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Measure for Measure

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Act I, Scene 1

An apartment in the DUKE’S palace.


[Enter DUKE VINCENTIO, ESCALUS, Lords and] [p]Attendants]

  • Vincentio. Of government the properties to unfold, 5
    Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse;
    Since I am put to know that your own science
    Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
    My strength can give you: then no more remains,
    But that to your sufficiency [—] 10
    [—] as your Worth is able,]
    And let them work. The nature of our people,
    Our city's institutions, and the terms
    For common justice, you're as pregnant in
    As art and practise hath enriched any 15
    That we remember. There is our commission,
    From which we would not have you warp. Call hither,
    I say, bid come before us Angelo.
    [Exit an Attendant]
    What figure of us Think you he will bear? 20
    For you must know, we have with special soul
    Elected him our absence to supply,
    Lent him our terror, dress'd him with our love,
    And given his deputation all the organs
    Of our own power: what think you of it? 25
  • Escalus. If any in Vienna be of worth
    To undergo such ample grace and honour,
    It is Lord Angelo.

[Enter ANGELO]

  • Angelo. Always obedient to your grace's will,
    I come to know your pleasure.
  • Vincentio. Angelo,
    There is a kind of character in thy life,
    That to the observer doth thy history 35
    Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
    Are not thine own so proper as to waste
    Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
    Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
    Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues 40
    Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike
    As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd
    But to fine issues, nor Nature never lends
    The smallest scruple of her excellence
    But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines 45
    Herself the glory of a creditor,
    Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech
    To one that can my part in him advertise;
    Hold therefore, Angelo:—
    In our remove be thou at full ourself; 50
    Mortality and mercy in Vienna
    Live in thy tongue and heart: old Escalus,
    Though first in question, is thy secondary.
    Take thy commission.
  • Angelo. Now, good my lord, 55
    Let there be some more test made of my metal,
    Before so noble and so great a figure
    Be stamp'd upon it.
  • Vincentio. No more evasion:
    We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice 60
    Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours.
    Our haste from hence is of so quick condition
    That it prefers itself and leaves unquestion'd
    Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,
    As time and our concernings shall importune, 65
    How it goes with us, and do look to know
    What doth befall you here. So, fare you well;
    To the hopeful execution do I leave you
    Of your commissions.
  • Angelo. Yet give leave, my lord, 70
    That we may bring you something on the way.
  • Vincentio. My haste may not admit it;
    Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do
    With any scruple; your scope is as mine own
    So to enforce or qualify the laws 75
    As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand:
    I'll privily away. I love the people,
    But do not like to stage me to their eyes:
    Through it do well, I do not relish well
    Their loud applause and Aves vehement; 80
    Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
    That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.
  • Angelo. The heavens give safety to your purposes!
  • Escalus. Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!


  • Escalus. I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
    To have free speech with you; and it concerns me
    To look into the bottom of my place:
    A power I have, but of what strength and nature 90
    I am not yet instructed.
  • Angelo. 'Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,
    And we may soon our satisfaction have
    Touching that point.
  • Escalus. I'll wait upon your honour. 95