Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Act I

Scene 1 Enter Duke, Escalus, Lords, and Attendants.
DUKE  Escalus.
ESCALUS  My lord.
Of government the properties to unfold
Would seem in me t’ affect speech and discourse,
Since I am put to know that your own science                                       5
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you. Then no more remains
But that, to your sufficiency, as your worth is able,
And let them work. The nature of our people,
Our city’s institutions, and the terms                                                     10
For common justice, you’re as pregnant in
As art and practice hath enrichèd any
That we remember. There is our commission,
He hands Escalus a paper.
From which we would not have you warp.—Call
hither,                                                                                                       15
I say, bid come before us Angelo.
An Attendant exits.
What figure of us think you he will bear?
For you must know, we have with special soul
Elected him our absence to supply,
Lent him our terror, dressed him with our love,                                  20
And given his deputation all the organs
Of our own power. What think you of it?
If any in Vienna be of worth
To undergo such ample grace and honor,
It is Lord Angelo.                                                                                      25
Enter Angelo.
DUKE  Look where he comes.
Always obedient to your Grace’s will,
I come to know your pleasure.
DUKE  Angelo,
There is a kind of character in thy life                                                  30
That to th’ observer doth thy history
Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
Are not thine own so proper as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,                                        35
Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, ’twere all alike
As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touched
But to fine issues, nor nature never lends
The smallest scruple of her excellence                                                  40
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,
Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech
To one that can my part in him advertise.
Hold, therefore, Angelo.                                                                          45
In our remove be thou at full ourself.
Mortality and mercy in Vienna
Live in thy tongue and heart. Old Escalus,
Though first in question, is thy secondary.
Take thy commission.                              He hands Angelo a paper.  50
ANGELO  Now, good my lord,
Let there be some more test made of my mettle
Before so noble and so great a figure
Be stamped upon it.
DUKE  No more evasion.                                                                            55
We have with a leavened and preparèd choice
Proceeded to you. Therefore, take your honors.
Our haste from hence is of so quick condition
That it prefers itself and leaves unquestioned
Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,                                60
As time and our concernings shall importune,
How it goes with us, and do look to know
What doth befall you here. So fare you well.
To th’ hopeful execution do I leave you
Of your commissions.                                                                              65
ANGELO  Yet give leave, my lord,
That we may bring you something on the way.
DUKE  My haste may not admit it.
Nor need you, on mine honor, have to do
With any scruple. Your scope is as mine own,                                    70
So to enforce or qualify the laws
As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand.
I’ll privily away. I love the people,
But do not like to stage me to their eyes.
Though it do well, I do not relish well                                                  75
Their loud applause and aves vehement,
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.
The heavens give safety to your purposes.
Lead forth and bring you back in happiness.                                       80
DUKE  I thank you. Fare you well.                                                He exits.
ESCALUS, to Angelo
I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
To have free speech with you; and it concerns me
To look into the bottom of my place.
A power I have, but of what strength and nature                                85
I am not yet instructed.
’Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,
And we may soon our satisfaction have
Touching that point.
ESCALUS  I’ll wait upon your Honor.                                                     90
They exit.
Scene 2
Enter Lucio and two other Gentlemen.
LUCIO  If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to
composition with the King of Hungary, why then all
the dukes fall upon the King.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Heaven grant us its peace, but not
the King of Hungary’s!                                                                           5
LUCIO  Thou conclud’st like the sanctimonious pirate
that went to sea with the ten commandments but
scraped one out of the table.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  “Thou shalt not steal”?                                 10
LUCIO  Ay, that he razed.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Why, ’twas a commandment to command
the Captain and all the rest from their functions!
They put forth to steal. There’s not a soldier of
us all that in the thanksgiving before meat do relish                       15
the petition well that prays for peace.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  I never heard any soldier dislike it.
LUCIO  I believe thee, for I think thou never wast where
grace was said.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  No? A dozen times at least.                         20
FIRST GENTLEMAN  What? In meter?
LUCIO  In any proportion or in any language.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  I think, or in any religion.
LUCIO  Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all
controversy; as, for example, thou thyself art a                               25
wicked villain, despite of all grace.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Well, there went but a pair of shears
between us.
LUCIO  I grant, as there may between the lists and the
velvet. Thou art the list.                                                                        30
FIRST GENTLEMAN  And thou the velvet. Thou art good
velvet; thou ’rt a three-piled piece, I warrant thee. I
had as lief be a list of an English kersey as be piled,
as thou art piled, for a French velvet. Do I speak
feelingly now?                                                                                        35
LUCIO  I think thou dost, and indeed with most painful
feeling of thy speech. I will, out of thine own
confession, learn to begin thy health, but, whilst I
live, forget to drink after thee.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  I think I have done myself wrong,                   40
have I not?
SECOND GENTLEMAN  Yes, that thou hast, whether thou
art tainted or free.
Enter Mistress Overdone, a Bawd.
