Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download Measure for Measure pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather prov'd the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.

O, pardon me, my lord! It oft falls out,
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean:
I something do excuse the thing I hate
For his advantage that I dearly love.

We are all frail.

Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary, but only he,
Owe, and succeed by weakness.

Nay, women are frail too.

Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves;
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
Women! Help heaven! men their creation mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail;
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.

I think it well:
And from this testimony of your own sex,--
Since, I suppose, we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames,--let me be bold;--
I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none;
If you be one,--as you are well express'd
By all external warrants,--show it now
By putting on the destin'd livery.

I have no tongue but one: gentle, my lord,
Let me intreat you, speak the former language.

Plainly conceive, I love you.

My brother did love Juliet; and you tell me
That he shall die for it.

He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.

I know your virtue hath a license in't,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.

Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.

Ha! little honour to be much believed,
And most pernicious purpose!--Seeming, seeming!--
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for't:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother
Or, with an outstretch'd throat, I'll tell the world
Aloud what man thou art.

Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoil'd name, th' austereness of my life,
My vouch against you, and my place i' the state,
Will so your accusation overweigh
That you shall stifle in your own report,
And smell of calumny. I have begun,
And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;
Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes
That banish what they sue for: redeem thy brother
By yielding up thy body to my will;
Or else he must not only die the death,
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
To lingering sufferance: answer me to-morrow,
Or, by the affection that now guides me most,
I'll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true.


To whom should I complain? Did tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue
Either of condemnation or approof!
Bidding the law make court'sy to their will;
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws! I'll to my brother:
Though he hath fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour
That, had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he'd yield them up
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorr'd pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:
More than our brother is our chastity.
I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest.



SCENE I. A Room in the prison.


So, then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?

The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope:
I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.

Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life,--
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skiey influences,
That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st
Hourly afflict; mere'y, thou art death's fool;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,
And yet runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble;
For all the accommodations that thou bear'st
Are nurs'd by baseness. Thou art by no means valiant;
For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
And that thou oft provok'st; yet grossly fear'st
Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself:
For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;
For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get;
And what thou hast, forgett'st. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
After the moon. If thou art rich, thou art poor;
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none;
For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire,
The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,
But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both: for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.

I humbly thank you.
To sue to live, I find I seek to die;
And, seeking death, find life. Let it come on.

[Within.] What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!

Who's there? come in: the wish deserves a welcome.

Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.

Most holy sir, I thank you.


My business is a word or two with Claudio.

And very welcome. Look, signior, here's your sister.

Provost, a word with you.

As many as you please.

Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be conceal'd.

[Exeunt DUKE and PROVOST.]

Now, sister, what's the comfort?

As all comforts are; most good, most good, in deed:
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger:
Therefore, your best appointment make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.

Is there no remedy?

None, but such remedy as, to save a head,
To cleave a heart in twain.

But is there any?

Yes, brother, you may live:
There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
If you'll implore it, that will free your life,
But fetter you till death.

Perpetual durance?

Ay, just; perpetual durance; a restraint,
Though all the world's vastidity you had,
To a determin'd scope.

But in what nature?

In such a one as, you consenting to't,
Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,
And leave you naked.

Let me know the point.

O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.

Why give you me this shame?
Think you I can a resolution fetch
From flowery tenderness? If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride
And hug it in mine arms.

There spake my brother; there my father's grave
Did utter forth a voice! Yes, thou must die:
Thou art too noble to conserve a life
In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,--
Whose settled visage and deliberate word
Nips youth i' the head, and follies doth emmew
As falcon doth the fowl,--is yet a devil;
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.

The precise Angelo?

O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell
The damned'st body to invest and cover
In precise guards! Dost thou think, Claudio,
If I would yield him my virginity
Thou mightst be freed?

O heavens! it cannot be.

Yes, he would give it thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still. This night's the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest to-morrow.

Thou shalt not do't.

O, were it but my life,
I'd throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.

Thanks, dear Isabel.

Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-morrow.

Yes.--Has he affections in him
That thus can make him bite the law by the nose
When he would force it? Sure it is no sin;
Or of the deadly seven it is the least.

Which is the least?

If it were damnable, he, being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary trick
Be perdurably fined?--O Isabel!

What says my brother?

Death is a fearful thing.

And shamed life a hateful.

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling!--'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

Alas, alas!

Sweet sister, let me live:
What sin you do to save a brother's life
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.

O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of incest to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issued from his blood. Take my defiance:
Die; perish! might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed:
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,--
No word to save thee.

