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Attorney'd at your service."

For that he knew you, might reproach your life,
And choke your good to come.
For his posses-

Oh, give me pardon, That I, your vassal, have employ'd and pain'd Your unknown sovereignty!


You are pardon'd, Isabel:
And now, dear maid, be you as free to us."
Your brother's death, I know, sits at your heart:
And you may marvel why I obscur'd myself,
Labouring to save his life, and would not rather
Make rash remonstrance" of my hidden power
Than let him so be lost. Oh, most kind maid,
It was the swift celerity of his death,
Which I did think with slower foot came on,
That brain'd my purpose :—but, peace be with him!
That life is better life, past fearing death,
Than that which lives to fear; make it your comfort,
So happy is your brother.


I do, my lord.

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I crave no other, nor no better man.
Duke. Never crave him; we are definitive
Mari. [Kneeling.] Gentle my liege,—
You do but lose your labour.-
Away with him to death!-[To Lucio.] Now, sir,
to you.

Mari. Oh my good lord!-Sweet Isabel, take
my part;

Lend me your knees, and, all my life to come,
I'll lend you all my life to do you service.
Duke. Against all sense 46 you do impórtune her:
Should she kneel down in mercy of this fact,

Re-enter ANGELO, MARIANA, FRIAR PETER, and Her brother's ghost his paved bed would break,


Duke. For this new-married man approaching


Whose salt imagination yet hath wrong'd
Your well-defended honour, you must pardon
For Mariana's sake: but as he adjudg'd your

Being criminal, in double violation

Of sacred chastity, and of promise-breach
Thereon dependent, for your brother's life,—
The very mercy of the law cries out
Most audible, even from his proper tongue,43
"An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!".
Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure ;
Like doth quit like," and Measure still for Measure.
Then, Angelo, thy fault thus manifested,-
Which, though thou would'st deny, denies thee

We do condemn thee to the very block

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Sweet Isabel, do yet but kneel by me :

Hold up your hands, say nothing,—I'll speak all.
They say, best men are moulded out of faults;
And, for the most, become much more the better
For being a little bad: so may my husband.
O Isabel, will you not lend a knee?

Duke. He dies for Claudio's death.
Isab. [Kneeling.]
Most bounteous sir,
Look, if it please you, on this man condemn'd,
As if my brother liv'd. I partly think,
A due sincerity govern'd his deeds,
Till he did look on me: since it is so,
Let him not die. My brother had but justice,
In that he did the thing for which he died:
For Angelo,

His act did not o'ertake his bad intent;
And must be buried but as an intent

Where Claudio stoop'd to death, and with like That perish'd by the way: thoughts are no subjects;

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Intents but merely thoughts.47


Merely, my lord.

Duke. Your suit's unprofitable; stand up, I


I have bethought me of another fault.—

Provost, how came it Claudio was beheaded
At an unusual hour?

It was commanded so.

47. Intents but merely thoughts. Even this nobly magnanimous speech of Isabella's has been misinterpreted by prejudiced critics, and turned against her. Yet surely the benign forbearance, the spirit of justice, the strictly equitable distinction between intention and act in guilt, that Shakespeare has here put into her mouth who is the embodiment of virtue and purity in this play, might serve to enthrone her in our regard as one of the finest-souled women among his heroines. In so passing a point as that line of the provost's, "I thought it was a fault, but knew it not," the poet has carried on the moral he inculcates in this play, the nice shades of distinction between motive and act, thought and deed, error and guilt, mistake and sin, together with their due degrees of rebuke, retribution, and punish


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Pardon me, noble lord:

I thought it was a fault, but knew it not;
Yet did repent me, after more advice:
For testimony whereof, one in that prison,
That should by private order else have died,
I have reserv'd alive.

What's he?

Duke. Prov. His name is Barnardine, Duke. I would thou hadst done so by Claudio.Go fetch him hither; let me look upon him.

[Exit PROVOST. Escal. I am sorry one so learned and so wise As you, Lord Angelo, have still appear'd, Should slip so grossly, both in the heat of blood, And lack of temper'd judgment afterward.

Ang. I am sorry that such sorrow I procure : And so deep sticks it in my penitent heart, That I crave death more willingly than mercy; 'Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it.

Re-enter PROVOST, with BARNARDINE, CLAUDIO muffled, and Juliet.

Duke. Which is that Barnardine ?

This, my lord.
Duke. There was a friar told me of this man.-
Sirrah, thou art said to have a stubborn soul,
That apprehends no farther than this world,
And squar'st thy life according. Thou'rt con-

But, for those earthly faults," I quit them all;
And pray thee, take this mercy to provide
For better times to come.-Friar, advise him ;
I leave him to your hand.-What muffled fellow's

Prov. This is another prisoner that I sav'd, Who should have died when Claudio lost his head; As like almost to Claudio as himself.

[Unmuffles CLAUDIO.