LUCIO  Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation
comes! I have purchased as many diseases under                           45
her roof as come to—
SECOND GENTLEMAN  To what, I pray?
LUCIO  Judge.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  To three thousand dolors a year.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Ay, and more.                                                      50
LUCIO  A French crown more.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Thou art always figuring diseases in
me, but thou art full of error. I am sound.
LUCIO  Nay, not, as one would say, healthy, but so sound
as things that are hollow. Thy bones are hollow.                             55
Impiety has made a feast of thee.
FIRST GENTLEMAN, to Bawd  How now, which of your
hips has the most profound sciatica?
BAWD  Well, well. There’s one yonder arrested and
carried to prison was worth five thousand of you all.                     60
SECOND GENTLEMAN  Who’s that, I pray thee?
BAWD  Marry, sir, that’s Claudio, Signior Claudio.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Claudio to prison? ’Tis not so.
BAWD  Nay, but I know ’tis so. I saw him arrested, saw
him carried away; and, which is more, within these                       65
three days his head to be chopped off.
LUCIO  But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so!
Art thou sure of this?
BAWD  I am too sure of it. And it is for getting Madam Julietta with child.                                                                                 70
LUCIO  Believe me, this may be. He promised to meet
me two hours since, and he was ever precise in
SECOND GENTLEMAN  Besides, you know, it draws something
near to the speech we had to such a purpose.                                   75
FIRST GENTLEMAN  But most of all agreeing with the
LUCIO  Away. Let’s go learn the truth of it.
Lucio and Gentlemen exit.
BAWD  Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat,
what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am                       80
Enter Pompey.
How now? What’s the news with you?
POMPEY  Yonder man is carried to prison.
BAWD  Well, what has he done?
POMPEY  A woman.                                                                                   85
BAWD  But what’s his offense?
POMPEY  Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
BAWD  What? Is there a maid with child by him?
POMPEY  No, but there’s a woman with maid by him.
You have not heard of the proclamation, have you?                       90
BAWD  What proclamation, man?
POMPEY  All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.
BAWD  And what shall become of those in the city?
POMPEY  They shall stand for seed. They had gone down                  95
too, but that a wise burgher put in for them.
BAWD  But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs
be pulled down?
POMPEY  To the ground, mistress.
BAWD  Why, here’s a change indeed in the commonwealth!           100
What Shall become of me? 
POMPEY  Come, fear not you. Good counselors lack no
clients. Though you change your place, you need
not change your trade. I’ll be your tapster still.
Courage. There will be pity taken on you. You that                     105
have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you
will be considered.
Enter Provost, Claudio, Juliet, and Officers.
BAWD  What’s to do here, Thomas Tapster? Let’s
POMPEY  Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the Provost              110
to prison. And there’s Madam Juliet.
Bawd and Pompey exit.
CLAUDIO, to Provost
Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th’ world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
I do it not in evil disposition, But from Lord Angelo by special charge.                                          115
Thus can the demigod Authority
Make us pay down for our offense, by weight,
The words of heaven: on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so; yet still ’tis just.
Enter Lucio and Second Gentleman.
Why, how now, Claudio? Whence comes this                                  120
From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty.
As surfeit is the father of much fast,
So every scope by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,                                          125
Like rats that raven down their proper bane,
A thirsty evil, and when we drink, we die.
LUCIO  If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I
would send for certain of my creditors. And yet, to
say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of                               130
freedom as the mortality of imprisonment. What’s
thy offense, Claudio?
What but to speak of would offend again.
LUCIO  What, is ’t murder?
CLAUDIO  No.                                                                                           135
LUCIO  Lechery?
CLAUDIO  Call it so.
PROVOST  Away, sir. You must go.
One word, good friend.—Lucio, a word with you.
LUCIO  A hundred, if they’ll do you any good. Is lechery                 140
so looked after?
Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract
I got possession of Julietta’s bed.
You know the lady. She is fast my wife,
Save that we do the denunciation lack                                                145
Of outward order. This we came not to
Only for propagation of a dower
Remaining in the coffer of her friends,
From whom we thought it meet to hide our love
Till time had made them for us. But it chances                                 150
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment
With character too gross is writ on Juliet.
With child, perhaps?
CLAUDIO  Unhappily, even so.
And the new deputy now for the Duke—                                           155
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,
Or whether that the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;                                 160
Whether the tyranny be in his place
Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I stagger in—but this new governor
Awakes me all the enrollèd penalties
Which have, like unscoured armor, hung by th’ wall                      165
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round,
And none of them been worn; and for a name
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me. ’Tis surely for a name.
LUCIO  I warrant it is. And thy head stands so tickle on                    170 thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the Duke and appeal to him.
I have done so, but he’s not to be found.
I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter                                       175
And there receive her approbation.
Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him.
I have great hope in that, for in her youth                                          180
There is a prone and speechless dialect
Such as move men. Besides, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.
LUCIO  I pray she may, as well for the encouragement of                 185
the like, which else would stand under grievous
imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I
would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a
game of tick-tack. I’ll to her.
