Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Measure for Measure
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Measure for Measure
Act III. 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.        5
  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,        10
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.        15
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, officer;        20
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!        25
  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!        30
  Lucio.  How doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? 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. Farewell. Go, say I sent thee thither. For debt, Pompey? or how?        35
  Elb.  For being a bawd, for being a bawd.
  Lucio.  Well, then, imprison him. If imprisonment be the due of a bawd, why, ’tis his right: bawd is he, doubtless, and of antiquity too; bawd-born. Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to the prison, Pompey. You will turn good husband now, Pompey; you will keep the house.
  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.        40
  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.        45
  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.        50
  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 impossible 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?        55
  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 bastards, 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.        60
  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.        65
  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, unweighing 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.        70
  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.        75
  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?        80
  Lucio.  Why? for filling a bottle with a tundish. 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 be 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.  [Exit.
  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?        85
But who comes here?
  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 lord.
  Escal.  Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in the same kind? This would make mercy swear, and play the tyrant.        90
  Prov.  A bawd of eleven years’ continuance, may it please your honour.
  Mrs. Ov.  My lord, this is one Lucio’s information 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 Officers 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 death.
  Escal.  Good even, good father.        95
  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,        100
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 runs 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, contended especially to know himself.
  Duke.  What pleasure was he given to?        105
  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 visitation.
  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 Justice.
  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.        110
  Duke.  Peace be with you!  [Exeunt ESCALUS and PROVOST.
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;        115
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,        120
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,        125
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:        130
So disguise shall, by the disguis’d,
Pay with falsehood false exacting,
And perform an old contracting.  [Exit.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.