Measure for Measure By William Shakespeare Act II

ISABELLA.
So.

ANGELO.
And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

ISABELLA.
True.

ANGELO.
Admit no other way to save his life, —
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But, in the loss of question, — that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desir'd of such a person,
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-binding law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this suppos'd, or else to let him suffer;
What would you do?

ISABELLA.
As much for my poor brother as myself:
That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing have been sick for, ere I'd yield
My body up to shame.

ANGELO.
Then must your brother die.

ISABELLA.
And 'twere the cheaper way:
Better it were a brother died at once
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.

ANGELO.
Were not you, then, as cruel as the sentence
That you have slandered so?

ISABELLA.
Ignominy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses; lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

ANGELO.
You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather prov'd the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.

ISABELLA.
O, pardon me, my lord! It oft falls out,
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean:
I something do excuse the thing I hate
For his advantage that I dearly love.

ANGELO.
We are all frail.

ISABELLA.
Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary, but only he,
Owe, and succeed by weakness.

ANGELO.
Nay, women are frail too.

ISABELLA.
Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves;
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
Women! Help heaven! men their creation mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail;
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.

ANGELO.
I think it well:
And from this testimony of your own sex, —
Since, I suppose, we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames, — let me be bold; —
I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none;
If you be one, — as you are well express'd
By all external warrants, — show it now
By putting on the destin'd livery.

ISABELLA.
I have no tongue but one: gentle, my lord,
Let me intreat you, speak the former language.

ANGELO.
Plainly conceive, I love you.

ISABELLA.
My brother did love Juliet; and you tell me
That he shall die for it.

ANGELO.
He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.

ISABELLA.
I know your virtue hath a license in't,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.

ANGELO.
Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.

ISABELLA.
Ha! little honour to be much believed,
And most pernicious purpose! — Seeming, seeming! —
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for't:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother
Or, with an outstretch'd throat, I'll tell the world
Aloud what man thou art.

ANGELO.
Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoil'd name, th' austereness of my life,
My vouch against you, and my place i' the state,
Will so your accusation overweigh
That you shall stifle in your own report,
And smell of calumny. I have begun,
And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;
Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes
That banish what they sue for: redeem thy brother
By yielding up thy body to my will;
Or else he must not only die the death,
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
To lingering sufferance: answer me to-morrow,
Or, by the affection that now guides me most,
I'll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true.

[Exit.]

ISABELLA.
To whom should I complain? Did tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue
Either of condemnation or approof!
Bidding the law make court'sy to their will;
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws! I'll to my brother:
Though he hath fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour
That, had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he'd yield them up
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorr'd pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:
More than our brother is our chastity.
I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest.

[Exit.]

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