CLAUDIO  I thank you, good friend Lucio.                                          190
LUCIO  Within two hours.
CLAUDIO  Come, officer, away.
They exit.
Scene 3
Enter Duke and Friar Thomas.
No, holy father, throw away that thought.
Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
To give me secret harbor hath a purpose
More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends                                 5
Of burning youth.
FRIAR THOMAS  May your Grace speak of it?
My holy sir, none better knows than you
How I have ever loved the life removed,
And held in idle price to haunt assemblies                                           10
Where youth and cost witless bravery keeps.
I have delivered to Lord Angelo,
A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me traveled to Poland,                                              15
For so I have strewed it in the common ear,
And so it is received. Now, pious sir,
You will demand of me why I do this.
FRIAR THOMAS  Gladly, my lord.
We have strict statutes and most biting laws,                                      20
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
Which for this fourteen years we have let slip,
Even like an o’ergrown lion in a cave
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threat’ning twigs of birch                                  25
Only to stick it in their children’s sight
For terror, not to use—in time the rod
More mocked than feared—so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,
And liberty plucks justice by the nose,                                                 30
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.
FRIAR THOMAS  It rested in your Grace
To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased,
And it in you more dreadful would have seemed                                35
Than in Lord Angelo.
DUKE  I do fear, too dreadful.
Sith ’twas my fault to give the people scope,
’Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done                                 40
When evil deeds have their permissive pass
And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my
I have on Angelo imposed the office,
Who may in th’ ambush of my name strike home,                             45
And yet my nature never in the fight
To do in slander. And to behold his sway
I will, as ’twere a brother of your order,
Visit both prince and people. Therefore I prithee
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me                                           50
How I may formally in person bear
Like a true friar. More reasons for this action
At our more leisure shall I render you.
Only this one: Lord Angelo is precise,
Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses                                     55
That his blood flows or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be.
They exit.
Scene 4
Enter Isabella and Francisca, a Nun.
And have you nuns no farther privileges?
NUN  Are not these large enough?
Yes, truly. I speak not as desiring more,
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.                                 5
LUCIO, within
Ho, peace be in this place!
ISABELLA  Who’s that which calls?
It is a man’s voice. Gentle Isabella,
Turn you the key and know his business of him.
You may; I may not. You are yet unsworn.                                         10
When you have vowed, you must not speak with men
But in the presence of the Prioress.
Then, if you speak, you must not show your face;
Or if you show your face, you must not speak.
He calls again. I pray you answer him.                                                 15
Peace and prosperity! Who is ’t that calls?
Enter Lucio.
Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
Proclaim you are no less. Can you so stead me
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place and the fair sister                                               20
To her unhappy brother, Claudio?
Why “her unhappy brother”? Let me ask,
The rather for I now must make you know
I am that Isabella, and his sister.
Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you.                                 25
Not to be weary with you, he’s in prison.
ISABELLA  Woe me, for what?
For that which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks:
He hath got his friend with child.                                                           30
Sir, make me not your story.
LUCIO  ’Tis true.
I would not, though ’tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing and to jest,
Tongue far from heart, play with all virgins so.                                  35
I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted,
By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
And to be talked with in sincerity
As with a saint.
You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.                                       40
Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, ’tis thus:
Your brother and his lover have embraced;
As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb                                45
Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.
Someone with child by him? My cousin Juliet?
LUCIO  Is she your cousin?
Adoptedly, as schoolmaids change their names
By vain though apt affection.                                                                  50
LUCIO  She it is.
O, let him marry her!
LUCIO  This is the point.
The Duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,                                            55
In hand, and hope of action; but we do learn,
By those that know the very nerves of state,
His givings-out were of an infinite distance
From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
And with full line of his authority,                                                        60
Governs Lord Angelo, a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind: study and fast.                                              65
He—to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have for long run by the hideous law
As mice by lions—hath picked out an act
Under whose heavy sense your brother’s life
Falls into forfeit. He arrests him on it,                                                  70
And follows close the rigor of the statute
To make him an example. All hope is gone
Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
To soften Angelo. And that’s my pith of business
’Twixt you and your poor brother.                                                         75
ISABELLA  Doth he so
Seek his life?
LUCIO  Has censured him already,
And, as I hear, the Provost hath a warrant
For ’s execution.                                                                                        80
Alas, what poor ability’s in me
To do him good?
LUCIO  Assay the power you have.
My power? Alas, I doubt—
LUCIO  Our doubts are traitors                                                                  85
And makes us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo
And let him learn to know, when maidens sue
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely theirs                                                    90
As they themselves would owe them.
ISABELLA  I’ll see what I can do.
LUCIO  But speedily!
ISABELLA  I will about it straight,
No longer staying but to give the Mother                                             95
Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you.
Commend me to my brother. Soon at night
I’ll send him certain word of my success.
I take my leave of you.
ISABELLA  Good sir, adieu.                                                                    100
They exit.

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