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Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

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MEASURE FOR MEASURE

by William Shakespeare

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

VICENTIO, Duke of Vienna.
ANGELO, Lord Deputy in the Duke's absence.
ESCALUS, an ancient Lord, joined with Angelo in the deputation.
CLAUDIO, a young Gentleman.
LUCIO, a Fantastic.
Two other like Gentlemen.
VARRIUS, a Gentleman, Servant to the Duke.
PROVOST.
THOMAS, friar.
PETER, friar.
A JUSTICE.
ELBOW, a simple Constable.
FROTH, a foolish Gentleman.
CLOWN, Servant to Mistress Overdone.
ABHORSON, an Executioner.
BARNARDINE, a dissolute Prisoner.

ISABELLA, Sister to Claudio.
MARIANA, betrothed to Angelo.
JULIET, beloved by Claudio.
FRANCISCA, a nun.
MISTRESS OVERDONE, a Bawd.

Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and other Attendants.

SCENE: Vienna

ACT I.

SCENE I. An apartment in the DUKE'S Palace.

[Enter DUKE, ESCALUS, LORDS, and ATTENDANTS.]

DUKE.
Escalus,--

ESCALUS.
My lord.

DUKE.
Of government the properties to unfold,
Would seem in me to 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, you 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, drest 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.

[Enter 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 stamped 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 the 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.]

SCENE II. A street.

[Enter Lucio and two Gentlemen.]

LUCIO.
If the duke, with the other dukes, come not to composition
with the King of Hungary, why then all the dukes fall upon
the king.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of Hungary's!

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
Amen.

LUCIO.
Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate that went to sea
with the ten
commandments, but scraped one out of the table.

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
Thou shalt not steal?

LUCIO.
Ay, that he razed.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain and all the rest
from their
functions; they put forth to steal. There's not a soldier of us
all that, in
the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition well that
prays for
peace.

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
I never heard any soldier dislike it.

LUCIO.
I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where grace was said.

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
No? A dozen times at least.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
What? in metre?

LUCIO.
In any proportion or in any language.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
I think, or in any religion.

LUCIO.
Ay! why not? Grace is grace, despite of all controversy. As, for
example;--thou
thyself art a wicked villain, despite of all grace.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Well, there went but a pair of shears between us.

LUCIO.
I grant; as there may between the lists and the velvet. Thou art
the list.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
And thou the velvet: thou art good velvet; thou'rt a three-piled
piece, I warrant thee: I had as lief be a list of an English
kersey as be piled, as thou art piled, for a French velvet.
Do I speak feelingly now?

LUCIO.
I think thou dost; and, indeed, with most painful feeling of thy
speech. I will, out of thine own confession, learn to begin thy
health; but, whilst I live, forget to drink after thee.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
I think I have done myself wrong; have I not?

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or free.

LUCIO.
Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation comes! I have purchased as
many diseases under her roof as come to--

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
To what, I pray?

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Judge.

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
To three thousand dollars a year.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Ay, and more.

LUCIO.
A French crown more.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Thou art always figuring diseases in me, but thou art full of
error; I am sound.

LUCIO.
Nay, not, as one would say, healthy; but so sound as things that
are hollow: thy bones are hollow: impiety has made a feast of thee.

[Enter BAWD.]

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
How now! which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?

BAWD.
Well, well; there's one yonder arrested and carried to prison was
worth five thousand of you all.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Who's that, I pray thee?

BAWD.
Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Claudio to prison! 'tis not so.

BAWD.
Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him arrested; saw him carried
away; and, which is more, within these three days his head to
be chopped off.

LUCIO.
But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so. Art thou
sure of this?

BAWD.
I am too sure of it: and it is for getting Madam Julietta with
child.

LUCIO.
Believe me, this may be: he promised to meet me two hours since,
and he was ever precise in promise-keeping.

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
Besides, you know, it draws something near to the speech we had
to such a purpose.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
But most of all agreeing with the proclamation.

LUCIO.
Away; let's go learn the truth of it.

[Exeunt Lucio and Gentlemen.]

BAWD.
Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the
gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.
How now! what's the news with you?

[Enter CLOWN.]

CLOWN.
Yonder man is carried to prison.

BAWD.
Well: what has he done?

CLOWN.
A woman.

