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  • Title: Measure for Measure (Folio, 1623)
  • Editor: Kristin Lucas

  • Copyright Kristin Lucas. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Kristin Lucas
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Measure for Measure (Folio, 1623)

    Measure for Measure.
    Ang. Then must your brother die.
    Isa. And 'twer the cheaper way:
    1115Better it were a brother dide at once,
    Then that a sister, by redeeming him
    Should die for euer.
    Ang. Were not you then as cruell as the Sentence,
    That you haue slander'd so?
    1120Isa. Ignomie in ransome, and free pardon
    Are of two houses: lawfull mercie,
    Is nothing kin to fowle redemption.
    Ang. You seem'd of late to make the Law a tirant,
    And rather prou'd the sliding of your brother
    1125A merriment, then a vice.
    Isa. Oh pardon me my Lord, it oft fals out
    To haue, what we would haue,
    We speake not what vve meane;
    I something do excuse the thing I hate,
    1130For his aduantage that I dearely loue.
    Ang. We are all fraile.
    Isa. Else let my brother die,
    If not a fedarie but onely he
    Owe, and succeed thy weaknesse.
    1135Ang. Nay, women are fraile too.
    Isa. I, as the glasses where they view themselues,
    Which are as easie broke as they make formes:
    Women? Helpe heauen; men their creation marre
    In profiting by them: Nay, call vs ten times fraile,
    1140For we are soft, as our complexions are,
    And credulous to false prints.
    Ang. I thinke it well:
    And from this testimonie of your owne sex
    (Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger
    1145Then 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'r none.
    If you be one (as you are well exprest
    By all externall warrants) shew it now,
    1150By putting on the destin'd Liuerie.
    Isa. I haue no tongue but one; gentle my Lord,
    Let me entreate you speake the former language.
    Ang. Plainlie conceiue I loue you.
    Isa. My brother did loue Iuliet,
    1155And you tell me that he shall die for't.
    Ang. He shall not Isabell if you giue me loue.
    Isa. I know your vertue hath a licence in't,
    Which seemes a little fouler then it is,
    To plucke on others.
    1160Ang. Beleeue me on mine Honor,
    My words expresse my purpose.
    Isa. Ha? Little honor, to be much beleeu'd,
    And most pernitious purpose: Seeming, seeming.
    I will proclaime thee Angelo, looke for't.
    1165Signe me a present pardon for my brother,
    Or with an out-stretcht throate Ile tell the world aloud
    What man thou art.
    Ang. Who will beleeue thee Isabell?
    My vnsoild name, th' austeerenesse of my life,
    1170My vouch against you, and my place i'th State,
    Will so your accusation ouer-weigh,
    That you shall stifle in your owne reporr,
    And smell of calumnie. I haue begun,
    And now I giue my sensuall race, the reine,
    1175Fit thy consent to my sharpe appetite,
    Lay by all nicetie, and prolixious blushes
    That banish what they sue for: Redeeme thy brother,
    By yeelding vp thy bodie to my will,
    Or else he must not onelie die the death,
    1180But thy vnkindnesse shall his death draw out
    To lingring sufferance: Answer me to morrow,
    Or by the affection that now guides me most,
    Ile proue a Tirant to him. As for you,
    Say what you can; my false, ore-weighs your true.
    1185Isa. To whom should I complaine? Did I tell this,
    Who would beleeue me? O perilous mouthes
    That beare in them, one and the selfesame tongue,
    Either of condemnation, or approofe,
    Bidding the Law make curtsie to their will,
    1190Hooking both right and wrong to th' appetite,
    To follow as it drawes. Ile to my brother,
    Though he hath falne by prompture of the blood,
    Yet hath he in him such a minde of Honor,
    That had he twentie heads to tender downe
    1195On twentie bloodie blockes, hee'ld yeeld them vp,
    Before his sister should her bodie stoope
    To such abhord pollution.
    Then Isabell liue chaste, and brother die;
    "More then our Brother, is our Chastitie.
    1200Ile tell him yet of Angelo's request,
    And fit his minde to death, for his soules rest.

    Actus Tertius. Scena Prima.

    Enter Duke, Claudio, and Prouost.
    Du. So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
    1205Cla. The miserable haue no other medicine
    But onely hope: I'haue hope to liue, and am prepar'd to
    Duke. Be absolute for death: either death or life
    Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
    1210If I do loose thee, I do loose a thing
    That none but fooles would keepe: a breath thou art,
    Seruile to all the skyie-influences
    That dost this habitation where thou keepst
    Hourely afflict: Meerely, thou art deaths foole,
    1215For him thou labourst by thy flight to shun,
    And yet runst toward him still. Thou art not noble,
    For all th' accommodations that thou bearst,
    Are nurst by basenesse: Thou'rt by no meanes valiant,
    For thou dost feare the soft and tender forke
    1220Of a poore worme: thy best of rest is sleepe,
    And that thou oft prouoakst, yet grosselie fearst
    Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thy selfe,
    For thou exists on manie a thousand graines
    That issue out of dust. Happie thou art not,
    1225For what thou hast not, still thou striu'st to get,
    And what thou hast forgetst. Thou art not certaine,
    For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
    After the Moone: If thou art rich, thou'rt poore,
    For like an Asse, whose backe with Ingots bowes;
    1230Thou bearst thy heauie riches but a iournie,
    And death vnloads thee; Friend hast thou none.
    For thine owne bowels which do call thee, fire
    The meere effusion of thy proper loines
    Do curse the Gowt, Sapego, and the Rheume
    1235For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth, nor age
    But as it were an after-dinners sleepe
    Dreaming on both, for all thy blessed youth
    Becomes as aged, and doth begge the almes
    Of palsied-Eld: and when thou art old, and rich