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Measure for Measure

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ACT II SCENE I A hall In ANGELO's house. 
 Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, and a Justice, Provost, Officers, and other Attendants, behind. 
ANGELO We must not make a scarecrow of the law, 
 Setting it up to fear the birds of prey, 
 And let it keep one shape, till custom make it 
 Their perch and not their terror.
ESCALUS Ay, but yet 
 Let us be keen, and rather cut a little, 5 
 Than fall, and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman 
 Whom I would save, had a most noble father! 
 Let but your honour know,
 Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue, 
 That, in the working of your own affections, 
 Had time cohered with place or place with wishing, 
 Or that the resolute acting of your blood 12 
 Could have attain'd the effect of your own purpose,
 Whether you had not sometime in your life 
 Err'd in this point which now you censure him, 
 And pull'd the law upon you. 
ANGELO 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, 
 Another thing to fall. I not deny,
 The jury, passing on the prisoner's life, 
 May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two 
 Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice, 
 That justice seizes: what know the laws 22 
 That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
 The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't 
 Because we see it; but what we do not see 
 We tread upon, and never think of it. 
 You may not so extenuate his offence 
 For I have had such faults; but rather tell me, 28
 When I, that censure him, do so offend, 
 Let mine own judgment pattern out my death, 
 And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die. 
ESCALUS Be it as your wisdom will. 
ANGELO Where is the provost?
Provost Here, if it like your honour. 
ANGELO See that Claudio 
 Be executed by nine to-morrow morning: 
 Bring him his confessor, let him be prepared; 
 For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
 Exit Provost. 
ESCALUS Aside. Well, heaven forgive him, and forgive us all! 
 Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall: 
 Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none: 39 
 And some condemned for a fault alone. 
 Enter ELBOW, and Officers with FROTH and POMPEY. 
ELBOW Come, bring them away: if these be good people in 
 a commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses in
 common houses, I know no law: bring them away. 
ANGELO How now, sir! What's your name? and what's the matter? 
ELBOW If it Please your honour, I am the poor duke's 
 constable, and my name is Elbow: I do lean upon 47 
 justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good
 honour two notorious benefactors. 
ANGELO Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they? are 
 they not malefactors? 
ELBOW If it? please your honour, I know not well what they 
 are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure 54
 of; and void of all profanation in the world that 
 good Christians ought to have. 
ESCALUS This comes off well; here's a wise officer. 
ANGELO Go to: what quality are they of? Elbow is your 
 name? why dost thou not speak, Elbow?
POMPEY He cannot, sir; he's out at elbow. 60 
ANGELO What are you, sir? 
ELBOW He, sir! a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that 
 serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they 
 say, plucked down in the suburbs; and now she
 professes a hot-house, which, I think, is a very ill house too. 
ESCALUS How know you that? 
ELBOW My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,-- 
ESCALUS How? thy wife? 
ELBOW Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,--
ESCALUS Dost thou detest her therefore? 
ELBOW I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as 
 she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, 
 it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house. 
ESCALUS How dost thou know that, constable?
ELBOW Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman 
 cardinally given, might have been accused in 
 fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there. 
ESCALUS By the woman's means? 
ELBOW Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means: but as she
 spit in his face, so she defied him. 
POMPEY Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so. 
ELBOW Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable 
 man; prove it. 
ESCALUS Do you hear how he misplaces?
POMPEY Sir, she came in great with child; and longing, 
 saving your honour's reverence, for stewed prunes; 
 sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very 
 distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit-dish, a 

