Enter DUKE VINCENTIO and FRIAR THOMAS
No, holy father; throw away that thought;
Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
To give me secret harbour, hath a purpose
5More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth.
May your grace speak of it?
My holy sir, none better knows than you
How I have ever loved the life removed
10And held in idle price to haunt assemblies
Where youth, and cost, and witless bravery keeps.
I have deliver’d to Lord Angelo,
A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
15And he supposes me travell’d to Poland;
For so I have strew’d it in the common ear,
And so it is received. Now, pious sir,
You will demand of me why I do this?
Gladly, my lord.
20We have strict statutes and most biting laws.
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
Which for this nineteen years we have let slip;
Even like an o’ergrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
25Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children’s sight
For terror, not to use, in time the rod
Becomes more mock’d than fear’d; so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
30And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.