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Act 1, Scene II

SCENE II. A Street.

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!

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'?

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
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.

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
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
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
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.

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.

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
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.

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
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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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
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
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.

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.

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;
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
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
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?

CLAUDIO
No.

LUCIO
Lechery?

CLAUDIO
Call it so.

Provost
Away, sir! you must go.

CLAUDIO
One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.

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,
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
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.
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
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
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.

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.
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
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,
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
game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

CLAUDIO
I thank you, good friend Lucio.

LUCIO
Within two hours.

CLAUDIO
Come, officer, away!

Exeunt

William Shakespeare