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Duke. What you have spoke I pardon. Sit
[ To Escalus. We 'll borrow place of him.-Sir, by your leave:
[ To ANGELO. Hast thou or word, or wit, or impudence, That yet can do thee office? If thou hast, Rely upon it till
tale be heard, And hold no longer out.
Ang. O, my dread lord, I should be guiltier than my guiltiness, To think I can be undiscernible, When I perceive your grace, like power divine, Hath looked upon my passes: then, good prince, No longer session hold upon my shame, But let my trial be mine own confession ; Immediate sentence, then, and sequent death, Is all the grace I beg.
Duke. Come hither, Mariana :-
Ang. I was, my lord.
stantly. Do you the office, Friar; which consummate, Return him here again. Go with him, Provost.
[Exeunt Angelo, Mariana, PETER,
and Provost. Escal. My lord, I am more amazed at his dis
Duke. Come hither, Isabel:
Isab. O, give me pardon,
Duke. You are pardoned, Isabel: And now, dear maid, be you as free to us. Your brother's death, I know, sits at your heart; And you may marvel why I obscured myself, Labouring to save his life; and would not rather Make rash remonstrance of my hidden power Than let him so be lost: 0, most kind maid, It was the swift celerity of his death, Which I did think with slower foot came on, That brained my purpose. But peace be with him! That life is better life, past fearing death, Than that which lives to fear: make it your
comfort, So happy is your brother.
Isab. I do, my lord. Re-enter Angelo, Mariana, Peter, and Provost. Duke. For this new-married man, approach
ing here, Whose salt imagination yet hath wronged
Your well-defended honour, you must pardon For Mariana's sake: but as he adjudged your
brother (Being criminal in double violation Of sacred chastity, and of promise-breach, Thereon dependent, for your brother's life), The very mercy of the law cries out Most audible, even from his proper tongue, “ An Angelo for Claudio, death for death.” Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure; Like doth quit like, and “ Measure" still " for
Measure." Then, Angelo, thy fault's thus manifested: Which though thou wouldst deny, denies thee
vantage: We do condemn thee to the very block Where Claudio stooped to death, and with like
haste: Away with him.
Mari. 0, my most gracious lord, I hope you will not mock me with a husband ! Duke. It is your husband mocked you with a
Mari. 0, my dear lord,
Duke. Never crave him; we are definitive.
[K'neeling. Duke. You do but lose your labour: Away with him to death.—Now, sir, [To Lucio.]
Mari. O, my good lord!—Sweet Isabel, take
my part; Lend me your knees, and all my life to come I 'll lend
my life to do you service.
Mari. Isabel, Sweet Isabel, do yet but kneel by me; Hold up your hands, say nothing, I 'll speak all. They say, best men are moulded out of faults ; And, for the most, become much more the better For being a little bad: so may my husband. 0, Isabel, will you not lend a knee?
Duke. He dies for Claudio's death.
Isab. Most bounteous sir, [Kneeling. Look, if it please you, on this man condemned As if my brother lived. I partly think A due sincerity governed his deeds,
Till he did look on me; since it is so,
Mari. Merely, my lord.
Duke. Your suit’s unprofitable; stand up, I say.
Prov. It was commanded so.
message. Duke. For which I do discharge you of your
office: Give up your keys.
Prov. Pardon me, noble lord :
Duke. What's he?
Duke. I would thou hadst done so by Claudio: Go, fetch him hither; let me look upon him.
[Exit Provost. Escal. I am sorry one so learned and so wise As you, Lord Angelo, have still appeared, Should slip so grossly, both in the heat of blood And lack of tempered judgment afterward.
Ang. I am sorry that such sorrow I procure : And so deep sticks it in my penitent heart, That I crave death more willingly than mercy; 'Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it.
As like almost to Claudio as himself.
