Open Source Shakespeare

Measure for Measure

(complete text)

Act I

1. An apartment in the DUKE’S palace.

2. A Street.

3. A monastery.

4. A nunnery.

Act II

1. A hall In ANGELO’s house.

2. Another room in the same.

3. A room in a prison.

4. A room in ANGELO’s house.


1. A room in the prison.

2. The street before the prison.

Act IV

1. The moated grange at ST. LUKE’s.

2. A room in the prison.

3. Another room in the same.

4. A room in ANGELO’s house.

5. Fields without the town.

6. Street near the city gate.

Act V

1. The city gate.

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Act I, Scene 1

An apartment in the DUKE’S palace.


[Enter DUKE VINCENTIO, ESCALUS, Lords and] [p]Attendants]

  • Vincentio. Escalus.
  • Escalus. My lord.
  • Vincentio. Of government the properties to unfold, 5
    Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse;
    Since I am put to know that your own science
    Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
    My strength can give you: then no more remains,
    But that to your sufficiency [—] 10
    [—] as your Worth is able,]
    And let them work. The nature of our people,
    Our city's institutions, and the terms
    For common justice, you're as pregnant in
    As art and practise hath enriched any 15
    That we remember. There is our commission,
    From which we would not have you warp. Call hither,
    I say, bid come before us Angelo.
    [Exit an Attendant]
    What figure of us Think you he will bear? 20
    For you must know, we have with special soul
    Elected him our absence to supply,
    Lent him our terror, dress'd him with our love,
    And given his deputation all the organs
    Of our own power: what think you of it? 25
  • Escalus. If any in Vienna be of worth
    To undergo such ample grace and honour,
    It is Lord Angelo.
  • Vincentio. Look where he comes.

[Enter ANGELO]

  • Angelo. Always obedient to your grace's will,
    I come to know your pleasure.
  • Vincentio. Angelo,
    There is a kind of character in thy life,
    That to the observer doth thy history 35
    Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
    Are not thine own so proper as to waste
    Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
    Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
    Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues 40
    Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike
    As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd
    But to fine issues, nor Nature never lends
    The smallest scruple of her excellence
    But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines 45
    Herself the glory of a creditor,
    Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech
    To one that can my part in him advertise;
    Hold therefore, Angelo:—
    In our remove be thou at full ourself; 50
    Mortality and mercy in Vienna
    Live in thy tongue and heart: old Escalus,
    Though first in question, is thy secondary.
    Take thy commission.
  • Angelo. Now, good my lord, 55
    Let there be some more test made of my metal,
    Before so noble and so great a figure
    Be stamp'd upon it.
  • Vincentio. No more evasion:
    We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice 60
    Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours.
    Our haste from hence is of so quick condition
    That it prefers itself and leaves unquestion'd
    Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,
    As time and our concernings shall importune, 65
    How it goes with us, and do look to know
    What doth befall you here. So, fare you well;
    To the hopeful execution do I leave you
    Of your commissions.
  • Angelo. Yet give leave, my lord, 70
    That we may bring you something on the way.
  • Vincentio. My haste may not admit it;
    Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do
    With any scruple; your scope is as mine own
    So to enforce or qualify the laws 75
    As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand:
    I'll privily away. I love the people,
    But do not like to stage me to their eyes:
    Through it do well, I do not relish well
    Their loud applause and Aves vehement; 80
    Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
    That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.
  • Angelo. The heavens give safety to your purposes!
  • Escalus. Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!
  • Vincentio. I thank you. Fare you well. 85


  • Escalus. I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
    To have free speech with you; and it concerns me
    To look into the bottom of my place:
    A power I have, but of what strength and nature 90
    I am not yet instructed.
  • Angelo. 'Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,
    And we may soon our satisfaction have
    Touching that point.
  • Escalus. I'll wait upon your honour. 95



Act I, Scene 2

A Street.


[Enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen]

  • Lucio. If the duke with the other dukes come not to
    composition with the King of Hungary, why then all
    the dukes fall upon the king. 100
  • First Gentleman. Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of
  • Second Gentleman. Amen.
  • Lucio. Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate, that
    went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped 105
    one out of the table.
  • Second Gentleman. 'Thou shalt not steal'?
  • Lucio. Ay, that he razed.
  • First Gentleman. Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain and
    all the rest from their functions: they put forth 110
    to steal. There's not a soldier of us all, that, in
    the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition
    well that prays for peace.
  • Second Gentleman. I never heard any soldier dislike it.
  • Lucio. I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where 115
    grace was said.
  • Second Gentleman. No? a dozen times at least.
  • First Gentleman. What, in metre?
  • Lucio. In any proportion or in any language.
  • First Gentleman. I think, or in any religion. 120
  • Lucio. Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all
    controversy: as, for example, thou thyself art a
    wicked villain, despite of all grace.
  • First Gentleman. Well, there went but a pair of shears between us.
  • Lucio. I grant; as there may between the lists and the 125
    velvet. Thou art the list.
  • First Gentleman. And thou the velvet: thou art good velvet; thou'rt
    a three-piled piece, I warrant thee: I had as lief
    be a list of an English kersey as be piled, as thou
    art piled, for a French velvet. Do I speak 130
    feelingly now?
  • Lucio. I think thou dost; and, indeed, with most painful
    feeling of thy speech: I will, out of thine own
    confession, learn to begin thy health; but, whilst I
    live, forget to drink after thee. 135
  • First Gentleman. I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?
  • Second Gentleman. Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or free.
  • Lucio. Behold, behold. where Madam Mitigation comes! I
    have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to—
  • Second Gentleman. To what, I pray? 140
  • Lucio. Judge.
  • Second Gentleman. To three thousand dolours a year.
  • First Gentleman. Ay, and more.
  • Lucio. A French crown more.
  • First Gentleman. Thou art always figuring diseases in me; but thou 145
    art full of error; I am sound.
  • Lucio. Nay, not as one would say, healthy; but so sound as
    things that are hollow: thy bones are hollow;
    impiety has made a feast of thee.


  • First Gentleman. How now! which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?
  • Mistress Overdone. Well, well; there's one yonder arrested and carried
    to prison was worth five thousand of you all.
  • Second Gentleman. Who's that, I pray thee?
  • Mistress Overdone. Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio. 155
  • First Gentleman. Claudio to prison? 'tis not so.
  • Mistress Overdone. Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him arrested, saw
    him carried away; and, which is more, within these
    three days his head to be chopped off.
  • Lucio. But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so. 160
    Art thou sure of this?
  • Mistress Overdone. I am too sure of it: and it is for getting Madam
    Julietta with child.
  • Lucio. Believe me, this may be: he promised to meet me two
    hours since, and he was ever precise in 165
  • Second Gentleman. Besides, you know, it draws something near to the
    speech we had to such a purpose.
  • First Gentleman. But, most of all, agreeing with the proclamation.
  • Lucio. Away! let's go learn the truth of it. 170

[Exeunt LUCIO and Gentlemen]

  • Mistress Overdone. Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what
    with the gallows and what with poverty, I am
    [Enter POMPEY] 175
    How now! what's the news with you?
  • Pompey. Yonder man is carried to prison.
  • Mistress Overdone. Well; what has he done?
  • Pompey. A woman.
  • Mistress Overdone. But what's his offence? 180
  • Pompey. Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
  • Mistress Overdone. What, is there a maid with child by him?
  • Pompey. No, but there's a woman with maid by him. You have
    not heard of the proclamation, have you?
  • Mistress Overdone. What proclamation, man? 185
  • Pompey. All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.
  • Mistress Overdone. And what shall become of those in the city?
  • Pompey. They shall stand for seed: they had gone down too,
    but that a wise burgher put in for them.
  • Mistress Overdone. But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be 190
    pulled down?
  • Pompey. To the ground, mistress.
  • Mistress Overdone. Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth!
    What shall become of me?
  • Pompey. Come; fear you not: good counsellors lack no 195
    clients: though you change your place, you need not
    change your trade; I'll be your tapster still.
    Courage! there will be pity taken on you: you that
    have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you
    will be considered. 200
  • Mistress Overdone. What's to do here, Thomas tapster? let's withdraw.
  • Pompey. Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to
    prison; and there's Madam Juliet.


[Enter Provost, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and Officers]

  • Claudio. Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the world?
    Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
  • Provost. I do it not in evil disposition,
    But from Lord Angelo by special charge.
  • Claudio. Thus can the demigod Authority 210
    Make us pay down for our offence by weight
    The words of heaven; on whom it will, it will;
    On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.

[Re-enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen]

  • Lucio. Why, how now, Claudio! whence comes this restraint? 215
  • Claudio. From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty:
    As surfeit is the father of much fast,
    So every scope by the immoderate use
    Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,
    Like rats that ravin down their proper bane, 220
    A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.
  • Lucio. If could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would
    send for certain of my creditors: and yet, to say
    the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom
    as the morality of imprisonment. What's thy 225
    offence, Claudio?
  • Claudio. What but to speak of would offend again.
  • Lucio. What, is't murder?
  • Claudio. No.
  • Lucio. Lechery? 230
  • Claudio. Call it so.
  • Provost. Away, sir! you must go.
  • Claudio. One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.
  • Lucio. A hundred, if they'll do you any good.
    Is lechery so look'd after? 235
  • Claudio. Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract
    I got possession of Julietta's bed:
    You know the lady; she is fast my wife,
    Save that we do the denunciation lack
    Of outward order: this we came not to, 240
    Only for propagation of a dower
    Remaining in the coffer of her friends,
    From whom we thought it meet to hide our love
    Till time had made them for us. But it chances
    The stealth of our most mutual entertainment 245
    With character too gross is writ on Juliet.
  • Lucio. With child, perhaps?
  • Claudio. Unhappily, even so.
    And the new deputy now for the duke—
    Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness, 250
    Or whether that the body public be
    A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
    Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
    He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;
    Whether the tyranny be in his place, 255
    Or in his emmence that fills it up,
    I stagger in:—but this new governor
    Awakes me all the enrolled penalties
    Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall
    So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round 260
    And none of them been worn; and, for a name,
    Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
    Freshly on me: 'tis surely for a name.
  • Lucio. I warrant it is: and thy head stands so tickle on
    thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, 265
    may sigh it off. Send after the duke and appeal to
  • Claudio. I have done so, but he's not to be found.
    I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
    This day my sister should the cloister enter 270
    And there receive her approbation:
    Acquaint her with the danger of my state:
    Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
    To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him:
    I have great hope in that; for in her youth 275
    There is a prone and speechless dialect,
    Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous art
    When she will play with reason and discourse,
    And well she can persuade.
  • Lucio. I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the 280
    like, which else would stand under grievous
    imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I
    would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a
    game of tick-tack. I'll to her.
  • Claudio. I thank you, good friend Lucio. 285
  • Lucio. Within two hours.
  • Claudio. Come, officer, away!



