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Measure for Measure Scenes

Scene 3

Another room in the prison.

(Pompey; Abhorson; Barnardine; Duke; Provost; Isabella; Lucio)


Pompey comments on how he already knows most of the prisoners, as they used to be clients at Mistress Overdone’s. Abhorson orders Pompey to bring out Barnardine for execution, but the prisoner absolutely refuses to be beheaded today. The Provost points out to the Duke that the pirate Ragozine died in prison earlier, and that he looks a lot like Claudio; the Duke quickly agrees that the corpse’s head should be chopped off and sent to Angelo instead. The duke plans to order Angelo to meet him at his public return, so that he can deal with him. Isabella arrives to find out whether her brother has been spared, but the Duke tells her he has been executed. She raves, but he consoles her, promising that the Duke will be returning soon, and telling her to accuse Angelo when he does so. Lucio passé by and tells Isabella he is sorry for Claudio’s death. Talking with the disguised Duke, he admits that he did indeed get a wench with child, but denied it to avoid having to marry her. (129 lines)

Enter Clown Pompey. POM.


I am as well acquainted here as I was in our house of profession. One would think it were Mistress Overdone’s own house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here’s young Master Rash, he’s in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds, of which he made five marks ready money. Marry, then ginger was not much in request, for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one Master Caper, at the suit of Master Three-pile the mercer, for some four suits of peach-color’d satin, which now peaches him a beggar. Then have we here young Dizzy, and young Master Deep-vow, and Master Copper-spur, and Master Starve-lackey the rapier and dagger man, and young Drop-heir that kill’d lusty Pudding, and Master Forthlight the tilter, and brave Master Shoe-tie the great traveler, and wild Half-can that stabb’d Pots, and I think forty more, all great doers in our trade, and are now “for the Lord’s sake.”

Enter Abhorson. ABHOR.


Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.


Master Barnardine! You must rise and be hang’d, Master Barnardine!


What ho, Barnardine!


Within. BAR.

A pox o’ your throats! Who makes that noise there? What are you?


Your friends, sir, the hangman. You must be so good, sir, to rise, and be put to death.


Within. BAR.

Away, you rogue, away! I am sleepy.


Tell him he must awake, and that quickly too.


Pray, Master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and sleep afterwards.


Go in to him, and fetch him out.


He is coming, sir, he is coming. I hear his straw rustle.

Enter Barnardine. BAR.


Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?


Very ready, sir.


How now, Abhorson? What’s the news with you?


Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers; for look you, the warrant’s come.


You rogue, I have been drinking all night, I am not fitted for’t.


O, the better, sir; for he that drinks all night, and is hang’d betimes in the morning, may sleep the sounder all the next day.

Enter Duke disguised as a friar. DUKE.


Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father. Do we jest now, think you?


Sir, induc’d by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with you.


Friar, not I; I have been drinking hard all night, and I will have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my brains with billets. I will not consent to die this day, that’s certain.


O sir, you must; and therefore I beseech you

Look forward on the journey you shall go.


I swear I will not die today for any man’s persuasion.


But hear you—


Not a word. If you have any thing to say to me, come to my ward; for thence will not I today.

Exit. BAR.

Enter Provost. PROV.


Unfit to live, or die; O gravel heart!

After him, fellows, bring him to the block.

Exeunt Abhorson and Pompey. ABHOR. POM.


Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?


A creature unprepar’d, unmeet for death;

And to transport him in the mind he is

Were damnable.


Here in the prison, father,

There died this morning of a cruel fever

One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate,

A man of Claudio’s years; his beard and head

Just of his color. What if we do omit

This reprobate till he were well inclin’d,

And satisfy the deputy with the visage

Of Ragozine, more like to Claudio?


O, ’tis an accident that heaven provides!

Dispatch it presently, the hour draws on

Prefix’d by Angelo. See this be done,

And sent according to command, whiles I

Persuade this rude wretch willingly to die.


This shall be done, good father, presently.