[Unmuffles CLAUDIO. Duke. If he be like your brother, [ To ISABELLA.]
for his sake Is he pardoned : and, for your lovely sake, Give me your hand, and say you will be mine, He is my brother too: but fitter time for that. By this, Lord Angelo perceives he's safe; Methinks I see a quickening in his eye. Well, Angelo, your evil quits you well: Look that you love your wife; her worth, worth
Lucio. 'Faith, my lord, I spoke it but according to the trick. If you will hang me for it, you may; but I had rather it would please you I might be whipped.
Duke. Whipped first, sir, and hanged after. Proclaim it, Provost, round about the city, If any woman's wronged by this lewd fellow (As I have heard him swear himself, there's one Whom he begot with child), let her appear, And he shall marry her: the nuptial finished, Let him be whipped and hanged.
Lucio. I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore! Your highness said even now, I made you a duke: good my lord, do not recompense me in making me a cuckold.
Duke. Upon mine honour thou shalt marry her. Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal Remit thy other forfeits. Take him to prison; And see our pleasure herein executed.
Lucio. Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging.
Duke. Slandering a prince deserves it. She, Claudio, that you wronged, look you Joy to you, Mariana !- love her, Angelo ; I have confessed her, and I know her virtue. Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness : There's more behind that is more gratulate. Thanks, Provost, for thy care and secrecy; We shall employ thee in a worthier place. Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you The head of Ragozine for Claudio's; The offence pardons itself.—Dear Isabel, I have a motion much imports your good ; Whereto if you 'll a willing ear incline, What's mine is yours, and what is yours is mine. So bring us to our palace; where we 'll shew What 's yet behind, that's meet you all should
Re-enter Provost, BARNARDINE, Claudio, and
Duke. There was a friar told me of this man. Sirrah, thou art said to have a stubborn soul, That apprehends no further than this world, And squarest thy life according. Thou ’rt con
demned; But for those earthly faults, I quit them all ; And pray thee, take this mercy to provide For better times to come. Friar advise him ; I leave him to your hand.—What muffled fellow's
that ? Pror. This is another prisoner that I saved, That should have died when Claudio lost his head;
“ESCAL. What's o'clock, think you?
Act II., Scene 1. This passage amusingly marks the "early habits" of our ancestors at the period; for although the scene is laid in Vienna, we find in this play, as in most others, that Shakspere habitually attributes the local manners and customs of all parts of the world to those of his own country.
“ How would you be,
Like man new made."-Act II., Scene 2. This reduction of man to the very first associations of his primitive creation, when his soul was all innocence, and expanding with the ardent fulness of anxious sympathy, is one of the most exquisite images in Shakspere. It tells us that man is all merciful when all innocent: how much more, then, should he be merciful towards his fellow creatures when, as now, most guilty ?
“ Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence."-Act II., Scene 2. The soul, or essence, of a substance easily shattered to atoms; yet, which man ignorantly thinks he sees through, and is thus made conversant with all the depths of heaven beyond. The full meaning, in its peculiar subtlety, does not admit of literal explanation, and vanishes before the rude materiality of analysis.
“Would all themselves laugh mortal.” - Act II., Scene 2.
If angels had our spleens, they would laugh themselves into mortality at the fantastic tricks of mankind.
“ That skins the vice o' the top."-Act II., Scene 2. Brings a new skin or covering over the sore place.
" Prayers from preserved souls."-Act II., Scene 2.
Souls which have obtained salvation. Warburton, with equal gravity and sweetness, says, that “the metaphor is taken from fruits preserved in sugar!"
"An idle plume, Which the air beats for rain."--Act II., Scene 4. For "vain," we should probably read “ vane.”—My very gravity, in which I take such pride, I could change with advantage for an idle feather which the air beats like a vane, or weathercock.
“ The general, subject to a well-wished king,
Quit their own part."--Act II., Scene 4. The multitude, who happen to be the subjects of a be. loved monarch, forget their own place and distance.
“We have with a leavened and prepared choice," &c.
