Measure for Measure

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Provost and Pompey


Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man's



If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a

married man, he's his wife's head, and I can never cut

off a woman's head.


Come, sir, leave me your snatches, and yield
snatch (n.) 4 quibble, equivocation, nitpicking

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
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

will take it on you to assist him, it shall redeem you

from your gyves; if not, you shall have your full time
gyve (n.) 1 (plural) fetters, shackles

of imprisonment, and your deliverance with an
unpitied (adj.) pitiless, ruthless, unmerciful

unpitied whipping, for you have been a notorious bawd.
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count


Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of

mind, but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman.
content (adj.) 1 agreeable, willing, ready See Topics: Frequency count

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?


Sirrah, here's a fellow will help you tomorrow

in your execution. If you think it meet, compound with
compound (v.) 2 come to terms, reach an agreement

him by the year, and let him abide here with you; if

not, use him for the present and dismiss him. He cannnot

plead his estimation with you. He hath been a bawd.
estimation (n.) 1 esteem, respect, reputation


A bawd, sir? Fie upon him, he will discredit

our mystery.
mystery (n.) 1 trade, office, occupation


Go to, sir, you weigh equally. A feather will
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count

turn the scale.



Pray, sir, by your good favour – for surely, sir, a

good favour you have, but that you have a hanging
favour (n.) 1 [facial] appearance, countenance, features, looks
hanging (adj.) gloomy, morose, melancholy

look – do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?


Ay, sir, a mystery.


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

hanged, I cannot imagine.


Sir, it is a mystery.




Every true man's apparel fits your thief. If it
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count
true (adj.) 4 honest, upright, law-abiding

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?


Sir, I will serve him, for I do find your hangman

is a more penitent trade than your bawd. He doth
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count

oftener ask forgiveness.


You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe

tomorrow four o'clock.


Come, on, bawd. I will instruct thee in my

trade. Follow!


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
yare (adj.) 2 quick, deft, adept



Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.

Exeunt Pompey and Abhorson

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?


As fast locked up in sleep as guiltless labour

When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones.
starkly (adv.) stiffly, rigidly, set fast

He will not wake.


                         Who can do good on him?

Well, go, prepare yourself.


                         But hark, what noise?

Heaven give your spirits comfort.

Exit Claudio
by and by (adv.) 1 immediately, straightaway, directly

                         By and by.

I hope it is some pardon or reprieve

For the most gentle Claudio.

Enter Duke as a friar
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

                         Welcome, father.


The best and wholesom'st spirts of the night
wholesome (adj.) 6 good for the health, health-giving, salubrious

Envelop you, good provost. Who called here of late?
late, of recently, a little while ago


None since the curfew rung.
curfew (n.) evening bell


Not Isabel?




                                                         They will then, ere't be long.


What comfort is for Claudio?


There's some in hope.


                         It is a bitter deputy.


Not so, not so; his life is paralleled

Even with the stroke and line of his great justice.

He doth with holy abstinence subdue

That in himself which he spurs on his power
power (n.) 3 authority, government

To qualify in others. Were he mealed with that
meal (v.) stain, spot, blemish
qualify (v.) 1 moderate, weaken, diminish

Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous,

But this being so, he's just.


                         Now are they come.

Exit Provost

This is a gentle provost; seldom when
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

The steeled gaoler is the friend of men.
steeled (adj.) 3 hardened, inflexible, callous


How now? What noise? That spirit's possessed with haste

That wounds th' unsisting postern with these strokes.
postern (n.) entrance, side gate, back door
unsisting (adj.) [unclear meaning] unassisting; or: unshifting

Enter Provost


There he must stay until the officer

Arise to let him in. He is called up.


Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
countermand (n.) contrary command, revoking order

But he must die tomorrow?


                         None, sir, none.


As near the dawning, provost, as it is,
dawning (n.) dawn, daybreak, early morning See Topics: Greetings

You shall hear more ere morning.
happily (adv.) 1 perhaps, by chance, maybe



You something know, yet I believe there comes

No countermand; no such example have we.

Besides, upon the very siege of justice,
siege (n.) 3 seat, chair, place

Lord Angelo hath to the public ear

Professed the contrary.
profess (v.) 1 declare, avow, affirm

Enter a Messenger


This is his lordship's man.


And here comes Claudio's pardon.


My lord hath sent you this note, and by me

this further charge: that you swerve not from the smallest
charge (n.) 4 commission, responsibility, official duty

article of it, neither in time, matter, or other circumstance.

Good morrow; for, as I take it, it is almost day.
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


I shall obey him.