Nay, hear me, Isabel.

O fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade:
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd:
'Tis best that thou diest quickly.


O, hear me, Isabella.

[Re-enter DUKE.]

Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

What is your will?

Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have
some speech with you: the satisfaction I would require is
likewise your own benefit.

I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out of
other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.

[To CLAUDIO aside.] Son, I have overheard what hath passed
between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to
corrupt her; only he hath made an assay of her virtue to
practise his judgment with the disposition of natures; she,
having the truth of honour in her, hath made him that gracious
denial which he is most glad to receive: I am confessor to
Angelo, and I know this to be true; therefore prepare yourself
to death. Do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are
fallible: to-morrow you must die; go to your knees and make ready.

Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life that I
will sue to be rid of it.

Hold you there. Farewell.


[Re-enter PROVOST.]

Provost, a word with you.

What's your will, father?

That, now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me a while with
the maid; my mind promises with my habit no loss shall touch her
by my company.

In good time.


The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good; the goodness
that is cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in goodness; but grace,
being the soul of your complexion, shall keep the body of it ever
fair. The assault that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath
conveyed to my understanding; and, but that frailty hath examples
for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How will you do to
content this substitute, and to save your brother?

I am now going to resolve him; I had rather my brother die by the
law than my son should be unlawfully born. But, O, how much is the
good duke deceived in Angelo! If ever he return, and I can speak
to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his government.

That shall not be much amiss: yet, as the matter now stands, he
will avoid your accusation; he made trial of you only.--Therefore
fasten your ear on my advisings; to the love I have in doing good
a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe that you may
most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit;
redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain to your own
gracious person; and much please the absent duke, if peradventure
he shall ever return to have hearing of this business.

Let me hear you speak further; I have spirit to do anything that
appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not heard
speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great soldier who
miscarried at sea?

I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.

She should this Angelo have married; was affianced to her by
oath, and the nuptial appointed: between which time of the
contract and limit of the solemnity her brother Frederick was
wrecked at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of his
sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman:
there she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward
her ever most kind and natural; with him the portion and sinew of
her fortune, her marriage-dowry; with both, her combinate husband,
this well-seeming Angelo.

Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?

Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his
comfort; swallowed his vows whole, pretending, in her,
discoveries of dishonour; in few, bestow'd her on her own
lamentation, which she yet wears for his sake; and he, a
marble to her tears, is washed with them, but relents not.

What a merit were it in death to take this poor maid from the
world! What corruption in this life that it will let this man
live!--But how out of this can she avail?

It is a rupture that you may easily heal; and the cure of it not
only saves your brother, but keeps you from dishonour in doing it.

Show me how, good father.

This forenamed maid hath yet in her the continuance of her first
affection; his unjust unkindness, that in all reason should have
quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the current, made
it more violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo; answer his requiring
with a plausible obedience; agree with his demands to the point:
only refer yourself to this advantage,--first, that your stay with
him may not be long; that the time may have all shadow and silence
in it; and the place answer to convenience: this being granted in
course, and now follows all. We shall advise this wronged maid to
stead up your appointment, go in your place; if the encounter
acknowledge itself hereafter, it may compel him to her recompense:
and here, by this, is your brother saved, your honour untainted,
the poor Mariana advantaged, and the corrupt deputy scaled. The
maid will I frame and make fit for his attempt. If you think well
to carry this as you may, the doubleness of the benefit defends
the deceit from reproof. What think you of it?

The image of it gives me content already; and I trust it will
grow to a most prosperous perfection.

It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily to Angelo; if
for this night he entreat you to his bed, give him promise of
satisfaction. I will presently to Saint Luke's; there, at the
moated grange, resides this dejected Mariana. At that place call
upon me; and despatch with Angelo, that it may be quickly.

I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.

[Exeunt severally.]

Scene II. The Street before the Prison.

[Enter DUKE, as a Friar; to him, ELBOW, CLOWN and Officers.]

Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will needs buy
and sell men and women like beasts, we shall have all the world
drink brown and white bastard.

O heavens! what stuff is here?

'Twas never merry world since, of two usuries, the merriest was
put down, and the worser allowed by order of law a furred gown
to keep him warm; and furred with fox on lamb-skins too, to
signify that craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the

Come your way, sir.--Bless you, good father friar.

And you, good brother father. What offence hath this man made
you, sir?

Marry, sir, he hath offended the law; and, sir, we take him to be
a thief too, sir; for we have found upon him, sir, a strange
picklock, which we have sent to the deputy.

