By William Shakespeare,
Adapted by Christian Carvajal
First presented at Tacoma Little Theatre, 31 January 2019
We are in Vienna, an amoral city of ostentatious wealth.
CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)
DUKE VINCENTIO: a Viennese big shot
ESCALUS: an aged lord
ANGELO: Duke Vincentio’s deputy
LUCIO: a “fantastic,” or flamboyant bachelor
FIRST GENTLEMAN / JUSTICE
SECOND GENTLEMAN / BARNARDINE: a convict
MISTRESS OVERDONE: a madam
POMPEY: a pimp and comedian who works for Mistress Overdone
CLAUDIO: a young gentleman
PROVOST: Vienna’s head jailer
FRIAR THOMAS / ELBOW: a constable
ISABELLA: Claudio’s sister, who’s studying to be a nun
FRANCISCA: a nun / JULIET: Claudio’s significant other
FROTH: a gentleman / ABHORSON: an executioner
SERVANT / BOY / MESSENGER
MARIANA: Angelo’s fiancée
SCENE I: an apartment in the Duke’s palace.
(Enter DUKE VINCENTIO, ESCALUS, lords and attendants.)
Since I am well informed that your own knowledge
Exceeds, in truth, the bounds of all advice
My strength can give you, then no more remains
But that, as to the nature of our people,
Our city’s institutions, and the terms
For common justice, you’re conversant more
Than art and practice has enriched any
That we remember. Here is our commission,
From which we would not have you stray. Call hither,
I say, bid come before us Angelo. (Exit an attendant.)
What image of us think you he will show?
For you must know we have with deepest thought
Elected him to service in our stead,
Lent him our power, dressed him with our love,
And given him the arsenal and reach
Of our own power; what think you of it?
If any in Vienna be of worth
To represent your ample grace and honor,
It is Lord Angelo.
Look where he comes.
Always obedient to your grace’s will,
I come to know your pleasure.
There is a kind of résumé of thy life
That to the observer doth thy history
Fully unfold. But I do bend my speech
To one who can direct himself to play me.
Hold therefore, Angelo:
While we’re away be thou as we ourself;
Mortality and mercy in Vienna
Live in thy tongue and heart. Old Escalus,
Though first in station, is thy secondary.
Take thy commission.
Now, good my lord,
Let there be further test made of my metal,
Before so noble and so great a figure
Be stamped upon it.
No more evasion:
We have with seasoned and considered choice
Decided on you; therefore, take your honors.
Our haste from hence is of so dire condition
That it promotes itself and leaves abandoned
Matters of some importance. We shall write to you,
As time and our concerns shall importune,
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.
Yet give leave, my lord,
That we escort you partway down the road.
My haste may not admit it,
Nor need you, on mine honor, have to do
With hesitation; your scope is as mine own
So to enforce or mitigate the laws
As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand;
I’ll secretly away. I love the people,
But do not like to stage me for their eyes.
Though fair enough, I do not relish well
Their loud applause and cheering vehement,
Nor do I think the man of good discretion
Who does enjoy it. Once more, fare you well.
The heavens give safety to your purposes!
Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!
I thank you. Fare you well. (Exit the Duke.)
I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
To have free speech with you, and it concerns me
To look into my office’s extent;
A power I have, but of what strength and nature
I am not yet instructed.
‘Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,
And we may soon our comprehension have
I’ll wait upon your honor.
ACT I, SCENE II: a street.
(Enter LUCIO and two GENTLEMEN.)
If the duke with the other dukes come not to full agreement with the King of Hungary, why, then all the dukes will overwhelm the king.
Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of Hungary’s!
Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate that went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped one out of the tablet.
“Thou shalt not steal?”
Aye, that he scrubbed.
Why, ’twas a commandment to command the captain and all the rest from their purpose: They put forth 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.
I never heard any soldier dislike it.
I believe thee; for I think thou never was where grace was said.
No? In any form of verse or any language?
I think, or in any religion.
Aye, why not? Grace is grace, in spite of all controversy; as, for example, thou thyself art a wicked villain, in spite of all grace.
Well, you and I are cut from matching cloth.
I grant; do I speak eloquently now?
I think thou dost; but note the sore that pains thy speaking lips! I will, out of thine own confession, raise a glass to cheer thy health but, whilst I live, choose not to drink after thee.
I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?
Yes, that thou hast, whether or not thou art infected.
Behold, behold. where Madam Consummation comes! I have purchased as many diseases under her roof as trips to —
To what, I pray?
To three thousand a year.
Thou art always assuming diseases in me, but thou art full of error; I am sound.
Nay, not, as one would say, healthy, but sound as things that are rotten. Thy nose is rotten; indecency has made a feast of thee.
(Enter MISTRESS OVERDONE.)
Hey now! Which of your hips has the darkest contusions?
Well, well; there’s one yonder arrested and carried to prison worth five thousand of you all.
Who’s that, I pray thee?
By Mary, sir, that’s Claudio, Signior Claudio.
Claudio to prison? ‘Tis not so!
Nay, but I know ’tis so: I saw him arrested, saw him carried away, and, which is more, within these three days his head is to be chopped off.
But after all this fooling, I would not have it so. Art thou sure of this?
I am too sure of it, and it is for getting Madam Juliet with child.
Believe me, this may be: He promised to meet me two hours since, and he was ever precise in promise-keeping.
Besides, you know, it draws something near to the speech we had to such a purpose.
But most of all, agreeing with the proclamation.
Away! Let’s go learn the truth of it.
(Exit all Lucio and Gentlemen.)
Thus, what with the war, the sweats, the gallows and poverty, business is slow. (Enter POMPEY.) Hey now! What’s the news with you?
Yonder man is carried to prison.
Well, what has he done?
But what’s his offense?
Noodling for trout in another man’s river.
What, is there a maid with child by him?
No, but there’s a woman sans maidenhead by him. You have not heard of the proclamation, have you?
What proclamation, man?
All brothels in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.
And what shall become of those in the city?
They shall stand for now; they’d have gone down, too, but that a wise patron threw in for them.
But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be pulled down?
To the ground, mistress.
Why, here’s a change indeed in the commonwealth! What shall become of me?
Come, fear you not; good counselors lack no clients. Though you change your place, you need not change your trade; I’ll be your barman still. Courage! There will be pity taken on you. You that have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you will be considered.
What’s to do here, tapster? Let’s withdraw.
Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to prison.
(Exit all. Enter CLAUDIO, PROVOST and Officers.)
Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
I do it not from evil disposition,
But from Lord Angelo by special charge.
Thus can the demigod Authority
Make us pay our offense in cash to heed
The words of heaven. On whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so. Yet still ’tis just.
(Re-enter Lucio and the two Gentlemen.)
Why, how now, Claudio! Whence comes this restraint?
From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty.
As gluttony’s the father of much fast,
Our right to sin by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,
Like rats that seek their poison for its taste,
Delicious evil, and when we drink we die.
If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for certain of my creditors. And yet to say the truth, I’d just as soon have frivolity of freedom as the righteousness of imprisonment. What’s thy offense, Claudio?
What but to speak of would offend again.
What, is’t murder?
Call it so.
Away, sir! You must go.
One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.
A hundred, if they’ll do you any good. Is lechery so investigated?
Thus it is with me: With vows exchanged
I got possession of fair Juliet’s bed.
You know the lady; surely she’s my wife,
Save that we lawful marriage license lack
For sanctioned union. This we could not do,
The only reason being her full dowry
Remained in full possession of her kin,
From whom we thought it best to hide our love
Till time had won them over. But it now seems
The proof of our most mutual entertainment
In characters too large is writ on Juliet.
With child, perhaps?
Unhappily, even so.
And the new deputy now for the duke —
Whether it be the blinding gleam of newness,
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 post,
Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I cannot say — but this new governor
Imposes all the recorded penalties
Which have, like unscoured armor, hung by the wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round
And none of them been worn; and for his name
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me. ‘Tis surely for his name.
I warrant it is, and thy head stands so fragile on thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the duke and appeal to him.
I have done so, but he’s not to be found.
I beg thee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter
And there receive her sacred habit.
Acquaint her with the danger of my state.
Implore her in my voice that she make friends
To the strict deputy; bid herself assail him.
I have great hope in that, for in her youth
There is a ready, speechless dialect
Such as moves men. Besides, she hath prosperous art
When she will speak in rational discourse,
And well she can persuade.
I pray she may; indeed, for all transgressions just like yours, which else would suffer grievous prosecution, and for the enjoying of thy life, whom I’d be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a game of (a double entendre) tic-tac-toe. I’ll see her.
I thank you, good friend Lucio.
Within two hours.
Come, officer, away!
ACT I, SCENE III: a monastery.
(Enter Duke Vincentio and FRIAR THOMAS.)
No, holy father, throw away that thought!
Believe not that the misfired dart of love
Can pierce a strengthened bosom. Why I desire thee
To give me secret harbor hath a purpose
More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth.
May your grace speak of it?
My holy sir, none better knows than you
How I have ever loved the life retired
And held in paltry price to haunt assemblies
Where youth and cost and ostentation keeps.
I have endowed upon Lord Angelo,
A man of structure and firm abstinence,
My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me traveled to Poland;
For so I have strewn it in the common ear,
And so it is received. Now, pious sir,
You will demand of me why I do this?
Gladly, my lord.
We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
Which for this nineteen years we have let slip,
Even like a shiftless 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
For terror, not to use, the rod in time
Becomes more mocked than feared. So our decrees,
In dead enforcement, to themselves are dead,
And liberty plucks justice by the nose.
The baby beats the nurse, and quite awry
Goes all decorum.
It rested in your grace
To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased,
And it from you more dreaded would have been
Than from Lord Angelo.
I do fear, too dreaded;
Since ’twas my fault to give the people scope,
‘Twould be my tyranny to strike and whip them
For what I bid them do. We all but bid them sin
When evil deeds have their permissive pass
But not the punishment. Therefore indeed, my father,
I have on Angelo imposed the office,
Who may, under cover of my name, strike home.
I will, dressed as a brother of your order,
Visit both prince and people. Therefore, I pray thee,
Supply me with the habit and instruct me
How I may properly in person bear me
Like a true friar. More reasons for this action
At greater leisure shall I offer you.
For now, this one: Lord Angelo is cautious,
Admits no indiscretion, scarce confesses
That his blood flows or that his appetite
Is more for bread than stone. Hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, whom such seemers be.
