Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a JUSTICE, PROVOST, OFFICERS, and other ATTENDANTS
We must not make a scarecrow 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.
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 to be most strait in virtue,
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time coher'd with place, or place with wishing,
Or that the resolute acting of our blood
Could have attain'd th' effect of your own purpose
Whether you had not sometime in your life
Err'd in this point which now you censure him,
And pull'd the law upon you.
'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny
The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice,
That justice seizes. What knows the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't,
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offence
For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
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.
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.
Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.
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-bellied, 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-
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?
I'll be suppos'd upon a book his face is the worst thing
about him. Good then; if his face be the worst thing about him,
how could Master Froth do the constable's wife any harm? I would
know that of your honour.
He's in the right, constable; what say you to it?
First, an it like you, the house is a respected house; next,
this is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected
By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than
any of us all.
Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicket varlet; the time is
yet to come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or
Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity? Is this
O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked Hannibal! I
respected with her before I was married to her! If ever I was
respected with her, or she with me, let not your worship think me
the poor Duke's officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or
I'll have mine action of batt'ry on thee.
If he took you a box o' th' ear, you might have your
action of slander too.
Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't your
worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?
Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him that
thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him continue in his
courses till thou know'st what they are.
Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou wicked
varlet, now, what's come upon thee: thou art to continue now,
thou varlet; thou art to continue.
Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I
would not have you acquainted with tapsters: they will draw you,
Master Froth, and you will hang them. Get you gone, and let me
hear no more of you.
I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come into
any room in a taphouse but I am drawn in.
Well, no more of it, Master Froth; farewell. [Exit FROTH]
Come you hither to me, Master Tapster; what's your name, Master
Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you; so
that, in the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the Great. Pompey,
you are partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever you colour it in being a
tapster. Are you not? Come, tell me true; it shall be the better
Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
How would you live, Pompey- by being a bawd? What do you
think of the trade, Pompey? Is it a lawful trade?
Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then. If
your worship will take order for the drabs and the knaves, you
need not to fear the bawds.
There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you: but it
is but heading and hanging.
If you head and hang all that offend that way but for ten
year together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for more
heads; if this law hold in Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest
house in it, after threepence a bay. If you live to see this come
to pass, say Pompey told you so.
Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your prophecy,
hark you: I advise you, let me not find you before me again upon
any complaint whatsoever- no, not for dwelling where you do; if I
do, Pompey, I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd
Caesar to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you whipt.
So for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
I thank your worship for your good counsel; [Aside] but I
shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better determine.
Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade;
The valiant heart's not whipt out of his trade.