Duke. [To ISABELLA.] If he be like your brother, for his sake

Is he pardon'd; and, for your lovely sake,
Give me your hand, and say you will be mine,-
He is my brother too :-but fitter time for that.
By this, Lord Angelo perceives he's safe :
Methinks I see a quick'ning in his eye.-

48. Earthly faults. Faults committed against earthly laws. 'I quit them all" means 'I acquit you of them all.' The duke's extension of " mercy to provide for better times to come" to this hardened sinner, affords a grand lesson on the duty of sparing for repentance those who have been made criminals by gaolteaching and neglectful rulers.

49. Your evil quits you well. This sentence bears comprehensive interpretation: it is equivalent to 'your course of evil leaves you befittingly;' 'the fear you have suffered acquits you of your misdeeds;' and 'you receive in requital good for evil.'

50. Trick. Thoughtless practice; idle fashion.

Well, Angelo, your evil quits you well: 49
Look that you love your wife; her worth, worth


I find an apt remission in myself;

And yet here's one in place I cannot pardon.—
[To Lucio.] You, sirrah, that knew me for a fool, a

One all of luxury, an ass, a madman;
Wherein have I so deserv'd of you,
That you extol me thus ?

Lucio. Faith, my lord, I spoke it but according to the trick.50 If you will hang me for it, you may; but I had rather it would please you I might be whipped.

Duke. Whipp'd first, sir, and hang'd after.-
Proclaim it, provost, round about the city,
If any woman's wrong'd by this lewd fellow,—
As I have heard him swear, himself, there's one,-
Let her appear,

And he shall marry her: the nuptial finish'd,
Let him be whipp'd and hang'd.

Lucio. I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a bad woman! Your highness said even now, I made you a duke: good my lord, do not recompense me in making me a gull.

Duke. Upon mine honour, thou shalt marry her. Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal Remit thy other forfeits."-Take him to prison; And see our pleasure herein executed. Lucio. Marrying a slut, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging.

Duke. Slandering a prince deserves it.

[Exeunt Officers with LUCIO. She, Claudio, that you wrong'd, look you restore.Joy to you, Mariana!-Love her, Angelo:

I have confess'd her, and I know her virtue.— Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much good


There's more behind that is more gratulate.52_
Thanks, provost, for thy care and secrecy :
We shall employ thee in a worthier place.—
Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home
The head of Ragozine for Claudio's:
The offence pardons itself.-Dear Isabel,
I have a motion much imports your good;

Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline,

What's mine is yours, and what is yours is mine.— So, bring us to our palace; where we'll show What's yet behind, that's meet you all should know. [Exeunt.


51. Forfeits. May here mean fines, penalties; or misdeeds, transgressions. French, forfaits. The context, "thy slanders I forgive," seems to warrant the latter interpretation. 52, There's more behind that is more gratulate. late" is here used for 'subject of congratulation.' We take this line to refer to the duke's intention of espousing Isabella; with which his mind is so much occupied, that he reverts to it three times in the course of this last speech ;-first, by the above line; second, by the words "Dear Isabel," &c.; third, by the concluding line of the play. Moreover, this iteration is a skilful resource of the dramatist to impress that intention of the duke's upon the audience, or readers.

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SCENE 1.-A ball in the DUKE'S Palace.

Thy substance, valu'd at the highest rate, Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;

Enter DUKE, ÆGEON, Gaoler, Officers, and other Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die.


Ege. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall,
And by the doom of death end woes and all.
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more.
I am not partial to infringe our laws:
The enmity and discord which of late
Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke
To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,-
Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives,
Have seal'd his rigorous statutes with their bloods,—
Excludes all pity from our threat'ning looks.
For, since the mortal and intestine jars
'Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us,
It hath in solemn synods3 been decreed
Both by the Syracusans and ourselves,
To admit no traffic to our adverse towns:
Nay, more, if any born at Ephesus
Be seen at Syracusan marts and fairs;
Again, if any Syracusan born

Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,
His goods confiscate to the duke's dispose;
Unless a thousand marks be levied,
To quit the penalty and to ransom him.

1. The first known copy of this play is in the 1623 Folio. There is allusion to it in the "Palladis Tamia" of Meres, 1598, which shows its first appearance to have been prior to that date; and, indeed, internal evidence manifests its having been one of Shakespeare's earliest compositions. The source of its plot is found in the "Menæchmi" of Plautus, of which it is supposed some English translation fell into Shakespeare's hands; but we, who are not sceptics as to his knowledge of Greek and Latin, can well believe that he met with the original comedy among his school classics while still a lad. Latin was a more general accomplishment in Elizabeth's day than it is at present; and even in the Stratford grammar-school it was most probably taught among other studies. If, as we

Ege. Yet this my comfort, when your words are done,

My woes end likewise with the evening sun.

Duke. Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the cause Why thou departed'st from thy native home, And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus.

Ege. A heavier task could not have been impos'd

Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable :
Yet, that the world may witness that my end
Was wrought by nature,♦ not by vile offence,
I'll utter what my sorrow gives me leave.
In Syracusa was I born; and wed
Unto a woman, happy but for me,
And by me too, had not our hap been bad.
With her I liv'd in joy; our wealth increas'd
By prosp'rous voyages I often made
To Epidamnum; till my factor's death,
And the great care of goods at random left,
Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse:
From whom my absence was not six months old,
Before herself-almost at fainting under
The pleasing punishment that women bear-

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