« PreviousContinue »
Anchors on Isabel : Heaven in my mouth,
One Isabel, a sister,
Teach her the way. [Exit Serve
Enter ISABELLA. How now, fair maid ?
Isab. I am come to know your pleasure.
1 Boot is profit.
2 « Though we should write good angel on the devil's horn, it will not change his nature, so as to give him a right to wear that crest."
3 i. e. the people or multitude.
Ang. That you might know it, would much better
please me, Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live. Isab. Even so ?-Heaven keep your honor !
[Retiring Ang. Yet may he live awhile; and it may be, As long as you, or I: yet he must die.
Isab. Under your sentence ?
Isab. When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve,
Ang. Ha! Fie, these filthy vices! It were as good To pardon him, that hath from nature stolen A man already made, as to remit Their saucy sweetness, that do coin heaven's image In stamps that are forbid: 'tis all as easy Falsely to take away a life true made, As to put mettle in restrained means, To make a false one.
Isab. Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
Ang. Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly. Which had you rather, that the most just law Now took your brother's life; or, to redeem him, Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness, As she that he hath stained? Isab.
Sir, believe this, I had rather give my body than my soul.
Ang. I talk not of your soul : our compelled sins Stand more for number than account. Isab.
How say you ? Ang. Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak Against the thing I say. Answer to this : I, now the voice of the recorded law, Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life: Might there not be a charity in sin, To save this brother's life?
1 i. e. that hath killed a man.
2 i. e. actions that we are compelled to, however numerous, are not imputed to us by Heaven as crimes.
Please you to do't,
Ang. Pleased you to do’t, at peril of your soul,
Isab. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Nay, but hear me: Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant, Or seem so, craftily; and that's not good.
Isab. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good, But graciously to know I am no better.
Ang. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright,
And his offence is so, as it appears
Ang. Admit no other way to save his life,
Isab. As much for my poor brother, as myself:
1 The masks worn by female spectators of the play are here probably meant.
2 i, e. enshielded, covered.
That is, were I under the terms of death,
Then must your brother die.
Ang. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence That you have slandered so?
Isab. Ignomy 1 in ransom, and free pardon,
Ang. You seemed of late to make the law a tyrant;
Isab. O pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,
Ang. We are all frail.
Else let my brother die,
Nay, women are frail, too.
1 Ignomy, ignominy:
2. This is obscure; but the allusion is so fine, that it deserves to be explained. A feodary was one that, in times of vassalage, held lands of the chief lord under the tenure of paying rent and service, which tenure was called feuda, among the Goths. “Now," says Angelo, “ we are all frail." “Yes,” says Isabella, “ if all mankind were not feodaries, who owe what they are to this tenure of imbecility, and who succeed each other by the same tenure as well as my brother, I would give him up.” The comparing mankind lying under the weight of original sin, to a feodary who owes suit and service to his lord, is not ill imagined.
3 The meaning appears to be, that “men debase their natures by taking advantage of women's weakness.” She therefore calls on Heaven to assist them.
For we are soft as our complexions are,
I think it well :
Isab. I have no tongue but one: gentle my lord, Let me entreat you speak the former language.
Ang. Plainly conceive, I love you.
Isab. My brother did love Juliet; and you me, That he shall die for it.
Ang. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.
Isab. I know, your virtue hath a license in’t,
Believe me, on mine honor,
Isab. Ha! Little honor to be much believed,
Who will believe thee, Isabel ?
1 i. e. impressions
2 i. e. 6 your virtue assumes an air of licentiousness, which is not natu ral to you, on purpose to try me.”
3 Seeming is hypocrisy.