Act I, Scene 3

A monastery.



  • Vincentio. No, holy father; throw away that thought; 290
    Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
    Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
    To give me secret harbour, hath a purpose
    More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
    Of burning youth. 295
  • Friar Thomas. May your grace speak of it?
  • Vincentio. My holy sir, none better knows than you
    How I have ever loved the life removed
    And held in idle price to haunt assemblies
    Where youth, and cost, and witless bravery keeps. 300
    I have deliver'd to Lord Angelo,
    A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
    My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
    And he supposes me travell'd to Poland;
    For so I have strew'd it in the common ear, 305
    And so it is received. Now, pious sir,
    You will demand of me why I do this?
  • Friar Thomas. Gladly, my lord.
  • Vincentio. We have strict statutes and most biting laws.
    The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds, 310
    Which for this nineteen years we have let slip;
    Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,
    That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
    Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
    Only to stick it in their children's sight 315
    For terror, not to use, in time the rod
    Becomes more mock'd than fear'd; so our decrees,
    Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
    And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
    The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart 320
    Goes all decorum.
  • Friar Thomas. It rested in your grace
    To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased:
    And it in you more dreadful would have seem'd
    Than in Lord Angelo. 325
  • Vincentio. I do fear, too dreadful:
    Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,
    'Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
    For what I bid them do: for we bid this be done,
    When evil deeds have their permissive pass 330
    And not the punishment. Therefore indeed, my father,
    I have on Angelo imposed the office;
    Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home,
    And yet my nature never in the fight
    To do in slander. And to behold his sway, 335
    I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,
    Visit both prince and people: therefore, I prithee,
    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 340
    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, 345
    If power change purpose, what our seemers be.



Act I, Scene 4

A nunnery.



  • Isabella. And have you nuns no farther privileges?
  • Francisca. Are not these large enough? 350
  • 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? 355
  • Francisca. It is a man's voice. Gentle Isabella,
    Turn you the key, and know his business of him;
    You may, I may not; you are yet unsworn.
    When you have vow'd, you must not speak with men
    But in the presence of the prioress: 360
    Then, if you speak, you must not show your face,
    Or, if you show your face, you must not speak.
    He calls again; I pray you, answer him.


  • Isabella. Peace and prosperity! Who is't that calls 365

[Enter LUCIO]

  • 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 370
    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: 375
    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. 380
  • 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: 385
    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. 390
  • 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 395
    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. 400
  • 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, 405
    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, 410
    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. 415
    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; 420
    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. 425
  • 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 430
    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 435
    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. 440
  • 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: 445
    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.



Act II, Scene 1

A hall In ANGELO’s house.


[Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, and a Justice, Provost,] [p]Officers, and other Attendants, behind]

  • Angelo. We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
    Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
    And let it keep one shape, till custom make it 455
    Their perch and not their terror.
  • Escalus. 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! 460
    Let but your honour know,
    Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,
    That, in the working of your own affections,
    Had time cohered with place or place with wishing,
    Or that the resolute acting of your blood 465
    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.
  • Angelo. 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, 470
    Another thing to fall. I not deny,
    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 475
    That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
    The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't
    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 480
    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.
  • Escalus. Be it as your wisdom will. 485
  • Angelo. Where is the provost?
  • Provost. Here, if it like your honour.
  • Angelo. See that Claudio
    Be executed by nine to-morrow morning:
    Bring him his confessor, let him be prepared; 490
    For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.

[Exit Provost]

  • Escalus. [Aside] Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
    Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:
    Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none: 495
    And some condemned for a fault alone.

[Enter ELBOW, and Officers with FROTH and POMPEY]

  • Elbow. Come, bring them away: if these be good people in
    a commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses in
    common houses, I know no law: bring them away. 500
  • Angelo. How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
  • Elbow. If it Please your honour, I am the poor duke's
    constable, and my name is Elbow: I do lean upon
    justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good
    honour two notorious benefactors. 505
  • Angelo. Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they? are
    they not malefactors?
  • Elbow. If it? please your honour, I know not well what they
    are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure
    of; and void of all profanation in the world that 510
    good Christians ought to have.
  • Escalus. This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
  • Angelo. Go to: what quality are they of? Elbow is your
    name? why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
  • Pompey. He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow. 515
  • Angelo. What are you, sir?
  • Elbow. He, sir! a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that
    serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they
    say, plucked down in the suburbs; and now she
    professes a hot-house, which, I think, is a very ill house too. 520
  • Escalus. How know you that?
  • Elbow. My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,—
  • Escalus. How? thy wife?
  • Elbow. Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,—
  • Escalus. Dost thou detest her therefore? 525
  • Elbow. I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as
    she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house,
    it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.
  • Escalus. How dost thou know that, constable?
  • Elbow. Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman 530
    cardinally given, might have been accused in
    fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
  • Escalus. By the woman's means?
  • Elbow. Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means: but as she
    spit in his face, so she defied him. 535
  • Pompey. Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
  • Elbow. Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable
    man; prove it.
  • Escalus. Do you hear how he misplaces?
  • Pompey. Sir, she came in great with child; and longing, 540
    saving your honour's reverence, for stewed prunes;
    sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very
    distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a
    dish of some three-pence; your honours have seen
    such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very 545
    good dishes,—
  • Escalus. Go to, go to: no matter for the dish, sir.
  • Pompey. No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in
    the right: but to the point. As I say, this
    Mistress Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and 550
    being great-bellied, and longing, as I said, for
    prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said,
    Master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the
    rest, as I said, and, as I say, paying for them very
    honestly; for, as you know, Master Froth, I could 555
    not give you three-pence again.
  • Froth. No, indeed.
  • Pompey. Very well: you being then, if you be remembered,
    cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes,—
  • Froth. Ay, so I did indeed. 560
  • Pompey. Why, very well; I telling you then, if you be
    remembered, that such a one and such a one were past
    cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very
    good diet, as I told you,—
  • Froth. All this is true. 565
  • Pompey. Why, very well, then,—
  • Escalus. Come, you are a tedious fool: to the purpose. What
    was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to
    complain of? Come me to what was done to her.
  • Pompey. Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet. 570
  • Escalus. No, sir, nor I mean it not.
  • Pompey. Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's
    leave. And, I beseech you, look into Master Froth
    here, sir; a man of four-score pound a year; whose
    father died at Hallowmas: was't not at Hallowmas, 575
    Master Froth?
  • Froth. All-hallond eve.
  • Pompey. Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir,
    sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir; 'twas in
    the Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight 580
    to sit, have you not?
  • Froth. I have so; because it is an open room and good for winter.
  • Pompey. Why, very well, then; I hope here be truths.
  • Angelo. This will last out a night in Russia,
    When nights are longest there: I'll take my leave. 585
    And leave you to the hearing of the cause;
    Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.
  • Escalus. I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
    [Exit ANGELO]
    Now, sir, come on: what was done to Elbow's wife, once more? 590
  • Pompey. Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once.
  • Elbow. I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
  • Pompey. I beseech your honour, ask me.
  • Escalus. Well, sir; what did this gentleman to her?
  • Pompey. I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face. 595
    Good Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a
    good purpose. Doth your honour mark his face?
  • Escalus. Ay, sir, very well.
  • Pompey. Nay; I beseech you, mark it well.
  • Escalus. Well, I do so. 600
  • Pompey. Doth your honour see any harm in his face?
  • Escalus. Why, no.
  • Pompey. I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the worst
    thing about him. Good, then; if his face be the
    worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do the 605
    constable's wife any harm? I would know that of
    your honour.
  • Escalus. He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?
  • Elbow. First, an it like you, the house is a respected
    house; next, this is a respected fellow; and his 610
    mistress is a respected woman.
  • Pompey. By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected
    person than any of us all.
  • Elbow. Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet! the
    time has yet to come that she was ever respected 615
    with man, woman, or child.
  • Pompey. Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
  • Escalus. Which is the wiser here? Justice or Iniquity? Is
    this true?
  • Elbow. O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked 620
    Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married
    to her! If ever I was respected with her, or she
    with me, let not your worship think me the poor
    duke's officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or
    I'll have mine action of battery on thee. 625
  • Escalus. If he took you a box o' the ear, you might have your
    action of slander too.
  • Elbow. Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't
    your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?
  • Escalus. Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him 630
    that thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him
    continue in his courses till thou knowest what they
  • Elbow. Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou
    wicked varlet, now, what's come upon thee: thou art 635
    to continue now, thou varlet; thou art to continue.
  • Escalus. Where were you born, friend?
  • Froth. Here in Vienna, sir.
  • Escalus. Are you of fourscore pounds a year?
  • Froth. Yes, an't please you, sir. 640
  • Escalus. So. What trade are you of, sir?
  • Pompey. Tapster; a poor widow's tapster.
  • Escalus. Your mistress' name?
  • Pompey. Mistress Overdone.
  • Escalus. Hath she had any more than one husband? 645
  • Pompey. Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.
  • Escalus. Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master
    Froth, I would not have you acquainted with
    tapsters: they will draw you, Master Froth, and you
    will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no 650
    more of you.
  • Froth. I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never
    come into any room in a tap-house, but I am drawn
  • Escalus. Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell. 655
    [Exit FROTH]
    Come you hither to me, Master tapster. What's your
    name, Master tapster?
  • Pompey. Pompey.
  • Escalus. What else? 660
  • Pompey. Bum, sir.
  • Escalus. Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you;
    so that in the beastliest sense you are Pompey the
    Great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd, Pompey,
    howsoever you colour it in being a tapster, are you 665
    not? come, tell me true: it shall be the better for you.
  • Pompey. Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
  • Escalus. How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What
    do you think of the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?
  • Pompey. If the law would allow it, sir. 670
  • Escalus. But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall
    not be allowed in Vienna.
  • Pompey. Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the
    youth of the city?
  • Escalus. No, Pompey. 675
  • Pompey. Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then.
    If your worship will take order for the drabs and
    the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds.
  • Escalus. There are pretty orders beginning, I can tell you:
    it is but heading and hanging. 680
  • Pompey. If you head and hang all that offend that way but
    for ten year together, you'll be glad to give out a
    commission for more heads: if this law hold in
    Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest house in it
    after three-pence a bay: if you live to see this 685
    come to pass, say Pompey told you so.
  • Escalus. Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your
    prophecy, hark you: I advise you, let me not find
    you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever;
    no, not for dwelling where you do: if I do, Pompey, 690
    I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd
    Caesar to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall
    have you whipt: so, for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
  • Pompey. I thank your worship for your good counsel:
    [Aside] 695
    but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall
    better determine.
    Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade:
    The valiant heart is not whipt out of his trade.


