line
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Speech text



(stage directions). [Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA]

Isabella. And have you nuns no farther privileges?



Francisca. Are not these large enough?

Isabella. Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more;
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.



Lucio. [Within] Ho! Peace be in this place!

Isabella. Who's that which calls?



(stage directions). [Exit]

Isabella. Peace and prosperity! Who is't that calls



Lucio. Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
Proclaim you are no less! Can you so stead me
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place and the fair sister
To her unhappy brother Claudio?

Isabella. Why 'her unhappy brother'? let me ask,
The rather for I now must make you know
I am that Isabella and his sister.



Lucio. Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you:
Not to be weary with you, he's in prison.

Isabella. Woe me! for what?



Lucio. For that which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks:
He hath got his friend with child.

Isabella. Sir, make me not your story.



Lucio. It is true.
I would not—though 'tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing and to jest,
Tongue far from heart—play with all virgins so:
I hold you as a thing ensky'd and sainted.
By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
And to be talk'd with in sincerity,
As with a saint.

Isabella. You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.



Lucio. Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, 'tis thus:
Your brother and his lover have embraced:
As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb
Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.

Isabella. Some one with child by him? My cousin Juliet?



Lucio. Is she your cousin?

Isabella. Adoptedly; as school-maids change their names
By vain though apt affection.



Lucio. She it is.

Isabella. O, let him marry her.



Lucio. This is the point.
The duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
In hand and hope of action: but we do learn
By those that know the very nerves of state,
His givings-out were of an infinite distance
From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
And with full line of his authority,
Governs Lord Angelo; a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He—to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have for long run by the hideous law,
As mice by lions—hath pick'd out an act,
Under whose heavy sense your brother's life
Falls into forfeit: he arrests him on it;
And follows close the rigour of the statute,
To make him an example. All hope is gone,
Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
To soften Angelo: and that's my pith of business
'Twixt you and your poor brother.

Isabella. Doth he so seek his life?



Lucio. Has censured him
Already; and, as I hear, the provost hath
A warrant for his execution.

Isabella. Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good?



Lucio. Assay the power you have.

Isabella. My power? Alas, I doubt—



Lucio. Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo,
And let him learn to know, when maidens sue,
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely theirs
As they themselves would owe them.

Isabella. I'll see what I can do.



Lucio. But speedily.

Isabella. I will about it straight;
No longer staying but to give the mother
Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you:
Commend me to my brother: soon at night
I'll send him certain word of my success.



Lucio. I take my leave of you.

Isabella. Good sir, adieu.



Angelo. Stay a little while.
You're welcome: what's your will?

Isabella. I am a woeful suitor to your honour,
Please but your honour hear me.



Angelo. Well; what's your suit?

Isabella. 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.



Angelo. Well; the matter?

Isabella. I have a brother is condemn'd to die:
I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.



Angelo. Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?
Why, every fault's condemn'd ere it be done:
Mine were the very cipher of a function,
To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.

Isabella. O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!



Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] Give't not o'er so: to him
again, entreat him;
Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown:
You are too cold; if you should need a pin,
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it:
To him, I say!

Isabella. Must he needs die?



Angelo. Maiden, no remedy.

Isabella. Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.



Angelo. I will not do't.

Isabella. But can you, if you would?



Angelo. Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.

Isabella. 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?



Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] You are too cold.

Isabella. 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.



Angelo. Pray you, be gone.

Isabella. 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.



Angelo. Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.

Isabella. 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.



Angelo. Be you content, fair maid;
It is the law, not I condemn your brother:
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him: he must die tomorrow.

Isabella. To-morrow! O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him!
He's not prepared 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.



Angelo. The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept:
Those many had not dared to do that evil,
If the first 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 new, or by remissness new-conceived,
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,
Are now to have no successive degrees,
But, ere they live, to end.

Isabella. Yet show some pity.



Angelo. 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.

Isabella. So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he, that suffer's. O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.



Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] That's well said.

Isabella. 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 assured,
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.



Provost. [Aside] Pray heaven she win him!

Isabella. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:
Great men may jest with saints; 'tis wit in them,
But in the less foul profanation.



Lucio. Thou'rt i' the right, girl; more o, that.

Isabella. That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.



Angelo. Why do you put these sayings upon me?

Isabella. 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.



Angelo. [Aside] She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense, that my sense breeds with it. Fare you well.

Isabella. Gentle my lord, turn back.



Angelo. I will bethink me: come again tomorrow.

Isabella. Hark how I'll bribe you: good my lord, turn back.



