The street before the prison.
(Duke; Elbow; Pompey; Officers; Lucio; Escalus; Provost; Mistress Overdone)
Elbow has arrested Pompey again, and is taking him to Escalus for the promised whipping. Seeing Lucio, Pompey is certain that his best client will bail him out, but Lucio merely taunts him instead. The disguised Duke witnesses all this, and is not impressed. He talks with Lucio, who points out that nobody knows where the Duke is, slanders Angelo, and implies that the Duke is well-known for having a taste for the ladies himself. The Duke reflects that even the virtuous cannot escape slander. Escalus brings Mistress Overdone off to prison, the bawd protesting all the while that she is being accused by Lucio, who has impregnated one of her ladies and promised to marry her, but is now denying it all. Escalus orders that Lucio be brought before him, and tells the Provost that Claudio is to be executed the next day without fail. The Duke talks with Escalus a little, asking him his opinion of his absent ruler, and Escalus offers an honest assessment. They discuss Claudio’s case, and the Duke mentions that if Angelo is going to be so severe, it were best he was absolutely spotless himself. (130 lines)
Enter Elbow, Clown Pompey, Officers.
Nay, if there be no remedy for it but that you will needs buy and sell men and women like beasts, we shall have all the world drink brown and white bastard.
O heavens, what stuff is here?
’Twas never merry world since of two usuries the merriest was put down, and the worser allow’d by order of law; a furr’d gown to keep him warm; and furr’d with fox and lambskins too, to signify that craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the facing.
Come your way, sir. Bless you, good father friar.
And you, good brother father. What offense hath this man made you, sir?
Marry, sir, he hath offended the law; and, sir, we take him to be a thief too, sir, for we have found upon him, sir, a strange picklock, which we have sent to the deputy.
Fie, sirrah, a bawd, a wicked bawd!
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think
What ’tis to cram a maw or clothe a back
From such a filthy vice; say to thyself,
From their abominable and beastly touches
I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.
Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.
Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet, sir, I would prove—
Nay, if the devil have given thee proofs for sin,
Thou wilt prove his. Take him to prison, officer.
Correction and instruction must both work
Ere this rude beast will profit.
He must before the deputy, sir, he has given him warning. The deputy cannot abide a whore-master. If he be a whoremonger, and comes before him, he were as good go a mile on his errand.
That we were all, as some would seem to be,
From our faults, as faults from seeming, free!
His neck will come to your waist—a cord, sir.
I spy comfort, I cry bail. Here’s a gentleman, and a friend of mine.
How now, noble Pompey? What, at the wheels of Caesar? Art thou led in triumph? What, is there none of Pygmalion’s images newly made woman to be had now, for putting the hand in the pocket and extracting it clutch’d? What reply? Ha? What say’st thou to this tune, matter, and method? Is’t not drown’d i’ th’ last rain? Ha? What say’st thou, Trot? Is the world as it was, man? Which is the way? Is it sad, and few words? Or how? The trick of it?
Still thus, and thus; still worse!
How doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? Procures she still? Ha?
Troth, sir, she hath eaten up all her beef, and she is herself in the tub.
Why, ’tis good; it is the right of it; it must be so. Ever your fresh whore and your powder’d bawd, an unshunn’d consequence; it must be so. Art going to prison, Pompey?
Yes, faith, sir.
Why, ’tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell. Go say I sent thee thither. For debt, Pompey? Or how?
For being a bawd, for being a bawd.
Well, then imprison him. If imprisonment be the due of a bawd, why, ’tis his right. Bawd is he doubtless, and of antiquity too; bawd-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to the prison, Pompey. You will turn good husband now, Pompey, you will keep the house.
I hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail.
No indeed will I not, Pompey, it is not the wear. I will pray, Pompey, to increase your bondage. If you take it not patiently, why, your mettle is the more. Adieu, trusty Pompey. Bless you, friar.
Does Bridget paint still, Pompey? Ha?
Come your ways, sir, come.
You will not bail me then, sir?
Then, Pompey, nor now. What news abroad, friar? What news?
Come your ways, sir, come.
Go to kennel, Pompey, go.
Exeunt Elbow, Pompey, and Officers.
What news, friar, of the Duke?
I know none. Can you tell me of any?
Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other some, he is in Rome; but where is he, think you?
I know not where; but wheresoever, I wish him well.
It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from the state, and usurp the beggary he was never born to. Lord Angelo dukes it well in his absence; he puts transgression to’t.
He does well in’t.
A little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in him. Something too crabbed that way, friar.
It is too general a vice, and severity must cure it.
Yes, in good sooth, the vice is of a great kindred; it is well allied; but it is impossible to extirp it quite, friar, till eating and drinking be put down. They say this Angelo was not made by man and woman after this downright way of creation. Is it true, think you?
How should he be made then?
Some report a sea-maid spawn’d him; some, that he was begot between two stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he makes water his urine is congeal’d ice, that I know to be true; and he is a motion generative, that’s infallible.
You are pleasant, sir, and speak apace.
Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the rebellion of a codpiece to take away the life of a man! Would the Duke that is absent have done this? Ere he would have hang’d a man for the getting a hundred bastards, he would have paid for the nursing a thousand. He had some feeling of the sport; he knew the service, and that instructed him to mercy.
I never heard the absent Duke much detected for women, he was not inclin’d that way.