  • Escalus. Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master
    constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?
  • Elbow. Seven year and a half, sir.
  • Escalus. I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had
    continued in it some time. You say, seven years together? 705
  • Elbow. And a half, sir.
  • Escalus. Alas, it hath been great pains to you. They do you
    wrong to put you so oft upon 't: are there not men
    in your ward sufficient to serve it?
  • Elbow. Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters: as they 710
    are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I
    do it for some piece of money, and go through with
  • Escalus. Look you bring me in the names of some six or seven,
    the most sufficient of your parish. 715
  • Elbow. To your worship's house, sir?
  • Escalus. To my house. Fare you well.
    [Exit ELBOW]
    What's o'clock, think you?
  • Justice. Eleven, sir. 720
  • Escalus. I pray you home to dinner with me.
  • Justice. I humbly thank you.
  • Escalus. It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
    But there's no remedy.
  • Justice. Lord Angelo is severe. 725
  • Escalus. It is but needful:
    Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so;
    Pardon is still the nurse of second woe:
    But yet,—poor Claudio! There is no remedy.
    Come, sir. 730



Act II, Scene 2

Another room in the same.


[Enter Provost and a Servant]

  • Servant. He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight
    I'll tell him of you.
  • Provost. Pray you, do. 735
    [Exit Servant]
    I'll know
    His pleasure; may be he will relent. Alas,
    He hath but as offended in a dream!
    All sects, all ages smack of this vice; and he 740
    To die for't!

[Enter ANGELO]

  • Angelo. Now, what's the matter. Provost?
  • Provost. Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?
  • Angelo. Did not I tell thee yea? hadst thou not order? 745
    Why dost thou ask again?
  • Provost. Lest I might be too rash:
    Under your good correction, I have seen,
    When, after execution, judgment hath
    Repented o'er his doom. 750
  • Angelo. Go to; let that be mine:
    Do you your office, or give up your place,
    And you shall well be spared.
  • Provost. I crave your honour's pardon.
    What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet? 755
    She's very near her hour.
  • Angelo. Dispose of her
    To some more fitter place, and that with speed.

[Re-enter Servant]

  • Servant. Here is the sister of the man condemn'd 760
    Desires access to you.
  • Angelo. Hath he a sister?
  • Provost. Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,
    And to be shortly of a sisterhood,
    If not already. 765
  • Angelo. Well, let her be admitted.
    [Exit Servant]
    See you the fornicatress be removed:
    Let have needful, but not lavish, means;
    There shall be order for't. 770


  • Provost. God save your honour!
  • Angelo. Stay a little while.
    You're welcome: what's your will? 775
  • 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; 780
    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: 785
    I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
    And not my brother.
  • Provost. [Aside] Heaven give thee moving graces!
  • Angelo. Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?
    Why, every fault's condemn'd ere it be done: 790
    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! 795
  • 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: 800
    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. 805
  • 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 810
    As mine is to him?
  • Angelo. He's sentenced; 'tis too late.
  • 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, 815
    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. 820
    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, 825
    And you were Isabel! should it then be thus?
    No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge,
    And what a prisoner.
  • Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA]
    Ay, touch him; there's the vein. 830
  • 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 835
    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. 840
  • 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! 845
    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? 850
    There's many have committed it.
  • Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] Ay, well said.
  • 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 855
    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, 860
    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, 865
    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, 870
    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 875
    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 880
    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, 885
    Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
    As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
    Would all themselves laugh mortal.
  • Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] O, to him, to him, wench! he
    will relent; 890
    He's coming; I perceive 't.
  • 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. 895
  • 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.
  • Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] Art avised o' that? more on 't.
  • Angelo. Why do you put these sayings upon me? 900
  • 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 905
    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. 910
  • 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. 915
  • 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 920
    Ere sun-rise, prayers from preserved souls,
    From fasting maids whose minds are dedicate
    To nothing temporal.
  • Angelo. Well; come to me to-morrow.
  • Lucio. [Aside to ISABELLA] Go to; 'tis well; away! 925
  • 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 930
    Shall I attend your lordship?
  • Angelo. At any time 'fore noon.
  • Isabella. 'Save your honour!

[Exeunt ISABELLA, LUCIO, and Provost]

  • Angelo. From thee, even from thy virtue! 935
    What's this, what's this? Is this her fault or mine?
    The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?
    Not she: nor doth she tempt: but it is I
    That, lying by the violet in the sun, 940
    Do as the carrion does, not as the flower,
    Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be
    That modesty may more betray our sense
    Than woman's lightness? Having waste ground enough,
    Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary 945
    And pitch our evils there? O, fie, fie, fie!
    What dost thou, or what art thou, Angelo?
    Dost thou desire her foully for those things
    That make her good? O, let her brother live!
    Thieves for their robbery have authority 950
    When judges steal themselves. What, do I love her,
    That I desire to hear her speak again,
    And feast upon her eyes? What is't I dream on?
    O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint,
    With saints dost bait thy hook! Most dangerous 955
    Is that temptation that doth goad us on
    To sin in loving virtue: never could the strumpet,
    With all her double vigour, art and nature,
    Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid
    Subdues me quite. Even till now, 960
    When men were fond, I smiled and wonder'd how.



Act II, Scene 3

A room in a prison.


[Enter, severally, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as a] [p]friar, and Provost]

  • Vincentio. Hail to you, provost! so I think you are. 965
  • Provost. I am the provost. What's your will, good friar?
  • Vincentio. Bound by my charity and my blest order,
    I come to visit the afflicted spirits
    Here in the prison. Do me the common right
    To let me see them and to make me know 970
    The nature of their crimes, that I may minister
    To them accordingly.
  • Provost. I would do more than that, if more were needful.
    [Enter JULIET]
    Look, here comes one: a gentlewoman of mine, 975
    Who, falling in the flaws of her own youth,
    Hath blister'd her report: she is with child;
    And he that got it, sentenced; a young man
    More fit to do another such offence
    Than die for this. 980
  • Vincentio. When must he die?
  • Provost. As I do think, to-morrow.
    I have provided for you: stay awhile,
    [To JULIET]
    And you shall be conducted. 985
  • Vincentio. Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?
  • Juliet. I do; and bear the shame most patiently.
  • Vincentio. I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
    And try your penitence, if it be sound,
    Or hollowly put on. 990
  • Juliet. I'll gladly learn.
  • Vincentio. Love you the man that wrong'd you?
  • Juliet. Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.
  • Vincentio. So then it seems your most offenceful act
    Was mutually committed? 995
  • Juliet. Mutually.
  • Vincentio. Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.
  • Juliet. I do confess it, and repent it, father.
  • Vincentio. 'Tis meet so, daughter: but lest you do repent,
    As that the sin hath brought you to this shame, 1000
    Which sorrow is always towards ourselves, not heaven,
    Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it,
    But as we stand in fear,—
  • Juliet. I do repent me, as it is an evil,
    And take the shame with joy. 1005
  • Vincentio. There rest.
    Your partner, as I hear, must die to-morrow,
    And I am going with instruction to him.
    Grace go with you, Benedicite!


  • Juliet. Must die to-morrow! O injurious love,
    That respites me a life, whose very comfort
    Is still a dying horror!
  • Provost. 'Tis pity of him.



Act II, Scene 4

A room in ANGELO’s house.


[Enter ANGELO]

  • Angelo. When I would pray and think, I think and pray
    To several subjects. Heaven hath my empty words;
    Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue,
    Anchors on Isabel: Heaven in my mouth, 1020
    As if I did but only chew his name;
    And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
    Of my conception. The state, whereon I studied
    Is like a good thing, being often read,
    Grown fear'd and tedious; yea, my gravity, 1025
    Wherein—let no man hear me—I take pride,
    Could I with boot change for an idle plume,
    Which the air beats for vain. O place, O form,
    How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
    Wrench awe from fools and tie the wiser souls 1030
    To thy false seeming! Blood, thou art blood:
    Let's write good angel on the devil's horn:
    'Tis not the devil's crest.
    [Enter a Servant]
    How now! who's there? 1035
  • Servant. One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.
  • Angelo. Teach her the way.
    [Exit Servant]
    O heavens!
    Why does my blood thus muster to my heart, 1040
    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 1045
    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. 1050
    [Enter ISABELLA]
    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. 1055
  • 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. 1060
  • 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 1065
    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 1070
    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, 1075
    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 1080
    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, 1085
    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, 1090
    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, 1095
    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, 1100
    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 1105
    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. 1110
  • 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, 1115
    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 1120
    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: 1125
    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. 1130
  • 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. 1135
  • 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. 1140
  • 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: 1145
    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 1150
    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 1155
    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,— 1160
    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 1165
    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. 1170
  • 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, 1175
    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! 1180
    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.
  • Angelo. Who will believe thee, Isabel? 1185
    My unsoil'd name, the austereness of my life,
    My vouch against you, and my place i' the state,
    Will so your accusation overweigh,
    That you shall stifle in your own report
    And smell of calumny. I have begun, 1190
    And now I give my sensual race the rein:
    Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;
    Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes,
    That banish what they sue for; redeem thy brother
    By yielding up thy body to my will; 1195
    Or else he must not only die the death,
    But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
    To lingering sufferance. Answer me to-morrow,
    Or, by the affection that now guides me most,
    I'll prove a tyrant to him. As for you, 1200
    Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true.


  • 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, 1205
    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, 1210
    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. 1215
    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.



Act III, Scene 1

A room in the prison.


[Enter DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as before, CLAUDIO,] [p]and Provost]

  • Vincentio. So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
  • Claudio. The miserable have no other medicine
    But only hope: 1225
    I've hope to live, and am prepared to die.
  • Vincentio. 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, 1230
    Servile to all the skyey influences,
    That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,
    Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool;
    For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun
    And yet runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble; 1235
    For all the accommodations that thou bear'st
    Are nursed by baseness. Thou'rt 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 provokest; yet grossly fear'st 1240
    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 strivest to get,
    And what thou hast, forget'st. Thou art not certain; 1245
    For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
    After the moon. If thou art rich, thou'rt poor;
    For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
    Thou bear's thy heavy riches but a journey,
    And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none; 1250
    For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire,
    The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
    Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
    For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,
    But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep, 1255
    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 1260
    That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
    Lie hid moe thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
    That makes these odds all even.
  • Claudio. I humbly thank you.
    To sue to live, I find I seek to die; 1265
    And, seeking death, find life: let it come on.
  • Isabella. [Within] What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!
  • Provost. Who's there? come in: the wish deserves a welcome.
  • Vincentio. Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.
  • Claudio. Most holy sir, I thank you. 1270


  • Isabella. My business is a word or two with Claudio.
  • Provost. And very welcome. Look, signior, here's your sister.
  • Vincentio. Provost, a word with you.
  • Provost. As many as you please. 1275
  • Vincentio. Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be concealed.

