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Enter Angelo, Escalus, a Justice, Provost,
Officers, and other Attendants. Ang. We must not make a scarecrow of the law Setting it up to fear the birds of prey, And let it keep one shape till custom make it 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 gen
tleman, Whom I would save, had a most noble father. Let but your honour know (Whom I believe to be most straight 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,
had not, sometime 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 That thieves do pass on thieves ? 'Tis very
Escal. Be it as your wisdom will.
See that Claudio
[Exit Provost Escal. Well, heaven forgive him; and forgive
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall :
none; And some condemned for a fault alone.
Enter Elbow, Froth, Clown, Officers, &c.
Elb. Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a commonweal, that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know no law; bring them away.
Ang. How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
Elb. If it please your honour, I am the poor Duke's constable, and my name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good honour two notorious benefactors.
Ang. Benefactors ? Well; what benefactors are they? are they not malefactors ?
Elb. If it please your honour, I know not well what they are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure of; and void of all profanation in the world, that good christians ought to have.
Escal. This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
Ang. Go to: What quality are they of ? Elbow is your name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
Clo. He cannot, sir ; he's out at elbow.
Elb. He, sir? a tapster, sir; a parcel-bawd ; one that serves a bad woman ; whose house, sir, was, as they say, plucked down in the suburbs ; and now she professes a hothouse, which I think is a very ill house too. Escal. How know you
that? Elb. My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour
Escal. How! thy wife?
Elb. Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman
Escal. Dost thou detest her therefore?
Ell. I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.
Escal. How dost thou know that, constable ?
Elb. Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman cardinally given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
Escal. By the woman's means ?
Elb. Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means : but as she spit in his face, so she defied him.
Clo. Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
Elb. Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man, prove it. Escal. Do you hear how he misplaces ?
[To Angelo Clo. Sir, she came in great with child; and longing (saving your honour's reverence) for stewed prunes; sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a dish of some three
pence; your honours have seen such dishes ; they are not china dishes, but very good dishes.
Escal. Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.
Clo. 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 prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said ; Master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and, as I say, paying for them very honestly-for, as you know, Master Froth, I could not give you threepence again.
Froth. No, indeed.
Clo. Very well : you being then, if you be remembered, cracking the stones of the 'foresaid prunes.
Froth. Ay, so I did, indeed.
Clo. Why, very well : I telling you then, if you be remembered, that such a one, and such a one, were past cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very good diet, as I told you.
Froth. All this is true.
Escal. Come, you are a tedious fool: to the purpose. What was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to complain of? Come me to what was done to her.
Clo. Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
Clo. Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's leave: And, I beseech you, look into Master Froth here, sir; a man of fourscore pound a-year; whose father died at Hallowmas -Was 't not at Hallowmas, Master Froth? Froth. All-hollond eve.
Clo. Why, very well; I hope here be truths: He, sir, sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir ; 't was in the Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight to sit: Have you not?
Froth. I have so; because it is an open room, and good for winter. Clo. Why, very well, then; I hope here be
truths. Ang. 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 cause ; Hoping you 'll find good cause to whip them all.
Escal. I think no less : Good morrow to your lordship
[Exit Angelo Now, sir, come on : what was done to Elbow's wife, once more ?
Clo. Once, sir? there was nothing done to
Elb. I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
Clo. I beseech your honour, ask me.
Escal. Well, sir: What did this gentleman Elb. Varlet, thou liest ; thou liest, wicked varto her ?
let: the time is yet to come that she was ever Clo. I beseech you, sir, look in this gentle- respected with man, woman, or child. man's face: Good Master Froth, look upon Clo. Sir, she was respected with him before his honour; 't is for a good purpose : Doth your he married with her. honour mark his face?
Escal. Which is the wiser here? Justice or Escal. Ay, sir, very well.
Iniquity ?—Is this true ? Clo. Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.
Elb. O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou Escal. Well, I do so.
wicked Hannibal! I respected with her, before Clo. Doth your honour see any harm in his face? I was married to her! If ever I was respected Escal. Why, no.
with her, or she with me, let not your worship Clo. I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is think me the poor Duke's officer. Prove this, the worst thing about him : good then; if his thou wicked Hannibal, or I 'll have mine action face be the worst thing about him, how could of battery on thee. Master Froth do the constable's wife any harm? Escal. If he took you a box o'th' ear, you I would know that of your honour.
might have your action of slander too. Escal. He's in the right : Constable, what Elb. Marry, I thank your good worship for it: say you to it?
What is 't your worship's pleasure I should do Elb. First, an it like you, the house is a re- with this wicked caitiff? spected house ; next, this is a respected fellow; Escal. Truly, officer, because he hath some and his mistress is a respected woman.
offences in him that thou wouldst discover if thou Clo. By this hand, sir, his wife is a more re- couldst, let him continue in his courses till thou spected person than any of us all.
know'st what they are.
Elb. Marry, 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. Escal. Where were you born, friend?
