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Prov. Go to, sir; you weigh equally: a feather will turn the scale.
[Exit. Clo. Pray, sir, by your good favour, (for, surely, sir, a good favour you have, but that you have a hanging look,) do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery ?
Abhor. Ay, sir; a mystery.
Clo. Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and your whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery ; but what mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hang'd, I cannot imagine.
Abhor. Sir, it is a mystery.
Cl. If it be too little for your thief, your true man thinks it big enough; if it be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little enough: so, every true man's apparel fits your thief
Prov. Are you agreed ?
Clo. Sir, I will serve him; for I do find, your hangman is a more penitent trade than your bawd: he doth oftener ask forgiveness.
Prov. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe tomorrow, four o'clock.
Abhor. Come on, bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade : follow.
Clo. I do desire to learn, sir; and, I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare'; for, truly, sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn. Prov. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio:
[Exeunt Clown and ABHORSON.
? — 80, every true man's apparel fits your thief.] This is the old and the correct division of the dialogue, though the last speech of the Clown has been usually coupled with Abhorson's answer. The Clown asks Abhorson for “ proof” that his occupation is a mystery, and receives for reply, merely, “ Every true man's (i.e. honest man's) apparel fits your thief.” The Clown, who is a quick fellow, instantly catches at the mode of reasoning passing in Abhorson's mind, and explains in what way“ every true man's apparel fits your thief.” Abhorson is not a man of many words, and contents himself with the assertion upon which the Clown enlarges.
3 — YARE;] i. e. Handy, nimble in the execution of the office. See this Vol. pp. 13. 81, Vol. ii. p. 699, Vol. vi. p. 248, &c.
Th' one has my pity; not a jot the other,
Claud. As fast lock'd up in sleep, as guiltless labour,
Who can do good on him ?-
[Knocking within. Heaven give your spirits comfort !-By and by >
Exit CLAUDIO. I hope it is some pardon, or reprieve For the most gentle Claudio.- Welcome, father.
Proo. None, since the curfew rung.
Not Isabel ?
There's some in hope. Prov. It is a bitter deputy.
Duke. Not so, not so: his life is paralleld
[Knocking within. But this being so, he's just.—Now are they come.
[Exit Provost 4 – STARKLY] Stifly. In “ Henry IV., Part I.,” A. v. sc. 3, Vol. iii. p. 412, we have a line which explains the adjective:
“Many a nobleman lies stark and stiff.” Shakespeare often uses "stark,” but this, we apprehend, is the only place in his works where the adverb occurs.
5 – were be MEAL'D] “Meal'a” means mingled or compounded, from the Fr. mêler. Mell for meddle, or mingle, is not uncommon : see Vol. ii. p. 605.
This is a gentle provost : seldom when
[Knocking. How now! What noise ? That spirit's possessed with haste, That wounds the resisting postern with these strokes.
Prov. [Speaking to one at the door.] There he must stay,
until the officer
Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
None, sir, none.
Enter a Messenger.
Mes. My lord hath sent you this note; [Giving a paper.] and by me this further charge, that you swerve 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. Prov. I shall obey him.
[Exit Messenger. Duke. This is his pardon ; purchas'd by such sin, [Aside. For which the pardoner himself is in: Hence hath offence his quick celerity, When it is borne in high authority.
6 That wounds the RESISTING postern with these strokes.] We suggested in our first edition that unsisting of the old copies might be merely a misprint for "resisting,” and such, from the corr. fo. 1632, appears to be the fact. The old printer began the word with the wrong preposition.
? Happily,] For haply, three syllables being required to complete the preceding line. This degree of accuracy was not always observed.
8 — SIEGE of justice,] i. e. Seat of justice: see “ Othello," A. i. sc. 2, Vol. vi. p. 18, and this Vol. p. 48.
9 This is his LORDSHIP's man.] The old copy has “his lord's man," but amended to “ lordship's " in the corr. fo. 1632. The error, doubtless, arose from the use of the mere initial for lord and “lordship" in the old MS.
When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended,
Pror. I told you: lord Angelo, belike thinking me remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted putting on'; methinks strangely, for he hath not used it before.
Duke. Pray you, let's hear.
Prov. [Reads.] “Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio be executed by four of the clock : and, in the afternoon, Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have Claudio's head sent me by five. Let this be duly perform'd; with a thought, that more depends on it than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.”—What say you to this, sir ?
Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be executed in the afternoon ?
Prov. A Bohemian born; but here nursed up and bred: one that is a prisoner nine years old.
Duke. How came it, that the absent duke had not either deliver'd him to his liberty, or executed him ? I have heard, it was ever his manner to do so.
Prov. His friends still wrought reprieves for him: and, indeed, his fact, till now in the government of lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
Duke. It is 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, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awaked him', as if to carry him to execution, and show'd him a seeming warrant for it: it hath not moved him at all.
with this unwonted PUTTING ON ;] i. e. Instigation or incitement : see the same expression used in Vol. iv. p. 652.
· We have very oft awaked him,] “ Oft” is the reading of the old copies, and the change to often, by Malone, was quite gratuitous.
Duke. More of him anon.
There is written in your brow, provost, honesty and constancy: if 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 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 borne to Angelo.
Prov. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.
Duke. Oh! 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 common. 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 avouch 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 farther than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir ; here is the hand and seal of the duke: [Showing a paper.] you' know the character, I doubt not, and the signet is not strange
Prov. I know them both.
Duke. The 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