Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editors: Kristin Lucas, Herbert Weil
Not Peer Reviewed

Measure for Measure (Folio, 1623)

Measure for Measure.
Mercy to thee would proue it selfe a Bawd,
'Tis best that thou diest quickly.
Cla. Oh heare me Isabella.
1375Duk. Vouchsafe a word, yong sister, but one word.
Isa. What is your Will.
Duk. Might you dispense with your leysure, I would
by and by haue some speech with you : the satisfaction I
would require, is likewise your owne benefit.
1380Isa. I haue no superfluous leysure, my stay must be
stolen out of other affaires : but I will attend you a while.
Duke. Son, I haue ouer-heard what hath past between
you & your sister. Angelo had neuer the purpose to cor-
rupt her; onely he hath made an assay of her vertue, to
1385practise his iudgement with the disposition of natures.
She (hauing the truth of honour in her) hath made him
that gracious deniall, which he is most glad to receiue: I
am Confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be true, ther-
fore prepare your selfe to death: do not satisfie your re-
1390solution with hopes that are fallible, to morrow you
must die, goe to your knees, and make ready.
Cla. Let me ask my sister pardon, I am so out of loue
with life, that I will sue to be rid of it.
Duke. Hold you there: farewell: Prouost, a word
1395with you.
Pro. What's your will (father?)
Duk. That now you are come, you wil be gone : leaue
me a while with the Maid, my minde promises with my
habit, no losse shall touch her by my company.
1400Pro. In good time.
Duk. The hand that hath made you faire, hath made
you good : the goodnes that is cheape in beauty, makes
beauty briefe in goodnes; but grace being the soule of
your complexion, shall keepe the body of it euer faire:
1405the assault that Angelo hath made to you, Fortune hath
conuaid to my vnderstanding; and but that frailty hath
examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo: how
will you doe to content this Substitute, and to saue your
1410Isab. I am now going to resolue him: I had rather
my brother die by the Law, then my sonne should be vn-
lawfullie borne. But (oh) how much is the good Duke
deceiu'd in Angelo: if euer he returne, and I can speake
to him, I will open my lips in vaine, or discouer his go-
Duke. That shall not be much amisse: yet, as the mat-
ter now stands, he will auoid your accusation: he made
triall of you onelie. Therefore fasten your eare on my
aduisings, to the loue I haue in doing good; a remedie
1420presents it selfe. I doe make my selfe beleeue that you
may most vprighteously do a poor wronged Lady a me-
rited benefit; redeem your brother from the angry Law;
doe no staine to your owne gracious person, and much
please the absent Duke, if peraduenture he shall euer re-
1425turne to haue hearing of this businesse.
Isab. Let me heare you speake farther; I haue spirit to
do any thing that appeares not fowle in the truth of my
Duke. Vertue is bold, and goodnes neuer fearefull:
1430Haue you not heard speake of Mariana the sister of Fre-
dericke the great Souldier, who miscarried at Sea?
Isa. I haue heard of the Lady, and good words went
with her name.
Duke. Shee should this Angelo haue married : was af-
1435fianced to her oath, and the nuptiall appointed: between
which time of the contract, and limit of the solemnitie,
her brother Fredericke was wrackt at Sea, hauing in that
perished vessell, the dowry of his sister: but marke how
heauily this befell to the poore Gentlewoman, there she
1440lost a noble and renowned brother, in his loue toward
her, euer most kinde and naturall: with him the portion
and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry: with
both, her combynate-husband, this well-seeming
1445Isab. Can this be so? did Angelo so leaue her?
Duke. Left her in her teares, & dried not one of them
with his comfort: swallowed his vowes whole, preten-
ding in her, discoueries of dishonor: in few, bestow'd
her on her owne lamentation, which she yet weares for
1450his sake: and he, a marble to her teares, is washed with
them, but relents not.
Isab. What a merit were it in death to take this poore
maid from the world? what corruption in this life, that
it will let this man liue? But how out of this can shee a-
Duke. It is a rupture that you may easily heale: and the
cure of it not onely saues your brother, but keepes you
from dishonor in doing it.
Isab. Shew me how (good Father.)
1460Duk. This fore-named Maid hath yet in her the con-
tinuance of her first affection: his vniust vnkindenesse
(that in all reason should haue quenched her loue) hath
(like an impediment in the Current) made it more vio-
lent and vnruly: Goe you to Angelo, answere his requi-
1465ring with a plausible obedience, agree with his demands
to the point: onely referre your selfe to this aduantage;
first, that your stay with him may not be long : that the
time may haue all shadow, and silence in it: and the place
answere to conuenience : this being granted in course,
1470and now followes all: wee shall aduise this wronged
maid to steed vp your appointment, goe in your place:
if the encounter acknowledge it selfe heereafter, it may
compell him to her recompence; and heere, by this is
your brother saued, your honor vntainted, the poore
1475Mariana aduantaged, and the corrupt Deputy scaled.
The Maid will I frame, and make fit for his attempt: if
you thinke well to carry this as you may, the doublenes
of the benefit defends the deceit from reproofe. What
thinke you of it?
1480Isab. The image of it giues me content already, and I
trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
Duk. It lies much in your holding vp: haste you spee-
dily to Angelo, if for this night he intreat you to his bed,
giue him promise of satisfaction: I will presently to S.
1485Lukes, there at the moated-Grange recides this deie-
cted Mariana; at that place call vpon me, and dispatch
with Angelo, that it may be quickly.
Isab. I thank you for this comfort: fare you well good
Enter Elbow, Clowne, Officers.
Elb. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you
will needes buy and sell men and women like beasts, we
shall haue all the world drinke browne & white bastard.
Duk. Oh heauens, what stuffe is heere.
1495Clow. Twas neuer merry world since of two vsuries
the merriest was put downe, and the worser allow'd by
order of Law; a fur'd gowne to keepe him warme; and
furd with Foxe and Lamb-skins too, to signifie, that craft
being richer then Innocency, stands for the facing.
1500Elb. Come your way sir : 'blesse you good Father
Duk. And you good Brother Father; what offence
hath this man made you, Sir?
Elb. Marry