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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 130
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
Isab. Alas, alas !
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.
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 issued 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.
Claud. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
O, fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin 's not accidental, but a trade.
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd: 150
'Tis best that thou diest quickly. Claud.
O, hear me, Isabella!
Duke. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
Isab. What is
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
Isab. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must
be stolen out of other affairs; but I will attend
[Walks apart. 160 Duke. Son, I have overheard what hath passed be
tween you and your sister. Angelo had never
the purpose to corrupt her; only he hath made
an assay of her virtue to practise his judgement
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 170
fallible: to-morrow you must die; go to your
knees, and make ready.
Claud. 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 you!
Prov. What's your will, father?
Duke. That now you are come, you will be gone. Leave
me awhile with the maid : my mind promises with
my habit no loss shall touch her by my company. 180 Prov. In good time.
Isabella comes forward.
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 conveyed to my
understanding; and, but that frailty hath ex-
amples for his falling, I should wonder at
Angelo. How will you do to content this 190
substitute, and to save your brother?
Isab. 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 deceived in Angelo! If ever he
return and I can speak to him, I will open my
lips in vain, or discover his government.
Duke. That shall not be much amiss : yet, as the
matter now stands, he will avoid your accusa-
tion; he made trial of you only. Therefore 200
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 up-
righteously 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 peradven-
ture he shall ever return to have hearing of this
Isab. Let me hear you speak farther. I have spirit 210
to do any thing 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 mis-
carried at sea ?
Isab. I have heard of the lady, and good words went
with her name.
Duke. She should this Angelo have married; was
affianced to her by oath, and the nuptial ap- 220
pointed: between which time of the contract
and limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick
was wrecked 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.
230 Isab. 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, pre-
tending in her discoveries of dishonour: in few,
bestowed 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.
Isab. 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!
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 doing it. Isab. Show me how, good father.
Duke. This forenamed maid hath yet in her the con
tinuance of her first affection : his unjust unkind-
ness, 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 250
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 260
to her recompence: 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 ? Isab. The image of it gives me content already; and
I trust it will grow to a most prosperous per-
270 Duke. It lies much in your holding up.
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 quickly.