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Measure for Measure: Act 2, Scene 4

Measure for Measure
Act 2, Scene 4

A room in Angelo’s house.

  1. Enter Angelo.

Angelo

2 - 20
  1. When I would pray and think, I think and pray
  2. To several subjects. Heaven hath my empty words,
  3. Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue,
  4. Anchors on Isabel; heaven in my mouth,
  5. As if I did but only chew his name,
  6. And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
  7. Of my conception. The state, whereon I studied,
  8. Is like a good thing, being often read,
  9. Grown sere and tedious; yea, my gravity,
  10. Wherein (let no man hear me) I take pride,
  11. Could I, with boot, change for an idle plume,
  12. Which the air beats for vain. O place, O form,
  13. How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
  14. Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
  15. To thy false seeming! Blood, thou art blood.
  16. Let’s write good angel on the devil’s horn,
  17. ’Tis not the devil’s crest.
  18. Enter Servant.
  19.                             How now? Who’s there?

Servant

21
  1. One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.

Angelo

22 - 37
  1. Teach her the way.
  2. Exit Servant.
  3.                    O heavens!
  4. Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
  5. Making both it unable for itself,
  6. And dispossessing all my other parts
  7. Of necessary fitness?
  8. So play the foolish throngs with one that swounds,
  9. Come all to help him, and so stop the air
  10. By which he should revive; and even so
  11. The general subject to a well-wish’d king
  12. Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
  13. Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
  14. Must needs appear offense.
  15. Enter Isabella.
  16.                            How now, fair maid?

Isabella

38
  1. I am come to know your pleasure.

Angelo

39 - 40
  1. That you might know it, would much better please me
  2. Than to demand what ’tis. Your brother cannot live.

Isabella

41
  1. Even so. Heaven keep your honor!

Angelo

42 - 43
  1. Yet may he live a while; and it may be
  2. As long as you or I. Yet he must die.

Isabella

44
  1. Under your sentence?

Angelo

45
  1. Yea.

Isabella

46 - 48
  1. When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve,
  2. Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
  3. That his soul sicken not.

Angelo

49 - 56
  1. Ha? Fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
  2. To pardon him that hath from nature stol’n
  3. A man already made, as to remit
  4. Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven’s image
  5. In stamps that are forbid. ’Tis all as easy
  6. Falsely to take away a life true made
  7. As to put metal in restrained means
  8. To make a false one.

Isabella

57
  1. ’Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.

Angelo

58 - 62
  1. Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly.
  2. Which had you rather, that the most just law
  3. Now took your brother’s life, or, to redeem him,
  4. Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
  5. As she that he hath stain’d?

Isabella

63 - 64
  1.                              Sir, believe this,
  2. I had rather give my body than my soul.

Angelo

65 - 66
  1. I talk not of your soul; our compell’d sins
  2. Stand more for number than for accompt.

Isabella

67
  1.                                         How say you?

Angelo

68 - 73
  1. Nay, I’ll not warrant that; for I can speak
  2. Against the thing I say. Answer to this:
  3. I (now the voice of the recorded law)
  4. Pronounce a sentence on your brother’s life;
  5. Might there not be a charity in sin
  6. To save this brother’s life?

Isabella

74 - 76
  1.                              Please you to do’t,
  2. I’ll take it as a peril to my soul,
  3. It is no sin at all, but charity.

Angelo

77 - 78
  1. Pleas’d you to do’t at peril of your soul,
  2. Were equal poise of sin and charity.

Isabella

79 - 83
  1. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
  2. Heaven let me bear it! You granting of my suit,
  3. If that be sin, I’ll make it my morn-prayer
  4. To have it added to the faults of mine,
  5. And nothing of your answer.

Angelo

84 - 86
  1.                             Nay, but hear me,
  2. Your sense pursues not mine. Either you are ignorant,
  3. Or seem so craftily; and that’s not good.

Isabella

87 - 88
  1. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
  2. But graciously to know I am no better.

Angelo

89 - 94
  1. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
  2. When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
  3. Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
  4. Than beauty could, displayed. But mark me:
  5. To be received plain, I’ll speak more gross:
  6. Your brother is to die.

Isabella

95
  1. So.

Angelo

96 - 97
  1. And his offense is so, as it appears,
  2. Accountant to the law upon that pain.

Isabella

98
  1. True.

