I am an humble suitor to your virtues;
For pity is the virtue of the law,
And none but tyrants use it cruelly.
It pleases time and fortune to lie heavy
Upon a friend of mine, who in hot blood
Hath stepp’d into the law, which is past depth
To those that (without heed) do plunge into’t.
He is a man (setting his fate aside)
Of comely virtues;
Nor did he soil the fact with cowardice
(An honor in him which buys out his fault),
But with a noble fury and fair spirit,
Seeing his reputation touch’d to death,
He did oppose his foe;
And with such sober and unnoted passion
He did behoove his anger, ere ’twas spent,
As if he had but prov’d an argument.
Why do fond men expose themselves to battle,
And not endure all threats? sleep upon’t,
And let the foes quietly cut their throats
Without repugnancy? If there be
Such valor in the bearing, what make we
Abroad? Why then, women are more valiant
That stay at home, if bearing carry it;
And the ass more captain than the lion, the fellow
Loaden with irons wiser than the judge,
If wisdom be in suffering. O my lords,
As you are great, be pitifully good.
Who cannot condemn rashness in cold blood?
To kill, I grant, is sin’s extremest gust,
But in defense, by mercy, ’tis most just.
To be in anger is impiety;
But who is man that is not angry?
Weigh but the crime with this.