| Tales from Shakespeare|
|by Charles and Mary Lamb|
|First published in 1807, these simple retellings of the plots of Shakespeare's plays have delighted generations of children, while serving as an excellent introduction to the dramas of our greatest playwright. Shakespeare's own language is used as much as possible to accustom children to the English of the Elizabethan age and so make easier their transition to the reading of the plays themselves. Numerous black and white illustrations by Louis Rhead complement the text. Ages 10-14 |
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
N THE city of Vienna there once reigned a duke of such a mild
and gentle temper that he suffered his subjects to neglect the
laws with impunity; and there was in particular one law the
existence of which was almost forgotten, the duke never having
put it in force during his whole reign. This was a law dooming
any man to the punishment of death who should live with a woman
that was not his wife; and this law, through the lenity of the
duke, being utterly disregarded, the holy institution of marriage
became neglected, and complaints were every day made to the duke
by the parents of the young ladies in Vienna that their daughters
had been seduced from their protection and were living as the
companions of single men.
The good duke perceived with sorrow this growing evil among his
subjects; but he thought that a sudden change in himself from the
indulgence he had hitherto shown, to the strict severity
requisite to check this abuse, would make his people (who had
hitherto loved him) consider him as a tyrant; therefore he
determined to absent himself awhile from his dukedom and depute
another to the full exercise of his power, that the law against
these dishonorable lovers might be put in effect, without giving
offense by an unusual severity in his own person.
Angelo, a man who bore the reputation of a saint in Vienna for
his strict and rigid life, was chosen by the duke as a fit person
to undertake this important charge; and when the duke imparted
his design to Lord Escalus, his chief counselor, Escalus said:
 "If any man in Vienna be of worth to undergo such ample grace and
honor, it is Lord Angelo."
And now the duke departed from Vienna under pretense of making a
journey into Poland, leaving Angelo to act as the lord deputy in
his absence; but the duke's absence was only a feigned one, for
he privately returned to Vienna, habited like a friar, with the
intent to watch unseen the conduct of the saintly-seeming Angelo.
It happened just about the time that Angelo was invested with his
new dignity that a gentleman, whose name was Claudio, had seduced
a young lady from her parents; and for this offense, by command
of the new lord deputy, Claudio was taken up and committed to
prison, and by virtue of the old law which had been so long
neglected Angelo sentenced Claudio to be beheaded. Great interest
was made for the pardon of young Claudio, and the good old Lord
Escalus himself interceded for him.
"Alas!" said he, "this gentleman whom I would save had an
honorable father, for whose sake I pray you pardon the young
But Angelo replied: "We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
setting it up to frighten birds of prey, till custom, finding it
harmless, makes it their perch and not their terror. Sir, he must
Lucio, the friend of Claudio, visited him in the prison, and
Claudio said to him: "I pray you, Lucio, do me this kind service.
Go to my sister Isabel, who this day proposes to enter the
convent of Saint Clare; acquaint her with the danger of my state;
implore her that she make friends with the strict deputy; bid her
go herself to Angelo. I have great hopes in that; for she can
dis-  course with prosperous art, and well she can persuade;
besides, there is a speechless dialect in youthful sorrow such as
Isabel, the sister of Claudio, had, as he said, that day entered
upon her novitiate in the convent, and it was her intent, after
passing through her probation as a novice, to take the veil, and
she was inquiring of a nun concerning the rules of the convent
when they heard the voice of Lucio, who, as he entered that
religious house, said, "Peace be in this place!"
"Who is it that speaks?" said Isabel.
"It is a man's voice," replied the nun. "Gentle Isabel, go to
him, and learn his business; you may, I may not. When you have
taken the veil, you must not speak with men but in the presence
of the prioress; then if you speak you must not show your face,
or if you show your face you must not speak."
"And have you nuns no further privileges?" said Isabel.
"Are not these large enough?" replied the nun.
