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Well; the matter? Isab. I have a brother is condemn'd to die : I do beseech you, let it be his fault, And not my brother. Prov.
Heaven give thee moving graces ! - Ang. Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it! Why, every fault's condemn’d, ere it be done: Mine were the very cipher of a function, To find the faults, whose fine stands in record, And let go by the actor. . Isab.
O just, but severe law! I had a brother then.-Heaven keep your honour!
(Retiring. Lucio. '[TO ISAB.] Giv't not o'er so : to him
again, intreat him ;
Isab. Must he needs die ?
Maiden, no remedy.
him, And neither heaven, nor man, grieve at the mercy.
Ang. I will not do't.
But can you, if you would ? · Ang. Look, what I will not, that I cannot do. · Isab. But might you do't, and do the world no
He's sentenc'd; 'tis too late. Lucio. You are too cold.
To ISABELLA. Isab. Too late? why, no; I, that do speak a word, May call it back again : Well, believe this, . No ceremony that to great ones ’longs, Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, Become them with one half so good a grace, As mercy does. If he had been as you, And you as he, you would have slipt like him ; . But he, like you, would not have been so stern.
5 let it be his fault,
And not my brother.] i.e. let his fault be condemned, or extirpated, but let not my brother himself suffer.
6 touch'd with that remorse - Remorse, for pity.
Ang. Pray you, begone.
Isab. I would to heaven I had your potency, And you were Isabel ? should it then be thus? No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge, And what a prisoner...
Lucio. Ay, touch him : there's the vein. [ Aside.
Ang. Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
Alas! alas !
Be you content, fair maid ;
row. Isab. To-morrow? O, that's sudden! Spare him,
? And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.] As amiable as a man come fresh out of the hands of his Creator; or, as tender-hearted and merciful as the first man was in his days of innocence, immediately after his creation.
He's not prepar'd for death! Even for our kitchens
Ay, well said.
hath slept: Those many had not dar'd to do that evil, If the first man that did the edict infringe, Had answer'd for his deed: now, 'tis awake; Takes note of what is done ; and, like a prophet, Looks in a glass, that shows what future evils, (Either now, or by remissness new-conceiv’d, And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,) Are now to have no successive degrees, But, where they live, to end. Isab.
Yet show some pity. Ang. I show it most of all, when I show justice; For then I pity those I do not know, Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall; And do him right, that, answering one foul wrong, Lives not to act another. Be satisfied ; Your brother dies to-morrow; be content. Isab. So you must be the first, that gives this
sentence; And he, that suffers : 0, it is excellent To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant. 8 — like a prophet,
Looks in a glass,] This alludes to the fopperies of the beril, a kind of crystal, which hath a weak tincture of red in it. Among other tricks of astrologers, the discovery of past or future events was supposed to be the consequence of looking into it.
9 But, where they live, to end.] i. e. they should end WHERE they began, i. e. with the criminal.
That's well said. Isab. Could great men thunder As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet, For every pelting,' petty officer, Would use his heaven for thunder: nothing but
thunder. Merciful heaven! Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt, Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak, Than the soft myrtle ;-0, but man, proud man! Drest in a little brief authority; Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd, His glassy essence, like an angry ape, Plays such fantastick tricks before high heaven, As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal.3
Lucio. 0, to him, to him, wench: he will relent; He's coming, I perceive't. Prov.
Pray heaven, she win him! Isab. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself: Great men may jest with saints : 'tis wit in them; But, in the less, foul profanation.
; Lucio. Thou’rt in the right, girl; more o' that. - Isab. That in the captain's but a cholerick word, Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
Lucio. Art advis'd o' that? more on't.
Isab. Because authority, though it err like others, Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself.
'- pelting,] i. e. paltry. i g narled oak,] Gnarre is the old English word for a knot in wood.
3— who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.] By spleens, Shakspeare means that peculiar turn of the human mind, that always inclines it to a spiteful, unseasonable mirth. Had the angels that, says Shakspeare, they would laugh themselves out of their immortality, by indulging a passion which does not deserve that prerogative.
That skins the vice o' the top: Go to your bosom ;
She speaks, and 'tis Such sense, that my sense breeds with it.- Fare
you well. Isab. Gentle my lord, turn back. Ang. I will bethink me :—Come again to mor
row. Isab. Hark, how I'll bribe you: Good my lord,
turn back. : Ang. How ! bribe me? Isab. Ay, with such gifts, that heaven shall share
with you. Lucio. You had marr'd all else.
Isab. Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,
Well : come to me
[Aside to ISABEL. Isab. Heaven keep your honour safe! Ang.
Amen: for I Am that way going to temptation,
4- fond shekels - Fond means very frequently in our author, foolish. It signifies in this place valued or prized by folly.
S- tested gold,] i. e. brought to the test, or cupelled.
6 - preserved souls,] i. e. preserved from the corruption of the world.