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Clo. Sir, she came in longing-saving your honour's reverence-for stewed prunes, sir;-we had but two in the house, which at that very distant 16 time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a dish of some three-pence;-your honours have seen such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very good dishes,—

Escal. Go to, go to: no matter for the dish, sir. Clo. No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right:—but to the point. As I say, this Mistress Elbow longing, as I said, for prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said, Master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and as I say, paying for them very honestly;-for, as you know, Master Froth, 1 could not give you three-pence again,

Froth. No, indeed.

Clo. Very well;-you being then, if you be remembered, cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes,

Froth. Ay, so I did indeed.

Clo. Why, very well;-I telling you then, if you be remembered, that such a one and such a one were past cure, unless they kept very good diet, as I told you,—

Froth. All this is true.

Clo. Why, very well, then.

Escal. Come, you are a tedious fool to the purpose. What was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to complain of? Come me to what was done to her.

Clo. Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet. Escal. No, sir, nor I mean it not.

Clo. Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's leave. And, I beseech you, look into Master Froth here, sir; a man of fourscore pound a year; whose father died at Hallowmas :-was't not at Hallowmas, Master Froth ?—

Froth. All-Hallownd eve.

Clo. Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir, sitting, as I say, in a lower chair," sir;'twas in the Bunch of Grapes,18 where, indeed, you have a delight to sit, have you not ?—

16. Distant. Probably the Clown intends to say 'distinct;' or, perhaps, 'instant.'

17. A lower chair. A name formerly given to what now would be called 'an easy chair.'

18. Bunch of Grapes. The naming of particular rooms after this fashion-especially in taverns and inns-was usual in Shakespeare's time; and we find the "Half-Moon" and the "Pomegranate" mentioned in "1 Henry IV.," ii. 4- Even when Goldsmith wrote, the custom still prevailed; for in his comedy of "She Stoops to Conquer," the heroine, impersonating a barmaid, says-"Attend the Lion there; pipes and tobacco for the Angel; the Lamb has been outrageous this halfhour."

19. An open room, and good for winter. Though this is doubtless intended for Master Froth's flabbily-floundering way of expressing himself, yet as the blunders put into the mouths of Shakespeare's characters generally have some point of analogy,

Froth. I have so; because it is an open room, and good for winter.19

Clo. Why, very well, then; I hope here be truths.

Ang. This will last out a night in Russia, When nights are longest there: I'll take my leave,

And leave you to the hearing of the cause; Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all. 20 Escal. I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship. [Exit ANGELO. Now, sir, come on: what was done to Elbow's wife,

once more?

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Elb. I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.

Clo. I beseech your honour, ask me.

Escal. Well, sir; what did this gentleman to her?

Clo. I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.-Good Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a good purpose.-Doth your honour mark his face?

Escal. Ay, sir, very well.

Clo. Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.
Escal. Well, I do so.

Clo. Doth your honour see any harm in his face?

Escal. Why, no.

Clo. I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the worst thing about him. Good, then; if his face be the worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do the constable's wife any harm ? I would know that of honour. your Escal. He's in the right.-Constable, what say you to it?

Elb. First, an it like you, the house is a respected 22 house; next, this is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected woman.

Clo. By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than any of us all.

Elb. Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked var

even in opposed signification, or some side-link of association, we cannot help thinking that the word " open" is here used by the foolish gentleman, with some glimmer of its meaning in the sense in which Bacon uses it, where he speaks of 'an open and warm winter;' that is, a mild, unfrosty, genial winter.

20. Good cause to whip them all. The "them" in this sentence is an instance of Shakespeare's way of making a relative proroun (or rather, here, a personal pronoun used relatively) refer to an implied, though unmentioned, particular. It of course refers to the people brought up for examination. We may here observe how perfectly characteristic of Angelo is this casually introduced little speech and incident of withdrawal; indicating his selfishly leaving his colleague to fulfil a wearisome task, and his own hard intolerance of spirit, on which intolerance he moreover plumes himself, as if it were a virtue.

21. Supposed. The Clown's word for 'deposed.' 22. Respected. Elbow's mistake for 'respectable.'

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let! the time is yet to come, that she was ever respected with man, woman, or child.

Clo. Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.

Escal. Which is the wiser here? Justice or Iniquity 23-Is this true?