"Yes, truly," said Isabel. "I speak not as desiring more, but
rather wishing a more strict restraint upon the sisterhood, the
votarists of Saint Clare."
Again they heard the voice of Lucio, and the nun said: "He calls
again. I pray you answer him."
Isabel then went out to Lucio, and in answer to his salutation,
said: "Peace and Prosperity! Who is it that calls?"
Then Lucio, approaching her with reverence, said: "Hail, virgin,
if such you be, as the roses on your cheeks proclaim you are no
less! Can you bring me to the sight of Isabel, a novice of this
place, and the fair sister to her unhappy brother Claudio?"
"Why her unhappy brother?" said Isabel, "let me ask! for I am
that Isabel and his sister."
"Fair and gentle lady," he replied, "your brother kindly greets
you by me; he is in prison."
"Woe is me! for what?" said Isabel.
Lucio then told her Claudio was imprisoned for seducing a young
maiden. "Ah," said she, "I fear it is my cousin Juliet."
Juliet and Isabel were not related, but they called each other
 cousin in remembrance of their school-days' friendship; and as
Isabel knew that Juliet loved Claudio, she feared she had been
led by her affection for him into this transgression.
"She it is," replied Lucio.
"Why, then, let my brother marry Juliet," said Isabel.
Lucio replied that Claudio would gladly marry Juliet, but that
the lord deputy had sentenced him to die for his offense.
"Unless," said he, "you have the grace by your fair prayer to
soften Angelo, and that is my business between you and your poor
"Alas!" said Isabel, "what poor ability is there in me to do him
good? I doubt I have no power to move Angelo."
"Our doubts are traitors," said Lucio, "and make us lose the good
we might often win, by fearing to attempt it. Go to Lord Angelo!
When maidens sue and kneel and weep men give like gods."
"I will see what I can do said Isabel. "I will but stay to give
the prioress notice of the affair, and then I will go to Angelo.
Commend me to my brother. Soon at night I will send him word of
Isabel hastened to the palace and threw herself on her knees
before Angelo, saying, "I am a woeful suitor to your Honor, if it
will please your Honor to hear me."
"Well, what is your suit?" said Angelo.
She then made her petition in the most moving terms for her
But Angelo said, "Maiden, there is no remedy; your brother is
sentenced, and he must die."
 "Oh, just but severe law!" said Isabel. "I had a brother then.
Heaven keep your Honor!" and she was about to depart.
But Lucio, who had accompanied her, said: "Give it not over so;
return to him again, entreat him, kneel down before him, hang
upon his gown. You are too cold; if you should need a pin, you
could not with a more tame tongue desire it."
Then again Isabel on her knees implored for mercy.
"He is sentenced," said Angelo. "It is too late."
"Too late!" said Isabel. "Why, no! I that do speak a word may
call it back again. Believe this, my lord, no ceremony that to
great ones belongs, not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
the marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, becomes them with
one half so good a grace as mercy does."
"Pray you begone," said Angelo.
But still Isabel entreated; and she said: "If my brother had been
as you, and you as he, you might have slipped like him, but he,
like you, would not have been so stern. I would to Heaven I had
your power and you were Isabel. Should it then be thus? No, I
would tell you what it were to be a judge, and what a prisoner."
"Be content, fair maid!" said Angelo: "it is the law, not I,
condemns your brother. Were he my kinsman, my brother, or my son,
it should be thus with him. He must die to-morrow."
"To-morrow?" said Isabel. "Oh, that is sudden! Spare him, spare
him. He is not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens we kill
the fowl in season; shall we serve Heaven with less respect than
we minister to our gross selves? Good, good, my lord, bethink
you, none have died for my brother's offense, though many have
committed it. So you would be the first that gives this sentence
and he the first that suffers it. Go to your own bosom, my lord;
knock there, and ask your heart what it does know that is like my
brother's fault; if it confess a natural guiltiness such as his
is, let it not sound a thought against my brother's life!"
