Act II - Act II, Scene 1
Scene I. A hall in ANGELO'S house.
[Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a JUSTICE, PROVOST, Officers, and other
We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
Ay, but yet
Let us be keen, and rather cut a little
Than fall and bruise to death. Alas! this gentleman,
Whom I would save, had a most noble father.
Let but your honour know,--
Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,--
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time coher'd with place, or place with wishing,
Or that the resolute acting of your blood
Could have attain'd the effect of your own purpose,
Whether you had not sometime in your life
Err'd in this point which now you censure him,
And pull'd the law upon you.
'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny
The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May, in the sworn twelve, have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice,
That justice seizes. What knows the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it,
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offence
For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
Be it as your wisdom will.
Where is the provost?
Here, if it like your honour.
See that Claudio
Be executed by nine to-morrow morning:
Bring him his confessor; let him be prepard;
For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:
Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none,
And some condemned for a fault alone.
[Enter ELBOW, FROTH, CLOWN, Officers, &c.]
Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a commonweal
that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know
no law; bring them away.
How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
If it please your honour, I am the poor duke's constable, and my
name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here
before your good honour two notorious benefactors.
Benefactors! Well; what benefactors are they? are they not
If it please your honour, I know not well what they are; but
precise villains they are, that I am sure of; and void of all
profanation in the world that good Christians ought to have.
This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
Go to;--what quality are they of? Elbow is your name? Why dost
thou not speak, Elbow?
He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.
What are you, sir?
He, sir? a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that serves a bad
woman; whose house, sir, was, as they say, plucked down in the
suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house, which, I think, is
a very ill house too.
How know you that?
My wfe, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,--
How! thy wife!
Ay, sir; who, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,--
Dost thou detest her therefore?
I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this
house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for
it is a naughty house.
How dost thou know that, constable?
Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman cardinally
given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all
By the woman's means?
Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means: but as she spit in his
face, so she defied him.
Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man, prove
[To ANGELO.] Do you hear how he misplaces?
Sir, she came in great with child; and longing,--saving your
honour's reverence--for stew'd prunes; sir, we had but two in
the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were,
in a fruit dish, a dish of some threepence; your honours have
seen such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very good
Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.
No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right; but
to the point. As I say, this Mistress Elbow, being, as I say,
with child, and being great-bellied, and 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, I could not give you threepence again,--
Very well; you being then, if you be remember'd, cracking the
stones of the foresaid prunes,--
Ay, so I did indeed.
Why, very well: I telling you then, if you be remember'd, that
such a one and such a one were past cure of the thing you wot of,
unless they kept very good diet, as I told you,--
All this is true.
Why, very well then.
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.
Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
No, sir, nor I mean it not.
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?
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',
where, indeed, you have a delight to sit, have you not?--
I have so; because it is an open room, and good for winter.
Why, very well then;--I hope here be truths.
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.
I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
Now, sir, come on; what was done to Elbow's wife, once more?
Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once.
I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
I beseech your honour, ask me.
Well, sir: what did this gentleman to her?
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?
Ay, sir, very well.
Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.
Well, I do so.
Doth your honour see any harm in his face?
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 your honour.
He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?
First, an it like you, the house is a respected house; next, this
is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected woman.
By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than any
of us all.
Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet: the time is yet to
come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or child.
Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity?--is this true?
O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked Hannibal! 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 wicked Hannibal,
or I'll have mine action of battery on thee.
If he took you a box o' th' ear, you might have your action of
Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't your worship's
pleasure I should do with this wicked caitiff?
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.
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.
[To FROTH.] Where were you born, friend?
Here in Vienna, sir.
Are you of fourscore pounds a-year?
Yes, an't please you, sir.
So.--[To the CLOWN.] What trade are you of, sir?
A tapster; a poor widow's tapster.
Your mistress' name?
Hath she had any more than one husband?
Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.
Nine!--Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I would not
have you acquainted with tapsters: they will draw you, Master
Froth, and you will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no
more of you.
I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come into any
room in a taphouse but I am drawn in.
Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell.
--Come you hither to me, master tapster; what's your name, master
'Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you; so that, in
the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the great. Pompey, you are
partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever you colour it in being a tapster.
Are you not? come, tell me true; it shall be the better for you.
Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What do you think of
the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?
If the law would allow it, sir.
But the law will not allow it, Pompey: nor it shall not be
allowed in Vienna.
Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the youth of the
Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then. If your
worship will take order for the drabs and the knaves, you need
not to fear the bawds.
There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you. It is but
heading and hanging.
If you head and hang all that offend that way but for ten year
together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for more heads.
If this law hold in Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest house
in it, after threepence a bay. If you live to see this come to
pass, say Pompey told you so.
Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your prophecy, 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 Caesar
to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you whipt: so for
this time, Pompey, fare you well.
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.
Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master Constable.
How long have you been in this place of constable?
Seven year and a half, sir.
I thought, by the readiness in the office, you had continued in
it some time.
You say seven years together?
And a half, sir.
Alas, it hath been great pains to you!--They do you wrong to put
you so oft upon't. Are there not men in your ward sufficient to
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.
Look you, bring me in the names of some six or seven, the most
sufficient of your parish.
To your worship's house, sir?
To my house. Fare you well.
What's o'clock, think you?
I pray you home to dinner with me.
I humbly thank you.
It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
But there's no remedy.
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's no remedy.