Elb. Oh, thou caitiff! Oh, thou varlet! Oh, thou wicked Hannibal!25 I respected with her before I was married to her?-If ever I was respected with her, or she with me, let not your worship think me the poor duke's officer.-Prove this, thou

23. Justice or Iniquity. These were the names given to two of the characters in the ancient plays called moralities; and applied here to the Constable-prosecutor and the Clown-delinquent. 24. Oh, thou caitiff! Oh, thou varlet! "Caitiff" means a despicable wretch, from the old French caitif or chétif, wretched; and, indirectly, from the Latin, captus, a captive, a slave. "Varlet" is from the old French varlet, or valet; meaning a

Act II. Scene I

wicked Hannibal, or I'll have mine action of battery on thee.

Escal. If he took you a box o' th' ear, you might have your action of slander too.

Elb. Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?

Escal. Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him that thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him continue in his courses till thou knowest what they are.

youth, a youthful attendant, and then a groom. It had not originally a lowly or mean signification; as young gentlemen were in attendance on the king's chamber, and called valets de chambre, while varlet was the name given to squires or attendant grooms attached to knights' service. But eventually the word fell into exclusively low meaning, and signified a yile fellow. 25. Hannibal. In mistake for cannibal.



Elb. Marry, I thank your worship for it.Thou seest, thou wicked varlet, now, what's come upon thee: thou art to continue now, thou varlet; thou art to continue.20

Escal. [To FROTH.] Where were you born, friend?
Froth. Here in Vienna, sir.

Escal. Are you of fourscore pounds a year?
Froth. Yes, an't please you, sir.

Escal. Alas! it hath been great pains to you! They do you wrong to put you so oft upon't: ale there not men in your ward sufficient 29 to serve it.

Elb. Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters: as they are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I do it for some piece of money, and go through with all.

Escal. Look you, bring me in the names of some

Escal. So. [To CLOWN.] What trade are you six or seven, the most sufficient of your parish. of, sir?

Clo. A tapster; a poor widow's tapster,

Your mistress' name?

Clo. Mistress Overdone.

Escal. Hath she had any more than one husband?

Clo. Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.

Escal. Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with tapsters: they will draw you,27 Master Froth, and you will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no more of you.

Froth. I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come into any room in a taphouse, but I am drawn in.

Escal. Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell. [Exit FROTH.] Come you hither to me, master tapster. What's your name, master tapster ?

Clo. Pompey.28

Elb. To your worship's house, sir?

Escal. To my house. Fare you well. [Exit ELBOW.] What's o'clock, think you?

Just. Eleven, sır.

Escal. I pray you home to dinner with me.
Just. I humbly thank you.

Escal. It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
But there's no remedy.

Just. Lord Angelo is severe.

It is but needful: .
Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so;
Pardon is still the nurse of second woe:
But yet,-poor Claudio!-There is no remedy.-
Come, sir,

SCENE II.-Another room in ANGELO's house.
Enter Provost and a Servant.

Serv. He's hearing of a cause; he will come
I'll tell him of you.

Prov. Pray you, do. [Exit Servant.] I'll

Escal. Hark you :-I advise you, let me not find you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever; no, not for dwelling where you do: if I do, Pompey, I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd Cæsar to you; in plain dealing, His pleasure; may be he will relent. Alas! Pompey, I shall have you whipt: so, for this time, Pompey, fare well. you

Clo. I thank your worship for your good counsel; but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better determine.

Whip me! No, no; let carman whip his jade:
The valiant heart's not whipt out of his trade.


He hath but as offended in a dream:
To die for it!
All sects, all ages smack of this vice! and he



Escal. Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, master constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?

Elb. Seven year and a half, sir.

Escal. I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had continued in it some time. You say, seven years together?

Elb. And a half, sir.

26. Continue. It is evident that from the tone of Escalus's speech, Elbow conceives this to be some threatened punishment. 27. They will draw you. "Draw is here quibblingly used in allusion to the tapsters when drawing beer, and when drawing (or as we should now say 'taking') in their customers; likewise in allusion to the drawing felons on a hurdle to be hanged. In the next speech, the sapient Froth uses "drawn in" with the second of the above meanings.


Now, what's the matter, provost ?

Is it your will Claudio shall die to-morrow?

Ang. Did not I tell thee yea? hadst thou not order?

Why dost thou ask again?

Lest I might be too rash :
Under your good correction, I have seen,
When, after execution, judgment hath
Repented o'er his doom.