BAWD.
But what's his offence?

CLOWN.
Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

BAWD.
What! is there a maid with child by him?

CLOWN.
No; but there's a woman with maid by him. You have not heard of
the proclamation, have you?

BAWD.
What proclamation, man?

CLOWN.
All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.

BAWD.
And what shall become of those in the city?

CLOWN.
They shall stand for seed: they had gone down too, but that a
wise burgher put in for them.

BAWD.
But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be pulled down?

CLOWN.
To the ground, mistress.

BAWD.
Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth! What shall
become of me?

CLOWN.
Come, fear not you; good counsellors lack no clients: though you
change your place you need not change your trade; I'll be your
tapster still.
Courage; there will be pity taken on you: you that have worn your
eyes almost out in the service, you will be considered.

BAWD.
What's to do here, Thomas Tapster? Let's withdraw.

CLOWN.
Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to prison: and
there's Madam Juliet.

[Exeunt.]

Scene III. The same.

[Enter PROVOST, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and Officers; LUCIO and two
Gentlemen.]

CLAUDIO.
Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

PROVOST.
I do it not in evil disposition,
But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

CLAUDIO.
Thus can the demi-god Authority
Make us pay down for our offence by weight.--
The words of heaven;--on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.

LUCIO.
Why, how now, Claudio, whence comes this restraint?

CLAUDIO.
From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty:
As surfeit is the father of much fast,
So every scope by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,--
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,--
A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.

LUCIO.
If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for
certain of my creditors; and yet, to say the truth, I had as
lief have the foppery of freedom as the morality of
imprisonment.--What's thy offence, Claudio?

CLAUDIO.
What but to speak of would offend again.

LUCIO.
What, is't murder?

CLAUDIO.
No.

LUCIO.
Lechery?

CLAUDIO.
Call it so.

PROVOST.
Away, sir; you must go.

CLAUDIO.
One word, good friend.--Lucio, a word with you.

[Takes him aside.]

LUCIO.
A hundred, if they'll do you any good. Is lechery so lookeed
after?

CLAUDIO.
Thus stands it with me:--Upon a true contract
I got possession of Julietta's bed:
You know the lady; she is fast my wife,
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order;: this we came not to
Only for propagation of a dower
Remaining in the coffer of her friends;
From whom we thought it meet to hide our love
Till time had made them for us. But it chances
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment,
With character too gross, is writ on Juliet.

LUCIO.
With child, perhaps?

CLAUDIO.
Unhappily, even so.
And the new deputy now for the duke,--
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,
Or whether that the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur:
Whether the tyranny be in his place,
Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I stagger in.--But this new governor
Awakes me all the enrolled penalties
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round
And none of them been worn; and, for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me; 'tis surely for a name.

LUCIO.
I warrant it is: and thy head stands so tickle on thy shoulders
that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the
duke, and appeal to him.

CLAUDIO.
I have done so, but he's not to be found.
I pr'ythee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
This day my sister should the cloister enter,
And there receive her approbation:
Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him;
I have great hope in that: for in her youth
There is a prone and speechless dialect
Such as moves men; beside, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.

LUCIO.
I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the like, which
else would stand under grievous imposition, as for the enjoying
of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost
at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

CLAUDIO.
I thank you, good friend Lucio.

LUCIO.
Within two hours,--

CLAUDIO.
Come, officer, away.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE IV. A Monastery.

[Enter DUKE and FRIAR THOMAS.]

DUKE.
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
More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth.

FRIAR.
May your grace speak of it?

DUKE.
My holy sir, none better knows than you
How I have ever lov'd the life remov'd,
And held in idle price to haunt assemblies
Where youth, and cost, a 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,
And 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?

FRIAR.
Gladly, my lord.

DUKE.
We have strict statutes and most biting laws,--
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong steeds,--
Which for this fourteen years we have let sleep,
Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threat'ning 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;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.

FRIAR.
It rested in your grace
To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleas'd;
And it in you more dreadful would have seem'd
Than in Lord Angelo.

