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mon executioner, who in his office lacks a helper: if you will take it on you to assist him, it shall redeem you from your gyves; if not, you shall have your full time of imprisonment, and your deliverance with an unpitied whipping, for you have been a notorious bawd.
Clo. Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd, time out of mind; but yet I will be content to be a lawful hang
I would be glad to receive some instruction from my fellow partner.
Prov. What ho, Abhorson ! Where's Abhorson, there?
Abhor. Do you call, sir.
Prov. Sirrah, here's a fellow will help you to-morrow in your execution. If you think it meet, compound with him by the year, and let him abide here with you; if not, use him for the present, and dismiss him. He cannot plead his estimation with you: he hath been a bawd.
Abhor. A bawd, sir? Fie upon him! he will discredit our mystery.
Prov. Go to, sir; you weigh equally: a feather will turn the scale.
[Exit. Clo. Pray, sir, by your good favour, (for, surely, sir, a good favour you have, but that you have a hanging look,) do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?
Abhor. Ay, sir; a mystery.
Clo. Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and your whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery; but what mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hang’d, I cannot imagine
Abhor. Sir, it is a mystery.
thinks it big enough ; if it be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little enough : so, every true man's apparel fits your thief'.
Re-enter Provost. Prov. Are you agreed?
Clo. Sir, I will serve him ; for I do find, your hangman is a more penitent trade than your bawd: he doth oftener ask forgiveness.
Prov. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe to-morrow, four o'clock.
Abhor. Come on, bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade: follow.
Clo. I do desire to learn, sir; and, I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare ?; for, truly, sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn. Prov. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio:
[Excunt Clown and ABHORSON. Th' one has my pity; not a jot the other, Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
Enter CLAUDIO. Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death : 'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine?
Claud. As fast lock'd up in sleep, as guiltless labour, When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones: He will not wake.
1- so every true man's apparel fits your thief.] This is the old and the correct division of the dialogue, though the last speech of the Clown has been usually coupled with Abhorson's answer. The Clown asks Abhorson forproof” that his occupation is a mystery, and receives for reply, merely, “ Every true man’s (i. e. honest man's) apparel fits your thief." The Clown, who is a quick fellow, instantly catches at the mode of reasoning passing in Abhorson's mind, and explains in what way“ every true man's apparel fits your thief.” Abhorson is not a man of many words, and contents himself with the assertion upon which the Clown enlarges,
yare :) i. e. Handy, nimble in the execution of the office.
Who can do good on him? Well, go; prepare yourself. But hark, what noise ?
[Knocking within. Heaven give your spirits comfort By and by :
[Exit CLAUDIO. I hope it is some pardon, or reprieve, For the most gentle Claudio.—Welcome, father.
Duke. The best and wholesom’st spirits of the night Envelop you, good provost! Who call’d here of late ?
Prov. None, since the curfew rung.
There's some in hope. Prov. It is a bitter deputy.
Duke. Not so, not so: his life is paralleld
[Knocking within. But this being so, he's just.-Now are they come.
[Exit Provost. This is a gentle provost : seldom, when The steeled gaoler is the friend of men. [Knocking. How now? What noise ? That spirit's possessed with
haste, That wounds th' unsisting postern with these strokes 5.
were he MEAL'D] “ Meald” means mingled or compounded, from the Fr. méler. Mell for meddle, or mingle, is common.
5 That wounds the Unsisting postern with these strokes.] “Unsisting,” says Blackstone, “may signify 'never at rest,' always opening.” Perhaps it was a mere misprint for resisting.
Re-enter Provost. Prov. [Speaking to one at the door.] There he must
stay, until the officer
Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
None, sir, none.
Enter a Messenger.
Mes. My lord hath sent you this note; and by me this further charge, that you swerve not from the smallest article of it, neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow; for, as I take it, it is almost day. Prov. I shall obey him.
[Exit Messenger. Duke. This is his pardon ; purchas'd by such sin,
[Aside. For which the pardoner himself is in : Hence hath offence his quick celerity, When it is borne in high authority. When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended, That for the fault's love is th' offender friended.
6 Happily,] For haply, three syllables being required to complete the preceding line.
? – siege of justice,) i. e. Seat of justice.
Now, sir, what news?
Prov. I told you: Lord Angelo, belike thinking me remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted putting on; methinks strangely, for he hath not used it before.
Duke. Pray you, let's hear.
Prov. [Reads.] Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio be executed by four of the clock; and, in the afternoon, Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have Claudio's head sent me by five. Let this be duly perform’d; with a thought, that more depends on it than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.”— What say you to this, sir?
Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be executed in the afternoon?
Prov. A Bohemian born ; but here nursed up and bred : one that is a prisoner nine years old.
Duke. How came it, that the absent Duke had not either deliver'd him to his liberty, or executed him? I have heard, it was ever his manner to do so.
Prov. His friends still wrought reprieves for him : and, indeed, his fact, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
Duke. It is now apparent.
Duke. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison ? How seems he to be touch'd ?
Prov. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully, but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless of what's past, present, or to come: insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.
Duke. He wants advice.
Prov. He will hear none. He hath evermore had the liberty of the prison : give him leave to escape hence, he would not: drunk many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awaked