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Act 1, Scene 2

[Enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen]

LUCIO: If the duke with the other dukes come not to
composition with the King of Hungary, why then all
the dukes fall upon the king.

First Gentleman: Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of
Hungary's!     [5]

Second Gentleman: Amen.

LUCIO: Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate, that
went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped
one out of the table.

Second Gentleman: 'Thou shalt not steal'?     [10]

LUCIO: Ay, that he razed.

First Gentleman: Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain and
all the rest from their functions: they put forth
to steal. There's not a soldier of us all, that, in
the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition     [15]
well that prays for peace.

Second Gentleman: I never heard any soldier dislike it.

LUCIO: I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where
grace was said.

Second Gentleman: No? a dozen times at least.     [20]

First Gentleman: What, in metre?

LUCIO: In any proportion or in any language.

First Gentleman: I think, or in any religion.

LUCIO: Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all
controversy: as, for example, thou thyself art a     [25]
wicked villain, despite of all grace.

First Gentleman: Well, there went but a pair of shears between us.

LUCIO: I grant; as there may between the lists and the
velvet. Thou art the list.

First Gentleman: And thou the velvet: thou art good velvet; thou'rt     [30]
a three-piled piece, I warrant thee: I had as lief
be a list of an English kersey as be piled, as thou
art piled, for a French velvet. Do I speak
feelingly now?

LUCIO: I think thou dost; and, indeed, with most painful     [35]
feeling of thy speech: I will, out of thine own
confession, learn to begin thy health; but, whilst I
live, forget to drink after thee.

First Gentleman: I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?

Second Gentleman: Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or free.     [40]

LUCIO: Behold, behold. where Madam Mitigation comes! I
have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to--

Second Gentleman: To what, I pray?

LUCIO: Judge.

Second Gentleman: To three thousand dolours a year.     [45]

First Gentleman: Ay, and more.

LUCIO: A French crown more.

First Gentleman: Thou art always figuring diseases in me; but thou
art full of error; I am sound.

LUCIO: Nay, not as one would say, healthy; but so sound as     [50]
things that are hollow: thy bones are hollow;
impiety has made a feast of thee.

[Enter MISTRESS OVERDONE]

First Gentleman: How now! which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?

MISTRESS OVERDONE: Well, well; there's one yonder arrested and carried
to prison was worth five thousand of you all.     [55]

Second Gentleman: Who's that, I pray thee?

MISTRESS OVERDONE: Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio.

First Gentleman: Claudio to prison? 'tis not so.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him arrested, saw
him carried away; and, which is more, within these     [60]
three days his head to be chopped off.

LUCIO: But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so.
Art thou sure of this?

MISTRESS OVERDONE: I am too sure of it: and it is for getting Madam
Julietta with child.     [65]

LUCIO: Believe me, this may be: he promised to meet me two
hours since, and he was ever precise in
promise-keeping.

Second Gentleman: Besides, you know, it draws something near to the
speech we had to such a purpose.     [70]

First Gentleman: But, most of all, agreeing with the proclamation.

LUCIO: Away! let's go learn the truth of it.

[Exeunt LUCIO and Gentlemen]

MISTRESS OVERDONE: Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what
with the gallows and what with poverty, I am
custom-shrunk.     [75]

[Enter POMPEY]

How now! what's the news with you?

POMPEY: Yonder man is carried to prison.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: Well; what has he done?

POMPEY: A woman.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: But what's his offence?     [80]

POMPEY: Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: What, is there a maid with child by him?

POMPEY: No, but there's a woman with maid by him. You have
not heard of the proclamation, have you?

MISTRESS OVERDONE: What proclamation, man?     [85]

POMPEY: All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: And what shall become of those in the city?

POMPEY: They shall stand for seed: they had gone down too,
but that a wise burgher put in for them.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be     [90]
pulled down?

POMPEY: To the ground, mistress.

MISTRESS OVERDONE: Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth!
What shall become of me?

POMPEY: Come; fear you not: good counsellors lack no     [95]
clients: though you change your place, you need not
change your trade; I'll be your tapster still.
Courage! there will be pity taken on you: you that
have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you
will be considered.     [100]

MISTRESS OVERDONE: What's to do here, Thomas tapster? let's withdraw.

POMPEY: Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to
prison; and there's Madam Juliet.

[Exeunt]

[Enter Provost, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and Officers]

CLAUDIO: Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.     [105]

Provost: I do it not in evil disposition,
But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

CLAUDIO: Thus can the demigod Authority
Make us pay down for our offence by weight
The words of heaven; on whom it will, it will;     [110]
On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.

[Re-enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen]

LUCIO: Why, how now, Claudio! whence comes this restraint?

CLAUDIO: From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty:
As surfeit is the father of much fast,
So every scope by the immoderate use     [115]
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,
A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.

LUCIO: If could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would
send for certain of my creditors: and yet, to say     [120]
the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom
as the morality of imprisonment. What's thy
offence, Claudio?

CLAUDIO: What but to speak of would offend again.

LUCIO: What, is't murder?     [125]

CLAUDIO: No.

LUCIO: Lechery?

CLAUDIO: Call it so.

Provost: Away, sir! you must go.

CLAUDIO: One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.     [130]

LUCIO: A hundred, if they'll do you any good.
Is lechery so look'd after?

CLAUDIO: Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract
I got possession of Julietta's bed:
You know the lady; she is fast my wife,     [135]
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order: this we came not to,
Only for propagation of a dower
Remaining in the coffer of her friends,
From whom we thought it meet to hide our love     [140]
Till time had made them for us. But it chances
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment
With character too gross is writ on Juliet.

LUCIO: With child, perhaps?

CLAUDIO: Unhappily, even so.     [145]
And the new deputy now for the duke--
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,
Or whether that the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know     [150]
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;
Whether the tyranny be in his place,
Or in his emmence that fills it up,
I stagger in:--but this new governor
Awakes me all the enrolled penalties     [155]
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round
And none of them been worn; and, for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me: 'tis surely for a name.     [160]

LUCIO: I warrant it is: and thy head stands so tickle on
thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love,
may sigh it off. Send after the duke and appeal to
him.

CLAUDIO: I have done so, but he's not to be found.     [165]
I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter
And there receive her approbation:
Acquaint her with the danger of my state:
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends     [170]
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him:
I have great hope in that; for in her youth
There is a prone and speechless dialect,
Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,     [175]
And well she can persuade.

LUCIO: I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the
like, which else would stand under grievous
imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I
would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a     [180]
game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

CLAUDIO: I thank you, good friend Lucio.

LUCIO: Within two hours.

CLAUDIO:                Come, officer, away!

[Exeunt]


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