dish of some three-pence; your honours have seen

 such dishes; they are not China dishes, but very 91 
 good dishes,-- 
ESCALUS Go to, go to: no matter for the dish, sir. 
POMPEY No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in 
 the right: but to the point. As I say, this
 Mistress Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and 
 being great-bellied, and longing, as I said, for 
 prunes; and having but two in the dish, as I said, 
 Master Froth here, this very man, having eaten the 
 rest, as I said, and, as I say, paying for them very
 honestly; for, as you know, Master Froth, I could 
 not give you three-pence again. 
FROTH No, indeed. 
POMPEY Very well: you being then, if you be remembered, 
 cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes,--
FROTH Ay, so I did indeed. 
POMPEY Why, very well; I telling you then, if you be 
 remembered, that such a one and such a one were past 
 cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very 108 
 good diet, as I told you,--
FROTH All this is true. 
POMPEY Why, very well, then,-- 
ESCALUS Come, you are a tedious fool: to the purpose. What 
 was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to 
 complain of? Come me to what was done to her. 115
POMPEY Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet. 
ESCALUS No, sir, nor I mean it not. 
POMPEY Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's 
 leave. And, I beseech you, look into Master Froth 
 here, sir; a man of four-score pound a year; whose
 father died at Hallowmas: was't not at Hallowmas, 
 Master Froth? 
FROTH All-hallond eve. 
POMPEY Why, very well; I hope here be truths. He, sir, 
 sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir; 'twas in 123
 the Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight 
 to sit, have you not? 
FROTH I have so; because it is an open room and good for winter. 
POMPEY Why, very well, then; I hope here be truths. 
ANGELO This will last out a night in Russia,
 When nights are longest there: I'll take my leave. 
 And leave you to the hearing of the cause; 
 Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all. 
ESCALUS I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship. 
 Now, sir, come on: what was done to Elbow's wife, once more?
POMPEY Once, sir? there was nothing done to her once. 
ELBOW I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to my wife. 
POMPEY I beseech your honour, ask me. 
ESCALUS Well, sir; what did this gentleman to her? 
POMPEY I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.
 Good Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a 
 good purpose. Doth your honour mark his face? 
ESCALUS Ay, sir, very well. 
POMPEY Nay; I beseech you, mark it well. 
ESCALUS Well, I do so.
POMPEY Doth your honour see any harm in his face? 
ESCALUS Why, no. 
POMPEY I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the worst 149 
 thing about him. Good, then; if his face be the 
 worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do the
 constable's wife any harm? I would know that of 
 your honour. 
ESCALUS He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it? 
ELBOW First, an it like you, the house is a respected 
 house; next, this is a respected fellow; and his
 mistress is a respected woman. 
POMPEY By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected 
 person than any of us all. 
ELBOW Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet! the 
 time has yet to come that she was ever respected
 with man, woman, or child. 
POMPEY Sir, she was respected with him before he married with her. 
ESCALUS Which is the wiser here? Justice or Iniquity? Is 165 
 this true? 
ELBOW O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked
 Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married 
 to her! If ever I was respected with her, or she 
 with me, let not your worship think me the poor 
 duke's officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or 
 I'll have mine action of battery on thee.
ESCALUS If he took you a box o' the ear, you might have your 
 action of slander too. 
ELBOW Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What is't 
 your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked caitiff? 
ESCALUS Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in him 175
 that thou wouldst discover if thou couldst, let him 
 continue in his courses till thou knowest what they 
ELBOW Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest, thou 
 wicked varlet, now, what's come upon thee: thou art
 to continue now, thou varlet; thou art to continue. 182 
ESCALUS Where were you born, friend? 
FROTH Here in Vienna, sir. 
ESCALUS Are you of fourscore pounds a year? 
FROTH Yes, an't please you, sir.
ESCALUS So. What trade are you of, sir? 
POMPHEY Tapster; a poor widow's tapster. 
ESCALUS Your mistress' name? 
POMPHEY Mistress Overdone. 
ESCALUS Hath she had any more than one husband?
POMPEY Nine, sir; Overdone by the last. 
ESCALUS Nine! Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master 
 Froth, I would not have you acquainted with 
 tapsters: they will draw you, Master Froth, and you 196 
 will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no
 more of you. 
FROTH I thank your worship. For mine own part, I never 
 come into any room in a tap-house, but I am drawn 
ESCALUS Well, no more of it, Master Froth: farewell.
 Exit FROTH. 
 Come you hither to me, Master tapster. What's your 
 name, Master tapster? 
POMPEY Pompey. 203 
ESCALUS What else? 
POMPEY Bum, sir.
ESCALUS Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about you; 
 so that in the beastliest sense you are Pompey the 
 Great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd, Pompey, 203 
 howsoever you colour it in being a tapster, are you 
 not? come, tell me true: it shall be the better for you.
POMPEY Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live. 
ESCALUS How would you live, Pompey? by being a bawd? What 
 do you think of the trade, Pompey? is it a lawful trade? 
POMPEY If the law would allow it, sir. 
ESCALUS But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it shall
 not be allowed in Vienna. 
POMPEY Does your worship mean to geld and spay all the 218 
 youth of the city? 
ESCALUS No, Pompey. 
POMPEY Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then.
 If your worship will take order for the drabs and 
 the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds. 
ESCALUS There are pretty orders beginning, I can tell you: 
 it is but heading and hanging. 
POMPEY If you head and hang all that offend that way but
 for ten year together, you'll be glad to give out a 
 commission for more heads: if this law hold in 
 Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest house in it 
 after three-pence a bay: if you live to see this 229 
 come to pass, say Pompey told you so.
ESCALUS Thank you, good Pompey; and, in requital of your 
 prophecy, hark you: I advise you, let me not find 
 you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever; 
 no, not for dwelling where you do: if I do, Pompey, 
 I shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd
 Caesar to you; in plain dealing, Pompey, I shall 
 have you whipt: so, for this time, Pompey, fare you well. 
POMPEY I thank your worship for your good counsel. 
 but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall 
 better determine.
 Whip me? No, no; let carman whip his jade: 
 The valiant heart is not whipt out of his trade. 
ESCALUS Come hither to me, Master Elbow; come hither, Master 
 constable. How long have you been in this place of constable? 
ELBOW Seven year and a half, sir.
ESCALUS I thought, by your readiness in the office, you had 247 
 continued in it some time. You say, seven years together? 
ELBOW And a half, sir. 
ESCALUS Alas, it hath been great pains to you. They do you 
 wrong to put you so oft upon 't: are there not men
 in your ward sufficient to serve it? 
ELBOW Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters: as they 
 are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them; I 
 do it for some piece of money, and go through with 
ESCALUS Look you bring me in the names of some six or seven, 
 the most sufficient of your parish. 
ELBOW To your worship's house, sir? 
ESCALUS To my house. Fare you well. 
 Exit ELBOW. 
 What's o'clock, think you?
Justice Eleven, sir. 262 
ESCALUS I pray you home to dinner with me. 
Justice I humbly thank you. 
ESCALUS It grieves me for the death of Claudio; 
 But there's no remedy.
Justice Lord Angelo is severe. 
ESCALUS It is but needful: 
 Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so; 
 Pardon is still the nurse of second woe: 
 But yet,--poor Claudio! There is no remedy.
 Come, sir. 