Go to; let that be mine:

28. Pompey. As his mistress calls him "Thomas Tapster" (i. 2), we should suspect that the Clown here impudently gives Escalus an alias,' were it not that Lucio addresses him as "Pompey" (iii. 2). Probably it was a familiar name bestowed him by waggish customers, and adopted by himself. 29. Sufficient. Used here, and in the next-but-one speech, to express of sufficient capacity,' 'sufficingly competent.' Shakespeare elsewhere uses the word in this sense.


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Save your honour! [Offering to retire. Ang. Stay a little while.-[To ISAB.] You're 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.

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30. Your honour's pardon. "Your honour" was formerly the style of address for a lord; as now, 'your lordship.'

31. More fitter. Instance of Shakespeare's use of the then permitted double comparative.


32. Let it be his fault, and not my brother. Isabella means, my brother's fault be condemned to extinction, not his life;' but Angelo answers as if she had only implied "condemned," or censured. These are the subtleties in Shakespeare's most characteristic, yet condensedly expressed, dialogues, that puzzle readers who too superficially peruse him.

33. To fine the fault, &c. The sentence means, 'Were I to pronounce the appointed penalty on the crime, and spare the criminal.'

34. You are too cold. It is noteworthy that Lucio twice reproaches Isabella with coldness; and this is the impression

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Pray you be gone. 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. [Aside to ISAB.] Ay, touch him; there's

the vein.

Ang. Your brother is a forfeit of the law, And you but waste your words.

Isab. Alas! alas! Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once; And He that might the vantage best have took,

that more than one critic has received and given of her character. But the restraint that sways her throughout this scene, is just that powerful one which deceives imperfectly-judging lookers-on into believing a woman of reticence to be a woman wanting in warmth. See how her upright soul-clear in virtuous perception, honest in righteous avowal-allows the justice of the case against her brother, though pleading against its severity:-"Oh, just but severe law!" Then, again, consider the natural timidity and reluctance with which a young girl-a modest, pure girl, a girl who has voluntarily commenced her noviciate for the cloistered life of a nun-would enter upon a subject such as she has undertaken to plead for; a subject hard even to speak of, most hard to advocate.

35. Remorse. Sometimes used for pity, compassion; not in the sense of a regret for guilt.

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

Lucio. [Aside to ISAB.] That's well said.
Isab. Could great men thunder

As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet;
For every pelting, 39 petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;-
Nothing but thunder. Merciful Heaven!
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Splitt'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Dress'd in a little brief authority,-
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
His glassy essence,"—like an angry ape,

To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink | Plays such fantastic tricks before high Heaven,

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36. Top of judgment. [See Note 3, Act iii., "Tempest."] It has been pointed out that another world-poet, Dante, has used precisely the same expression, "Cima di giudicio."

37. Of season. Used as we now say in season.' We find the expression used thus, "Merry Wives," iii. 3—“buck, and of the season;" and the way in which Isabella employs it illustratively-as prepared for, fitted for-may be shown by a passage from "Hamlet," iii. 3, where the prince demurs to killing the sinful king, "when he is fit and seasoned for his passage."

38. Looks in a glass. This alludes to the magic mirrors, in use among conjurors, by looking into which they profess to see

future events.

39. Pelting. Paltry (of which palting was an old form); worthless, mean. The word has been derived from the Teutonic palt, a scrap, a fragment.

40. Gnarled. Full of knots; 'gnar' being an old English word for a knot in wood.

41. Glassy essence. The epithet here is just one of those chosen with such exquisitely apt and comprehensive force of expression by Shakespeare. "Glassy essence" means that essential

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nature of man which is like glass from its faculty to reflect the image of others in its own, and from its fragility, its liability to injury or destruction.

42. Who, with our spleens, would, &c. 'Who, had they our human spleens, would laugh away their immortal natures, and become, like us, mortal.' The spleen was thought to be the seat of immoderate mirth, as well as of the opposite passions, melancholy and anger. The idea of angels beweeping the errors of mankind has been shown by Grotius, and others quoting him, to have existed long before Shakespeare wrote; but it is just his own way of thinking to contrast angelic commiseration for evil with the disposition of inferior beings to bitterly deride wrongdoing.

43. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself. Isabella here uses "we" as speaking in the person of man judging his brother man; and says all men cannot be estimated as being alike in responsibility and liability to blame or punishment.

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