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Measure for Measure

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Act III, Scene 2

The street before the prison.


[Enter, on one side, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as] [p]before; on the other, ELBOW, and Officers with POMPEY]

  • Elbow. Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will
    needs buy and sell men and women like beasts, we 1515
    shall have all the world drink brown and white bastard.
  • 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 1520
    furred with fox and lamb-skins too, to signify, that
    craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the facing.
  • Elbow. Come your way, sir. 'Bless you, good father friar.
  • Vincentio. And you, good brother father. What offence hath
    this man made you, sir? 1525
  • Elbow. 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 picklock, which we have
    sent to the deputy.
  • Vincentio. Fie, sirrah! a bawd, a wicked bawd! 1530
    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 1535
    I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.
    Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
    So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.
  • Pompey. Indeed, it does stink in some sort, sir; but yet,
    sir, I would prove— 1540
  • Vincentio. Nay, 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.
  • Elbow. He must before the deputy, sir; he has given him 1545
    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.
  • Vincentio. That we were all, as some would seem to be,
    From our faults, as faults from seeming, free! 1550
  • Elbow. His neck will come to your waist,—a cord, sir.
  • Pompey. 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 1555
    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 1560
    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?
  • Vincentio. Still thus, and thus; still worse! 1565
  • Lucio. How doth my dear morsel, thy mistress? Procures she
    still, ha?
  • Pompey. 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 1570
    so: ever your fresh whore and your powdered bawd:
    an unshunned consequence; it must be so. Art going
    to prison, Pompey?
  • Lucio. Why, 'tis not amiss, Pompey. Farewell: go, say I 1575
    sent thee thither. For debt, Pompey? or how?
  • Elbow. 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. 1580
    Farewell, good Pompey. Commend me to the prison,
    Pompey: you will turn good husband now, Pompey; you
    will keep the house.
  • Pompey. I hope, sir, your good worship will be my bail.
  • Lucio. No, indeed, will I not, Pompey; it is not the wear. 1585
    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.
  • Lucio. Does Bridget paint still, Pompey, ha? 1590
  • Elbow. Come your ways, sir; come.
  • Pompey. You will not bail me, then, sir?
  • Lucio. Then, Pompey, nor now. What news abroad, friar?
    what news?
  • Elbow. Come your ways, sir; come. 1595
  • Lucio. Go to kennel, Pompey; go.
    [Exeunt ELBOW, POMPEY and Officers]
    What news, friar, of the duke?
  • Vincentio. I know none. Can you tell me of any?
  • Lucio. Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other 1600
    some, he is in Rome: but where is he, think you?
  • Vincentio. 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 1605
    puts transgression to 't.
  • Lucio. A little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in
    him: something too crabbed that way, friar.
  • Vincentio. It is too general a vice, and severity must cure it. 1610
  • 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 1615
    true, think you?
  • Lucio. Some 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 1620
    congealed ice; that I know to be true: and he is a
    motion generative; that's infallible.
  • Vincentio. You are pleasant, sir, and speak apace.
  • Lucio. Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the
    rebellion of a codpiece to take away the life of a 1625
    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. 1630
  • Vincentio. I never heard the absent duke much detected for
    women; he was not inclined that way.
  • Lucio. O, sir, you are deceived.
  • Lucio. Who, not the duke? yes, your beggar of fifty; and 1635
    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.
  • Lucio. Sir, I was an inward of his. A shy fellow was the 1640
    duke: and I believe I know the cause of his
  • Vincentio. 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 1645
    understand, the greater file of the subject held the
    duke to be wise.
  • Vincentio. Wise! why, no question but he was.
  • Lucio. A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.
  • Vincentio. Either this is the envy in you, folly, or mistaking: 1650
    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. 1655
    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.
  • Vincentio. Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with
    dearer love. 1660
  • Lucio. Come, sir, I know what I know.
  • Vincentio. 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, 1665
    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.
  • Vincentio. He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to
    report you. 1670
  • Vincentio. 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, 1675
    friar. But no more of this. Canst thou tell if
    Claudio die to-morrow or no?
  • Lucio. Why? For filling a bottle with a tundish. I would
    the duke we talk of were returned again: the 1680
    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! 1685
    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 1690
    bread and garlic: say that I said so. Farewell.


  • Vincentio. No might nor greatness in mortality
    Can censure 'scape; back-wounding calumny
    The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong 1695
    Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
    But who comes here?

[Enter ESCALUS, Provost, and Officers with MISTRESS OVERDONE]

  • Escalus. Go; away with her to prison!
  • Mistress Overdone. Good my lord, be good to me; your honour is accounted 1700
    a merciful man; good my lord.
  • Escalus. Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in
    the same kind! This would make mercy swear and play
    the tyrant.
  • Provost. A bawd of eleven years' continuance, may it please 1705
    your honour.
  • Mistress Overdone. 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: 1710
    I have kept it myself; and see how he goes about to abuse me!
  • Escalus. 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] 1715
    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. 1720
  • Provost. So please you, this friar hath been with him, and
    advised him for the entertainment of death.
  • Vincentio. 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.
  • Escalus. What news abroad i' the world? 1730
  • Vincentio. None, 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 1735
    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? 1740
  • Escalus. One that, above all other strifes, contended
    especially to know himself.
  • Escalus. Rather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at
    any thing which professed to make him rejoice: a 1745
    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. 1750
  • Vincentio. 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 1755
    leisure have discredited to him, and now is he
    resolved to die.
  • Escalus. 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 1760
    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.
  • Vincentio. If his own life answer the straitness of his
    proceeding, it shall become him well; wherein if he 1765
    chance to fail, he hath sentenced himself.
  • Escalus. I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
  • Vincentio. Peace be with you!
    [Exeunt ESCALUS and Provost]
    He who the sword of heaven will bear 1770
    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. 1775
    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, 1780
    Though angel on the outward side!
    How may likeness made in crimes,
    Making practise on the times,
    To draw with idle spiders' strings
    Most ponderous and substantial things! 1785
    Craft against vice I must apply:
    With Angelo to-night shall lie
    His old betrothed but despised;
    So disguise shall, by the disguised,
    Pay with falsehood false exacting, 1790
    And perform an old contracting.