DUKE.
I do fear, too dreadful:
Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,
'Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
For what I bid them do: for we bid this be done
When evil deeds have their permissive pass
And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,
I have on Angelo impos'd the office;
Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home,
And yet my nature never in the fight
To do in slander. And to behold his sway,
I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,
Visit both prince and people: therefore, I pr'ythee,
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally in person bear me
Like a true friar. Moe reasons for this action
At our more leisure shall I render you;
Only, this one:--Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone: hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE V. A Nunnery.

[Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA.]

ISABELLA.
And have you nuns no further privileges?

FRANCISCA.
Are not these large enough?

ISABELLA.
Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more,
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.

LUCIO.
[Within.] Ho! Peace be in this place!

ISABELLA.
Who's that which calls?

FRANCISCA.
It is a man's voice. Gentle Isabella,
Turn you the key, and know his business of him;
You may, I may not; you are yet unsworn:
When you have vow'd, 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.
He calls again; I pray you answer him.

[Exit FRANCISCA.]

ISABELLA.
Peace and prosperity! Who is't that calls?

[Enter LUCIO.]

LUCIO.
Hail, virgin, if you be; as those cheek-roses
Proclaim you are no less! Can you so stead me
As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
A novice of this place, and the fair sister
To her unhappy brother Claudio?

ISABELLA.
Why her unhappy brother? let me ask;
The rather, for I now must make you know
I am that Isabella, and his sister.

LUCIO.
Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you:
Not to be weary with you, he's in prison.

ISABELLA.
Woe me! For what?

LUCIO.
For that which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks:
He hath got his friend with child.

ISABELLA.
Sir, make me not your story.

LUCIO.
It is true.
I would not--though 'tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing, and to jest,
Tongue far from heart--play with all virgins so:
I hold you as a thing ensky'd and sainted;
By your renouncement an immortal spirit;
And to be talk'd with in sincerity,
As with a saint.

ISABELLA.
You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.

LUCIO.
Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, 'tis thus:
Your brother and his lover have embraced:
As those that feed grow full: as blossoming time,
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
To teeming foison; even so her plenteous womb
Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.

ISABELLA.
Some one with child by him?--My cousin Juliet?

LUCIO.
Is she your cousin?

ISABELLA.
Adoptedly, as school-maids change their names
By vain though apt affection.

LUCIO.
She it is.

ISABELLA.
O, let him marry her!

LUCIO.
This is the point.
The duke is very strangely gone from hence;
Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
In hand, and hope of action: but we do learn
By those that know the very nerves of state,
His givings out were of an infinite distance
From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
And with full line of his authority,
Governs Lord Angelo: a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense.
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
With profits of the mind, study, and fast.
He,--to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have for long run by the hideous law,
As mice by lions,--hath pick'd out an act,
Under whose heavy sense your brother's life
Falls into forfeit: he arrests him on it;
And follows close the rigour of the statute
To make him an example; all hope is gone.
Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
To soften Angelo: and that's my pith
Of business 'twixt you and your poor brother.

ISABELLA.
Doth he so seek his life?

LUCIO.
Has censur'd him
Already; and, as I hear, the provost hath
A warrant for his execution.

ISABELLA.
Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good.

LUCIO.
Assay the power you have.

ISABELLA.
My power! alas, I doubt,--

LUCIO.
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo,
And let him learn to know, when maidens sue,
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely theirs
As they themselves would owe them.

ISABELLA.
I'll see what I can do.

LUCIO.
But speedily.

ISABELLA.
I will about it straight;
No longer staying but to give the Mother
Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you:
Commend me to my brother: soon at night
I'll send him certain word of my success.

LUCIO.
I take my leave of you.

ISABELLA.
Good sir, adieu.

[Exeunt.]

ACT II.

Scene I. A hall in ANGELO'S house.

[Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a JUSTICE, PROVOST, Officers, and other
Attendants.]

ANGELO.
We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.

ESCALUS.
Ay, but yet
Let us be keen, and rather cut a little
Than fall and bruise to death. Alas! this gentleman,
Whom I would save, had a most noble father.
Let but your honour know,--
Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,--
That, in the working of your own affections,
Had time coher'd with place, or place with wishing,
Or that the resolute acting of your blood
Could have attain'd the effect of your own purpose,
Whether you had not sometime in your life
Err'd in this point which now you censure him,
And pull'd the law upon you.

ANGELO.
'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny
The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May, in the sworn twelve, have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice,
That justice seizes. What knows the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it,
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offence
For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
When I, that censure him, do so offend,
Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.

