Measure for Measure - Act 4, scene 2
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Act 4, scene 2
At the prison, Pompey agrees to serve as the assistant to Abhorson, the public executioner. The duke, in his role of Friar, impatiently awaits Angelo’s pardon for Claudio. But Angelo instead sends an order that Claudio be put to death immediately and that his head be brought to Angelo. The “Friar” persuades the Provost to delay the beheading of Claudio and to send Angelo the disguised head of Barnardine, a prisoner who is also scheduled for execution.Enter Provost, ⌜Pompey, and Officer.⌝
PROVOST 1870 Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man’s
POMPEY 1872 If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be
1873 a married man, he’s his wife’s head, and I can never
1874 5 cut off a woman’s head.
PROVOST 1875 Come, sir, leave me your snatches, and yield
1876 me a direct answer. Tomorrow morning are to die
1877 Claudio and Barnardine. Here is in our prison a
1878 common executioner, who in his office lacks a
1879 10 helper. If you will take it on you to assist him, it
1880 shall redeem you from your gyves; if not, you shall
1881 have your full time of imprisonment and your
1882 deliverance with an unpitied whipping, for you have
1883 been a notorious bawd.
POMPEY 1884 15Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of
1885 mind, but yet I will be content to be a lawful
1887 from my fellow partner.
PROVOST 1888 What ho, Abhorson!—Where’s Abhorson
1889 20 there?
ABHORSON 1890 Do you call, sir?
PROVOST 1891 Sirrah, here’s a fellow will help you tomorrow
1892 in your execution. If you think it meet, compound
1893 with him by the year and let him abide here
1894 25 with you; if not, use him for the present and dismiss
1895 him. He cannot plead his estimation with you; he
1896 hath been a bawd.
ABHORSON 1897 A bawd, sir? Fie upon him! He will discredit
1898 our mystery.
PROVOST 1899 30Go to, sir; you weigh equally. A feather will
1900 turn the scale.He exits.
POMPEY 1901 Pray, sir, by your good favor—for surely, sir, a
1902 good favor you have, but that you have a hanging
1903 look—do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?
ABHORSON 1904 35Ay, sir, a mystery.
POMPEY 1905 Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery;
1906 and your whores, sir, being members of my occupation,
1907 using painting, do prove my occupation a
1908 mystery; but what mystery there should be in hanging,
1909 40 if I should be hanged, I cannot imagine.
ABHORSON 1910 Sir, it is a mystery.
POMPEY 1911 Proof?
ABHORSON 1912 Every true man’s apparel fits your thief. If it
1913 be too little for your thief, your true man thinks it
1914 45 big enough; if it be too big for your thief, your thief
1915 thinks it little enough. So every true man’s apparel
1916 fits your thief.
PROVOST 1917 Are you agreed?
1919 50 is a more penitent trade than your bawd. He
1920 doth oftener ask forgiveness.
PROVOST, ⌜to Abhorson⌝ 1921 You, sirrah, provide your block
1922 and your axe tomorrow, four o’clock.
ABHORSON, ⌜to Pompey⌝ 1923 Come on, bawd. I will instruct
1924 55 thee in my trade. Follow.
POMPEY 1925 I do desire to learn, sir; and I hope, if you have
1926 occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find
1927 me ⌜yare.⌝ For truly, sir, for your kindness, I owe
1928 you a good turn.⌜Pompey and Abhorson⌝ exit.
PROVOST, ⌜to Officer⌝
1929 60 Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.
1930 Th’ one has my pity; not a jot the other,
1931 Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
Enter Claudio, ⌜with Officer.⌝
1932 Look, here’s the warrant, Claudio, for thy death.
1933 ’Tis now dead midnight, and by eight tomorrow
1934 65 Thou must be made immortal. Where’s Barnardine?
1935 As fast locked up in sleep as guiltless labor
1936 When it lies starkly in the traveler’s bones.
1937 He will not wake.
PROVOST 1938 Who can do good on him?
1939 70 Well, go, prepare yourself. ⌜Knock within.⌝ But hark,
1940 what noise?—
1941 Heaven give your spirits comfort. ⌜Claudio exits,
with Officer. Knock within.⌝ 1942 By and by!—
1943 I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
1944 75 For the most gentle Claudio.
Enter Duke, ⌜as a Friar.⌝
1945 Welcome, father.
1946 The best and wholesom’st spirits of the night
1947 Envelop you, good provost. Who called here of late?
1948 None since the curfew rung.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1949 80 Not Isabel?
PROVOST 1950 No.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1951 They will, then, ere ’t be long.
PROVOST 1952 What comfort is for Claudio?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝
1953 There’s some in hope.
PROVOST 1954 85 It is a bitter deputy.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝
1955 Not so, not so. His life is paralleled
1956 Even with the stroke and line of his great justice.
1957 He doth with holy abstinence subdue
1958 That in himself which he spurs on his power
1959 90 To qualify in others. Were he mealed with that
1960 Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous,
1961 But this being so, he’s just. ⌜Knock within.⌝ Now are
1962 they come.⌜Provost exits.⌝
1963 This is a gentle provost. Seldom when
1964 95 The steelèd jailer is the friend of men.
⌜Enter Provost. Knocking continues.⌝
1965 How now, what noise? That spirit’s possessed with
1967 That wounds th’ unsisting postern with these strokes.
1968 There he must stay until the officer
1969 100 Arise to let him in. He is called up.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝
1970 Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
1971 But he must die tomorrow?
PROVOST 1972 None, sir, none.