Her last words more moved Angelo than all she had before said,
for the beauty of Isabel had raised a guilty passion in his heart
and he began to form thoughts of dishonorable love,
 such as
Claudio's crime had been, and the conflict in his mind made him
to turn away from Isabel; but she called him back, saying:
"Gentle my lord, turn back. Hark, how I will bribe you. Good my
lord, turn back!"
"How! bribe me?" said Angelo, astonished that she should think of
offering him a bribe.
"Aye," said Isabel, "with such gifts that Heaven itself shall
share with you; not with golden treasures, or those glittering
stones whose price is either rich or poor as fancy values them,
but with true prayers that shall be up to Heaven before
sunrise—prayers from preserved souls, from fasting maids whose
minds are dedicated to nothing temporal."
"Well, come to me to-morrow," said Angelo.
And for this short respite of her brother's life, and for this
permission that she might be heard again, she left him with the
joyful hope that she should at last prevail over his stern
 nature. And as she went away she said: "Heaven keep your Honor
safe! Heaven save your Honor!" Which, when Angelo heard, he said
within his heart, "Amen, I would be saved from thee and from thy
virtues." And then, affrighted at his own evil thoughts, he said:
"What is this? What is this? Do I love her, that I desire to hear
her speak again and feast upon her eyes? What is it I dream on?
The cunning enemy of mankind, to catch a saint, with saints does
bait the hook. Never could an immodest woman once stir my temper,
but this virtuous woman subdues me quite. Even till now, when men
were fond, I smiled and wondered at them."
In the guilty conflict in his mind Angelo suffered more that
night than the prisoner he had so severely sentenced; for in the
prison Claudio was visited by the good duke, who, in his friar's
habit, taught the young man the way to heaven, preaching to him
the words of penitence and peace. But Angelo felt all the pangs
of irresolute guilt, now wishing to seduce Isabel from the paths
of innocence and honor, and now suffering remorse and horror for
a crime as yet but intentional. But in the end his evil thoughts
prevailed; and he who had so lately started at the offer of a
bribe resolved to tempt this maiden with so high a bribe as she
might not be able to resist, even with the precious gift of her
dear brother's life.
When Isabel came in the morning Angelo desired she might be
admitted alone to his presence; and being there, he said to her,
if she would yield to him her virgin honor and transgress even as
Juliet had done with Claudio, he would give her her brother's
"For," said he, "I love you, Isabel."
"My brother," said Isabel, "did so love Juliet, and yet you tell
me he shall die for it."
"But," said Angelo, "Claudio shall not die if you will consent to
visit me by stealth at night, even as Juliet left her father's
house at night to come to Claudio."
Isabel, in amazement at his words, that he should tempt her
the same fault for which he passed sentence upon her brother,
said, "I would do as much for my poor brother as for myself; that
is, were I under sentence of death, the impression of keen whips
I would wear as rubies, and go to my death as to a bed that
longing I had been sick for, ere I would yield myself up to this
shame." And then she told him she hoped he only spoke these words
to try her virtue.
But he said, "Believe me, on my honor, my words express my
Isabel, angered to the heart to hear him use the word honor to
express such dishonorable purposes, said: "Ha! little honor to be
much believed; and most pernicious purpose. I will proclaim thee,
Angelo, look for it! Sign me a present pardon for my brother, or
I will tell the world aloud what man thou art!"
"Who will believe you, Isabel?" said Angelo; "my unsoiled name,
the austereness of my life, my word vouched against yours, will
outweigh your accusation. Redeem your brother by yielding to my
will, or he shall die to-morrow. As for you, say what you can, my
false will overweigh your true story. Answer me to-morrow."
