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Measure for Measure - Act 1, scene 3
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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workMeasure for Measure - Act 1, scene 3
Act 1, scene 3
The duke obtains the clothing of a friar in order to disguise himself and secretly observe the conduct of Angelo and the people of Vienna.Enter Duke and Friar Thomas.
0283 No, holy father, throw away that thought.
0284 Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
0285 Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
0286 To give me secret harbor hath a purpose
0287 5 More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
0288 Of burning youth.
FRIAR THOMAS 0289 May your Grace speak of it?
0290 My holy sir, none better knows than you
0291 How I have ever loved the life removed,
0292 10 And held in idle price to haunt assemblies
0293 Where youth and cost witless bravery keeps.
0294 I have delivered to Lord Angelo,
0295 A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
0296 My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
0297 15 And he supposes me traveled to Poland,
0298 For so I have strewed it in the common ear,
p. 270299 And so it is received. Now, pious sir,
0300 You will demand of me why I do this.
FRIAR THOMAS 0301 Gladly, my lord.
0302 20 We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
0303 The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
0304 Which for this fourteen years we have let slip,
0305 Even like an o’ergrown lion in a cave
0306 That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
0307 25 Having bound up the threat’ning twigs of birch
0308 Only to stick it in their children’s sight
0309 For terror, not to use—in time the rod
0310 More mocked than feared—so our decrees,
0311 Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,
0312 30 And liberty plucks justice by the nose,
0313 The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
0314 Goes all decorum.
FRIAR THOMAS 0315 It rested in your Grace
0316 To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased,
0317 35 And it in you more dreadful would have seemed
0318 Than in Lord Angelo.
DUKE 0319 I do fear, too dreadful.
0320 Sith ’twas my fault to give the people scope,
0321 ’Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
0322 40 For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done
0323 When evil deeds have their permissive pass
0324 And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my
0326 I have on Angelo imposed the office,
0327 45 Who may in th’ ambush of my name strike home,
0328 And yet my nature never in the fight
0329 To do in slander. And to behold his sway
0330 I will, as ’twere a brother of your order,
0331 Visit both prince and people. Therefore I prithee
0332 50 Supply me with the habit, and instruct me
0333 How I may formally in person bear
p. 290334 Like a true friar. More reasons for this action
0335 At our more leisure shall I render you.
0336 Only this one: Lord Angelo is precise,
0337 55 Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses
0338 That his blood flows or that his appetite
0339 Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,
0340 If power change purpose, what our seemers be.