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Measure for Measure: Act IV, Scene 2

Measure for Measure
Act IV, Scene 2

A room in the prison.

  1. Enter Provost and Clown Pompey.

Provost

1
  1. Come hither, sirrah; can you cut off a man’s head?

Pompey

2 - 4
  1. If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a married
  2. man, he’s his wive’s head, and I can never cut off a woman’s
  3. head.

Provost

5 - 12
  1. Come, sir, leave me your snatches, and yield me a direct
  2. answer. Tomorrow morning are to die Claudio and Barnardine.
  3. Here is in our prison a common executioner, who in his
  4. office lacks a helper. If you will take it on you to assist
  5. him, it shall redeem you from your gyves; if not, you shall
  6. have your full time of imprisonment, and your deliverance
  7. with an unpitied whipping, for you have been a notorious
  8. bawd.

Pompey

13 - 15
  1. Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind, but yet
  2. I will be content to be a lawful hangman. I would be glad to
  3. receive some instruction from my fellow partner.

Provost

16
  1. What ho, Abhorson! Where’s Abhorson there?
  1. Enter Abhorson.

Abhorson

17
  1. Do you call, sir?

Provost

18 - 22
  1. Sirrah, here’s a fellow will help you tomorrow in your
  2. execution. If you think it meet, compound with him by the
  3. year, and let him abide here with you; if not, use him for
  4. the present and dismiss him. He cannot plead his estimation
  5. with you; for he hath been a bawd.

Abhorson

23
  1. A bawd, sir? Fie upon him, he will discredit our mystery.

Provost

24 - 25
  1. Go to, sir, you weigh equally; a feather will turn the
  2. scale.
  1. Exit.

Pompey

26 - 28
  1. Pray, sir, by your good favorfor surely, sir, a good favor
  2. you have, but that you have a hanging lookdo you call, sir,
  3. your occupation a mystery?

Abhorson

29
  1. Ay, sir, a mystery.

Pompey

30 - 34
  1. Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and your
  2. whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using painting,
  3. do prove my occupation a mystery; but what mystery there
  4. should be in hanging, if I should be hang’d, I cannot
  5. imagine.

Abhorson

35
  1. Sir, it is a mystery.

Pompey

36
  1. Proof.

Abhorson

37 - 40
  1. Every true man’s apparel fits your thief. If it be too
  2. little for your thief, your true man thinks it big enough;
  3. if it be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little
  4. enough; so every true man’s apparel fits your thief.
  1. Enter Provost.

Provost

41
  1. Are you agreed?

Pompey

42 - 44
  1. Sir, I will serve him; for I do find your hangman is a more
  2. penitent trade than your bawd: he doth oft’ner ask
  3. forgiveness.

Provost

45 - 46
  1. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe tomorrow, four
  2. a’ clock.

Abhorson

47
  1. Come on, bawd, I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.

Pompey

48 - 50
  1. I do desire to learn, sir; and I hope, if you have occasion
  2. to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare; for
  3. truly, sir, for your kindness, I owe you a good turn.

Provost

51 - 56
  1. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.
  2. Exeunt Abhorson and Pompey.
  3. Th’ one has my pity; not a jot the other,
  4. Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
  5. Enter Claudio.
  6. Look, here’s the warrant, Claudio, for thy death.
  7. ’Tis now dead midnight, and by eight tomorrow
  8. Thou must be made immortal. Where’s Barnardine?

Claudio

57 - 59
  1. As fast lock’d up in sleep as guiltless labor
  2. When it lies starkly in the traveler’s bones.
  3. He will not wake.

Provost

60 - 67
  1.                   Who can do good on him?
  2. Well, go, prepare yourself.
  3. Knocking within.
  4.                             But hark, what noise?
  5. Heaven give your spirits comfort!
  6. Exit Claudio.
  7.                                   By and by.—
  8. I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
  9. For the most gentle Claudio.
  10. Enter Duke disguised as a friar.
  11.                              Welcome, father.

Duke

68 - 69
  1. The best and wholesom’st spirits of the night
  2. Envelop you, good Provost! Who call’d here of late?

Provost

70
  1. None since the curfew rung.

Duke

71
  1. Not Isabel?

Provost

72
  1.             No.

Duke

73
  1.     They will then ere’t be long.

Provost

74
  1. What comfort is for Claudio?

Duke

75
  1. There’s some in hope.

Provost

76
  1.                       It is a bitter deputy.

Duke

77 - 88
  1. Not so, not so; his life is parallel’d
  2. Even with the stroke and line of his great justice.
  3. He doth with holy abstinence subdue
  4. That in himself which he spurs on his pow’r
  5. To qualify in others. Were he meal’d with that
  6. Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous,
  7. But this being so, he’s just.
  8. Knocking within.
  9.                               Now are they come.
  10. Exit Provost.
  11. This is a gentle Provost: seldom when
  12. The steeled jailer is the friend of men.
  13. Knocking within.
  14. How now? What noise? That spirit’s possess’d with haste
  15. That wounds th’ unsisting postern with these strokes.
  1. Enter Provost.

Provost

89 - 90
  1. There he must stay until the officer
  2. Arise to let him in; he is call’d up.

Duke

91 - 92
  1. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
  2. But he must die tomorrow?

Provost

93
  1.                           None, sir, none.

