« PreviousContinue »
ment of lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
Duke. Is it now apparent ?
Duke. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How seems he to be touch'd?
Prov. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully, but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless of what's past, present, or to come; insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.
Duke. He wants advice.
Prov. He will hear none : he hath evermore had the liberty of the prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not: drunk many times a day, not many days entirely drunk. We have very often awaked him, as if to carry him to execution, and show'd him a seeming warrant for it: it hath not mov'd him at all.
Duke. More of him anon. There is written in your brow, provost, honesty and constancy: *I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning, I will lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have a warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath sentenced him: to make you understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but four days respite ; for the which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous courtesy.
Prov. Pray, sir, in what?
Prov. Alack ! how may I do it? having the hour limited; and an express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the smallest.
Duke. By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if my instructions may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning executed, and his head be borne to Angelo.
Prov. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour. 1
Duke. O, death's a great disguiser : and you may add to it. Shave the head, and tie the beard ; and say, it was the desire of the penitent to be so bared before his death: you know, the course is
If any thing fall to you upon this, more than thanks and good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I will plead against it with my life.
Prov. Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.
Duke. Were you sworn to the duke, or to the deputy ?
Prov. To him, and to his substitutes.
Duke. You will think you have made no offence, if the duke arouch the justice of your dealing ?
Prov. But what likelihood is in that?
Duke. Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor my persuasion, can with ease attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the duke. You know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is not strange to you.
Prov. I know them both.
Duke. Th contents of this is the return of the duke; you shall anon over-read it at your pleasure; where you shall find, within these two days he will be here. This is a thing, that Angelo knows not : for he this very day receives letters of strange tenor ; perchance, of the duke's death ; perchance, entering into some monastery ; but, by chance, nothing of what is writ.-Look, the unfolding star calls up the shepherd : put not yourself into amazement, how these things should be: all difficulties are but easy when they are known. Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine's head: I will give him a present shrift, and advise
him for a better place. Yet you are amazed; but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come away; it is almost clear dawn.
SCENE III.- Another room in the same. Enter
Clown. Clo. I am as well acquainted bere, as I was in our house of profession : one would think, it were mistress Over-done's own house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young master Rash; he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds; of which he made five marks, ready money : marry, then, ginger was not much in request, for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one master Ca. per, at the suit of master Three-pile the mercer, for some four suits of peach-colour'd satin, which now peaches him a beggar. Then have we here young Dižy, and young master Deep-vow, and master Copper-spur, and master Starve-lackey the rapier and dagger-man, and young Drop-heir that kill'd lusty Pudding, and master Forthright the tilter, and brave master Shoe-tie the great traveller, and wild Half-cann that stabb'd Pots, and, I think, forty more; all great doers in our trade, and are now for the Lord's sake.
Clo. Master Barnardine! you must rise and be hang'd, master Barnardine.
Åbhor. What, ho, Barnardine!
Barnar. (Within.] A pox o' your throats ! Who makes that noise there? What are you?
Clo. Your friends, sir; the hangman: you must be so good, sir, to rise and be put to death.
Barnar. (Within.] Away, you rogue, away; I am sleepy.
Abhor. Tell him, he must awake, and that quickly too.
Clo. Pray, master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and sleep afterwards.
Abhor. Go in to him, and fetch him out.
Clo. He is coming, sir, he is coming ; I hear his straw rustle.
Abhorson? what's the news with you?
Abhor. Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers; for, look you, the warrant's come.
Barnar. You rogue, I have been drinking all night, I am not fitted for't.
Clo. O, the better, sir; for he that drinks all night, and is hang'd betimes in the morning, may sleep the sounder
all the next day.
Enter Duke. Abhor. Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father ; do we jest now, think you?
Duke. Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with you. Barnar. Friar, not l; I have been drinking hard
night, and I will have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my brains with billets : I will not consent to die this day, that's certain.
Duke. O, sir, you must: and therefore, I beLook forward on the journey you shall go.
Barnar. I swear, I will not die to-day for any man's persuasion.
Duke. But hear you,
Barnar. Not a word; if you have any thing to say to me, come to my ward; for thence will not I to-day.
(Exit. Enter Provost. Duke. Unfit to live, or die: 0, gravel heart !
After him, fellows; bring him to the block.
(Exeunt Abhorson and Clown. Proo. Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?
Duke. A creature unprepar'd, unmeet for death; And, to transport him in the mind he is, Were damnable. Prov.
Here in the prison, father, There died this morning of a cruel fever One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate, A man of Claudio's years ; his beard, and head, Just of his colour : What if we do omit This reprobate, till he were well inclin'd; And satisfy the deputy with the visage Of Rayozine, more like to Claudio ?
Duke. O, 'tis an accident that Heaven provides ! Despatch it presently; the hour draws on Prefix'd by Angelo: See, this be done, And sent according to command; whiles I Persuade this rude wretch willingly to die.
Prov. This shall be done, good father, presently.
Prov. I am your free dependant.
(1) The antipodes.