Fie, sirrah, a bawd, a wicked bawd;
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think
What 'tis to cram a maw or clothe a back
From such a filthy vice: say to thyself--
From their abominable and beastly touches
I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.
Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.

Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet, sir, I would

Nay, if the devil have given thee proofs for sin,
Thou wilt prove his. Take him to prison, officer;
Correction and instruction must both work
Ere this rude beast will profit.

He must before the deputy, sir; he has given him warning:
The deputy cannot abide a whoremaster: if he be a whoremaster,
and comes before him, he were as good go a mile on his errand.

That we were all, as some would seem to be,
Free from our faults, as faults from seeming free!

His neck will come to your waist, a cord, sir.

I spy comfort; I cry bail! Here's a gentleman, and a friend of

[Enter LUCIO.]

How now, noble Pompey? What, at the wheels of Caesar! Art thou
led in triumph? What, is there none of Pygmalion's images, newly
made woman, to be had now, for putting the hand in the pocket
and extracting it clutched? What reply, ha? What say'st thou to
this tune, matter, and method? Is't not drowned i' the last rain,
ha? What say'st thou to't? Is the world as it was, man? Which
is the way? Is it sad, and few words? or how? The trick of it?

Still thus, and thus! still worse!

How doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? Procures she still, ha?

Troth, sir, she hath eaten up all her beef, and she is herself in
the tub.

Why, 'tis good: it is the right of it: it must be so: ever your
fresh whore and your powdered bawd--an unshunned consequence:;
it must be so. Art going to prison, Pompey?

Yes, faith, sir.

Why, 'tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell; go, say I sent thee
thither. For debt, Pompey? or how?

For being a bawd, for being a bawd.

Well, then, imprison him: if imprisonment be the due of a bawd,
why, 'tis his right: bawd is he doubtless, and of antiquity,
too: bawd-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to the prison,
Pompey. You will turn good husband now, Pompey; you will keep
the house.

I hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail.

No, indeed, will I not, Pompey; it is not the wear. I will pray,
Pompey, to increase your bondage: if you take it not patiently,
why, your mettle is the more. Adieu, trusty Pompey.--Bless you,

And you.

Does Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha?

Come your ways, sir; come.

You will not bail me then, sir?

Then, Pompey, nor now.--What news abroad, friar? what news?

Come your ways, sir; come.

Go,--to kennel, Pompey, go:

[Exeunt ELBOW, CLOWN, and Officers.]

What news, friar, of the duke?

I know none. Can you tell me of any?

Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other some, he is in
Rome: but where is he, think you?

I know not where; but wheresoever, I wish him well.

It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from the state and
usurp the beggary he was never born to. Lord Angelo dukes it well
in his absence; he puts transgression to't.

He does well in't.

A little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in him:
something too crabbed that way, friar.

It is too general a vice, and severity must cure it.

Yes, in good sooth, the vice is of a great kindred; it is well
allied: but it is impossible to extirp it quite, friar, till
eating and drinking be put down. They say this Angelo was not
made by man and woman after this downright way of creation:
is it true, think you?

How should he be made, then?

Some report a sea-maid spawned him; some, that he was begot
between two stock-fishes.--But it is certain that when he makes
water, his urine is congealed ice; that I know to be true. And
he is a motion ungenerative; that's infallible.

You are pleasant, sir, and speak apace.

Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the rebellion of a
codpiece to take away the life of a man! Would the duke that is
absent have done this? Ere he would have hanged a man for the
getting a hundred bastards, he would have paid for the nursing a
thousand. He had some feeling of the sport; he knew the service,
and that instructed him to mercy.

I never heard the absent duke much detected for women; he was not
inclined that way.

O, sir, you are deceived.

'Tis not possible.

Who, not the duke? yes, your beggar of fifty;--and his use was to
put a ducat in her clack-dish: the duke had crotchets in him.
He would be drunk too: that let me inform you.

You do him wrong, surely.

Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy fellow was the duke: and I
believe I know the cause of his withdrawing.

What, I pr'ythee, might be the cause?

No,--pardon;--'tis a secret must be locked within the teeth and
the lips: but this I can let you understand,--the greater file of
the subject held the duke to be wise.

Wise? why, no question but he was.

A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.

Either this is envy in you, folly, or mistaking; the very stream
of his life, and the business he hath helmed, must, upon a
warranted need, give him a better proclamation. Let him be but
testimonied in his own bringings forth, and he shall appear to
the envious a scholar, a statesman, and a soldier. Therefore you
speak unskilfully; or, if your knowledge be more, it is much
darkened in your malice.