ESCALUS.
Be it as your wisdom will.

ANGELO.
Where is the provost?

PROVOST.
Here, if it like your honour.

ANGELO.
See that Claudio
Be executed by nine to-morrow morning:
Bring him his confessor; let him be prepard;
For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.

[Exit PROVOST.]

ESCALUS.
Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:
Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none,
And some condemned for a fault alone.

[Enter ELBOW, FROTH, CLOWN, Officers, &c.]

ELBOW.
Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a commonweal
that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know
no law; bring them away.

ANGELO.
How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?

ELBOW.
If it please your honour, I am the poor duke's constable, and my
name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here
before your good honour two notorious benefactors.

ANGELO.
Benefactors! Well; what benefactors are they? are they not
malefactors?

ELBOW.
If it please your honour, I know not well what they are; but
precise villains they are, that I am sure of; and void of all
profanation in the world that good Christians ought to have.

ESCALUS.
This comes off well; here's a wise officer.

ANGELO.
Go to;--what quality are they of? Elbow is your name? Why dost
thou not speak, Elbow?

CLOWN.
He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.

ANGELO.
What are you, sir?

ELBOW.
He, sir? a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that serves a bad
woman; whose house, sir, was, as they say, plucked down in the
suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house, which, I think, is
a very ill house too.

ESCALUS.
How know you that?

ELBOW.
My wfe, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,--

ESCALUS.
How! thy wife!

ELBOW.
Ay, sir; who, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,--

ESCALUS.
Dost thou detest her therefore?

ELBOW.
I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this
house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for
it is a naughty house.

ESCALUS.
How dost thou know that, constable?

ELBOW.
Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman cardinally
given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all
uncleanliness there.

ESCALUS.
By the woman's means?

ELBOW.
Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means: but as she spit in his
face, so she defied him.

CLOWN.
Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.

ELBOW.
Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man, prove
it.

ESCALUS.
[To ANGELO.] Do you hear how he misplaces?

CLOWN.
Sir, she came in great with child; and longing,--saving your
honour's reverence--for stew'd prunes; sir, we had but two in
the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were,
in a fruit dish, a dish of some threepence; your honours have
seen such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very good
dishes.

ESCALUS.
Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.

CLOWN.
No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right; but
to the point. As I say, this Mistress Elbow, being, as I say,
with child, and being great-bellied, and longing, as I said, for
prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said, Master Froth
here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and, as I
say, paying for them very honestly;--for, as you know, Master
Froth, I could not give you threepence again,--

FROTH.
No, indeed.

CLOWN.
Very well; you being then, if you be remember'd, cracking the
stones of the foresaid prunes,--

FROTH.
Ay, so I did indeed.

CLOWN.
Why, very well: I telling you then, if you be remember'd, that
such a one and such a one were past cure of the thing you wot of,
unless they kept very good diet, as I told you,--

FROTH.
All this is true.

CLOWN.
Why, very well then.

ESCALUS.
Come, you are a tedious fool: to the purpose. What was done to
Elbow's wife that he hath cause to complain of? Come me to what
was done to her.

CLOWN.
Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.

ESCALUS.
No, sir, nor I mean it not.

CLOWN.
Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's leave. And, I
beseech you, look into Master Froth here, sir, a man of fourscore
pound a-year; whose father died at Hallowmas:--was't not at
Hallowmas, Master Froth?

FROTH.
All-hallond eve.

CLOWN.
Why, very well; I hope here be truths: He, sir, sitting, as I
say, in a lower chair, sir;--'twas in the 'Bunch of Grapes',
where, indeed, you have a delight to sit, have you not?--

FROTH.
I have so; because it is an open room, and good for winter.

CLOWN.
Why, very well then;--I hope here be truths.

ANGELO.
This will last out a night in Russia,
When nights are longest there: I'll take my leave,
And leave you to the hearing of the cause;
Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.

ESCALUS.
I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.

[Exit ANGELO.]

Now, sir, come on; what was done to Elbow's wife, once more?

CLOWN.
Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once.

ELBOW.
I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.

CLOWN.
I beseech your honour, ask me.

ESCALUS.
Well, sir: what did this gentleman to her?

CLOWN.
I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.--Good Master
Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a good purpose.--Doth your
honour mark his face?

