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Measure for Measure


ACT III SCENE IIThe street before the prison.
Enter, on one side, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as before; on the other, ELBOW, and Officers with POMPEY.
ELBOWNay, 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 VINCENTIOO heavens! what stuff is here
POMPEY‘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. 9
ELBOWCome your way, sir. ‘Bless you, good father friar.
DUKE VINCENTIOAnd you, good brother father. What offence hath
this man made you, sir?
ELBOWMarry, 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 picklock, which we have
sent to the deputy.
DUKE VINCENTIOFie, 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, 20
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.
POMPEYIndeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet,
sir, I would prove–
DUKE VINCENTIONay, if the devil have given thee proofs for sin,
Thou wilt prove his. Take him to prison, officer:
Correction and instruction must both work
Ere this rude beast will profit. 30
ELBOWHe 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 VINCENTIOThat we were all, as some would seem to be,
From our faults, as faults from seeming, free!
ELBOWHis neck will come to your waist,–a cord, sir.
POMPEYI spy comfort; I cry bail. Here’s a gentleman and a
friend of mine.
Enter LUCIO.
LUCIOHow now, noble Pompey! What, at the wheels of
Caesar? 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 clutch’d? What reply, ha? What
sayest 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 VINCENTIOStill thus, and thus; still worse!
LUCIOHow doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? Procures she
still, ha? 50
POMPEYTroth, sir, she hath eaten up all her beef, and she
is herself in the tub.
LUCIOWhy, ’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?
POMPEYYes, faith, sir.
LUCIOWhy, ’tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell: go, say I
sent thee thither. For debt, Pompey? or how?
ELBOWFor being a bawd, for being a bawd. 59
LUCIOWell, 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.
POMPEYI hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail.
LUCIONo, 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.
LUCIODoes Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha?
ELBOWCome your ways, sir; come.
POMPEYYou will not bail me, then, sir?
LUCIOThen, Pompey, nor now. What news abroad, friar?
what news?
ELBOWCome your ways, sir; come.
LUCIOGo to kennel, Pompey; go.
Exeunt ELBOW, POMPEY and Officers.
What news, friar, of the duke?
DUKE VINCENTIOI know none. Can you tell me of any?
LUCIOSome say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other
some, he is in Rome: but where is he, think you? 81
DUKE VINCENTIOI know not where; but wheresoever, I wish him well.
LUCIOIt 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 VINCENTIOHe does well in ‘t.
LUCIOA little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in
him: something too crabbed that way, friar. 90
DUKE VINCENTIOIt is too general a vice, and severity must cure it.
LUCIOYes, 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?
DUKE VINCENTIOHow should he be made, then?
LUCIOSome report a sea-maid spawned 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 VINCENTIOYou are pleasant, sir, and speak apace. 100
LUCIOWhy, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the
rebellion of a codpiece 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 VINCENTIOI never heard the absent duke much detected for
women; he was not inclined that way.
LUCIOO, sir, you are deceived. 110
DUKE VINCENTIO‘Tis not possible.
LUCIOWho, 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 VINCENTIOYou do him wrong, surely.
LUCIOSir, I was an inward of his. A shy fellow was the
duke: and I believe I know the cause of his
DUKE VINCENTIOWhat, I prithee, might be the cause? 119
LUCIONo, 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 VINCENTIOWise! why, no question but he was.
LUCIOA very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.
DUKE VINCENTIOEither this is the 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. 131
LUCIOSir, I know him, and I love him.
DUKE VINCENTIOLove talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with
dearer love.
LUCIOCome, sir, I know what I know.
DUKE VINCENTIOI 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? 141
LUCIOSir, my name is Lucio; well known to the duke.
DUKE VINCENTIOHe shall know you better, sir, if I may live to
report you.
LUCIOI fear you not.
DUKE VINCENTIOO, 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.
LUCIOI’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? 151
DUKE VINCENTIOWhy should he die, sir?
LUCIOWhy? For filling a bottle with a tundish. I would
the duke we talk of were returned again: the
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 VINCENTIONo might nor greatness in mortality 165
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 MISTRESS OVERDONE.
ESCALUSGo; away with her to prison!
MISTRESS OVERDONEGood my lord, be good to me; your honour is accounted
a merciful man; good my lord.
ESCALUSDouble and treble admonition, and still forfeit in
the same kind! This would make mercy swear and play
the tyrant.
ProvostA bawd of eleven years’ continuance, may it please
your honour.
MISTRESS OVERDONEMy 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!
ESCALUSThat fellow is a fellow of much licence: let him be
called before us. Away with her to prison! Go to; 170
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.
ProvostSo please you, this friar hath been with him, and
advised him for the entertainment of death. 191
ESCALUSGood even, good father.
DUKE VINCENTIOBliss and goodness on you!
ESCALUSOf whence are you?
DUKE VINCENTIONot of this country, though my chance is now
To use it for my time: I am a brother 210
Of gracious order, late come from the See
In special business from his holiness.
ESCALUSWhat news abroad i’ the world?
DUKE VINCENTIONone, but that 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 accurst: 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?
ESCALUSOne that, above all other strifes, contended
especially to know himself. 210
DUKE VINCENTIOWhat pleasure was he given to?
ESCALUSRather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at
any thing 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 VINCENTIOHe 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. 223
ESCALUSYou 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 VINCENTIOIf his own life answer the straitness of his
proceeding, it shall become him well; wherein if he
chance to fail, he hath sentenced himself.
ESCALUSI am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
DUKE VINCENTIOPeace 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;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self-offences weighing.
Shame to him whose cruel striking 240
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 may likeness wade in crimes,
Making practise on the times,
To draw with idle spiders’ strings
Most ponderous 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 disguised,
Pay with falsehood false exacting,
And perform an old contracting.


