William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure in the complete original text.
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Measure for Measure

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Act III. Scene II.

Scene II.—The Street before the Prison.

Enter DUKE, as a friar; to him ELBOW,
POMPEY, and Officers.

Elb. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but
that you will needs buy and sell men and women
like beasts, we shall have all the world drink
brown and white bastard.
Duke. O heavens! what stuff is here?
Pom. 'Twas never merry world, since, of two
usuries, the merriest was put down, and the
worser allowed by order of law a furred gown
to keep him warm; and furred with fox and
lamb skins too, to signify that craft, being richer
than innocency, stands for the facing.
Elb. Come your way, sir. Bless you, good
father friar.
Duke. And you, good brother father. What
offence hath this man made you, sir?
Elb. Marry, sir, he hath offended the law:
and, sir, we take him to be a thief too, sir; for
we have found upon him, sir, a strange pick-
lock, which we have sent to the deputy.
Duke. Fie, sirrah: a bawd, a wicked bawd!
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think
What 'tis to cram a maw or clothe a back
From such a filthy vice: say to thyself,
From their abominable and beastly touches
I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.
Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.
Pom. Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir;
but yet, sir, I would prove—
Duke. Nay, if the devil have given thee proofs
for sin,
Thou wilt prove his. Take him to prison,
Correction and instruction must both work
Ere this rude beast will profit.
Elb. He must before the deputy, sir; he has
given him warning. The deputy cannot abide a
whoremaster: if he be a whoremonger, and
comes before him, he were as good go a mile
on his errand.
Duke. That we were all, as some would seem
to be,
From our faults, as faults from seeming, free!
Elb. His neck will come to your waist,—a
cord, sir.
Pom. I spy comfort I cry, bail. Here's a
gentleman and a friend of mine.

Enter Lucio.
Lucio. How now, noble Pompey! What, at
the wheels of Cæsar? Art thou led in triumph?
What, is there none of Pygmalion's images,
newly made woman, to be had now, for putting
the hand in the pocket and extracting it
clutched? What reply? ha? What say'st thou
to this tune, matter and method? Is't not
drowned i' the last rain, ha? What sayest thou
Trot? Is the world as it was, man? Which is the
way? Is it sad, and few words, or how? The
trick of it?
Duke. Still thus, and thus, still worse!
Lucio. How doth my dear morsel, thy mis-
tress? Procures she still, ha?
Pom. Troth, sir, she hath eaten up all her
beef, and she is herself in the tub.
Lucio. Why, 'tis good; it is the right of it;
it must be so: ever your fresh whore and your
powdered bawd: an unshunned consequence; it
must be so. Art going to prison, Pompey?
Pom. Yes, faith, sir.
Lucio. Why, 'tis not amiss, Pompey. Fare-
well. Go, say I sent thee thither. For debt,
Pompey? or how?
Elb. For being a bawd, for being a bawd.
Lucio. Well, then, imprison him. If im-
prisonment be the due of a bawd, why, 'tis his
right: bawd is he, doubtless, and of antiquity
too; bawd-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Com-
mend me to the prison, Pompey. You will turn
good husband now, Pompey; you will keep the
Pom. I hope, sir, your good worship will be
my bail.
Lucio. No, indeed will I not, Pompey; it is
not the wear. I will pray, Pompey, to increase
your bondage: if you take it not patiently, why,
your mettle is the more. Adieu, trusty Pompey.
Bless you, friar.
Duke. And you.
Lucio. Does Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha?
Elb. Come your ways, sir; come.
Pom. You will not bail me then, sir?
Lucio. Then, Pompey, nor now. What news
abroad, friar? What news?
Elb. Come your ways, sir; come.
Lucio. Go to kennel, Pompey; go.
[Exeunt ELBOW, POMPEY and Officers.
What news, friar, of the duke?
Duke. I know none. Can you tell me of any?
Lucio. Some say he is with the Emperor of
Russia; other some, he is in Rome: but where is
he, think you?
Duke. I know not where; but wheresoever,
I wish him well.
Lucio. It was a mad fantastical trick of him
to steal from the state, and usurp the beggary he
was never born to. Lord Angelo dukes it well in
his absence; he puts transgression to't.
Duke. He does well in 't.
Lucio. A little more lenity to lechery would
do no harm in him: something too crabbed that
way, friar.
Duke. It is too general a vice, and severity
must cure it.
Lucio. Yes, in good sooth, the vice is of a
great kindred; it is well allied; but it is im-
possible to extirp it quite, friar, till eating and
drinking be put down. They say this Angelo
was not made by man and woman after this
downright way of creation: is it true, think you?
Duke. How should he be made, then?
Lucio. Some report a sea-maid spawn'd him;
some that he was begot between two stock-fishes.
But it is certain that when he makes water his
urine is congealed ice; that I know to be true;
and he is a motion generative; that's infallible.
Duke. You are pleasant, sir, and speak apace.
Lucio. Why, what a ruthless thing is this
in him, for the rebellion of a cod-piece to take
away the life of a man! Would the duke that
is absent have done this? Ere he would have
hanged a man for the getting a hundred bas-
tards, he would have paid for the nursing a
thousand: he had some feeling of the sport;
he knew the service, and that instructed him
to mercy.
Duke. I never heard the absent duke much
detected for women; he was not inclined
that way.
Lucio. O, sir, you are deceived.
Duke. 'Tis not possible.
Lucio. Who? not the duke? yes, your beggar
of fifty, and his use was to put a ducat in her
clack-dish; the duke had crotchets in him. He
would be drunk too; that let me inform you.
Duke. You do him wrong, surely.
Lucio. Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy
fellow was the duke; and, I believe I know the
cause of his withdrawing.
Duke. What, I prithee, might be the cause?
Lucio. No, pardon; 'tis a secret must be
locked within the teeth and the lips; but this
I can let you understand, the greater file of the
subject held the duke to be wise.
Duke. Wise! why, no question but he was.
Lucio. A very superficial, ignorant, unweigh-
ing fellow.
Duke. Either this is envy in you, folly, or
mistaking: the very stream of his life and the
business he hath helmed must, upon a warranted
need, give him a better proclamation. Let him
be but testimonied in his own bringings forth,
and he shall appear to the envious a scholar,
a statesman and a soldier. Therefore you speak
unskilfully; or, if your knowledge be more, it is
much darkened in your malice.
Lucio. Sir, I know him, and I love him.
Duke. Love talks with better knowledge, and
knowledge with dearer love.
Lucio. Come, sir, I know what I know.
Duke. I can hardly believe that, since you
know not what you speak. But, if ever the duke
return,—as our prayers are he may,—let me
desire you to make your answer before him:
if it be honest you have spoke, you have courage
to maintain it. I am bound to call upon you;
and, I pray you, your name?
Lucio. Sir, my name is Lucio, well known to
the duke.
Duke. He shall know you better, sir, if I may
live to report you.
Lucio. I fear you not.
Duke. O! you hope the duke will return no
more, or you imagine me too unhurtful an
opposite. But indeed I can do you little harm;
you'll forswear this again.
Lucio. I'll be hanged first: thou art deceived
in me, friar. But no more of this. Canst thou
tell if Claudio die to-morrow or no?
Duke. Why should he die, sir?
Lucio. Why? for filling a bottle with a tun-
dish. I would the duke we talk of were returned
again: this ungenitured agent will unpeople the
province with continency; sparrows must not
build in his house-eaves, because they are
lecherous. The duke yet would have dark deeds
darkly answered; he would never bring them
to light: would he were returned! Marry, this
Claudio is condemned for untrussing. Farewell,
good friar; I prithee, pray for me. The duke,
I say to thee again, would eat mutton on Fridays.
He's not past it yet, and I say to thee, he would
mouth with a beggar, though she smelt brown
bread and garlic: say that I said so. Farewell.
Duke. No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure 'scape: back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
But who comes here?