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1

From Measure for Measure. Ed. William J. Rolfe. New York: Harper & Brothers., 1899.

2. Fear. Affright; as in T. of S. i. 2. 211: "Tush, tush! fear boys with bugs." Cf. K, John, p. 147.
6. F'all. Generally explained as transitive; as in A, Y. L, iii. 5. 5:

"The common executioner,
Whose heart the accustom'd sight of death makes hard
Falls not the axe," etc.

It may, however, be intransitive, as J. H. makes it: "Escalus desires that Angelo and he should act as keen instruments and cut a little, rather than fall as heavy weights on an offender and crush him to death."
8. Know. Reflect, consider.
12. Blood. Animal passion; as in ii. 4. 15, 178, and v. i. 468 below. Cf. also Much Ado, p. 131, note on Faith melteth into blood.
15. Which. In which. See on i. 4. 27 above. Hanmer reads "point you censure now in him," Capell "censure him for," and W. "where now."
18. I not deny. The transposition of not is common. Cf. Temp, ii. I. 121, V. 1. 38, 1 13, 303, etc Gr. 305.
22. What knows the law, etc. The folio reads "What knowes the Lawes," and some modern eds. give "What know the laws." Malone paraphrases the passage thus: "How can the administrators of the laws take cognizance of what I have just mentioned? How can they know whether the jurymen, who decide on the life or death of thieves, be themselves as criminal as those whom they try?" Pass on is of course used in the same sense as in 19 just above.
23. Pregnant. Full of probability, evident. Cf. Cymb, p. 209, and see also Lear p. 198.
28. For I have had. Because I have had, on the ground that I have had. See M. of V. p. 134, note on For he is a Christian, Gr. 150, 151.
29. Censure. Judge, sentence. See on i. 4. 72 above.
31. And nothing come in partial. And no partiality be urged or allowed.
39. Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none. The folio reads: "Some run from brakes of Ice, and answere none." Rowe gave "through brakes of vice;" and Malone, followed by most of the more recent editors, adopted the vice. This seems on the whole the simplest and best emendation, where none is quite satisfactory. Brakes of vice, if it be what S. wrote, must mean thickets of vice, with perhaps the double idea of a complication of vices — many vices, as opposed to the single fault of the next line — and that of thorny entanglements out of which escape would seem difficult. Steevens at first was inclined to read "breaks of ice," and explain the passage "some run away from danger, and stay to answer none of their faults;" but afterwards adopted brakes of vice, taking brakes to mean "engines of torture," as in Holinshed and other writers of the time. See also Dr. Ingleby's Shakes. Hermeneutics, p. 145.
47. The poor duke's constable. Cf, Much Ado, iii. 5. 22 (Dogberry's speech): "the poor duke's officers."
54. Precise villains. He means of course that they are precisely or literally villains; but, as Clarke notes, the word gives the impression of "strict, severely moral," as in i. 3. 50 above: "Lord Angelo is precise."
55. Profanation. A blunder for profession.
57. This comes off well. Johnson makes this = "this is nimbly spoken, this is volubly uttered;" but it seems rather to mean (ironically, of course) this is well told. Cf. T. of A. i.I. 29: "this comes off well and excellent" (=this is well done).
60. Out at elbow. "A hit at the constable's threadbare coat, and at his being startled and put out by Angelo's peremptory repetition of his name" (Clarke). Cf. A. Y. L. iv. i. 76: "Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit," etc.
62. Parcel-bawd. Part bawd. Cf. parcel-gilt in 2 Hen, IV. ii. I. 94, and see our ed. p. 161.
64. Hot-house. Bagnio, or bathing-house.
67. Detest. Mrs. Quickly makes the same blunder in M. W. i. 4. 160: "but, I detest, an honest maid as ever broke bread."
88. Stewed prunes. A favourite dish in such houses. Cf. M. W. i. I. 296, I Hen. IV. iii. 3. 128, and 2 Hen. IV. ii. 4. 159.