[Exeunt DUKE VINCENTIO and Provost]

  • Claudio. Now, sister, what's the comfort?
  • Isabella. Why,
    As all comforts are; most good, most good indeed. 1280
    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. 1285
  • 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: 1290
    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, 1295
    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, 1300
    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 1305
    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. 1310
  • 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. 1315
  • 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 1320
    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! 1325
  • 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. 1330
  • 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. 1335
  • 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. 1340
  • 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. 1345
  • 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? 1350
  • 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 1355
    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 1360
    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 1365
    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, 1370
    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? 1375
    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! 1380
    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. 1385
  • 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.
  • Claudio. O hear me, Isabella! 1390


  • 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 1395
    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.

[Walks apart]

  • Vincentio. Son, I have overheard what hath passed between you 1400
    and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to
    corrupt her; only he hath made an essay 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 1405
    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: tomorrow you must die; go to
    your knees and make ready. 1410
  • Claudio. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love
    with life that I will sue to be rid of it.
  • Vincentio. Hold you there: farewell.
    [Exit CLAUDIO]
    Provost, a word with you! 1415

[Re-enter Provost]

  • Provost. What's your will, father
  • Vincentio. That now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me
    awhile with the maid: my mind promises with my
    habit no loss shall touch her by my company. 1420
  • Provost. In good time.

[Exit Provost. ISABELLA comes forward]

  • 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 1425
    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 1430
    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 1435
    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 1440
    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 1445
    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. 1450
  • 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 1455
    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 1460
    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. 1465
  • 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 1470
    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? 1475
  • 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 1480
    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 1485
    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 1490
    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 1495
    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? 1500
  • 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 1505
    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. 1510

[Exeunt severally]


Act III, Scene 2

The street before the prison.


[Enter, on one side, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as] [p]before; on the other, ELBOW, and Officers with POMPEY]

  • Elbow. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will
    needs buy and sell men and women like beasts, we 1515
    shall have all the world drink brown and white bastard.
  • Vincentio. O heavens! what stuff is here
  • Pompey. 'Twas never merry world since, of two usuries, the
    merriest was put down, and the worser allowed by
    order of law a furred gown to keep him warm; and 1520
    furred with fox and lamb-skins too, to signify, that
    craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the facing.
  • Elbow. Come your way, sir. 'Bless you, good father friar.
  • Vincentio. And you, good brother father. What offence hath
    this man made you, sir? 1525
  • Elbow. Marry, sir, he hath offended the law: and, sir, we
    take him to be a thief too, sir; for we have found
    upon him, sir, a strange picklock, which we have
    sent to the deputy.
  • Vincentio. Fie, sirrah! a bawd, a wicked bawd! 1530
    The evil that thou causest to be done,
    That is thy means to live. Do thou but think
    What 'tis to cram a maw or clothe a back
    From such a filthy vice: say to thyself,
    From their abominable and beastly touches 1535
    I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.
    Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
    So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.
  • Pompey. Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet,
    sir, I would prove— 1540
  • Vincentio. Nay, if the devil have given thee proofs for sin,
    Thou wilt prove his. Take him to prison, officer:
    Correction and instruction must both work
    Ere this rude beast will profit.
  • Elbow. He must before the deputy, sir; he has given him 1545
    warning: the deputy cannot abide a whoremaster: if
    he be a whoremonger, and comes before him, he were
    as good go a mile on his errand.
  • Vincentio. That we were all, as some would seem to be,
    From our faults, as faults from seeming, free! 1550
  • Elbow. His neck will come to your waist,—a cord, sir.
  • Pompey. I spy comfort; I cry bail. Here's a gentleman and a
    friend of mine.

[Enter LUCIO]

  • Lucio. How now, noble Pompey! What, at the wheels of 1555
    Caesar? art thou led in triumph? What, is there
    none of Pygmalion's images, newly made woman, to be
    had now, for putting the hand in the pocket and
    extracting it clutch'd? What reply, ha? What
    sayest thou to this tune, matter and method? Is't 1560
    not drowned i' the last rain, ha? What sayest
    thou, Trot? Is the world as it was, man? Which is
    the way? Is it sad, and few words? or how? The
    trick of it?
  • Vincentio. Still thus, and thus; still worse! 1565
  • Lucio. How doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? Procures she
    still, ha?
  • Pompey. Troth, sir, she hath eaten up all her beef, and she
    is herself in the tub.
  • Lucio. Why, 'tis good; it is the right of it; it must be 1570
    so: ever your fresh whore and your powdered bawd:
    an unshunned consequence; it must be so. Art going
    to prison, Pompey?
  • Pompey. Yes, faith, sir.
  • Lucio. Why, 'tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell: go, say I 1575
    sent thee thither. For debt, Pompey? or how?
  • Elbow. For being a bawd, for being a bawd.
  • Lucio. Well, then, imprison him: if imprisonment be the
    due of a bawd, why, 'tis his right: bawd is he
    doubtless, and of antiquity too; bawd-born. 1580
    Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to the prison,
    Pompey: you will turn good husband now, Pompey; you
    will keep the house.
  • Pompey. I hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail.
  • Lucio. No, indeed, will I not, Pompey; it is not the wear. 1585
    I will pray, Pompey, to increase your bondage: If
    you take it not patiently, why, your mettle is the
    more. Adieu, trusty Pompey. 'Bless you, friar.
  • Vincentio. And you.
  • Lucio. Does Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha? 1590
  • Elbow. Come your ways, sir; come.
  • Pompey. You will not bail me, then, sir?
  • Lucio. Then, Pompey, nor now. What news abroad, friar?
    what news?
  • Elbow. Come your ways, sir; come. 1595
  • Lucio. Go to kennel, Pompey; go.
    [Exeunt ELBOW, POMPEY and Officers]
    What news, friar, of the duke?
  • Vincentio. I know none. Can you tell me of any?
  • Lucio. Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other 1600
    some, he is in Rome: but where is he, think you?
  • Vincentio. I know not where; but wheresoever, I wish him well.
  • Lucio. It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from
    the state, and usurp the beggary he was never born
    to. Lord Angelo dukes it well in his absence; he 1605
    puts transgression to 't.
  • Vincentio. He does well in 't.
  • Lucio. A little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in
    him: something too crabbed that way, friar.
  • Vincentio. It is too general a vice, and severity must cure it. 1610
  • Lucio. Yes, in good sooth, the vice is of a great kindred;
    it is well allied: but it is impossible to extirp
    it quite, friar, till eating and drinking be put
    down. They say this Angelo was not made by man and
    woman after this downright way of creation: is it 1615
    true, think you?
  • Vincentio. How should he be made, then?
  • Lucio. Some report a sea-maid spawned him; some, that he
    was begot between two stock-fishes. But it is
    certain that when he makes water his urine is 1620
    congealed ice; that I know to be true: and he is a
    motion generative; that's infallible.
  • Vincentio. You are pleasant, sir, and speak apace.
  • Lucio. Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the
    rebellion of a codpiece to take away the life of a 1625
    man! Would the duke that is absent have done this?
    Ere he would have hanged a man for the getting a
    hundred bastards, he would have paid for the nursing
    a thousand: he had some feeling of the sport: he
    knew the service, and that instructed him to mercy. 1630
  • Vincentio. I never heard the absent duke much detected for
    women; he was not inclined that way.
  • Lucio. O, sir, you are deceived.
  • Vincentio. 'Tis not possible.
  • Lucio. Who, not the duke? yes, your beggar of fifty; and 1635
    his use was to put a ducat in her clack-dish: the
    duke had crotchets in him. He would be drunk too;
    that let me inform you.
  • Vincentio. You do him wrong, surely.
  • Lucio. Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy fellow was the 1640
    duke: and I believe I know the cause of his
  • Vincentio. What, I prithee, might be the cause?
  • Lucio. No, pardon; 'tis a secret must be locked within the
    teeth and the lips: but this I can let you 1645
    understand, the greater file of the subject held the
    duke to be wise.
  • Vincentio. Wise! why, no question but he was.
  • Lucio. A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.
  • Vincentio. Either this is the envy in you, folly, or mistaking: 1650
    the very stream of his life and the business he hath
    helmed must upon a warranted need give him a better
    proclamation. Let him be but testimonied in his own
    bringings-forth, and he shall appear to the
    envious a scholar, a statesman and a soldier. 1655
    Therefore you speak unskilfully: or if your
    knowledge be more it is much darkened in your malice.
  • Lucio. Sir, I know him, and I love him.
  • Vincentio. Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with
    dearer love. 1660
  • Lucio. Come, sir, I know what I know.
  • Vincentio. I can hardly believe that, since you know not what
    you speak. But, if ever the duke return, as our
    prayers are he may, let me desire you to make your
    answer before him. If it be honest you have spoke, 1665
    you have courage to maintain it: I am bound to call
    upon you; and, I pray you, your name?
  • Lucio. Sir, my name is Lucio; well known to the duke.
  • Vincentio. He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to
    report you. 1670
  • Lucio. I fear you not.
  • Vincentio. O, you hope the duke will return no more; or you
    imagine me too unhurtful an opposite. But indeed I
    can do you little harm; you'll forswear this again.
  • Lucio. I'll be hanged first: thou art deceived in me, 1675
    friar. But no more of this. Canst thou tell if
    Claudio die to-morrow or no?
  • Vincentio. Why should he die, sir?
  • Lucio. Why? For filling a bottle with a tundish. I would
    the duke we talk of were returned again: the 1680
    ungenitured agent will unpeople the province with
    continency; sparrows must not build in his
    house-eaves, because they are lecherous. The duke
    yet would have dark deeds darkly answered; he would
    never bring them to light: would he were returned! 1685
    Marry, this Claudio is condemned for untrussing.
    Farewell, good friar: I prithee, pray for me. The
    duke, I say to thee again, would eat mutton on
    Fridays. He's not past it yet, and I say to thee,
    he would mouth with a beggar, though she smelt brown 1690
    bread and garlic: say that I said so. Farewell.


  • Vincentio. No might nor greatness in mortality
    Can censure 'scape; back-wounding calumny
    The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong 1695
    Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
    But who comes here?