Act I., Scene I. This is one of Shakspere's fine, close metaphors. The choice, or determination, has been leavened ; and having thus passed through the stages of fermentation, has settled to a well-digested and dispassionate opinion. Dr. Johnson calls this one of Shakspere's harsh metaphors."
"Well, there went but a pair of shears between us."
Act I., Scene 2. We were made of the same stuff; and between thy " rieked villany" and mine, the difference is no wider than the edge of the shears that separated us.
As thou art piled, for a French velvet."-Act I., Scene 2.
A pun upon “piled” and “pilled.” This play, especially in its low-comedy scenes, contains a great many dirty allusions, elaborate explanations of which are to be found in Theobald, Warburton, Johnson, Collins, Tyrwhitt, Farmer, Steevens, Malone, and other erudite commentators.
“Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order."-Act I., Scene 3. Denunciation is here used in the sense of annunciation and legal sanction. It is evidently a wrong application of the word.
"With maids to seem the lapring."-Act I., Scene 5.
It is my sin to speak to maids with a tongue that is far from my heart; like the lapwing, which utters cries as it recedes further from its nest, and thus leads astray those who would discover its home.
" What know the laws That thieves do pass on thieves ?"-Act II., Scene 1. What know we of the laws which thieves have among themselves: or how should we know whether there be not thieves among the administrators of the laws, and the jurymen? The exact meaning is not clear.
“ You may not so extenuate his offence,
For I have had such faults."— Act II., Scene 1. You are not to excuse his faults because I may have committed the same.
"And some by virtue fall."-Act II., Scene 1. Virtue being frequently overwhelmed by the vices of the korld, falls into error or ruin. Some fall by the very strength of their best feelings and virtue.
"Some run from brakes of vice."-Act II., Scene 1. The "brake" or“ break" was an engine of torture, invented by the Duke of Exeter, and sometimes called “the Duke of Exeter's daughter.” The remains of one of these engines are
Whether the word in the above passage alludes to this, or to "a break" for young, wild, or vicious horses, is not clear.
in the Tower.
“ Our compelled sins Stand more for number than accompt."-Act II., Scene 4.
A fine moral axiom, to the effect, that the sins which are committed involuntarily, are rather set down as a numerical catalogue of the sins of the world, than as things for which we are individually accountable.
“As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But in the loss of question."— Act II., Scene 4. Loss of the argument, point, or object at issue. The connexion of the preceding line is indefinite and confused.
“ Yes, he would gire it thee for this rank offence,
So to offend him still."-Act III., Scene 1. He would give thee thy freedom, as the consequence of this offence, and thus continue to offend his own consistency. This is not a very satisfactory explanation, but the best we can give of the probable meaning.
shall stifle in your own report, And smell of calumny."--Act II., Scene 4. Your accusation will appear so gross, that it will stifle yourself, and be considered a mere calumny. Shakspere has most egregiously suffered from the love of the literal, in his commentators. Steevens informs us that the above is "a metaphor from a lamp or candle extinguished in its own grease!" He would have done better, in this way, to have said that it was taken from a cannon stifled in its own report, by the smell of gunpowder. The word smell is, however, used here in a sense common with Shakspere, as though he had said smacks of calumny; but according to this literal mode of perversion, we should have to understand calumny in the sense of so many boxes on the ears !
" Has he affections in him,
When he would force il ?"-Act III., Scene 1. Claudio is speaking of his approaching death, being condemned by Angelo enforcing an anomalous or obsolete law. The figure by which he expresses this, is a striking instance of Shakspere's love of the ridiculous, which often breaks out on the most serious and inappropriate occasions.
“Merely, thou art death's fool, For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun, And yet runn'st toward him still."
Act III., Scene I. This allegorical imagery is not used in an abstract sense only, for such things were actually represented on the stage in Shakspere's time. In some of the picces called “MoRALITIES," or "MYSTERIES," a figure of Death, with a large mouth, would appear, and the clown, or Fool of the piece, ran about in every direction to avoid him, and yet nearly fell into his jaws' at almost every turn. In Stowe's “SURVEY," the initial letter contains a drawing (probably copied from the life) of one of these struggles between Death and the Fool.