ESCALUS.
Ay, sir, very well.

CLOWN.
Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.

ESCALUS.
Well, I do so.

CLOWN.
Doth your honour see any harm in his face?

ESCALUS.
Why, no.

CLOWN.
I'll be supposed upon a book his face is the worst thing about
him. Good then; if his face be the worst thing about him, how
could Master Froth do the constable's wife any harm? I would
know that of your honour.

ESCALUS.
He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?

ELBOW.
First, an it like you, the house is a respected house; next, this
is a respected fellow; and his mistress is a respected woman.

CLOWN.
By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected person than any
of us all.

ELBOW.
Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet: the time is yet to
come that she was ever respected with man, woman, or child.

CLOWN.
Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.

ESCALUS.
Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity?--is this true?

ELBOW.
O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked Hannibal! I
respected with her before I was married to her? If ever I was
respected with her, or she with me, let not your worship think
me the poor duke's officer.--Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal,
or I'll have mine action of battery on thee.

ESCALUS.
If he took you a box o' th' ear, you might have your action of
slander too.

ELBOW.
Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't your worship's
pleasure I should do with this wicked caitiff?

ESCALUS.
Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him that thou
wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him continue in his courses
till thou knowest what they are.

ELBOW.
Marry, I thank your worship for it.--Thou seest, thou wicked
varlet, now, what's come upon thee; thou art to continue now, thou
varlet; thou art to continue.

ESCALUS.
[To FROTH.] Where were you born, friend?

FROTH.
Here in Vienna, sir.

ESCALUS.
Are you of fourscore pounds a-year?

FROTH.
Yes, an't please you, sir.

ESCALUS.
So.--[To the CLOWN.] What trade are you of, sir?

CLOWN.
A tapster; a poor widow's tapster.

ESCALUS.
Your mistress' name?

CLOWN.
Mistress Overdone.

ESCALUS.
Hath she had any more than one husband?

CLOWN.
Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.

ESCALUS.
Nine!--Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I would not
have you acquainted with tapsters: they will draw you, Master
Froth, and you will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no
more of you.

FROTH.
I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never come into any
room in a taphouse but I am drawn in.

ESCALUS.
Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell.

[Exit FROTH.]

--Come you hither to me, master tapster; what's your name, master
tapster?

CLOWN.
Pompey.

ESCALUS.
What else?

CLOWN.
Bum, sir.

ESCALUS.
'Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you; so that, in
the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the great. Pompey, you are
partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever you colour it in being a tapster.
Are you not? come, tell me true; it shall be the better for you.

CLOWN.
Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.

ESCALUS.
How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What do you think of
the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?

CLOWN.
If the law would allow it, sir.

ESCALUS.
But the law will not allow it, Pompey: nor it shall not be
allowed in Vienna.

CLOWN.
Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the youth of the
city?

ESCALUS.
No, Pompey.

CLOWN.
Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then. If your
worship will take order for the drabs and the knaves, you need
not to fear the bawds.

ESCALUS.
There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you. It is but
heading and hanging.

CLOWN.
If you head and hang all that offend that way but for ten year
together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for more heads.
If this law hold in Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest house
in it, after threepence a bay. If you live to see this come to
pass, say Pompey told you so.

ESCALUS.
Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your prophecy, hark
you,--I advise you, let me not find you before me again upon any
complaint whatsoever, no, not for dwelling where you do; if I do,
Pompey, I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd Caesar
to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you whipt: so for
this time, Pompey, fare you well.

CLOWN.
I thank your worship for your good counsel; but I shall follow it
as the flesh and fortune shall better determine.
Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade;
The valiant heart's not whipt out of his trade.

[Exit.]

ESCALUS.
Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master Constable.
How long have you been in this place of constable?

ELBOW.
Seven year and a half, sir.

ESCALUS.
I thought, by the readiness in the office, you had continued in
it some time.
You say seven years together?

ELBOW.
And a half, sir.

ESCALUS.
Alas, it hath been great pains to you!--They do you wrong to put
you so oft upon't. Are there not men in your ward sufficient to
serve it?

ELBOW.
Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters: as they are chosen,
they are glad to choose me for them; I do it for some piece of
money, and go through with all.

ESCALUS.
Look you, bring me in the names of some six or seven, the most
sufficient of your parish.

