Pro. Who can do good on him? Well, go, prepare your selfe. But harke, what noise? Heauen giue your spirits comfort: by, and by, I hope it is some pardon, or repreeue For the most gentle Claudio. Welcome Father.

Enter Duke.

Duke. The best, and wholsomst spirits of the night, Inuellop you, good Prouost: who call'd heere of late? Pro. None since the Curphew rung

Duke. Not Isabell? Pro. No

Duke. They will then er't be long

Pro. What comfort is for Claudio? Duke. There's some in hope

Pro. It is a bitter Deputie

Duke. Not so, not so: his life is paralel'd Euen with the stroke and line of his great Iustice: He doth with holie abstinence subdue That in himselfe, which he spurres on his powre To qualifie in others: were he meal'd with that Which he corrects, then were he tirrannous, But this being so, he's iust. Now are they come. This is a gentle Prouost, sildome when The steeled Gaoler is the friend of men: How now? what noise? That spirit's possest with hast, That wounds th' vnsisting Posterne with these strokes

Pro. There he must stay vntil the Officer Arise to let him in: he is call'd vp

Duke. Haue you no countermand for Claudio yet? But he must die to morrow? Pro. None Sir, none

Duke. As neere the dawning Prouost, as it is, You shall heare more ere Morning

Pro. Happely You something know: yet I beleeue there comes No countermand: no such example haue we: Besides, vpon the verie siege of Iustice, Lord Angelo hath to the publike eare Profest the contrarie.

Enter a Messenger.

Duke. This is his Lords man

Pro. And heere comes Claudio's pardon

Mess. My Lord hath sent you this note, And by mee this further charge; That you swerue not from the smallest Article of it, Neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow: for as I take it, it is almost day

Pro. I shall obey him

Duke. This is his Pardon purchas'd by such sin, For which the Pardoner himselfe is in: Hence hath offence his quicke celeritie, When it is borne in high Authority. When Vice makes Mercie; Mercie's so extended, That for the faults loue, is th' offender friended. Now Sir, what newes? Pro. I told you: Lord Angelo (be-like) thinking me remisse In mine Office, awakens mee With this vnwonted putting on, methinks strangely: For he hath not vs'd it before

Duk. Pray you let's heare.

The Letter.

Whatsoeuer you may heare to the contrary, let Claudio be executed by foure of the clocke, and in the afternoone Bernardine: For my better satisfaction, let mee haue Claudios head sent me by fiue. Let this be duely performed with a thought that more depends on it, then we must yet deliuer. Thus faile not to doe your Office, as you will answere it at your perill. What say you to this Sir? Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be executed in th' afternoone? Pro. A Bohemian borne: But here nurst vp & bred, One that is a prisoner nine yeeres old

Duke. How came it, that the absent Duke had not either deliuer'd him to his libertie, or executed him? I haue heard it was euer his manner to do so

Pro. His friends still wrought Repreeues for him: And indeed his fact till now in the gouernment of Lord Angelo, came not to an vndoubtfull proofe

Duke. It is now apparant? Pro. Most manifest, and not denied by himselfe

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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