Measure for Measure
Act III, Scene 1
A room in the prison.
- Enter Duke disguised as a friar, Claudio, and Provost.
- So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
Claudio2 - 4
- The miserable have no other medicine
- But only hope:
- I have hope to live, and am prepar’d to die.
Duke5 - 41
- Be absolute for death: either death or life
- Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
- If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
- That none but fools would keep. A breath thou art,
- Servile to all the skyey influences,
- That dost this habitation where thou keep’st
- Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art death’s fool,
- For him thou labor’st by thy flight to shun,
- And yet run’st toward him still. Thou art not noble,
- For all th’ accommodations that thou bear’st
- Are nurs’d by baseness. Thou’rt by no means valiant,
- For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
- Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
- And that thou oft provok’st, yet grossly fear’st
- Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself,
- For thou exists on many a thousand grains
- That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not,
- For what thou hast not, still thou striv’st to get,
- And what thou hast, forget’st. Thou art not certain,
- For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
- After the moon. If thou art rich, thou’rt poor,
- For like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,
- Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey,
- And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none,
- For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire,
- The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
- Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum
- For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,
- But as it were an after-dinner’s sleep,
- Dreaming on both, for all thy blessed youth
- Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
- Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich,
- Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
- To make thy riches pleasant. What’s yet in this
- That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
- Lie hid more thousand deaths; yet death we fear
- That makes these odds all even.
Claudio42 - 44
- I humbly thank you.
- To sue to live, I find I seek to die,
- And seeking death, find life. Let it come on.
- What ho! Peace here; grace and good company!
- Who’s there? Come in, the wish deserves a welcome.
- Dear sir, ere long I’ll visit you again.
- Most holy sir, I thank you.
- Enter Isabella.
- My business is a word or two with Claudio.
- And very welcome. Look, signior, here’s your sister.
- Provost, a word with you.
- As many as you please.
- Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be conceal’d.
- Exeunt Duke and Provost.
- Now, sister, what’s the comfort?
Isabella55 - 61
- As all comforts are: most good, most good indeed.
- Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
- Intends you for his swift ambassador,
- Where you shall be an everlasting leiger;
- Therefore your best appointment make with speed,
- Tomorrow you set on.
- Is there no remedy?
Isabella63 - 64
- None, but such remedy as, to save a head,
- To cleave a heart in twain.
- But is there any?
Isabella66 - 69
- Yes, brother, you may live;
- There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
- If you’ll implore it, that will free your life,
- But fetter you till death.
- Perpetual durance?
Isabella71 - 73
- Ay, just, perpetual durance, a restraint,
- Though all the world’s vastidity you had,
- To a determin’d scope.
- But in what nature?
Isabella75 - 77
- In such a one as, you consenting to’t,
- Would bark your honor from that trunk you bear,
- And leave you naked.
- Let me know the point.
Isabella79 - 86
- O, I do fear thee, Claudio, and I quake,
- Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
- And six or seven winters more respect
- Than a perpetual honor. Dar’st thou die?
- The sense of death is most in apprehension,
- And the poor beetle that we tread upon
- In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
- As when a giant dies.
Claudio87 - 91
- Why give you me this shame?
- Think you I can a resolution fetch
- From flow’ry tenderness? If I must die,
- I will encounter darkness as a bride,
- And hug it in mine arms.
Isabella92 - 100
- There spake my brother; there my father’s grave
- Did utter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die:
- Thou art too noble to conserve a life
- In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,
- Whose settled visage and deliberate word
- Nips youth i’ th’ head, and follies doth enew
- As falcon doth the fowl, is yet a devil;
- His filth within being cast, he would appear
- A pond as deep as hell.
- The precise Angelo?
Isabella102 - 106
- O, ’tis the cunning livery of hell,
- The damned’st body to invest and cover
- In princely guards! Dost thou think, Claudio,
- If I would yield him my virginity,
- Thou mightst be freed!
- O heavens, it cannot be.
Isabella108 - 111
- Yes, he would give’t thee, from this rank offense,
- So to offend him still. This night’s the time
- That I should do what I abhor to name,
- Or else thou diest tomorrow.
- Thou shalt not do’t.
Isabella113 - 115
- O, were it but my life,
- I’d throw it down for your deliverance
- As frankly as a pin.
- Thanks, dear Isabel.
- Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.
Claudio118 - 121
- Yes. Has he affections in him,
- That thus can make him bite the law by th’ nose,
- When he would force it? Sure it is no sin,
- Or of the deadly seven it is the least.
- Which is the least?
Claudio123 - 125
- If it were damnable, he being so wise,
- Why would he for the momentary trick
- Be perdurably fin’d? O Isabel!
- What says my brother?
- Death is a fearful thing.
- And shamed life a hateful.
Claudio129 - 143
- Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
- To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
- This sensible warm motion to become
- A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
- To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
- In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
- To be imprison’d in the viewless winds
- And blown with restless violence round about
- The pendant world; or to be worse than worst
- Of those that lawless and incertain thought
- Imagine howling—’tis too horrible!
- The weariest and most loathed worldly life
- That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
- Can lay on nature is a paradise
- To what we fear of death.
- Alas, alas!
Claudio145 - 148
- Sweet sister, let me live.