ELBOW.
To your worship's house, sir?

ESCALUS.
To my house. Fare you well.

[Exit ELBOW.]

What's o'clock, think you?

JUSTICE.
Eleven, sir.

ESCALUS.
I pray you home to dinner with me.

JUSTICE.
I humbly thank you.

ESCALUS.
It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
But there's no remedy.

JUSTICE.
Lord Angelo is severe.

ESCALUS.
It is but needful:
Mercy is not itself that oft looks so;
Pardon is still the nurse of second woe:
But yet,--Poor Claudio!--There's no remedy.
Come, sir.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE II. Another room in the same.

[Enter PROVOST and a SERVANT.]

SERVANT.
He's hearing of a cause; he will come straight.
I'll tell him of you.

PROVOST.
Pray you do.

[Exit Servant.]

I'll know
His pleasure; may be he will relent. Alas,
He hath but as offended in a dream!
All sects, all ages, smack of this vice; and he
To die for it!

[Enter ANGELO.]

ANGELO.
Now, what's the matter, provost?

PROVOST.
Is it your will Claudio shall die to-morrow?

ANGELO.
Did not I tell thee yea? hadst thou not order?
Why dost thou ask again?

PROVOST.
Lest I might be too rash:
Under your good correction, I have seen
When, after execution, judgment hath
Repented o'er his doom.

ANGELO.
Go to; let that be mine:
Do you your office, or give up your place,
And you shall well be spared.

PROVOST.
I crave your honour's pardon:
What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?
She's very near her hour.

ANGELO.
Dispose of her
To some more fitter place; and that with speed.

[Re-enter Servant.]

SERVANT.
Here is the sister of the man condemned
Desires access to you.

ANGELO.
Hath he a sister?

PROVOST.
Ay, my good lord; a very virtuous maid,
And to be shortly of a sisterhood,
If not already.

ANGELO.
Well, let her be admitted.

[Exit Servant.]

See you the fornicatress be remov'd;
Let her have needful but not lavish means;
There shall be order for it.

[Enter Lucio and ISABELLA.]

PROVOST.
[Offering to retire.] Save your honour!

ANGELO.
Stay a little while.-- [To ISABELLA.] You are welcome. What's
your will?

ISABELLA.
I am a woeful suitor to your honour,
Please but your honour hear me.

ANGELO.
Well; what's your suit?

ISABELLA.
There is a vice that most I do abhor,
And most desire should meet the blow of justice;
For which I would not plead, but that I must;
For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war 'twixt will and will not.

ANGELO.
Well; the matter?

ISABELLA.
I have a brother is condemn'd to die;
I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.

PROVOST.
Heaven give thee moving graces.

ANGELO.
Condemn the fault and not the actor of it!
Why, every fault's condemn'd ere it be done;
Mine were the very cipher of a function,
To find the faults whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.

ISABELLA.
O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then.--Heaven keep your honour!

[Retiring.]

LUCIO.
[To ISABELLA.] Give't not o'er so: 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 more tame a tongue desire it:
To him, I say.

ISABELLA.
Must he needs die?

ANGELO.
Maiden, no remedy.

ISABELLA.
Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.

ANGELO.
I will not do't.

ISABELLA.
But can you, if you would?

ANGELO.
Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.

ISABELLA.
But might you do't, and do the world no wrong,
If so your heart were touch'd with that remorse
As mine is to him?

ANGELO.
He's sentenc'd; 'tis too late.

LUCIO.
[To ISABELLA.] You are too cold.

ISABELLA.
Too late? Why, no; I, that do speak a word,
May call it back again. Well, believe this,
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
If he had been as you, and you as he,
You would have slipp'd like him;
But he, like you, would not have been so stern.

ANGELO.
Pray you, be gone.

ISABELLA.
I would to heaven I had your potency,
And you were Isabel! should it then be thus?
No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge
And what a prisoner.

LUCIO.
[Aside.] Ay, touch him; there's the vein.

ANGELO.
Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.

ISABELLA.
Alas! alas!
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.

ANGELO.
Be you content, fair maid:
It is the law, not I, condemns your brother:
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him;--he must die to-morrow.

