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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: When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended, That for the fault's love, is the offender friended.Now, sir, what newş ?
Prov. I told you: Lord Angelo, be-like, thinking me remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted putting on 15. 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 performed; 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. Whạt say you to this, sir?
Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be executed in the afternoon? Prov. A Bohemian born; bụt here nursed
and bred: one that is a prisoner nine years
old 16. 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: 15 Putting on
spur, incitement. 16 i. e. nine years in prison.
And, indeed, his fact, till now in the government of
Duke. Is it 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 17.
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 often 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.
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 18, I will lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have a warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath sentenced him: To make derstand 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
17 Perhaps we should read mortally desperate. As we have harmonious charmingly for charmingly harmonious, in the Tempest.
18 i.e. in confidence of my sagacity.
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.
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 19.
Duke. 0, 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 20. 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
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 further than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the duke. You know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is not strange to you.
Prov. I know them both.
20 • Shave the head and tie the beard-the course is common.' This probably alludes to a practice among Roman Catholics of desiring to receive the tonsure of the monks before they died.
duke; you shall anon overread it at your pleasure; where
you shall find, within these two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows not: for he this very day receives letters of strange tenor; perchance, of the duke's death; perchance, entering into some monastery; but, by chance, nothing of what is writo. Look, the unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put not yourself into amazement, how these things should be: all difficulties are but easy when they are known. Call
your executioner, and off with Barnardine's head: I will give him a present shrift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you are amazed; but this shall absolutely resolve 23 you. Come away; it is almost clear dawn.
SCENE III. Another Room in the same.
Enter Clown. Clo. I am as well acquainted here, as I was in our house of profession : one would think it were mistress Overdone's own house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young master Rash1; he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds; of
21 What is writ;' we should read here writ;' the Duke pointing to the letter in his hand. 22 So Milton in Comus:
• The star that bids the shepherd fold
Now the top of heaven doth hold.' 23 i. e. convince you.
1 This enumeration of the inhabitants of the prison affords a very striking view of the practices predominant in Shakspeare's age. Besides those whose follies are common to all times, we have four fighting men and a traveller. It is not unlikely that the originals of the pictures were then known. Rash was a silken stuff formerly worn in coats: all the names are characteristic.
which he made five marks, ready moneyo : marry, then, ginger was not much in request, for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one master Caper, at the suit of master Three-pile the mercer, for some four suits of peach-colour'd satin, which now peaches him a beggar. Then have we here young Dizy, and young master Deep-vow, and master Copper-spur, and master Starve-lackey the rapier and dagger man, and young Drop-heir that kill’d lusty Pudding, and master Forthright the tilter, and brave master Shoe-tie the great traveller, and wild Half-can that stabb’d Pots, and, I think, forty more'; all great doers in our trade, and are now for the Lord's sake 3.
? It was the practice of money lenders in Shakspeare's time, as well as more recently, to make advances partly in goods and partly in cash. The goods were to be resold generally at an enormous loss upon the cost price, and of these commodities it appears that brown paper and ginger often formed a part. This custom is illustrated by numerous extracts from cotemporary writers, in the Variorum Shakspeare. In Green's Defence of Coney-catching, 1592 ; 'if he borrow a hundred pound, he shall have forty in silver, and threescore in wares; as lute strings, hobby-horses, or brown paper,' &c. •Which when the poor gentleman came to sell again, he could not make threescore and ten in the hundred beside the usury.'—Quip for an upstart Courtier, 1620.
3 It appears from Davies's Epigrams, 1611, that this was the language in which prisoners who were confined for debt addressed passengers : • Good gentle writers, for the Lord's sake, for the Lord's sake, Like Ludgate prisoners, lo, I, begging, make My mone.' And in Nashe's Peirce Pennilesse, 1593, “At that time that thy joys were in the fleeting, and thus crying for the Lord's sake out of an iron window. A very curious passage in confirmation of this has occurred to me in Baret's Alvearie, 1573, under the word * Interest, or the borrowing of usurie money wherewith to pay my debt.'-' And therefore methinke it is prettily sayd in Grammar that Interest will be joyned with Mea, Tua, Sua, Nostra, Vestra, and Cuia, only in the ablative case, because they are pronounes possessives. For how great so ever his possessions, goodes, or