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Yet hear them. [Exeunt Duke and Provost Claud. Now, sister, what's the comfort? Isab. Why, as all comforts are; most good indeed;

Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger:!
Therefore your best appointment? make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.

Claud.

Is there no remedy? Isab. None, but such remedy, as, to save a head, To cleave a heart in twain.

Claud.

But is there any? Isab. Yes, brother, you may live; There is a devilish mercy in the judge, If you'll implore it, that will free your life, But fetter you till death.

Claud.

Perpetual durance? Isab. Ay, just, perpetual durance; a restraint, Though all the world's vastidity3 you had, To a determin'd scope.

Claud.

But in what nature? Isab. In such a one as (you consenting to't) Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear, And leave you naked.

Claud. Let me know the point. Isab. O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake Lest thou a feverous life should'st entertain, And six or seven winters more respect Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die? The sense of death is most in apprehension; And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great As when a giant dies.

Claud. Why give you me this shame? Think you I can a resolution fetch From flowery tenderness? If I must die,

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I will encounter darkness as a bride,
And hug it in mine arms.

Isab. There spake my brother; there my father's grave

Did utter forth a voice! Yes, thou must die: 'Thou art too noble to conserve a life

In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,
Whose settled visage and deliberate word
Nips youth i'the head, and follies doth enmew,1
As falcon doth the fowl,-is yet a devil;
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.

Claud.

The princely Angelo? Isab. O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell, The damned'st body to invest and cover In princely guards !2 Dost thou think, Claudio, If I would yield him my virginity, Thou might'st be freed?

Claud
O, heavens! it cannot be.
Isab. Yes, he would give it thee, from this rank
offence,

So to offend him still: This night's the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest to-morrow.

Claud.

Isab. O, were it but my life,
I'd throw it down for your deliverance

As frankly3 as a pin.

Thou shalt not do't.

Claud.

Thanks, dear Isabel.

Isab. Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-mor

row.

Claud. Yes.-Has he affections in him,

That thus can make him bite the law by the nose,
When he would force it? Sure it is no sin;
Or of the deadly seven it is the least.

Isab. Which is the least?

Claud. If it were damnable, he, being so wise, Why, would he for the momentary trick

(1) Shut up. (2) Laced robes. (3) Freely.

2

Be perdurably1 fin'd?-O, Isabel!
Isab. What says my brother?
Claud.

Death is a fearful thing.

Isab. And shamed life a hateful.

Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded cold; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless2 winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those, that lawless and incertain thoughts
Imagine howling!-'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life,
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

Isab. Alas! alas!
Claud.

Sweet sister, let me live:
What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far,
That it becomes a virtue.

Isab.
O, you beast!
O, faithless coward! O, dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?

Is't not a kind of incest, to take life

From thine own sister's shame? What should I

think?

Heaven shield, my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness

Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance :4
Die; perish! might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed:
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
No word to save thee.

(1) Lastingly. (2) Invisible. (3) Wildness.
(4) Refusal.

O, fie, fie, fie!

Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade:1 Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd: 'Tis best that thou diest quickly. [Going. O hear me, İsabella.

Claud.

Claud. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
Isab.

Re-enter Duke.

Duke. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

Isab. What is

your will?

Duke. Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have some speech with you: the satisfaction I would require, is likewise your own benefit.

Isab. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out of other affairs; but I will attend you a while.

Duke. [To Claudio, aside.] Son, I have overheard what hath passed between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he hath made an essay of her virtue, to practise his judgment with the disposition of natures: she, having the truth of honour in her, hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to receive; I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be true; therefore prepare yourself to death: do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallible: to-morrow you must die; go to your knees, and make ready.

Claud. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life, that I will sue to be rid of it. Duke. Hold you there: farewell. [Ex. Claud. Re-enter Provost.

Provost, a word with you.

Prov. What's your will, father?

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Duke. That now you are come, you will be gone: leave me a while with the maid; my mind promises with my habit, no loss shall touch her by my company.

Prov. In good time.

[Exit Provost. Duke. The hand that hath made you fair, hath made you good: the goodness, that is cheap in beauty, makes beauty brief in goodness; but grace, being the soul of your complexion, should keep the body of it ever fair. The assault, that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath convey'd to my understanding; and, but that frailty hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How would you do to content this substitute, and to save your brother?

Isab. I am now going to resolve him: I had rather my brother die by the law, than my son should be unlawfully born. But O, how much is the good duke deceived in Angelo! If ever he return, and I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his government.

Duke. That shall not be much amiss: yet, as the matter now stands, he will avoid your accusation; he made trial of you only.-Therefore, fasten your ear on my advisings; to the love I have in doing good, a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe, that you may most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit; redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain to your own gracious person; and much please the absent duke, if, peradventure, he shall ever return to have hearing of this business.

Isab. Let me hear you speak further; I have spirit to do any thing that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.

Duke. Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have not you heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great soldier, who miscarried at sea? Isab. I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.

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