ISABELLA.
To-morrow! O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him!
He's not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of season: shall we serve heaven
With less respect than we do minister
To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you:
Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There's many have committed it.

LUCIO.
Ay, well said.

ANGELO.
The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept:
Those many had not dared to do that evil
If the first that did the edict infringe
Had answer'd for his deed: now 'tis awake;
Takes note of what is done; and, like a prophet,
Looks in a glass that shows what future evils,--
Either now, or by remissness new conceiv'd,
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,--
Are now to have no successive degrees,
But, where they live, to end.

ISABELLA.
Yet show some pity.

ANGELO.
I show it most of all when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall,
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;
Your brother dies to-morrow; be content.

ISABELLA.
So you must be the first that gives this sentence;
And he that suffers. O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

LUCIO.
That's well said.

ISABELLA.
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder: nothing but thunder.--
Merciful Heaven!
Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt,
Splits the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle; but man, proud man!
Dress'd in a little brief authority,--
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence,--like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

LUCIO.
O, to him, to him, wench: he will relent;
He's coming; I perceive 't.

PROVOST.
Pray heaven she win him!

ISABELLA.
We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:
Great men may jest with saints: 'tis wit in them;
But, in the less, foul profanation.

LUCIO.
Thou'rt i' the right, girl; more o' that.

ISABELLA.
That in the captain's but a choleric word
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

LUCIO.
Art advised o' that? more on't.

ANGELO.
Why do you put these sayings upon me?

ISABELLA.
Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
That skins the vice o' the top. Go to your bosom;
Knock there; and ask your heart what it doth know
That's like my brother's fault: if it confess
A natural guiltiness such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.

ANGELO.
She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense that my sense breeds with it.--
Fare you well.

ISABELLA.
Gentle my lord, turn back.

ANGELO.
I will bethink me:--Come again to-morrow.

ISABELLA.
Hark how I'll bribe you. Good my lord, turn back.

ANGELO.
How! bribe me?

ISABELLA.
Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.

LUCIO.
You had marr'd all else.

ISABELLA.
Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,
Or stones, whose rates are either rich or poor
As fancy values them: but with true prayers,
That shall be up at heaven, and enter there,
Ere sunrise: prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.

ANGELO.
Well; come to me
To-morrow.

LUCIO.
[Aside to ISABELLA.] Go to; 'tis well; away.

ISABELLA.
Heaven keep your honour safe!

ANGELO.
[Aside.] Amen: for I
Am that way going to temptation,
Where prayers cross.

ISABELLA.
At what hour to-morrow
Shall I attend your lordship?

ANGELO.
At any time 'fore noon.

ISABELLA.
Save your honour!

[Exeunt LUCIO, ISABELLA, PROVOST.]

ANGELO.
From thee; even from thy virtue!--
What's this, what's this? Is this her fault or mine?
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most? Ha!
Not she; nor doth she tempt; but it is I
That, lying by the violet, in the sun
Do, as the carrion does, not as the flower,
Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be
That modesty may more betray our sense
Than woman's lightness? Having waste ground enough,
Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary,
And pitch our evils there? O, fie, fie, fie!
What dost thou? or what art thou, Angelo?
Dost thou desire her foully for those things
That make her good? O, let her brother live;
Thieves for their robbery have authority
When judges steal themselves. What! do I love her,
That I desire to hear her speak again
And feast upon her eyes? What is't I dream on?
O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint,
With saints dost bait thy hook! Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue: never could the strumpet,
With all her double vigour, art, and nature,
Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid
Subdues me quite.--Ever till now,
When men were fond, I smil'd and wonder'd how.

[Exit.]

SCENE III. A Room in a prison.

[Enter DUKE, habited like a Friar, and PROVOST.]

DUKE.
Hail to you, provost! so I think you are.

PROVOST.
I am the provost. What's your will, good friar?

DUKE.
Bound by my charity and my bless'd order,
I come to visit the afflicted spirits
Here in the prison: do me the common right
To let me see them, and to make me know
The nature of their crimes, that I may minister
To them accordingly.

PROVOST.
I would do more than that, if more were needful.

[Enter JULIET.]

Look, here comes one; a gentlewoman of mine,
Who, falling in the flaws of her own youth,
Hath blister'd her report. She is with child;
And he that got it, sentenc'd: a young man
More fit to do another such offence
Than die for this.