Exit Messenger



This is his pardon, purchased by such sin

For which the pardoner himself is in:

Hence hath offence his quick celerity,
celerity (n.) alacrity, rapidity, swiftness

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.
fault (n.) 1 sin, offence, crime

Now, sir, what news?


I told you. Lord Angelo, belike thinking me remiss
belike (adv.) probably, presumably, perhaps, so it seems See Topics: Frequency count
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted
unwonted (adj.) unusual, unaccustomed, abnormal

putting on – methinks strangely, for he hath not used
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count
putting on (n.) instigation, prompting, urging

it before.


Pray you, let's hear.


(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 performed, with a thought that more depends on it

than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not to do your office,
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

as you will answer it at your peril.
answer (v.) 4 suffer the consequences [for], be accountable [for]

What say you to this, sir?


What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in

th' afternoon?


A Bohemian born, but here nursed up and

bred. One that is a prisoner nine years old.


How came it that the absent Duke had not either

delivered him to his liberty or executed him? I have

heard it was ever his manner to do so.


His friends still wrought reprieves for him;
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count
work (v.), past form wrought 9 work for, plan, try to arrange

and, indeed, his fact, till now in the government of Lord
fact (n.) evil deed, wicked act, crime
government (n.) 1 control, charge, management

Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
undoubtful (adj.) certain, positive, definite


It is now apparent?


Most manifest, and not denied by himself.


Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How

seems he to be touched?
touch (v.) 3 affect, move, stir


A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully
apprehend (v.) 3 be apprehensive about, fear
dreadfully (adv.) with dread, in great fear

but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and

fearless of what's past, present, or to come; insensible

of mortality, and desperately mortal.
desperately (adv.) 2 despairingly, in a state of hopelessness
mortal (adj.) 2 human, subject to death, characterized by mortality


He wants advice.
want (v.) 4 require, demand, need


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 awaked him, as if to
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

carry him to execution, and showed him a seeming
seeming (adj.) apparent, convincing in appearance

warrant for it. It hath not moved him at all.


More of him anon. There is written in your brow,
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

provost, honesty and constancy. If I read it not truly,
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

my ancient skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my
boldness (n.) confidence, assurance, certainty

cunning I will lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom
cunning (n.) 2 knowledge, awareness, discernment
hazard, in in peril, at risk

here you have warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit

to the law than Angelo who hath sentenced him. To make

you understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but
effect (n.) 1 result, end, outcome, fulfilment
manifested (adj.) plain, apparent, unmistakeable

four days' respite, for the which you are to do me both a
crave (v.) 1 beg, entreat, request See Topics: Frequency count
respite (n.) 1 extent of time, time-scale

present and a dangerous courtesy.


Pray, sir, in what?


In the delaying death.


Alack, how may I do it, having the hour limited,
limited (adj.) 1 appointed, designated, nominated

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.
cross (v.) 2 contradict, challenge, go against


By the vow of mine order I warrant you, if my
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

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
discover (v.) 2 recognize, distinguish, discern

the favour.
favour (n.) 1 [facial] appearance, countenance, features, looks


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 bared before his death. You
bare (v.) shave, trim

know the course is common. If anything fall to you
course (n.) 2 habit, custom, practise, normal procedure

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.
substitute (n.) subordinate, deputy, underling


You will think you have made no offence if the

Duke avouch the justice of your dealing?
avouch (v.) 2 justify, warrant, defend


But what likelihood is in that?


Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see
resemblance (n.) likelihood, probability, uncertain prospect

you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor
coat (n.) 3 monk's habit, clerical garb
fearful (adj.) 1 timid, timorous, frightened, full of fear

persuasion can with ease attempt you, I will go further than
attempt (v.) 3 tempt, persuade, win over

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
character (n.) 3 handwriting, style of writing, lettering



I know them both.


The contents of this is the return of the Duke. You

shall anon over-read it at your pleasure, where you shall
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

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
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count
strange (adj.) 5 unfamiliar, unknown, not previously experienced

death, perchance entering into some monastery, but by

chance nothing of what is writ. Look, th' unfolding star
unfolding (adj.) rising, morning [telling the shepherd that it is time to release his sheep from the fold]

calls up the shepherd. Put not yourself into amazement
amazement (n.) 2 bewilderment, perplexity, distraction

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
shrift (n.) 1 confession

amazed, but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come
amazed (adj.) dumbfounded, stunned, thunderstruck, overwhelmed
resolve (v.) 2 satisfy, free from doubt

away, it is almost clear dawn.

Exit with Provost

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