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Fri. May your grace speak of it?

Duke. My holy fir, 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 bravery keep.
I have deliver'd to lord Angelo
(A man of stricture, and firm abstinence)
My absolute pow'r and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me travell’d to Poland;
For so I've strew'd it in the common ear,
And so it is receiv’d: now, pious fir,
You will demand of me, why I do this?

Fri. Gladly, my lord,

Duke. We have strict statutes, and most biting laws,
(The needful bits and curbs for head-strong steeds)
Which for this nineteen years we have let sleep;
Even like an o'er-grown 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 childrens fight,
For terror, not to use; in time the rod
Becomes more mock'd than fear'd: so our decrees,
Dead to infiction, to themselves are dead,
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.

Fri. It rested in your grace
T' unloose this ty’d-up justice, when you pleas’d:
And it in you more dreadful would have seem'd
Than in lord Angelo.

Duke. I 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
When evil deeds have their permissive pass,
And not the punishment. Therefore, my father,

I have on Angelo impos’d the office:

in th’ambush of my name strike home,
And yet, my nature never in the fight
To do it slander : to behold his sway,
I will, as 'twere a brother of


Visit both prince and people; therefore, pr’ythee,
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally my person bear
Like a true friar. More reasons for this action
At your more leisure shall I render

Only this one: lord Angelo is precise,
Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone: hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be. [Exeunt.


A Nunnery.
Enter Isabella, and Francisca.
ND have you nuns no farther privileges ?

Isab. A Nun. Are not these large enough?

Isab. Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more,
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sister votarists of saint Clare.

Lucio within.
Lucio. Hoa! peace be in this place!
Isab. Who's that which calls ?

Nun. It is a man's voice: gentle Isabella, Turn

you the key, and know his business of him; may;


may not; you are yet unsworn: When you have vow'd, you must not speak with men But in the presence of the prioress;



Vol. I.



Or, if

face, you

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Then if you speak, you must not show your


must not speak.
He calls again; I pray you, answer him. [Exit Franc.
Isab. Peace and prosperity! who is't that calls?

Enter Lucio.
Lucio. Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
Proclaim you are no less; can you so stead me,
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place, and the fair sister
To her unhappy brother Claudio ?

Isab. Why her unhappy brother ? let me ask
The rather, for I now must make you know
I am that Ifabella, and his sister.

Lucio. Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you ;
Not to be weary with you, he’s in prison.

Isab. Wo me! for what?

Lucio. For that, which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks;
He hath got his friend with child.

Isab. Sir, make me not your story.

Lucio. I would not, though 'tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing', and to jest,
Tongue far from heart, play with all virgins so.
I hold you as a thing ensky'd and sainted,
By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
And to be talk'd with in sincerity,
As with a saint.

Isab. You do blaspheme the good, in mocking me.

Lucio. Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, 'tis thus;
Your brother and his lover having embrac’d,
As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
Doth from the seedness the bare fallow bring
To teeming foison; fo her plenteous womb

* The lapwings fly with seeming fright and anxiety far from their nefts to deceive those who seek their young.


Expresseth its full tilth and husbandry.

Isab. Some one with child by him? my cousin Juliet ?
Lucio. Is she your cousin ?

Isab. Adoptedly, as school-maids change their names,
By vain, though apt, affection.

Lucio. She it is.
Isab. Let him then marry her.

Lucio. This is the point.
The duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one;
In hand and hope of action ; but we 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
Is very snow-broth, one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense ;
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He, to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have long time 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's gone,
Unless you have the grace by your


prayer To soften Angelo; and that's my pith Of business betwixt you

Isab. Doth he so seek his life?

Lucio. H’as censur'd him
Already, and, I hear, the provost hath
A warrant for his execution.

Ifab. Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good ?

Qq 2


your poor brother.

Lucio. Aslay the power you have.
Isab. My power alas! I'doubt.

Lucio. 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 fue
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as truly theirs,
As they themselves would owe them.

Isab. I'll see what I can do.
Lucio. But speedily.

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


success. Lucio. I take

leave of

you. Isab. Good fir, adieu.

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Enter Angelo, Escalus, a Justice, and Attendants.

E must not make a scare-crow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of

prey, And let it keep one shape, till custom make it Their perch, and not their terror.

Escal. 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


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