ACT II
Scene II.
 

Another room in ANGELO'S house

Enter PROVOST and a SERVANT

SERVANT
He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight.
I'll tell him of you.

PROVOST
Pray you do. [Exit SERVANT] I'll know
His pleasure; may be he will relent. Alas,
He hath but as offended in a dream!
All sects, all ages, smack of this vice; and he
To die for 't!

Enter ANGELO

ANGELO
Now, what's the matter, Provost?

PROVOST
Is it your will Claudio shall die to-morrow?

ANGELO
Did not I tell thee yea? Hadst thou not order?
Why dost thou ask again?

PROVOST
Lest I might be too rash;
Under your good correction, I have seen
When, after execution, judgment hath
Repented o'er his doom.

ANGELO
Go to; let that be mine.
Do you your office, or give up your place,
And you shall well be spar'd.

PROVOST
I crave your honour's pardon.
What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?
She's very near her hour.

ANGELO
Dispose of her
To some more fitter place, and that with speed.

Re-enter SERVANT

SERVANT
Here is the sister of the man condemn'd
Desires access to you.

ANGELO
Hath he a sister?

PROVOST
Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,
And to be shortly of a sisterhood,
If not already.

ANGELO
Well, let her be admitted.

Exit SERVANT

See you the fornicatress be remov'd;
Let her have needful but not lavish means;
There shall be order for't.

Enter Lucio and ISABELLA

PROVOST
[Going] Save your honour!

ANGELO
Stay a little while. [To ISABELLA] Y'are welcome; what's
your will?

ISABELLA
I am a woeful suitor to your honour,
Please but your honour hear me.

ANGELO
Well; what's your suit?

ISABELLA
There is a vice that most I do abhor,
And most desire should meet the blow of justice;
For which I would not plead, but that I must;
For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war 'twixt will and will not.

ANGELO
Well; the matter?

ISABELLA
I have a brother is condemn'd to die;
I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.

PROVOST
[Aside] Heaven give thee moving graces.

ANGELO
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 fine the faults whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.

ISABELLA
O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] Give't not o'er so; to him again, entreat him,
Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown;
You are too cold: if you should need a pin,
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it.
To him, I say.

ISABELLA
Must he needs die?

ANGELO
Maiden, no remedy.

ISABELLA
Yes; I do think that you might pardon him.
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.

ANGELO
I will not do't.

ISABELLA
But can you, if you would?

ANGELO
Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.

ISABELLA
But might you do't, and do the world no wrong,
If so your heart were touch'd with that remorse
As mine is to him?

ANGELO
He's sentenc'd; 'tis too late.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] You are too cold.

ISABELLA
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 slipp'd like him; but he, like you,
Would not have been so stern.

ANGELO
Pray you be gone.

ISABELLA
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
[To ISABELLA] Ay, touch him; there's the vein.

ANGELO
Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.

ISABELLA
Alas! Alas!
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.

ANGELO
Be you content, fair maid.
It is the law, not I condemn your brother.
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him. He must die to-morrow.

ISABELLA
To-morrow! O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him.
He's not prepar'd for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of season; shall we serve heaven
With less respect than we do minister
To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you.
Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There's many have committed it.

LUCIO
[Aside] Ay, well said.

ANGELO
The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.
Those many had not dar'd to do that evil
If the first that did th' 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 here they live to end.

ISABELLA
Yet show some pity.

ANGELO
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.

ISABELLA
So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he that suffers. O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength! But it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] That's well said.

ISABELLA
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would never 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,
Splits the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle. But man, proud man,
Dress'd in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our speens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] O, to him, to him, wench! He will relent;
He's coming; I perceive 't.

PROVOST
[Aside] Pray heaven she win him.

ISABELLA
We cannot weigh our brother with ourself.
Great men may jest with saints: 'tis wit in them;
But in the less foul profanation.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] Thou'rt i' th' right, girl; more o' that.

ISABELLA
That in the captain's but a choleric word
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] Art avis'd o' that? More on't.

ANGELO
Why do you put these sayings upon me?

ISABELLA
Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
That skins the vice o' th' top. Go to your bosom,
Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
That's like my brother's fault. If it confess
A natural guiltiness such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.

ANGELO
[Aside] She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense that my sense breeds with it.- Fare you well.

ISABELLA
Gentle my lord, turn back.

ANGELO
I will bethink me. Come again to-morrow.

ISABELLA
Hark how I'll bribe you; good my lord, turn back.

ANGELO
How, bribe me?

ISABELLA
Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA) You had marr'd all else.

ISABELLA
Not with fond sicles of the tested gold,
Or stones, whose rate are either rich or poor
As fancy values them; but with true prayers
That shall be up at heaven and enter there
Ere sun-rise, prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.

ANGELO
Well; come to me to-morrow.

LUCIO
[To ISABELLA] Go to; 'tis well; away.

ISABELLA
Heaven keep your honour safe!

ANGELO
[Aside] Amen; for I
Am that way going to temptation
Where prayers cross.

ISABELLA
At what hour to-morrow
Shall I attend your lordship?

ANGELO
At any time 'fore noon.

ISABELLA
Save your honour!

Exeunt all but ANGELO

ANGELO
From thee; even from thy virtue!
What's this, what's this? Is this her fault or mine?
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?
Ha!
Not she; nor doth she tempt; but it is I
That, lying by the violet in the sun,
Do as the carrion does, not as the flow'r,
Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be
That modesty may more betray our sense
Than woman's lightness? Having waste ground enough,
Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary,
And pitch our evils there? O, fie, fie, fie!
What dost thou, or what art thou, Angelo?
Dost thou desire her foully for those things
That make her good? O, let her brother live!
Thieves for their robbery have authority
When judges steal themselves. What, do I love her,
That I desire to hear her speak again,
And feast upon her eyes? What is't I dream on?
O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint,
With saints dost bait thy hook! Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue. Never could the strumpet,
With all her double vigour, art and nature,
Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid
Subdues me quite. Ever till now,
When men were fond, I smil'd and wond'red how.

Exit