Measure for Measure
Act II, Scene 4
A room in Angelo’s house.
- Enter Angelo.
Angelo1 - 18
- When I would pray and think, I think and pray
- To several subjects. Heaven hath my empty words,
- Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue,
- Anchors on Isabel; heaven in my mouth,
- As if I did but only chew his name,
- And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
- Of my conception. The state, whereon I studied,
- Is like a good thing, being often read,
- Grown sere and tedious; yea, my gravity,
- Wherein (let no man hear me) I take pride,
- Could I, with boot, change for an idle plume,
- Which the air beats for vain. O place, O form,
- How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
- Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
- To thy false seeming! Blood, thou art blood.
- Let’s write “good angel” on the devil’s horn,
- ’Tis not the devil’s crest.
- Enter Servant.
- How now? Who’s there?
- One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.
Angelo20 - 33
- Teach her the way.
- Exit Servant.
- O heavens!
- Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
- Making both it unable for itself,
- And dispossessing all my other parts
- Of necessary fitness?
- So play the foolish throngs with one that swounds,
- Come all to help him, and so stop the air
- By which he should revive; and even so
- The general subject to a well-wish’d king
- Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
- Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
- Must needs appear offense.
- Enter Isabella.
- How now, fair maid?
- I am come to know your pleasure.
Angelo35 - 36
- That you might know it, would much better please me
- Than to demand what ’tis. Your brother cannot live.
- Even so. Heaven keep your honor!
Angelo38 - 39
- Yet may he live a while; and it may be
- As long as you or I. Yet he must die.
- Under your sentence?
Isabella42 - 44
- When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve,
- Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
- That his soul sicken not.
Angelo45 - 52
- Ha? Fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
- To pardon him that hath from nature stol’n
- A man already made, as to remit
- Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven’s image
- In stamps that are forbid. ’Tis all as easy
- Falsely to take away a life true made
- As to put metal in restrained means
- To make a false one.
- ’Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
Angelo54 - 58
- Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly.
- Which had you rather, that the most just law
- Now took your brother’s life, or, to redeem him,
- Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
- As she that he hath stain’d?
Isabella59 - 60
- Sir, believe this,
- I had rather give my body than my soul.
Angelo61 - 62
- I talk not of your soul; our compell’d sins
- Stand more for number than for accompt.
- How say you?
Angelo64 - 69
- Nay, I’ll not warrant that; for I can speak
- Against the thing I say. Answer to this:
- I (now the voice of the recorded law)
- Pronounce a sentence on your brother’s life;
- Might there not be a charity in sin
- To save this brother’s life?
Isabella70 - 72
- Please you to do’t,
- I’ll take it as a peril to my soul,
- It is no sin at all, but charity.
Angelo73 - 74
- Pleas’d you to do’t at peril of your soul,
- Were equal poise of sin and charity.
Isabella75 - 79
- That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
- Heaven let me bear it! You granting of my suit,
- If that be sin, I’ll make it my morn-prayer
- To have it added to the faults of mine,
- And nothing of your answer.
Angelo80 - 82
- Nay, but hear me,
- Your sense pursues not mine. Either you are ignorant,
- Or seem so craftily; and that’s not good.
Isabella83 - 84
- Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
- But graciously to know I am no better.
Angelo85 - 90
- Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
- When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
- Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
- Than beauty could, displayed. But mark me:
- To be received plain, I’ll speak more gross:
- Your brother is to die.
Angelo92 - 93
- And his offense is so, as it appears,
- Accountant to the law upon that pain.
Angelo95 - 105
- Admit no other way to save his life
- (As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
- But in the loss of question), that you, his sister,
- Finding yourself desir’d of such a person,
- Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
- Could fetch your brother from the manacles
- Of the all-binding law; and that there were
- No earthly mean to save him, but that either
- You must lay down the treasures of your body
- To this supposed, or else to let him suffer—
- What would you do?
Isabella106 - 111
- As much for my poor brother as myself:
- That is, were I under the terms of death,
- Th’ impression of keen whips I’ld wear as rubies,
- And strip myself to death, as to a bed
- That longing have been sick for, ere I’ld yield
- My body up to shame.
- Then must your brother die.
Isabella113 - 116
- And ’twere the cheaper way:
- Better it were a brother died at once,
- Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
- Should die forever.
Angelo117 - 118
- Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
- That you have slander’d so?
Isabella119 - 121
- Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
- Are of two houses: lawful mercy
- Is nothing kin to foul redemption.
Angelo122 - 124
- You seem’d of late to make the law a tyrant,
- And rather prov’d the sliding of your brother
- A merriment than a vice.
Isabella125 - 128
- O, pardon me, my lord, it oft falls out,
- To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.
- I something do excuse the thing I hate,
- For his advantage that I dearly love.
- We are all frail.
Isabella130 - 132
- Else let my brother die,
- If not a fedary, but only he,
- Owe and succeed thy weakness.
- Nay, women are frail too.
Isabella134 - 139
- Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves,
- Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
- Women? Help heaven! Men their creation mar
- In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail,
- For we are soft as our complexions are,
- And credulous to false prints.
Angelo140 - 148
- I think it well;
- And from this testimony of your own sex
- (Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger
- Than faults may shake our frames), let me be bold.
- I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
- That is a woman; if you be more, you’re none;
- If you be one (as you are well express’d
- By all external warrants), show it now,
- By putting on the destin’d livery.
Isabella149 - 150
- I have no tongue but one; gentle my lord,
- Let me entreat you speak the former language.
- Plainly conceive, I love you.
Isabella152 - 153
- My brother did love Juliet,
- And you tell me that he shall die for’t.
- He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.
Isabella155 - 157
- I know your virtue hath a license in’t,
- Which seems a little fouler than it is,
- To pluck on others.
Angelo158 - 159
- Believe me, on mine honor,
- My words express my purpose.
Isabella160 - 165
- Ha? Little honor to be much believ’d,
- And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!
- I will proclaim thee, Angelo, look for’t!
- Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
- Or with an outstretch’d throat I’ll tell the world aloud
- What man thou art.
Angelo166 - 182
- Who will believe thee, Isabel?
- My unsoil’d name, th’ austereness of my life,
- My vouch against you, and my place i’ th’ state,
- Will so your accusation overweigh,
- That you shall stifle in your own report,
- And smell of calumny. I have begun,
- And now I give my sensual race the rein.
- Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite,
- Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes
- That banish what they sue for. Redeem thy brother
- By yielding up thy body to my will,
- Or else he must not only die the death,
- But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
- To ling’ring sufferance. Answer me tomorrow,
- Or by the affection that now guides me most,
- I’ll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
- Say what you can: my false o’erweighs your true.
Isabella183 - 199
- To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,
- Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,
- That bear in them one and the self-same tongue,
- Either of condemnation or approof,
- Bidding the law make curtsy to their will,
- Hooking both right and wrong to th’ appetite,
- To follow as it draws! I’ll to my brother.
- Though he hath fall’n by prompture of the blood,
- Yet hath he in him such a mind of honor
- That had he twenty heads to tender down
- On twenty bloody blocks, he’ld yield them up,
- Before his sister should her body stoop
- To such abhorr’d pollution.
- Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die;
- More than our brother is our chastity.
- I’ll tell him yet of Angelo’s request,
- And fit his mind to death, for his soul’s rest.