Measure for Measure
Act 4, Scene 2
A room in the prison.
- Enter Provost and Clown Pompey.
- Come hither, sirrah; can you cut off a man’s head?
Pompey3 - 5
- If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a married
- man, he’s his wive’s head, and I can never cut off a woman’s
Provost6 - 13
- Come, sir, leave me your snatches, and yield me a direct
- answer. Tomorrow morning are to die Claudio and Barnardine.
- Here is in our prison a common executioner, who in his
- office lacks a helper. If you will take it on you to assist
- him, it shall redeem you from your gyves; if not, you shall
- have your full time of imprisonment, and your deliverance
- with an unpitied whipping, for you have been a notorious
Pompey14 - 16
- Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind, but yet
- I will be content to be a lawful hangman. I would be glad to
- receive some instruction from my fellow partner.
- What ho, Abhorson! Where’s Abhorson there?
- Enter Abhorson.
- Do you call, sir?
Provost20 - 24
- Sirrah, here’s a fellow will help you tomorrow in your
- execution. If you think it meet, compound with him by the
- year, and let him abide here with you; if not, use him for
- the present and dismiss him. He cannot plead his estimation
- with you; for he hath been a bawd.
- A bawd, sir? Fie upon him, he will discredit our mystery.
Provost26 - 27
- Go to, sir, you weigh equally; a feather will turn the
Pompey29 - 31
- Pray, sir, by your good favor—for surely, sir, a good favor
- you have, but that you have a hanging look—do you call, sir,
- your occupation a mystery?
- Ay, sir, a mystery.
Pompey33 - 37
- Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and your
- whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using painting,
- do prove my occupation a mystery; but what mystery there
- should be in hanging, if I should be hang’d, I cannot
- Sir, it is a mystery.
Abhorson40 - 43
- Every true man’s apparel fits your thief. If it be too
- little for your thief, your true man thinks it big enough;
- if it be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little
- enough; so every true man’s apparel fits your thief.
- Enter Provost.
- Are you agreed?
Pompey46 - 48
- Sir, I will serve him; for I do find your hangman is a more
- penitent trade than your bawd: he doth oft’ner ask
Provost49 - 50
- You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe tomorrow, four
- a’ clock.
- Come on, bawd, I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.
Pompey52 - 54
- I do desire to learn, sir; and I hope, if you have occasion
- to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare; for
- truly, sir, for your kindness, I owe you a good turn.
Provost55 - 62
- Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.
- Exeunt Abhorson and Pompey.
- Th’ one has my pity; not a jot the other,
- Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
- Enter Claudio.
- Look, here’s the warrant, Claudio, for thy death.
- ’Tis now dead midnight, and by eight tomorrow
- Thou must be made immortal. Where’s Barnardine?
Claudio63 - 65
- As fast lock’d up in sleep as guiltless labor
- When it lies starkly in the traveler’s bones.
- He will not wake.
Provost66 - 76
- Who can do good on him?
- Well, go, prepare yourself.
- Knocking within.
- But hark, what noise?
- Heaven give your spirits comfort!
- Exit Claudio.
- By and by.—
- I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
- For the most gentle Claudio.
- Enter Duke disguised as a friar.
- Welcome, father.
Duke77 - 78
- The best and wholesom’st spirits of the night
- Envelop you, good Provost! Who call’d here of late?
- None since the curfew rung.
- Not Isabel?
- They will then ere’t be long.
- What comfort is for Claudio?
- There’s some in hope.
- It is a bitter deputy.
Duke86 - 100
- Not so, not so; his life is parallel’d
- Even with the stroke and line of his great justice.
- He doth with holy abstinence subdue
- That in himself which he spurs on his pow’r
- To qualify in others. Were he meal’d with that
- Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous,
- But this being so, he’s just.
- Knocking within.
- Now are they come.
- Exit Provost.
- This is a gentle Provost: seldom when
- The steeled jailer is the friend of men.
- Knocking within.
- How now? What noise? That spirit’s possess’d with haste
- That wounds th’ unsisting postern with these strokes.
- Enter Provost.
Provost102 - 103
- There he must stay until the officer
- Arise to let him in; he is call’d up.
Duke104 - 105
- Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
- But he must die tomorrow?
- None, sir, none.
Duke107 - 108
- As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
- You shall hear more ere morning.