Duke

94 - 95
  1. As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
  2. You shall hear more ere morning.

Provost

96 - 102
  1. Happily
  2. You something know, yet I believe there comes
  3. No countermand; no such example have we.
  4. Besides, upon the very siege of justice
  5. Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
  6. Profess’d the contrary.
  7. Enter a Messenger.
  8.                         This is his Lordship’s man.

Duke

103
  1. And here comes Claudio’s pardon.

Messenger

104 - 107
  1. My lord hath sent you this note, and by me this further
  2. charge: that you swerve not from the smallest article of it,
  3. neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow;
  4. for as I take it, it is almost day.

Provost

108
  1. I shall obey him.
  1. Exit Messenger.

Duke

109 - 115
  1. Aside.
  2. This is his pardon, purchas’d by such sin
  3. For which the pardoner himself is in.
  4. Hence hath offense his quick celerity,
  5. When it is borne in high authority.
  6. When vice makes mercy, mercy’s so extended,
  7. That for the fault’s love is th’ offender friended.
  8. Now, sir, what news?

Provost

116 - 118
  1. I told you: Lord Angelo (belike) thinking me remiss in mine
  2. office, awakens me with this unwonted putting-on, methinks
  3. strangely, for he hath not us’d it before.

Duke

119
  1. Pray you let’s hear.

Provost

120 - 126
  1. Reads the letter.
  2. Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio be
  3. executed by four of the clock, and in the afternoon
  4. Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have
  5. Claudio’s head sent me by five. Let this be duly perform’d,
  6. with a thought that more depends on it than we must yet
  7. deliver. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer
  8. it at your peril.” What say you to this, sir?

Duke

127 - 128
  1. What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in th’
  2. afternoon?

Provost

129 - 130
  1. A Bohemian born; but here nurs’d up and bred, one that is a
  2. prisoner nine years old.

Duke

131 - 133
  1. How came it that the absent Duke had not either deliver’d
  2. him to his liberty or executed him? I have heard it was ever
  3. his manner to do so.

Provost

134 - 136
  1. His friends still wrought reprieves for him; and indeed his
  2. fact, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to
  3. an undoubtful proof.

Duke

137
  1. It is now apparent?

Provost

138
  1. Most manifest, and not denied by himself.

Duke

139 - 140
  1. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How seems he to
  2. be touch’d?

Provost

141 - 144
  1. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a
  2. drunken sleep, careless, reckless, and fearless of what’s
  3. past, present, or to come; insensible of mortality, and
  4. desperately mortal.

Duke

145
  1. He wants advice.

Provost

146 - 151
  1. He will hear none. He hath evermore had the liberty of the
  2. prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not. Drunk
  3. many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have
  4. very oft awak’d him, as if to carry him to execution, and
  5. show’d him a seeming warrant for it; it hath not mov’d him
  6. at all.

Duke

152 - 160
  1. More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost,
  2. honesty and constancy; if I read it not truly, my ancient
  3. skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning, I will
  4. lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have warrant to
  5. execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who
  6. hath sentenc’d him. To make you understand this in a
  7. manifested effect, I crave but four days’ respite; for the
  8. which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous
  9. courtesy.

Provost

161
  1. Pray, sir, in what?

Duke

162
  1. In the delaying death.

Provost

163 - 166
  1. Alack, how may I do it, having the hour limited, and an
  2. express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the
  3. view of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio’s, to cross
  4. this in the smallest.

Duke

167 - 169
  1. By the vow of mine order I warrant you, if my instructions
  2. may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning
  3. executed, and his head borne to Angelo.

Provost

170
  1. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favor.

Duke

171 - 176
  1. O, death’s a great disguiser, and you may add to it. Shave
  2. the head, and tie the beard, and say it was the desire of
  3. the penitent to be so bar’d before his death. You know the
  4. course is common. If any thing fall to you upon this, more
  5. than thanks and good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I
  6. will plead against it with my life.

Provost

177
  1. Pardon me, good father, it is against my oath.

Duke

178
  1. Were you sworn to the Duke, or to the deputy?

Provost

179
  1. To him, and to his substitutes.

Duke

180 - 181
  1. You will think you have made no offense, if the Duke avouch
  2. the justice of your dealing?

Provost

182
  1. But what likelihood is in that?

Duke

183 - 188
  1. Not a resemblance, but a certainty; yet since I see you
  2. fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor persuasion can
  3. with ease attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to
  4. pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand
  5. and seal of the Duke; you know the character, I doubt not,
  6. and the signet is not strange to you.

Provost

189
  1. I know them both.

Duke

190 - 202
  1. The contents of this is the return of the Duke. You shall
  2. anon over-read it at your pleasure; where you shall find,
  3. within these two days he will be here. This is a thing that
  4. Angelo knows not, for he this very day receives letters of
  5. strange tenor, perchance of the Duke’s death, perchance
  6. entering into some monastery, but by chance nothing of what
  7. is writ. Look, th’ unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put
  8. not yourself into amazement how these things should be; all
  9. difficulties are but easy when they are known. Call your
  10. executioner, and off with Barnardine’s head. I will give him
  11. a present shrift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you
  12. are amaz’d, but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come
  13. away, it is almost clear dawn.
  1. Exeunt.
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