- What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
- Nature dispenses with the deed so far,
- That it becomes a virtue.
Isabella149 - 160
- O you beast!
- O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
- Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
- Is’t not a kind of incest, to take life
- From thine own sister’s shame? What should I think?
- Heaven shield my mother play’d my father fair!
- For such a warped slip of wilderness
- Ne’er issu’d from his blood. Take my defiance!
- Die, perish! Might but my bending down
- Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.
- I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
- No word to save thee.
- Nay, hear me, Isabel.
Isabella162 - 165
- O fie, fie, fie!
- Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.
- Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd,
- ’Tis best that thou diest quickly.
- O, hear me, Isabella!
- Enter Duke disguised as a friar.
- Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
- What is your will?
Duke169 - 171
- Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have
- some speech with you. The satisfaction I would require is
- likewise your own benefit.
Isabella172 - 173
- I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out of
- other affairs; but I will attend you a while.
- Walks apart.
Duke174 - 182
- Son, I have overheard what hath pass’d between you and your
- sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he
- hath made an assay of her virtue to practice his judgment
- with the disposition of natures. She (having the truth of
- honor in her) hath made him that gracious denial which he is
- most glad to receive. I am confessor to Angelo, and I know
- this to be true; therefore prepare yourself to death. Do not
- satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallible,
- tomorrow you must die; go to your knees, and make ready.
Claudio183 - 184
- Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life
- that I will sue to be rid of it.
Duke185 - 186
- Hold you there! Farewell.
- Exit Claudio.
- Provost, a word with you.
- Enter Provost.
- What’s your will, father?
Duke188 - 190
- That now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me a while
- with the maid. My mind promises with my habit, no loss shall
- touch her by my company.
- In good time.
Duke192 - 199
- Turning to Isabella.
- The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good; the
- goodness that is cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in
- goodness; but grace, being the soul of your complexion,
- shall keep the body of it ever fair. The assault that Angelo
- hath made to you, fortune hath convey’d to my understanding;
- and but that frailty hath examples for his falling, I should
- wonder at Angelo. How will you do to content this
- substitute, and to save your brother?
Isabella200 - 204
- I am now going to resolve him. I had rather my brother die
- by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But O, how
- much is the good Duke deceiv’d in Angelo! If ever he return,
- and I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or
- discover his government.
Duke205 - 213
- That shall not be much amiss; yet, as the matter now stands,
- he will avoid your accusation: he made trial of you only.
- Therefore fasten your ear on my advisings: to the love I
- have in doing good a remedy presents itself. I do make
- myself believe that you may most uprighteously do a poor
- wrong’d lady a merited benefit; redeem your brother from the
- angry law; do no stain to your own gracious person; and much
- please the absent Duke, if peradventure he shall ever return
- to have hearing of this business.
Isabella214 - 215
- Let me hear you speak farther. I have spirit to do any thing
- that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.
Duke216 - 218
- Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not
- heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great
- soldier who miscarried at sea?
- I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.
Duke220 - 228
- She should this Angelo have married; was affianc’d to her by
- oath, and the nuptial appointed; between which time of the
- contract and limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick
- was wrack’d at sea, having in that perish’d vessel the dowry
- of his sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor
- gentlewoman: there she lost a noble and renown’d brother, in
- his love toward her ever most kind and natural; with him,
- the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage-dowry;
- with both, her combinate-husband, this well-seeming Angelo.
- Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?
Duke230 - 234
- Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his
- comfort; swallow’d his vows whole, pretending in her
- discoveries of dishonor; in few, bestow’d her on her own
- lamentation, which she yet wears for his sake; and he, a
- marble to her tears, is wash’d with them, but relents not.
Isabella235 - 237
- What a merit were it in death to take this poor maid from
- the world! What corruption in this life, that it will let
- this man live! But how out of this can she avail?
Duke238 - 240
- It is a rupture that you may easily heal; and the cure of it
- not only saves your brother, but keeps you from dishonor in
- doing it.
- Show me how, good father.
Duke242 - 259
- This forenam’d maid hath yet in her the continuance of her
- first affection; his unjust unkindness (that in all reason
- should have quench’d her love) hath (like an impediment in
- the current) made it more violent and unruly. Go you to
- Angelo, answer his requiring with a plausible obedience,
- agree with his demands to the point; only refer yourself to
- this advantage: first, that your stay with him may not be
- long; that the time may have all shadow and silence in it;
- and the place answer to convenience. This being granted in
- course—and now follows all—we shall advise this wrong’d maid
- to stead up your appointment, go in your place. If the
- encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may compel him to
- her recompense; and here, by this is your brother sav’d,
- your honor untainted, the poor Mariana advantag’d, and the
- corrupt deputy scal’d. The maid will I frame, and make fit
- for his attempt. If you think well to carry this as you may,
- the doubleness of the benefit defends the deceit from
- reproof. What think you of it?
Isabella260 - 261
- The image of it gives me content already, and I trust it
- will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
Duke262 - 267
- It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily to
- Angelo; if for this night he entreat you to his bed, give
- him promise of satisfaction. I will presently to Saint
- Luke’s; there, at the moated grange, resides this dejected
- Mariana. At that place call upon me, and dispatch with
- Angelo, that it may be quickly.
- I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.
- Exit. Manet Duke.