[Enter ESCALUS, Provost, and Officers with MISTRESS OVERDONE]

  • Escalus. Go; away with her to prison!
  • Mistress Overdone. Good my lord, be good to me; your honour is accounted 1700
    a merciful man; good my lord.
  • Escalus. Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in
    the same kind! This would make mercy swear and play
    the tyrant.
  • Provost. A bawd of eleven years' continuance, may it please 1705
    your honour.
  • Mistress Overdone. My lord, this is one Lucio's information against me.
    Mistress Kate Keepdown was with child by him in the
    duke's time; he promised her marriage: his child
    is a year and a quarter old, come Philip and Jacob: 1710
    I have kept it myself; and see how he goes about to abuse me!
  • Escalus. That fellow is a fellow of much licence: let him be
    called before us. Away with her to prison! Go to;
    no more words.
    [Exeunt Officers with MISTRESS OVERDONE] 1715
    Provost, my brother Angelo will not be altered;
    Claudio must die to-morrow: let him be furnished
    with divines, and have all charitable preparation.
    if my brother wrought by my pity, it should not be
    so with him. 1720
  • Provost. So please you, this friar hath been with him, and
    advised him for the entertainment of death.
  • Escalus. Good even, good father.
  • Vincentio. Bliss and goodness on you!
  • Escalus. Of whence are you? 1725
  • Vincentio. Not of this country, though my chance is now
    To use it for my time: I am a brother
    Of gracious order, late come from the See
    In special business from his holiness.
  • Escalus. What news abroad i' the world? 1730
  • Vincentio. None, but that there is so great a fever on
    goodness, that the dissolution of it must cure it:
    novelty is only in request; and it is as dangerous
    to be aged in any kind of course, as it is virtuous
    to be constant in any undertaking. There is scarce 1735
    truth enough alive to make societies secure; but
    security enough to make fellowships accurst: much
    upon this riddle runs the wisdom of the world. This
    news is old enough, yet it is every day's news. I
    pray you, sir, of what disposition was the duke? 1740
  • Escalus. One that, above all other strifes, contended
    especially to know himself.
  • Vincentio. What pleasure was he given to?
  • Escalus. Rather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at
    any thing which professed to make him rejoice: a 1745
    gentleman of all temperance. But leave we him to
    his events, with a prayer they may prove prosperous;
    and let me desire to know how you find Claudio
    prepared. I am made to understand that you have
    lent him visitation. 1750
  • Vincentio. He professes to have received no sinister measure
    from his judge, but most willingly humbles himself
    to the determination of justice: yet had he framed
    to himself, by the instruction of his frailty, many
    deceiving promises of life; which I by my good 1755
    leisure have discredited to him, and now is he
    resolved to die.
  • Escalus. You have paid the heavens your function, and the
    prisoner the very debt of your calling. I have
    laboured for the poor gentleman to the extremest 1760
    shore of my modesty: but my brother justice have I
    found so severe, that he hath forced me to tell him
    he is indeed Justice.
  • Vincentio. If his own life answer the straitness of his
    proceeding, it shall become him well; wherein if he 1765
    chance to fail, he hath sentenced himself.
  • Escalus. I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
  • Vincentio. Peace be with you!
    [Exeunt ESCALUS and Provost]
    He who the sword of heaven will bear 1770
    Should be as holy as severe;
    Pattern in himself to know,
    Grace to stand, and virtue go;
    More nor less to others paying
    Than by self-offences weighing. 1775
    Shame to him whose cruel striking
    Kills for faults of his own liking!
    Twice treble shame on Angelo,
    To weed my vice and let his grow!
    O, what may man within him hide, 1780
    Though angel on the outward side!
    How may likeness made in crimes,
    Making practise on the times,
    To draw with idle spiders' strings
    Most ponderous and substantial things! 1785
    Craft against vice I must apply:
    With Angelo to-night shall lie
    His old betrothed but despised;
    So disguise shall, by the disguised,
    Pay with falsehood false exacting, 1790
    And perform an old contracting.



Act IV, Scene 1

The moated grange at ST. LUKE’s.


[Enter MARIANA and a Boy] [p][Boy sings] [p]Take, O, take those lips away, [p]That so sweetly were forsworn; [p]And those eyes, the break of day, [p]Lights that do mislead the morn: [p]But my kisses bring again, bring again; [p]Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.

  • Mariana. Break off thy song, and haste thee quick away:
    Here comes a man of comfort, whose advice
    Hath often still'd my brawling discontent.
    [Exit Boy]
    [Enter DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as before] 1805
    I cry you mercy, sir; and well could wish
    You had not found me here so musical:
    Let me excuse me, and believe me so,
    My mirth it much displeased, but pleased my woe.
  • Vincentio. 'Tis good; though music oft hath such a charm 1810
    To make bad good, and good provoke to harm.
    I pray, you, tell me, hath any body inquired
    for me here to-day? much upon this time have
    I promised here to meet.
  • Mariana. You have not been inquired after: 1815
    I have sat here all day.


  • Vincentio. I do constantly believe you. The time is come even
    now. I shall crave your forbearance a little: may
    be I will call upon you anon, for some advantage to yourself. 1820
  • Mariana. I am always bound to you.


  • Vincentio. Very well met, and well come.
    What is the news from this good deputy?
  • Isabella. He hath a garden circummured with brick, 1825
    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; 1830
    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: 1835
    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? 1840
  • 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 1845
    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] 1850
    I pray you, be acquainted with this maid;
    She comes to do you good.
  • Isabella. I do desire the like.
  • Vincentio. Do you persuade yourself that I respect you?
  • Mariana. Good friar, I know you do, and have found it. 1855
  • Vincentio. Take, then, this your companion by the hand,
    Who hath a story ready for your ear.
    I shall attend your leisure: but make haste;
    The vaporous night approaches.
  • Mariana. Will't please you walk aside? 1860


  • 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 1865
    Make thee the father of their idle dreams
    And rack thee in their fancies.
    [Re-enter MARIANA and ISABELLA]
    Welcome, how agreed?
  • Isabella. She'll take the enterprise upon her, father, 1870
    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, 1875
    'Remember now my brother.'
  • Mariana. Fear me not.
  • Vincentio. Nor, gentle daughter, fear you not at all.
    He is your husband on a pre-contract:
    To bring you thus together, 'tis no sin, 1880
    Sith that the justice of your title to him
    Doth flourish the deceit. Come, let us go:
    Our corn's to reap, for yet our tithe's to sow.



Act IV, Scene 2

A room in the prison.


[Enter Provost and POMPEY]

  • Provost. Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man's head?
  • Pompey. If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a
    married man, he's his wife's head, and I can never
    cut off a woman's head.
  • Provost. Come, sir, leave me your snatches, and yield me a 1890
    direct answer. To-morrow morning are to die Claudio
    and Barnardine. Here is in our prison a common
    executioner, who in his office lacks a helper: if
    you will take it on you to assist him, it shall
    redeem you from your gyves; if not, you shall have 1895
    your full time of imprisonment and your deliverance
    with an unpitied whipping, for you have been a
    notorious bawd.
  • Pompey. Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind;
    but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman. I 1900
    would be glad to receive some instruction from my
    fellow partner.
  • Provost. What, ho! Abhorson! Where's Abhorson, there?


  • Abhorson. Do you call, sir? 1905
  • Provost. Sirrah, here's a fellow will help you to-morrow in
    your execution. If you think it meet, compound with
    him by the year, and let him abide here with you; if
    not, use him for the present and dismiss him. He
    cannot plead his estimation with you; he hath been a bawd. 1910
  • Abhorson. A bawd, sir? fie upon him! he will discredit our mystery.
  • Provost. Go to, sir; you weigh equally; a feather will turn
    the scale.


  • Pompey. Pray, sir, by your good favour,—for surely, sir, a 1915
    good favour you have, but that you have a hanging
    look,—do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?
  • Abhorson. Ay, sir; a mystery
  • Pompey. Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and
    your whores, sir, being members of my occupation, 1920
    using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery:
    but what mystery there should be in hanging, if I
    should be hanged, I cannot imagine.
  • Abhorson. Sir, it is a mystery.
  • Pompey. Proof? 1925
  • Abhorson. Every true man's apparel fits your thief: if it be
    too little for your thief, your true man thinks it
    big enough; if it be too big for your thief, your
    thief thinks it little enough: so every true man's
    apparel fits your thief. 1930

[Re-enter Provost]

  • Provost. Are you agreed?
  • Pompey. Sir, I will serve him; for I do find your hangman is
    a more penitent trade than your bawd; he doth
    oftener ask forgiveness. 1935
  • Provost. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe
    to-morrow four o'clock.
  • Abhorson. Come on, bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.
  • Pompey. I do desire to learn, sir: and I hope, if you have
    occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find 1940
    me yare; for truly, sir, for your kindness I owe you
    a good turn.
  • Provost. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio:
    [Exeunt POMPEY and ABHORSON]
    The one has my pity; not a jot the other, 1945
    Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
    [Enter CLAUDIO]
    Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death:
    'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow
    Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine? 1950
  • Claudio. As fast lock'd up in sleep as guiltless labour
    When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones:
    He will not wake.
  • Provost. Who can do good on him?
    Well, go, prepare yourself. 1955
    [Knocking within]
    But, hark, what noise?
    Heaven give your spirits comfort!
    [Exit CLAUDIO]
    By and by. 1960
    I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
    For the most gentle Claudio.
    [Enter DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as before]
    Welcome father.
  • Vincentio. The best and wholesomest spirts of the night 1965
    Envelope you, good Provost! Who call'd here of late?
  • Provost. None, since the curfew rung.
  • Vincentio. Not Isabel?
  • Provost. No.
  • Vincentio. They will, then, ere't be long. 1970
  • Provost. What comfort is for Claudio?
  • Vincentio. There's some in hope.
  • Provost. It is a bitter deputy.
  • Vincentio. Not so, not so; his life is parallel'd
    Even with the stroke and line of his great justice: 1975
    He doth with holy abstinence subdue
    That in himself which he spurs on his power
    To qualify in others: were he meal'd with that
    Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous;
    But this being so, he's just. 1980
    [Knocking within]
    Now are they come.
    [Exit Provost]
    This is a gentle provost: seldom when
    The steeled gaoler is the friend of men. 1985
    [Knocking within]
    How now! what noise? That spirit's possessed with haste
    That wounds the unsisting postern with these strokes.

[Re-enter Provost]

  • Provost. There he must stay until the officer 1990
    Arise to let him in: he is call'd up.
  • Vincentio. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
    But he must die to-morrow?
  • Provost. None, sir, none.
  • Vincentio. As near the dawning, provost, as it is, 1995
    You shall hear more ere morning.
  • Provost. Happily
    You something know; yet I believe there comes
    No countermand; no such example have we:
    Besides, upon the very siege of justice 2000
    Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
    Profess'd the contrary.
    [Enter a Messenger]
    This is his lordship's man.
  • Vincentio. And here comes Claudio's pardon. 2005
  • Messenger. [Giving a paper]
    My lord hath sent you this note; and by me this
    further charge, that you swerve not from the
    smallest article of it, neither in time, matter, or
    other circumstance. Good morrow; for, as I take it, 2010
    it is almost day.
  • Provost. I shall obey him.

