Isab. Let be ignorant, and in nothing good, But graciously to know I am no better

Ang. Thus wisdome wishes to appeare most bright, When it doth taxe it selfe: As these blacke Masques Proclaime an en-shield beauty ten times louder Then beauty could displaied: But marke me, To be receiued plaine, Ile speake more grosse: Your Brother is to dye

Isab. So

Ang. And his offence is so, as it appeares, Accountant to the Law, vpon that paine

Isab. True

Ang. Admit no other way to saue his life (As I subscribe not that, nor any other, But in the losse of question) that you, his Sister, Finding your selfe desir'd of such a person, Whose creadit with the Iudge, or owne great place, Could fetch your Brother from the Manacles Of the all-building-Law: and that there were No earthly meane to saue him, but that either You must lay downe the treasures of your body, To this supposed, or else to let him suffer: What would you doe? Isab. As much for my poore Brother, as my selfe; That is: were I vnder the tearmes of death, Th' impression of keene whips, I'ld weare as Rubies, And strip my selfe to death, as to a bed, That longing haue bin sicke for, ere I'ld yeeld My body vp to shame

Ang. Then must your brother die

Isa. And 'twer the cheaper way: Better it were a brother dide at once, Then that a sister, by redeeming him Should die for euer

Ang. Were not you then as cruell as the Sentence, That you haue slander'd so? Isa. Ignomie in ransome, and free pardon Are of two houses: lawfull mercie, Is nothing kin to fowle redemption

Ang. You seem'd of late to make the Law a tirant, And rather prou'd the sliding of your brother A merriment, then a vice

Isa. Oh pardon me my Lord, it oft fals out To haue, what we would haue, We speake not what we meane; I something do excuse the thing I hate, For his aduantage that I dearely loue

Ang. We are all fraile

Isa. Else let my brother die, If not a fedarie but onely he Owe, and succeed thy weaknesse

Ang. Nay, women are fraile too

Isa. I, as the glasses where they view themselues, Which are as easie broke as they make formes: Women? Helpe heauen; men their creation marre In profiting by them: Nay, call vs ten times fraile, For we are soft, as our complexions are, And credulous to false prints

Ang. I thinke it well: And from this testimonie of your owne sex (Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger Then faults may shake our frames) let me be bold; I do arrest your words. Be that you are, That is a woman; if you be more, you'r none. If you be one (as you are well exprest By all externall warrants) shew it now, By putting on the destin'd Liuerie

Isa. I haue no tongue but one; gentle my Lord, Let me entreate you speake the former language

Ang. Plainlie conceiue I loue you

Isa. My brother did loue Iuliet, And you tell me that he shall die for't

Ang. He shall not Isabell if you giue me loue

Isa. I know your vertue hath a licence in't, Which seemes a little fouler then it is, To plucke on others

Ang. Beleeue me on mine Honor, My words expresse my purpose

Isa. Ha? Little honor, to be much beleeu'd, And most pernitious purpose: Seeming, seeming. I will proclaime thee Angelo, looke for't. Signe me a present pardon for my brother, Or with an out-stretcht throate Ile tell the world aloud What man thou art

Ang. Who will beleeue thee Isabell? My vnsoild name, th' austeerenesse of my life, My vouch against you, and my place i'th State, Will so your accusation ouer-weigh, That you shall stifle in your owne report, And smell of calumnie. I haue begun, And now I giue my sensuall race, the reine, Fit thy consent to my sharpe appetite, Lay by all nicetie, and prolixious blushes That banish what they sue for: Redeeme thy brother, By yeelding vp thy bodie to my will, Or else he must not onelie die the death, But thy vnkindnesse shall his death draw out To lingring sufferance: Answer me to morrow, Or by the affection that now guides me most, Ile proue a Tirant to him. As for you, Say what you can; my false, ore-weighs your true.


Isa. To whom should I complaine? Did I tell this, Who would beleeue me? O perilous mouthes That beare in them, one and the selfesame tongue, Either of condemnation, or approofe, Bidding the Law make curtsie to their will, Hooking both right and wrong to th' appetite, To follow as it drawes. Ile to my brother, Though he hath falne by prompture of the blood, Yet hath he in him such a minde of Honor, That had he twentie heads to tender downe On twentie bloodie blockes, hee'ld yeeld them vp, Before his sister should her bodie stoope To such abhord pollution. Then Isabell liue chaste, and brother die; ``More then our Brother, is our Chastitie. Ile tell him yet of Angelo's request, And fit his minde to death, for his soules rest.


William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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