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tirst the temptation of Angelo, the second Angelo's temptation of Isabella-nothing can be said but that Shakespeare may have equalled, but scarcely can have exceeded them in intensity and depth of natural truth. These, with that other scene between Claudio and Isabella, make the play.

It is part of the irony of things that the worst complication, the deepest tragedy, in all this tortuous action comes about by the innocent means of the stainless Isabella; who also, by her steadfast heroism, brings light and right at last. But for Isabella, Claudio would simply have died, perhaps meeting his fate, when it came, with a desperate flash of his father's courage; Angelo might have lived securely to his last hour, unconscious of his own weakness-of the fire that lurked in so impenetrable a flint. Shakespeare has sometimes been praised for the subtlety with which he has barbed the hook for Angelo, in making Isabella's very chastity and goodness the keenest of temptations. The notion is not peculiar to Shakespeare, but was hinted at, in his scram- bling and uncertain way, by the writer of the old play. In truth, I do not see what othercourse was open to either, given the facts which were not original in Shakespeare or in Whetstone. Angelo, let us remember, is not a hypocrite: he has no dishonourable intention in his mind; he conceives himself to be firmly grounded on a broad basis of rectitude, and in condemning Claudio he condemns a sin which he sincerely abhors. His treatment of the betrothed Mariana would probably be in his own eyes an act of frigid justice; it certainly shows a man not sensually-minded, but cold, calculating, likely to err, if he errs at all, rather on the side of the miserly virtues than of the generous sins. It is thus the nobility of Isabella that attracts him: her freedom from the tenderest signs of frailty, her unbiassed intellect, her regard for justice, her religious sanctity; and it is on his noblest side first, the side of him that can respond to these qualities, that he is tempted. I know of nothing more consummate than the way in which his mind is led on, step by step towards the trap still hidden from him, the trap prepared by the merciless foresight of the chance that tries the profes

sions and the thoughts of men. Once tainted, the corruption is over him like leprosy, and every virtue withers into the corresponding form of vice. In Claudio it is the same touchstone-Isabella's unconscious and misdirected Ithuriel-spear-that bringsout the basest forms and revelations of evil. A great living painter has chosen the moment of most pregnant import in the whole play-the moment when Claudio, having heard the terms on which alone life can be purchased, murmurs, “Death is a fearful thing," and Isabella, not yet certain, yet already with the grievous fear astir in her, of her brother's weakness, replies, “And shamed life a hateful”-it is this moment that Holman Hunt brings before us in a canvas that, like his scene from the Two Gentlemen of Verona, throws more revealing light on Shakespeare than a world of commentators. Against the stained and discoloured wall of his dungeon, apple-blossoms and blue sky showing through the grated window behind his delicate dishevelled head, Claudio stands; a lute tied with red ribbons hangs beside him

spray of apple-blossom has fallen on the dark garments at his feet, one hand plays with his fetters --with how significant a gesture!—the other hand pinches, idly affectionate, the two intense hands that Isabella has laid upon his breast; he is thinking-where to debate means shame,- balancing the arguments; and with pondering eyes, thrusting his tongue towards the corner of his just-parted lips with a movement of exquisite naturalness, he halts in indecision: all his mean thoughts are there, in that gesture, in those eyes; and in the warm and gracious youth of his whole aspect, passionately superficial and world-loving, there is something of the pathos of things “sweet, not lasting," a fragile, an unreas

easonable, an inevitable pathos. Isabella fronts him, an embodied conscience, all her soul in her eyes. Her

eyes read him, plead with him, they are suppliant and judge; her intense fearfulness, the intolerable doubt of her brother's honour, the anguish of hope and fear, shine in them with a light as of tears frozen at the source. In a moment, with words on his lips whose far-reaching imagination is stung into him and from him by the sharpness of the impending Here, the claim which our fellow-man has on our commiseration is the sad claim of common guiltiness before an absolute bar of justice.

How would you be
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are?

death, he will have stooped below the reach of her contempt, uttering those words, “Sweet sister, let me live!”

After all, the final word of Shakespeare in this play is mercy; but it is a mercy which comes of the consciousness of our own need of it, and it is granted and accepted in humiliation. The lesson of mercy taught in the Merchant of Venice is based on the mutual blessing of its exercise, the graciousness of spirit to which it is sign and seal.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath; it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.


And is not the "painfulness” which impresses us in this sombre play, due partly to this very moral, and not alone to the circumstances from which it disengages itself ? For it is so mournful to think that we are no better than our neighbours.

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SCENE I. An apartment in the Duke's palace.

DUKE, ESCALUS, and Attendants, discovered.

Duke. [Seated] Escalus!
Escal. My lord?

Duke. Of government the properties to unfold,

Would seem in me to affect speech and dis


Since I am put1 to know that your own science Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice

My strength can give you: [then no more re


But that, to your sufficiency, as your worth is able,


And let them work.] The nature of our people,
Our city's institutions, and the terms
For common justice, you 're as pregnant in 3
As art and practice hath enriched any

From which we would not have you warp. [Escalus kneels and receives his commission. Call hither,

I say, bid come before us Angelo.

[Exit an Attendant. What figure of us think you he will bear? For you must know, we have with special soul Elected him our absence to supply; Lent him our terror, dress'd him with our love, And given his deputation all the organs Of our own power: what think you of it? Escal. If any in Vienna be of worth To undergo such ample grace and honour, It is Lord Angelo. Duke.