ACT I, SCENE IV: a nunnery.
(Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA.)
And have you nuns no farther privileges?
Are not these large enough?
Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more,
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, adherents of Saint Clare.
Ho! Peace be in this place!
Who’s that who calls?
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 vowed, you must not speak with men
But in the presence of the prioress.
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.
Peace and prosperity! Who is’t who calls?
Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
Proclaim you are no less! Would you be so kind
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place and the fair sister
To her unlucky brother Claudio?
Why “her unlucky brother,” let me ask?
I am that Isabella and his sister.
Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you;
Not to delay this further, he’s in prison.
Alas! For what?
For that which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks:
He hath got his friend with child.
Sir, make me not your comedy.
I would not — though ’tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the mockingbird and jest,
Tongue far from heart — play with all virgins so.
I hold you as a thing upraised and sainted,
By your renouncement an immortal spirit
And to be talked with in sincerity
As with a saint.
You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.
Do not believe it. Simplest truth is this:
Your brother and his lover have embraced.
As those who feed grow full, as blossoming time
That from the sowing the bare fallow brings
To teeming harvest, even so her plenteous womb
Expresses his full, plowing husbandry.
Someone with child by him? My cousin Juliet?
Is she your cousin?
Adoptively, as school-maids change their names
From rash but apt affection.
She it is.
O, let him marry her.
This is the point.
The duke is very strangely gone from hence.
Upon his seat, with his authority,
Governs Lord Angelo, a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth, one who never feels
The wanton stings and sensual enticements
But doth abrade and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He — to give fear to heedless libertines,
Who have for long run by the hideous law,
As mice by lions — hath picked out an act,
Under whose punishment your brother’s life
Falls into forfeit. He arrests him on it
And follows close the rigor 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 basic business
‘Twixt you and your poor brother.
Doth he threaten his life?
Hath censured him
Already and, as I hear, the provost hath
A warrant for his execution.
Alas! What poor ability’s in me
To do him good?
Attempt the power you have.
My power? Alas, I doubt —
Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo
And let him learn to know when maidens plead,
Men give like gods; for when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely heard
As they themselves would hear them.
I’ll see what I can do.
I’ll go about it now, and stay no longer
Than to give the mother superior
Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you.
Commend me to my brother. Soon tonight
I’ll send him certain word of how I fared.
I take my leave of you.
Good sir, adieu.
SCENE I: a courtroom in Angelo’s house.
(Enter Angelo, Escalus, and a Justice, with Provost, officers and attendants behind.)
We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to scare the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.
Aye, but yet
Let us be sharp, and rather cut a little
Than drop and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman
Whom I would save had a most noble father!
Let but your honor know,
Whom I believe to be most strict in virtue,
Whether you may not have in your own life
Erred in this point which now you censure him,
And pulled the law upon you.
‘Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I won’t deny
The jury, ruling 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. How just the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? ‘Tis only proper,
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take
Because we see it, but what we do not see
We tread upon and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offense
By saying I have faults; but rather tell me,
When I who censure him do so offend,
Let mine own judgment illustrate my death
With nothing interfering. Sir, he must die.
Be it as your wisdom will.
Where is the provost?
Here, if it please your honor.
See that Claudio
Be executed by nine tomorrow morning.
Bring him his confessor. Let him be prepared,
For thus concludes his living pilgrimage.
(aside) Well, heaven forgive him, and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;
Some skirt the laws, and thereby answer none;
Some executed for no fault but one.
(Enter ELBOW and Officers with FROTH and Pompey.)
Come, bring them away. If there be good people in a commonwealth that do nothing but sin in bawdy houses, I know no law. Bring them away.
How now, sir! What’s your name? And what’s the matter?
If it please your honor, 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 honor two notorious benefactors.
Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they? Are they not malefactors?
If it please your honor, I know not well what they are. Accepting villains they are, that I am sure of, devoid of all profanities in the world that good Christians ought to have.
This appears well; here’s a wise officer.
Go on: What status do they have? Elbow is your name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
He cannot, sir; his elbow’s got his tongue.
What are you, sir?
He, sir? A tapster, sir; partial pimp; one who serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they say, plucked down in the suburbs; and now she professes a bathhouse, which, I think, is a very ill house, too.
How know you that?
My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honor —
What? Thy wife?
Aye, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman —
Dost thou detest her, therefore?
I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this house, if it be not a whorehouse, that’s too bad for her, for it is a naughty house.
How dost thou know that, constable?
Indeed, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman carnally given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
By Mistress Overdone?
Aye, sir, by Mistress Overdone, but when she spit in his face, so she defied him.
Sir, if it please your honor, this is not so.
Prove it before these varlets here, thou honorable man; prove it.
Do you hear how he misspeaks?
Sir, she came in great with child, and longing, saving your honor’s reverence, for hot nuts. Sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in a hanging fruit basket. Your honors have seen such baskets; they are not China dishes, but very good dishes —
Go on, sir, go on! The dish doesn’t matter.
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 being great-bellied, and longing, as I said, for hot nuts, 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 not give you three pence again.
Very well! You being then, if you be remembered, cracking the shells of the foresaid nuts —
Aye, so I did indeed.
Why, very well; I telling you then, if you be remembered —
Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose! What was done to Elbow’s wife that he hath cause to complain of? Bring me to what was done to her.
Sir, your honor cannot come to that yet.
No, sir, nor I mean it not.
Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honor’s leave. And I beseech you, look into Master Froth here, sir: a man of four-score pound a year, whose father died at All Saints’ Day. Was’t not on All Saints’ Day, Master Froth?
All Hallows’ Eve.
Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir, sitting, as I say, in an easy chair, sir; ’twas in the Bunch of Grapes, the pub where you indeed have a delight to sit, have you not?
I have so, because it is an open room and good for winter.
Why, very well, then. I hope here be truths.
This will last out a night in Russia
When nights are longest there. I’ll take my leave
And leave you to the hearing of the case,
Hoping you’ll find good cause to whip them all.
Expect no less. Good morrow to your lordship. (Exit Angelo.)
Now, sir, come on: What was done to Elbow’s wife, once more?
Once, sir? There was nothing done to her once.
I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
I beseech your honor, ask me.
Well, sir, what did this gentleman to her?
I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman’s face. Good Master Froth, look upon his honor; ’tis for a good purpose. Doth your honor mark his face?
Aye, sir, very well.
Nay; I beseech you, mark it well.
Well, I do so.
Doth your honor see any harm in his face?
I’ll swear on a sack of Bibles, 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 constable’s wife any harm? I would know that of your honor.
He’s in the right. Constable, what say you to it?
First, if it please you, the house is a respected house. Next, this is a respected fellow, and his mistress is a respected woman.
By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than any of us all.
Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet! The time has yet to come that she was ever respected by man, woman or child.
Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
Which is the wiser here, justice or iniquity? Is this true?
O thou scoundrel; O thou varlet! 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 scoundrel, or I’ll have mine action of battery on thee.
If he gave you a box on the ear, you might have your action of slander, too.
By Mary, I thank your good worship for it. What is your worship’s pleasure I shall do with this wicked varlet?
Truly, officer, because he hath some offenses in him that thou wouldst uncover if thou couldst, let him continue in his courses till thou knowest what they are.
By Mary, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou wicked varlet, now, what’s come upon thee: Thou art to continue now, thou varlet. Thou art to continue.
Where were you born, friend?
Here in Vienna, sir.
Are you worth fourscore pounds a year?
Yes, if it please you, sir.
So. What trade are you of, sir?
Tapster; a poor widow’s tapster.
Your mistress’ name?
Hath she had any more than one husband?
Nine, sir, Overdone by the last.
Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with tapsters. They will drain you, Master Froth, and you’ll get them hanged. Get you gone, and let me hear no more of you.
I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never seek any room in a taphouse, but I am drawn in.
Well, no more of it, Master Froth. Farewell. (Exit Froth.) Come you hither to me, master tapster. What’s your name, master tapster?
Pompey Bum, sir.
Truly, your bum is the greatest thing about you, so that in the beastliest sense you are Pompey the Great. Pompey, you are partly a pimp, Pompey, howsoever you conceal it in being a tapster, are you not? Come, tell me true; it shall be the better for you.
Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
How would you live, Pompey? By being a pimp? What do you think of the trade, Pompey? Is it a lawful trade?
If the law would allow it, sir.
But the law will not allow it, Pompey. It shall not be allowed in Vienna.
Does your worship mean to neuter all the youth of the city?
Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they’ll go to it, then. If your worship will regulate the whores and the knaves, you need not fear the pimps.
There are pretty orders beginning, I can tell you: It is beheading and hanging.
If you behead and hang all that offend that way but for ten year together, I’ll rent the fairest house in Vienna for three pence a window. If you live to see this come to pass, say Pompey told you so.
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, I shall have you whipped. So for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
I thank your worship for your good counsel (aside) but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better determine.
Whip me? No, no; let cartman whip his nag.
The valiant heart’s not whipped out of his trade. (Exit Pompey.)
Come hither to me, Master Elbow. Come hither, master constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?
Seven year and a half, sir.
I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had continued in it some time. You say seven years together?
And a half, sir.
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?
Truly, sir, few of any wit in such matters. As they are chosen, they are glad to choose me in their stead. I do it for some piece of money and follow through with all.
Look you, bring me in the names of some six or seven, the most substantial of your parish.
To your worship’s house, sir?
To my house. Fare you well. (Exit Elbow.) What’s o’clock, think you?
I pray you home to dinner with me.
I humbly thank you.
It grieves me for the death of Claudio, but there’s no remedy.
Lord Angelo is severe.
It’s necessary, but yet, poor Claudio! There is no remedy. Come, sir.
ACT II, SCENE II: another room in Angelo’s house.
(Enter Provost and a Servant.)
He’s hearing of a case. He will come soon.
I’ll tell him of you.
Pray you, do. (Exit Servant.) I’ll know
His pleasure; maybe he will relent. Alas,
This case plays out as if it were a dream!
All kinds, all ages smack of this vice, and he
To die for’t!
Now, what’s the matter, provost?
Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?
Did not I tell thee yea? Hadst thou not orders?
Why dost thou ask again?
Lest I might be too rash.
Subject to your correction, I have seen
When, after execution, judges hath
Repented judgments dire.
Go on; leave that to me.
Do you your office or give up your place,
And you shall well be spared.
I crave your honor’s pardon.
What shall be done with pregnant Juliet?
She’s very near her hour.
