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Enter Isabella.

How now, fair maid? 30

Isab. I am come to know your pleasure.

Ang. That you might know it, would much better please me

Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.

Isab. Even so.-Heaven keep your honour!

Ang. Yet may he live awhile; and, it may be,

As long as you or I: yet he must die.

Isab. Under your sentence?

Ang. Yea.

Isab. When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted

That his soul sicken not.

Ang. Ha! fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
To pardon him that hath from nature stolen

A man already made, as to remit

Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven's image
In stamps that are forbid: 'tis all as easy
Falsely to take away a life true made,

As to put metal in restrained means
To make a false one.

Isab. 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
Ang. Say you so? then I shall pose you quickly.


Which had you rather, that the most just law
Now took your brother's life; or, to redeem him,
Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
As she that he hath stain'd!

Sir, believe this,
I had rather give my body than my soul.
Ang. I talk not of your soul: our compell'd sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.



How say you



Ang. Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak
Against the thing I say. Answer to this :—
I, now the voice of the recorded law,
Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life:
Might there not be a charity in sin


To save this brother's life?

Please you to do 't,

I'll take it as a peril to my soul,

It is no sin at all, but charity.

Ang. Pleased you to do't at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.

Isab. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,


Heaven let me bear it! you granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer

To have it added to the faults of mine,

And nothing of your answer.

Nay, but hear me.


Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,
Or seem so, craftily; and that's not good.
Isab. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,

But graciously to know I am no better.
Ang. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright

When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, display'd. But mark me;
To be received plain, I'll speak more gross:
Your brother is to die.

Isab. So.

Ang. And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

Isab. True.


Ang. Admit no other way to save his life,-
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,

But in the loss of question,—that you, his sister, 90
Finding yourself desired of such a person,
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-building law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him, but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this supposed, or else to let him suffer ;
What would you do?

Isab. As much for my poor brother as myself:


That is, were I under the terms of death,

The impression of keen whips I'ld wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed

That longing have been sick for, ere I'ld yield
My body up to shame.

Then must your brother die.

Isab. And 'twere the cheaper way:

Better it were a brother died at once,

Than that a sister, by redeeming him,

Should die for ever.

Ang. Were not you, then, as cruel as the sentence

That you have slander'd so?

Isab. Ignomy in ransom and free pardon

Are of two houses: lawful mercy

Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

Ang. You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather proved the sliding of your brother

A merriment than a vice.

Isab. O, pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,

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To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean:

I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.

Ang. We are all frail.


Else let my brother die,

If not a feodary, but only he

Owe and succeed thy weakness.

Ang. Nay, women are frail too.

Isab. Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves; Which are as easy broke as they make forms. Women!-Help Heaven! men their creation mar In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail; For we are soft as our complexions are,


And credulous to false prints.


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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


I do arrest your words. Be that you are,

That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none;



be one, as you are well express'd

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. 140

Ang. Plainly conceive, I love you.

Isab. My brother did love Juliet,

And you tell 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 honour,

My words express my purpose.

Isab. Ha! little honour to be much believed,



And most pernicious purpose!-Seeming, seeming !—
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for 't:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother,

Or with an outstretch'd throat I'll tell the world aloud
What man thou art.

Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoil'd 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 smell of calumny. I have begun;

And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;


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,
I'll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,

Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true. 170


Isab. To whom should 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 court'sy to their will:
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,

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