91. China dishes. These, though not rare in the poet's day, were so costly that it was superfluous to say that they would not be found in common use in a house like Mistress Overdone's.
103. If you be remembered. If you recollect. Cf. A. Y. L. p. 184.
108. Wot. Know; used only in the present tense and the participle, for which see W. T. iii. 2. 77.
114. Come me. The me is probably the "dativus ethicus," as in i. 2. 156 above and iv. 2. 6 below; but W. prefers to read "Come we."
123. A lower chair. That is, an easy-chair.
The Bunch of Grapes. It was the custom in the time of S., and long after, to give names to particular rooms in taverns. See i Hen, IV. p. 164, note on The Half-Moon.
126. An open room and good for winter. The confusion of ideas is sufficiently characteristic of the speaker, but some of the critics have tried to make the passage logical. Talbot makes the preposterous suggestion that open is "perhaps from the same root as oven, a warm room;" and the Coll. MS. substitutes "windows" for winter.
129. Russia. Metrically a trisyllable.
149. Supposed. "He means deposed" (Malone).
155. An it like you. If it please you. Cf. Hen. V. iii. prol. 32: "The offer likes not," etc. Gr. 297.
165. Justice or Iniquity. "That is, the constable or the fool. Escalus calls the latter Iniquity in allusion to the old Vice a familiar character in the ancient moralities and dumb-shows" (Ritson). Cf. i Hen, IV. ii. 4. 499: "that reverend vice, that grey iniquity ;" Rich. III. iii. i. 82: "like the formal Vice, Iniquity," etc. See also T. N, p. 159.
168. Hannibal. "Mistaken by the constable for cannibal" (Johnson). Cf. 2 Hen. IV. u. 4. 180 (Pistol's speech): "Compare with Caesars and with Cannibals."
182. Thou art to continue. Elbow evidently takes the "continue" of Escalus to refer to some penalty or other.
196. Draw you. "Draw has here a cluster of senses. As it refers to the tapster, it signifies to drain, to empty; as it is related to hang it means to be conveyed to execution on a hurdle. In Froth's answer, it is the same as to bring along by some motive or power" (Johnson). For the play upon drawing and hangings cf Much Ado, iii. 2. 22 and K. John ii. i. 504.
199. Drawn in. That is, taken in, swindled.
203. Pompey. As he is called Thomas in i. 2. 104, Clarke suggests that Pompey was a name given him by waggish customers and adopted by himself; but it is quite as likely that the Thomas was the nickname. See on i. 2. 104 above.
206. The greatest thing about you. Probably an allusion to the enormous breeches then worn.
218. Spay. The folios have "splay," which some take to be an old form of the word.
229. Day. The folios have "bay;" corrected by Pope. Some retain "bay" because it was an architectural term for a division of a building; but, as W. asks, "threepence a bay for how long?" After = at the rate of.
235. Shrewd. Mischievous, evil. See J. C, p. 145, or Hen. VIII. p. 202.
239. But I shall follow it, etc. St. was the first to mark this as Aside.
241. Jade. A common term for a worthless nag. See Hen. V. p. 170.
247. Your readiness. The folios have "the" for your (doubtless from confounding y(r) and y(e) in the MS.); corrected by Pope.
Though Elbow says seven year and Escalus seven years, it must not be supposed that the former is a vulgarism. Cf. Temp. i. 2. 53: "Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since," etc. See Matzner, Eng. Gram. vol. j. pp. 230, 240.
262. Eleven, sir. Harrison, in his Description of England (p. 166 of Mr. Furnivall's ed.), says: "With vs the nobilitie, gentrie, and students, doo ordinarilie go to dinner at eleuen before noone, and to supper at fine, or betweene fine and six at afternoone. The merchants dine and sup seldome before twelue at noone, and six at night especiallie in London. The husbandmen dine also at high noone as they call it, and sup at seuen or eight: but out of the tearme in our vniuersities the scholers dine at ten."

Measure for Measure, Act 2, Scene 2


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