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ACT II. SCENE I.
A Hall in ANGELO's House.
Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a Justice, Oficers, and other
Ang. We must not make a scare-crow of the law,
Ay; but yet
your own purpose, Whether
had not, sometime in your life, Err’d in this point, which now you censure him, And pull'd the law upon you.
Ang. 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
and never think of it. You may not so extenuate his offence, For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
the resolute acting of your blood] It is “our blood ” in the folios; but the usual text has been “ your blood," and such we find it in the corr. fo. 1632. Lower down it changes “ the prisoner's life" to " a prisoner's life,” but that does not seem required.
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Escal. Be it as your wisdom will.
Where is the provost ?
Enter Provost Prov. Here, if it like
See that Claudio
Escal. Well, heaven forgive him, and forgive us all!
Enter ELBOW, FROTH, Clown, Officers, &c.
Elb. Come, bring them away. If these be good people in a common-weal, that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know no law: bring them away.
Ang. How now, sir! What's your name, and what's the matter?
Elb. If it please your honour, I am the poor duke's constable, and my name is Elbow : I do lean upon justice, sir; and do bring in here before your good honour two notorious benefactors.
Ang. Benefactors ! Well; what benefactors are they? are they not malefactors ?
Elb. If it please your honour, I know not well what they are; but precise villains they are, that I am sure of, and void of all profanation in the world, that good Christians ought to have.
8 Enter Provost.] The modern editors all represent the Provost, or Jailor, as on the stage from the beginning of the scene, which is evidently improper. In the old copies he comes in when he is called for, “ Where is the Provost ?"
9 Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none,] Thus the text stands in the old copies (“ breaks” being spelt brakes), which seems right; the meaning being, that some escape without responsibility, even though the danger be as imminent as when the ice breaks under them. Malone and others would change the expression into “brakes of vice," and it would be an easy corruption, if there were any necessity for a change. It is certain, as Steevens shows at large, that an old instrument of torture, or punishment, was called “a brake,” but not by any means certain that Shakespeare intended a reference to it. In the folio, 1623, and in the other editions in the same form, “ice" is with a capital letter, which would hardly have been the case had “ Ice” been a misprint for vice.
Escal. This comes off well : here's a wise officer.
Ang. Go to: what quality are they of? Elbow is your name: why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
Clo. He cannot, sir: he's out at elbow.
Elb. He, sir ? a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that serves a bad woman, whose house, sir, was, as they say, pluck'd down in the suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house', which, I think, is a very ill house too.
Escal. How know you that?
Elb. My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,
Escal. How! thy wife ?
Elb. Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,
Escal. Dost thou detest her therefore?
Elb. I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.
Escal. How dost thou know that, constable ?
Elb. Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman cardinally given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
Escal. By the woman's means ?
Elb. Ay, sir, by mistress Over-done's means; but as she spit in his face, so she defied him.
Clo. Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
Elb. Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man ; prove
it. Escal. [TO ANGELO.] Do you hear how he misplaces ?
Clo. Sir, she came in great with child, and longing (saving your honour's reverence) for stew'd prunes : sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a dish of some threepence; your honours
and now she professes a hot-HOUSE,] A “ hot-house" and a bagnio formerly were synonymous: thus in the romance of “ Apollonius of Tyre,” on which Shakespeare founded “ Pericles,” at the end of Chap. II. we read, common shews and plaies surceased, baines and hot-houses were shut up."
Shakespeare's Library,” Part v. p. 188. See the reprint of Rowley's “ Search for Money,” 4to, 1609, by the Percy Society, p. 45, for some curious particulars respecting the suppression of the stews in Southwark, &c.
have seen such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very good dishes.
Escal. Go to, go to: no matter for the dish, sir.
Clo. No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right; but to the point. As I say, this mistress Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and being great belly'd, and longing, as I said, for prunes, and having but two in the dish, as I said, master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and, as I say, paying for them very honestly ;-for, as you know, master Froth, I could not give you threepence again.
Froth. No, indeed.
Clo. Very well: you being then, if you be remember'd, cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes.
Froth. Ay, so I did, indeed.
Clo. Why, very well: I telling you then, if you be remember'd, that such a one, and such a one, were past cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very good diet, as I
Froth. All this is true.
Escal. Come; you are a tedious fool: to the purpose. What was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to complain of ? Come me to what was done to her.
Clo. Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
Clo. Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's leave. And, I beseech you, look into master Froth here, sir; a man of fourscore pound a year, whose father died at Hallowmas.Was't not at Hallowmas, master Froth ?
Froth. All-hallownd eve.
Clo. Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir, sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir ;-'twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where, indeed, you have a delight to sit, have you not?
Froth. I have so; because it is an open room, and good for winter.
because it is an open room, and good for winter.] How it could be "good for winter,” because it was “an open room,” is not very apparent, and the corr. fo. 1632 has windows for “ winter :” that it was an open room, and good on account of its airiness by reason of the windows, we can very well understand; but still, as the poet may possibly have meant that Froth, in his drink-sodden stupidity, should contradict himself, and assign a wrong reason for a right act, we make no change.
Clo. Why, very well then: I hope here be truths.
Ang. This will last out a night in Russia,
Exit ANGELO. Now, sir, come on: what was done to Elbow's wife, once more ?
Clo. Once, sir ? there was nothing done to her once. Elb. I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
Clo. I beseech your honour, ask me.
Clo. I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.Good master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a good purpose.-Doth your honour mark his face?
Escal. Ay, sir, very well.
harm in his face ? Escal. Why, no.
Clo. I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the worst thing about him. Good then; if his face be the worst thing about him, how could master Froth do the constable's wife any harm ? I would know that of your honour.
Escal. He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it ?
Elb. First, an it like you, the house is a respected house ; next, this is a respected fellow, and his mistress is a respected
Clo. By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than any
of us all. Elb. Varlet, thou liest : thou liest, wicked varlet. The time is yet to come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or child.
Clo. Sir, she was respected with him, before he married with her.
Escal. Which is the wiser here ? Justice, or Iniquity : ?Is this true ?
3 JUSTICE, or INIQUITY?] Justice and Iniquity were both characters in the ancient Miracle.plays and Moralities : in the “ Interlude of King Darius” the Vice is expressly called “Iniquity,” but in other pieces he went by various appellations. Iniquity was not always the Vice or Fool of the elder stage, but a distinct