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For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.

I think it well :
And from this testimony of your own sex,
(Since, I suppose, we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames,) let me be bold ;-
I do arrest your words: Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none :
If you be one, (as you are well expressed
By all external warrants,) show it now,
By putting on the destined livery.

Isab. I have no tongue but one: gentle my lord,
Let me entreat you speak the former language.

Ang. Plainly conceive, I love you.
Isab. My brother did love Juliet; and you


me, That he shall die for it.

Ang. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.

Isab. I know, your virtue hath a license in't,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.

Believe me, on mine honor,
My words express my purpose.

Isab. Ha! Little honor to be much believed,
And most pernicious purpose !—Seeming, seeming ! 3
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look fort:
Sign me a present 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 vouch against you, and my place i’ the state,
Will so your accusation overweigh,
That you shall stifle in your own report,
And sinell of calumny. I have begun;
And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;


1 i. e. impressions

2 i. e. “ your virtue assumes an air of licentiousness, which is not natu ral to you, on purpose to try me."

3 Seeming is hypocrisy.

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Lay by all nicety, and prolixious blushes,
That banish what they sue for; redeem thy brother
By yielding up thy body to my will ;
Or else he must not only die the death,
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
To lingering sufferance : answer me to-morrow,
Or, by the affection that now guides me most,

prove a tyrant to him: as for you,
Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true.

Isab. To whom shall I complain? Did I tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue,
Either of condemnation or approof!
Bidding the law make courtesy to their will;
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws! I'll to my brother :
Though he hath fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honor,
That had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he'd yield them up,
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorred pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die :
More than our brother is our chastity.
I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest [Ezut.

1 i. e. temptation, instigation


SCENE I. A Room in the Prison.

Enter Duke, Claudio, and Provost.
Duke. So, then you hope of pardon from lord

Claud. The miserable have no other medicine,
But only hope :
I have hope to live, and am prepared to die.

Duke. 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, (Servile to all the skyey influences,) That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,? Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool; For him thou labor’st by thy flight to shun, And yet runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble; For all the accommodations that thou bear'st, Are nursed by baseness. Thou art by no means

valiant; For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep, And that thou oft provok’st; yet grossly fearst Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself; For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not; For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get; And what thou hast, forget'st. Thou art not certain ; For thy complexion shifts to strange affects, After the moon. If thou art rich, thou art poor ;

1 Keep here means care for, a common acceptation of the word in Chaucer and later writers.

2 i. e. dwellest.

3 The old copy reads effects. We should read affects, i. e. affections, passions of the mind. See Hamlet, Act iii. Sc. 4.

VOL. I. 47

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 bowels, which do call thee sire,
The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo,' and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth

nor age;
But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both; for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; 2 and when thou art old, and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this
That bears 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.
To sue to live, I find, I seek to die:
And seeking death, find life: let it come on.

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Isab. What, ho! Peace here; grace and good

Prov. Who's there? Come in; the wish deserves

a welcome.
Duke. Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.
Claud. Most holy sir, I thank you.
Isab. My business is a word or two with Claudio.
Pror. And very welcome. Look, seignior, here's

your sister.
Duke. Provost, a word with you.

As many as you please.
Duke. Bring me to hear them speak, where I may

be concealed, Yet hear them.

[Exeunt Duke and Provost.

2 Old age.

1 Serpigo is a leprous eruption. 3 The first folio reads, “ Bring them to hear me speak,” &c.; the second folio reads, “ Bring them to speak.” The emendation is by Steevens.

Claud. Now, sister, what's the comfort ?

Isab. Why, as all comforts are, most good indeed: Lord Angelo, having affairs to Heaven, Intends you for his swift ambassador, Where


shall be an everlasting leiger:1 Therefore

your best appointmentmake with speed; To-morrow you set on. Claud.

Is there no remedy ?
Isab. None, but such remedy, as to save a head,
To cleave a heart in twain.

But is there any ?
Isab. Yes, brother, you may live;
There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
If you'll implore it, that will free your life,
But fetter you till death.

Perpetual durance ?
Isab. Ay, just, perpetual durance; a restraint,
Though all the world's vastidity' you had,
To a determined scope.

But in what nature ?
Isab. In such a one as (you consenting to’t)
Would bark your honor from that trunk you bear,
And leave you

naked. Claud.

Let me know the point. Isab. O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake, Lest thou a feverous life should'st entertain, And six or seven winters more respect Than a perpetual honor. Dar’st thou die ? The sense of death is most in apprehension; And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great As when a giant dies.


1 A leiger is a resident.
2 i. e. preparation.
3 i. e. vastness of extent.

4 “ To a determined scope" -a confinement of your mind to one painful idea ; to ignominy, of which the remembrance can neither be suppressed nor escaped. 5 “ And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,

In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great

As when a giant dies.” This beautiful passage is in all our minds and memories, but it most

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