Angelo. How! bribe me?

Isabella. Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.



Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] You had marr'd all else.

Isabella. 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 sun-rise, prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.



Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] Go to; 'tis well; away!

Isabella. Heaven keep your honour safe!



Angelo. [Aside]. Amen:
For I am that way going to temptation,
Where prayers cross.

Isabella. At what hour to-morrow
Shall I attend your lordship?



Angelo. At any time 'fore noon.

Isabella. 'Save your honour!



Angelo. Teach her the way.
[Exit Servant]
O heavens!
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
Making both it unable for itself,
And dispossessing all my other parts
Of necessary fitness?
So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons;
Come all to help him, and so stop the air
By which he should revive: and even so
The general, subject to a well-wish'd king,
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
Must needs appear offence.
How now, fair maid?

Isabella. I am come to know your pleasure.



Angelo. That you might know it, would much better please me
Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.

Isabella. Even so. Heaven keep your honour!



Angelo. Yet may he live awhile; and, it may be,
As long as you or I. yet he must die.

Isabella. Under your sentence?



Angelo. Yea.

Isabella. When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
That his soul sicken not.



Angelo. Ha! fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
To pardon him that hath from nature stolen
A man already made, as to remit
Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven's image
In stamps that are forbid: 'tis all as easy
Falsely to take away a life true made
As to put metal in restrained means
To make a false one.

Isabella. 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.



Angelo. Say you so? then I shall pose you quickly.
Which had you rather, that the most just law
Now took your brother's life; or, to redeem him,
Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
As she that he hath stain'd?

Isabella. Sir, believe this,
I had rather give my body than my soul.



Angelo. I talk not of your soul: our compell'd sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.

Isabella. How say you?



Angelo. Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak
Against the thing I say. Answer to this:
I, now the voice of the recorded law,
Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life:
Might there not be a charity in sin
To save this brother's life?

Isabella. Please you to do't,
I'll take it as a peril to my soul,
It is no sin at all, but charity.



Angelo. Pleased you to do't at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.

Isabella. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it! you granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your answer.



Angelo. Nay, but hear me.
Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,
Or seem so craftily; and that's not good.

Isabella. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
But graciously to know I am no better.



Angelo. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, display'd. But mark me;
To be received plain, I'll speak more gross:
Your brother is to die.

Isabella. So.



Angelo. And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

Isabella. True.



Angelo. Admit no other way to save his life,—
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But in the loss of question,—that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desired of such a person,
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-building law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him, but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this supposed, or else to let him suffer;
What would you do?

Isabella. As much for my poor brother as myself:
That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I'ld wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing have been sick for, ere I'ld yield
My body up to shame.



Angelo. Then must your brother die.

Isabella. And 'twere the cheaper way:
Better it were a brother died at once,
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.



Angelo. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
That you have slander'd so?

Isabella. Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses: lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.



Angelo. You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather proved the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.

Isabella. O, pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean:
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.



Angelo. We are all frail.

Isabella. Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary, but only he
Owe and succeed thy weakness.



Angelo. Nay, women are frail too.

Isabella. Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves;
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
Women! Help Heaven! men their creation mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail;
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.



Angelo. I think it well:
And from this testimony of your own sex,—
Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames,—let me be bold;
I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none;
If you be one, as you are well express'd
By all external warrants, show it now,
By putting on the destined livery.

Isabella. I have no tongue but one: gentle my lord,
Let me entreat you speak the former language.



Angelo. Plainly conceive, I love you.

Isabella. My brother did love Juliet,
And you tell me that he shall die for it.



Angelo. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.

Isabella. I know your virtue hath a licence in't,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.



Angelo. Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.

Isabella. Ha! little honour to be much believed,
And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for't:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
Or with an outstretch'd throat I'll tell the world aloud
What man thou art.



(stage directions). [Exit]

Isabella. To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue,
Either of condemnation or approof;
Bidding the law make court'sy to their will:
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws! I'll to my brother:
Though he hath fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour.
That, had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he'ld yield them up,
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorr'd pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:
More than our brother is our chastity.
I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest.



Claudio. I humbly thank you.
To sue to live, I find I seek to die;
And, seeking death, find life: let it come on.

Isabella. [Within] What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!



(stage directions). [Enter ISABELLA]

Isabella. My business is a word or two with Claudio.



Claudio. Now, sister, what's the comfort?

Isabella. Why,
As all comforts are; most good, most good indeed.
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger:
Therefore your best appointment make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.



Claudio. Is there no remedy?

