« PreviousContinue »
fhall find me yare: for, truly, Sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn.
[Exit. Prov. Call hither Barnardine, and Claudio : One has my pity ; not a jot the other, Being a murd'rer, tho' he were my brother.
Enter Claudio. Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death ; 'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine?
Claud. As fast lock'd up in fleep, as guiltless labour When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones : He'll not awake.
Prov. Who can do good on bim? Well, go, prepare yourself. [Exit Claud.) But, hark, what noise?
[Knock within Ileav'n give your spirits comfort !--by and by ;I hope, it is fome pardon, or reprieve, For the most gentle Claudio. Welcome, father.
Prov. None, fince the curphew rung.
Duke. Not so, not so; his life is parallel'd Er'n with the stroak and line of his great justice; He doth with holy abftinence subdue That in himself, which he spurs on his pow'r To qualify in others. Were he meal'd books have it, you shall find me y'are. Very little fagacity might have in tructed them, that the corruption is only in the apostrophe; and that the Poet's word was yare; i. e. dextrous in the office; a word very frequent in our Author's writings,
With that, which he corrects, then were he tyrannous; But this being so, he's just. Now are they come.
[Knock again. Provost goes out. This is a gentle Provost; seldom when The steeled goaler is the friend of men, How now? what noise ? that spirit's poffeft with haste, That wounds th' unrefitting poitern with the strokes.
[Provost returns. Prov. There he must stay, until the officer Arise to let him in ; he is call'd up.
Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet, But he must die to-morrow ?
Prov. None, Sir, nane.
Duke. As near the dawning, Provol, as it is,
Enter a Messenger
Mell. My Lord hath sent you this note, and by me this further charge, that you swerve not from the smallest article of it, neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow ; for as I take it, it is almoft day. Prov. I shall obey him.
[Exit Merten, Duke. This is his pardon, purchas'd by such sin, For which the pardoner himfelf is in: Hence hath offence his quick celerity, When it is borne in high authority; When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended, That, for the fault's love, is th offender friended. Now, Sir, what news ? Prov. I told you : Lord Angelo, be like, thinking me
remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted
Provost reads the letter.
te executed by four of the clock, and in the afternoon
you will answer it at your peril. What say you to this, Sir?
Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be 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 have heard, it was ever his manner to do so.
Prov. His friends fill 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 sleep; careless, 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 hence, 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 shew'd him
a seeming warrant for it; it hath not mov'd him at all.
Duke. More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost, honesty and constancy; if I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning, I will lay myself in hazard, Cloudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo, who hath sentenc'd him. To make you understand this in a manic fested effect, I crave but four days respite ; for the which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous courtesy.
Prov. Pray, Sir, in what?
Prov. Alack! how may I do it, having the hour limited, and an express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the smallest.
Duke. By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if." my instructions may be your guide ; let this Bernerdine be this morning executed, and his head borne to: Angelo.
Prov. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.
Duke. Oh, death's a great disguiser, and you may add to it; save the head, and tie the beard, and say it was the desire of the penitent to be so barb'd before his death ; you know the course is common. thing fall to you upon this, more than thanks and good fortune; by the Saint whom I profess, I will plead. against it with my life.
Prov. Pardon me, good father; it is against my. oath.
Duke. Were you sworn to the Duke, or to the De..
Prov. To him, and to his fubftitutes.
have made no offence, if the Duke avouch the justice of your dealing? Prov. But what likelihood is in that?
Duke. Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor my pursuafon, can with ease attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. Look you, Sir, here is the hand and seal of the Duke; you know the character, I doubt not; and the fignet is not ftrange to you.
Prov. I know thein both.
Duke. The contents of this is the return of the Duke; you shall anon over-read it at your pleasure ; where you shall find, within these two days he will be here. This is a thing, which Angelo knows not; for he this very day receives letters of strange tenor; perchance, of the Duke's death ; perchance, of his entering into fome monastery; but, by chance, nothing of what is writ. Look, the unfolding star calls up the shepherd; put not yourself into amazement how these things Thould be; all difficulties are but easy, when they are known. Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine's head : I will give him a present srift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you are amaz’d, but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come away, it is almost clear dawn.
[Exeunt. Enter Clown. Clown. I am as well acquainted here, as I was in our house of profession; one would think it were mistress Over-don's own house ; for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young Mr. Rash; he's in for a commodity of brown pepper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds ; of which he made five marks ready money: marry, then, ginger was not much in request : for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one Mr. Caper, at the fuit of master Three-Pile the mercer ; for some four suits of peachcolour'd fattin, which now peaches him a beggar. Then have we here young Dizzy, and young Mr. Deepzow, and Mr. Copper-spur, and master Starve-Lacky the Fapier and dagger-man, and young Drop-heir that kill'd