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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Scena Secunda.
    Enter Prouost and Clowne.
    Pro. Come hither sirha; can you cut off a mans head?
    Clo. If the man be a Bachelor Sir, I can:
    But if he be a married man, he's his wiues head,
    1860And I can neuer cut off a womans head.
    Pro. Come sir, leaue me your snatches, and yeeld mee
    a direct answere. To morrow morning are to die Clau-
    dio and Barnardine: heere is in our prison a common exe-
    cutioner, who in his office lacks a helper, if you will take
    1865it on you to assist him, it shall redeeme you from your
    Gyues: if not, you shall haue your full time of imprison-
    ment, and your deliuerance with an vnpittied whipping;
    for you haue beene a notorious bawd.
    Clo. Sir, I haue beene an vnlawfull bawd, time out of
    1870minde, but yet I will bee content to be a lawfull hang-
    man: I would bee glad to receiue some instruction from
    my fellow partner.
    Pro. What hoa, Abhorson: where's Abhorson there?
    Enter Abhorson.
    1875Abh. Doe you call sir?
    Pro. Sirha, here's a fellow will helpe you to morrow
    in your execution: if you thinke it meet, compound with
    him by the yeere, and let him abide here with you, if not,
    vse him for the present, and dismisse him, hee cannot
    1880plead his estimation with you: he hath beene a Bawd.
    Abh. A Bawd Sir? fie vpon him, he will discredit our
    Pro. Goe too Sir, you waigh equallie: a feather will
    turne the Scale.
    1885Clo. Pray sir, by your good fauor: for surely sir, a
    good fauor you haue, but that you haue a hanging look:
    Doe you call sir, your occupation a Mysterie?
    Abh. I Sir, a Misterie.
    Clo. Painting Sir, I haue heard say, is a Misterie; and
    1890your Whores sir, being members of my occupation, v-
    sing painting, do proue my Occupation, a Misterie: but
    what Misterie there should be in hanging, if I should
    be hang'd, I cannot imagine.
    Abh. Sir, it is a Misterie.
    1895Clo. Proofe.
    Abh. Euerie true mans apparrell fits your Theefe.
    Clo. If it be too little for your theefe, your true man
    thinkes it bigge enough. If it bee too bigge for your
    Theefe, your Theefe thinkes it little enough: So euerie
    1900true mans apparrell fits your Theefe.
    Enter Prouost.
    Pro. Are you agreed?
    Clo. Sir, I will serue him: For I do finde your Hang-
    man is a more penitent Trade then your Bawd: he doth
    1905oftner aske forgiuenesse.
    Pro. You sirrah, prouide your blocke and your Axe
    to morrow, foure a clocke.
    Abh. Come on (Bawd) I will instruct thee in my
    Trade: follow.
    1910Clo. I do desire to learne sir: and I hope, if you haue
    occasion to vse me for your owne turne, you shall finde
    me y'are. For truly sir, for your kindnesse, I owe you a
    good turne.
    Pro. Call hether Barnardine and Claudio:
    1915Th' one has my pitie; not a iot the other,
    Being a Murtherer, though he were my brother.
    Enter Claudio.
    Looke, here's the Warrant Claudio, for thy death,
    'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to morrow
    1920Thou must be made immortall. Where's Barnardine?
    Cla. As fast lock'd vp in sleepe, as guiltlesse labour,
    When it lies starkely in the Trauellers bones,
    He will not wake.
    Pro. Who can do good on him?
    1925Well, go, prepare your selfe. But harke, what noise?
    Heauen giue your spirits comfort: by, and by,
    I hope it is some pardon, or repreeue
    For the most gentle Claudio. Welcome Father.
    Enter Duke.
    1930Duke. The best, and wholsomst spirits of the night,
    Inuellop you, good Prouost: who call'd heere of late?
    Pro. None since the Curphew rung.
    Duke. Not Isabell?
    Pro. No.
    1935Duke. They will then er't be long.
    Pro. What comfort is for Claudio?
    Duke. There's some in hope.
    Pro. It is a bitter Deputie.
    Duke. Not so, not so: his life is paralel'd
    1940Euen with the stroke and line of his great Iustice:
    He doth with holie abstinence subdue
    That in himselfe, which he spurres on his powre
    To qualifie in others: were he meal'd with that
    Which he corrects, then were he tirrannous,
    1945But this being so, he's iust. Now are they come.
    This is a gentle Prouost, sildome when
    The steeled Gaoler is the friend of men:
    How now? what noise? That spirit's possest with hast,
    That wounds th' vnsisting Posterne with these strokes.
    1950Pro. There he must stay vntil the Officer
    Arise to let him in: he is call'd vp.
    Duke. Haue you no countermand for Claudio yet?
    But he must die to morrow?
    Pro. None Sir, none.
    1955Duke. As neere the dawning Prouost, as it is,
    You shall heare more ere Morning.
    Pro. Happely
    You something know: yet I beleeue there comes
    No countermand: no such example haue we:
    1960Besides, vpon the verie siege of Iustice,
    Lord Angelo hath to the publike eare
    Profest the contrarie.
    Enter a Messenger.
    Duke. This is his Lords man.
    1965Pro. And heere comes Claudio's pardon.
