Page images

Ang. Stay a little while.-[To ISAB.] You are welcome: What's your will?

Isab. I am a woeful suitor to your honour, Please but your honour hear me.


Well, what's your suit? Isab. There is a vice, that most I do abhor, And most desire should meet the blow of justice; For which I would not plead but that I must; For which I must not plead, but that I am At war, 'twixt will, and will not.


Well; the matter? Isab. I have a brother is condemn'd to die: I do beseech you, let it be his fault,

And not my brother.


Heaven give thee moving graces!

Ang. Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it! Why, every fault's condemn'd, ere it be done: Mine were the very cipher of a function,

To find the faults, whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.

Q just but severe law!
I had a brother then.-Heaven keep your honour!

[Retiring. Lucio. [To ISAB.] Give't not o'er so: to him again, intreat him:

Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown;
You are too cold, if you should need a pin,

You could not with more tame a tongue desire it:

To him, I say.

Isab. Must he needs die?


Maiden, no remedy.

Isab. Yes; I do think that you might pardon him, And neither heaven, nor man, grieve at the mercy. Ang. I will not do't.


But can you

if you would?

Ang. Look, what I will not, that I cannot do. Isab. But might you do't, and do the world no


If SO your heart were touch'd with that remorse1 As mine is to him?


He's sentenc'd; 'tis too late.

Lucio. You are too cold.

Isab. Too late? why, no; I, that do speak a word,
May call it back again: Well believe this,
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,

Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace,
As mercy does. If he had been as you,
And you as he, you would have slipt like him;
But he, like you, would not have been so stern.
Ang. Pray you, begone.

Isab. I would to heaven I had your potency,
And you were Isabel! should it then be thus ?
No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge,
And what a prisoner.

Lucio. Ay, touch him: there's the vein. [Aside.
Ang. Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.

Alas! alas!
Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took,
Found out the remedy: How would you be,
If he, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.


1 Pity.

Be you content, fair maid;.

2 Be assured.

It is the law, not I, condemns your brother:
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,

It should be thus with him;-he must die to-mor


Isab. To-morrow? O, that's sudden! Spare him,

spare him:

He's not prepar'd for death! Even for our kitchens We kill the fowl of season 3: shall we serve heaven With less respect than we do minister

To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you:

Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There's many have commited it.


Ay, well said.

Ang. The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept :

Those many had not dar'd to do that evil,
If the first man that did the edict infringe,
Had answer'd for his deed: now, 'tis awake;
Takes note of what is done; and, like a prophet,
Looks in a glass, that shows what future evils,
(Either now, or by remissness new-conceiv'd,
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,)
Are now to have no súccessive degrees,
But, where they live, to end.


Yet show some pity. Ang. I show it most of all, when I show justice;

For then I pity those I do not know,

Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall;

And do him right, that, answering one foul wrong,

Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;

Your brother dies to-morrow: Be content.

Isab. So you must be the first that gives this


3 When in season.

And he, that suffers: O, it is excellent

To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.


That's well said.

Isab. Could great men thunder

As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet, For every pelting 4, petty officer,

Would use his heaven for thunder; nothing but thunder..

Merciful heaven!

Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt,
Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled 5 oak,
Than the soft myrtle :-O, but man, proud man!
Drest in a little brief authority:

Most ignorant of what he's most assur❜d,
His glassy essence, -like an angry ape,

[ocr errors]

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep: who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

Lucio. O, to him, to him, wench: he will relent; He's coming, I perceive't.


Pray heaven, she win him! Isab. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself: Great men may jest with saints: 'tis wit in them; But, in the less, foul profanation.

Lucio. Thou'rt in the right, girl; more o' that. Isab. That in the captain's but a choleric word, Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

Lucio. Art advis'd o' that? more on't. Ang. Why do you put these sayings upon me? Isab. Because authority, though it err like others, Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself,

That skins the vice o' the top: Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart, what it doth know

[blocks in formation]

That's like my brother's fault: if it confess
A natural guiltiness, such as is his,

Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.


She speaks, and 'tis Such sense, that my sense bleeds with it.-Fare you well.

Isab. Gentle, my lord, turn back.

Ang. I will bethink me: Come again to


Isab. Hark, how I'll bribe you: Good my lord, turn back.

Ang. How! bribe me?

Isab. Ay, with such gifts, that heaven shall share with you.

Lucio. You had marr'd all else.

Isab. Not with fond shekels of the tested gold, Or stones, whose rates are either rich, or poor, As fancy values them: but with true prayers, That shall be up at heav'n, and enter there, Ere sun-rise; prayers from preserv'd' souls, From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate To nothing temporal.


Well: come to me

Lucio. Go to; it is well; away.

Isab. Heaven keep your honour safe!


[Aside to ISABEL.

Amen: for I


At what hour to-morrow

Am that way going to temptation,
Where prayers cross.


Shall I attend your lordship?

7 Preserved

6 Attested, stamped.

m the corruption of the world.

« PreviousContinue »