Sir, I know him, and I love him.

Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love.

Come, sir, I know what I know.

I can hardly believe that, since you know not what you speak.
But, if ever the duke return,--as our prayers are he may,--
let me desire you to make your answer before him. If it be
honest you have spoke, you have courage to maintain it: I am
bound to call upon you; and, I pray you, your name?

Sir, my name is Lucio; well known to the duke.

He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to report you.

I fear you not.

O, you hope the duke will return no more; or you imagine me too
unhurtful an opposite. But, indeed, I can do you little harm:
you'll forswear this again.

I'll be hanged first! thou art deceived in me, friar. But no
more of this. Canst thou tell if Claudio die to-morrow or no?

Why should he die, sir?

Why? for filling a bottle with a tun-dish. I would the duke we
talk of were returned again: this ungenitured agent will
unpeople the province with continency; sparrows must not build
in his house-eaves because they are lecherous. The duke yet
would have dark deeds darkly answered; he would never bring them
to light: would he were returned! Marry, this Claudio is
condemned for untrussing. Farewell, good friar; I pr'ythee pray
for me. The duke, I say to thee again, would eat mutton on
Fridays. He's not past it; yet, and, I say to thee, he would
mouth with a beggar though she smelt brown bread and garlic.
Say that I said so.--Farewell.


No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure 'scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
But who comes here?

[Enter ESCALUS, PROVOST, BAWD, and Officers.]

Go, away with her to prison.

Good my lord, be good to me; your honour is accounted a merciful
man; good my lord.

Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in the same kind?
This would make mercy swear and play the tyrant.

A bawd of eleven years' continuance, may it please your honour.

My lord, this is one Lucio's information against me: Mistress
Kate Keepdown was with child by him in the duke's time; he
promised her marriage: his child is a year and a quarter old
come Philip and Jacob; I have kept it myself; and see how he
goes about to abuse me.

That fellow is a fellow of much license:--let him be called
before us.--Away with her to prison. Go to; no more words.

[Exeunt BAWD and Officers.]

Provost, my brother Angelo will not be altered, Claudio must die
to-morrow: let him be furnished with divines, and have all
charitable preparation: if my brother wrought by my pity it
should not be so with him.

So please you, this friar hath been with him, and advised him for
the entertainment of death.

Good even, good father.

Bliss and goodness on you!

Of whence are you?

Not of this country, though my chance is now
To use it for my time: I am a brother
Of gracious order, late come from the see
In special business from his holiness.

What news abroad i' the world?

None, but that there is so great a fever on goodness, that the
dissolution of it must cure it: novelty is only in request; and
as it is as dangerous to be aged in any kind of course as it is
virtuous to be constant in any undertaking. There is scarce truth
enough alive to make societies secure; but security enough to
make fellowships accurst: much upon this riddle runs the wisdom
of the world. This news is old enough, yet it is every day's news.
I pray you, sir, of what disposition was the duke?

One that, above all other strifes, contended especially to know

What pleasure was he given to?

Rather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at anything
which professed to make him rejoice: a gentleman of all temperance.
But leave we him to his events, with a prayer they may prove
prosperous; and let me desire to know how you find Claudio
prepared. I am made to understand that you have lent him

He professes to have received no sinister measure from his judge,
but most willingly humbles himself to the determination of
justice: yet had he framed to himself, by the instruction of his
frailty, many deceiving promises of life; which I, by my good
leisure, have discredited to him, and now he is resolved to die.

You have paid the heavens your function, and the prisoner the
very debt of your calling. I have laboured for the poor gentleman
to the extremest shore of my modesty; but my brother justice have
I found so severe that he hath forced me to tell him he is indeed

If his own life answer the straitness of his proceeding, it shall
become him well: wherein if he chance to fail, he hath sentenced

I am going to visit the prisoner.
Fare you well.

Peace be with you!


He who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself to know,
Grace to stand, and virtue go;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self-offences weighing.
Shame to him whose cruel striking
Kills for faults of his own liking!
Twice treble shame on Angelo,
To weed my vice and let his grow!
O, what may man within him hide,
Though angel on the outward side!
How may likeness, made in crimes,
Make a practice on the times,
To draw with idle spiders' strings
Most pond'rous and substantial things!
Craft against vice I must apply;
With Angelo to-night shall lie
His old betrothed but despis'd;
So disguise shall, by the disguis'd,
Pay with falsehood false exacting,
And perform an old contracting.


Act IV.

Scene I. A Room in Mariana's House.

