ACT II
Scene I.
 

A hall in ANGELO'S house

Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a JUSTICE, PROVOST, OFFICERS, and other ATTENDANTS

ANGELO
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.

ESCALUS
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.

ANGELO
'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.

ESCALUS
Be it as your wisdom will.

ANGELO
Where is the Provost?

PROVOST
Here, if it like your honour.

ANGELO
See that Claudio
Be executed by nine to-morrow morning;
Bring him his confessor; let him be prepar'd;
For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.

Exit PROVOST

ESCALUS
[Aside] Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;
Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none,
And some condemned for a fault alone.

Enter ELBOW and OFFICERS with FROTH and POMPEY

ELBOW
Come, bring them away; if these be good people in a
commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses,
I know no law; bring them away.

ANGELO
How now, sir! What's your name, and what's the matter?

ELBOW
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.

ANGELO
Benefactors! Well- what benefactors are they? Are they not
malefactors?

ELBOW
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.

ESCALUS
This comes off well; here's a wise officer.

ANGELO
Go to; what quality are they of? Elbow is your name? Why
dost thou not speak, Elbow?

POMPEY
He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.

ANGELO
What are you, sir?

ELBOW
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.

ESCALUS
How know you that?

ELBOW
My Wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour-

ESCALUS
How! thy wife!

ELBOW
Ay, sir; whom I thank heaven, is an honest woman-

ESCALUS
Dost thou detest her therefore?

ELBOW
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.

ESCALUS
How dost thou know that, constable?

ELBOW
Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman
cardinally given, might have been accus'd in fornication,
adultery, and all uncleanliness there.

ESCALUS
By the woman's means?

ELBOW
Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means; but as she spit in
his face, so she defied him.

POMPEY
Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.

ELBOW
Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man,
prove it.

ESCALUS
Do you hear how he misplaces?

POMPEY
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.

ESCALUS
Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.

POMPEY
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-

FROTH
No, indeed.

POMPEY
Very well; you being then, if you be rememb'red, cracking
the stones of the foresaid prunes-

FROTH
Ay, so I did indeed.

POMPEY
Why, very well; I telling you then, if you be rememb'red,
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.

POMPEY
Why, very well then-

ESCALUS
Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose: what was
done to Elbow's wife that he hath cause to complain of? Come me
to what was done to her.

POMPEY
Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.

ESCALUS
No, sir, nor I mean it not.

POMPEY
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-hallond eve.

POMPEY
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.

POMPEY
Why, very well then; I hope here be truths.

ANGELO
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.

ESCALUS
I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
[Exit ANGELO] Now, sir, come on; what was done to Elbow's wife,
once more?

POMPEY
Once?- sir. There was nothing done to her once.

ELBOW
I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.

POMPEY
I beseech your honour, ask me.

ESCALUS
Well, sir, what did this gentleman to her?

POMPEY
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?

ESCALUS
Ay, sir, very well.

POMPEY
Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.

ESCALUS
Well, I do so.

POMPEY
Doth your honour see any harm in his face?

ESCALUS
Why, no.

POMPEY
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.

ESCALUS
He's in the right, constable; what say you to it?

ELBOW
First, an it like you, the house is a respected house; next,
this is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected
woman.

POMPEY
By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than
any of us all.

ELBOW
Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicket varlet; the time is
yet to come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or
child.

POMPEY
Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.

ESCALUS
Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity? Is this
true?

ELBOW
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.

ESCALUS
If he took you a box o' th' ear, you might have your
action of slander too.

ELBOW
Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't your
worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?

ESCALUS
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.

ELBOW
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.

ESCALUS
Where were you born, friend?

FROTH
Here in Vienna, sir.

ESCALUS
Are you of fourscore pounds a year?

FROTH
Yes, an't please you, sir.

ESCALUS
So. What trade are you of, sir?

POMPEY
A tapster, a poor widow's tapster.

ESCALUS
Your mistress' name?

POMPEY
Mistress Overdone.

ESCALUS
Hath she had any more than one husband?

POMPEY
Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.

ESCALUS
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.

FROTH
I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come into
any room in a taphouse but I am drawn in.

ESCALUS
Well, no more of it, Master Froth; farewell. [Exit FROTH]
Come you hither to me, Master Tapster; what's your name, Master
Tapster?

POMPEY
Pompey.

ESCALUS
What else?

POMPEY
Bum, sir.

ESCALUS
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
for you.

POMPEY
Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.

ESCALUS
How would you live, Pompey- by being a bawd? What do you
think of the trade, Pompey? Is it a lawful trade?

POMPEY
If the law would allow it, sir.

ESCALUS
But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall not be
allowed in Vienna.

POMPEY
Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the youth of
the city?

ESCALUS
No, Pompey.

POMPEY
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.

ESCALUS
There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you: but it
is but heading and hanging.

POMPEY
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.

ESCALUS
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.

POMPEY
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.

Exit

ESCALUS
Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master
Constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?

ELBOW
Seven year and a half, sir.

ESCALUS
I thought, by the readiness in the office, you had
continued in it some time. You say seven years together?

ELBOW
And a half, sir.

ESCALUS
Alas, it hath been great pains to you! They do you wrong
to put you so oft upon't. Are there not men in your ward
sufficient to serve it?

ELBOW
Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters; as they are
chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I do it for some
piece of money, and go through with all.

ESCALUS
Look you, bring me in the names of some six or seven, the
most sufficient of your parish.

ELBOW
To your worship's house, sir?

ESCALUS
To my house. Fare you well.

[Exit ELBOW]

What's o'clock, think you?

JUSTICE
Eleven, sir.

ESCALUS
I pray you home to dinner with me.

JUSTICE
I humbly thank you.

ESCALUS
It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
But there's no remedy.

JUSTICE
Lord Angelo is severe.

ESCALUS
It is but needful:
Mercy is not itself that oft looks so;
Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.
But yet, poor Claudio! There is no remedy.
Come, sir.

Exeunt