« PreviousContinue »
A Room in a Prison.
Enter Duke, habited like a Friar, and Provost. Duke. Hail to you, provost ! so, I think, you are. Prov. I am the provost: What's your will, good
friar ? Duke. Bound by my charity, and my bless'd order, I come to visit the afflicted spirits Here in the prison : do me the common right To let me see them, and to make me know The nature of their crimes, that I may
minister To them accordingly. Prov. I would do more than that, if more were needful.
Enter JULIET. Look, here comes one; a gentlewoman of mine, Who, falling in the flames of her own youth, Hath blister'd her report: She is with child ; And he that got it, sentenc'd; a young man More fit to do another such offence Than die for this. Duke.
When must he die ? Prov. As I do think, to-morrow. [TO JULIET.] I have provided for you: stay a while, And you shall be conducted.
Duke. Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry ?
I'll gladly learn.
Duke. So then, it seems, your most offenceful act Was mutually committed ? Juliet.
Mutually. Duke. Then was your sin of heavier kind than
his. Juliet. I do confess it, and repent it, father. Duke. 'Tis meet so, daughter : But lest you do
repent, As that the sin hath brought you to this shame, Which sorrow is always towards ourselves, not
Juliet. I do repent me, as it is an evil;
[Exit. Juliet. Must die to-morrow! O, injurious law,: That respites me a life, whose very comfort Is still a dying horror! Prov.
'Tis pity of him. [Exeunt.
A Room in ANGELO's House.
Ang. When I would pray and think, I think and
pray To several subjects : Heaven hath my empty words ;
1 That is, not spare to offend Heaven.
3 Sir Thomas Hanmer proposed to read law instead of love; a coading that coheres well with the Provost's reply.
invention,' hearing not my tongue, Anchors on Isabel : Heaven in my mouth, As if I did but only chew His name ; And in my heart, the strong and swelling evil Of my conception. The state, whereon I studied, Is like a good thing, being often read, Growr. sear’d’ and tedious; yea, my gravity: Wherein (let no man hear me) I take pride, Could I, with boot, change for an idle plume, Which the air beats for vain. O place! O form! How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit, Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls To thy false seeming !" Blood, thou art blood ! Let's write good angel on the devil's horn, 'Tis not the devil's crest.”
· Invention for imagination. So, in Henry V.:
“O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention.” • Respecting this word, which is usually given as feard, it is quite remarkable that of the first folio some copies read feur'd, and others sear'd, as if the correction were made while the edition was going through the press; though which way the change ran is not altogether certain. Such a use of either word is singular enough : but on the whole we prefer seard, as it agrees very well with the Poet's use of that word in other places. Thus, in The Comedy of Errors, Acı iv. sc. 2:
" He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac'd, worse-bodied, shapeless every where." And again, in the well-known passage in Macbeth:
“ I have liv'd long enough ; my way of life
Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf.”
“ All so my lustfull leafe is drie and sere,
My timely buds with wayling all are wasted.”
Shakespeare judiciously distinguishes the different operations of high place upon different minds. Fools are frighted and wise men allured. Those who cannot judge but by the eye are easi. ly awed by splendour ; those who consider men as well as condi. tions, are easily persuaded to love the appearance of virtue dig nified with power.
6 The crest was often emblematic of something in the wearer, please me, Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot
How now! who's there?
One Isabel, a sister,
Teach her the way. (Exit Sero.
fair maid ? Isab.
I am come to know your pleasure. Ang. That you might know it, would much better Isab. Even so ? - Heaven keep your honour !
such, for example, as his ancestral name. « The devil's horn" is “ the devil's crest;” but if we write “good angel” on it, the emblem is overlooked in the “ false seeming; ” we think it is not the devil's horn, because itself tells us otherwise.
HI 6 That is, the people or multitude subject to a king. So, in Hamlet : “ The play pleased not the million ; 'twas caviare to the general.” It is supposed that Shakespeare, in this passage, and in one before, Act i. sc. 2, intended to flatter the unkingly weakness of James I., which made him so impatient of the crowds which flocked to see him, at his first coming, that he restrained them hy a proclamation.
[Retiring Ang. Yet may he live awhile; and it may be, As long as you, or I: Yet he must die.
Isab. Under your sentence ?
Isab. When, I beseech you ? that in his reprieve,
It were as good To pardon him, that hath from nature stolen A man already made,' as to remit Their saucy sweetness, that do coin Heaven's image In stamps that are forbid : 'tis all as easy Falsely to take away a life true made, As to put mettle in restrained means, To make a false one.8
Isab., 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth
Ang. Say you so ? then I shall pose you quickly Which had you rather, that the most just law Now took your brother's life; or, to redeem him, Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness, As she that he hath stain'd ? Isab.
Sir, believe this, I had rather give my body than my soul.
Ang. I talk not of your soul: Our compellid sins Stand more for number than accompt."
9 That is, that hath killed a man.
$ The thought is simply, that murder is as easy as fornication and the inference which Angelo would draw is, that it is as in proper to pardon the latter as the former.
9 Isabel appears to use the words “ give my body” in a differ. ent sense than Angelo. Her meaning appears to be,“ I had rather die than forfeit my eternal happiness by the prostitution of my person.”
10 That is, actions that we are compelled to, however numer ous, are not imputed to us by Heaven as crimes.