[MARIANA discovered sitting; a Boy singing.]

Take, O, take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn:
But my kisses bring again
Bring again;
Seals of love, but seal'd in vain,
Sealed in vain.

Break off thy song, and haste thee quick away;
Here comes a man of comfort, whose advice
Hath often still'd my brawling discontent.--

[Exit BOY.]
[Enter DUKE.]

I cry you mercy, sir; and well could wish
You had not found me here so musical:
Let me excuse me, and believe me so,
My mirth it much displeas'd, but pleas'd my woe.

'Tis good: though music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good and good provoke to harm.
I pray you ,tell me hath anybody inquired for me here to-day?
much upon this time have I promised here to meet.

You have not been inquired after: I have sat here all day.


I do constantly believe you.--The time is come even now. I shall
crave your forbearance a little: may be I will call upon you anon,
for some advantage to yourself.

I am always bound to you.


Very well met, and welcome.
What is the news from this good deputy?

He hath a garden circummur'd with brick,
Whose western side is with a vineyard back'd;
And to that vineyard is a planched gate
That makes his opening with this bigger key:
This other doth command a little door
Which from the vineyard to the garden leads;
There have I made my promise to call on him
Upon the heavy middle of the night.

But shall you on your knowledge find this way?

I have ta'en a due and wary note upon't;
With whispering and most guilty diligence,
In action all of precept, he did show me
The way twice o'er.

Are there no other tokens
Between you 'greed concerning her observance?

No, none, but only a repair i' the dark;
And that I have possess'd him my most stay
Can be but brief: for I have made him know
I have a servant comes with me along,
That stays upon me; whose persuasion is
I come about my brother.

'Tis well borne up.
I have not yet made known to Mariana
A word of this.--What ho, within! come forth.

[Re-enter MARIANA.]

I pray you be acquainted with this maid;
She comes to do you good.

I do desire the like.

Do you persuade yourself that I respect you?

Good friar, I know you do, and have found it.

Take, then, this your companion by the hand,
Who hath a story ready for your ear:
I shall attend your leisure; but make haste;
The vaporous night approaches.

Will't please you walk aside?


O place and greatness, millions of false eyes
Are stuck upon thee! volumes of report
Run with these false, and most contrarious quest
Upon thy doings! Thousand 'scapes of wit
Make thee the father of their idle dream,
And rack thee in their fancies!--Welcome! how agreed?

[Re-enter MARIANA and ISABELLA.]

She'll take the enterprise upon her, father,
If you advise it.

It is not my consent,
But my entreaty too.

Little have you to say,
When you depart from him, but, soft and low,
'Remember now my brother.'

Fear me not.

Nor, gentle daughter, fear you not at all;
He is your husband on a pre-contract:
To bring you thus together 'tis no sin,
Sith that the justice of your title to him
Doth flourish the deceit. Come, let us go;
Our corn's to reap, for yet our tithe's to sow.


SCENE II. A Room in the prison.

[Enter PROVOST and CLOWN.]

Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man's head?

If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can: but if he be a married man,
he's his wife's head, and I can never cut off a woman's head.

Come, sir, leave me your snatches and yield me a direct answer.
To-morrow morning are to die Claudio and Barnardine. Here is in
our prison a common 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.

Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind; but yet I
will be content to be a lawful hangman. I would be glad to receive
some instruction from my fellow-partner.

What ho, Abhorson! Where's Abhorson, there?


Do you call, sir?

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.

A bawd, sir? Fie upon him; he will discredit our mystery.

Go to, sir; you weigh equally; a feather will turn the scale.


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?

Ay, sir; a mystery.

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 hanged, I cannot imagine.

Sir, it is a mystery.


Every true man's apparel fits your thief: if it be too little for
your thief, your true man 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.]

Are you agreed?

Sir, I will serve him; for I do find your hangman is a more
penitent trade than your bawd; he doth oftener ask forgiveness.

You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe to-morrow four

Come on, bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.

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.

Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.

[Exeunt CLOWN and ABHORSON.]

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?

As fast lock'd up in sleep as guiltless labour
When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones:
He will not wake.

Who can do good on him?
Well, go, prepare yourself. But hark, what noise?
[Knocking within.]
Heaven give your spirits comfort!


By and by!--
I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
For the most gentle Claudio.--Welcome, father.

[Enter DUKE.]

The best and wholesom'st spirits of the night
Envelop you, good provost! Who call'd here of late?

None, since the curfew rung.

Not Isabel?


They will then, ere't be long.