Provost109 - 116
- You something know, yet I believe there comes
- No countermand; no such example have we.
- Besides, upon the very siege of justice
- Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
- Profess’d the contrary.
- Enter a Messenger.
- This is his Lordship’s man.
- And here comes Claudio’s pardon.
Messenger118 - 121
- My lord hath sent you this note, and by me this further
- charge: that you swerve not from the smallest article of it,
- neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow;
- for as I take it, it is almost day.
- I shall obey him.
- Exit Messenger.
Duke124 - 131
- This is his pardon, purchas’d by such sin
- For which the pardoner himself is in.
- Hence hath offense his quick celerity,
- When it is borne in high authority.
- When vice makes mercy, mercy’s so extended,
- That for the fault’s love is th’ offender friended.
- Now, sir, what news?
Provost132 - 134
- I told you: Lord Angelo (belike) thinking me remiss in mine
- office, awakens me with this unwonted putting-on, methinks
- strangely, for he hath not us’d it before.
- Pray you let’s hear.
Provost136 - 143
- Reads the letter.
- “Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio be
- executed by four of the clock, and in the afternoon
- Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have
- Claudio’s head sent me by five. Let this be duly perform’d,
- with a thought that more depends on it than we must yet
- deliver. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer
- it at your peril.” What say you to this, sir?
Duke144 - 145
- What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in th’
Provost146 - 147
- A Bohemian born; but here nurs’d up and bred, one that is a
- prisoner nine years old.
Duke148 - 150
- How came it that the absent Duke had not either deliver’d
- him to his liberty or executed him? I have heard it was ever
- his manner to do so.
Provost151 - 153
- His friends still wrought reprieves for him; and indeed his
- fact, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to
- an undoubtful proof.
- It is now apparent?
- Most manifest, and not denied by himself.
Duke156 - 157
- Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How seems he to
- be touch’d?
Provost158 - 161
- A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a
- drunken sleep, careless, reckless, and fearless of what’s
- past, present, or to come; insensible of mortality, and
- desperately mortal.
- He wants advice.
Provost163 - 168
- He will hear none. He hath evermore had the liberty of the
- prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not. Drunk
- many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have
- very oft awak’d him, as if to carry him to execution, and
- show’d him a seeming warrant for it; it hath not mov’d him
- at all.
Duke169 - 177
- More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost,
- honesty and constancy; if I read it not truly, my ancient
- skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning, I will
- lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have warrant to
- execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who
- hath sentenc’d him. To make you understand this in a
- manifested effect, I crave but four days’ respite; for the
- which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous
- Pray, sir, in what?
- In the delaying death.
Provost180 - 183
- Alack, how may I do it, having the hour limited, and an
- express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the
- view of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio’s, to cross
- this in the smallest.
Duke184 - 186
- By the vow of mine order I warrant you, if my instructions
- may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning
- executed, and his head borne to Angelo.
- Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favor.
Duke188 - 193
- O, death’s a great disguiser, and you may add to it. Shave
- the head, and tie the beard, and say it was the desire of
- the penitent to be so bar’d before his death. You know the
- course is common. If any thing fall to you upon this, more
- than thanks and good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I
- will plead against it with my life.
- Pardon me, good father, it is against my oath.
- Were you sworn to the Duke, or to the deputy?
- To him, and to his substitutes.
Duke197 - 198
- You will think you have made no offense, if the Duke avouch
- the justice of your dealing?
- But what likelihood is in that?
Duke200 - 205
- Not a resemblance, but a certainty; yet since I see you
- fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor persuasion can
- with ease attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to
- pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand
- and seal of the Duke; you know the character, I doubt not,
- and the signet is not strange to you.
- I know them both.
Duke207 - 219
- The contents of this is the return of the Duke. You shall
- anon over-read it at your pleasure; where you shall find,
- within these two days he will be here. This is a thing that
- Angelo knows not, for he this very day receives letters of
- strange tenor, perchance of the Duke’s death, perchance
- entering into some monastery, but by chance nothing of what
- is writ. Look, th’ unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put
- not yourself into amazement how these things should be; all
- difficulties are but easy when they are known. Call your
- executioner, and off with Barnardine’s head. I will give him
- a present shrift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you
- are amaz’d, but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come
- away, it is almost clear dawn.