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Measure for Measure

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ACT IV SCENE IV A room in ANGELO's house. 
ESCALUS Every letter he hath writ hath disvouched other. 
ANGELO In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions 
 show much like to madness: pray heaven his wisdom be 
 not tainted! And why meet him at the gates, and
 redeliver our authorities there 
ESCALUS I guess not. 
ANGELO And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his 
 entering, that if any crave redress of injustice, 
 they should exhibit their petitions in the street? 9
ESCALUS He shows his reason for that: to have a dispatch of 
 complaints, and to deliver us from devices 
 hereafter, which shall then have no power to stand 
 against us. 
ANGELO Well, I beseech you, let it be proclaimed betimes
 i' the morn; I'll call you at your house: give 
 notice to such men of sort and suit as are to meet 
ESCALUS I shall, sir. Fare you well. 
ANGELO Good night.
 This deed unshapes me quite, makes me unpregnant 
 And dull to all proceedings. A deflower'd maid! 
 And by an eminent body that enforc'd 20 
 The law against it! But that her tender shame 
 Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
 How might she tongue me! Yet reason dares her no; 
 For my authority bears of a credent bulk, 
 That no particular scandal once can touch 
 But it confounds the breather. He should have lived, 
 Save that riotous youth, with dangerous sense,
 Might in the times to come have ta'en revenge, 
 By so receiving a dishonour'd life 
 With ransom of such shame. Would yet he had lived! 30 
 A lack, when once our grace we have forgot, 
 Nothing goes right: we would, and we would not.


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 4

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

1. Hath disvouched other. Has contradicted the others.
5. Redeliver. The 1st folio has "re-liuer," the later folios "deliver." Redeliver is due to Capell.
7. And why should we, etc "It is the conscious guilt of Angelo that prompts this question. The reply of Escalus is such as arises from an undisturbed mmd, that only considers the mysterious conduct of the duke in a political point of view" (Steevens).
15. Of sort and suit. Of rank (cf. Hen. V. p. 181, note on Great sort) and such as owe attendance. By feudal law, all vassals were bound to be ready at all times to attend and serve their lord; or, as the expression was, they owed him "suit and service."
18. Unpregnant. Unready, unapt for business. Cf. Ham. ii. 2. 595: "unpregnant of my cause;" and see our ed. p. 213. Cf. also the use of pregnant in i. I. II above.
23. Tongue. For the verb, cf. Cymb. v. 4. 148:

"such stuff as madmen
Tongue and brain not."

Dares her no. "Bids her not dare to do it" (Clarke), or admonishes her not to do it. For the use of no, a writer in the Monthly Review compares B. and F., The Chances, iii. 4: "I wear a sword to satisfy the world no" (that it is not so); and A Wife for a Month iv.: "I am sure he did not, for I charg'd him no" (not to do it). Schmidt thinks the meaning may be "defies her denial of my assertions." Pope omits no; Hanmer reads "dares her: no;" Capell "dares her? no;" and W. "dares her on" (the conjecture of Becket).

Measure for Measure, Act 4, Scene 5


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