Isabella. None, but such remedy as, to save a head,
To cleave a heart in twain.



Claudio. But is there any?

Isabella. 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.



Claudio. Perpetual durance?

Isabella. Ay, just; perpetual durance, a restraint,
Though all the world's vastidity you had,
To a determined scope.



Claudio. But in what nature?

Isabella. In such a one as, you consenting to't,
Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,
And leave you naked.



Claudio. Let me know the point.

Isabella. O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour. Darest 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.



Claudio. 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.

Isabella. 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
As falcon doth the fowl, is yet a devil
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.



Claudio. The prenzie Angelo!

Isabella. O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,
The damned'st body to invest and cover
In prenzie guards! Dost thou think, Claudio?
If I would yield him my virginity,
Thou mightst be freed.



Claudio. O heavens! it cannot be.

Isabella. Yes, he would give't thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still. This night's the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest to-morrow.



Claudio. Thou shalt not do't.

Isabella. O, were it but my life,
I'ld throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.



Claudio. Thanks, dear Isabel.

Isabella. Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.



Claudio. 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.

Isabella. Which is the least?



Claudio. If it were damnable, he being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary trick
Be perdurably fined? O Isabel!

Isabella. What says my brother?



Claudio. Death is a fearful thing.

Isabella. And shamed life a hateful.



Claudio. 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 region 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 thought
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.

Isabella. Alas, alas!



Claudio. 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.

Isabella. O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of incest, to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issued from his blood. 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.



Claudio. Nay, hear me, Isabel.

Isabella. O, fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade.
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd:
'Tis best thou diest quickly.



Vincentio. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

Isabella. What is your will?



Vincentio. 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.

Isabella. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be
stolen out of other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.



Vincentio. 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. The assault that Angelo hath made to you,
fortune hath conveyed 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?

Isabella. 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
deceived in Angelo! If ever he return and I can
speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or
discover his government.



Vincentio. 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 wronged
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.

Isabella. Let me hear you speak farther. I have spirit to do
anything that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.



Vincentio. 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?

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



Vincentio. She should this Angelo have married; was affianced
to her by oath, and the nuptial appointed: between
which time of the contract and limit of the
solemnity, her brother Frederick was wrecked at sea,
having in that perished vessel the dowry of his
sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the
poor gentlewoman: there she lost a noble and
renowned 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.

Isabella. Can this be so? did Angelo so leave her?



Vincentio. Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them
with his comfort; swallowed his vows whole,
pretending in her discoveries of dishonour: in few,
bestowed her on her own lamentation, which she yet
wears for his sake; and he, a marble to her tears,
is washed with them, but relents not.

Isabella. What a merit were it in death to take this poor maid
from the world! What corruption in this life, that
it will let this man live! But how out of this can she avail?



Vincentio. It is a rupture that you may easily heal: and the
cure of it not only saves your brother, but keeps
you from dishonour in doing it.

Isabella. Show me how, good father.



Vincentio. This forenamed maid hath yet in her the continuance
of her first affection: his unjust unkindness, that
in all reason should have quenched her love, hath,
like an impediment in the current, made it more
violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo; answer his
requiring with a plausible obedience; agree with
his demands to the point; only refer yourself to
this advantage, first, that your stay with him may
not be long; that the time may have all shadow and
silence in it; and the place answer to convenience.
This being granted in course,—and now follows
all,—we shall advise this wronged maid to stead up
your appointment, go in your place; if the encounter
acknowledge itself hereafter, it may compel him to
her recompense: and here, by this, is your brother
saved, your honour untainted, the poor Mariana
advantaged, and the corrupt deputy scaled. The maid
will I frame and make fit for his attempt. If you
think well to carry this as you may, the doubleness
of the benefit defends the deceit from reproof.
What think you of it?

Isabella. The image of it gives me content already; and I
trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection.



Vincentio. It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily
to Angelo: if for this night he entreat you to his
bed, give him promise of satisfaction. I will
presently to Saint Luke's: there, at the moated
grange, resides this dejected Mariana. At that
place call upon me; and dispatch with Angelo, that
it may be quickly.

Isabella. I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.



Vincentio. Very well met, and well come.
What is the news from this good deputy?

Isabella. He hath a garden circummured with brick,
Whose western side is with a vineyard back'd;
And to that vineyard is a planched gate,
That makes his opening with this bigger key:
This other doth command a little door
Which from the vineyard to the garden leads;
There have I made my promise
Upon the heavy middle of the night
To call upon him.