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 2

From Measure for Measure. Ed. William J. Rolfe. New York: Harper & Brothers., 1899.

3. Bastard. A kind of sweet wine. Cf. i Hen. IV. ii. 4. 30: “a pint of bastard,” etc.
5. Usuries. The Coll. MS. has “usances.”
8. Fox and lamb skins. Capell reads simply “fox-skins,” and Mason conjectures “fox on lamb-skins.” Clarke remarks: “The passage seems to us to imply, furred (that is, lined with lamb-skin fur inside, and trimmed with fox-skin fur outside) with both kinds of fur, to show that craft (fox-skin), being richer than innocency (lamb-skin), is used for the decoration.”
11. Brother father. As friar = frere or brother, the duke returns Elbow’s blundering address with one in the same vein. Tyrwhitt remarks that the joke would be clearer in French: “Dieu vous benisse, mon pere frere. — Et vous aussi, mon frere pere.”
22. Eat, array. The folios have “eat away;” corrected by Theo. (the conjecture of Bishop).
36. Free from our faults, etc. The 1st folio reads: “From our faults, as faults from seeming free.” The 2nd folio has “Free from our faults,” etc., and Hanmer corrects the latter part of the line as in the text. This restores both rhythm and sense to the line.
37. Will come to your waist, — a cord, sir. That is, will come to have a cord round it, as your waist has; alluding to the hempen cord which the Franciscan friars wore as a girdle.
41. Is there none of Pygmalion’s images, etc. Have you no women for your customers as fresh and untouched as Pygmalion’s statue was when It became a living woman?
46. Trot. A contemptuous epithet, applied in T. of S. i. 2. 80 to an old woman. D. and H. adopt Grey’s conjecture of “to’t,” but as the word in the folio begins with a capital it is not likely to be a misprint for “to’t.” Besides, as W. remarks, there could be no more appropriate name for a bawd’s assistant.
52. In the tub. Alluding to the “powdering-tub ” or “sweating-tub,” which was a part of the current treatment for the French disease. Cf. Nen. V. ii. i. 79: “the powdering-tub of infamy,” etc.
54. Unshunned. “Unshunnable” (Oth. iii. 3. 275), inevitable; used by S. nowhere else.
63. Husband. Alluding to the received etymology of the word — house-band. Cf. Wb.
66. Not the wear. Not the fashion. Cf. A. Y. L. ii. 7. 34: “Motley’s the only wear,” etc.
72. Come your ways. Used some dozen times by S. Come your way occurs only in 10 above. So go your ways is more common thango your way.
93. Extirp. Used again in I Hen. VI. iii.3.24. Extirpate occurs only in Temp. i. 2. 125.
108. Detected. Capell reads “detracted.” V. remarks: “The use of this word, in the various extracts from old authors collected by the commentators, shows that its old meaning was (not suspected, as some of them say, but) charged, arraigned, accused. Thus, in Greenway’s Tacitus (1622), the Roman senators who informed against their kindred are said ‘to have detected the dearest of their kindred.’ ”
113. Use. Habit; as in M. of V. iv. i. 268, Ham. iii. 4. 168, etc.
Clack-dish. A wooden dish used by beggars to collect alms in; so called because they clacked the hinged cover to attract attention. Steevens quotes The Family of Love, 1608: “Can you think I get my living by a bell and a clack-dish?” and a stage-direction in 2 Edw. IV. 1619: “Enter Mrs. Blague, very poorly, begging with her basket and a clap-dish.”
117. An inward. An intimate friend, d. Kick. III. iii. 4.8: “Who is most inward with the royal duke?”
Shy. Demure. Hanmer reads “sly,” which may be right; but cfl v. I. 54, the only other instance of the word in S.
122. File. Number, multitude; as in Cor. i. 6. 43: “the common file,” etc. For subject, cf. v. i. 14 below. See also Ham. i. I. 72, i. 2. 77, etc.