Dispose of her
To some more fitting place, and that with speed.
Good sir, the sister of the man condemned
Desires access to you.
Hath he a sister?
Aye, my good lord, a very virtuous maid,
And to be shortly of a sisterhood
If not already.
Well, let her be admitted. (Exit Servant.)
See you the fornicatress be removed.
Give her needful but not lavish means;
I’ll requisition it.
(Enter Isabella and Lucio.)
God save your honor!
Stay a little while.
(to Isabella) You’re welcome. What’s your will?
I am a woeful suitor to your honor,
Please, let your honor hear me.
Well, what’s your suit?
There is a vice that most I do abhor,
And most desire should meet the blow of justice,
For which I would not plead, but that I must;
For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war ‘twixt will and will not.
Well? The matter?
I have a brother who’s condemned to die.
I do beseech you, let his fault be damned,
But not my brother.
(aside) Heaven give thee moving graces!
Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?
Why, every fault’s condemned ere it be done.
Mine were a very superficial office
To fine the faults whose fine stands in record
And let escape the actor.
O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honor!
(aside to Isabella) Don’t give in so! To him again, entreat him;
Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown.
You are too cold. If you should need a pin,
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it.
To him, I say!
Must he needs die?
Maiden, no remedy.
Yes, I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.
I will not do’t.
But can you, if you would?
That which I will not, that I cannot do.
But might you do’t, and do the world no wrong,
If so your heart were touched with empathy
As mine is to him?
He’s sentenced; ’tis too late.
(aside to Isabella) You are too cold!
Too late? Why, no; I that do speak a word
May call it back again. Well believe this:
No ceremony that to greats belongs,
Not the king’s crown, nor his scepter nor sword,
The marshal’s truncheon nor the judge’s robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
If he had been as you and you as he,
You would have slipped like him; but he, to you,
Would not have been so stern.
Pray you, be gone.
I would to heaven I were in your place
And you in mine! Should it be this way then?
No; I’d show what it is to be a judge,
And what a prisoner.
(aside to Isabella) Aye, stab him; there’s the vein.
Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once,
And He that might advantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He Who is the best at judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that,
And mercy then will breathe within your lips
Like man reborn.
Be you content, fair maid.
It is the law, not I, condemns your brother.
Were he my kinsman, brother or my son,
It should be thus with him. He must die tomorrow.
Tomorrow? O, that’s sudden! Spare him, spare him!
He’s not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl in season. Shall we serve heaven
With less respect than we do minister
To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, rethink you;
Who is it that hath died for this offense?
There’s many have committed it.
(aside to Isabella) Aye, well said!
The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.
Yet show some pity.
I show it most of all when I show justice,
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismissed offense would later harm;
And serve him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. Be satisfied:
Your brother dies tomorrow. Be content.
So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he who suffers. O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
(aside to Isabella) That’s well said.
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet,
For every paltry, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder,
Nothing but thunder! Man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His fragile nature like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.
(aside to Isabella) He will relent!
He’s breaking; I perceive ‘t.
(aside) Pray heaven she win him!
We cannot weigh each other with ourselves.
Great men may joke of saints; ’tis wit in them,
But in the less foul profanation.
Thou’rt in the right, girl; more of that.
What in the captain’s but an angry word,
That in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
(aside to Isabella) Art advised of that? More on ‘t.
Why do you thrust these sayings upon me?
Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
That covers the corrupt. Go to your bosom;
Knock there and ask your heart what it doth know
That’s like my brother’s fault. If it confess
A natural guiltiness such as his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother’s life.
(aside) She speaks, and ’tis
Such sense, that it excites me …
Fare you well.
Gentle my lord, turn back.
I will rethink me; come again tomorrow.
Hark how I’ll bribe you: Good my lord, turn back.
What? Bribe me?
Aye, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you!
Not with mere shekels of the tested gold,
Or stones whose worth is either rich or poor
As fancies value them, but with true prayers
That shall be up at heaven and enter there
Ere sunrise; prayers from protected souls,
From fasting maids whose minds are given o’er
To nothing temporal.
Well, come to me tomorrow.
(aside to Isabella) Go on; ’tis well; away!
Heaven keep your honor safe!
For I am that way going to temptation.
At what hour tomorrow shall I attend your lordship?
At any time ‘fore noon.
God save your honor!
(Exit Isabella, Lucio, and Provost.)
Save me even from thy virtue!
What’s this, what’s this? Is this her fault or mine?
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?
Can modesty excite our lust yet more
Than woman’s lewdness? Having plowed the trash,
Shall we desire to crush the holy temple
And pitch our evils there? O, fie, fie, fie!
What dost thou, or what art thou, Angelo?
Dost thou desire her foully for her good?
O, let her brother live! Do I her love,
That I desire to hear her speak again,
And feast upon her eyes? What is’t I dream on?
O cunning Devil that, to catch a saint,
With saints dost bait thy hook! Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue. Never could the harlot
With all her double vigor, art and nature
Once stir my senses, but this virtuous maid
Subdues me quite. Even till now,
When men adored, I smiled and wondered how. (Exit.)
ACT II, SCENE III: a room in a prison.
(Enter Duke Vincentio, disguised as a friar, and Provost.)
Hail to you, provost! So I think you are.
I am the provost. What’s your will, good friar?
Bound by my charity and my blessed 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
The nature of their crimes, that I may minister
To them accordingly.
I would do more than that, if more were needful. (Enter Juliet.)
Look, here comes one: a gentlewoman of mine
Who, falling in the lusts of her own youth,
Hath damaged her good name. She is with child,
And he that sired it, sentenced; a young man
More fit to do another such offense
Than die for this.
When must he die?
As I do think, tomorrow.
I have provided for you. Stay a while —
(to Juliet) And you shall be conducted.
Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?
I do, and bear the shame most patiently.
I’ll teach you how you shall accuse your conscience
And try your penitence, if it be sound
Or lyingly put on.
I’ll gladly learn.
Love you the man that wronged you?
Yes, as I love the woman that wronged him.
So then it seems your most offensive act
Was mutually committed?
Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.
I do confess it and repent it, father.
‘Tis fitting, daughter, but lest you do repent
Because the sin hath brought you to this shame,
Which sorrow is always toward ourselves, not heaven,
Because we stand in fear —
I do repent me, as it is an evil,
And take the shame with joy.
Your partner, as I hear, must die tomorrow,
And I am going as a counselor to him.
Grace go with you. Bless you, Juliet! (Exit.)
Must die tomorrow? O injurious love! (Exit Juliet.)
ACT II, SCENE IV: a room in Angelo’s house.
When I would pray and think, I think and pray
To separate subjects. Heaven hath my empty words,
Whilst my conception, hearing not my tongue,
Anchors on Isabel. Heaven’s in my mouth
As if I did but only chew His name,
And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
Of my thoughts; the statecraft that I studied,
Though a good thing, being often read,
Grown feared and tedious. Power, O pomp,
How often dost thou with thy robes, thy dressing,
Wrench awe from fools and tie the wiser souls
To thy false seeming! (Enter a Servant.) But what now, who’s there?
One Isabella, sister, desires access to you.
Show her the way. (Exit Servant.) O heavens!
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
Both making it unable to perform
And dispossessing all my other parts
Of necessary fitness? (Enter Isabella.) Ho, fair maid?
I am come to know your pleasure.
That you might know it would much better please me
Than to demand what ’tis. Your brother cannot live.
Even so. Heaven keep your honor!
Yet may he live a while and, though it be
As long as you or I, yet he must die.
Under your sentence?
When, I beseech you? — that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so readied
That his soul sicken not.
These filthy vices!
‘Tis preferable to end a life true-made
Than to give power to forbidden couplings
To generate a false one.
‘Tis set down so in heaven, not in earth.
Say you so? Then I shall counter quickly.
Which had you rather, that the most just law
Now took your brother’s life or, to redeem him,
Give up your body to such sweet defilement
As she that he hath stained?
Sir, believe this:
I had rather give my body than my soul.
I talk not of your soul, for sins imposed
Cannot be held against our mortal souls.
How mean you?
Nay, I’ll not stand by that, for I can speak
Beyond the thing I say. Answer to this:
I, now the voice of the established law,
Pronounce a sentence on your brother’s life.
Might there not be a charity in sin
To save this brother’s life?
If such would please,
I’m impudent at peril to my soul.
It is no sin at all, but charity.
Pleased you to do’t at peril of your soul,
Were equal portions sin and charity.
That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it! You granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I’ll make it morning prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
For which you needn’t answer.
Nay, but hear me.
Your sense accepts not mine: Either you are innocent,
Or seem so craftily, and that’s not good.
Let me be ignorant, in nothing good,
But by His grace to know I am no better.
Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it accuse itself. Thus thy black masks
Proclaim a covert beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, displayed. But mark me:
For me to be heard plain, I’ll speak more gross.
Your brother is to die.
And his offense is thus, as it appears,
Accountable to law upon that pain.
Admit no other way to save his life,
As I allow not that, nor any other,
But — for the sake of speaking — that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desired by such a person,
Whose credit with the judge or own great place
Could snatch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-building law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him, but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To such a person or else let brother suffer,
What would you do?
As much for my poor brother as myself:
That is, were I condemned to lawful death,
The impressions of sharp whips I’d wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death as to a bed
I’ve longingly been sick for ere I’d yield
My body up to shame.
Then must your brother die.
And ’twere the cheaper way;
Better it were a brother died at once
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die forever.
Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
That you have slandered so?
Ignominy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses. Lawful mercy
Is not akin to foul redemption.
You seemed of late to make the law a tyrant,
And rather proved the sinning of your brother
A comic prank than vice.
O, pardon me, my lord; it oft befalls
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.
I something do excuse, the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.
We are all frail.
Else let my brother die,
If not an ally, but because he
Is owner of such weakness.
Nay, women are frail, too.
Aye, as the glasses where they view themselves,
Which are as easy broke as they show forms.
Women! Men their higher positions mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail,
For we’re as soft as our complexions are,
Susceptible to fraud.
I think it true;
And from this testimony of your own sex,
Since I perceive we are no stronger made
Than faults that shake our frames, let me be bold:
I take you at your words. Be what you are;
That is, a woman. If you be more, you’re none.
If you be one, as you are duly shown
By all external clues, then show it now
By slipping on a comely uniform.
I have no tongue but one. Gentle my lord,
Let me entreat you: Speak in simpler language.
Plainly perceive: I love you.
