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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    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.