Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lucio. I believe thee; for I think, thou never wast where grace was said.

Enter Mrs. OVERDONE. Fred. How now? Which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?

Over. Well, well; there's one yonder arrested, and carry'd to prison, was worth five thousand of you all.

Lucio. Who's that, I pray thee?
Over. Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio...
Fred. Claudio to prison! 'tis not so?

Over. Nay, but I know, 'tis so: I saw him arrested; saw him carry'd away: and, which is more, within these three days, his head is to be chopped off.

Lucio. But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so. Art thou sure of this?

Over. I am too sure of it: and, they say, it is for getting madam Julietta with child.

Lucio. Believe me, this may be: he promised to meet me two hours since; and he was ever precise in promise-keeping. Away: let's go learn the truth of it.

[Exeunt Lucio, LEOPOLD, and FREDERICK. Over. Thus, what with the war, what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.

Enter POMPEY.

How now? What's the news with you?

Pom. Yonder man is carried to prison.
Over. What, is there a maid with child by him?

Pom. No: but there's a woman with maid by him : You have not heard of the proclamation, have you?

Over. What proclamation, man!

Pom. All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.

Over. Why, here's a change, indeed, in the commonwealth ! - What's to do here?

Pom. Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the Provost to prison. Over. Let's withdraw.

[Exeunt Mrs. OVERDONE, and POMPEY.

Enter Provost, CLAUDIO, and two APPARITORS. Claud. Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the

world? Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

Prov. I do it not in evil disposition, But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

Claud. Thus can the demi-god, Authority, Make us pay down for our offence by weight:The words of Heaven :-on whom it will, it will; On whom it will not, so ; yet still 'tis just.

Enter Lucio, FREDERICK, and LEOPOLD. Lucio. Why, how now, Claudio? whence comes this restraints

Claud. From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty; As surfeit is the father of much fast, So every scope by the immoderate use Turns to restraint: Our natures do pursue, Like rats that ravin down their proper bane, A thirsty evil; and when we drink, we die.

Lucio. If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for certain of my creditors: and yet, to say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom, as the morality of imprisonment.—What's thy offence, Claudio ?

Claud. What, but to speak of, would offend again.
Lucio. What is it? Murder ?
Claud. No.
Prov. Away, sir: you must go.
Claud. One word, good friend :-Lucio, a word

with you.

Lucio. A hundred, if they will do you any good.

Claud. Thus stands it with me:-Upon a true con

tract,
I got possession of Julietta's bed;
You know the lady; she is fast my wife,
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order: this we came not to,
Only for propagation of a dower
Remaining in the coffer of her friends ;
From whom we thought it meet to hide our love,
Till time had made them for us. But it chances,
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment,
With character too gross, is writ on Juliet.

Lucio. With child, perhaps?

Claud. Unhappily, even so;
And the new deputy now for the Duke
Awakes me all the enrolled penalties,
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the

wall
So long, that fourteen zodiacks have gone round,
And none of them been worn : and, for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me:—'tis, surely, for a name.

Lucio. I warrant it is, and thy head stands so tickle on thy shoulders, that a milkmaid, if she be in: love, may sigh it off.

Claud. I prythee, Lucio, do me this kind service: This day my sister should the cloister enter, And there receive her approbation : Acquaint her with the danger of my state; Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends To the strict deputy ; bid herself assay him ; I have great hope in that: for in her youth There is a prone and speechless dialect, Such as moves men; besides, she has a prosperous art When she will play with reason and discourse, And well she can persuade. Lucio. I pray,

she may: as well for the encouragement of the like, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I

would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a game of ticktack. I'll to her.

Claud. I thank you, good friend Lucio.
Lucio. Within two hours,
Claud. Come, officer, away.
[Exeunt Provost, CLAUDIO, FREDERICK, LEO-

POLD, the two APPARITORS, and Lucio.

SCENE IV.

Å Nunnery.
Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA.
Isa. And have you nuns no further privileges ?
Fran. Are not these large enough?

Isa. Yes, truly : I speak not as desiring more ;
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood.
Lucio. [Ringing without.] Ho! Peace be in this

place! Isa. Who's that which calls ?

Fran. It is a man's voice: Gentle Isabella, Turn

you the key, and know his busint ss of him; You may,

I

may not; you are yet unsworn: When you have vow'd, you must not speak with

men, But in the presence of the prioress. Lucio. [Ringing without.] Peace be in this place!

Ho!
Fran. He calls again;

I
pray you, answer him.

[Exit FRANCISCA. Isa. Who is't that calls ?

[Opens the door.

Enter' Lucio.

Lucio. Hail, virgin, if you be; as those cheek

roses

Proclaim you are no less! Can you so stead me,
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place, and the fair sister
To her unhappy brother Claudio?

Isa. Why, her unhappy brother? let me ask ;
The rather, for I now must make you

know I am that Isabella, and his sister. Lucio. Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets

you:
Not to be weary with you, he's in prison.

Isa. Woe me! For what?
Lucio. For that, which, if myself might be his

judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks :
He hath got his friend with child.

Isa. My cousin Juliet?
Lucio. Is she

your

cousin? Isa. Adoptedly; as school maids change their

names, By vain though apt affection. Lucio. She it is.

Isa. O, let him marry her!

Lucio. This is the point.
The Duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Upon his place,
And, with full line of his authority,
Governs Lord Angelo ; a man, whose blood
Is

very snow broth;
He hath pick'd out an aci,
Under whose heavy sense your brother's life
Falls into forfeit; he arrests him on it:
And follows close the rigour of the statute,
To make him an example: all hope is gone,
Unless

you

have the grace, by your prayer, To soften Angelo:-And that's my pith Of business 'twixt you and your poor brother.

Isa. Doth he so scek his life?

fair

« PreviousContinue »