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Enter Lucio and ISABELLA.
Prov. Save your honour!! [ Offering to retire. Ang. Stay a little while. :-[To ISAB.) You are welcome: What's
will? Isab. I am a woeful fuitor to your honour, Please but
honour hear me. ANG.
Well; what's your suit? Isab. There is a vice, that most I do abhor, And most defire should meet the blow of justice; For which I would not plead, but that I must; For which I must not plead, but that I am At war, 'twixt will, and will not.
9 Save your honour !) Your honour, which is so often repeated in this scene, was in our author's time the usual mode of address 10 a lord. It had become antiquated af:er the Restoration ; for Sir William D'Avenant in his alteration of this play has substituted jour excellence in the room of it, MALONE.
Stay a little while.] It is not clear why the Provost is bidden to stay, nor when he goes out. JOHNSON.
The entrance of Lucio and Isabelia should not, perhaps, be made till after Angelo's fpeech to tlie Provost, who had only announced a lady, and seems to be detained as a witness to the purity of the deputy's conversation with her. His exit may be fixed with that of Lucio and Ifabella. He cannot remain longer, and there is no reason to think he departs before. Ritson,
Stay a little while, is said by Angelo, in answer to the words, « Save your honour;" which denoted the Provost's intention to depart. Isabella uses the same words to Angelo, when she goes out, near the conclusion of this scene. So also, when she offers to retire, on finding her suis ineffe&ual: - Heaven keep your honour !"
MALONE. 3 For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war, 'twixt will, and will not. This is obscure; perhaps it may be mended by reading : For which I must now plead ; but yet I am
'Iwixt will, and will not. 1st and ye are almost undistinguishable in an ancient manufcript.
Well; the matter?
PROV. Heaven give thee moving graces!
ANG. Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it!
O juft, but severe law!
[Retiring. Lucio. (To ISAB.] Give't not o'er fo: to him
again, intreat him ;
Yet no alteration is necessary, fince the speech is not unintelligible as it now stands. JOHNSON.
For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war, 'twixt will, and will not.] i. e. for which I muft not plead, but that there is a confli& in my breast betwixt affe&ion for my brother, which induces me to plead for him, and my regard to virtue, which forbids me to intercede for one guilty of such a crime; and I find the former more powerful than the latter. MALONE.
let it be his fault, And not my brother.] i, e. let his fault be condemned, or extis. pated, but let not my brother himself suffer. MALONE. s To find the faults,] The old copy reads To fine, &c.
STEEVENS. To fine means, I think, to pronounce the fine or sentence of the law, appointed for certain crimes. Mr. Theobald, without neceflity, reads find. The repetition is much in our author's manner: MALONE. Theobald's emendation may be justified by a passage in King Lear:
« All's not offerice that indiscrétion finds,
ISAB. Must he needs die?
Maiden, no remedy. ISAB. Yes; I do think that you might pardon him, And neither heaven, nor man, grieve at the mercy.
ANG. I will not do't.
But can you, if you would? ANG. Look, what I will not, that I cannot do. IsaB. But might you do't, and do the world no
wrong, If so your heart were touch'd with that remorse 6 As mine is to him? ANG.
He's sentenc’d; 'tis too late. LUCIO. You are too cold. [To ISABELLA.
ISAB. Too late? why, no; I, that do speak a word, May call it back again :? Well believe this, 8 No ceremony that to great ones ’longs, Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, Become them with one half so good a grace, As mercy does. If he had been as you, And you as he, you would have slipt like him; But he, like you, would not have been so ftern.
touch'd with that remorse - ] Remorse, in this place, as in many others, signifies pity. So, in the 5th Ad of this play :
« My fifterly remorse confutes my honour,
And I did yield to him."
- The perfed iniage of a wretched creature,
His speeches beg remorse." See Othello, Ad III. STEEVENS.
7 May call it back again :] The word back was inserted by the editor of the second folio, for the sake of the metre. MALONE. Surely, it is added for the sake of sense as well as metre. STEEVENS. Well believe this,] Be thoroughly assured of this.
ANG. Pray you, begone.
Isab. I would to heaven I had your potency, And you were Isabel! should it then be thus? No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge, And what a prisoner.
Lucio. Ay,, touch him: there's the vein. [Afde.
ANG. Your brother is a forfeit of the law, And you but waste
Alas! alas! Why, all the fouls that were, were forfeit once; And He that might the vantage best have took, Found out the remedy: How would you be, If he, which is the top of judgement, should But judge you as you are? O, think on that; And mercy then will breathe within your lips, Like man new made.
all the fouls that were, ] This is falle divinity. We should read
WARBURTON. I fear, the player, in this instance, is a better divine than the prelate. The souls that were, evidently refer to Adam and Eve, whose transgression rendered them obnoxious to the penalty of annihilation, but for the remedy which the author of their being most graciously provided. The learned Bishop, however, is more successful in his next explanation. HENLEY. 2 And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made. ] This is a fine thought, and finely expressed. The meaning is, that mercy will add such a grace to your perfon, that you will appear as amiable as a man come fresh out of the hands of his Creator. WARBURTON.
I rather think the meaning is, . You will then change the severity of your prefent character. In familiar speech, You would be quite another mañ. Johnson.
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made. ) Yoú will then appear as tender-hearted and merciful as the first man was in his days of innocence, immcdiately after his creation. MALONE,
I incline 10 a different interpretation : And you, Angelo, will . breathe new life into Claudio , as the Creator animated Adam, by a breathing into his noftrils the breath' of life." HOLT WHITE.
Be you content, fair maid; It is the law, not I, condemns your brother: Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son, It should be thus with him ;-he must die to-morrow. ISAB. Tomorrow? O, that's sudden! Spare him,
spare him; He's not prepar'd for death! Even for our kitchens We kill the fowl of season; • fhall we serve heaven With less respect than we do minister To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink
you: Who is it that hath died for this offence? There's many have committed it.
Ay, well said, Ang. The law hath not been dead, though it hath
slept : 3 Those many
had not dar'd to do that evil, If the first man that did the edict infringe, Had answer'd for his deed: now, 'tis awake: Takes note of what is done; and, like a prophet, Looks in a glass,' that shows what future evils,
of season;] i. c. when it is in season. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: buck; and of the season too it shall appear.
STEEVENS. 3 The law hath not been dead, though it hath sept :) Dormiunt ali. quando leges, moriuntur nunquam, is a maxim in our law. HOLT WHITE.
4 If the first man, &c.] The word man has been supplied by the modern cditors. I would rather read
If he, the first, &c. TYRWHITT.
like a prophet, Looks in a glass, ] This alludes to the fopperies of the beril, much used at that time by cheats and fortune-tellers to predi& by.
WARBURTON. See Macbeth, A& IV. sc. i. So again, in Vittoria Corombona, 1612 :
« How long have I beheld the devil in chryftal? STEEVENS. The beril, which is a kind of crystal, hath a weak tincture of