"To whom should I complain? Did I tell this, who would believe
me?" said Isabel, as she went toward the dreary prison where her
brother was confined. When she arrived there her brother was in
pious conversation with the duke, who in his friar's habit had
also visited Juliet and brought both these guilty lovers to a
proper sense of their fault; and unhappy Juliet with tears and a
true remorse confessed that she was more to blame than Claudio,
in that she willingly consented to his dishonorable
As Isabel entered the room where Claudio was confined, she said,
"Peace be here, grace, and good company!"
"Who is there?" said the disguised duke. "Come in; the wish
deserves a welcome."
"My business is a word or two with Claudio," said Isabel.
 Then the duke left them together, and desired the provost who had
the charge of the prisoners to place him where he might overhear
"Now, sister, what is the comfort?" said Claudio.
Isabel told him he must prepare for death on the morrow.
"Is there no remedy?" said Claudio.
"Yes, brother," replied Isabel, "there is; but such a one as if
you consented to it would strip your honor from you and leave you
"Let me know the point," said Claudio.
"Oh, I do fear you, Claudio!" replied his sister; "and I quake,
lest you should wish to live, and more respect the trifling term
of six or seven winters added to your life than your perpetual
honor! Do you dare to die? The sense of death is most in
apprehension, and the poor beetle that we tread upon feels a pang
as great as when a giant dies."
"Why do you give me this shame?" said Claudio. "Think you I can
fetch a resolution from flowery tenderness? If I must die, I will
encounter darkness as a bride and hug it in my arms."
"There spoke my brother," said Isabel; "there my father's grave
did utter forth a voice! Yes, you must die; yet would you think
it, Claudio, this outward sainted deputy, if I would yield to him
my virgin honor, would grant your life? Oh, were it but my life,
I would lay it down for your deliverance as frankly as a pin!"
"Thanks, dear Isabel," said Claudio.
"Be ready to die to-morrow," said Isabel.
"Death is a fearful thing," said Claudio.
"And shamed life a hateful," replied his sister.
But the thoughts of death now overcame the constancy of Claudio's
temper, and terrors, such as the guilty only at their deaths do
know, assailing him, he cried out: "Sweet sister, let me live!
The sin you do to save a brother's life, nature dispenses with
the deed so far that it becomes a virtue."
"O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!" said Isabel. "Would
preserve your life by your sister's shame? Oh, fie, fie, fie! I
thought, my brother, you had in you such a mind of honor that,
had you twenty heads to render up on twenty blocks, you would
have yielded them up all before your sister should stoop to such
"Nay, hear me, Isabel!" said Claudio.
"HEAR ME, ISABEL!" SAID THE AGONIZED CLAUDIO
But what he would have said in defense of his weakness in
desiring to live by the dishonor of his virtuous sister was
interrupted by the entrance of the duke; who said:
"Claudio, I have overheard what has passed between you and your
sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; what he
said, has only been to make trial of her virtue. She, having the
truth of honor in her, has given him that gracious denial which
he is most glad to receive. There is no hope that he will
pardon you; therefore pass your hours in prayer, and make ready
Then Claudio repented of his weakness, and said: "Let me ask my
sister's pardon! I am so out of love with life that I will sue to
be rid of it." And Claudio retired, overwhelmed with shame and
sorrow for his fault.
The duke, being now alone with Isabel, commended her virtuous
resolution, saying, "The hand that made you fair has made you
"Oh," said Isabel, "how much is the good duke deceived in Angelo!
If ever he return, and I can speak to him, I will discover his
government." Isabel knew not that she was even now making the
discovery she threatened.
 The duke replied: "That shall not be much amiss; yet as the
matter now stands, Angelo will repel your accusation; therefore
lend an attentive ear to my advisings. I believe that you may
most righteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit, redeem
your brother from the angry law, do no stain to your own most
gracious person, and much please the absent duke, if peradventure
he shall ever return to have notice of this business."
Isabel said she had a spirit to do anything he desired, provided
it was nothing wrong.
"Virtue is bold and never fearful," said the duke: and then he
asked her, if she had ever heard of Mariana, the sister of
Frederick, the great soldier who was drowned at sea.
