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Home > Measure for Measure > ACT II - SCENE I. A hall In ANGELO's house.

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ACT II - SCENE I. A hall In ANGELO's house.
ANGELO
1    We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
2    Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
3    And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
4    Their perch and not their terror.
ESCALUS
5    Ay, but yet
6    Let us be keen, and rather cut a little,
7    Than fall, and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman
8    Whom I would save, had a most noble father!
9    Let but your honour know,
10   Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,
11   That, in the working of your own affections,
12   Had time cohered with place or place with wishing,
13   Or that the resolute acting of your blood
14   Could have attain'd the effect of your own purpose,
15   Whether you had not sometime in your life
16   Err'd in this point which now you censure him,
17   And pull'd the law upon you.
ANGELO
18   'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
19   Another thing to fall. I not deny,
20   The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
21   May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
22   Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice,
23   That justice seizes: what know the laws
24   That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
25   The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't
26   Because we see it; but what we do not see
27   We tread upon, and never think of it.
28   You may not so extenuate his offence
29   For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
30   When I, that censure him, do so offend,
31   Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
32   And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
ESCALUS
33   Be it as your wisdom will.
ANGELO
34   Where is the provost?
Provost
35   Here, if it like your honour.
ANGELO
36   See that Claudio
37   Be executed by nine to-morrow morning:
38   Bring him his confessor, let him be prepared;
39   For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
Exit Provost

ESCALUS
Aside
40    Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all!
41   Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:
42   Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none:
43   And some condemned for a fault alone.
Enter ELBOW, and Officers with FROTH and POMPEY

