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Measure for Measure - Act 1, scene 4
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Navigate this workMeasure for Measure - Act 1, scene 4
Act 1, scene 4
Lucio persuades Isabella to intercede with Angelo.Enter Isabella and Francisca, a Nun.
0341 And have you nuns no farther privileges?
NUN 0342 Are not these large enough?
0343 Yes, truly. I speak not as desiring more,
0344 But rather wishing a more strict restraint
0345 5 Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.
0346 Ho, peace be in this place!
ISABELLA 0347 Who’s that which calls?
0348 It is a man’s voice. Gentle Isabella,
0349 Turn you the key and know his business of him.
0350 10 You may; I may not. You are yet unsworn.
0351 When you have vowed, you must not speak with men
0352 But in the presence of the Prioress.
0353 Then, if you speak, you must not show your face;
0354 Or if you show your face, you must not speak.
0355 15 He calls again. I pray you answer him.
0356 Peace and prosperity! Who is ’t that calls?
0357 Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
0358 Proclaim you are no less. Can you so stead me
0359 As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
0360 20 A novice of this place and the fair sister
0361 To her unhappy brother, Claudio?
0362 Why “her unhappy brother”? Let me ask,
0363 The rather for I now must make you know
0364 I am that Isabella, and his sister.
0365 25 Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you.
0366 Not to be weary with you, he’s in prison.
ISABELLA 0367 Woe me, for what?
0368 For that which, if myself might be his judge,
0369 He should receive his punishment in thanks:
0370 30 He hath got his friend with child.
0371 Sir, make me not your story.
LUCIO 0372 ’Tis true.
0373 I would not, though ’tis my familiar sin
0374 With maids to seem the lapwing and to jest,
0375 35 Tongue far from heart, play with all virgins so.
0376 I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted,
0377 By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
0378 And to be talked with in sincerity
0379 As with a saint.
0380 40 You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.
0381 Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, ’tis thus:
0382 Your brother and his lover have embraced;
0383 As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
0384 That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
p. 330385 45 To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb
0386 Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.
0387 Someone with child by him? My cousin Juliet?
LUCIO 0388 Is she your cousin?
0389 Adoptedly, as schoolmaids change their names
0390 50 By vain though apt affection.
LUCIO 0391 She it is.
0392 O, let him marry her!
LUCIO 0393 This is the point.
0394 The Duke is very strangely gone from hence;
0395 55 Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
0396 In hand, and hope of action; but we do learn,
0397 By those that know the very nerves of state,
0398 His ⌜givings-out⌝ were of an infinite distance
0399 From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
0400 60 And with full line of his authority,
0401 Governs Lord Angelo, a man whose blood
0402 Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
0403 The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
0404 But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
0405 65 With profits of the mind: study and fast.
0406 He—to give fear to use and liberty,
0407 Which have for long run by the hideous law
0408 As mice by lions—hath picked out an act
0409 Under whose heavy sense your brother’s life
0410 70 Falls into forfeit. He arrests him on it,
0411 And follows close the rigor of the statute
0412 To make him an example. All hope is gone
0413 Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
0414 To soften Angelo. And that’s my pith of business
0415 75 ’Twixt you and your poor brother.
ISABELLA 0416 Doth he so
0417 Seek his life?
p. 35LUCIO 0418 Has censured him already,
0419 And, as I hear, the Provost hath a warrant
0420 80 For ’s execution.
0421 Alas, what poor ability’s in me
0422 To do him good?
LUCIO 0423 Assay the power you have.
0424 My power? Alas, I doubt—
LUCIO 0425 85 Our doubts are traitors
0426 And makes us lose the good we oft might win
0427 By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo
0428 And let him learn to know, when maidens sue
0429 Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
0430 90 All their petitions are as freely theirs
0431 As they themselves would owe them.
ISABELLA 0432 I’ll see what I can do.
LUCIO 0433 But speedily!
ISABELLA 0434 I will about it straight,
0435 95 No longer staying but to give the Mother
0436 Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you.
0437 Commend me to my brother. Soon at night
0438 I’ll send him certain word of my success.
0439 I take my leave of you.
ISABELLA 0440 100 Good sir, adieu.