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Measure for Measure

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Act I, Scene 2

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. 100
  • First Gentleman. Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of
  • Lucio. Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate, that
    went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped 105
    one out of the table.
  • Lucio. Ay, that he razed.
  • First Gentleman. Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain and
    all the rest from their functions: they put forth 110
    to steal. There's not a soldier of us all, that, in
    the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition
    well that prays for peace.
  • Lucio. I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where 115
    grace was said.
  • Lucio. In any proportion or in any language.
  • Lucio. Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all
    controversy: as, for example, thou thyself art a
    wicked villain, despite of all grace.
  • Lucio. I grant; as there may between the lists and the 125
    velvet. Thou art the list.
  • First Gentleman. And thou the velvet: thou art good velvet; thou'rt
    a three-piled piece, I warrant 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 130
    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. 135
  • Lucio. Behold, behold. where Madam Mitigation comes! I
    have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to—
  • Lucio. A French crown more.
  • First Gentleman. Thou art always figuring diseases in me; but thou 145
    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.


  • First Gentleman. How now! which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?
  • Mistress Overdone. Well, well; there's one yonder arrested and carried
    to prison was worth five thousand of you all.
  • Mistress Overdone. 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. 160
    Art thou sure of this?
  • Mistress Overdone. 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 165
  • Second Gentleman. Besides, you know, it draws something near to the
    speech we had to such a purpose.
  • Lucio. Away! let's go learn the truth of it. 170

[Exeunt LUCIO and Gentlemen]

  • Mistress Overdone. Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what
    with the gallows and what with poverty, I am
    [Enter POMPEY] 175
    How now! what's the news with you?
  • Pompey. Yonder man is carried to prison.
  • Pompey. Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
  • Pompey. No, but there's a woman with maid by him. You have
    not heard of the proclamation, have you?
  • Pompey. All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.
  • Pompey. They shall stand for seed: they had gone down too,
    but that a wise burgher put in for them.
  • Mistress Overdone. But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be 190
    pulled down?
  • Pompey. To the ground, mistress.
  • Mistress Overdone. Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth!
    What shall become of me?
  • Pompey. Come; fear you not: good counsellors lack no 195
    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. 200
  • Pompey. Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to
    prison; and there's Madam Juliet.


[Enter Provost, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and Officers]

  • Claudio. Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the world?
    Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
  • Provost. I do it not in evil disposition,
    But from Lord Angelo by special charge.
  • Claudio. Thus can the demigod Authority 210
    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? 215
  • Claudio. 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, 220
    A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.
  • Lucio. If 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 imprisonment. What's thy 225
    offence, Claudio?
  • Claudio. What but to speak of would offend again.
  • Lucio. What, is't murder?
  • Claudio. One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.
  • Lucio. A hundred, if they'll do you any good.
    Is lechery so look'd after? 235
  • Claudio. 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, 240
    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 245
    With character too gross is writ on Juliet.
  • Lucio. With child, perhaps?
  • Claudio. Unhappily, even so.
    And the new deputy now for the duke—
    Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness, 250
    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, 255
    Or in his emmence that fills it up,
    I stagger in:—but this new 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 260
    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 warrant it is: and thy head stands so tickle on
    thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, 265
    may sigh it off. Send after the duke and appeal to
  • Claudio. 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 270
    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 275
    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 encouragement of the 280
    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.
  • Claudio. I thank you, good friend Lucio. 285
  • Lucio. Within two hours.