What comfort is for Claudio?

There's some in hope.

It is a bitter deputy.

Not so, not so: his life is parallel'd
Even with the stroke and line of his great justice;
He doth with holy abstinence subdue
That in himself which he spurs on his power
To qualify in others: were he meal'd
With that which he corrects, then were he tyrannous;
But this being so, he's just.--Now are they come.

[Knocking within--PROVOST goes out.]

This is a gentle provost: seldom when
The steeled gaoler is the friend of men.--
How now? what noise? That spirit's possess'd with haste
That wounds the unsisting postern with these strokes.

[PROVOST returns, speaking to one at the door.]

There he must stay until the officer
Arise to let him in; he is call'd up.

Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
But he must die to-morrow?

None, sir, none.

As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
You shall hear more ere morning.

You something know; yet I believe there comes
No countermand; no such example have we:
Besides, upon the very siege of justice,
Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
Profess'd the contrary.

[Enter a Messenger.]

This is his lordship's man.

And here comes Claudio's pardon.

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.

I shall obey him.

[Exit Messenger.]

[Aside.] This is his pardon, purchas'd by such sin,
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 the offender friended.--
Now, sir, what news?

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.

Pray you, let's hear.

[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 performed; 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?

What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in the afternoon?

A Bohemian born; but here nursed up and bred: one that is a
prisoner nine years old.

How came it that the absent duke had not either delivered him to
his liberty or executed him? I have heard it was ever his manner
to do so.

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.

It is now apparent?

Most manifest, and not denied by himself.

Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How seems he to be

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.

He wants advice.

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 him, as if to carry him to execution, and showed him a
seeming warrant for it: it hath not moved him at all.

More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost, honesty
and constancy: if I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me;
but in the boldness of my cunning I will lay myself in hazard.
Claudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is no greater
forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath sentenced him. To make you
understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but four days'
respite; for the which you are to do me both a present and a
dangerous courtesy.

Pray, sir, in what?

In the delaying death.

Alack! How may I do it? having the hour limited; and an express
command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view of Angelo?
I may make my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the smallest.

By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if my instructions may
be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning executed,
and his head borne to Angelo.

Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.

O, death's a great disguiser: and you may add to it. Shave the
head and tie the beard; and say it was the desire of the penitent
to be so bared before his death. You know the course is common.
If anything fall to you upon this, more than thanks and good
fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I will plead against it with
my life.

Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.

Were you sworn to the duke, or to the deputy?

To him and to his substitutes.

You will think you have made no offence if the duke avouch the
justice of your dealing?

But what likelihood is in that?

Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you fearful,
that neither my coat, integrity, nor persuasion, can with ease
attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to pluck all fears
out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the duke.
You know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is not
strange to you.

I know them both.

The contents of this is the return of the duke; you shall anon
over-read it at your pleasure, where you shall find within these
two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows not:
for he this very day receives letters of strange tenour: perchance
of the duke's death; perchance entering into some monastery; but,
by chance, nothing of what is writ. Look, the unfolding star calls
up the shepherd. Put not yourself into amazement how these things
should be: all difficulties are but easy when they are known. Call
your executioner, and off with Barnardine's head: I will give him
a present shrift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you are
amazed: but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come away; it is
almost clear dawn.


SCENE III. Another Room in the same.

[Enter CLOWN.]

I am as well acquainted here as I was in our house of profession:
one would think it were Mistress Overdone's own house, for here
be many of her old customers. First, here's young Master Rash;
he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, nine score
and seventeen pounds; of which he made five marks ready money:
marry, then ginger was not much in request, for the old women
were all dead. Then is there here one Master Caper, at the suit
of Master Threepile the mercer, for some four suits of peach-
coloured satin, which now peaches him a beggar. Then have we here
young Dizy, and young Master Deepvow, and Master Copperspur, and
Master Starvelackey, the rapier and dagger man, and young
Dropheir that killed lusty Pudding, and Master Forthlight the
tilter, and brave Master Shoetie the great traveller, and wild
Halfcan that stabbed Pots, and, I think, forty more; all great
doers in our trade, and are now 'for the Lord's sake.'


Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.

Master Barnardine! You must rise and be hanged, Master

What ho, Barnardine!

[Within.] A pox o' your throats! Who makes that noise there? What
are you?

Your friend, sir; the hangman. You must be so good, sir, to rise
and be put to death.

[Within.] Away, you rogue, away; I am sleepy.

Tell him he must awake, and that quickly too.

Pray, Master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and sleep

Go in to him, and fetch him out.

