ACT I
Scene II.
 

A street

Enter Lucio and two other GENTLEMEN

LUCIO
If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to composition
with the King of Hungary, why then all the dukes fall upon the
King.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of
Hungary's!

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Amen.

LUCIO
Thou conclud'st like the sanctimonious pirate that went to
sea with the Ten Commandments, but scrap'd one out of the table.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
'Thou shalt not steal'?

LUCIO
Ay, that he raz'd.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain
and all the rest from their functions: they put forth to steal.
There's not a soldier of us all that, in the thanksgiving before
meat, do relish the petition well that prays for peace.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
I never heard any soldier dislike it.

LUCIO
I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where grace was
said.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
No? A dozen times at least.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
What, in metre?

LUCIO
In any proportion or in any language.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
I think, or in any religion.

LUCIO
Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all controversy; as,
for example, thou thyself art a wicked villain, despite of all
grace.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Well, there went but a pair of shears between us.

LUCIO
I grant; as there may between the lists and the velvet.
Thou art the list.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
And thou the velvet; thou art good velvet; thou'rt
a three-pil'd piece, I warrant thee. I had as lief be a list of
an English kersey as be pil'd, as thou art pil'd, for a French
velvet. Do I speak feelingly now?

LUCIO
I think thou dost; and, indeed, with most painful feeling of
thy speech. I will, out of thine own confession, learn to begin
thy health; but, whilst I live, forget to drink after thee.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or
free.

Enter MISTRESS OVERDONE

LUCIO
Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation comes! I have
purchas'd as many diseases under her roof as come to-

SECOND GENTLEMAN
To what, I pray?

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Judge.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
To three thousand dolours a year.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Ay, and more.

LUCIO
A French crown more.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Thou art always figuring diseases in me, but thou
art full of error; I am sound.

LUCIO
Nay, not, as one would say, healthy; but so sound as things
that are hollow: thy bones are hollow; impiety has made a feast
of thee.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
How now! which of your hips has the most profound
sciatica?

MRS. OVERDONE
Well, well! there's one yonder arrested and carried
to prison was worth five thousand of you all.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Who's that, I pray thee?

MRS. OVERDONE
Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Claudio to prison? 'Tis not so.

MRS. OVERDONE
Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him arrested; saw him
carried away; and, which is more, within these three days his
head to be chopp'd off.

LUCIO
But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so. Art
thou sure of this?

MRS. OVERDONE
I am too sure of it; and it is for getting Madam
Julietta with child.

LUCIO
Believe me, this may be; he promis'd to meet me two hours
since, and he was ever precise in promise-keeping.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Besides, you know, it draws something near to the
speech we had to such a purpose.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
But most of all agreeing with the proclamation.

LUCIO
Away; let's go learn the truth of it.

Exeunt Lucio and GENTLEMEN

MRS. OVERDONE
Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what
with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.

Enter POMPEY

How now! what's the news with you?

POMPEY
Yonder man is carried to prison.

MRS. OVERDONE
Well, what has he done?

POMPEY
A woman.

MRS. OVERDONE
But what's his offence?

POMPEY
Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

MRS. OVERDONE
What! is there a maid with child by him?

POMPEY
No; but there's a woman with maid by him. You have not
heard of the proclamation, have you?

MRS. OVERDONE
What proclamation, man?

POMPEY
All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be pluck'd down.

MRS. OVERDONE
And what shall become of those in the city?

POMPEY
They shall stand for seed; they had gone down too, but that
a wise burgher put in for them.

MRS. OVERDONE
But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be
pull'd down?

POMPEY
To the ground, mistress.

MRS. OVERDONE
Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth!
What shall become of me?

POMPEY
Come, fear not you: good counsellors lack no clients.
Though you change your place you need not change your trade; I'll
be your tapster still. Courage, there will be pity taken on you;
you that have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you will
be considered.

MRS. OVERDONE
What's to do here, Thomas Tapster? Let's withdraw.

POMPEY
Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to prison;
and there's Madam Juliet.

Exeunt

Enter PROVOST, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and OFFICERS; LUCIO following

CLAUDIO
Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th' world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

PROVOST
I do it not in evil disposition,
But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

CLAUDIO
Thus can the demigod Authority
Make us pay down for our offence by weight
The words of heaven: on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.

LUCIO
Why, how now, Claudio, whence comes this restraint?

CLAUDIO
From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty;
As surfeit is the father of much fast,
So every scope by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,
A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.

LUCIO
If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for
certain of my creditors; and yet, to say the truth, I had as lief
have the foppery of freedom as the morality of imprisonment.
What's thy offence, Claudio?

CLAUDIO
What but to speak of would offend again.

LUCIO
What, is't murder?

CLAUDIO
No.

LUCIO
Lechery?

CLAUDIO
Call it so.

PROVOST
Away, sir; you must go.

CLAUDIO
One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.

LUCIO
A hundred, if they'll do you any good. Is lechery so look'd
after?

CLAUDIO
Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract
I got possession of Julietta's bed.
You know the lady; she is fast my wife,
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order; this we came not to,
Only for propagation of a dow'r
Remaining in the coffer of her friends.
From whom we thought it meet to hide our love
Till time had made them for us. But it chances
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment,
With character too gross, is writ on Juliet.

LUCIO
With child, perhaps?

CLAUDIO
Unhappily, even so.
And the new deputy now for the Duke-
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,
Or whether that the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;
Whether the tyranny be in his place,
Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I stagger in. But this new governor
Awakes me all the enrolled penalties
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by th' wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round
And none of them been worn; and, for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me. 'Tis surely for a name.

LUCIO
I warrant it is; and thy head stands so tickle on thy
shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it off.
Send after the Duke, and appeal to him.

CLAUDIO
I have done so, but he's not to be found.
I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter,
And there receive her approbation;
Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him.
I have great hope in that; for in her youth
There is a prone and speechless dialect
Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.

LUCIO
I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the like,
which else would stand under grievous imposition, as for the
enjoying of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus
foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

CLAUDIO
I thank you, good friend Lucio.

LUCIO
Within two hours.

CLAUDIO
Come, officer, away.

Exeunt