DUKE.
When must he die?

PROVOST.
As I do think, to-morrow.--
[To JULIET.] I have provided for you; stay awhile
And you shall be conducted.

DUKE.
Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?

JULIET.
I do; and bear the shame most patiently.

DUKE.
I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
And try your penitence, if it be sound
Or hollowly put on.

JULIET.
I'll gladly learn.

DUKE.
Love you the man that wrong'd you?

JULIET.
Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.

DUKE.
So then, it seems, your most offenceful act
Was mutually committed.

JULIET.
Mutually.

DUKE.
Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.

JULIET.
I do confess it, and repent it, father.

DUKE.
'Tis meet so, daughter: but lest you do repent
As that the sin hath brought you to this shame,--
Which sorrow is always toward ourselves, not heaven,
Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it,
But as we stand in fear,--

JULIET.
I do repent me as it is an evil,
And take the shame with joy.

DUKE.
There rest.
Your partner, as I hear, must die to-morrow,
And I am going with instruction to him.--
Grace go with you!

DUKE.
Benedicite!

[Exit.]

JULIET.
Must die to-morrow! O, injurious law,
That respites me a life whose very comfort
Is still a dying horror!

PROVOST.
'Tis pity of him.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE IV. A Room in ANGELO'S house.

[Enter ANGELO.]

ANGELO.
When I would pray and think, I think and pray
To several subjects. Heaven hath my empty words;
Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue,
Anchors on Isabel: Heaven in my mouth,
As if I did but only chew his name;
And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
Of my conception. The state whereon I studied
Is, like a good thing, being often read,
Grown sear'd and tedious; yea, my gravity,
Wherein--let no man hear me--I take pride,
Could I with boot change for an idle plume,
Which the air beats for vain. O place! O form!
How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
To thy false seeming! Blood, thou art blood:
Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,
'Tis not the devil's crest.

[Enter Servant.]

How now, who's there?

SERVANT.
One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.

ANGELO.
Teach her the way.

[Exit SERVANT.]

O heavens!
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
Making both it unable for itself
And dispossessing all the other parts
Of necessary fitness?
So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons;
Come all to help him, and so stop the air
By which he should revive: and even so
The general, subject to a well-wished king
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
Must needs appear offence.

[Enter ISABELLA.]

How now, fair maid?

ISABELLA.
I am come to know your pleasure.

ANGELO.
That you might know it, would much better please me
Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.

ISABELLA.
Even so?--Heaven keep your honour!

[Retiring.]

ANGELO.
Yet may he live awhile: and, it may be,
As long as you or I: yet he must die.

ISABELLA.
Under your sentence?

ANGELO.
Yea.

ISABELLA.
When? I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
That his soul sicken not.

ANGELO.
Ha! Fie, 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.

ISABELLA.
'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.

ANGELO.
Say you so? then I shall pose 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?

ISABELLA.
Sir, believe this,
I had rather give my body than my soul.

ANGELO.
I talk not of your soul; our compell'd sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.

ISABELLA.
How say you?

ANGELO.
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?

ISABELLA.
Please you to do't,
I'll take it as a peril to my soul
It is no sin at all, but charity.

ANGELO.
Pleas'd you to do't at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.

ISABELLA.
That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it! You granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your answer.

ANGELO.
Nay, but hear me:
Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant
Or seem so, craftily; and that's not good.

ISABELLA.
Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good
But graciously to know I am no better.

ANGELO.
Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it doth tax itself: as these black masks
Proclaim an enshielded beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, displayed.--But mark me;
To be received plain, I'll speak more gross:
Your brother is to die.

ISABELLA.
So.

ANGELO.
And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

ISABELLA.
True.

ANGELO.
Admit no other way to save his life,--
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But, in the loss of question,--that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desir'd of such a person,
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-binding law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this suppos'd, or else to let him suffer;
What would you do?

ISABELLA.
As much for my poor brother as myself:
That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing have been sick for, ere I'd yield
My body up to shame.

ANGELO.
Then must your brother die.

ISABELLA.
And 'twere the cheaper way:
Better it were a brother died at once
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.

ANGELO.
Were not you, then, as cruel as the sentence
That you have slandered so?

ISABELLA.
Ignominy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses; lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

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