[Exit Messenger]

  • Vincentio. [Aside] This is his pardon, purchased by such sin
    For which the pardoner himself is in. 2015
    Hence hath offence his quick celerity,
    When it is born in high authority:
    When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended,
    That for the fault's love is the offender friended.
    Now, sir, what news? 2020
  • Provost. I told you. Lord Angelo, belike thinking me remiss
    in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted
    putting-on; methinks strangely, for he hath not used it before.
  • Vincentio. Pray you, let's hear.
  • Provost. [Reads] 2025
    'Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let
    Claudio be executed by four of the clock; and in the
    afternoon Barnardine: for my better satisfaction,
    let me have Claudio's head sent me by five. Let
    this be duly performed; with a thought that more 2030
    depends on it than we must yet deliver. Thus fail
    not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.'
    What say you to this, sir?
  • Vincentio. What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in the
    afternoon? 2035
  • Provost. A Bohemian born, but here nursed un and bred; one
    that is a prisoner nine years old.
  • Vincentio. How came it that the absent duke had not either
    delivered him to his liberty or executed him? I
    have heard it was ever his manner to do so. 2040
  • Provost. His friends still wrought reprieves for him: and,
    indeed, his fact, till now in the government of Lord
    Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
  • Vincentio. It is now apparent?
  • Provost. Most manifest, and not denied by himself. 2045
  • Vincentio. Hath he born himself penitently in prison? how
    seems he to be touched?
  • Provost. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but
    as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless
    of what's past, present, or to come; insensible of 2050
    mortality, and desperately mortal.
  • Vincentio. He wants advice.
  • Provost. 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 2055
    entirely drunk. We have very oft awaked him, as if
    to carry him to execution, and showed him a seeming
    warrant for it: it hath not moved him at all.
  • Vincentio. More of him anon. There is written in your brow,
    provost, honesty and constancy: if I read it not 2060
    truly, my ancient skill beguiles me; but, in the
    boldness of my cunning, I will lay myself in hazard.
    Claudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is
    no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath
    sentenced him. To make you understand this in a 2065
    manifested effect, I crave but four days' respite;
    for the which you are to do me both a present and a
    dangerous courtesy.
  • Provost. Pray, sir, in what?
  • Vincentio. In the delaying death. 2070
  • Provost. A lack, 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.
  • Vincentio. By the vow of mine order I warrant you, if my 2075
    instructions may be your guide. Let this Barnardine
    be this morning executed, and his head born to Angelo.
  • Provost. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.
  • Vincentio. O, death's a great disguiser; and you may add to it.
    Shave the head, and tie the beard; and say it was 2080
    the desire of the penitent to be so bared 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. 2085
  • Provost. Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.
  • Vincentio. Were you sworn to the duke, or to the deputy?
  • Provost. To him, and to his substitutes.
  • Vincentio. You will think you have made no offence, if the duke
    avouch the justice of your dealing? 2090
  • Provost. But what likelihood is in that?
  • Vincentio. 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 go
    further than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. 2095
    Look 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.
  • Provost. I know them both.
  • Vincentio. The contents of this is the return of the duke: you 2100
    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 2105
    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 2110
    with Barnardine's head: I will give him a present
    shrift and advise him for a better place. Yet you
    are amazed; but this shall absolutely resolve you.
    Come away; it is almost clear dawn.



Act IV, Scene 3

Another room in the same.


[Enter POMPEY]

  • Pompey. 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 2120
    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 2125
    Master Three-pile the mercer, for some four suits of
    peach-coloured satin, which now peaches him a
    beggar. Then have we here young Dizy, and young
    Master Deep-vow, and Master Copperspur, and Master
    Starve-lackey the rapier and dagger man, and young 2130
    Drop-heir that killed lusty Pudding, and Master
    Forthlight the tilter, and brave Master Shooty the
    great traveller, and wild Half-can that stabbed
    Pots, and, I think, forty more; all great doers in
    our trade, and are now 'for the Lord's sake.' 2135


  • Abhorson. Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.
  • Pompey. Master Barnardine! you must rise and be hanged.
    Master Barnardine!
  • Abhorson. What, ho, Barnardine! 2140
  • Barnardine. [Within] A pox o' your throats! Who makes that
    noise there? What are you?
  • Pompey. Your friends, sir; the hangman. You must be so
    good, sir, to rise and be put to death.
  • Barnardine. [Within] Away, you rogue, away! I am sleepy. 2145
  • Abhorson. Tell him he must awake, and that quickly too.
  • Pompey. Pray, Master Barnardine, awake till you are
    executed, and sleep afterwards.
  • Abhorson. Go in to him, and fetch him out.
  • Pompey. He is coming, sir, he is coming; I hear his straw rustle. 2150
  • Abhorson. Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?
  • Pompey. Very ready, sir.


  • Barnardine. How now, Abhorson? what's the news with you?
  • Abhorson. Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your 2155
    prayers; for, look you, the warrant's come.
  • Barnardine. You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not
    fitted for 't.
  • Pompey. O, the better, sir; for he that drinks all night,
    and is hanged betimes in the morning, may sleep the 2160
    sounder all the next day.
  • Abhorson. Look you, sir; here comes your ghostly father: do
    we jest now, think you?

[Enter DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as before]

  • Vincentio. Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily 2165
    you are to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort
    you and pray with you.
  • Barnardine. 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 2170
    consent to die this day, that's certain.
  • Vincentio. O, sir, you must: and therefore I beseech you
    Look forward on the journey you shall go.
  • Barnardine. I swear I will not die to-day for any man's
    persuasion. 2175
  • Vincentio. But hear you.
  • Barnardine. Not a word: if you have any thing to say to me,
    come to my ward; for thence will not I to-day.


  • Vincentio. Unfit to live or die: O gravel heart! 2180
    After him, fellows; bring him to the block.


[Re-enter Provost]

  • Provost. Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?
  • Vincentio. A creature unprepared, unmeet for death; 2185
    And to transport him in the mind he is
    Were damnable.
  • Provost. Here in the prison, father,
    There died this morning of a cruel fever
    One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate, 2190
    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 inclined;
    And satisfy the deputy with the visage
    Of Ragozine, more like to Claudio? 2195
  • Vincentio. 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. 2200
  • Provost. 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? 2205
  • Vincentio. Let this be done.
    Put them in secret holds, both Barnardine and Claudio:
    Ere twice the sun hath made his journal greeting
    To the under generation, you shall find
    Your safety manifested. 2210
  • Provost. I am your free dependant.
  • Vincentio. Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo.
    [Exit Provost]
    Now will I write letters to Angelo,—
    The provost, he shall bear them, whose contents 2215
    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, 2220
    By cold gradation and well-balanced form,
    We shall proceed with Angelo.

[Re-enter Provost]

  • Provost. Here is the head; I'll carry it myself.
  • Vincentio. Convenient is it. Make a swift return; 2225
    For I would commune with you of such things
    That want no ear but yours.
  • Provost. I'll make all speed.


  • Isabella. [Within] Peace, ho, be here! 2230
  • Vincentio. 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. 2235


  • 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? 2240
  • 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. 2245
  • 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; 2250
    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, 2255
    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, 2260
    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.
  • Vincentio. This letter, then, to Friar Peter give; 2265
    'Tis that he sent me of the duke's return:
    Say, by this token, I desire his company
    At Mariana's house to-night. Her cause and yours
    I'll perfect him withal, and he shall bring you
    Before the duke, and to the head of Angelo 2270
    Accuse him home and home. For my poor self,
    I am combined by a sacred vow
    And shall be absent. Wend you with this letter:
    Command these fretting waters from your eyes
    With a light heart; trust not my holy order, 2275
    If I pervert your course. Who's here?

[Enter LUCIO]

  • Lucio. Good even. Friar, where's the provost?
  • Vincentio. Not within, sir.
  • Lucio. O pretty Isabella, I am pale at mine heart to see 2280
    thine eyes so red: thou must be patient. I am fain
    to dine and sup with water and bran; I dare not for
    my head fill my belly; one fruitful meal would set
    me to 't. But they say the duke will be here
    to-morrow. By my troth, Isabel, I loved thy brother: 2285
    if the old fantastical duke of dark corners had been
    at home, he had lived.


  • Vincentio. Sir, the duke is marvellous little beholding to your
    reports; but the best is, he lives not in them. 2290
  • Lucio. Friar, thou knowest not the duke so well as I do:
    he's a better woodman than thou takest him for.
  • Vincentio. Well, you'll answer this one day. Fare ye well.
  • Lucio. Nay, tarry; I'll go along with thee
    I can tell thee pretty tales of the duke. 2295
  • Vincentio. You have told me too many of him already, sir, if
    they be true; if not true, none were enough.
  • Lucio. I was once before him for getting a wench with child.
  • Vincentio. Did you such a thing?
  • Lucio. Yes, marry, did I. but I was fain to forswear it; 2300
    they would else have married me to the rotten medlar.
  • Vincentio. Sir, your company is fairer than honest. Rest you well.
  • Lucio. By my troth, I'll go with thee to the lane's end:
    if bawdy talk offend you, we'll have very little of
    it. Nay, friar, I am a kind of burr; I shall stick. 2305



Act IV, Scene 4

A room in ANGELO’s house.



  • Escalus. Every letter he hath writ hath disvouched other.
  • Angelo. In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions
    show much like to madness: pray heaven his wisdom be 2310
    not tainted! And why meet him at the gates, and
    redeliver our authorities there
  • Escalus. I guess not.
  • Angelo. And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his
    entering, that if any crave redress of injustice, 2315
    they should exhibit their petitions in the street?
  • Escalus. He shows his reason for that: to have a dispatch of
    complaints, and to deliver us from devices
    hereafter, which shall then have no power to stand
    against us. 2320
  • Angelo. Well, I beseech you, let it be proclaimed betimes
    i' the morn; I'll call you at your house: give
    notice to such men of sort and suit as are to meet
  • Escalus. I shall, sir. Fare you well. 2325
  • Angelo. Good night.
    [Exit ESCALUS]
    This deed unshapes me quite, makes me unpregnant
    And dull to all proceedings. A deflower'd maid!
    And by an eminent body that enforced 2330
    The law against it! But that her tender shame
    Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
    How might she tongue me! Yet reason dares her no;
    For my authority bears of a credent bulk,
    That no particular scandal once can touch 2335
    But it confounds the breather. He should have lived,
    Save that riotous youth, with dangerous sense,
    Might in the times to come have ta'en revenge,
    By so receiving a dishonour'd life
    With ransom of such shame. Would yet he had lived! 2340
    A lack, when once our grace we have forgot,
    Nothing goes right: we would, and we would not.



Act IV, Scene 5

Fields without the town.


[Enter DUKE VINCENTIO in his own habit, and FRIAR PETER]

  • Vincentio. These letters at fit time deliver me 2345
    [Giving letters]
    The provost knows our purpose and our plot.
    The matter being afoot, keep your instruction,
    And hold you ever to our special drift;
    Though sometimes you do blench from this to that, 2350
    As cause doth minister. Go call at Flavius' house,
    And tell him where I stay: give the like notice
    To Valentinus, Rowland, and to Crassus,
    And bid them bring the trumpets to the gate;
    But send me Flavius first. 2355
  • Friar Peter. It shall be speeded well.