Angelo

99 - 109
  1. Admit no other way to save his life
  2. (As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
  3. But in the loss of question), that you, his sister,
  4. Finding yourself desir’d of such a person,
  5. Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
  6. Could fetch your brother from the manacles
  7. Of the all-binding law; and that there were
  8. No earthly mean to save him, but that either
  9. You must lay down the treasures of your body
  10. To this supposed, or else to let him suffer
  11. What would you do?

Isabella

110 - 115
  1. As much for my poor brother as myself:
  2. That is, were I under the terms of death,
  3. Th’ impression of keen whips I’ld wear as rubies,
  4. And strip myself to death, as to a bed
  5. That longing have been sick for, ere I’ld yield
  6. My body up to shame.

Angelo

116
  1.                      Then must your brother die.

Isabella

117 - 120
  1. And ’twere the cheaper way:
  2. Better it were a brother died at once,
  3. Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
  4. Should die forever.

Angelo

121 - 122
  1. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
  2. That you have slander’d so?

Isabella

123 - 125
  1. Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
  2. Are of two houses: lawful mercy
  3. Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

Angelo

126 - 128
  1. You seem’d of late to make the law a tyrant,
  2. And rather prov’d the sliding of your brother
  3. A merriment than a vice.

Isabella

129 - 132
  1. O, pardon me, my lord, it oft falls out,
  2. To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.
  3. I something do excuse the thing I hate,
  4. For his advantage that I dearly love.

Angelo

133
  1. We are all frail.

Isabella

134 - 136
  1.                   Else let my brother die,
  2. If not a fedary, but only he,
  3. Owe and succeed thy weakness.

Angelo

137
  1. Nay, women are frail too.

Isabella

138 - 143
  1. Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves,
  2. Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
  3. Women? Help heaven! Men their creation mar
  4. In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail,
  5. For we are soft as our complexions are,
  6. And credulous to false prints.

Angelo

144 - 152
  1.                                I think it well;
  2. And from this testimony of your own sex
  3. (Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger
  4. Than faults may shake our frames), let me be bold.
  5. I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
  6. That is a woman; if you be more, you’re none;
  7. If you be one (as you are well express’d
  8. By all external warrants), show it now,
  9. By putting on the destin’d livery.

Isabella

153 - 154
  1. I have no tongue but one; gentle my lord,
  2. Let me entreat you speak the former language.

Angelo

155
  1. Plainly conceive, I love you.

Isabella

156 - 157
  1. My brother did love Juliet,
  2. And you tell me that he shall die for’t.

Angelo

158
  1. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.

Isabella

159 - 161
  1. I know your virtue hath a license in’t,
  2. Which seems a little fouler than it is,
  3. To pluck on others.

Angelo

162 - 163
  1.                     Believe me, on mine honor,
  2. My words express my purpose.

Isabella

164 - 169
  1. Ha? Little honor to be much believ’d,
  2. And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!
  3. I will proclaim thee, Angelo, look for’t!
  4. Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
  5. Or with an outstretch’d throat I’ll tell the world aloud
  6. What man thou art.

Angelo

170 - 186
  1.                    Who will believe thee, Isabel?
  2. My unsoil’d name, th’ austereness of my life,
  3. My vouch against you, and my place i’ th’ state,
  4. Will so your accusation overweigh,
  5. That you shall stifle in your own report,
  6. And smell of calumny. I have begun,
  7. And now I give my sensual race the rein.
  8. Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite,
  9. Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes
  10. That banish what they sue for. Redeem thy brother
  11. By yielding up thy body to my will,
  12. Or else he must not only die the death,
  13. But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
  14. To ling’ring sufferance. Answer me tomorrow,
  15. Or by the affection that now guides me most,
  16. I’ll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
  17. Say what you can: my false o’erweighs your true.
  1. Exit.

Isabella

188 - 204
  1. To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,
  2. Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,
  3. That bear in them one and the self-same tongue,
  4. Either of condemnation or approof,
  5. Bidding the law make curtsy to their will,
  6. Hooking both right and wrong to th’ appetite,
  7. To follow as it draws! I’ll to my brother.
  8. Though he hath fall’n by prompture of the blood,
  9. Yet hath he in him such a mind of honor
  10. That had he twenty heads to tender down
  11. On twenty bloody blocks, he’ld yield them up,
  12. Before his sister should her body stoop
  13. To such abhorr’d pollution.
  14. Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die;
  15. More than our brother is our chastity.
  16. I’ll tell him yet of Angelo’s request,
  17. And fit his mind to death, for his soul’s rest.
  1. Exit.
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