“ Thy best of rest is sleep,
Thy death, which is no more."--Act III., Scene I. Thou oft provokest, i. e., by courting it, or inducing it by narcotics. Dr. Warburton quotes a passage from Cicero, to prove that Shakspere borrowed the comparison of death with sleep. A dozen such passages might be found in the Greek and Latin authors, which might stand as equally likely originators of this comparison. But something worse than alleged plagiarism has been discovered in the whole of this fine speech. “ Here," says Dr. Johnson, “Dr. Warburton might have found a sentiment worthy of his animadversion. I cannot, without indignation find Shakspere saying that ' death is only sleep;' lengthening out his exhortation by a sentence, which, in the friar, is impious; in the reasoner, is foolish; and in the poet, trite and vulgar." The reader will here perceive Dr. Johnson's extreme ignorance of one of the first principles of the dramatic faculty, in thus making the dramatist personally responsible for arguments used by one of his characters for an especial purpose.
How would Shakspere look if certain sayings of Iago were produced as the poet's code of moral action? We should then have to balance them with those of an opposite tendency in his works, and the task would be equally ridiculous and inconclusive.
" To lie in cold obstruction."-Act III., Scene 1. Literally, to lie in the cold obstruction of the surrounding earth-the weight of the grave, pressing on all sides. The spiritual meaning of the expression hardly admits of verbal explanation.
“What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue."—Act III., Scene 1. "One of the most dramatic passages in the present play," says Hazlitt, in his "CHARACTERS OF SHAKSPERE's Plays," " is the interview between Claudio and his sister, when she comes to inform him of the conditions on which Angelo will spare his life. What adds to the dramatic beauty of the scene, and the effect of Claudio's passionate attachment to life, is that it immediately follows the Duke's lecture to him, in the character of the Friar, recommending an absolute indifference to it." The attempt of Claudio to prove to his sister that the loss of her chastity, upon such an occasion, will be a virtue, is finely characteristic of the profound knowledge Shakspere possessed of the intricate complexities of the human heart. “Shakspere was, in one sense, the least moral of all writers," says Hazlitt ; " for morality (commonly so called) is made up of antipathies; and his talent consisted in sympathy with human nature, in all its shapes, degrees, depressions, and elevations. The object of the pedantic moralist is to find out the bad in everything: his was to shew that there is some soul of goodness in things evil.'" With reference to the representation of such scenes on the stage, Schlegel makes the following manly and philosophical observations (LecTURES ON DRAMATIC ART AND LITERATURE, Vol. II., Sect.12):-“It is certainly to be wished that decency should be observed on all public occasions, and consequently also on the stage ; but even in this, it is possible to go too far. That censorious spirit, which scents out impurity in every sally of a bold and vivacious description, is at best but an ambiguous criterion of purity of morals; and there is frequently concealed under this hypocrisy the consciousness of an impure imagination. The determination to tolerate nothing which has the least reference to the sensual relation between the two sexes, may be carried to a pitch extremely oppressive to a dramatic poet, and injurious to the boldness and freedom of his composition. If considerations of such a nature were to be attended to, many of the happiest parts of the plays of Shakspere, for example, in “MEASURE POR MEASURE,' and 'All's WELL THAT Expg WELL,' which are handled with a due regard to decency, must be set aside for their impropriety.”
" A restraint,
To a determined scope."-Act III., Scene 1. Though you were the possessor of the vast world, the terms proposed will fetter you to a fixed limit.
" For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issued from his blood."-Act III., Scene 1. Such a crooked slip or twig from a wild and pathless waste ne'er issued from my father's blood.
“Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear."
Act III., Scene 1. Would strip you of your honour, as the bark is stripped from the tree.