  • Vincentio. I thank thee, Varrius; thou hast made good haste:
    Come, we will walk. There's other of our friends 2360
    Will greet us here anon, my gentle Varrius.



Act IV, Scene 6

Street near the city gate.



  • Isabella. To speak so indirectly I am loath:
    I would say the truth; but to accuse him so, 2365
    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, 2370
    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. Come, I have found you out a stand most fit,
    Where you may have such vantage on the duke,
    He shall not pass you. Twice have the trumpets sounded;
    The generous and gravest citizens
    Have hent the gates, and very near upon 2380
    The duke is entering: therefore, hence, away!



Act V, Scene 1

The city gate.


[MARIANA veiled, ISABELLA, and FRIAR PETER, at their] [p]stand. Enter DUKE VINCENTIO, VARRIUS, Lords, [p]ANGELO, ESCALUS, LUCIO, Provost, Officers, and [p]Citizens, at several doors]

  • Vincentio. My very worthy cousin, fairly met!
    Our old and faithful friend, we are glad to see you.
  • Angelo. [with Escalus] Happy return be to your royal grace!
  • Vincentio. Many and hearty thankings to you both. 2390
    We have made inquiry of you; and we hear
    Such goodness of your justice, that our soul
    Cannot but yield you forth to public thanks,
    Forerunning more requital.
  • Angelo. You make my bonds still greater. 2395
  • Vincentio. O, your desert speaks loud; and I should wrong it,
    To lock it in the wards of covert bosom,
    When it deserves, with characters of brass,
    A forted residence 'gainst the tooth of time
    And razure of oblivion. Give me your hand, 2400
    And let the subject see, to make them know
    That outward courtesies would fain proclaim
    Favours that keep within. Come, Escalus,
    You must walk by us on our other hand;
    And good supporters are you. 2405

[FRIAR PETER and ISABELLA come forward]

  • 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 2410
    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: 2415
    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, 2420
    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! 2425
  • 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, 2430
    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: 2435
    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 2440
    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, 2445
    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, 2450
    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, 2455
    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, 2460
    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 2465
    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: 2470
    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. You were not bid to speak. 2475
  • Lucio. No, my good lord;
    Nor wish'd to hold my peace.
  • Vincentio. I wish you now, then;
    Pray you, take note of it: and when you have
    A business for yourself, pray heaven you then 2480
    Be perfect.
  • Lucio. I warrant your honour.
  • Vincentio. The warrants for yourself; take heed to't.
  • Isabella. This gentleman told somewhat of my tale,—
  • Lucio. Right. 2485
  • 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. 2490
  • 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, 2495
    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, 2500
    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. 2505
  • 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 2510
    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: 2515
    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 2520
    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 2525
    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. A ghostly father, belike. Who knows that Lodowick? 2530
  • Lucio. My lord, I know him; 'tis a meddling friar;
    I do not like the man: had he been lay, my lord
    For certain words he spake against your grace
    In your retirement, I had swinged him soundly.
  • Vincentio. Words against me? this is a good friar, belike! 2535
    And to set on this wretched woman here
    Against our substitute! Let this friar be found.
  • Lucio. But yesternight, my lord, she and that friar,
    I saw them at the prison: a saucy friar,
    A very scurvy fellow. 2540
  • Friar Peter. Blessed be your royal grace!
    I have stood by, my lord, and I have heard
    Your royal ear abused. First, hath this woman
    Most wrongfully accused your substitute,
    Who is as free from touch or soil with her 2545
    As she from one ungot.
  • Vincentio. We did believe no less.
    Know you that Friar Lodowick that she speaks of?
  • Friar Peter. I know him for a man divine and holy;
    Not scurvy, nor a temporary meddler, 2550
    As he's reported by this gentleman;
    And, on my trust, a man that never yet
    Did, as he vouches, misreport your grace.
  • Lucio. My lord, most villanously; believe it.
  • Friar Peter. Well, he in time may come to clear himself; 2555
    But at this instant he is sick my lord,
    Of a strange fever. Upon his mere request,
    Being come to knowledge that there was complaint
    Intended 'gainst Lord Angelo, came I hither,
    To speak, as from his mouth, what he doth know 2560
    Is true and false; and what he with his oath
    And all probation will make up full clear,
    Whensoever he's convented. First, for this woman.
    To justify this worthy nobleman,
    So vulgarly and personally accused, 2565
    Her shall you hear disproved to her eyes,
    Till she herself confess it.
  • Vincentio. Good friar, let's hear it.
    [ISABELLA is carried off guarded; and MARIANA comes forward]
    Do you not smile at this, Lord Angelo? 2570
    O heaven, the vanity of wretched fools!
    Give us some seats. Come, cousin Angelo;
    In this I'll be impartial; be you judge
    Of your own cause. Is this the witness, friar?
    First, let her show her face, and after speak. 2575
  • Mariana. Pardon, my lord; I will not show my face
    Until my husband bid me.
  • Vincentio. What, are you married?
  • Mariana. No, my lord.
  • Vincentio. Are you a maid? 2580
  • Mariana. No, my lord.
  • Vincentio. A widow, then?
  • Mariana. Neither, my lord.
  • Vincentio. Why, you are nothing then: neither maid, widow, nor wife?
  • Lucio. My lord, she may be a punk; for many of them are 2585
    neither maid, widow, nor wife.
  • Vincentio. Silence that fellow: I would he had some cause
    To prattle for himself.
  • Lucio. Well, my lord.
  • Mariana. My lord; I do confess I ne'er was married; 2590
    And I confess besides I am no maid:
    I have known my husband; yet my husband
    Knows not that ever he knew me.
  • Lucio. He was drunk then, my lord: it can be no better.
  • Vincentio. For the benefit of silence, would thou wert so too! 2595
  • Lucio. Well, my lord.
  • Vincentio. This is no witness for Lord Angelo.
  • Mariana. Now I come to't my lord
    She that accuses him of fornication,
    In self-same manner doth accuse my husband, 2600
    And charges him my lord, with such a time
    When I'll depose I had him in mine arms
    With all the effect of love.
  • Angelo. Charges she more than me?
  • Mariana. Not that I know. 2605
  • Vincentio. No? you say your husband.
  • Mariana. Why, just, my lord, and that is Angelo,
    Who thinks he knows that he ne'er knew my body,
    But knows he thinks that he knows Isabel's.
  • Angelo. This is a strange abuse. Let's see thy face. 2610
  • Mariana. My husband bids me; now I will unmask.
    This is that face, thou cruel Angelo,
    Which once thou sworest was worth the looking on;
    This is the hand which, with a vow'd contract, 2615
    Was fast belock'd in thine; this is the body
    That took away the match from Isabel,
    And did supply thee at thy garden-house
    In her imagined person.
  • Vincentio. Know you this woman? 2620
  • Lucio. Carnally, she says.
  • Vincentio. Sirrah, no more!
  • Lucio. Enough, my lord.
  • Angelo. My lord, I must confess I know this woman:
    And five years since there was some speech of marriage 2625
    Betwixt myself and her; which was broke off,
    Partly for that her promised proportions
    Came short of composition, but in chief
    For that her reputation was disvalued
    In levity: since which time of five years 2630
    I never spake with her, saw her, nor heard from her,
    Upon my faith and honour.
  • Mariana. Noble prince,
    As there comes light from heaven and words from breath,
    As there is sense in truth and truth in virtue, 2635
    I am affianced this man's wife as strongly
    As words could make up vows: and, my good lord,
    But Tuesday night last gone in's garden-house
    He knew me as a wife. As this is true,
    Let me in safety raise me from my knees 2640
    Or else for ever be confixed here,
    A marble monument!
  • Angelo. I did but smile till now:
    Now, good my lord, give me the scope of justice
    My patience here is touch'd. I do perceive 2645
    These poor informal women are no more
    But instruments of some more mightier member
    That sets them on: let me have way, my lord,
    To find this practise out.
  • Vincentio. Ay, with my heart 2650
    And punish them to your height of pleasure.
    Thou foolish friar, and thou pernicious woman,
    Compact with her that's gone, think'st thou thy oaths,
    Though they would swear down each particular saint,
    Were testimonies against his worth and credit 2655
    That's seal'd in approbation? You, Lord Escalus,
    Sit with my cousin; lend him your kind pains
    To find out this abuse, whence 'tis derived.
    There is another friar that set them on;
    Let him be sent for. 2660
  • Friar Peter. Would he were here, my lord! for he indeed
    Hath set the women on to this complaint:
    Your provost knows the place where he abides
    And he may fetch him.
  • Vincentio. Go do it instantly. 2665
    [Exit Provost]
    And you, my noble and well-warranted cousin,
    Whom it concerns to hear this matter forth,
    Do with your injuries as seems you best,
    In any chastisement: I for a while will leave you; 2670
    But stir not you till you have well determined
    Upon these slanderers.
  • Escalus. My lord, we'll do it throughly.
    [Exit DUKE]
    Signior Lucio, did not you say you knew that 2675
    Friar Lodowick to be a dishonest person?
  • Lucio. 'Cucullus non facit monachum:' honest in nothing
    but in his clothes; and one that hath spoke most
    villanous speeches of the duke.
  • Escalus. We shall entreat you to abide here till he come and 2680
    enforce them against him: we shall find this friar a
    notable fellow.
  • Lucio. As any in Vienna, on my word.
  • Escalus. Call that same Isabel here once again; I would speak with her.
    [Exit an Attendant] 2685
    Pray you, my lord, give me leave to question; you
    shall see how I'll handle her.
  • Lucio. Not better than he, by her own report.
  • Escalus. Say you?
  • Lucio. Marry, sir, I think, if you handled her privately, 2690
    she would sooner confess: perchance, publicly,
    she'll be ashamed.
  • Escalus. I will go darkly to work with her.
  • Lucio. That's the way; for women are light at midnight.
    [Re-enter Officers with ISABELLA; and Provost with] 2695
    the DUKE VINCENTIO in his friar's habit]
  • Escalus. Come on, mistress: here's a gentlewoman denies all
    that you have said.
  • Lucio. My lord, here comes the rascal I spoke of; here with
    the provost. 2700
  • Escalus. In very good time: speak not you to him till we
    call upon you.
  • Lucio. Mum.
  • Escalus. Come, sir: did you set these women on to slander
    Lord Angelo? they have confessed you did. 2705
  • Vincentio. 'Tis false.
  • Escalus. How! know you where you are?
  • Vincentio. Respect to your great place! and let the devil
    Be sometime honour'd for his burning throne!
    Where is the duke? 'tis he should hear me speak. 2710
  • Escalus. The duke's in us; and we will hear you speak:
    Look you speak justly.
  • Vincentio. Boldly, at least. But, O, poor souls,
    Come you to seek the lamb here of the fox?
    Good night to your redress! Is the duke gone? 2715
    Then is your cause gone too. The duke's unjust,
    Thus to retort your manifest appeal,
    And put your trial in the villain's mouth
    Which here you come to accuse.
  • Lucio. This is the rascal; this is he I spoke of. 2720
  • Escalus. Why, thou unreverend and unhallow'd friar,
    Is't not enough thou hast suborn'd these women
    To accuse this worthy man, but, in foul mouth
    And in the witness of his proper ear,
    To call him villain? and then to glance from him 2725
    To the duke himself, to tax him with injustice?
    Take him hence; to the rack with him! We'll touse you
    Joint by joint, but we will know his purpose.
    What 'unjust'!
  • Vincentio. Be not so hot; the duke 2730
    Dare no more stretch this finger of mine than he
    Dare rack his own: his subject am I not,
    Nor here provincial. My business in this state
    Made me a looker on here in Vienna,
    Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble 2735
    Till it o'er-run the stew; laws for all faults,
    But faults so countenanced, that the strong statutes
    Stand like the forfeits in a barber's shop,
    As much in mock as mark.
  • Escalus. Slander to the state! Away with him to prison! 2740
  • Angelo. What can you vouch against him, Signior Lucio?
    Is this the man that you did tell us of?
  • Lucio. 'Tis he, my lord. Come hither, goodman baldpate:
    do you know me?
  • Vincentio. I remember you, sir, by the sound of your voice: I 2745
    met you at the prison, in the absence of the duke.
  • Lucio. O, did you so? And do you remember what you said of the duke?
  • Vincentio. Most notedly, sir.
  • Lucio. Do you so, sir? And was the duke a fleshmonger, a
    fool, and a coward, as you then reported him to be? 2750
  • Vincentio. You must, sir, change persons with me, ere you make
    that my report: you, indeed, spoke so of him; and
    much more, much worse.
  • Lucio. O thou damnable fellow! Did not I pluck thee by the
    nose for thy speeches? 2755
  • Vincentio. I protest I love the duke as I love myself.
  • Angelo. Hark, how the villain would close now, after his
    treasonable abuses!
  • Escalus. Such a fellow is not to be talked withal. Away with
    him to prison! Where is the provost? Away with him 2760
    to prison! lay bolts enough upon him: let him
    speak no more. Away with those giglots too, and
    with the other confederate companion!
  • Vincentio. [To Provost] Stay, sir; stay awhile.
  • Angelo. What, resists he? Help him, Lucio. 2765
  • Lucio. Come, sir; come, sir; come, sir; foh, sir! Why, you
    bald-pated, lying rascal, you must be hooded, must
    you? Show your knave's visage, with a pox to you!
    show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged an hour!
    Will't not off? 2770