O, sir, you are deceiv’d.
’Tis not possible.
Who? Not the Duke? Yes, your beggar of fifty; and his use was to put a ducat in her clack-dish. The Duke had crotchets in him. He would be drunk too, that let me inform you.
You do him wrong, surely.
Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy fellow was the Duke, and I believe I know the cause of his withdrawing.
What, I prithee, might be the cause?
No, pardon; ’tis a secret must be lock’d within the teeth and the lips. But this I can let you understand, the greater file of the subject held the Duke to be wise.
Wise? Why, no question but he was.
A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.
Either this is envy in you, folly, or mistaking. The very stream of his life, and the business he hath helm’d, must, upon a warranted need, give him a better proclamation. Let him be but testimonied in his own bringings-forth, and he shall appear to the envious a scholar, a statesman, and a soldier. Therefore you speak unskillfully; or, if your knowledge be more, it is much dark’ned in your malice.
Sir, I know him, and I love him.
Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love.
Come, sir, I know what I know.
I can hardly believe that, since you know not what you speak. But if ever the Duke return (as our prayers are he may), let me desire you to make your answer before him. If it be honest you have spoke, you have courage to maintain it. I am bound to call upon you, and I pray you your name?
Sir, my name is Lucio, well known to the Duke.
He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to report you.
I fear you not.
O, you hope the Duke will return no more; or you imagine me too unhurtful an opposite. But indeed I can do you little harm; you’ll forswear this again.
I’ll be hang’d first; thou art deceiv’d in me, friar. But no more of this. Canst thou tell if Claudio die tomorrow, or no?
Why should he die, sir?
Why? For filling a bottle with a tun-dish. I would the Duke we talk of were return’d again. This ungenitur’d agent will unpeople the province with continency. Sparrows must not build in his house-eaves, because they are lecherous. The Duke yet would have dark deeds darkly answer’d, he would never bring them to light. Would he were return’d! Marry, this Claudio is condemn’d for untrussing. Farewell, good friar, I prithee pray for me. The Duke (I say to thee again) would eat mutton on Fridays. He’s now past it, yet (and I say to thee) he would mouth with a beggar, though she smelt brown bread and garlic. Say that I said so. Farewell.
No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
But who comes here?
Enter Escalus, Provost, and Officers with Bawd Mistress Overdone.
Go, away with her to prison.
Good my lord, be good to me, your honor is accounted a merciful man. Good my lord.
Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in the same kind! This would make mercy swear and play the tyrant.
A bawd of eleven years’ continuance, may it please your honor.
My lord, this is one Lucio’s information against me. Mistress Kate Keepdown was with child by him in the Duke’s time; he promis’d her marriage. His child is a year and a quarter old come Philip and Jacob. I have kept it myself; and see how he goes about to abuse me!
That fellow is a fellow of much license; let him be call’d before us. Away with her to prison! Go to, no more words.
Exeunt Officers with Mistress Overdone.
Provost, my brother Angelo will not be alter’d, Claudio must die tomorrow. Let him be furnish’d with divines, and have all charitable preparation. If my brother wrought by my pity, it should not be so with him.
So please you, this friar hath been with him, and advis’d him for th’ entertainment of death.
Good even, good father.
Bliss and goodness on you!
Of whence are you?
Not of this country, though my chance is now
To use it for my time. I am a brother
Of gracious order, late come from the See,
In special business from his Holiness.
What news abroad i’ th’ world?
None, but that there is so great a fever on goodness, that the dissolution of it must cure it. Novelty is only in request, and, as it is, as dangerous to be ag’d in any kind of course, as it is virtuous to be constant in any undertaking. There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure, but security enough to make fellowships accurs’d. Much upon this riddle runs the wisdom of the world. This news is old enough, yet it is every day’s news. I pray you, sir, of what disposition was the Duke?
One that, above all other strifes, contended especially to know himself.
What pleasure was he given to?
Rather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at any thing which profess’d to make him rejoice; a gentleman of all temperance. But leave we him to his events, with a prayer they may prove prosperous, and let me desire to know how you find Claudio prepar’d. I am made to understand that you have lent him visitation.
He professes to have receiv’d no sinister measure from his judge, but most willingly humbles himself to the determination of justice; yet had he fram’d to himself (by the instruction of his frailty) many deceiving promises of life, which I (by my good leisure) have discredited to him, and now is he resolv’d to die.
You have paid the heavens your function, and the prisoner the very debt of your calling. I have labor’d for the poor gentleman to the extremest shore of my modesty, but my brother-justice have I found so severe, that he hath forc’d me to tell him he is indeed Justice.
If his own life answer the straitness of his proceeding, it shall become him well; wherein if he chance to fail, he hath sentenc’d himself.
I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
Peace be with you!
Exeunt Escalus and Provost.
He who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself to know,
Grace to stand, and virtue go;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self-offenses weighing.
Shame to him whose cruel striking
Kills for faults of his own liking!
Twice treble shame on Angelo,
To weed my vice, and let his grow!
O, what may man within him hide,
Though angel on the outward side!
How may likeness made in crimes,
Making practice on the times,
To draw with idle spiders’ strings
Most ponderous and substantial things!
Craft against vice I must apply.
With Angelo tonight shall lie
His old betrothed (but despised);
So disguise shall by th’ disguised
Pay with falsehood false exacting,
And perform an old contracting.