"I have heard of the lady," said Isabel, "and good words went
with her name."
"This lady," said the duke, "is the wife of Angelo; but her
marriage dowry was on board the vessel in which her brother
perished, and mark how heavily this befell to the poor
gentlewoman! for, besides the loss of a most noble and renowned
brother, who in his love toward her was ever most kind and
natural, in the wreck of her fortune she lost the affections of
her husband, the well-seeming Angelo, who, pretending to discover
some dishonor in this honorable lady (though the true cause was
the loss of her dowry), left her in her tears and dried not one
of them with his comfort. His unjust unkindness, that in all
reason should have quenched her love, has, like an impediment in
the current, made it more unruly, and Mariana loves her cruel
husband with the full continuance of her first affection."
The duke then more plainly unfolded his plan. It was that Isabel
should go to Lord Angelo and seemingly consent to come to him as
he desired at midnight; that by this means she would obtain the
promised pardon; and that Mariana should go in her stead to the
appointment, and pass herself upon Angelo in the dark for Isabel.
"Nor, gentle daughter," said the feigned friar, "fear you to
thing. Angelo is her husband, and to bring them thus together is
Isabel, being pleased with this project, departed to do as he
directed her; and he went to apprise Mariana of their intention.
He had before this time visited this unhappy lady in his assumed
character, giving her religious instruction and friendly
consolation, at which times he had learned her sad story from her
own lips; and now she, looking upon him as a holy man, readily
consented to be directed by him in this undertaking.
When Isabel returned from her interview with Angelo, to the house
of Mariana, where the duke had appointed her to meet him, he
said: "Well met, and in good time. What is the news from this
Isabel related the manner in which she had settled the affair.
"Angelo," said she, "has a garden surrounded with a brick wall,
on the western side of which is a vineyard, and to that vineyard
is a gate." And then she showed to the duke and Mariana two keys
that Angelo had given her; and she said: "This bigger key opens
the vineyard gate; this other a little door which leads from the
vineyard to the garden. There I have made my promise at the dead
of the night to call upon him, and have got from him his word of
assurance for my brother's life. I have taken a due and wary note
of the place; and with whispering and most guilty diligence he
showed me the way twice over."
"Are there no other tokens agreed upon between you, that Mariana
must observe?" said the duke.
"No, none," said Isabel, "only to go when it is dark. I have told
him my time can be but short; for I have made him think a servant
comes along with me, and that this servant is persuaded I come
about my brother."
The duke commended her discreet management, and she, turning to
Mariana, said, "Little have you to say to Angelo, when you depart
from him, but soft and low, Remember now my brother!"
Mariana was that night conducted to the appointed place by
 Isabel, who rejoiced that she had, as she supposed, by this
device preserved both her brother's life and her own honor. But
that her brother's life was safe the duke was not well satisfied,
and therefore at midnight he again repaired to the prison, and it
was well for Claudio that he did so, else would Claudio have that
night been beheaded; for soon after the duke entered the prison
an order came from the cruel deputy commanding that Claudio
should be beheaded and his head sent to him by five o'clock in
the morning. But the duke persuaded the provost to put off the
execution of Claudio, and to deceive Angelo by sending him the
head of a man who died that morning in the prison. And to prevail
upon the provost to agree to this, the duke, whom still the
provost suspected not to be anything more or greater than he
seemed, showed the provost a letter written with the duke's hand,
and sealed with his seal, which when the provost saw, he
concluded this friar must have some secret order from the absent
duke, and therefore he consented to spare Claudio; and he cut off
the dead man's head and carried it to Angelo.