ELBOW
44   Come, bring them away: if these be good people in
45   a commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses in
46   common houses, I know no law: bring them away.
ANGELO
47   How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter?
ELBOW
48   If it Please your honour, I am the poor duke's
49   constable, and my name is Elbow: I do lean upon
50   justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good
51   honour two notorious benefactors.
ANGELO
52   Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they? are
53   they not malefactors?
ELBOW
54   If it? please your honour, I know not well what they
55   are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure
56   of; and void of all profanation in the world that
57   good Christians ought to have.
ESCALUS
58   This comes off well; here's a wise officer.
ANGELO
59   Go to: what quality are they of? Elbow is your
60   name? why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
POMPEY
61   He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow.
ANGELO
62   What are you, sir?
ELBOW
63   He, sir! a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that
64   serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they
65   say, plucked down in the suburbs; and now she
66   professes a hot-house, which, I think, is a very ill house too.
ESCALUS
67   How know you that?
ELBOW
68   My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,--
ESCALUS
69   How? thy wife?
ELBOW
70   Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,--
ESCALUS
71   Dost thou detest her therefore?
ELBOW
72   I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as
73   she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house,
74   it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.
ESCALUS
75   How dost thou know that, constable?
ELBOW
76   Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman
77   cardinally given, might have been accused in
78   fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
ESCALUS
79   By the woman's means?
ELBOW
80   Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means: but as she
81   spit in his face, so she defied him.
POMPEY
82   Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
ELBOW
83   Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable
84   man; prove it.
ESCALUS
85   Do you hear how he misplaces?
POMPEY
86   Sir, she came in great with child; and longing,
87   saving your honour's reverence, for stewed prunes;
88   sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very
89   distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a
90   dish of some three-pence; your honours have seen
91   such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very
92   good dishes,--
ESCALUS
93   Go to, go to: no matter for the dish, sir.
POMPEY
94   No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in
95   the right: but to the point. As I say, this
96   Mistress Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and
97   being great-bellied, and longing, as I said, for
98   prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said,
99   Master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the
100  rest, as I said, and, as I say, paying for them very
101  honestly; for, as you know, Master Froth, I could
102  not give you three-pence again.
FROTH
103  No, indeed.
POMPEY
104  Very well: you being then, if you be remembered,
105  cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes,--
FROTH
106  Ay, so I did indeed.
POMPEY
107  Why, very well; I telling you then, if you be
108  remembered, that such a one and such a one were past
109  cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very
110  good diet, as I told you,--
FROTH
111  All this is true.
POMPEY
112  Why, very well, then,--
ESCALUS
113  Come, you are a tedious fool: to the purpose. What
114  was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to
115  complain of? Come me to what was done to her.
POMPEY
116  Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.
ESCALUS
117  No, sir, nor I mean it not.
POMPEY
118  Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's
119  leave. And, I beseech you, look into Master Froth
120  here, sir; a man of four-score pound a year; whose
121  father died at Hallowmas: was't not at Hallowmas,
122  Master Froth?
FROTH
123  All-hallond eve.
POMPEY
124  Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir,
125  sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir; 'twas in
126  the Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight
127  to sit, have you not?
FROTH
128  I have so; because it is an open room and good for winter.
POMPEY
129  Why, very well, then; I hope here be truths.
ANGELO
130  This will last out a night in Russia,
131  When nights are longest there: I'll take my leave.
132  And leave you to the hearing of the cause;
133  Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.
ESCALUS
134  I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
Exit ANGELO
135  Now, sir, come on: what was done to Elbow's wife, once more?
POMPEY
136  Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once.
ELBOW
137  I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife.
POMPEY
138  I beseech your honour, ask me.
ESCALUS
139  Well, sir; what did this gentleman to her?
POMPEY
140  I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.
141  Good Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a
142  good purpose. Doth your honour mark his face?
ESCALUS
143  Ay, sir, very well.
POMPEY
144  Nay; I beseech you, mark it well.
ESCALUS
145  Well, I do so.
POMPEY
146  Doth your honour see any harm in his face?
ESCALUS
147  Why, no.
POMPEY
148  I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the worst
149  thing about him. Good, then; if his face be the
150  worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do the
151  constable's wife any harm? I would know that of
152  your honour.
ESCALUS
153  He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?
ELBOW
154  First, an it like you, the house is a respected
155  house; next, this is a respected fellow; and his
156  mistress is a respected woman.
POMPEY
157  By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected
158  person than any of us all.
ELBOW
159  Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet! the
160  time has yet to come that she was ever respected
161  with man, woman, or child.
POMPEY
162  Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her.
ESCALUS
163  Which is the wiser here? Justice or Iniquity? Is
164  this true?
ELBOW
165  O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked
166  Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married
167  to her! If ever I was respected with her, or she
168  with me, let not your worship think me the poor
169  duke's officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or
170  I'll have mine action of battery on thee.
ESCALUS
171  If he took you a box o' the ear, you might have your
172  action of slander too.
ELBOW
173  Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't
174  your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff?
ESCALUS
175  Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him
176  that thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him
177  continue in his courses till thou knowest what they
178  are.
ELBOW
179  Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou
180  wicked varlet, now, what's come upon thee: thou art
181  to continue now, thou varlet; thou art to continue.
ESCALUS
182  Where were you born, friend?
FROTH
183  Here in Vienna, sir.
ESCALUS
184  Are you of fourscore pounds a year?
FROTH
185  Yes, an't please you, sir.
ESCALUS
186  So. What trade are you of, sir?
POMPHEY
187  Tapster; a poor widow's tapster.
ESCALUS
188  Your mistress' name?
POMPHEY
189  Mistress Overdone.
ESCALUS
190  Hath she had any more than one husband?
POMPEY
191  Nine, sir; Overdone by the last.
ESCALUS
192  Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master
193  Froth, I would not have you acquainted with
194  tapsters: they will draw you, Master Froth, and you
195  will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no
196  more of you.
FROTH
197  I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never
198  come into any room in a tap-house, but I am drawn
199  in.
ESCALUS
200  Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell.
Exit FROTH
201  Come you hither to me, Master tapster. What's your
202  name, Master tapster?
POMPEY
203  Pompey.
ESCALUS
204  What else?
POMPEY
205  Bum, sir.
ESCALUS
206  Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you;
207  so that in the beastliest sense you are Pompey the
208  Great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd, Pompey,
209  howsoever you colour it in being a tapster, are you
210  not? come, tell me true: it shall be the better for you.
POMPEY
211  Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
ESCALUS
212  How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What
213  do you think of the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade?
POMPEY
214  If the law would allow it, sir.
ESCALUS
215  But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall
216  not be allowed in Vienna.
POMPEY
217  Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the
218  youth of the city?
ESCALUS
219  No, Pompey.
POMPEY
220  Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then.
221  If your worship will take order for the drabs and
222  the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds.
ESCALUS
223  There are pretty orders beginning, I can tell you:
224  it is but heading and hanging.
POMPEY
225  If you head and hang all that offend that way but
226  for ten year together, you'll be glad to give out a
227  commission for more heads: if this law hold in
228  Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest house in it
229  after three-pence a bay: if you live to see this
230  come to pass, say Pompey told you so.
ESCALUS
231  Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your
232  prophecy, hark you: I advise you, let me not find
233  you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever;
234  no, not for dwelling where you do: if I do, Pompey,
235  I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd
236  Caesar to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall
237  have you whipt: so, for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
POMPEY
238  I thank your worship for your good counsel:
Aside
239  but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall
240  better determine.
241  Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade:
242  The valiant heart is not whipt out of his trade.
Exit

ESCALUS
243  Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master
244  constable. How long have you been in this place of constable?
ELBOW
245  Seven year and a half, sir.
ESCALUS
246  I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had
247  continued in it some time. You say, seven years together?
ELBOW
248  And a half, sir.
ESCALUS
249  Alas, it hath been great pains to you. They do you
250  wrong to put you so oft upon 't: are there not men
251  in your ward sufficient to serve it?
ELBOW
252  Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters: as they
253  are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I
254  do it for some piece of money, and go through with
255  all.
ESCALUS
256  Look you bring me in the names of some six or seven,
257  the most sufficient of your parish.
ELBOW
258  To your worship's house, sir?
ESCALUS
259  To my house. Fare you well.
Exit ELBOW
260  What's o'clock, think you?
Justice
261  Eleven, sir.
ESCALUS
262  I pray you home to dinner with me.
Justice
263  I humbly thank you.
ESCALUS
264  It grieves me for the death of Claudio;
265  But there's no remedy.
Justice
266  Lord Angelo is severe.
ESCALUS
267  It is but needful:
268  Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so;
269  Pardon is still the nurse of second woe:
270  But yet,--poor Claudio! There is no remedy.
271  Come, sir.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT I, SCENE IVACT II, SCENE II (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I

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