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SCENE changes to the Prison.
Enter Provoit and Clown. Prov. OME hither, firrah: can you cut off a man's
head ? Clown. If the man be a batchelor, Sir, I can: but if he be a marry'd man, he is his wife's head, and I can never cut off a woman's head.
Prov. Come, Sir, leave me your snatches, and yield me a direct answer. To-morrow morning are to die Claudio and Barnardine : here is in our prison a common executioner, who in his office lacks a helper ; if you will take it on you to aflitt him, it shall redeem you from your gyves: if not, you fall have your full time of imprisonment, and your deliverance with an unpitied whipping ; for you have been a notorious bawd.
Clown. Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd, time out of mind, but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman: I would be glad to receive some instruction from my fellow-partner. Prov. What hoa, Abhorfon! where's Abhorfon, there?
Enter Abhorson. Abhor. Do you call, Sir?
Prov. Sirrah, here's a fellow will help you to-morrow in your execution ; if you think it meet, compound with him by the year, and let him abide here with you ; if not, use him for the present, and dismiss him. He cannot plead his estimation with you, he hath been a bawd.
Abhor. A bawd, Sir? fy upon him, he will discredit our myftery.
Prov. Go to, Sir, you weigh equally ; a feather will turn the scale.
[Exit. Clown. Pray, Sir, by your good favour; (for, furely, Sir, a good favour you have, but that you have a hanging look ;) do you call, Sir, your occupation a mystery
Abhor. Ay, Sir; a mystery.
Clown. Painting, Sir, I have heard say, is a mystery ; and your whores, Sir, being members of my occupation, using painting, do prove my occupation a myftery: but what mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hang’d, I cannot imagine.
Abkor. Sir, it is a mystery. Cloze. Proof. Abhor. (23) Every true man's apparel fits your thief, Clown : if it be too little for your true man, your thief thinks it big enough. If it be too big for your true man, your thief thinks it litile enough ; fo every true man's apparel fits
Re-cuter Provost. Prov. Are you agreed ?
Clorun. Sir, I will serve him : for I do find, your hangman is a more penitent trade than your bawd; he doth oftner ask forgiveness.
Prov. You, firrah, provide your block and your ax to-morrow, four o'clock.
Abhor. Come on, bawd, I will instruct thee in my trade ; follow.
Clown. I do desire to learn, Sir; and I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own turn, you (24)
(23) Abhor. Every true man's apparel fits your thief. Clown, If it be too little for your ibief, your true man ibinks it
big enough. If it be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little
erough: So every true man's apparel fits your thief. ] This is a very notable passage, as it stands in all the editions; but, i dare say, is notably corrupted ; and both the speeches, and the words, fhuffled and misplaced. What! does the Clown ask proof, how the hangman's irade is a mystery ; and, so soon as ever Abborson advances his Thesis to prove it, the Clown takes the argument out of his mouth, perverts the
very tenour of it? I am satisfied, the Poet intended a regular syllogism; and I submit it to judgment, whether my regte Jation has not refor'd that wit, and humour which was quite loft in the depravation.
(24) You fall find me yours ;] This reading, I believe, was first Mr. Rowe's; and consequently adopted by the last Editor. The old
fall find me yare : for, truly, Sir, for your
kindness I owe you a good turn.
Claud. As fast lock'd up in fleep, as guiltless labour
Prov. Who can do good on him?
Prov. None, fince the curphew rung
Duke. Not fo, not fo ; his life is parallel'd
With that, which he corrects, then were he tyrannous :
[Knock again. Provost goes out.
Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
Prov. None, Sir, none.
Duke. As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
Enter a Messenger
Mel. My Lord hath sent you this note, and by me
remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted putting on; methinks, ftrangely; for he hath not usd it before. Duke. Pray you, let's hear.
Provoit reads the letter, 1/ hatfuever you may hear in the contrary, dlet Claudio
be executed by four of the clock, and in the afternoon Barnardine; for my belter satisfaction; let me have Claudio's head sent me by five.. Let this be duly performed, with a thought that more depends on it than we muft yet deliver. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril. What say you to this, Sir?
Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to le executed in the afternoon?
Prov. - A Bohemian born; but here nurst up and bred ; one, that is a prisoner nine years old.
Duke. How came it, that the absent Duke had not either deliver'd him to his liberty, or executed him! I bave heard, it was ever his manner to do so.
Prov. His friend's ftill wrought-reprieves for him, and, indeed, his fact, 'till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof,
Duke. Is it now apparent ?
Duke. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? how seems he to be touch'd ?
Prov. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully, but as a drunken fleep; careiefs, reckless, and fearless of what’s past, present, or to come; insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.
D. ke. He wants advice.
Prov. He will hear none; he hath evermore had the liberty of the prison : give him leave to escape he!çe, he would not : drunk many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awak'd him, as if to carry him to execution, and thew'd him