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Anchors on Isabel : Heaven in my mouth,
As if I did but only chew his name;
And in my heart, the strong and swelling evil
Of my conception. The state, whereon I studied,
Is like a good thing, being often read,
Grown feared and tedious; yea, my gravity,
Wherein (let no man hear me) I take pride,
Could I, with boot,' change for an idle plume,
Which the air beats for vain. O place! O form!
How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
To thy false seeming? Blood, thou still art blood ! !
Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,
'Tis not the devil's crest.?

Enter Servant.
How now: who's there?

One Isabel, a sister,
Desires access to you.

Teach her the way. [Exit Serve
O heavens!
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart;
Making both it unable for itself,
And dispossessing all the other parts
Of necessary fitness ?
So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons;
Come all to help him, and so stop the air
By which he should revive: and even so
The general,» subject to a well-wished king,
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
Must needs appear offence.

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 ?
Ang. Yea.

Isab. When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve,
Longer, or shorter, he may be so fitted,
That his soul sicken not.

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,
I'll take it as a peril to my soul,
It is no sin at all, but charity.

Ang. Pleased you to do’t, at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.

Isab. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven, let me bear it! you granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your answer.

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,
When it doth tax itself: as these black masks 1
Proclaim an enshield ? beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could displayed.--But mark me;
To be received plain, I'll speak more gross:
Your brother is to die.

Isab. So.

And his offence is so, as it appears
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

Isab. True.

Ang. Admit no other way to save his life,
(As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But in the loss of question,) that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desired of such a person,
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-binding law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him, but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this supposed, or else to let him suffer ;
What would you do?

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.
3 i. e. conversation that tends to nothing.

That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing I have been sick for, ere I'd yield
My body up to shame.

Then must your brother die.
Isab. And 'twere the cheaper way:
Better it were, a brother died at once,
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die forever.

Ang. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence That you have slandered so?

Isab. Ignomy 1 in ransom, and free pardon,
Are of two houses: lawful mercy is
Nothing akin to foul redemption.

Ang. You seemed of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather proved the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.

Isab. O pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,
To have what we'd have, we speak not what we mean.
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.

Ang. We are all frail.

Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary, but only he,
Owe, and succeed by weakness.?

Nay, women are frail, too.
Isab. Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves;
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
Women !--Help Heaven! men their creation mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail;

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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,
And credulous to false prints.

I think it well :
And from this testimony of your own sex,
Since, I suppose, we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames,) let me be bold;--
I do arrest your words: Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none :
If you be one, (as you are well expressed
By all external warrants,) show it now,
By putting on the destined livery.

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,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.?

Believe me, on mine honor,
My words express my purpose.

Isab. Ha! Little honor to be much believed,
And most pernicious purpose ! -Seeming, seeming!
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look fort:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
Or, with an outstretched throat, I'll tell the world,
Aloud, what man thou art.

Who will believe thee, Isabel ?
My unsoiled name, the austereness of my life,
My vouch against you, and my place i' the state,
Will so your accusation overweigh,
That you shall stifle in your own report,
And smell of calumny. I have begun;
And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;


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.

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