My brother did love Juliet,
And you tell me that he shall die for it.
He shall not, Isabella, if you give me love.
I know your virtue hath a freedom in’t
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
Believe me, on mine honor,
My words express my purpose.
Ha! Little honor to be thus believed!
I will denounce thee, Angelo; expect it!
Sign an immediate pardon for my brother,
Or with an outstretched throat I’ll tell the world aloud
What man thou art!
Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoiled name, the austereness of my life,
My word against you and my place in the state
Will so your accusation overweigh
That you shall stifle in your own report
And smell of slanderer. I have begun,
And now I give my sensual steed the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite.
Lay by all nicety and stalling blushes
That ward off what they ask for. Redeem thy brother
By yielding up thy body to my will,
Or else he must not just die the death,
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
To lingering sufferance. Answer me tomorrow
Or, by the emotion that now guides me most,
I’ll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
Say what you can, my false outweighs your true. (Exit Angelo.)
To whom should I complain? If I told this,
Who would believe me? To my brother, then!
Though he hath fallen by prompting of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honor
That, had he twenty heads to offer up
On twenty bloody blocks, he’d yield them up
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorred defilement.
Then Isabella, live and brother, die;
Worth more than brother is our chastity.
I’ll tell him yet of Angelo’s request
And brace his mind for death, for his soul’s rest.
SCENE I: a room in the prison.
(Enter Duke Vincentio, disguised as before, along with Claudio and Provost.)
So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope:
I’ve hope to live, and am prepared to die.
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,
Subject to astrologic influences
That dost this habitation, where thou liv’st,
Hourly afflict. Merely thou art death’s fool;
For him thou labor’st by thy flight to shun
And yet runn’st toward him still. Thou art not noble,
For all the creature comforts that thou bear’st
Derive from baseness. Thou’rt by no means valiant,
For thou dost fear the forked and tender tongue
Of a poor snake. Thy finest is sleep,
And that thou oft invokest; yet grossly fear’st
Thy death, which is no more. Glad thou art not,
For what thou hast not, still thou strivest to get,
And what thou hast, forget’st. Thou art not constant;
Thy disposition shifts to strange effects,
To match the moon. If thou art rich, thou’rt poor;
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none;
For thine own offspring, which do call thee sire,
The very propagation of thy loins,
Do curse the impetigo, gout and rheum
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast not youth nor age,
But, as it were, an after-dinner’s sleep,
Dreaming on both; for all thy blessed youth
Behaves as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of paralytics. When thou’rt old and rich,
Thou hast neither lust, emotion, limb nor beauty
To make thy riches pleasant. What’s yet in this
That earns the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid more thousand deaths; yet death we fear
That makes these odds all even.
I humbly thank you.
In suing to live, I find I seek to die!
And seeking death, find life: Let death come on.
(off) What ho! Peace here; grace and good company!
Who’s there? Come in! The wish deserves a welcome.
Dear sir, ere long I’ll visit you again.
Most holy sir, I thank you.
My business is a word or two with Claudio.
And very welcome. Look, signior, your sister.
Provost, a word with you.
As many as you please.
Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be concealed.
(Exit Duke Vincentio and Provost.)
Now, sister, what’s the comfort?
As all such are: most good, most good indeed.
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you play advance ambassador.
Therefore, your best appointment make with speed;
Tomorrow you set on.
Is there no remedy?
None but such remedy as, to save a head,
Would cleave a heart in twain.
But is there any?
Yes, brother, you may live:
There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
If you’ll implore it, that will free your life
But shackle you till death.
Aye, that: perpetual prison, a restraint,
Though all the world’s expansiveness you owned,
To a restricted scope.
But in what nature?
In such a one as, you consenting to’t,
Would flay your honor from that trunk you bear
And leave you naked.
Let me know the point.
O, I do fear thee, Claudio! I quake
Lest thou a feverous life wouldst then maintain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than everlasting honor. Dar’st thou die?
The dread of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corp’ral suffering finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.
Why give you me this fear?
Think you I can resolution fetch
From metaphoric balms? If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride
And hug it in mine arms.
There spoke 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 contrivances. This saintly-seeming deputy,
Whose hardened visage and deliberate word
Nips youth i’ the head, is inwardly a devil.
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.
The very Angelo?
O, ’tis the cunning uniform of hell,
The damned’st body to invest and cover
In princely threads! Believe it, Claudio?
If I would yield him my virginity,
Thou mightst be freed.
O heavens! It cannot be!
Yes, he would give’t thee, matching thy offense
And thus offend once more. This night’s the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest tomorrow.
Thou shalt not do’t!
O, were it but my life,
I’d throw it down for your deliverance
As freely as a pin.
Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.
Yes. Hast predilections in him
That would thereby make him flout official law,
When he’d enforce it? Sure it is no sin,
Or, of the deadly seven, ’tis the least.
Which is the least?
If it be damnable, he being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary game
Eternally be fined? O Isabella!
What says my brother?
Death’s a fearful thing.
And shamed existence hateful.
Aye, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold constriction and to rot;
This sentient warm body to become
A shapeless lump and the delightful spirit
To bathe in fiery floods; too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
Sweet sister, let me live!
What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
Nature will justify the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue!
O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is’t not a kind of incest to take life
From thine own sister’s shame? Take my defiance!
Die! Perish! Should my bending down to him
Reprieve thee from thy fate, death should proceed.
I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
But none to save thee.
Nay, hear me, Isabella.
O, fie, fie!
Thy sin’s not incidental, but a trade!
Mercy to thee would prove itself a pimp.
‘Tis best thou diest quickly.
O hear me, Isabella!
(Re-enter Duke Vincentio, disguised as before.)
Grant me a word, young sister, but one word.
What is your will?
Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have some speech with you. The outcome I would require is likewise your own benefit.
I have no superfluous leisure. My stay must be stolen out of other affairs, but I will wait for you a while. (Exit Isabella.)
Son, I have overheard what hath passed between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he hath made a trial of her virtue to test his judgment of character. She, having the truth of honor in her, hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to receive. I am confessor to Angelo and I know this to be true; therefore, prepare yourself for death. Do not compromise your resolve with hopes that are fallible. Tomorrow you must die; go to your knees and make ready.
Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life that I will sue to be rid of it.
Hold you there; farewell. (Exit Claudio; re-enter Provost.) Provost, a word with you!
What’s your will, father?
That now you have come, you will be gone. Leave me a while with the maid. My mood promises along with my habit no loss shall touch her by my company.
Take your time.
(Exit Provost. Isabella comes forward.)
The hand that made you fair hath made you good; but grace, being the heart of your nature, shall keep the body ever fair. The assault that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath conveyed to my understanding and, but that frailty hath precedents for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. What will you do to content this pretender and to save your brother?
I am now going to replay to him: I had rather my brother die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But O, how much is the good duke deceived in Angelo! If ever he return and I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain or unravel his government!
That shall not be much amiss, yet as the matter now stands, he will sidestep your accusation. “He made trial of you only.” Therefore fasten your ear on my advisings: For the love I have in doing good, a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe you may most righteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit; redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain to your own gracious person and much please the absent duke — if, perchance he shall ever return to have hearing of this business.
Let me hear you speak farther. I have spirit to do anything that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick the great soldier who misadventured at sea?
I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.
She should this Angelo have married. He was betrothed to her by oath, and the nuptials appointed. Between time of the contract and hour of the ceremony, her brother Frederick was wrecked at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of his sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman: There she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward her ever most kind and natural; with him, the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry; with both, her fiancé, this well-seeming Angelo.
Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?
Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his comfort; swallowed his vows whole, pretending to find in her evidence of dishonor; in few, wed her to her own lamentation, which she yet bears for his sake. And he, like marble to her tears, is washed with them but relents not.
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 prevail?
It is a rupture that you may easily heal, and the cure of it not only saves your brother but keeps you from dishonor in doing it.
Show me how, good father.
This forenamed maid hath yet in her the continuance of her first affection: His unjust unkindness, that in all reason should have quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the current, made it more violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo. Answer his demanding with a plausible obedience. Agree with his demands point by point, saving only these conditions: first, that your stay with him may not be long; that the time may have all secrecy and shadow about it; and the place suit your convenience. This being granted, we shall advise this wronged maid to go to your appointment in your place. If the encounter be public knowledge hereafter, it may compel him to her recompense. And here, by this, is your brother saved, your honor untainted, the poor Mariana advantaged and the corrupt deputy judged. The maid will I prepare for his attempt. If you think well to go about this, the doubleness of its benefit defends our deceit from reproof. What think you of it?
The image of it gives me contentment already! I trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
It depends much on how you hold up. Haste you speedily to Angelo. If for this night he entreat you to his bed, give him promise of satisfaction. I will presently to Saint Luke’s. There, at the manor house, resides this dejected Mariana. At that place call upon me; and dispatch with Angelo, that it may be quickly.
I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.
(Exit all separately.)
ACT III, SCENE II: the street before the prison.
(Enter, on one side, Duke Vincentio disguised as before; on the other, Elbow and officers with Pompey.)
O heavens! What stuff is here?
‘Twas never merry world since, of two usuries, prostitution and banking, the merriest was put down. And the worser is by order of law allowed a furred gown to keep him warm; furred with fox and lambskins too, to signify that craft, being richer than innocence, can afford them.
Come your way, sir. Bless you, good father friar.
And you, good brother father. What offense hath this man made you, sir?
By Mary, 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 lockpick, which we have sent to the deputy.
Fie, sir! A pimp, a wicked pimp!
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think,
From their abominable and beastly gropings
I drink, I eat, array myself, and live?
Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
So stinkingly dependent? Go mend, go mend!
Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet, sir, I would prove —
Nay, if the devil have given thee grounds for sin,
Thou art his own. Take him to prison, officer;
Correction and instruction must both work
Ere this rude beast will profit.
He must before the deputy, sir. The deputy cannot abide a whoremaster. If he be a whoremonger and comes before him, he were as good as dead.
I spy comfort; I cry bail! Here’s a gentleman and a friend of mine.
What now, noble Pompey? What, is there no woman to be had now for putting her hand in a pocket and extracting it clutched? Is the world as it was, man? Is it sad, the manner of it?
Still thus and thus he speaks; still worse!
Why, ’tis good; ever so to your powdered pimp: An unavoidable consequence, it must be so. Art going to prison, Pompey?
Faith, yes, sir.
Why, ’tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell. Go! Say I sent thee thither. For debt, Pompey, or what?