Enter ESCALUS, PROVOST, and Officers with
Escal. Go; away with her to prison!
Mrs. Ov. Good my lord, be good to me; your
honour is accounted a merciful man; good my
Escal. Double and treble admonition, and
still forfeit in the same kind? This would make
mercy swear, and play the tyrant.
Prov. A bawd of eleven years' continuance,
may it please your honour.
Mrs. Ov. My lord, this is one Lucio's infor-
mation against me. Mistress Kate Keepdown
was with child by him in the duke's time; he
promised her marriage; his child is a year and
a quarter old, come Philip and Jacob: I have
kept it myself, and see how he goes about to
abuse me!
Escal. That fellow is a fellow of much licence:
let him be called before us. Away with her to
prison! Go to; no more words. [Exeunt Offi-
cers with MISTRESS OVERDONE.] Provost, my
brother Angelo will not be altered; Claudio
must die to-morrow. Let him be furnished with
divines, and have all charitable preparation: if
my brother wrought by my pity, it should not
be so with him.
Prov. So please you, this friar hath been with
him, and advised him for the entertainment of
Escal. Good even, good father.
Duke. Bliss and goodness on you!
Escal. Of whence are you?
Duke. Not of this country, though my chance
is now
To use it for my time: I am a brother
Of gracious order, late come from the See,
In special business from his Holiness.
Escal. What news abroad i' the world?
Duke. None, but there is so great a fever on
goodness, that the dissolution of it must cure
it: novelty is only in request; and it is as
dangerous to be aged in any kind of course, as
it is virtuous to be constant in any undertaking:
there is scarce truth enough alive to make
societies secure, but security enough to make
fellowships accursed. Much upon this riddle
run& the wisdom of the world. This news is old
enough, yet it is every day's news. I pray you,
sir, of what disposition was the duke?
Escal. One that, above all other strifes, con-
tended especially to know himself.
Duke. What pleasure was he given to?
Escal. Rather rejoicing to see another merry,
than merry at anything which professed to make
him rejoice: a gentleman of all temperance.
But leave we him to his events, with a prayer
they may prove prosperous; and let me desire
to know how you find Claudio prepared. I am
made to understand, that you have lent him
Duke. He professes to have received no sinister
measure from his judge, but most willingly
humbles himself to the determination of justice;
yet had he framed to himself, by the instruction
of his frailty, many deceiving promises of life,
which I, by my good leisure have discredited to
him, and now is he resolved to die.
Escal. You have paid the heavens your
function, and the prisoner the very debt of
your calling. I have laboured for the poor
gentleman to the extremest shore of my modesty;
but my brother justice have I found so severe,
that he hath, forced me to tell him he is indeed
Duke. If his own life answer the straitness of
his proceeding, it shall become him well; wherein
if he chance to fail, he hath sentenced himself.
Escal. I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare
you well.
Duke. Peace be with you!
He, who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself to know,
Grace to stand, and virtue go;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self offences weighing.
Shame to him whose cruel striking
Kills for faults of his own liking!
Twice treble shame on Angelo,
To weed my vice and let his grow!
O, what may man within him hide,
Though angel on the outward side!
How many likeness made in crimes,
Making practice on the times,
To draw with idle spiders' strings
Most pond'rous and substantial things!
Craft against vice I must apply:
With Angelo to-night shall lie
His old betrothed but despis'd:
So disguise shall, by the disguis'd,
Pay with falsehood false exacting,
And perform an old contracting. [Exit.
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