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Measure for Measure   By: (1564-1616)

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by William Shakespeare


VICENTIO, Duke of Vienna. ANGELO, Lord Deputy in the Duke's absence. ESCALUS, an ancient Lord, joined with Angelo in the deputation. CLAUDIO, a young Gentleman. LUCIO, a Fantastic. Two other like Gentlemen. VARRIUS, a Gentleman, Servant to the Duke. PROVOST. THOMAS, friar. PETER, friar. A JUSTICE. ELBOW, a simple Constable. FROTH, a foolish Gentleman. CLOWN, Servant to Mistress Overdone. ABHORSON, an Executioner. BARNARDINE, a dissolute Prisoner.

ISABELLA, Sister to Claudio. MARIANA, betrothed to Angelo. JULIET, beloved by Claudio. FRANCISCA, a nun. MISTRESS OVERDONE, a Bawd.

Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and other Attendants.

SCENE: Vienna


SCENE I. An apartment in the DUKE'S Palace.


DUKE. Escalus,

ESCALUS. My lord.

DUKE. Of government the properties to unfold, Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse; Since I am put to know that your own science Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice My strength can give you: then no more remains But that to your sufficiency, as your worth is able, And let them work. The nature of our people, Our city's institutions, and the terms For common justice, you are as pregnant in As art and practice hath enriched any That we remember. There is our commission, From which we would not have you warp. Call hither, I say, bid come before us, Angelo.

[Exit an Attendant.]

What figure of us think you he will bear? For you must know we have with special soul Elected him our absence to supply; Lent him our terror, drest him with our love, And given his deputation all the organs Of our own power: what think you of it?

ESCALUS. If any in Vienna be of worth To undergo such ample grace and honour, It is Lord Angelo.

[Enter ANGELO.]

DUKE. Look where he comes.

ANGELO. Always obedient to your grace's will, I come to know your pleasure.

DUKE. Angelo, There is a kind of character in thy life That to th' observer doth thy history Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings Are not thine own so proper as to waste Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee. Heaven doth with us as we with torches do, Not light them for themselves: for if our virtues Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd But to fine issues: nor nature never lends The smallest scruple of her excellence But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines Herself the glory of a creditor, Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech To one that can my part in him advertise; Hold, therefore, Angelo; In our remove be thou at full ourself: Mortality and mercy in Vienna Live in thy tongue and heart! Old Escalus, Though first in question, is thy secondary: Take thy commission.

ANGELO. Now, good my lord, Let there be some more test made of my metal, Before so noble and so great a figure Be stamped upon it.

DUKE. No more evasion: We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours. Our haste from hence is of so quick condition That it prefers itself, and leaves unquestion'd Matters of needful value. We shall write to you As time and our concernings shall importune, How it goes with us; and do look to know What doth befall you here. So, fare you well: To the hopeful execution do I leave you Of your commissions.

ANGELO. Yet give leave, my lord, That we may bring you something on the way.

DUKE. My haste may not admit it; Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do With any scruple: your scope is as mine own: So to enforce or qualify the laws As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand; I'll privily away: I love the people, But do not like to stage me to their eyes: Though it do well, I do not relish well Their loud applause and 'aves' vehement: Nor do I think the man of safe discretion That does affect it... Continue reading book >>

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