[To Froth. Froth. Here, in Vienna, sir. Escal. Are you of fourscore pounds a-year? Froth. Yes, an 't please you, sir, Escal. So.-What trade are you of, sir?
[To the Clown. Clo. A tapster; a poor widow's tapster. Escal. Your mistress's name? Clo. Mistress Overdone. Escal. Hath she had any more than one husband? Clo. Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.
Escal. Nine !-Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with tapsters; they will draw you, Master Froth, and you will hang them: Get you gone, and let me hear no more of you.
Froth. I thank your worship: For mine own part, I never come into any room in a taphouse, but I am drawn in.
Escal. Well; no more of it, Master Froth: farewell.
[Exit Froth. Come you hither to me, master tapster; what's your name, master tapster?
Escal. "Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you; so that, in the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever you colour it in being a tapster. Are you not? come, tell me true; it shall be the better for you.
Clo. Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
Escal. How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What do you think of the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?
Clo. If the law would allow it, sir.
Escal. But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall not be allowed in Vienna.
Clo. Does your worship mean to geld and spay all the youth in the city?
Escal. No, Pompey.
Clo. Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't, then: If your worship will take order for the drabs and the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds. Escal. There are pretty orders beginning, I
it is but heading and hanging. Clo. If you head and hang all that offend that way but for ten year together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for more heads. If this law
hold in Vienna ten years, I'll rent the fairest house in it after three-pence a bay: If you live to see this come to pass, say Pompey told you so.
Escal. 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 beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd Cæsar to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you whipt: so for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
Clo. I thank your worship for your good counsel; but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better determine. Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade; The valiant heart's not whipt out of his trade.
[Exit. Escal. Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, master constable. How long have you been in this place of constable ?
Elb. Seven year and a half, sir.
Escal. I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had continued in it some time: You say, seven years together?
Elb. And a half, sir.
Escal. 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?
Elb. Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters: as they are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I do it for some piece of money, and go through with all.
Escal. Look you, bring me in the names of some six or seven, the most sufficient of your parish.
Elb. To your worship’s house, sir?
Escal. To my house: Fare you well. [Exit Elbow. What's o'clock, think you?
Just. Eleven, sir.
Escal. It grieves me for the death of Claudio; But there's no remedy.
Just. Lord Angelo is severe.
Escal. It is but needful :
Scene II.--- Another Room in the same.
Enter Provost and a Servant. Serv. He's hearing of a cause ; he will come
straight. I'll tell him of you.
Prov. Pray you, do. [Exit Servant.
I'll know His pleasure; may be he will relent: Alas, He hath but as offended in a dream : All sects, all ages, smack of this vice; and he To die for it!
Enter ANGELO. Ang. Now, what's the matter, Provost? Prov. Is it your will Claudio shall die to-morrow? Ang. Did I not tell thee, yea? hadst thou not
order? Why dost thou ask again?
Prov. Lest I might be too rash:
Ang. Go to; let that be mine:
Prov. I crave your honour's pardon.
Dispose of her To some more fitter place; and that with speed.
Re-enter Servant. Serv. Here is the sister of the man condemned, Desires access to you.
Ang. Hath he a sister?
Prov. Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid, And to be shortly of a sisterhood, If not already. Ang. Well, let her be admitted.
[Exit Servant. See you the fornicatress be removed ; Let her have needful, but not lavish, means ; There shall be order for it.
Mine were the very cypher of a function,
Isab. O just, but severe law!
[Retiring. Lucio. [To Isabella.] Giv't not o'er so : to
him again, entreat him;
Isab. Must he needs die?
him, And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.
Ang. I will not do't.
wrong, If so your heart were touched with that remorse As mine is to him?
Ang. He is sentenced; 't is too late. Lucio. You are too cold. [ To Isabella. Isab. Too late? why, no; I that do speak a
word, May call it back again : Well believe this, No ceremony that to great ones 'longs, Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, Become them with one half so good a grace As mercy does. If he had been as you, And you as he, you would have slipt like him; But he, like you, would not have been so etern.
Ang. Pray you, begone.
Isab. I would to heaven I had your potency, And you were Isabel ! should it then be thus? No; I would tell what 't were to be a judge, And what a prisoner.
Lucio. Ay, touch him: there's the vein. [ Aside. Ang. Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
but waste your words. Isab.
Alas, alas ! Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once; And He, that might the vantage best have took, Found out the remedy: How would you be, If He, which is the top of judgment, should But judge you as you are? O, think on that ; And mercy then will breathe within your lips, Like man new made.
Ang. 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 to
Enter Lucio and ISABELLA. Prov. Save your honour! [Offering to retire.
Ang. Stay a little while.—[ To Isabella.] You are welcome : What's your will?
Isab. I am a woeful suitor to your honour, Please but your honour hear me.
Ang. Well; what's your suit?
Isab. 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.
Ang. Well; the matter?
Isab. I have a brother is condemned to die : I do beseech you, let it be his fault, And not my brother.
Pror. Heaven give thee moving graces!
Ang. Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it! Why, every fault’s condemned ere it be done :