Then the duke in his own name wrote to Angelo a letter saying
that certain accidents had put a stop to his journey and that he
should be in Vienna by the following morning, requiring Angelo to
meet him at the entrance of the city, there to deliver up his
authority; and the duke also commanded it to be proclaimed that
if any of his subjects craved redress for injustice they should
exhibit their petitions in the street on his first entrance into
Early in the morning Isabel came to the prison, and the duke, who
there awaited her coming, for secret reasons thought it good to
tell her that Claudio was beheaded; therefore when Isabel
inquired if Angelo had sent the pardon for her brother, he said:
"Angelo has released Claudio from this world. His head is off and
sent to the deputy."
The much-grieved sister cried out, "O unhappy Claudio, wretched
Isabel, injurious world, most wicked Angelo!"
The seeming friar bid her take comfort, and when she was
be-  come a little calm he acquainted her with the near prospect of the
duke's return and told her in what manner she should proceed in
preferring her complaint against Angelo; and he bade her not fear
if the cause should seem to go against her for a while. Leaving
Isabel sufficiently instructed, he next went to Mariana and gave
her counsel in what manner she also should act.
Then the duke laid aside his friar's habit, and in his own royal
robes, amid a joyful crowd of his faithful subjects assembled to
greet his arrival, entered the city of Vienna, where he was met
by Angelo, who delivered up his authority in the proper form. And
there came Isabel, in the manner of a petitioner for redress, and
"Justice, most royal duke! I am the sister of one Claudio, who,
for the seducing a young maid, was condemned to lose his head. I
made my suit to lord Angelo for my brother's pardon. It were
needless to tell your Grace how I prayed and kneeled, how he
repelled me, and how I replied; for this was of much length. The
vile conclusion I now begin with grief and pain to utter. Angelo
would not, but by my yielding to his dishonorable love, release
my brother; and after much debate within myself my sisterly
remorse overcame my virtue, and I did yield to him. But the next
morning betimes, Angelo, forfeiting his promise, sent a warrant
for my poor brother's head!"
The duke affected to disbelieve her story; and Angelo said that
grief for her brother's death, who had suffered by the due course
of the law, had disordered her senses.
And now another suitor approached, which was Mariana; and Mariana
said: "Noble prince, as there comes light from heaven and truth
from breath, as there is sense in truth and truth in virtue, I am
this man's wife, and, my good lord, the words of Isabel are
false, for the night she says she was with Angelo I passed that
night with him in the garden-house. As this is true let me in
safety rise, or else forever be fixed here a marble monument."
Then did Isabel appeal for the truth of what she had said to
 Friar Lodowick, that being the name the duke had assumed in his
disguise. Isabel and Mariana had both obeyed his instructions in
what they said, the duke intending that the innocence of Isabel
should be plainly proved in that public manner before the whole
city of Vienna; but Angelo little thought that it was from such a
cause that they thus differed in their story, and he hoped from
their contradictory evidence to be able to clear himself from the
accusation of Isabel; and he said, assuming the look of offended
"I did but smile till now; but, good my lord, my patience here is
touched, and I perceive these poor, distracted women are but the
instruments of some greater one who sets them on. Let me have
way, my lord, to find this practice out."
"Aye, with all my heart," said the duke, "and punish them to the
height of your pleasure. You, Lord Escalus, sit with Lord Angelo,
lend him your pains to discover this abuse; the friar is sent for
that set them on, and when he comes do with your injuries as may
seem best in any chastisement. I for a while will leave you, but
stir not you, Lord Angelo, till you have well determined upon
this slander." The duke then went away, leaving Angelo well
pleased to be deputed judge and umpire in his own cause. But the
duke was absent only while he threw off his royal robes and put
on his friar's habit; and in that disguise again he presented
himself before Angelo and Escalus. And the good old Escalus, who
thought Angelo had been falsely accused, said to the supposed
friar, "Come, sir, did you set these women on to slander Lord
He replied: "Where is the duke? It is he who should hear me
Escalus said: "The duke is in us, and we will hear you. Speak
"Boldly, at least," retorted the friar; and then he blamed the
duke for leaving the cause of Isabel in the hands of him she had
accused, and spoke so freely of many corrupt practices he had
observed while, as he said, he had been a looker-on in Vienna,
 Escalus threatened him with the torture for speaking words
against the state and for censuring the conduct of the duke, and
ordered him to be taken away to prison. Then, to the amazement of
all present, and to the utter confusion of Angelo, the supposed
friar threw off his disguise, and they saw it was the duke
The duke first addressed Isabel. He said to her: "Come hither,
Isabel. Your friar is now your prince, but with my habit I have
not changed my heart. I am still devoted to your service."
