ANGELO, the Deputy

ESCALUS, an ancient Lord

CLAUDIO, a young gentleman

LUCIO, a fantastic

Two other like Gentlemen

VARRIUS, a gentleman, servant to the Duke


THOMAS, friar

PETER, friar


ELBOW, a simple constable

FROTH, a foolish gentleman

POMPEY, a clown and servant to Mistress Overdone

ABHORSON, an executioner

BARNARDINE, a dissolute prisoner

ISABELLA, sister to Claudio

MARIANA, betrothed to Angelo

JULIET, beloved of Claudio



Lords, Officers, Citizens, Boy, and Attendants




The DUKE'S palace


DUKE. Escalus!

ESCALUS. My lord.

DUKE. Of government the properties to unfold

Would seem in me t' affect speech and discourse,

Since I am put to know that your own science

Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice

My strength can give you; then no more remains

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, y'are as pregnant in

As art and practice hath enriched any

That we remember. There is our commission,

From which we would not have you warp. 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?

ESCALUS. If any in Vienna be of worth

To undergo such ample grace and honour,

It is Lord Angelo.


DUKE. Look where he comes.

ANGELO. Always obedient to your Grace's will,

I come to know your pleasure.

DUKE. Angelo,

There is a kind of character in thy life

That to th' observer doth thy history

Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings

Are not thine own so proper as to waste

Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.

Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,

Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues

Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike

As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd

But to fine issues; nor Nature never lends

The smallest scruple of her excellence

But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines

Herself the glory of a creditor,

Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech

To one that can my part in him advertise.

Hold, therefore, Angelo-

In our remove be thou at full ourself;

Mortality and mercy in Vienna

Live in thy tongue and heart. Old Escalus,

Though first in question, is thy secondary.

Take thy commission.

ANGELO. Now, good my lord,

Let there be some more test made of my metal,

Before so noble and so great a figure

Be stamp'd upon it.

DUKE. No more evasion!

We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice

Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours.

Our haste from hence is of so quick condition

That it prefers itself, and leaves unquestion'd

Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,

As time and our concernings shall importune,

How it goes with us, and do look to know

What doth befall you here. So, fare you well.

To th' hopeful execution do I leave you

Of your commissions.

ANGELO. Yet give leave, my lord,

That we may bring you something on the way.

DUKE. My haste may not admit it;

Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do

With any scruple: your scope is as mine own,

So to enforce or qualify the laws

As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand;

I'll privily away. I love the people,

But do not like to stage me to their eyes;

Though it do well, I do not relish well

Their loud applause and Aves vehement;

Nor do I think the man of safe discretion

That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.

ANGELO. The heavens give safety to your purposes!

ESCALUS. Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!

DUKE. I thank you. Fare you well. Exit

ESCALUS. I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave

To have free speech with you; and it concerns me

To look into the bottom of my place:

A pow'r I have, but of what strength and nature

I am not yet instructed.

ANGELO. 'Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,

And we may soon our satisfaction have

Touching that point.

ESCALUS. I'll wait upon your honour. Exeunt

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