Prov. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe, to-morrow 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 Clo. and ABHOR. One has my pity; not a jot the other, Being a murderer, though he were my brother.

Enter CLAUDIO. Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death: 'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine?

Claud. As fast lock'd up in sleep, as guiltless labour When it lies starkly' in the traveller's bones: He will not wake. Prov.

Who can do good on him? Well, go, prepare yourself. But hark, what noise?

[Knocking within. Heaven give your spirits comfort! [Exit CLAUD.]

By and by :
I hope it is some pardon, or reprieve,
For the most gentle Claudio.Welcome, father.

Enter DUKE.
Duke. The best and wholesomest spirits of the night


“ Whose heart the accustom'd sight of death makes hard
“ Falls not the axe upon the humbled neck,
“ But first beg's pardon.Steevens.

- yare:) i. e. handy, nimble in the execution of my office. So, in Twelfth Night : dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation.” Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :

“ His ships are yare, yours heavy.” Steevens. 1-a good turn.] i. e. a turn off the ladder. He quibbles on the phrase according to its common acceptation. Farmer.

starkly —) Stifly. These two lines afford a very pleasing image. Johnson. So, in The Legend of Lord Hastings, 1575: * Least starke with rest they finew'd waxe and hoare.”



Envelop you, good Provost! Who call’d here of late?

Prov. None, since the curfew rung.

Not Isabel?
Prov. No.
Duke. They will then, ere 't be long.
Prov. What comfort is for Claudio ?

There 's some in hope. Prov. It is a bitter deputy.

Duke. Not so, not so; his life is parallel'd Even with the stroke and line of his great justice; lle doth with holy abstinence subdue That in himself, which he spurs on his power To qualify2 in others: were he meald3 With that which he corrects, then were he tyrannous; But this being so,4 he's just.-Now are they come.

[Knocking within.--Proy. goes out. This is a gentle provost: Seldom, when The steeled gaoler is the friend of men.How now? What noise? That spirit 's possess’d with


9 They will then,] Perhaps-she will then. Sir H. Hawkins. The Duke expects Isabella and Mariana. A little afterward he says:

Now are they come.” Ritson. 1 Even with the stroke -] Stroke is here put for the stroke of a pen or a line. Fohnson.

2 To qualify —] To temper, to moderate, as we say wine iş qualified with water. Johnson. Thus before, in this play:

“So to enforce, or qualify the laws.” Again, in Othello :

“I have drank but one cup to-night, and that was craftily qualified too.” Steevens.

were be meald-] Were he sprinkled ; were he defiled. A figure of the same kind our author uses in Macbeth:

“ The blood-bolter’d Banquo.” Jobnson. More appositely, in The Philosophers Satires, by Robert Anton:

“ As if their perriwigs to death they gave.
“ To meale them in some gasily dead man's grave.”

Steevens. Mealed is mingled, compounded ; from the French mesler.

Blackstone, 4 But this being so,] The tenor of the argument seems to require-But this not being so, Perhaps, however, the author meant only to say-But, his life being paralleled, &c. die 's just. Malone.


That wounds the unsisting postern with these strokes.s

Provost returns, speaking to one at the door. Prov. There he must stay until the officer, Arise to let him in; he is call’d up.

Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
But he must die to-morrow?

None, sir, none.
Duke. As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
You shall hear more ere morning.

You something know; yet, I believe, there comes
No countermand; no such example have we:
Besides, upon the very siege of justice,
Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
Profess'd the contrary.

Enter a Messenger.
Duke. This is his lordship’s man.

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That spirit's possess'd with haste, That wounds the unsisting postern with these strokes.] The line is irregular, and the old reading, unresisting postern, so strange an expression, that want of measure, and want of sense, might justly raise suspicion of an error ; yet none of the latter editors seem to have supposed the place faulty, except Sir Thomas Hanmer, who reads ;

the unresting postern. The three folios have it,

unsisting postern out of which Mr. Rowe made unresisting, and the rest followed him. Sir Thomas Hanmer seems to have supposed unresisting the word in the copies, from which he plausibly enough extracted unresting; but he grounded his emendation on the very syllable that wants authority. What can be made of unsisting I know not; the best that occurs to me is unfeeling. Johnson. Unsisting may signify “never at rest,” always opening:

Blackstone. I should think we might safely read :

-unlist’ning postern, or unshifting postern. The measure requires it, and the sense remains uninjured.

Mr. M Mason would read unlisting, which means unregarding. I have, however, inserted Sir William Blackstone's emendation in the text. Steevens.

siege of justice,] i. e. seat of justice. Siege, French, So, in Othello :

I fetch


"From men of royal siege.Steevens.


Prov. And here comes Claudio's pardon.:

Mess. My lord hath sent you this note; 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 Mess. 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 news?

Prov. I told you: Lord Angelo, be-like, thinking me remiss in mine office, awakens nie with this unwonted putting on:methinks, strangely; for he hath not used it before.


This is his lordship's man.] The old copy has-his lord's man. Corrected by Mr. Pope. In the MS. plays of our author's time they often wrote Lo. for Lord, and Lord. for Lordship; and these contractions were sometimes improperly followed in the printed copies. Malone. ô Enter a Messenger.

Duke. This is his lordship's man.

Prov. And bere comes Claudio's pardon.] The Provost has just declared a fixed opinion that the execution will not be countermanded, and yet, upon the first appearance of the Messenger, he immediately guesses that his errand is to bring Claudio's pardon. It is evident, I think, that the names of the speakers are misplaced. If we suppose the Provost to say:

This is his lorisbip's man, it is very natural for the Duke to subjoin,

And here comes Claudio's pardon. The Duke might believe, upon very reasonable grounds, that Angelo had now sent the pardon. It appears that he did so, from what he says to himself, while the Provost is reading the letter:

This is his pardon ; purchas'd by such sin. Tyrwbitt. When, immediately after the Duke had hinted bis expectation of a pardon, the Provost sees the Messenger, he supposes the Duke to liave known someibing, and changes his mind. Either reading may serve equally weil. Forson.

- putting on:) i. e. spur, incitement. So, in Macbeth, Act IV, sc. ili:

Duke. Pray you, let 's hear.

Prov. [Reads) Whatsoever you may hear to the con. trary, 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.1

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. Is it now apparent?
Prov. Most manifest, and not denied by himself.

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.2



the powers above
Put on their instruments.” Steevens.

- one that is a prisoner nine years old,] i. e. That has been confined these nine years. So, in Hamlet: Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike preparation,” &c.

Malone. diesperately mortal.] This expression is obscure. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads, mortally desperate Mortally is in low conversation used in this sense, but I know not whether it was ever written. I am inclined to believe, that desperately mortal means desperatel, mischievous Or desperately mortal may mean a man likely to die in a desperate state, without reflection or re. pentance. Johnson.

The word is often used by Shakspeare in the sense first affixed to it by Dr. Johnson, which I believe to be the true one. So, in Otbello:

“ And you, ye mortal engines,” &c. Malone.

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