1973 As near the dawning, provost, as it is,
1974 105 You shall hear more ere morning.
PROVOST 1975 Happily
1976 You something know, yet I believe there comes
1977 No countermand. No such example have we.
1978 Besides, upon the very siege of justice
1979 110 Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
1980 Professed the contrary.
Enter a Messenger.
1981 This is his ⌜Lordship’s⌝ man.
⌜DUKE, as Friar⌝ 1982 And here comes Claudio’s pardon.
MESSENGER, ⌜giving Provost a paper⌝ 1983 My lord hath sent
1984 115 you this note, and by me this further charge: that
1985 you swerve not from the smallest article of it,
1986 neither in time, matter, or other circumstance.
1987 Good morrow, for, as I take it, it is almost day.
PROVOST 1988 I shall obey him.⌜Provost reads message.
1989 120 This is his pardon, purchased by such sin
1990 For which the pardoner himself is in.
1991 Hence hath offense his quick celerity
1992 When it is borne in high authority.
1993 When vice makes mercy, mercy’s so extended
1994 125 That for the fault’s love is th’ offender friended.
1995 ⌜As Friar.⌝ Now, sir, what news?
PROVOST 1996 I told you: Lord Angelo, belike thinking me
1997 remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted
1998 putting-on, methinks strangely; for he hath
1999 130 not used it before.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2000 Pray you let’s hear.
⌜PROVOST, reads⌝ the letter.
2001 Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio
2002 be executed by four of the clock, and in the afternoon
2004 135 Claudio’s head sent me by five. Let this be duly
2005 performed with a thought that more depends on it
2006 than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not to do your
2007 office, as you will answer it at your peril.
2008 What say you to this, sir?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2009 140What is that Barnardine who is to be
2010 executed in th’ afternoon?
PROVOST 2011 A Bohemian born, but here nursed up and
2012 bred; one that is a prisoner nine years old.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2013 How came it that the absent duke had
2014 145 not either delivered him to his liberty, or executed
2015 him? I have heard it was ever his manner to do so.
PROVOST 2016 His friends still wrought reprieves for him;
2017 and indeed his fact, till now in the government of
2018 Lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2019 150It is now apparent?
PROVOST 2020 Most manifest, and not denied by himself.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2021 Hath he borne himself penitently in
2022 prison? How seems he to be touched?
PROVOST 2023 A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully
2024 155 but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and
2025 fearless of what’s past, present, or to come; insensible
2026 of mortality and desperately mortal.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2027 He wants advice.
PROVOST 2028 He will hear none. He hath evermore had the
2029 160 liberty of the prison; give him leave to escape
2030 hence, he would not. Drunk many times a day, if not
2031 many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awaked
2032 him, as if to carry him to execution, and showed
2033 him a seeming warrant for it. It hath not moved him
2034 165 at all.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2035 More of him anon. There is written in
2036 your brow, provost, honesty and constancy; if I read
2037 it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me. But in the
2038 boldness of my cunning, I will lay myself in hazard.
2040 no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo, who hath
2041 sentenced him. To make you understand this in a
2042 manifested effect, I crave but four days’ respite, for
2043 the which you are to do me both a present and a
2044 175 dangerous courtesy.
PROVOST 2045 Pray, sir, in what?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2046 In the delaying death.
PROVOST 2047 Alack, how may I do it, having the hour
2048 limited, and an express command, under penalty,
2049 180 to deliver his head in the view of Angelo? I may
2050 make my case as Claudio’s, to cross this in the
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2052 By the vow of mine order I warrant
2053 you, if my instructions may be your guide. Let this
2054 185 Barnardine be this morning executed and his head
2055 borne to Angelo.
PROVOST 2056 Angelo hath seen them both and will discover
2057 the favor.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2058 O, death’s a great disguiser, and you
2059 190 may add to it. Shave the head and tie the beard, and
2060 say it was the desire of the penitent to be so bared
2061 before his death. You know the course is common.
2062 If anything fall to you upon this, more than thanks
2063 and good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I
2064 195 will plead against it with my life.
PROVOST 2065 Pardon me, good father, it is against my oath.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2066 Were you sworn to the Duke or to the
PROVOST 2068 To him and to his substitutes.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2069 200You will think you have made no
2070 offense if the Duke avouch the justice of your
PROVOST 2072 But what likelihood is in that?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2073 Not a resemblance, but a certainty; yet
2074 205 since I see you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity,
2076 go further than I meant, to pluck all fears out of
2077 you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the
2078 Duke. ⌜He shows the Provost a paper.⌝ You know the
2079 210 character, I doubt not, and the signet is not strange
2080 to you.
PROVOST 2081 I know them both.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 2082 The contents of this is the return of the
2083 Duke; you shall anon overread it at your pleasure,
2084 215 where you shall find within these two days he will
2085 be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows not, for
2086 he this very day receives letters of strange tenor,
2087 perchance of the Duke’s death, perchance entering
2088 into some monastery, but by chance nothing of
2089 220 what is writ. Look, th’ unfolding star calls up the
2090 shepherd. Put not yourself into amazement how
2091 these things should be. All difficulties are but easy
2092 when they are known. Call your executioner, and
2093 off with Barnardine’s head. I will give him a present
2094 225 shrift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you are
2095 amazed, but this shall absolutely resolve you.
⌜He gives the Provost the paper.⌝
2096 Come away; it is almost clear dawn.