    Mess. My Lord hath sent you this note,
    And by mee this further charge;
    That you swerue not from the smallest Article of it,
    Neither in time, matter, or other circumstance.
    1970Good morrow: for as I take it, it is almost day.
    Pro. I shall obey him.
    Duke. This is his Pardon purchas'd by such sin,
    For which the Pardoner himselfe is in:
    Hence hath offence his quicke celeritie,
    1975When it is borne in high Authority.
    When Vice makes Mercie; Mercie's so extended,
    That for the faults loue, is th' offender friended.
    Now Sir, what newes?
    Pro. I told you:
    1980Lord Angelo (be-like) thinking me remisse
    In mine Office, awakens mee
    With this vnwonted putting on, methinks strangely:
    For he hath not vs'd it before.
    Duk. Pray you let's heare.
    The Letter.
    Whatsoeuer you may heare to the contrary, let Claudio be ex-
    ecuted by foure of the clocke, and in the afternoone Bernar-
    dine: For my better satisfaction, let mee haue Claudios
    head sent me by fiue. Let this be duely performed with a
    1990 thought that more depends on it, then we must yet deliuer.
    Thus faile not to doe your Office, as you will answere it at
    your perill.
    What say you to this Sir?
    Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be execu-
    1995ted in th' afternoone?
    Pro. A Bohemian borne: But here nurst vp & bred,
    One that is a prisoner nine yeeres old.
    Duke. How came it, that the absent Duke had not
    either deliuer'd him to his libertie, or executed him? I
    2000haue heard it was euer his manner to do so.
    Pro. His friends still wrought Repreeues for him:
    And indeed his fact till now in the gouernment of Lord
    Angelo, came not to an vndoubtfull proofe.
    Duke. It is now apparant?
    2005Pro. Most manifest, and not denied by himselfe.
    Duke. Hath he borne himselfe penitently in prison?
    How seemes he to be touch'd?
    Pro. A man that apprehends death no more dread-
    fully, but as a drunken sleepe, carelesse, wreaklesse, and
    2010fearelesse of what's past, present, or to come: insensible
    of mortality, and desperately mortall.
    Duke. He wants aduice.
    Pro. He wil heare none: he hath euermore had the li-
    berty of the prison: giue him leaue to escape hence, hee
    2015would not. Drunke many times a day, if not many daies
    entirely drunke. We haue verie oft awak'd him, as if to
    carrie him to execution, and shew'd him a seeming war-
    rant for it, it hath not moued him at all.
    Duke. More of him anon: There is written in your
    2020brow Prouost, honesty and constancie; if I reade it not
    truly, my ancient skill beguiles me: but in the boldnes
    of my cunning, I will lay my selfe in hazard: Claudio,
    whom heere you haue warrant to execute, is no greater
    forfeit to the Law, then Angelo who hath sentenc'd him.
    2025To make you vnderstand this in a manifested effect, I
    craue but foure daies respit: for the which, you are to
    do me both a present, and a dangerous courtesie.
    Pro. Pray Sir, in what?
    Duke. In the delaying death.
    2030Pro. Alacke, how may I do it? Hauing the houre li-
    mited, and an expresse command, vnder penaltie, to de-
    liuer his head in the view of Angelo? I may make my
    case as Claudio's, to crosse this in the smallest.
    Duke. By the vow of mine Order, I warrant you,
    2035If my instructions may be your guide,
    Let this Barnardine be this morning executed,
    And his head borne to Angelo.
    Pro. Angelo hath seene them both,
    And will discouer the fauour.
    2040Duke. Oh, death's a great disguiser, and you may
    adde to it; Shaue the head, and tie the beard, and say it
    was the desire of the penitent to be so bar'de before his
    death: you know the course is common. If any thing
    fall to you vpon this, more then thankes and good for-
    2045tune, by the Saint whom I professe, I will plead against
    it with my life.
    Pro. Pardon me, good Father, it is against my oath.
    Duke. Were you sworne to the Duke, or to the De-
    2050Pro. To him, and to his Substitutes.
    Duke. You will thinke you haue made no offence, if
    the Duke auouch the iustice of your dealing?
    Pro. But what likelihood is in that?
    Duke. Not a resemblance, but a certainty; yet since
    2055I see you fearfull, that neither my coate, integrity, nor
    perswasion, can with ease attempt you, I wil go further
    then I meant, to plucke all feares out of you. Looke
    you Sir, heere is the hand and Seale of the Duke: you
    know the Charracter I doubt not, and the Signet is not
    2060strange to you?
    Pro. I know them both.
    Duke. The Contents of this, is the returne of the
    Duke; you shall anon ouer-reade it at your pleasure:
    where you shall finde within these two daies, he wil be
    2065heere. This is a thing that Angelo knowes not, for hee
    this very day receiues letters of strange tenor, perchance
    of the Dukes death, perchance entering into some Mo-
    nasterie, but by chance nothing of what is writ. Looke,
    th' vnfolding Starre calles vp the Shepheard; put not
    2070your selfe into amazement, how these things should be;
    all difficulties are but easie when they are knowne. Call
    your executioner, and off with Barnardines head: I will
    giue him a present shrift, and aduise him for a better
    place. Yet you are amaz'd, but this shall absolutely re-
    2075solue you: Come away, it is almost cleere dawne.