網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

But can you,

Kneel down before him, hang upon

his

gown; You are too cold: if

you

should need a pin, You could not with more tame a tongue desire it: To him, I say.

Isab. Must he needs die ?
Ang.

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.
Isab.

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 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 3 this,
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 stern.

Ang. Pray you, begone.

Isab. I would to heaven I had your potency, And

Isabel! should it then be thus? No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge, And what a prisoner.

you

Lucio. Ay, touch him : there's the vein. [Aside.

Ang. Your brother is a forfeit of the law, And you but waste your

words. Isab.

Alas! alas! 3 i. e. be assured of it.

were

him :

Why, all the souls 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 judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made 4.
Ang.

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. To-morrow? O, that's sudden! Spare him,

spare He's not prepar’d for death! Even for our kitchens We kill the fowl of season 5: shall 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. Lucio.

Ay, well said. Ang. The law hath not been dead, though it hath

slept 6: 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 7, that shows what future evils, (Either now, or by remissness new-conceiv'd, And so in progress to be hatch'd and born),

4 "You will then be as tender hearted and merciful as the first man was in his days of innocence.'

5 i. e. when in season. 6 Dormiunt aliquando leges, moriuntur nunquam,' is a maxim of our law.

7 This alludes to the deceptions of the fortune-tellers, who pretended to see future events in a beryl, or crystal glass.

Are now to have no successive degrees,
But, where they live, to end.
Isab.

Yet show some pity.
Ang. I show it most of all, when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall;
And do him right, that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;
Your brother dies to-morrow : be content.
Isab. So

you must be the first, that gives this sen

tence:
And he, that suffers : 0, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
Lucio.

That's well said.
Isab. Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting', petty officer,
Would use his heaven for thunder; nothing but

thunder.
Merciful heaven!
Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt,
Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled 10 oak,
Than the soft myrtle 11 :—But man, proud man!
Drest in a little brief authority:
Most ignorant of what he's most assur’d,
His glassy essence,-- like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastick tricks before high heaven,

8 One of Judge Hale’s ‘Memorials’ is of the same tendency:"When I find myself swayed to mercy, let me remember that there is a mercy likewise due to the country.' 9 Pelting for paltry.

10 Gnarled, knotted. 11 Mr. Douce has remarked the close affinity between this passage and one in the second satire of Persius. Yet we have no translation of that poet of Shakspeare's age.

Ignovisse putas, quia, cum tonat, ocyus ilex
Sulfure discutitur sacro, quam tuque domusque?

As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal 12.

Lucio. O, to him, to him, wench: he will relent;
He's coming, I perceive’t.
Prov.

Pray heaven, she win him!
Isab. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:
Great men may jest with saints: 'tis wit in them;
But, in the less, foul profanation.

Lucio. Thou’rt in the right, girl; more o' that.

Isab. That in the captain's but a cholerick word,
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

Lucio. Art advis'd o' that? more on't.
Ang. Why do you put these sayings upon me?

Isab. Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself,
That skins the vice o' the top 13: Go to your bosom;
Knock there, and ask your heart, what it doth know
That's like

my

brother's fault: if it confess
A natural guiltiness, such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.
Ang.

She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense, that

my

breeds with it 14 _Fare

sense

you well.

Isab. Gentle my lord, turn back.
Ang. I will bethink me: - Come again to-morrow.
Isab. Hark, how I'll bribe you: Good my lord,

turn back.

12 The notion of angels weeping for the sins of men is rabbinical. By spleens Shakspeare meant that peculiar turn of the human mind, that always inclines it to a spiteful and unseasonable mirth. Had the angels that, they would laugh themselves out of their immortality, by indulging a passion unworthy of that prerogative.

13 Shakspeare has used this indelicate metaphor again in Hamlet: :- It will but skin and film the ulcerous place.'

14 i. e. Such sense as breeds or produces a consequence in his mind. Malone thought that sense here meant sensual desire.

[ocr errors]

Ang. How! bribe me?
Isab. Ay, with such gifts, that heaven shall share

with you.

Lucio. You had marr'd all else.

Isab. Not with fond 15 shekels of the tested 16 gold, Or stones, whose rates are either rich, or poor, As fancy values them: but with true prayers, That shall be up at heaven, and enter there, Ere sun-rise; prayers from preserved 17 souls, From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate To nothing temporal. Ang.

Well: come to me
To-morrow.

Lucio. Go to; it is well away. [Aside to ISABEL.
Isab. Heaven keep your honour safe!
Ang.

Amen 18 For I am that way going to temptation, [Aside. Where prayers cross 19.

At what hour to-morrow Shall I attend your lordship? Ang.

At any time 'fore noon. Isab. Save your honour!

[Exeunt Lucio, ISABELLA, and Provost. Ang. From thee; even from thy virtue.What's this? what's this? Is this her fault, or mine?

Isab.

15 Fond, in its old signification sometimes meant foolish. In its modern sepse it evidently implied a doting or extravagant affection; here it signifies overvalued or prized by folly.

16 i. e. tried, refined.
17 Preserved from the corruption of the world.

18 Isabella prays that his honour may be safe, meaning only to give him his title: his imagination is caught by the word honour, he feels that it is in danger, and therefore says amen to her benediction.

19 The petition of the Lord's Prayer, 'Lead us not into temptation,'- is here considered as crossing or intercepting the way in which Angelo was going : be was exposing himself to temptation by the appointment for the morrow's meeting. VOL. II.

E

« 上一頁繼續 »