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That respites me a life, whose very comfort
'Tis pity of him.
A Room in ANGELO's House.
Ang. When I would pray and think, I think and
1 Grown SEAR'D and tedious ;] Warburton suggested seared for “feared," or “feard,” as it stands in most copies of the first folio : that belonging to Lord Francis Egerton has it seard, as if the letter s had been substituted for f, as the sheet was going through the press. We need not therefore doubt as to the adoption of seard instead of fear'd."
? Blood, thou art blood :) Pope, to remedy the supposed defect of the metre, read, “ Blood, thou art but blood ;" and Malone, “ Blood, thou still art blood,” for the same reason ; but we have no right to take these liberties with the text : “ Blood, thou art blood,” is more emphatic than “Blood, thou art but blood,” or “ Blood, thou still art blood,” and the pause after the mark of admiration amply fills up the time.
One Isabel, a sister,
Teach her the way. (Exit Serv.
I am come to know your pleasure. Ang. That you might know it, would much better
please me, Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live. Isab. Even so.—Heaven keep your honour !
[Retiring. Ang. Yet may he live a while; and, it may be, As long as you, or I: yet he must die.
Isab. Under your sentence?
3 THE GENERAL, subject to a well-wish'd king,] This is the old and intelligible reading. “ The general ” is the people : so in “Hamlet”—“'twas caviare to the general,” A. ii. sc. 2; and Lord Clarendon, as quoted by Malone,
as rather to be consented to, than that the general should suffer.” Hist. b. 5, p. 530, 8vo. edit. Yet in Act iii, sc. 2, of this play, “subject " is used for subjects, and "the general subject of a well-wish'd king" may mean," the general subjects,” &c. Either way, the meaning is evident.
Isab. When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve, Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted, That his soul sicken not.
Ang. Ha! Fye, these filthy vices! It were as good To pardon him, that hath from nature stolen A man already made, as to remit Their saucy sweetness, that do coin heaven's image In stamps that are forbid : 'tis all as easy Falsely to take away a life true made, As to put metal in restrained means, To make a false one.
Isab. "Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
Ang. Say you so ? then, I shall poze you quickly. Which had you rather, that the most just law Now took your brother's life, or to redeem him Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness As she that he hath stain'd? Isab.
Sir, believe this, I had rather give my body than my soul.
Ang. I talk not of your soul. Our compelld sins Stand more for number than for accompt. Isab.
How say you? Ang. Nay, I'll not warrant that; for I can speak Against the thing I say. Answer to this :I, now the voice of the recorded law, Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life : Might there not be a charity in sin, To save this brother's life? Isab.
Please you to do't, I'll take it as a peril to my soul : It is no sin at all, but charity.
Ang. Pleas'd you to do't, at peril of your soul,
Isab. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
And nothing of your answer.
Nay, but hear me. Your sense pursues not mine : either you are ignorant, Or seem so, crafty *; and that is not good.
Isab. Let me be ignorant', and in nothing good,
Ang. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright,
Ang. And his offence is so, as it appears Accountant to the law upon that pain.
Ang. Admit no other way to save his life,
Isab. As much for my poor brother, as myself:
* Or seem so, CRAFTY; and that is not good.] This is the old reading, and not craftily, as it has been modernized—“or seem so, being crafty,” is the meaning.
• Let me be ignorant,] “Me,” added in the folio 1632.
6 But in the loss of question] This may mean, but for the sake of the question which must otherwise be lost, or could not be put.
7 of the all-BUILDING law ;) Since the time of Theobald this compound epithet has been changed to "all-binding.” Shakespeare seems to use "all-building” in reference to the constructive and constantly repairing power of the law. The modern editors have given no other reason for changing so important and emphatic a word, but that Theobald had done so before them.
Th’ impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
Isab. And 'twere the cheaper way. Better it were, a brother died at once, Than that a sister, by redeeming him, Should die for ever.
Ang. Were not you, then, as cruel, as the sentence That you have slander'd so?
Isab. Ignomy in ransom', and free pardon,
Ang. You seem’d of late to make the law a tyrant ;
Isab. O, pardon me, my lord ! it oft falls out, To have what we would have, we speak not what we
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
Ang. We are all frail.
Else let my brother die,
8 That longing I have been sick for,] The old copies omit the pronoun, which is required by the sense.
9 Igxomy in ransom,] The second folio reads, ignominy for “ignomy ;” the word ignomy occurs again in Troilus and Cressida, A. v. sc. 3.
10 Nothing akin to foul redemption.] The folios have kin for “ akin;" but then they regulate the passage differently
“ lawful mercy Is nothing kin to foul redemption.” 1 If not a feodary, but only he,
Owe, and succeed this weakness.] The word this (instead of thy, as it stands in the old copies) is from an old MS. note in the margin of Lord Francis Egerton's first folio : it is probably right, and the meaning of the whole passage seems to be, “ If we are not all frail, let my brother die, if he alone offend, and have no feodary (companion or accomplice) in this weakness.” To "owe” is here, as in many other instances, to own.