He is coming, sir, he is coming; I hear his straw rustle.


Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?

Very ready, sir.

How now, Abhorson? what's the news with you?

Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers; for,
look you, the warrant's come.

You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not fitted for't.

O, the better, sir; for he that drinks all night and is hanged
betimes in the morning may sleep the sounder all the next day.

[Enter DUKE.]

Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father. Do we jest now,
think you?

Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are to
depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with you.

Friar, not I; I have been drinking hard all night, and I will
have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my brains
with billets: I will not consent to die this day, that's certain.

O, Sir, you must; and therefore I beseech you,
Look forward on the journey you shall go.

I swear I will not die to-day for any man's persuasion.

But hear you,--

Not a word; if you have anything to say to me, come to my ward;
for thence will not I to-day.


Unfit to live or die. O gravel heart!--
After him, fellows; bring him to the block.

[Exeunt ABHORSON and CLOWN.]

[Enter PROVOST.]

Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?

A creature unprepar'd, unmeet for death;
And to transport him in the mind he is
Were damnable.

Here in the prison, father,
There died this morning of a cruel fever
One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate,
A man of Claudio's years; his beard and head
Just of his colour. What if we do omit
This reprobate till he were well inclined;
And satisfy the deputy with the visage
Of Ragozine, more like to Claudio?

O, 'tis an accident that Heaven provides!
Despatch it presently; the hour draws on
Prefix'd by Angelo: see this be done,
And sent according to command; whiles I
Persuade this rude wretch willingly to die.

This shall be done, good father, presently.
But Barnardine must die this afternoon:
And how shall we continue Claudio,
To save me from the danger that might come
If he were known alive?

Let this be done;--
Put them in secret holds; both Barnardine and Claudio.
Ere twice the sun hath made his journal greeting
To the under generation, you shall find
Your safety manifested.

I am your free dependant.

Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo.


Now will I write letters to Angelo,--
The provost, he shall bear them,--whose contents
Shall witness to him I am near at home,
And that, by great injunctions, I am bound
To enter publicly: him I'll desire
To meet me at the consecrated fount,
A league below the city; and from thence,
By cold gradation and well-balanced form.
We shall proceed with Angelo.

[Re-enter PROVOST.]

Here is the head; I'll carry it myself.

Convenient is it. Make a swift return;
For I would commune with you of such things
That want no ear but yours.

I'll make all speed.


[Within.] Peace, ho, be here!

The tongue of Isabel.--She's come to know
If yet her brother's pardon be come hither:
But I will keep her ignorant of her good,
To make her heavenly comforts of despair
When it is least expected.


Ho, by your leave!

Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter.

The better, given me by so holy a man.
Hath yet the deputy sent my brother's pardon?

He hath released him, Isabel, from the world:
His head is off and sent to Angelo.

Nay, but it is not so.

It is no other:
Show your wisdom, daughter, in your close patience.

O, I will to him and pluck out his eyes!

You shall not be admitted to his sight.

Unhappy Claudio! Wretched Isabel!
Injurious world! Most damned Angelo!

This nor hurts him nor profits you a jot:
Forbear it, therefore; give your cause to Heaven.
Mark what I say; which you shall find
By every syllable a faithful verity:
The duke comes home to-morrow;--nay, dry your eyes;
One of our convent, and his confessor,
Gives me this instance. Already he hath carried
Notice to Escalus and Angelo,
Who do prepare to meet him at the gates,
There to give up their power. If you can, pace your wisdom
In that good path that I would wish it go,
And you shall have your bosom on this wretch,
Grace of the duke, revenges to your heart,
And general honour.

I am directed by you.

This letter, then, to Friar Peter give;
'Tis that he sent me of the duke's return.
Say, by this token, I desire his company
At Mariana's house to-night. Her cause and yours
I'll perfect him withal; and he shall bring you
Before the duke; and to the head of Angelo
Accuse him home, and home. For my poor self,
I am combined by a sacred vow,
And shall be absent. Wend you with this letter:
Command these fretting waters from your eyes
With a light heart; trust not my holy order,
If I pervert your course.--Who's here?

[Enter LUCIO.]

Good even. Friar, where is the provost?

Not within, sir.

O pretty Isabella, I am pale at mine heart to see thine eyes so
red; thou must be patient: I am fain to dine and sup with water
and bran; I dare not for my head fill my belly; one fruitful meal
would set me to't. But they say the duke will be here to-morrow.
By my troth, Isabel, I loved thy brother. If the old fantastical
duke of dark corners had been at home, he had lived.