For being a pimp, for being a pimp!
Well, then, imprison him. If imprisonment be the due of a pimp, why, ’tis his right. Pimp is he, doubtless, and of antiquity too: pimply-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to the prison, Pompey! You will turn good husband now, Pompey. You will play house.
I hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail?
No, indeed, will I not, Pompey; it is not the fashion. I will pray, Pompey, to increase your bondage. Adieu, trusty Pompey. Bless you, friar.
Come away, sir; come.
Go to kennel, Pompey; go. (Exit all Elbow, Pompey and Officers.) What news, friar, of the duke?
I know none. Can you tell me of any?
Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia, others in Rome. But where is he, think you?
I know not where, but wheresoever I wish him well.
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 puts transgression to ‘t!
He does well in doing so.
A little more lenience to lechery would do no harm in him. Something too harsh about him, friar.
It is too common a vice, and severity must cure it.
Yes, in truth, the vice is of many kindred; it is well allied. But it is impossible to undo it quite, friar, till eating and drinking be put down. They say this Angelo was not made by man and woman after the commonplace way of creation. Is it true, think you?
How should he be made, then?
Some report a sea-maid spawned him; some, that he was begot between two codfishes. But it is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice; that I know to be true.
You are flippant, sir, and speak out of turn.
Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the removal of a codpiece to take away the life of a man! Would the duke that is absent have done this? Ere he would have hanged a man for begetting a hundred bastards, he would have paid for the nursing of a thousand. He had some feeling for the sport! He knew the game, and that instructed him to mercy.
I never heard the absent duke much accused about women; he was not inclined that way.
O, sir, you are deceived!
‘Tis not possible.
Who, not the duke? Yea, a woman of fifty; and his use was to put a ducat in her coin purse. The duke had urges in him. He would be drunk, too; that let me inform you.
You do him wrong, surely!
Sir, I was an intimate of his. A shy fellow was the duke, and I believe I know the cause of his withdrawing.
What, I pray thee, might be the cause?
No; pardon; ’tis a secret must be locked within the teeth and the lips. But this I can let you understand: Most subjects held the duke to be wise.
Wise? Why, no question but he was.
A very superficial, ignorant, unthinking fellow.
Either this is the envy in you, folly or mistaking. The very course of his life and the business he helmed must give him a better proclamation. Let him be but vouched for by his own achievements, and he shall appear to the envious a scholar, a statesman and a soldier. Therefore you speak unknowingly or, if your knowledge be more, it is much darkened in your malice.
Sir, I know him, and I love him.
Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love.
Come, sir, I know what I know.
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 answer before him. If it be honest you have spake, you have courage to maintain it. I am bound to summon you. I pray you, your name?
Sir, my name is Lucio, well known to the duke.
He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to report you.
I fear you not!
O, you hope the duke will return no more, or you imagine me too unhurtful an opponent. But indeed I can do you little harm; you’ll deny this again.
I’ll be hanged first; thou art deceived in me, friar. But no more of this. Canst thou tell if Claudio die tomorrow or no?
Why should he die, sir?
Why? For filling a bottle with a funnel. I would the duke we talk of were returned again. That emasculated agent will unpeople the province. Sparrows must not nest in his house-eaves because they are lecherous. The duke yet would have deeds done in the dark left in the dark; he would never bring them to light. Would he were returned! By Mary, this Claudio is condemned for undoing his trousers. Farewell, good friar. I pray thee, pray for me. The duke, I say to thee, would kiss a beggar though she smelt of brown bread and garlic; say that I said so. Farewell. (Exit Lucio.)
By innuendo, wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can yet avoid the gallful, sland’rous tongue?
But who comes here?
(Enter Escalus, Provost, and officers with Mistress Overdone.)
Go, away with her to prison!
Good my lord, be good to me. Your honor is accounted a merciful man, good my lord.
Double and treble admonition, and still arrested for the same offense? This would make mercy swear and play the tyrant.
A madam of eleven years’ continuance, may it please your honor.
My lord, this is one Lucio’s accusation 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 this May. I have kept it myself, and see how he goes about to abuse me!
That fellow is a fellow of much license; let him be called before us. Away with her to prison! Go on, no more words. (Exit officers with Mistress Overdone.) Provost, my brother Angelo will not be altered; Claudio must die tomorrow; let him be furnished with priests and have all charitable preparation.
So please you, this friar hath been with him and advised him for the encroachment of death.
Good evening, father.
Bliss and goodness on you.
From whence are you?
Not of this country, though my chance is now
To use it for my time: I am a brother
Of gracious order, come from Holy See
On special business from His Holiness.
What news abroad i’ the world?
None, but that there is so great a fever in goodness that only the death of it can cure it. There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure, insecurity enough to make fellowships accursed. 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?
One that, above all other quests, contended especially to know himself.
What pleasure was he given to?
Rather rejoicing to see another merry than merry at anything which might make him rejoice: a gentleman of all temperance. But leave we him to his affairs, with a prayer they may prove prosperous, and let me desire to know how you find Claudio prepared. I am made to understand you have paid him a visit.
He professes to have received no unjust verdict from his judge, but most willingly humbles himself to the determination of justice. And now is he resolved to die.
You have paid the heavens your function, and the prisoner the very debt of your calling. I have labored for the poor gentleman to the farthest shore of my ability, but brother Angelo have I found so severe that he forced me to bow to his justice.
If his own life answer the strictness of his proceeding, it shall become him well. If he chance to fail, he hath sentenced himself.
I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
Peace be with you! (Exit Escalus and Provost.)
He who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself to find,
Grace to stand, and virtue mind;
Harshness none to others paying,
More than their offenses weighing.
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
Though angel on the outward side?
Now craft to vice I must apply:
With Angelo tonight shall lie
His once betrothed but then despised;
And so disguise shall, by disguised,
Repay with falsehood double-dealing
And thus expose a judge unfeeling.
(Exit the Duke. INTERMISSION.)
SCENE I: the manor house at St. Luke’s.
(Enter Mariana and a Boy, who sings.)
Take, O, take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that imitate the morn;
But my kisses bring again, bring again;
Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.
Break off thy song, and haste thee quick away!
Here comes a man of comfort, whose advice
Hath often stilled my noisy discontent. (Exit Boy. Enter Duke Vincentio, disguised as before.)
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 didn’t help, but eased my woe.
‘Tis good, though music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good and good provoke to harm.
I pray, you, tell me, hath anybody inquired for me here today? Many upon this time have I promised here to meet.
You have not been inquired after; I have sat here all day.
I do fervently believe you. The time is come even now. I shall crave your forbearance a little. Maybe I will call upon you soon, for some advantage to yourself.
I am always bound to you. (Exit Mariana.)
Very well met, and welcome.
What is the news from this good deputy?
He hath a garden circum-walled with brick,
Whose western side is with a vineyard backed;
And to that vineyard is a gate of planks,
That grants its opening with this bigger key.
This other doth command a little door
Which from the vineyard to the garden leads.
There have I made my promise
Upon the heavy middle of the night
To call upon him.
But can you by your knowledge find the way?
ISABELLA (a bit insulted but masking it)
I have ta’en a due and careful note upon’t.
With whispering and most guilty diligence,
In lesson and example, he did show me
The way twice o’er.
Are there no other tokens
Between you as to how she should behave?
No, none, but only met me in the dark;
And that I have informed him my most stay
Can be but brief; for I have made him know
I have a servant comes with me along,
That waits upon me, whose belief is that
I come about my brother.
‘Tis well conceived.
I have not yet made known to Mariana
A word of this. Hullo! Within! Come forth!
(Re-enter Mariana.) I pray you, be acquainted with this maid.
She comes to do you good.
I do desire the same.
Do you persuade yourself that I respect you?
Good friar, I know you do and I have felt it.
Take, then, this your companion by the hand,
Who hath a story ready for your ear.
I’ll come back at your leisure. But make haste;
The mist-shrouded night approaches.
Will’t please you walk aside?
(Exit Mariana and Isabella.)
O power and greatness, millions of false eyes
Are stuck upon thee. Volumes of report
Run with these doubtful curiosities
About thy doings. (Re-enter Mariana and Isabella.) Welcome, how agreed?
She’ll take the enterprise upon her, father,
If you advise it.
Not consent alone
But my entreaty, too.
Little have you to say
When you depart from him but, soft and low,
“Remember now my brother.”
Doubt me not.
No, gentle daughter, doubt you not at all.
He is your husband by a legal oath.
To bring you thus together, ’tis no sin,
Because the justice of your title to him
Excuses the deceit. Come, let us go.
Our corn’s to reap, but first we need to sow. (Exit all.)
ACT IV, SCENE II: a room in the prison.
(Enter Provost and Pompey.)
Come hither, sir. Can you cut off a man’s head?
If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a married man, according to Saint Paul, he’s his wife’s head, and I can never cut off a woman’s head.
Come, sir, save me your jesting and yield me a direct answer. Tomorrow 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 chains. If not, you shall have your full time of imprisonment and your deliverance with an unpitied whipping, for you have been a notorious pimp.
Sir, I have been an unlawful pimp since time out of mind, but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman. I would be glad to receive some instruction from my fellow partner.
What ho, Abhorson! Where’s Abhorson, there?
Do you call, sir?
Sir, here’s a fellow will help you tomorrow in your execution. If you think it meet, contract 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 good reputation with you; he hath been a pimp.
A pimp, sir? Fie upon him! He will discredit our mysterious occupation.
Go on, sir, you weigh equally. A feather would turn the scale.
Pray, sir, by your good favor — for surely, sir, a good facade you have, except you have a hanging look — Do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?
Aye, sir, a mystery.
Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using facepainting, do prove my occupation a mystery. But what mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hanged, I cannot imagine.
Sir, it is a mystery.
Every honest man’s apparel fits a thief. If it be too little for a thief, an honest man thinks it big enough; if it be too big for a thief, an honest man thinks it little enough. So every man’s apparel fits a thief.
Are you agreed?
Sir, I will serve him, for I do find a hangman is a more penitent trade than a pimp: He doth oftener have need to ask forgiveness.
You, sir, provide your block and axe tomorrow at four o’clock.
Come on, pimp; I will instruct thee in my trade. Follow.
I do desire to learn, sir. And I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own end, you shall find me prepared. Truly, sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn.
Call hither Barnardine and Claudio! (Exit Pompey and Abhorson.)