124. Unweighing. Inconsiderate, thoughtless. Cf. unweighed in M. W. ii. I. 23; like this, the one instance of the word in S.
126. Helmed. Conducted, managed; used by S. only here. The same is true of testimonied just below.
134. Dearer. The folios have “deare” or “dear;” corrected by Hanmer.
147. Unhurtful. Another word used by the poet only once. For opposite = opponent, cf. T. N. iii. 2. 68: “his opposite, the youth;” and see Id. iii. 4. 253, 293, etc.
153. Tun-dish. Tunnel, or funnel.
154. Ungenitured. Schmidt makes the word = impotent; but perhaps it is explained by 95 above.
159. Untrussing. Explained by Schmidt as “unpacking;” but more correctly, we think, by D. as “untying the points or tagged laces which attached the hose or breeches to tne doublet.”
161. Not past it. The folios have “now past it;” corrected by Hanmer.
166. Scape. Not a contraction of escape, being used in prose by Bacon and others. See Macb. p. 214, or Wb. s. v.
173. Forfeit. Explained by Steevens as a verb ( = transgress, offend), but perhaps an adjective (= liable to penalty), as Schmidt makes it. Cf. ii. 2. 73 above.
174. Swear. Hanmer reads “swerve.”
181. Come Philip and Jacob. That is, the feast of St. Philip and St. James (Latin, Jacobus), or May 1st.
197. From the See. That is, from Rome. The folios have “Sea;” corrected by Theo.
201. The dissolution of it. The death of goodness. The meaning: “Virtue has become so extreme that it must have a speedy end. The reference is to the overstrained sanctity and zeal of Angelo” (V.). .
202. And it is as dangerous. The 1st and 2d folios have a superfluous as before it.
205. Security enough, etc. Alluding to the trouble that a man often gets into by becoming security for a friend.
223. Is he resolved to die. He has made up his mind for death.
224. Your function. Your priestly duty.
228. Indeed justice. That is, the very embodiment of justice pure and simple, with no mingling of mercy. Steevens sees a reference to the maxim “Summum jus, summa injuria.”
229. Straitness. Strictness; the only instance of the word in S.
234. He who the sword, etc. We unhesitatingly agree with W. that these poor rhymes are not Shakespeare’s, but the “tag” of some one connected with the theatre. “They are entirely superfluous, having no dramatic purpose, and uttering no moral truth that has not had infinitely better utterance before. Their rhythmical expression is entirely inconsistent with their sentiment and with the diction of the serious parts of this play; it was not in Shakespeare to stop the Duke and set him off in this octosyllabic canter upon the same road over which he had paced before with such severe and stately dignity. The lines are a mere succession of couplets, each containing a perfect if not an isolated thought, which is not Shakespeare’s manner under any circumstances, and, above all, in such a soliloquy as the Duke’s; ‘non color, non vultus.’ If we will, we must believe that this soliloquy was written by Shakespeare after those in Hamlet. Let who will believe it!”
236, 237. Pattern . . . go. The meaning seems to be: to be in himself a pattern; to have grace to stand firm, and virtue to go forward. The Coll. MS. reads “virtue to go.” Clarke paraphrases the couplet thus: “Should be in himself a pattern whereby to know how grace ought to bear itself, and how virtue ought to proceed.”
246. Wade. The folios have “made,” which, as Malone suggested, is probably a misprint for wade. Hanmer reads “that likeness shading crimes,” and Heath conjectures “such likeness trade in crimes.” The Coll. M S. has “Masking practice” for Making practice. The Var. of 1821 reads “Mocking, practise.”
252. Despis’d. W. follows the folio in reading “despised” and “th’ disguised.”

Measure for Measure, Act 4, Scene 1