But Barnardine must die this afternoon;

And how shall we continue Claudio,

To save me from the danger that might come

If he were known alive?


Let this be done:

Put them in secret holds, both Barnardine and Claudio.

Ere twice the sun hath made his journal greeting

To yond generation, you shall find

Your safety manifested.


I am your free dependent.


Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo.

Exit Provost. PROV.

Now will I write letters to Angelo

(The Provost, he shall bear them), whose contents

Shall witness to him I am near at home;

And that by great injunctions I am bound

To enter publicly. Him I’ll desire

To meet me at the consecrated fount,

A league below the city; and from thence,

By cold gradation and well-balanc’d form,

We shall proceed with Angelo.

Enter Provost with Ragozine’s head. PROV.


Here is the head, I’ll carry it myself.


Convenient is it. Make a swift return,

For I would commune with you of such things

That want no ear but yours.


I’ll make all speed.

Exit. PROV.


Within. ISAB.

Peace, ho, be here!


The tongue of Isabel. She’s come to know

If yet her brother’s pardon be come hither.

But I will keep her ignorant of her good,

To make her heavenly comforts of despair,

When it is least expected.

Enter Isabella. ISAB.


Ho, by your leave!


Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter.


The better, given me by so holy a man.

Hath yet the deputy sent my brother’s pardon?


He hath releas’d him, Isabel, from the world,

His head is off, and sent to Angelo.


Nay, but it is not so.


It is no other.

Show your wisdom, daughter, in your close patience.


O, I will to him, and pluck out his eyes!


You shall not be admitted to his sight.


Unhappy Claudio! Wretched Isabel!

Injurious world! Most damned Angelo!


This nor hurts him, nor profits you a jot.

Forbear it therefore, give your cause to heaven.

Mark what I say, which you shall find

By every syllable a faithful verity.

The Duke comes home tomorrow—nay, dry your eyes—

One of our covent, and his confessor,

Gives me this instance: already he hath carried

Notice to Escalus and Angelo,

Who do prepare to meet him at the gates,

There to give up their pow’r. If you can pace your wisdom

In that good path that I would wish it go,

And you shall have your bosom on this wretch,

Grace of the Duke, revenges to your heart,

And general honor.


I am directed by you.


This letter then to Friar Peter give;

’Tis that he sent me of the Duke’s return.

Say, by this token, I desire his company

At Mariana’s house tonight. Her cause and yours

I’ll perfect him withal, and he shall bring you

Before the Duke; and to the head of Angelo

Accuse him home and home. For my poor self,

I am combined by a sacred vow,

And shall be absent. Wend you with this letter.

Command these fretting waters from your eyes

With a light heart; trust not my holy order

If I pervert your course. Who’s here?

Enter Lucio. LUCIO.


Good even. Friar, where’s the Provost?


Not within, sir.


O pretty Isabella, I am pale at mine heart to see thine eyes so red; thou must be patient. I am fain to dine and sup with water and bran; I dare not for my head fill my belly; one fruitful meal would set me to’t. But they say the Duke will be here tomorrow. By my troth, Isabel, I lov’d thy brother. If the old fantastical Duke of dark corners had been at home, he had liv’d.

Exit Isabella. ISAB.


Sir, the Duke is marvelous little beholding to your reports, but the best is, he lives not in them.


Friar, thou knowest not the Duke so well as I do; he’s a better woodman than thou tak’st him for.


Well; you’ll answer this one day. Fare ye well.


Nay, tarry, I’ll go along with thee. I can tell thee pretty tales of the Duke.


You have told me too many of him already, sir, if they be true; if not true, none were enough.


I was once before him for getting a wench with child.


Did you such a thing?


Yes, marry, did I; but I was fain to forswear it. They would else have married me to the rotten medlar.


Sir, your company is fairer than honest. Rest you well.


By my troth, I’ll go with thee to the lane’s end. If bawdy talk offend you, we’ll have very little of it. Nay, friar, I am a kind of bur, I shall stick.

Exeunt. DUKE. LUCIO.


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