The one has my pity; not a jot the other,
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 tomorrow
Thou must be made immortal. Where’s Barnardine?
As fast locked up in sleep as guiltless labor
When it lies stiffly in the laborer’s bones;
He will not wake.
Who can do good for him?
Well, go; prepare yourself. (knocking within) But hark, what noise?
Heaven give your spirits comfort! (Exit Claudio.) By and by.
I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
For the most gentle Claudio. (Enter Duke Vincentio, disguised as before.) Welcome, father.
The best and wholesomest spirits of the night
Envelop you, good Provost! Who called here of late?
None, since the curfew bell.
They will, then, ere’t be long.
What comfort is for Claudio?
There’s some in hope.
It is a bitter deputy.
Not so, not so; his life is paralleled
By even the straight lines of written justice.
He doth with holy abstinence subdue
That in himself which he spurs on his power
To mitigate in others. Were he stained with that
Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous;
But this being so, he’s just.
(knocking within) Now are they come.
(Exit Provost.) This is a gentle provost: Seldom when
The steely jailer is the friend of men.
(knocking within) How now, what noise? That spirit’s possessed with haste
That wounds the yielding side door with these strokes.
There he must stay until the officer
Arise to let him in. He is called up.
Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
But he must die tomorrow?
None, sir, none.
As near the dawning, provost, as it is,
You shall hear more ere morning.
You something know; yet I believe there comes
No countermand. No precedent there be.
Besides, upon the very seat of justice
Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
Professed the contrary.
(Enter a Messenger.) This is his lordship’s man.
And here comes Claudio’s pardon.
(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, it is almost day.
I shall obey him.
(aside) This is his pardon, purchased for a sin
Like which the pardoner himself is in.
Hence hath offense its quick vitality
When it is born in high authority!
Now, sir, what news?
I told you. Lord Angelo, as if thinking me remiss in mine office, awakens me with this undeserved reminder, methinks strangely: He hath not used it before.
Pray you, let’s hear.
(reads) “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 depends on it than we can yet reveal. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.” What say you to this, sir?
What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in the afternoon?
A Bohemian born but here brought up and bred; a prisoner of nine years.
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.
His friends still wrought reprieves for him. And indeed, his crime, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to undeniable proof.
It is now apparent?
Most manifest, and not denied by himself.
Hath he born himself penitently in prison? How seems he to be affected?
A man that comprehends death no more dreadfully but as a drunken sleep: careless, reckless and fearless of what’s past, present or to come; insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.
He lacks advice.
He will hear none. He had evermore free run of the prison. Give him leave to escape hence, he would not; drunk many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awaked him as if to carry him to execution and showed him a seeming warrant for it; it hath not moved him at all.
More about him soon. There is written in your brow, provost, honesty and constancy. If I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me. Claudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is in no greater danger from the law than Angelo who hath sentenced him. To make you understand this in a revealed way, I crave but four days’ respite; for the which you are to do me a present and dangerous courtesy.
Pray, sir, in what?
In the delaying of death.
Alas, how may I do it, having the hour appointed and an express command under penalty to deliver his head in the view of Angelo?
By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if my instructions may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning executed and his head borne to Angelo.
Angelo hath seen them both, and will recognize the features.
O, death’s a great disguiser, and you may add to it. Shave the head and tie the beard, and say it was the desire of the penitent to be so bared before his death. You know the course is common. If anything befall you because of this, more than thanks and good fortune, by the saint whom I profess I will plead against it with my life.
Pardon me, good father. It is against my oath.
Were you sworn to the duke or to the deputy?
To the duke — and his substitutes.
You will think you have made no offense, if the duke avows the justice of your dealing?
But what likelihood is in that?
Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you fearful that neither my coat, integrity nor persuasion can with ease persuade you, I will go further than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the duke. You know the signature, I doubt not, and the seal is not strange to you.
I know them both.
The contents of this is the return of the duke. You shall soon read it at your pleasure, where you shall find within these two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows not, for he this very day receives letters of strange tenor — perchance of the duke’s death, perchance entering into some monastery but, by chance, nothing of what was told him. Look, the morning star beckons the shepherd. Be not yourself befuddled as to how these things should be. All difficulties are easy once they are known. Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine’s head. I will give him his confession now 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 III: another room in the prison.
I am as well acquainted here as I was in our house of profession. One would think it were Mistress Overdone’s own house, for here be many of her old customers: First, here’s young Master Rash; he’s in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds, of which he made five marks, ready money. By Mary, then ginger was not much in request, for the old women who liked it were all dead. Then is there here one Master Caper, at the suit of Master Three-Pile the fabric seller, for some four suits of marked satin which now marks him a beggar. Then have we here young Dizzy, and young Master Deep-Vow, and Master Copper-Spur, and Master Starve-Lackey the swordsman, and young Drop-Heir that killed lusty Pudding, and Master Forthright the boxer, and brave Master Shoe-Tie the great traveler, and wild Half-Can that stabbed Pots, and I think forty more — all great doers in our trade, who now cry, “For the Lord’s sake!”
Sir, bring Barnardine hither.
Master Barnardine! You must rise and be hanged. Master Barnardine!
What ho, Barnardine!
(within) A pox o’ your throats! Who makes that noise there? What are you?
Your friends, sir; the hangman. You must be so good, sir, to rise and be put to death.
(within) Away, you rogue, away! I am sleepy.
Tell him he must awake, and that quickly, too.
Pray, Master Barnardine, awake till you are executed and sleep afterwards.
Go in to him and fetch him out.
He is coming, sir, he is coming; I hear his straw rustle.
Is the axe upon the block, sir?
Very ready, sir.
What now, Abhorson? What’s the news with you?
Truly, sir, I would desire you to get into your prayers; for look you, the warrant’s come.
You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not fitted for ‘t.
O, the better, sir, for he that drinks all night and is hanged first thing in the morning may sleep the sounder all the next day.
Look you, sir, here comes your father confessor. Do we jest now, think you?
(Enter Duke Vincentio, disguised as before.)
Sir, induced by my charity and hearing how hastily you are to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort and pray with you.
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 cudgels! I do not consent to die this day, that’s certain.
O, sir, you must, and therefore I beseech you look forward on the journey you shall go.
I swear I will not die today for any man’s persuasion!
But hear you!
Not a word. If you have anything to say to me, come to this ward, for thence will not I today.
Unfit to live or die: O gravel heart!
After him, fellows; bring him to the block.
(Exit Abhorson and Pompey; re-enter Provost.)
Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?
A creature unprepared, unset for death,
And to transport him in the mind he is
Here in the prison, father,
There died this morning of a cruel fever
One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate,
A man of Claudio’s years; his beard and head
Just of his color. 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?
O, ’tis an accident that heaven provides!
Dispatch it presently; the hour draws on
As set by Angelo. See this be done
And sent according to command, whilst I
Persuade this rude wretch willingly to die.
This shall be done, good father, presently,
But Barnardine must die this afternoon.
And how shall we continue Claudio,
To save me from the danger that might come
If he were known alive?
Let this be done:
Put them in secret cells, both Barnardine and Claudio.
Ere twice the sun hath made his daily greeting
To the under generation, you shall find
Your safety manifested.
I am your willing servant.
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
Shall witness to him I am near at home
And that, by great requirements, I am bound
To enter publicly. Him I’ll desire
To meet me at the consecrated spring
A league below the city, and from thence,
In slow progression and orderly form,
We shall proceed with Angelo.
Here is the head; I’ll carry it myself.
Convenient, is it? Make a swift return,
For I would converse with you of such things
That need no ear but yours.
I’ll make all speed. (Exit Provost.)
(within) Peace, ho, be here!
The tongue of Isabella, come to know
If yet her brother’s pardon come now hither.
But I will keep her ignorant of her good,
Despair to turn to comforts from above
When least it is expected.
By your leave!
Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter.
The better, given me by so holy a man.
Hath yet the deputy sent my brother’s pardon?
He hath released him, Isabella, from the world;
His head is off and sent to Angelo.
Nay, but it is not so!
It is no other. Show your wisdom, daughter,
In silent patience.
O, I’ll go to him and pluck out his eyes!
You shall not be admitted to his sight.
Unhappy Claudio! Wretched Isabel!
Injurious world! Most damned Angelo!
This neither hurts him nor aids you a jot.
Forbear it therefore; give your cause to heaven.
Mark what I say, which you shall find
By every syllable a faithful verity:
The duke comes home tomorrow. Nay, dry your eyes!
One of our convent, and his confessor,
Proves this by saying: 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, lead your wisdom
In that good path that I would wish it go;
And you shall have your will upon this wretch,
Grace of the duke, revenges to your heart
And general honor.
I’ll be directed by you.
This letter, then, to Friar Thomas give.
‘Tis that he sent me of the duke’s return.
Say, “By this token, I desire his company
At Mariana’s house tonight.” Her cause and yours
Report to him I will, and he shall bring you
Before the duke, and to the head of Angelo
Accuse him by and by. For my poor self,
I am constricted 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
If I deflect your course! Who’s here?
Good evening, Friar. Where’s the provost?
Not within, sir.
O pretty Isabella, I am pale at mine heart to see thine eyes so red. Thou must be patient. I am obliged to dine and sup with water and bran. To save my head I dare not fill my belly; one fruitful meal would stir my loins. But they say the duke will be here tomorrow. On my honor, Isabella, I loved thy brother. If the old fantastical duke of dark corners were at home, he would have lived.
Sir, the duke is marvelous little beholden to your reports.
Friar, thou knowest not the duke so well as I do: He’s a better swordsman than thou takest him for (another double entendre).
Well, you’ll answer this one day. Fare ye well.
Nay, tarry; I’ll go along with thee. I can tell thee pretty tales of the duke.
You have told me too many of him already, sir, if they be true; if not true, none were enough.
I was once before him for getting a wench with child.
Did you such a thing?
Indeed I did, but needed to deny it; they would else have married me to that decomposing peach.
Sir, your company is more appealing than honest. Rest you well.
On my honor, 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.
ACT IV, SCENE IV: a room in Angelo’s house.
(Enter Angelo and Escalus.)
Every letter he hath writ hath contradicted others.
In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions show much like to madness; pray heaven his wisdom be not sickened! And why meet him at the gates and redeliver our authorities there?
I know not.
And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his entering, that if any crave redress of injustice they should submit their petitions in the street?
He shows his reason for that: a quick settlement of complaints, and to deliver us from lawyerly tactics hereafter, which shall then have no power to stand against us.
