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May your Grace speak of it?
DUKE. My holy Sir, none better knows than you
How I have ever lov'd the life remov'd;
And held in idle price to haunt assemblies,
Where youth, and cost, and witless bravery1 keeps.2
I have deliver❜d to Lord Angelo
(A man of strictures and firm abstinence)
My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me travell'd to Poland;
For so I have strew'd it in the common ear,
And so it is receiv'd. Now, pious Sir,
You will demand of me why I do this?
FRI. T. Gladly, my Lord.
DUKE. We have strict statutes and most biting laws
(The needful bits and curbs to headstrong steeds),
Which for this 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 threat'ning twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not to use, do find in time
The rod more mock'd than fear'd: 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 pleas'd:
And it in you more dreadful would have seem'd
Than in Lord Angelo.
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,
Who may in the ambush of my name strike home,
And yet my nature' never in the fight
To do in slander.
And to behold his sway
When evil deeds have their permissive pass,
And not their punishment. Therefore, indeed, my Father,
I have on Angelo impos'd the office,
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?
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 embrac❜d:
As those that feed grow full; as blossoming-time
That from the seedness2 the bare fallow brings
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?
This is the point.
The Duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
In hand1 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
1 in few words and true.
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
But doth rebate1 and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He (to give fear to use2 and liberty,
Which have, for long, run by the hideous Law,
As mice by lions) hath pick'd out an Act,
Under whose heavy sense your brother's life
Falls into forfeit: he arrests him on it,
And follows close the rigour of the Statute
To make him an example; all hope is gone,
Unless you have the grace by your fair
To soften Angelo; and that's my pith
Of business 'twixt you and your poor brother.
ISAB. Doth he so seek his life?
He has censur'd3 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?
Assay the power you have.
ISAB. 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 sue,
Men give like Gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely their's
As they themselves would owe them.
ISAB. I'll see what I can do.
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.
Good Sir, adieu. [exeunt.
own. 5 ad primam vesperam.
ME SCENE I. A Hall in ANGELO's House.
Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a Justice, Officers,
and other Attendants.
ANG. We must not make a scarecrow of the Law,
Setting it up to fear1 the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
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 Honour know
(Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue)
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time coher'd with place, or place with wishing,
Or that the resolute acting of your blood
Could have attain'd the effect of your own purpose,
Whether you had not, sometime in your life,
Err'd in this point, which now you censure him,
And pull'd 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 pregnant :*
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take 't,
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offence,
For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
1 fright. 2 axe-wise. 3 impose. 4 patent. 5 because. 6 favouring.