" And the corrupt deputy scaled."-Act III., Scene 1.
Weighed in the scales of justice; or perhaps it may mean that the scales covering his hypocrisy will be torn off.
“ The business he hath helmed."-Act III., Scene 2.
The business, or vessel of the state, of which he hath taken the helm.
“ This would make mercy swear."-Act III., Scene 2.
“ MEASURE FOR MEASURE" has had the equivocal good fortune of exhibiting, to a more than usual extent, the learned energies of equally astonished and astonishing commentators. Farmer says, “I do not much like mercy swear,' the old reading; or • mercy swerve,' Dr. Warburton's correction. I believe it should be, this would make mercy severe.' It hence appears, that when these gentlemen came to a word or expression in Shakspere, which they did not understand, or did not much like, they deliberately altered it with great self-congratulation, to adapt it to their own sense. Steevens objects to these corrections of “the old reading," and he does $0,--not because the system is presumptuous, destructive to originality, and therefore vicious at all times,-but because, with reference to the passage in question, as to the propriety of “mercy" being so outraged as to "swear," he suddenly recollects that we sometimes say of a thing, “ It is enough to make a parson swear."
" Take, oh take those lips away."-Act IV., Scene 1. This is only the first verse of a song attributed to Shakspere, and no doubt written by him, which was among his poems, printed in 1640. Some of these poems are considered of doubtful authority, and the whole of this beautiful song appears also in Beaumont's tragedy of “THE BLOODY BROTHER."
The second verse is as follows :-
Which thy frozen bosom bears,
Are of those that April wears.
“ With whispering and most guilty diligence,
Act IV., Scene 1. So that, had they been seen, it would have appeared to the spectators, by the action and gesticulation of Angelo, that he was giving her sage precepts and moral instruction.
“ The moated grange."--Act III., Scene 1. A lonely house or farm, with a moat round it. A grange formerly meant the farm-house belonging to a monastery, and situated at some distance. On this suggestion of the utter desolation of the life of Mariana, whose loving and deserted heart was left to prey upon itself, and to torment her imagination with one constant, unchangeable, and unavailing idea, a beautiful poem has been founded by Tennyson, from which we give the following stanzas :
“Upon the middle of the night,
Waking, she heard the night-fowl crow;
From the dark fen the oxen's low
In sleep she seemed to walk forlorn,
Till cold winds woke the grey-eyed morn
She only said, * The day is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
I would that I were dead !'
** All day within the dreamy house,
The door upon the hinges creaked,
Behind the mouldering wainscot shrieked,
Old faces glimmered through the doors,
Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
She only said, “My life is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
I would that I were dead!'"
"We shall have all the world drink brown and white bastard."
Act III., Scene 2. “Bastard" was a sweet wine. It generally meant raisin wine. Of course there is a double meaning in the use of the word here.
"'T tas nerer merry world since, of two usuries, the merriest was put down; and the worser allowed, by order of law, a farred gown to keep him warm; and furred with fox and lambokies too," &c.-Act III., Scene 2.
Dr. Johnson explains the “two usuries" by observing that usury may be used by an easy licence for the professors of usury." The expression appears to mean more than this; and to suggest the extortion of a large interest upon capital in other matters not exactly connected with the monetary professors. These latter are “the worser," who wear fox and lamb-skin facings, which were much worn in Shaks pere's time. The two usuries, however, seem to interpenetrate each other, or to have some peculiar jest in common.
“His neck will come to your waist; a cord, Sir."
Act III., Scene 2. Alluding to the cord round a friar's waist.
"He puts transgression to'l."-Act III., Scene 2. He puts transgression to its wit's end, or to the last shift, by the exercise of his new authority.
“A ducat in her clack-dish."-Act III., Scene 2. A wooden dish, with a cover which beggars were accustomed to clack up and down, by way of reminding the passengers of their charity.
“The greater file of the subject," &c.-Act III., Scene 2. The larger number,--the majority of the people.