That we remember. There is our commission,

1 Put, made.

2 Lists, limits. 3 Pregnant in, well acquainted with.

Look where he comes.


Ang. Always obedient to your grace's will, I come to know your pleasure.



There is a kind of character" in thy life,

4 Deputation, deputyship.

5 Character, i.e. writing, the primary sense of the word.

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That to the observer doth thy history

With any scruple: your scope is as mine own, Fully unfold. [Taking the other commission.] So to enforce or qualify the laws Thyself and thy belongings

As to your soul seems good. Give me your Are not thine own so proper, as to waste

hand: [Angelo gires his hand to the Duke. Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee. I'll privily away. I love the people, Heaven doth with us as we with torches do, But do not like to stage me to their eyes: Not light them for themselves; for if our Though it do well, I do not relish well virtues

Their loud applause and Avesó vehement; Did not go forth of us, 't were all alike

Nor do I think the man of safe discretion As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely That does affect it. Once more, fare you well. touch'd

[Going. But to fine issues; (nor Nature never lends Ang. The heavens give safety to your purThe smallest scruple of her excellence

poses! But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines Escal. Lead forth and bring you back in Herself the glory of a creditor,

happiness! Both thanks and use. But I do bend my Duke. I thank you. Fare you well. [E.rit. speech

Escal. I shall desire you, sir, to give me To one that can my part in him advertise;?

leave Hold, therefore, Angelo:

To have free speech with you; and it concerns [ Tenders his commission.) In our remove be thou at full ourself;

To look into the bottom of my place: Mortality and mercy in Vienna

A power I have, but of what strength and Live in thy tongue and heart: old Escalus,

nature Though first in question, is thy secondary. I am not yet instructed. Take thy commission.

Ang. ”T is so with me. Let us withdraw [Rises and comes down to Angelo. together, Ang.

Now, good my lord, And we may soon our satisfaction have
Let there be some more test made of my metal, Touching that point.
Before so noble and so great a figure

I'll wait upon your

honour. Be stamp'd upon it.

(Ereunt. Duke.

No more evasion:
We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice

SCENE II. A street.
Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours.

Enter Lucio and two Gentlemen. [Angelo kneels and receives his commission. Our haste from hence is of so quick condition Lucio. If the duke with the other dukes That it prefers itself and leaves unquestion'd come not to composition with the King of Matters of needful value. We shall write to Hungary, why then all the dukes fall upon you,

the king. As time and our concernings shall impórtune, First Gent. Heaven grant us its peace, but How it goes with us, and do look to know not the King of Hungary's! What doth befall you here. So, fare you

well: Sec. Gent. Amen. To the hopeful execution do I leave you

Lucio. Thou concludest like the sanctimoniOf your commissions.

ous pirate that went to sea with the Ten Ang.

Yet give leave, my lord, Commandments, but scrap'd one out of the That we may bring you something on the way. table. Duke. My haste may not admit it;

Sec. Gent. “Thou shalt not steal"? Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do Lucio. Ay, that he razed.

First Gent. Why, 't was a commandment to i Use, interest.

2 Advertise, instruct. 3 Question, consideration. + Bring you, accompany you.

5 Aves, acclamations (Latin ave=hail).





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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.

Nee. Gent. I never heard any soldier dislike it.

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

[ Sec. Gent. No? a dozen times at least.
First Gent. What, in metre?
Lucio. In any proportion or in any language.
Fürst Gent. 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 Gent. 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 Gent. And thou the velvet: thou art good velvet; thou 'rt a three-pild piece, I warrant thee: I had as lief be a list of an English kersey, as be pild, as thou art pild, '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 Gent. I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?

Sec. Gent. Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or free.

Lucio. Behold, behold, where Madam Mítigation comes! I have purchas'd as many diseases under her roof as come to

Sec. Gent. To what, I pray?
Lucio. Judge.
Sec. Gent. To three thousand dolours: a year.
First Gent. Ay, and more.
Lucio. A French crown more.

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

Lucio. Nav, not as one would say, healthy; but so sound as things that are hollow: thy bones are hollow; impiety has made a feast

Mrs. Ov. Nay, but I know 't is so: I saw him arrested; saw him carried away; and, which is more, within these three days his head to be chopp'd off.

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

Mrs. Ov. I am too sure of it: and it is for getting Madam Julietta with child.

Lucio. Believe me, this may be: he promis'd to meet me two hours since, and he was ever precise in promise-keeping.

Sec. Gent. Besides, you know, it draws something near to the speech we had to such a purpose.

First Gent. But, most of all, agreeing with the proclamation. Lucio. Away! let's go learn the truth of it.

[E.ceunt Lucio and Gentlemen. Mrs. Ov. Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.





How now! what's the news with you?

Pom. Yonder man is carried to prison.
[ Mrs. Ov. Well; what has he done?
Pom. A woman.
Mrs. Ov. But what's his offence?

Pom.' Groping for trouts in a peculiar? river.)

Mrs. Ov. What, is there a maid with child by him?

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

Mrs. Ov. What proclamation, man?

of thee. ]

1 Dolours, an obvious pun on dolours and dollars.

2 Peculiar, i.e. belonging to an individual.

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