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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,
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, But fetter you till death.
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.
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,
I will encounter darkness as a bride,
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,
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?
So to offend him still: This night's the time
Isab. O, were it but my life,
As frankly3 as a pin.
Thou shalt not do't.
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,
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!
Death is a fearful thing.
Isab. And shamed life a hateful.
Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
Isab. Alas! alas!
Sweet sister, let me live:
Is't not a kind of incest, to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I
Heaven shield, my mother play'd my father fair!
Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance :4
(1) Lastingly. (2) Invisible. (3) Wildness.
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. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
Duke. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
Isab. What is
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?
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.