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Then Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die :
More than our brother is our chastity.

I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,

And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest. [Exit.


SCENE I-A room in the prison. Enter Duke, Claudio, and Provost.

Duke. So, then you hope of pardon from lord Angelo?

Claud. The miserable have no other medicine, But only hope:

I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.

Duke. Be absolutel for death; either death, or life, Shall thereby be the sweeter.


Reason thus with

If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing

That none but fools would keep a breath thou art (Servile to all the skiey influences,)

That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,
Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,
And yet run'st toward him still: Thou art not noble;
For all the accommodations that thou bear'st,
Are nurs'd by baseness: Thou art by no means
valiant :

For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork

Of a poor worm: Thy best of rest is sleep,
And that thou oft provok'st; yet grossly fear'sť
Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself;
For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust: Happy thou art not:
For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get;
And what thou hast, forget'st; Thou art not certain;
(1) Determined.

For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,1 After the moon: If thou art rich, thou art poor; For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows, Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey, And death unloads thee: Friend hast thou none; For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire, The mere effusion of thy proper loins,

Do curse the gout, serpigo,2 and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner: Thou hast nor youth,
nor age;

But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg thee alms

Of palsied eld; and when thou art old, and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this,
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.


I humbly thank you.

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To sue to live, I find, I seek to die:
And, seeking death, find life: Let it come on.

Enter Isabella.

Isab. What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!

Prov. Who's there? come in: the wish deserves
a welcome.

Duke. Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.
Claud. Most holy sir, I thank you.

Isab. My business is a word or two with Claudio.
Prov. And very welcome. Look, signior, here's

your sister.

Duke. Provost, a word with you.


As many as you please.

Duke. Bring them to speak, where I may be conceal'd,

(1) Affects, affections. (2) Leprous eruptions. (3) Old age.

Yet hear them.

[Exeunt Duke and Provost.

Claud. Now, sister, what's the comfort? Isab. Why, as all comforts are; most good in


Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,

Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger:1
Therefore your best appointment? make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.


Is there no remedy?

Isab. None, but such remedy, as, to save a head, To cleave a heart in twain.


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, you till death.

But fetter


Perpetual durance?

Isab. Ay, just, perpetual durance; a restraint, Though all the world's vastidity3 you had,

To a determin'd scope.


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.


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.


Why give you me this shame? Think you I can a resolution fetch

From flowery tenderness? If I must die,

(1) Resident. (2) Preparation. (3) Vastness of extent.

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,
As falcon doth the fowl,-is yet a devil;
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.


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?


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


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.


Isab. O, were it but my life,

Thou shalt not do❜t.

I'd throw it down for your deliverance

As frankly3 as a pin.


Thanks, dear Isabel.

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


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.

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

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!


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.


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

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:
pray a thousand prayers for thy death,

No word to save thee.

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

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