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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)


    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
    die.
    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
    1240Thou hast neither heate, affection, limbe, nor beautie
    To make thy riches pleasant: what's yet in this
    That beares the name of life? Yet in this life
    Lie hid moe thousand deaths; yet death we feare
    That makes these oddes, all euen.
    1245Cla. I humblie thanke you.
    To sue to liue, I finde I seeke to die,
    And seeking death, finde life: Let it come on.
    Enter Isabella.
    Isab. What hoa? Peace heere; Grace, and good com-
    1250panie.
    Pro. Who's there? Come in, the wish deserues a
    welcome.
    Duke. Deere sir, ere long Ile visit you againe.
    Cla. Most holie Sir, I thanke you.
    1255Isa. My businesse is a word or two with Claudio.
    Pro. And verie welcom: looke Signior, here's your
    sister.
    Duke. Prouost, a word with you.
    Pro. As manie as you please.
    1260Duke. Bring them to heare me speak, where I may be
    conceal'd.
    Cla. Now sister, what's the comfort?
    Isa. Why,
    As all comforts are: most good, most good indeede,
    1265Lord Angelo hauing affaires to heauen
    Intends you for his swift Ambassador,
    Where you shall be an euerlasting Leiger;
    Therefore your best appointment make with speed,
    To Morrow you set on.
    1270Clau. Is there no remedie?
    Isa. None, but such remedie, as to saue a head
    To cleaue a heart in twaine:
    Clau. But is there anie?
    Isa. Yes brother, you may liue;
    1275There is a diuellish mercie in the Iudge,
    If you'l implore it, that will free your life,
    But fetter you till death.
    Cla. Perpetuall durance?
    Isa. I iust, perpetuall durance, a restraint
    1280Through all the worlds vastiditie you had
    To a determin'd scope.
    Clau. But in what nature?
    Isa. In such a one, as you consenting too't,
    Would barke your honor from that trunke you beare,
    1285And leaue you naked.
    Clau. Let me know the point.
    Isa. Oh, I do feare thee Claudio, and I quake,
    Least thou a feauorous life shouldst entertaine,
    And six or seuen winters more respect
    1290Then a perpetuall Honor. Dar'st thou die?
    The sence of death is most in apprehension,
    And the poore Beetle that we treade vpon
    In corporall sufferance, finds a pang as great,
    As when a Giant dies.
    1295Cla. Why giue you me this shame?
    Thinke you I can a resolution fetch
    From flowrie tendernesse? If I must die,
    I will encounter darknesse as a bride,
    And hugge it in mine armes.
    1300Isa. There spake my brother: there my fathers graue
    Did vtter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die:
    Thou art too noble, to conserue a life
    In base appliances. This outward sainted Deputie,
    Whose setled visage, and deliberate word
    1305Nips youth i'th head, and follies doth emmew
    As Falcon doth the Fowle, is yet a diuell:
    His filth within being cast, he would appeare
    A pond, as deepe as hell.
    Cla. The prenzie, Angelo?
    1310Isa. Oh 'tis the cunning Liuerie of hell,
    The damnest bodie to inuest, and couer
    In prenzie gardes; dost thou thinke Claudio,
    If I would yeeld him my virginitie
    Thou might'st be freed?
    1315Cla. Oh heauens, it cannot be.
    Isa. Yes, he would giu't thee; from this rank offence
    So to offend him still. This night's the time
    That I should do what I abhorre to name,
    Or else thou diest to morrow.
    1320Clau. Thou shalt not do't.
    Isa. O, were it but my life,
    I'de throw it downe for your deliuerance
    As frankely as a pin.
    Clau. Thankes deere Isabell.
    1325Isa. Be readie Claudio, for your death to morrow.
    Clau. Yes. Has he affections in him,
    That thus can make him bite the Law by th' nose,
    When he would force it? Sure it is no sinne,
    Or of the deadly seuen it is the least.
    1330Isa. Which is the least?
    Cla. If it were damnable, he being so wise,
    Why would he for the momentarie tricke
    Be perdurablie fin'de? Oh Isabell.
    Isa. What saies my brother?
    1335Cla. Death is a fearefull thing.
    Isa. And shamed life, a hatefull.
    Cla. I, but to die, and go we know not where,
    To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot,
    This sensible warme motion, to become
    1340A kneaded clod; And the delighted spirit
    To bath in fierie floods, or to recide
    In thrilling Region of thicke-ribbed Ice,
    To be imprison'd in the viewlesse windes
    And blowne with restlesse violence round about
    1345The pendant world: or to be worse then worst
    Of those, that lawlesse and incertaine thought,
    Imagine howling, 'tis too horrible.
    The weariest, and most loathed worldly life
    That Age, Ache, periury, and imprisonment
    1350Can lay on nature, is a Paradise
    To what we feare of death.
    Isa. Alas, alas.
    Cla. Sweet Sister, let me liue.
    What sinne you do, to saue a brothers life,
    1355Nature dispenses with the deede so farre,
    That it becomes a vertue.
    Isa. Oh you beast,
    Oh faithlesse Coward, oh dishonest wretch,
    Wilt thou be made a man, out of my vice?
    1360Is't not a kinde of Incest, to take life
    From thine owne sisters shame? What should I thinke,
    Heauen shield my Mother plaid my Father faire:
    For such a warped slip of wildernesse
    Nere issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance,
    1365Die, perish: Might but my bending downe
    Repreeue thee from thy fate, it should proceede.
    Ile pray a thousand praiers for thy death,
    No word to saue thee.
    Cla. Nay heare me Isabell.
    1370Isa. Oh fie, fie, fie:
    Thy sinn's not accidentall, but a Trade;
    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.
    Exit.
    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
    Brother?
    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-
    1415uernment.
    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
    spirit.
    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
    Angelo.
    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-
    1455uaile?
    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
    father.
    Exit.