Vincentio. But shall you on your knowledge find this way?

Isabella. I have ta'en a due and wary note upon't:
With whispering and most guilty diligence,
In action all of precept, he did show me
The way twice o'er.



Vincentio. Are there no other tokens
Between you 'greed concerning her observance?

Isabella. No, none, but only a repair i' the dark;
And that I have possess'd him my most stay
Can be but brief; for I have made him know
I have a servant comes with me along,
That stays upon me, whose persuasion is
I come about my brother.



Vincentio. 'Tis well borne up.
I have not yet made known to Mariana
A word of this. What, ho! within! come forth!
[Re-enter MARIANA]
I pray you, be acquainted with this maid;
She comes to do you good.

Isabella. I do desire the like.



Vincentio. O place and greatness! millions of false eyes
Are stuck upon thee: volumes of report
Run with these false and most contrarious quests
Upon thy doings: thousand escapes of wit
Make thee the father of their idle dreams
And rack thee in their fancies.
Welcome, how agreed?

Isabella. She'll take the enterprise upon her, father,
If you advise it.



Vincentio. It is not my consent,
But my entreaty too.

Isabella. Little have you to say
When you depart from him, but, soft and low,
'Remember now my brother.'



(stage directions). [Exit]

Isabella. [Within] Peace, ho, be here!



(stage directions). [Enter ISABELLA]

Isabella. Ho, by your leave!



Vincentio. Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter.

Isabella. The better, given me by so holy a man.
Hath yet the deputy sent my brother's pardon?



Vincentio. He hath released him, Isabel, from the world:
His head is off and sent to Angelo.

Isabella. Nay, but it is not so.



Vincentio. It is no other: show your wisdom, daughter,
In your close patience.

Isabella. O, I will to him and pluck out his eyes!



Vincentio. You shall not be admitted to his sight.

Isabella. Unhappy Claudio! wretched Isabel!
Injurious world! most damned Angelo!



Vincentio. This nor hurts him nor profits you a jot;
Forbear it therefore; give your cause to heaven.
Mark what I say, which you shall find
By every syllable a faithful verity:
The duke comes home to-morrow; nay, dry your eyes;
One of our convent, and his confessor,
Gives me this instance: already he hath carried
Notice to Escalus and Angelo,
Who do prepare to meet him at the gates,
There to give up their power. If you can, pace your wisdom
In that good path that I would wish it go,
And you shall have your bosom on this wretch,
Grace of the duke, revenges to your heart,
And general honour.

Isabella. I am directed by you.



(stage directions). [Enter ISABELLA and MARIANA]

Isabella. To speak so indirectly I am loath:
I would say the truth; but to accuse him so,
That is your part: yet I am advised to do it;
He says, to veil full purpose.



Mariana. Be ruled by him.

Isabella. Besides, he tells me that, if peradventure
He speak against me on the adverse side,
I should not think it strange; for 'tis a physic
That's bitter to sweet end.



Mariana. I would Friar Peter—

Isabella. O, peace! the friar is come.



Friar Peter. Now is your time: speak loud and kneel before him.

Isabella. Justice, O royal duke! Vail your regard
Upon a wrong'd, I would fain have said, a maid!
O worthy prince, dishonour not your eye
By throwing it on any other object
Till you have heard me in my true complaint
And given me justice, justice, justice, justice!



Vincentio. Relate your wrongs; in what? by whom? be brief.
Here is Lord Angelo shall give you justice:
Reveal yourself to him.

Isabella. O worthy duke,
You bid me seek redemption of the devil:
Hear me yourself; for that which I must speak
Must either punish me, not being believed,
Or wring redress from you. Hear me, O hear me, here!



Angelo. My lord, her wits, I fear me, are not firm:
She hath been a suitor to me for her brother
Cut off by course of justice,—

Isabella. By course of justice!



Angelo. And she will speak most bitterly and strange.

Isabella. Most strange, but yet most truly, will I speak:
That Angelo's forsworn; is it not strange?
That Angelo's a murderer; is 't not strange?
That Angelo is an adulterous thief,
An hypocrite, a virgin-violator;
Is it not strange and strange?



Vincentio. Nay, it is ten times strange.

Isabella. It is not truer he is Angelo
Than this is all as true as it is strange:
Nay, it is ten times true; for truth is truth
To the end of reckoning.



Vincentio. Away with her! Poor soul,
She speaks this in the infirmity of sense.