Well, I beseech you, let it be proclaimed.
First thing next morn! I’ll call you at your house.
Give notice to such men of noble rank
As are to meet him.
Yes, sir. Fare you well.
Good night. (Exit Escalus.)
This deed undoes me quite, makes me confused
And dull to all proceedings. A deflowered maid,
And by an eminent judge who then enforced
The law against it! But that her tender shame
Will not proclaim her virtue lost,
How she’d accuse me! Yet reason tells her no;
For my authority occludes the truth.
For no particular scandal once can touch
And not confound the teller! He would have lived,
Save that riotous youth with leanings rash
Might in the times to come have ta’en revenge.
Alas, when once our grace we have forgot,
Nothing goes right; we do what we would not. (Exit.)
ACT IV, SCENE V: a field outside Vienna.
(Enter Duke Vincentio, in his own uniform, and Friar Thomas.)
These letters in good time deliver me.
(giving letters) The provost knows our purpose and our plot.
The matter being afoot, follow instruction,
And hold you ever to our special course.
Tell Flavius where I stay. Give the like notice
To Valentinus, Rowland and to Crassus,
And bid men bring their trumpets to the gate.
It shall be handled well. (Exit Friar Thomas.)
ACT IV, SCENE VI: a street near the city gate.
(Enter Isabella and Mariana.)
To speak so insincerely I am loath;
I would say the truth. But to accuse him so,
That is your part. Yet I am advised to do it,
He says, to veil full purpose.
Be ruled by him.
Besides, he tells me that, if chance may be
He speak against me on the adverse side,
I should not think it strange; it’s medicine
That’s bitter to an end.
I would Friar Thomas —
O, peace, the friar is come.
(Enter Friar Thomas.)
Come, I have found you out a spot most fit,
Where you may have such vantage on the duke.
He shall not pass you. Twice have the trumpets sounded;
The nobly born and gravest citizens
Now crowd the gates, and any moment now
The duke is entering. Therefore, hence; away!
ACT V: the city gates.
(Isabella, Friar Thomas and veiled Mariana take their stand. Enter Duke Vincentio, Lords, Angelo, Escalus, Lucio, Provost, officers and citizens at several doors.)
My very worthy noble, fairly met!
Our old and faithful friend, we’re glad to see you.
Happy return be to your royal grace!
Many and hearty thankings to you both.
We have inquired about you, and we hear
Such goodness of your justice that our soul
Cannot but yield you forth to public thanks,
Preceding more reward.
Our bond yet tighter!
O, your repute speaks loud; and I should wrong it
To lock it in the care of my own bosom,
When it deserves, in characters of brass,
A residential fort ‘gainst tooth of time
And slow oblivion. Give me your hand
And let the subjects see, to make them know
That outward courtesies would now proclaim
Our favors, once concealed. Come, Escalus;
You must walk by us on our other hand,
And good supporters are you.
(Friar Thomas and Isabella come forward.)
Now is your time: Speak loud and kneel before him.
Justice, O royal duke! Cast your regard
Upon a wronged — I would have said, “a maid!”
O worthy prince, dishonor not your eye
By throwing it on any other object
Till you have heard me in my true complaint
And given me justice, justice, justice, justice!
Relate your wrongs; in what? By whom? Be brief.
Here is Lord Angelo shall give you justice;
Explain yourself to him.
O worthy duke,
You bid me seek redemption of the devil.
Hear me yourself, for that which I must speak
Must either punish me, not being believed,
Or wring redress from you. Hear me, O hear me, here!
My lord, her wits, I’m sorry, are not firm.
She hath been a suitor to me for her brother,
Cut off by course of justice —
By course of justice!
And she will speak most bitterly and strange.
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 adulterer,
A hypocrite, a virgin-violator,
Is it not strange and strange?
Nay, it is ten times strange!
It is not truer he is Angelo
Than this is all as true as it is strange.
Nay, it is ten times true; for truth is truth
To the end of reckoning.
Away with her! Poor soul,
She speaks this from infirmity of mind.
O prince, I conjure thee, as thou believest
There is another comfort than this world,
That thou neglect me not, have no opinion
That I am touched with madness! Make not impossible
That which is but strange; ’tis not impossible
That one, the wicked’st monster on the ground,
May seem as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute
As Angelo. Even so may Angelo
In all his dressings, signets, titles, forms,
Be an archvillain! Believe it, royal prince:
If he be less, he’s nothing — but he’s more,
Had I more name for badness.
By mine honesty,
If she be mad, as I believe none other,
Her madness hath the outer form of sense,
Such consistency from thing to thing
As ne’er I heard in madness.
O gracious duke, but let your reason serve
To make the truth appear where it seems hid,
Yet lies that seem true hide.
Many that are not mad
Have, sure, more lack of reason. What’s your claim?
I am the sister of one Claudio,
Condemned upon the act of fornication
To lose his head; condemned by Angelo!
And I, a novice in the sisterhood,
Was sent to by my brother. One Lucio
Was then the messenger —
That’s I, so please your grace;
I came to her from Claudio, and desired her
To try her gracious fortune with Lord Angelo
For her poor brother’s pardon.
That’s he indeed.
You were not bid to speak.
No, my good lord,
Nor wished to hold my peace.
I wish you now, then.
Pray you, take note of it; and when you have
A business for yourself, pray heaven you then
I warrant your honor.
The warrant’s for yourself. Take heed to’t.
This gentleman told somewhat of my tale.
It may be right, but you are i’ the wrong
To speak before your time. Proceed.
To this pernicious, wretched deputy —
That’s somewhat madly spoken.
The phrase is to the purpose.
Mended again. The matter; proceed.
In brief, to set the needless process by,
How I persuaded, how I prayed, and kneeled,
How he rebuffed 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 enflamed and full, intemperate lust,
Release my brother; and after much debating,
My sisterly compassion dulls mine honor,
And I did yield to him. But come the morn,
His purpose satisfied, he sends a warrant
For my poor brother’s head!
This is most likely!
O, that it were as obvious as true!
By heaven, fond wretch, thou knowest not what thou speak’st,
Or else thou art suborned against his honor
In hateful plotting. First, his integrity
Stands without blemish; next, it boggles reason
That with such vehemence he should indict
Faults he himself possesses. If he so offended,
He would have weighed thy brother by himself
And not have cut him off. Someone hath set you on.
Confess the truth, and say by whose advice
Thou cam’st here to complain.
And is this all?
Then O, you blessed angels up above,
Keep me in patience, and with ripened time
Unfold the evil which is here wrapped up
In government! Heaven shield your grace from woe,
As I, thus wronged and not believed, will go!
I know you’d rather go. An officer!
To prison with her! Shall we thus permit
A blasting and a slanderous breath to fall
On him so near us? This must be a plot.
Who knew of your intent and coming hither?
One that I would were here: Friar Lodowick.
A ghostly father, likely. Who knows Lodowick?
My lord, I know him: ’tis a meddling friar.
I do not like the man. Had he been laity,
For certain words he spoke against your grace
When you were out of town, I’d beat him soundly.
Words against me? This is a good friar, indeed!
And then to set this wretched woman here
Against our substitute? Let this friar be found.
But yesternight, my lord, she and that friar,
I saw them at the prison: a saucy friar,
A very shifty fellow.
Blessèd 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,
Whom is as free from touch or soil with her
As she from one unborn.
We did believe no less.
Know you that Friar Lodowick that she speaks of?
I know him for a man divine and holy;
Not worthless, nor materialistic meddler,
As he’s reported by this gentleman.
And on my trust, a man that never yet
Did, as he vouches, misreport your grace.
My lord, most villainously; believe it.
Well, he in time may come to clear himself,
But at this instant he is sick, my lord,
Of a strange fever. Upon his own 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
Is true and false; and what he with his oath
And evidence in full will make full clear,
Whensoever he is summoned. First, for this woman:
To justify this worthy nobleman,
So vulgarly and personally accused,
Her you shall hear disproved before her eyes,
Till she herself confess it!
Good friar, let’s hear it. (Isabella is carried off by guards; Mariana comes forward.)
Do you not smile at this, Lord Angelo?
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.
Pardon, my lord; I will not show my face
Until my husband bid me.
What, are you married?
No, my lord.
Are you a maid?
No, my lord.
A widow, then?
Neither, my lord.
Why, you are nothing, then; neither maid, widow nor wife?
My lord, she may be a whore, for many of them are neither maid, widow nor wife.
Silence that fellow! I would he had some cause
To prattle for himself.
Well, my lord.
My lord, I do confess I ne’er was married,
And I confess besides I am no maid.
I have known my husband; yet my husband
Knows not that ever he knew me.
He was drunk then, my lord! It can be nothing else.
For the benefit of silence, would thou wert so, too!
Well, my lord!
This is no witness for Lord Angelo.
Now I come to’t, my lord.
She that accuses him of fornication
In selfsame manner doth accuse my husband
And charges him, my lord, at such a time
When I’ll depose I had him in mine arms
With all the effect of love.
You say your husband?
Why, just, my lord, and that is Angelo,
Who thinks he knows that he ne’er knew my body,
But knows — he thinks he knows! — ’twas Isabella’s.
This is a strange deceit! Let’s see thy face.
My husband bids me; now will I unmask.
(unveiling) This is that face, thou cruel Angelo,
Which once thou swor’st was worth the looking on.
This is the hand which, legally engaged,
Was fast belocked in thine. This is the body
That took away the veil from Isabella
And gratified thee at thy garden-house
In her imagined person.
Know you this woman?
Carnally, she says.
Enough! No more!
Enough, my lord.
My lord, I must confess I know this woman;
And five years since there was some speech of marriage
Betwixt myself and her, which was broke off,
In part because her predetermined dowry
Fell short of what was promised. But since then
I never spoke with her, saw her nor heard from her,
Upon my faith and honor.
As there comes light from heaven and words from breath,
As there is sense in truth and truth in virtue,
I am betrothed for this man’s wife as strongly
As words could make up vows. And my good lord,
Last Tuesday night in his own garden-house
He knew me as a wife. As this is true,
Let me in safety raise me from my knees
Or else forever be here locked in place,
A marble monument!
I did but smile till now.
Now, good my lord, give me full power of justice.
My patience here is touched. I do perceive
These disrespectful women are no more
Than instruments of some more mighty person
Who sets them on. Give me your leave, my lord,
To find this practice out.
Aye, with my heart,
And punish them to your height of pleasure.