[Pulls off the friar's hood, and discovers DUKE VINCENTIO]

  • Vincentio. Thou art the first knave that e'er madest a duke.
    First, provost, let me bail these gentle three.
    [To LUCIO]
    Sneak not away, sir; for the friar and you 2775
    Must have a word anon. Lay hold on him.
  • Lucio. This may prove worse than hanging.
  • Vincentio. [To ESCALUS] What you have spoke I pardon: sit you down:
    We'll borrow place of him.
    [To ANGELO] 2780
    Sir, by your leave.
    Hast thou or word, or wit, or impudence,
    That yet can do thee office? If thou hast,
    Rely upon it till my tale be heard,
    And hold no longer out. 2785
  • Angelo. O my dread lord,
    I should be guiltier than my guiltiness,
    To think I can be undiscernible,
    When I perceive your grace, like power divine,. Hath look'd upon my passes. Then, good prince,
    No longer session hold upon my shame, 2790
    But let my trial be mine own confession:
    Immediate sentence then and sequent death
    Is all the grace I beg.
  • Vincentio. Come hither, Mariana.
    Say, wast thou e'er contracted to this woman? 2795
  • Angelo. I was, my lord.
  • Vincentio. Go take her hence, and marry her instantly.
    Do you the office, friar; which consummate,
    Return him here again. Go with him, provost.


  • Escalus. My lord, I am more amazed at his dishonour
    Than at the strangeness of it.
  • Vincentio. Come hither, Isabel.
    Your friar is now your prince: as I was then
    Advertising and holy to your business, 2805
    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! 2810
  • 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 2815
    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! 2820
    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.

[Re-enter ANGELO, MARIANA, FRIAR PETER, and Provost]

  • Vincentio. For this new-married man approaching here,
    Whose salt imagination yet hath wrong'd
    Your well defended honour, you must pardon
    For Mariana's sake: but as he adjudged your brother,—
    Being criminal, in double violation 2830
    Of sacred chastity and of promise-breach
    Thereon dependent, for your brother's life,—
    The very mercy of the law cries out
    Most audible, even from his proper tongue,
    'An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!' 2835
    Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
    Like doth quit like, and MEASURE still FOR MEASURE.
    Then, Angelo, thy fault's thus manifested;
    Which, though thou wouldst deny, denies thee vantage.
    We do condemn thee to the very block 2840
    Where Claudio stoop'd to death, and with like haste.
    Away with him!
  • Mariana. O my most gracious lord,
    I hope you will not mock me with a husband.
  • Vincentio. It is your husband mock'd you with a husband. 2845
    Consenting to the safeguard of your honour,
    I thought your marriage fit; else imputation,
    For that he knew you, might reproach your life
    And choke your good to come; for his possessions,
    Although by confiscation they are ours, 2850
    We do instate and widow you withal,
    To buy you a better husband.
  • Mariana. O my dear lord,
    I crave no other, nor no better man.
  • Vincentio. Never crave him; we are definitive. 2855
  • Mariana. Gentle my liege,—


  • Vincentio. You do but lose your labour.
    Away with him to death!
    [To LUCIO] 2860
    Now, sir, to you.
  • Mariana. O my good lord! Sweet Isabel, take my part;
    Lend me your knees, and all my life to come
    I'll lend you all my life to do you service.
  • Vincentio. Against all sense you do importune her: 2865
    Should she kneel down in mercy of this fact,
    Her brother's ghost his paved bed would break,
    And take her hence in horror.
  • Mariana. Isabel,
    Sweet Isabel, do yet but kneel by me; 2870
    Hold up your hands, say nothing; I'll speak all.
    They say, best men are moulded out of faults;
    And, for the most, become much more the better
    For being a little bad: so may my husband.
    O Isabel, will you not lend a knee? 2875
  • 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 2880
    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, 2885
    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.
  • Mariana. Merely, my lord. 2890
  • Vincentio. Your suit's unprofitable; stand up, I say.
    I have bethought me of another fault.
    Provost, how came it Claudio was beheaded
    At an unusual hour?
  • Provost. It was commanded so. 2895
  • Vincentio. Had you a special warrant for the deed?
  • Provost. No, my good lord; it was by private message.
  • Vincentio. For which I do discharge you of your office:
    Give up your keys.
  • Provost. Pardon me, noble lord: 2900
    I thought it was a fault, but knew it not;
    Yet did repent me, after more advice;
    For testimony whereof, one in the prison,
    That should by private order else have died,
    I have reserved alive. 2905
  • Vincentio. What's he?
  • Provost. His name is Barnardine.
  • Vincentio. I would thou hadst done so by Claudio.
    Go fetch him hither; let me look upon him.

[Exit Provost]

  • Escalus. I am sorry, one so learned and so wise
    As you, Lord Angelo, have still appear'd,
    Should slip so grossly, both in the heat of blood.
    And lack of temper'd judgment afterward.
  • Angelo. I am sorry that such sorrow I procure: 2915
    And so deep sticks it in my penitent heart
    That I crave death more willingly than mercy;
    'Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it.
    [Re-enter Provost, with BARNARDINE, CLAUDIO muffled,]
    and JULIET] 2920
  • Vincentio. Which is that Barnardine?
  • Provost. This, my lord.
  • Vincentio. There was a friar told me of this man.
    Sirrah, thou art said to have a stubborn soul.
    That apprehends no further than this world, 2925
    And squarest thy life according. Thou'rt condemn'd:
    But, for those earthly faults, I quit them all;
    And pray thee take this mercy to provide
    For better times to come. Friar, advise him;
    I leave him to your hand. What muffled fellow's that? 2930
  • Provost. This is another prisoner that I saved.
    Who should have died when Claudio lost his head;
    As like almost to Claudio as himself.

[Unmuffles CLAUDIO]

  • Vincentio. [To ISABELLA] If he be like your brother, for his sake 2935
    Is he pardon'd; and, for your lovely sake,
    Give me your hand and say you will be mine.
    He is my brother too: but fitter time for that.
    By this Lord Angelo perceives he's safe;
    Methinks I see a quickening in his eye. 2940
    Well, Angelo, your evil quits you well:
    Look that you love your wife; her worth worth yours.
    I find an apt remission in myself;
    And yet here's one in place I cannot pardon.
    [To LUCIO] 2945
    You, sirrah, that knew me for a fool, a coward,
    One all of luxury, an ass, a madman;
    Wherein have I so deserved of you,
    That you extol me thus?
  • Lucio. 'Faith, my lord. I spoke it but according to the 2950
    trick. If you will hang me for it, you may; but I
    had rather it would please you I might be whipt.
  • Vincentio. Whipt first, sir, and hanged after.
    Proclaim it, provost, round about the city.
    Is any woman wrong'd by this lewd fellow, 2955
    As I have heard him swear himself there's one
    Whom he begot with child, let her appear,
    And he shall marry her: the nuptial finish'd,
    Let him be whipt and hang'd.
  • Lucio. I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore. 2960
    Your highness said even now, I made you a duke:
    good my lord, do not recompense me in making me a cuckold.
  • Vincentio. Upon mine honour, thou shalt marry her.
    Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal
    Remit thy other forfeits. Take him to prison; 2965
    And see our pleasure herein executed.
  • Lucio. Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death,
    whipping, and hanging.
  • Vincentio. Slandering a prince deserves it.
    [Exit Officers with LUCIO] 2970
    She, Claudio, that you wrong'd, look you restore.
    Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo:
    I have confess'd her and I know her virtue.
    Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness:
    There's more behind that is more gratulate. 2975
    Thanks, provost, for thy care and secrecy:
    We shill employ thee in a worthier place.
    Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home
    The head of Ragozine for Claudio's:
    The offence pardons itself. Dear Isabel, 2980
    I have a motion much imports your good;
    Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline,
    What's mine is yours and what is yours is mine.
    So, bring us to our palace; where we'll show
    What's yet behind, that's meet you all should know. 2985