Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Measure for Measure (Folio, 1623)

Measure for Measure.
220Like Rats that rauyn downe their proper Bane,
A thirsty euill, and when we drinke, we die.
Luc. If I could speake so wisely vnder an arrest, I
would send for certaine of my Creditors: and yet, to say
the truth, I had as lief haue the foppery of freedome, as
225the mortality of imprisonment: what's thy offence,
Cla. What (but to speake of) would offend againe.
Luc. What, is't murder?
Cla. No.
230Luc. Lecherie?
Cla. Call it so.
Pro. Away, Sir, you must goe.
Cla. One word, good friend:
Lucio, a word with you.
235Luc. A hundred:
If they'll doe you any good: Is Lechery so look'd after?
Cla. Thus stands it with me: vpon a true contract
I got possession of Iulietas bed,
You know the Lady, she is fast my wife,
240Saue that we doe the denunciation lacke
Of outward Order. This we came not to,
Onely for propogation of a Dowre
Remaining in the Coffer of her friends,
From whom we thought it meet to hide our Loue
245Till Time had made them for vs. But it chances
The stealth of our most mutuall entertainment
With Character too grosse, is writ on Iuliet.
Luc. With childe, perhaps?
Cla. Vnhappely, euen so.
250And the new Deputie, now for the Duke,
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newnes,
Or whether that the body publique, be
A horse whereon the Gouernor doth ride,
Who newly in the Seate, that it may know
255He can command; lets it strait feele the spur:
Whether the Tirranny be in his place,
Or in his Eminence that fills it vp
I stagger in: But this new Gouernor
Awakes me all the inrolled penalties
260Which haue (like vn-scowr'd Armor) hung by th' wall
So long, that ninteene Zodiacks haue gone round,
And none of them beene worne; and for a name
Now puts the drowsie and neglected Act
Freshly on me: 'tis surely for a name.
265Luc. I warrant it is: And thy head stands so tickle on
thy shoulders, that a milke-maid, if she be in loue, may
sigh it off: Send after the Duke, and appeale to him.
Cla. I haue done so, but hee's not to be found.
I pre'thee ( Lucio) doe me this kinde seruice :
270This day, my sister should the Cloyster enter,
And there receiue her approbation.
Acquaint her with the danger of my state,
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
To the strict deputie: bid her selfe assay him,
275I haue great hope in that: for in her youth
There is a prone and speechlesse dialect,
Such as moue men: beside, she hath prosperous Art
When she will play with reason, and discourse,
And well she can perswade.
280Luc. I pray shee may; aswell for the encouragement
of the like, which else would stand vnder greeuous im-
position: as for the enioying of thy life, who I would be
sorry should bee thus foolishly lost, at a game of ticke-
tacke: Ile to her.
285Cla. I thanke you good friend Lucio.
Luc. Within two houres.
Cla. Come Officer, away.

Scena Quarta.

Enter Duke and Frier Thomas.
290Duk. No: holy Father, throw away that thought,
Beleeue not that the dribling dart of Loue
Can pierce a compleat bosome: why, I desire thee
To giue me secret harbour, hath a purpose
More graue, and wrinkled, then the aimes, and ends
295Of burning youth.
Fri. May your Grace speake of it?
Duk. My holy Sir, none better knowes then you
How I haue euer lou'd the life remoued
And held in idle price, to haunt assemblies
300Where youth, and cost, witlesse brauery keepes.
I haue deliuerd to Lord Angelo
(A man of stricture and firme abstinence)
My absolute power, and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me trauaild to Poland,
305(For so I haue strewd it in the common eare)
And so it is receiu'd: Now (pious Sir)
You will demand of me, why I do this.
Fri. Gladly, my Lord.
Duk. We haue strict Statutes, and most biting Laws,
310(The needfull bits and curbes to headstrong weedes,)
Which for this foureteene yeares, we haue let slip,
Euen like an ore-growne Lyon in a Caue
That goes not out to prey: Now, as fond Fathers,
Hauing bound vp the threatning twigs of birch,
315Onely to sticke it in their childrens sight,
For terror, not to vse: in time the rod
More mock'd, then fear'd: so our Decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselues are dead,
And libertie, plucks Iustice by the nose;
320The Baby beates the Nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.
Fri. It rested in your Grace
To vnloose this tyde-vp Iustice, when you pleas'd:
And it in you more dreadfull would haue seem'd
325Then in Lord Angelo.
Duk. I doe feare: too dreadfull:
Sith 'twas my fault, to giue the people scope,
'Twould be my tirrany to strike and gall them,
For what I bid them doe: For, we bid this be done
330When euill deedes haue their permissiue passe,
And not the punishment: therefore indeede (my father)
I haue on Angelo impos'd the office,
Who may in th' ambush of my name, strike home,
And yet, my nature neuer in the sight
335To do in slander: And to behold his sway
I will, as 'twere a brother of your Order,
Visit both Prince, and People: Therefore I pre'thee
Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
How I may formally in person beare
340Like a true Frier: Moe reasons for this action
At our more leysure, shall I render you;
Onely, this one: Lord Angelo is precise,
Stands at a guard with Enuie: scarce confesses
That his blood flowes: or that his appetite
345Is more to bread then stone: hence shall we see
If power change purpose: what our Seemers be.