Thou foolish friar and thou pernicious woman,
In league 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
Who carries my own seal? 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!
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.
Go do it instantly. (Exit Provost.)
And you, my noble, fully sanctioned partner,
Whom it concerns to hear this matter forth,
Do with your injuries as seems you best,
And thus chastise. A while I’ll leave you,
But stir not till considered judgment pass
Upon these slanderers.
My lord, we’ll do it thoroughly. (Exit Duke Vincentio.) Signior Lucio, did not you say you knew that Friar Lodowick to be a dishonest person?
Cucullus non facit monachum: Clothes make not the monk. He’s honest in nothing but his clothes, and one that spake most villainous speeches of the duke.
We shall entreat you to abide here till he come and cite evidence against him; we shall find this friar a notable fellow.
As any in Vienna, on my word.
Call that same Isabella once again. I would speak with her. (Exit an Attendant.) Pray you, my lord, give me leave to question; you shall see how I’ll handle her.
Not better than he, by her own report.
By Mary, sir, I think if you handled her privately, she would sooner confess. Perchance in public she’ll be too ashamed.
I will go brightly to work on her.
That’s the way, for women are dull at midnight.
(Re-enter officers, Isabella, Provost and Duke Vincentio in his friar’s habit.)
Come on, mistress: Here’s a gentlewoman denies all that you have said.
My lord, here comes the rascal I spoke of, here with the provost.
In very good time! Speak not you to him till we call upon you.
Come, sir: Did you set these women on to slander Lord Angelo? They have confessed you did.
What? Know you where you are?
Respect to your great place, and let the devil
Be sometimes honored for his burning throne!
Where is the duke? ‘Tis he should hear me speak.
The duke’s in us, and we will hear you speak.
Look you, speak truly.
Boldly, at least. But O, poor souls,
The unjust duke may bar your fair appeal
And put your trial in the villain’s mouth
Which here you come to accuse.
This is the rascal; this is he I spoke of.
Why, thou unreverend and unhallowed friar,
Is’t not enough thou hast suborned these women
To accuse this worthy man, but in foul mouth
And in the witness of his very ear
To call him villain? And then to turn from him
To the duke himself, to charge him with injustice?
Take him hence; to the rack with him! We’ll tear you
Joint from joint, but we will know his purpose!
Be not so hot; the duke
Dare no more stretch this finger of mine than he
Dare rack his own. His subject am I not,
Nor here residing. My business in this state
Made me a looker-on here in Vienna,
Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble;
It has overfilled the pot. Laws for all faults,
But faults so countenanced that the strong statutes
Stand as the house rules in a barber’s shop,
As much in jest as just.
Slander to the state! Away with him to prison!
What can you vouch against him, Signior Lucio?
Is this the man that you did tell us of?
‘Tis he, my lord. Come hither, friar baldpate! Do you know me?
I remember you, sir, by the sound of your voice. I met you at the prison, in the absence of the duke.
O, did you so? And do you remember what you said of the duke?
Most perfectly, sir.
Do you so, sir? And was the duke a fleshmonger, a fool and a coward, as you then reported him to be?
You must, sir, change persons with me, ere you make that my report; you indeed spoke so of him, and much more, much worse.
O thou damnable fellow! Did not I pluck thee by the nose for thy speeches?
I protest I love the duke as I love myself!
Hark, how the villain concludes now, after his treasonable abuses!
Such a fellow is not to be spoken with. Away with him to prison! Where is the provost? Away with him to prison! Lay chains enough upon him; let him speak no more. Away with those harlots, too, and with their other confederate companion!
(The Provost lays hands on Duke Vincentio.)
(to Provost) Stay, sir; stay a while.
What, resists he? Help him, 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 nefarious face and be hanged this very hour! Will’t not come off? (Lucio manages to pull off the friar’s hood, thus revealing Duke Vincentio.)
Thou art the first knave yet to make a duke.
First, provost, let me bail these gentle three.
(to Lucio) Sneak not away, sir, for the friar and you
Must shortly have a word. Lay hold on him!
This may prove worse than hanging.
(to Escalus) What you have spake I pardon; sit you down.
We’ll borrow place from him. (to Angelo) Sir, by your leave?
Hast thou no word, nor wit nor impudence
That yet can do thee office? If thou hast,
Rely upon it till my tale be heard,
And then admit the truth.
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 looked upon my actions. Then, good prince,
No longer session hold upon my shame,
But let my trial be mine own confession.
Immediate sentence followed by my death
Is all the grace I beg.
Come hither, Mariana.
Say, wast thou e’er contracted to this woman?
I was, my lord.
Go take her hence, and marry her instantly.
Do you the office, friar. When it’s done,
Return him here again. Go with him, provost.
(Exit Angelo, Mariana, Friar Thomas and Provost.)
My lord, I’m more amazed at his dishonor
Than at the strangeness of it.
Come hither, Isabella.
Your friar is now your prince. As I was then
Attentively devoted to your business,
Not changing heart with habit, I am still
Attorney at your service.
O, give me pardon
That I, your subject, have employed and pained
Your unknown sovereignty!
You are pardoned, Isabella,
And now, dear maid, be you as fair to us.
Your brother’s death, I know, sits at your heart,
And you may marvel why I obscured myself,
Laboring to save his life, and would not rather
Make overt display of my hidden power
Than let him so be lost. O most kind maid,
It was the swift rapidity of his death,
Which I did think with slower foot would come,
That killed my purpose. Still, peace be with him!
That life is better, life past fearing death,
Than that which lives in fear. Make it your comfort;
So happy is your brother.
I do, my lord.
(Re-enter Angelo, Mariana, Friar Thomas and Provost.)
For this new-married man approaching here,
Whose lusty machinations yet hath wronged
Your well-defended honor, you must pardon
For Mariana’s sake; but as he judged your brother —
Being criminal, in double violation
Of sacred chastity and of promise-breach —
The very mercy of the law cries out
Most audible, from even his own tongue,
“An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!”
Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.
We do condemn thee to the very block
Where Claudio stooped to death, and with like haste.
Away with him!
O my most gracious lord,
I hope you will not mock me with a husband.
It is your husband mocked you with a husband.
Consenting to the safeguard of your honor,
I thought your marriage fit; else reputation
From when he knew you might reproach your life
And choke your good to come. And his possessions —
Although by confiscation they are ours —
We reinstate your widow’s right to all,
To buy you a better husband.
But my dear lord,
I crave no other, nor no better man.
Do not crave him; we are definitive.
Gentle my liege — (kneels)
You do but lose your labor.
Away with him to death!
(to Lucio) Now, sir, to you.
O my good lord! Sweet Isabella, take my part;
Lend me your knees, and all my life to come
I’ll lend you all my life to do you service.
Against your own good sense do you entreat her.
Should she kneel down in mercy of this crime,
Her brother’s ghost his sodded bed would break,
And take her hence in horror.
Sweet Isabella, do but kneel by me.
Hold up your hands, say nothing; I’ll speak all.
They say best men are molded out of faults,
And for the most become much more the better
For being a little bad: So may my husband.
O Isabella, won’t you lend a knee?
He dies for Claudio’s death.
Most bounteous sir,
(kneels) Look, if it please you, on this man condemned,
As if my brother lived; I partly think
A true sincerity governed 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.
His act did not fulfill his bad intent,
And must be buried but as an intent
That perished by the way. Thoughts have no penalty,
Intents but merely thoughts.
Merely, my lord.
Your suit’s unprofitable. Stand, I say.
I have bethought me of another fault:
Provost, how came it Claudio was beheaded
At an unusual hour?
It was commanded so.
Had you a special warrant for the deed?
No, my good lord; it was by private message.
For which I do discharge you of your office.
Give up your keys.
Pardon me, noble lord!
I thought it was a fault, but wasn’t sure,
Yet did repent me after further thought.
For testimony whereof one in prison,
That should by private order else have died,
I have reserved alive!
His name is Barnardine.
I would thou hadst done so by Claudio.
Go fetch him hither; let me look upon him.
I’m sorry one so learnèd and so wise
As you, Lord Angelo, have e’er appeared,
Should slip so grossly, both in heat of blood
And lack of tempered judgment afterward.
I’m sorry that such sorrow I did cause,
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.)
Which is that Barnardine?
This, my lord.
There was a friar told me of this man.
Sir, thou art said to have a stubborn soul
That comprehends no further than this world
And guides thy life according. Thou’rt condemned,
But all thy earthly faults I do forgive,
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?
This is another prisoner I saved,
Who should have died when Claudio lost his head,
As like almost to Claudio as himself. (The Provost unmuffles Claudio.)
(to Isabella) If he be like your brother, he be pardoned —
My brother, too, but fitter time for that.
By this Lord Angelo perceives he’s safe;
Methinks I see a quick’ning in his eye.
Well, Angelo, your sins requite you well:
Look that you love your wife; her worth is yours.
I find forgiving kindness in myself,
And yet here’s one I find I cannot pardon.
(to Lucio) You, sir, that knew me for a fool, a coward,
One all of lechery, an ass, a madman,
Wherein have I so much deserved from you,
That you extol me thus?
On my honor, lord, I spoke it but according to current fashion! If you will hang me for it you may, but I had rather it would please you I might be whipped.
Whipped first, sir, and hanged after.
Proclaim it, provost, round about the city.
If any woman’s wronged by this lewd fellow,
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 finished,
Let him be whipped, then hanged.
I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore! Your highness said even now I made you a duke; good my lord, do not recompense me by making me a cuckold!
Upon mine honor, thou shalt marry her.
Thy slanders I forgive, because from that
I’ll waive thy further sentence. Take him to prison
And see our pleasure herein executed.
Marrying a whore, my lord, is being sentenced to death, whipping and hanging.
Slandering a prince deserves it. (Exit Lucio with officers.)
She, Claudio, that you wronged, look you restore.
Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo;
I know from her confession she has virtue.
Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness;
There’s more to come to gratify you more.
Thanks, provost, for thy care and secrecy;
We shall employ thee in a worthier place.
Forgive him, Angelo, who brought you home
The head of Ragozine for Claudio’s;
The offense pardons itself. Dear Isabella,
I have a proposition for your good,
Whereto if you’ll a willing ear incline:
What’s mine is yours, and all that’s yours is mine.
Your brother pardoned for your lovely sake,
A sister’s hand in marriage I shall take.
(Is that justice, justice, justice, justice? Isabella stares at the Duke in mute horror.)