Isabella. O prince, I conjure thee, as thou believest
There is another comfort than this world,
That thou neglect me not, with that opinion
That I am touch'd with madness! Make not impossible
That which but seems unlike: 'tis not impossible
But one, the wicked'st caitiff on the ground,
May seem as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute
As Angelo; even so may Angelo,
In all his dressings, characts, titles, forms,
Be an arch-villain; believe it, royal prince:
If he be less, he's nothing; but he's more,
Had I more name for badness.



Vincentio. By mine honesty,
If she be mad,—as I believe no other,—
Her madness hath the oddest frame of sense,
Such a dependency of thing on thing,
As e'er I heard in madness.

Isabella. O gracious duke,
Harp not on that, nor do not banish reason
For inequality; but let your reason serve
To make the truth appear where it seems hid,
And hide the false seems true.



Vincentio. Many that are not mad
Have, sure, more lack of reason. What would you say?

Isabella. I am the sister of one Claudio,
Condemn'd upon the act of fornication
To lose his head; condemn'd by Angelo:
I, in probation of a sisterhood,
Was sent to by my brother; one Lucio
As then the messenger,—



Lucio. That's I, an't like your grace:
I came to her from Claudio, and desired her
To try her gracious fortune with Lord Angelo
For her poor brother's pardon.

Isabella. That's he indeed.



Vincentio. The warrants for yourself; take heed to't.

Isabella. This gentleman told somewhat of my tale,—



Vincentio. It may be right; but you are i' the wrong
To speak before your time. Proceed.

Isabella. I went
To this pernicious caitiff deputy,—



Vincentio. That's somewhat madly spoken.

Isabella. Pardon it;
The phrase is to the matter.



Vincentio. Mended again. The matter; proceed.

Isabella. In brief, to set the needless process by,
How I persuaded, how I pray'd, and kneel'd,
How he refell'd me, and how I replied,—
For this was of much length,—the vile conclusion
I now begin with grief and shame to utter:
He would not, but by gift of my chaste body
To his concupiscible intemperate lust,
Release my brother; and, after much debatement,
My sisterly remorse confutes mine honour,
And I did yield to him: but the next morn betimes,
His purpose surfeiting, he sends a warrant
For my poor brother's head.



Vincentio. This is most likely!

Isabella. O, that it were as like as it is true!



Vincentio. By heaven, fond wretch, thou knowist not what thou speak'st,
Or else thou art suborn'd against his honour
In hateful practise. First, his integrity
Stands without blemish. Next, it imports no reason
That with such vehemency he should pursue
Faults proper to himself: if he had so offended,
He would have weigh'd thy brother by himself
And not have cut him off. Some one hath set you on:
Confess the truth, and say by whose advice
Thou camest here to complain.

Isabella. And is this all?
Then, O you blessed ministers above,
Keep me in patience, and with ripen'd time
Unfold the evil which is here wrapt up
In countenance! Heaven shield your grace from woe,
As I, thus wrong'd, hence unbelieved go!



Vincentio. I know you'ld fain be gone. An officer!
To prison with her! Shall we thus permit
A blasting and a scandalous breath to fall
On him so near us? This needs must be a practise.
Who knew of Your intent and coming hither?

Isabella. One that I would were here, Friar Lodowick.



Vincentio. Come hither, Isabel.
Your friar is now your prince: as I was then
Advertising and holy to your business,
Not changing heart with habit, I am still
Attorney'd at your service.

Isabella. O, give me pardon,
That I, your vassal, have employ'd and pain'd
Your unknown sovereignty!



Vincentio. You are pardon'd, Isabel:
And now, dear maid, be you as free to us.
Your brother's death, I know, sits at your heart;
And you may marvel why I obscured myself,
Labouring to save his life, and would not rather
Make rash remonstrance of my hidden power
Than let him so be lost. O most kind maid,
It was the swift celerity of his death,
Which I did think with slower foot came on,
That brain'd my purpose. But, peace be with him!
That life is better life, past fearing death,
Than that which lives to fear: make it your comfort,
So happy is your brother.

Isabella. I do, my lord.



Vincentio. He dies for Claudio's death.

Isabella. Most bounteous sir,
Look, if it please you, on this man condemn'd,
As if my brother lived: I partly think
A due sincerity govern'd his deeds,
Till he did look on me: since it is so,
Let him not die. My brother had but justice,
In that he did the thing for which he died:
For Angelo,
His act did not o'ertake his bad intent,
And must be buried but as an intent
That perish'd by the way: thoughts are no subjects;
Intents but merely thoughts.

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