1605 Measure For Measure
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In precise guards! Dost thou think, Claudio,
If I would yield him my virginity
Thou mightst be freed?
CLAUDIO. O heavens! it cannot be.
ISABELLA. Yes, he would give't thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still. This night's the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest to-morrow.
CLAUDIO. Thou shalt not do't.
ISABELLA. O, were it but my life!
I'd throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.
CLAUDIO. Thanks, dear Isabel.
ISABELLA. Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-morrow.
CLAUDIO. Yes. Has he affections in him
That thus can make him bite the law by th' nose
When he would force it? Sure it is no sin;
Or of the deadly seven it is the least.
ISABELLA. Which is the least?
CLAUDIO. If it were damnable, he being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary trick
Be perdurably fin'd?- O Isabel!
ISABELLA. What says my brother?
CLAUDIO. Death is a fearful thing.
ISABELLA. And shamed life a hateful.
CLAUDIO. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling- 'tis too horrible.
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment,
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
ISABELLA. Alas, alas!
CLAUDIO. Sweet sister, let me live.
What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.
ISABELLA. O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of incest to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance;
Die; perish. Might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
No word to save thee.
CLAUDIO. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
ISABELLA. O fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade.
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd;
'Tis best that thou diest quickly.
CLAUDIO. O, hear me, Isabella.
DUKE. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
ISABELLA. What is your will?
DUKE. Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have
some speech with you; the satisfaction I would require is
likewise your own benefit.
ISABELLA. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out
of other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.
DUKE. Son, I have overheard what hath pass'd between you and your
sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he hath
made an assay of her virtue to practise his judgment with the
disposition of natures. She, having the truth of honour in her,
hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to
receive. I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be true;
therefore prepare yourself to death. Do not satisfy your
resolution with hopes that are fallible; to-morrow you must die;
go to your knees and make ready.
CLAUDIO. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life
that I will sue to be rid of it.
DUKE. Hold you there. Farewell. [Exit CLAUDIO] Provost, a word with
PROVOST. What's your will, father?
DUKE. That, now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me a while
with the maid; my mind promises with my habit no loss shall touch
her by my company.
PROVOST. In good time. Exit PROVOST
DUKE. The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good; the
goodness that is cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in goodness;
but grace, being the soul of your complexion, shall keep the body
of it ever fair. The assault that Angelo hath made to you,
fortune hath convey'd to my understanding; and, but that frailty
hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How
will you do to content this substitute, and to save your brother?
ISABELLA. I am now going to resolve him; I had rather my brother
die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But, O, how
much is the good Duke deceiv'd in Angelo! If ever he return, and
I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his
DUKE. That shall not be much amiss; yet, as the matter now stands,
he will avoid your accusation: he made trial of you only.
Therefore fasten your ear on my advisings; to the love I have in
doing good a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe
that you may most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited
benefit; redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain to
your own gracious person; and much please the absent Duke, if
peradventure he shall ever return to have hearing of this
ISABELLA. Let me hear you speak farther; I have spirit to do
anything that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.
DUKE. Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not
heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great
soldier who miscarried at sea?
ISABELLA. I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her
DUKE. She should this Angelo have married; was affianced to her by
oath, and the nuptial appointed; between which time of the
contract and limit of the solemnity her brother Frederick was
wreck'd at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of his
sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman:
there she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward
her ever most kind and natural; with him the portion and sinew of
her fortune, her marriage-dowry; with both, her combinate
husband, this well-seeming Angelo.
ISABELLA. Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?
DUKE. Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his
comfort; swallowed his vows whole, pretending in her discoveries
of dishonour; in few, bestow'd her on her own lamentation, which
she yet wears for his sake; and he, a marble to her tears, is
washed with them, but relents not.
ISABELLA. What a merit were it in death to take this poor maid from
the world! What corruption in this life that it will let this man
live! But how out of this can she avail?
DUKE. It is a rupture that you may easily heal; and the cure of it
not only saves your brother, but keeps you from dishonour in
ISABELLA. Show me how, good father.
DUKE. This forenamed maid hath yet in her the continuance of her
first affection; his unjust unkindness, that in all reason should
have quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the current,
made it more violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo; answer his
requiring with a plausible obedience; agree with his demands to
the point; only refer yourself to this advantage: first, that
your stay with him may not be long; that the time may have all
shadow and silence in it; and the place answer to convenience.
This being granted in course- and now follows all: we shall
advise this wronged maid to stead up your appointment, go in your
place. If the encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may
compel him to her recompense; and here, by this, is your brother
saved, your honour untainted, the poor Mariana advantaged, and
the corrupt deputy scaled. The maid will I frame and make fit for
his attempt. If you think well to carry this as you may, the
doubleness of the benefit defends the deceit from reproof. What
think you of it?
ISABELLA. The image of it gives me content already; and I trust it
will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
DUKE. It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily to
Angelo; if for this night he entreat you to his bed, give him
promise of satisfaction. I will presently to Saint Luke's; there,
at the moated grange, resides this dejected Mariana. At that
place call upon me; and dispatch with Angelo, that it may be
ISABELLA. I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.
The street before the prison
Enter, on one side, DUKE disguised as before; on the other, ELBOW,
and OFFICERS with POMPEY
ELBOW. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will needs
buy and sell men and women like beasts, we shall have all the
world drink brown and white bastard.
DUKE. O heavens! what stuff is here?
POMPEY. 'Twas never merry world since, of two usuries, the merriest
was put down, and the worser allow'd by order of law a furr'd
gown to keep him warm; and furr'd with fox on lamb-skins too, to
signify that craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the
ELBOW. Come your way, sir. Bless you, good father friar.
DUKE. And you, good brother father. What offence hath this man made
ELBOW. Marry, sir, he hath offended the law; and, sir, we take him
to be a thief too, sir, for we have found upon him, sir, a
strange picklock, which we have sent to the deputy.
DUKE. Fie, sirrah, a bawd, a wicked bawd!
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think