Sir, the duke is marvellous little beholding to your reports; but
the best is, he lives not in them.

Friar, thou knowest not the duke so well as I do: he's a better
woodman than thou takest him for.

Well, you'll answer this one day. Fare ye well.

Nay, tarry; I'll go along with thee; I can tell thee pretty tales
of the duke.

You have told me too many of him already, sir, if they be true:
if not true, none were enough.

I was once before him for getting a wench with child.

Did you such a thing?

Yes, marry, did I; but I was fain to forswear it: they would else
have married me to the rotten medlar.

Sir, your company is fairer than honest. Rest you well.

By my troth, I'll go with thee to the lane's end. If bawdy talk
offend you, we'll have very little of it. Nay, friar, I am a kind
of burr; I shall stick.


SCENE IV. A Room in ANGELO'S house.


Every letter he hath writ hath disvouched other.

In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions show much like
to madness; pray heaven his wisdom be not tainted! And why meet him
at the gates, and re-deliver our authorities there?

I guess not.

And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his entering
that, if any crave redress of injustice, they should exhibit
their petitions in the street?

He shows his reason for that: to have a dispatch of complaints;
and to deliver us from devices hereafter, which shall then have
no power to stand against us.

Well, I beseech you, let it be proclaim'd:
Betimes i' the morn I'll call you at your house:
Give notice to such men of sort and suit
As are to meet him.

I shall, sir: fare you well.


Good night.--
This deed unshapes me quite, makes me unpregnant,
And dull to all proceedings. A deflower'd maid!
And by an eminent body that enforced
The law against it!--But that her tender shame
Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
How might she tongue me? Yet reason dares her--no:
For my authority bears a so credent bulk,
That no particular scandal once can touch
But it confounds the breather. He should have liv'd,
Save that his riotous youth, with dangerous sense,
Might in the times to come have ta'en revenge,
By so receiving a dishonour'd life
With ransom of such shame. Would yet he had liv'd!
Alack, when once our grace we have forgot,
Nothing goes right; we would, and we would not.


SCENE V. Fields without the town.

[Enter DUKE in his own habit, and Friar PETER.]

These letters at fit time deliver me. [Giving letters.]
The provost knows our purpose and our plot.
The matter being afoot, keep your instruction
And hold you ever to our special drift;
Though sometimes you do blench from this to that
As cause doth minister. Go, call at Flavius' house,
And tell him where I stay: give the like notice
To Valentinus, Rowland, and to Crassus,
And bid them bring the trumpets to the gate;
But send me Flavius first.

It shall be speeded well.

[Exit FRIAR.]

[Enter VARRIUS.]

I thank thee, Varrius; thou hast made good haste:
Come, we will walk. There's other of our friends
Will greet us here anon, my gentle Varrius.


SCENE VI. Street near the City Gate.


To speak so indirectly I am loath;
I would say the truth; but to accuse him so,
That is your part: yet I am advis'd to do it;
He says, to 'vailfull purpose.

Be ruled by him.

Besides, he tells me that, if peradventure
He speak against me on the adverse side,
I should not think it strange; for 'tis a physic
That's bitter to sweet end.

I would Friar Peter.--

O, peace! the friar is come.


Come, I have found you out a stand most fit,
Where you may have such vantage on the duke
He shall not pass you. Twice have the trumpets sounded;
The generous and gravest citizens
Have hent the gates, and very near upon
The duke is entering; therefore, hence, away.



SCENE I. A public place near the city gate.

[MARIANA (veiled), ISABELLA, and PETER, at a distance. Enter at
opposite doors DUKE, VARRIUS, Lords; ANGELO, ESCALUS, LUCIO,
PROVOST, Officers, and Citizens.]

My very worthy cousin, fairly met;--
Our old and faithful friend, we are glad to see you.

Happy return be to your royal grace!

Many and hearty thankings to you both.
We have made inquiry of you; and we hear
Such goodness of your justice that our soul
Cannot but yield you forth to public thanks,
Forerunning more requital.

You make my bonds still greater.

O, your desert speaks loud; and I should wrong it
To lock it in the wards of covert bosom,
When it deserves, with characters of brass,
A forted residence 'gainst the tooth of time
And rasure of oblivion. Give me your hand,
And let the subject see, to make them know
That outward courtesies would fain proclaim
Favours that keep within.--Come, Escalus;
You must walk by us on our other hand:
And good supporters are you.

[Enter PETER and ISABELLA come forward.]

Now is your time; speak loud, and kneel before him.

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest