Page images
PDF
EPUB

Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I stagger in :

but this new governor
Awakes me all the enrolled 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 a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me:-'tis surely for a name.

Lucio. I warrant, it is : and thy head stands so tickle on thy shoulders, that a milk-maid, if she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the duke, and appeal to him.

Claud. I have done so, but he's not to be found.
I pr’ythee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter,
And there receive her approbation :
Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends'
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him;
I have great hope in that; for in her youth
There is a prone and speechless dialect,
Such as moves men; besides, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.

Lucio. I pray, she may; as well for the encouragement of the like, which else would stand under grievous imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

Claud. I thank you, good friend Lucio.
Lucio. Within two hours, —
Claud. Come, officer, away.

[Exeunt.

SCENE IV. A Monastery.

Enter DUKE and Friar Thomas.
Duke. No; holy father; throw away that thought;
Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
Can pierce a complete 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.
Fri.

May your grace speak of it?
Duke. My holy sir, none better knows than you,
How I have ever loved the life removed ;
And held in idle price to haunt assemblies,

Where youth, and cost, and witless bravery keeps.
I have delivered to lord Angelo
(A man of stricture and firm abstinence)
My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me travelled to Poland;
For so I have strewed it in the common ear,
And so it is received: now, pious sir,
You will demand of me, why I do this?

Fri. Gladly, my lord.

Duke. We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
(The needful bits and curbs for headstrong steeds)
Which for these fourteen years we have let sleep;
Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey: now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight,
For terror, not to use; in time the rod
Becomes more mocked than feared: so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.

It rested in your grace
To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased;
And it in you more dreadful would have seemed,
Than in lord Angelo.
Duke.

I do fear, too dreadful :
Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,
'Twould be my tyranny to strike, and gall them
For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done,
When evil deeds have their permissive pass,
And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,
I have on Angelo imposed the office;
Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home,
And yet my nature never in the sight,
To do it slander: and to behold his sway,
I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,
Visit both prince and people: therefore, I pr'ythee,
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally in person bear me
Like a true friar. More reasons for this action,
At our more leisure, shall I render you;
Only, this one:— lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone: hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be. [Exeunt.

You may,

SCENE V. A Nunnery.

Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA.
Isab. And have you nuns no further privileges ?
Fran. Are not these large enough?

Isab. Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more ;
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.
Lucio. Ho! Peace be in this place! [Within.
Isab.

Who's that which calls ? Fran. It is a man's voice: gentle Isabella, Turn you the key, and know his business of him;

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. [Exit FRANCISCA. Isab. Peace and prosperity! Who is't that calls ?

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

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

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

Isab. Woe me! For what?

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

Isab. Sir, make me not your story.
Lucio.

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

Isab. You do blaspheme the good, in mocking me.

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

Isab. Some one with child by him? - My cousin Juliet ? Lucio. Is she your cousin ?

Isab. Adoptedly; as school-maids change their names,
By vain though apt affection.
Lucio.

She it is.
Isab. O let him marry her!
Lucio.

This is the point.
The duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
In hand, and hope of action : but we do learn
By those that know the very nerves of state,
His givings out were of an infinite distance
From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
And with full line of his authority,
Governs lord Angelo; a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense;
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He (to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have, for long, run by the hideous law,
As mice by lions) hath picked out an act,
Under whose heavy sense 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 pith
Of business 'twixt you and your poor brother.

Isab. Doth he so seek his life?
Lucio.

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

Isab. Alas! What poor ability's in me
To do him good ?
Lucio.

Assay the power you have.
Isab. My power! Alas! I doubt, -
Lucio.

Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt: go to lord Angelo,

And let him learn to know when maidens sue,
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely theirs
As they themselves would owe them.

Isab. I'll see what I can do.
Lucio.

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

Lucio. I take my leave of you.
Isab.

Good sir, adieu.

[Exeunt.

ACT II.

SCENE I. A Hall in Angelo's House.
Enter ANGELO, Escalus, a Justice, Provost, Officers,

and other Attendants.
Ang. We must not make a scarcecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
Escal.

Ay, but yet
Let us be keen, and rather cut a little,
Than fall, and bruise to death: alas ! this gentleman,
Whom I would save, had a most noble father.
Let but your honor know,
(Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,)
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time cohered with place, or place with wishing,
Or that the resolute acting of your blood
Could have attained the effect of your own purpose,
Whether you had not some time in your life
Erred in this point which now you censure him,
And pulled the law upon you.

Ang. 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny,
The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May, in the sworn twelve, have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try; what's open made to justice,
That justice seizes. What know the laws,

« PreviousContinue »