"Oh, give me pardon," said Isabel, "that I, your vassal, have
employed and troubled your unknown sovereignty."
He answered that he had most need of forgiveness from her for not
having prevented the death of her brother—for not yet would he
tell her that Claudio was living; meaning first to make a further
trial of her goodness.
Angelo now knew the duke had been a secret witness of his bad
deeds, and he said: "O my dread lord, I should be guiltier than
my guiltiness, to think I can be undiscernible, when I perceive
your Grace, like power divine, has looked upon my actions. Then,
good prince, no longer prolong my shame, but let my trial be my
own confession. Immediate sentence and death is all the grace I
The duke replied: "Angelo, thy faults are manifest. We do condemn
thee to the very block where Claudio stooped to death, and with
like haste away with him; and for his possessions, Mariana, we do
instate and widow you withal, to buy you a better husband."
"O my dear lord," said Mariana, "I crave no other, nor no better
man!" And then on her knees, even as Isabel had begged the life
of Claudio, did this kind wife of an ungrateful husband beg the
life of Angelo; and she said: "Gentle my liege, O good my lord!
Sweet Isabel, take my part! Lend me your knees and all my life to
come I will lend you all my life, to do you service!"
 The duke said: "Against all sense you importune her. Should
Isabel kneel down to beg for mercy, her brother's ghost would
break his paved bed and take her hence in horror."
Still Mariana said: "Isabel, sweet Isabel, do but kneel by me,
hold up your hand, say nothing! I will speak all. They say best
men are molded out of faults, and for the most part become much
the better for being a little bad. So may my husband. O Isabel!
will you not lend a knee?"
The duke then said, "He dies for Claudio." But much pleased was
the good duke when his own Isabel, from whom he expected all
gracious and honorable acts, kneeled down before him, and said:
"Most bounteous sir, look, if it please you, on this man
condemned, as if my brother lived. I partly think a due sincerity
governed his deeds till he did look on me. Since it is so, let
him not die! My brother had but justice in that he did the thing
for which he died."
The duke, as the best reply he could make to this noble
petitioner for her enemy's life, sending for Claudio from his
prison-house, where he lay doubtful of his destiny, presented to
her this lamented brother living; and he said to Isabel: "Give me
your hand, Isabel. For your lovely sake I pardon Claudio. Say you
will be mine, and he shall be my brother, too."
By this time Lord Angelo perceived he was safe; and the duke,
observing his eye to brighten up a little, said:
"Well, Angelo, look that you love your wife; her worth has
obtained your pardon. Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo! I
have confessed her and know her virtue."
Angelo remembered, when dressed in a little brief authority, how
hard his heart had been, and felt how sweet is mercy.
The duke commanded Claudio to marry Juliet, and offered himself
again to the acceptance of Isabel, whose virtuous and noble
conduct had won her prince's heart. Isabel, not having taken the
veil, was free to marry; and the friendly offices, while hid
under the disguise of a humble friar, which the noble duke had
done for her, made her with grateful joy accept the honor he
 offered her; and when she became Duchess of Vienna the excellent
example of the virtuous Isabel worked such a complete reformation
among the young ladies of that city, that from that time none
ever fell into the transgression of Juliet, the repentant wife of
the reformed Claudio. And the mercy-loving duke long reigned with
his beloved Isabel, the happiest of husbands and of princes.
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