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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Quarta.
    Enter Angelo.
    An. When I would pray, & think, I thinke, and pray
    To seuerall subiects: heauen hath my empty words,
    1005Whilst my Inuention, hearing not my Tongue,
    Anchors on Isabell: heauen in my mouth,
    As if I did but onely chew his name,
    And in my heart the strong and swelling euill
    Of my conception: the state whereon I studied
    1010Is like a good thing, being often read
    Growne feard, and tedious: yea, my Grauitie
    Wherein (let no man heare me) I take pride,
    Could I, with boote, change for an idle plume
    Which the ayre beats for vaine: oh place, oh forme,
    1015How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit
    Wrench awe from fooles, and tye the wiser soules
    To thy false seeming? Blood, thou art blood,
    Let's write good Angell on the Deuills horne
    'Tis not the Deuills Crest: how now? who's there?
    1020Enter Seruant.
    Ser. One Isabell, a Sister, desires accesse to you.
    Ang. Teach her the way: oh, heauens
    Why doe's my bloud thus muster to my heart,
    Making both it vnable for it selfe,
    1025And dispossessing all my other parts
    Of necessary fitnesse?
    So play the foolish throngs with one that swounds,
    Come all to help him, and so stop the ayre
    By which hee should reuiue: and euen so
    1030The generall subiect to a wel-wisht King
    Quit their owne part, and in obsequious fondnesse
    Crowd to his presence, where their vn-taught loue
    Must needs appear offence: how now faire Maid.
    Enter Isabella.
    1035Isab. I am come to know your pleasure.
    An. That you might know it, wold much better please (me,
    Then to demand what 'tis: your Brother cannot liue.
    Isab. Euen so: heauen keepe your Honor.
    Ang. Yet may he liue a while : and it may be
    1040As long as you, or I: yet he must die.
    Isab. Vnder your Sentence?
    Ang. Yea.
    Isab. When, I beseech you: that in his Reprieue
    (Longer, or shorter) he may be so fitted
    1045That his soule sicken not.
    Ang. Ha? fie, these filthy vices: It were as good
    To pardon him, that hath from nature stolne
    A man already made, as to remit
    Their sawcie sweetnes, that do coyne heauens Image
    1050In stamps that are forbid: 'tis all as easie,
    Falsely to take away a life true made,
    As to put mettle in restrained meanes
    To make a false one.
    Isab. 'Tis set downe so in heauen, but not in earth.
    1055Ang. Say you so: then I shall poze you quickly.
    Which had you rather, that the most iust Law
    Now tooke your brothers life, and to redeeme him
    Giue vp your body to such sweet vncleannesse
    As she that he hath staind?
    1060Isab. Sir, beleeue this.
    I had rather giue my body, then my soule.
    Ang. I talke not of your soule: our compel'd sins
    Stand more for number, then for accompt.
    Isab. How say you?
    1065Ang. Nay Ile not warrant that : for I can speake
    Against the thing I say: Answere to this,
    I (now the voyce of the recorded Law)
    Pronounce a sentence on your Brothers life,
    Might there not be a charitie in sinne,
    1070To saue this Brothers life?
    Isab. Please you to doo't,
    Ile take it as a perill to my soule,
    It is no sinne at all, but charitie.
    Ang. Pleas'd you to doo't, at perill of your soule
    1075Were equall poize of sinne, and charitie.
    Isab. That I do beg his life, if it be sinne
    Heauen let me beare it: you granting of my suit,
    If that be sin, Ile make it my Morne-praier,
    To haue it added to the faults of mine,
    1080And nothing of your answere.
    Ang. Nay, but heare me,
    Your sence pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,
    Or seeme so crafty; and that's not good.
    Isab. Let be ignorant, and in nothing good,
    1085But graciously to know I am no better.
    Ang. Thus wisdome wishes to appeare most bright,
    When it doth taxe it selfe: As these blacke Masques
    Proclaime an en-shield beauty ten times louder
    Then beauty could displaied: But marke me,
    1090To be receiued plaine, Ile speake more grosse:
    Your Brother is to dye.
    Isab. So.
    Ang. And his offence is so, as it appeares,
    Accountant to the Law, vpon that paine.
    1095Isab. True.
    Ang. Admit no other way to saue his life
    (As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
    But in the losse of question) that you, his Sister,
    Finding your selfe desir'd of such a person,
    1100Whose creadit with the Iudge, or owne great place,
    Could fetch your Brother from the Manacles
    Of the all-building-Law: and that there were
    No earthly meane to saue him, but that either
    You must lay downe the treasures of your body,
    1105To this supposed, or else to let him suffer:
    What would you doe?
    Isab. As much for my poore Brother, as my selfe;
    That is: were I vnder the tearmes of death,
    Th' impression of keene whips, I'ld weare as Rubies,
    1110And strip my selfe to death, as to a bed,
    That longing haue bin sicke for, ere I'ld yeeld
    My body vp to shame.
    Ang. That
    70Measure 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. Exit
    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. Exit.