William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure in the complete original text.
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > Measure for Measure > Act I. Scene II.

Measure for Measure

Study Guides
Hamlet
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Macbeth
Merchant of Venice
Othello
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Trivia
Authorship
Bard Facts
Bibliography
Biography
FAQ
Films
Globe Theatre
Pictures
Quiz
Timeline

Act I. Scene II.

Scene II.—A Street.

Enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen.

Lucio. If the Duke with the other dukes come
not to composition with the King of Hungary,
why then, all the dukes fall upon the king.
First Gent. Heaven grant us its peace, but
not the King of Hungary's!
Second Gent. Amen.
Lucio. Thou concludes! like the sanctimo-
nious pirate, that went to sea with the Ten Com-
mandments, but scraped one out of the table.
Second Gent. 'Thou shalt not steal?'
Lucio. Ay, that he razed.
First Gent. Why, 'twas a commandment to
command the captain and all the rest from their
functions: they put forth to steal. There's not
a soldier of us all, that, in the thanksgiving be-
fore meat, doth relish the petition well that prays
for peace.
Second Gent. I never heard any soldier dis-
like it.
Lucio. I believe thee, for I think thou never
wast where grace was said.
Second Gent. No? a dozen times at least.
First Gent. What, in metre?
Lucio. In any proportion or in any language.
First Gent. I think, or in any religion.
Lucio. Ay; why not? Grace is grace, despite
of all controversy: as, for example, thou thyself
art a wicked villain, despite of all grace.
First Gent. Well, there went but a pair of
shears between us.
Lucio. I grant; as there may between the
lists and the velvet: thou art the list.
First Gent. And thou the velvet: thou art
good velvet; thou art a three-piled piece, I war-
rant thee. I had as lief be a list of an English
kersey as be piled, as thou art piled, for a French
velvet. Do I speak feelingly now?
Lucio. I think thou dost; and, indeed, with
most painful feeling of thy speech: I will, out
of thine own confession, learn to begin thy
health; but, whilst I live, forget to drink after
thee.
First Gent. I think I have done myself wrong,
have I not?
Second Gent. Yes, that thou hast, whether
thou art tainted or free.
Lucio. Behold, behold, where Madam Miti-
gation comes! I have purchased as many diseases
under her roof as come to—
Second Gent. To what, I pray?
Lucio. Judge.
Second Gent. To three thousand dolours a
year.
First Gent. Ay, and more.
Lucio. A French crown more.
First Gent. Thou art always figuring diseases
in me; but thou art full of error: I am sound.
Lucio. Nay, not as one would say, healthy;
but so sound as things that are hollow: thy
bones are hollow; impiety has made a feast of
thee.

Enter MISTRESS OVERDONE.
First Gent. How now! which of your hips
has the most profound sciatica?
Mrs. Ov. Well, well; there's one yonder ar-
rested and carried to prison was worth five
thousand of you all.
Second Gent. Who's that, I pray thee?
Mrs. Ov. Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior
Claudio.
First Gent. Claudio to prison! 'tis not so.
Mrs. Ov. Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him
arrested; saw him carried away; and, which is
more, within these three days his head to be
chopped off.
Lucio. But, after all this fooling, I would not
have it so. Art thou sure of this?
Mrs. Ov. I am too sure of it; and it is for
getting Madam Julietta with child.
Lucio. Believe me, this may be: he promised
to meet me two hours since, and he was ever
precise in promise-keeping.
Second Gent. Besides, you know, it draws
something near to the speech we had to such
a purpose.
First Gent. But most of all, agreeing with
the proclamation.
Lucio. Away! let's go learn the truth of it.
[Exeunt LUCIO and Gentlemen.
Mrs. Ov. Thus, what with the war, what with
the sweat, what with the gallows and what with
poverty, I am custom-shrunk.

Enter POMPEY.
How now I what's the news with you?
Pom. Yonder man is carried to prison.
Mrs. Ov. Well: what has he done?
Pom. A woman.
Mrs. Ov. But what's his offence?
Pom. Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
Mrs. Ov. What, is there a maid with child by
him?
Pom. No; but there's a woman with maid
by him. You have not heard of the proclama-
tion, have you?
Mrs. Ov. What proclamation, man?
Pom. All houses of resort in the suburbs
of Vienna must be plucked down.
Mrs. Ov. And what shall become of those in
the city?
Pom. They shall stand for seed: they had
gone down too, but that a wise burgher put in
for them.
Mrs. Ov. But shall all our houses of resort in
the suburbs be pulled down?
Pom. To the ground, mistress.
Mrs. Ov. Why, here's a change indeed in the
commonwealth! What shall become of me?
Pom. Come; fear not you: good counsellors
lack no clients: though you change your place,
you need not change your trade; I'll be your
tapster still. Courage! there will be pity taken
on you; you that have worn your eyes almost
out in the service, you will be considered.
Mrs. Ov. What's to do here, Thomas tapster?
Let's withdraw.
Pom. Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the
provost to prison; and there's Madam Juliet.
[Exeunt.

Enter PROVOST, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and Officers.
Claud. Fellow, why dost thou show me thus
to the world?
Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
Prov. I do it not in evil disposition,
But from Lord Angelo by special charge.
Claud. Thus can the demi-god Authority
Make us pay down for our offence' by weight.
The words of heaven; on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so: yet still 'tis just.

Re-enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen.
Lucio. Why, how now, Claudio! whence comes
this restraint?
Claud. From too much liberty, my Lucio,
liberty:
As surfeit is the father of much fast,
So every scope by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue—
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,—
A thirsty evil, and when we drink we die.
Lucio. If I could speak so wisely under an
arrest, I would send for certain of my creditors.
And yet, to say the truth, I had as lief have the
foppery of freedom as the morality of imprison-
ment. What's thy offence, Claudio?
Claud. What but to speak of would offend
again.
Lucio. What, is't murder?
Claud. No.
Lucio. Lechery?
Claud. Call it so.
Prov. Away, sir! you must go.
Claud. One word, good friend. Lucio, a word
with you. [Takes him aside.
Lucio. A hundred, if they'll do you any good.
Is lechery so looked after?
Claud. Thus stands it with me: upon a true
contract
I got possession of Julietta's bed:
You know the lady; she is fast my wife,
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order: this we came not to,
Only for propagation of a dower
Remaining in the coffer of her friends,
From whom we thought it meet to hide our
love
Till time had made them for us. But it chances
The stealth of our most mutual entertainment
With character too gross is writ on Juliet.
Lucio. With child, perhaps?
Claud. Unhappily, even so.
And the new deputy now for the duke,—
Whether it be the fault and glimpse of new-
ness,
Or whether that the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;
Whether the tyranny be in his place,
Or in his eminence that fills it up,
I stagger in:—but this now governor
Awakes me all the enrolled penalties
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the
wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round,
And none of them been worn; and, for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me: 'tis surely for a name.
Lucio. I vvarrant it is: and thy head stands
so tickle on thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if
she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the
duke and appeal to him.
Claud. I have done so, but he's not to be
found.
I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service.
This day my sister should the cloister enter,
And there receive her approbation:
Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him:
I have great hope in that; for in her youth
There is a prone and speechless dialect,
Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous
art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.
Lucio. I pray she may: as well for the en-
couragement of the like, which else would stand
under grievous imposition, as for the enjoying
of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus
foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.
Claud. I thank you, good friend Lucio.
Lucio. Within two hours.
Claud. Come, officer, away!
[Exeunt.
< PREVIOUS
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards