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SCENE I.-A Hall in Angelo's House.
Enter Angelo, Escalus, a Justice, Provost, Officers,
and other Attendants. Ang. We 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
Ang. 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Guiltier than him they try: What's open made to justice,
Escal. Be it as your wisdom will.
Ang. See that Claudio
Escal. Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all! Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall : Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none; And some condemned for a fault alone.
Enter Elbow, FROTH, Clown, Officers, &c. Elb. Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a common-weal, that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know no law; bring them away.
Ang. How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
Elb. If it please your honour, I am the poor duke's constable, and my name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good honour two notorious benefactors.
Ang. Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they è are they not malefactors ?
Elb. If it please your honour, I know not well what they are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure of; and void of all profanation in the world, that good christians ought to have.
Escal. This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
Ang. Go to : What quality are they of? Elbow is your name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
Clo. He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.
Elb. He, sir? a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they say, pluck'd down in the suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house, which, I think, is a very ill house too.
Escal. How know you that?
Elb. My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,
Escal. How! thy wife?
Elb. Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,
Escal. Dost thou detest her therefore?
Elb. I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.
Escal. How dost thou know that, constable?
Elb. Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman cardinally given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
Escal. By the woman's means?
Elb. Ay, sir, by Mrs Overdone's means : but as she spit in his face, so she defied him.
Clo. Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
Elb. Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man, prove it.
Escal. Do you hear how he misplaces? [To Angelo.
Clo. Sir, she came in great with child; and longing (saving your honour's reverence,) for stew'd prunes; sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a dish of some three-pence; your honours have seen such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very good dishes.
Escal. Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.'
Clo. No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right: but, to the point: As I say, this mistress Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and being great belly’d, and longing, as I said, for prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said, master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and, as I say, paying for them very honestly ;-for, as you know, master Froth, I could not give you three pence again.
Froth. No, indeed.
Clo. Very well : you being then, if you be remember'd, cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes.
Froth. Ay, so I did, indeed.
Clo. Why, very well : I telling you then, if you be remember'd, that such a one, and such a one, were past cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very good diet, as I told you.
Froth. All this is true.
-What was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to
Clo. Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
Clo. Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's leave: And, I beseech you, look into master Froth here, sir; a man of fourscore pound a year; whose father died at Hallowmas:—Was't not at Hallowmas, master Froth ?
Froth. All-hollond eve.
Clo. Why, very well ; I hope here be truths: He, sir, sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir ;—'twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where, indeed, you have a delight to sit: Have you not?
Froth. I have so; because it is an open room, and good for winter.
Clo. Why, very well then ;-I hope here be truths.
Ang. This will last out a night in Russia, When nights are longest there; I'll take my leave, And leave you to the hearing of the cause; Hoping, you'll find good cause to whip them all. Escal. I think no less : Good morrow to your lordship.
[Exit ANGELO. Now, sir, come on : What was done to Elbow's wife, once more?
Clo. Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once.
Elb. I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
Clo. I beseech your honour, ask me. Escal. Well, sir: What did this gentleman to her? Clo. I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face: . -Good master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a good purpose: Doth your honour mark his face?