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As doth that orbed continent the fire

That severs day from night.


Give me thy hand;
And let me see thee in thy woman's weeds.

Vio. The captain, that did bring me first on shore,
Hath my maid's garments: he upon some action,
Is now in durance: at Malvolio's suit,

A gentleman, and follower of my lady's.
Oli. He shall enlarge him.

My lord, so please you, these things further thought on,
To think me as well a sister as a wife,

One day shall crown the alliance on't, so please you,

Here at my house, and at my proper cost.

Duke. Madam, I am most apt to embrace your offer.

Your master quits you;-[To VIOLA.]—and, for your service done him,

So much against the mettle of your sex,

So far beneath your soft and tender breeding,
And since you call'd me master for so long,
Here is my hand; you shall from this time be
Your master's mistress.


A sister?-you are she.
Duke. A solemn combination shall be made
Of our dear souls-Meantime, sweet sister,
We will not part from hence.-Cesario, come;
For so you shall be, while you are a man ;
But, when in other habits you are seen,
Orsino's mistress, and his fancy's queen.



The outline of this Play is taken from a novel of Cinthio, the Italian novelist and tragic author, to whom Shakspeare was likewise indebted for the story of Othello.

Measure for Measure, presents us with one of the most perfect of our author's female characters in the person of Isabella. Dr. Blake says, of this beautiful creation, that "Piety, spotless purity, tenderness combined with firmness, and an eloquence the most persuasive, unite to render her singularly interesting and attractive." Of the general excellence of this Drama, Mr. Verplanck justly remarks, that "there is no composition, of the same length, in the language, which has left more of its expressive phrases, its moral aphorisms, its brief sentences, crowded with meaning, fixed on the general memory, and embodied by daily use in every form of popular eloquence, argument, and literature."

Our extracts, though necessarily brief, will be found to embody the principal striking beauties of this truly impressive composition.


VICENTIO, Duke of Vienna.

ANGELO, lord deputy in the Duke's absence.

ESCALUS, an ancient lord, joined with Angelo in the deputation.
CLAUDIO, a young gentleman.

Lucio, a fantastic.

Two other like gentlemen.

VARRIUS, a gentleman, servant to the Duke.


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Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and other Attendants.


The Duke of Vienna, determines to examine in person, the condition of his people. To do this effectually he purposes to resign, for a period, his government into the ker ping of Lord Angelo, and Escalus, and in disguise to mix with his subjects and learn their actual condition, and ascertain whether the laws are faithfully administered.

ACT 1.

SCENE I.—An Apartment in the Duke's Palace.

Enter DUKE, ESCALUS, Lords, and Attendants.

Duke. Escalus,—

Escal. My lord.

Duke. Of government the properties to unfold,
Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse:
Since I am put to know, that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice

My strength can give you: Then no more remains
But that to your sufficiency, as your worth is able,
And let them work. The nature of our people,

Our city's institutions, and the terms

For common justice, you are as pregnant in,

As art and practice hath enriched any

That we remember: There is our commission,

From which we would not have you warp.-Call hither,

I say, bid come before us Angelo.

What figure of us think you he will bear?

For you must know, we have with special soul

Elected him our absence to supply;

Lent him our terror, drest him with our love;

And given his deputation all the organs
Of our own power: What think you of it?
Escal. If any in Vienna be of worth
To undergo such ample grace and honor,
It is lord Angelo.

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Ang. Always obedient to your grace's will,

I come to know your pleasure.

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There is a kind of character in thy life,
That, to the observer, doth thy history
Fully unfold: Thyself and thy belongings
Are not thine own so proper, as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, them on thee.
Heaven doth with us, as we with torches do;
Not light them for themselves: for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike

[Exit an Attendant.

As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd.

But to fine issues: nor nature never lends
The smallest scruple of her excellence,
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,

Both thanks and use.

But I do bend my speech

To one that can my part in him advertise;
Hold therefore, Angelo;

In our remove, be thou at full ourself:-
Mortality and mercy in Vienna

Live in thy tongue and heart: Escalus,
Though first in question, is the secondary:
Take thy commission.


Now, good my lord, Let there be some more test made of my metal, Before so noble and so great a figure

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We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice
Proceeded to you; therefore take your honors.
Our haste from hence is of so quick condition,
That it prefers itself, and leaves unquestion'd
Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,
As time and our concernings shall importune,
How it goes with us; and do look to know
What doth befall you here. So, fare you well:
To the hopeful execution do I leave you
Of your commissions.


Yet, give leave, my lord,

That we may bring you something on the way.
Duke. My haste may not admit it;

Nor need you, on mine honor, have to do

With any scruple: your scope is as mine own:

So to enforce, or qualify the laws

As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand;
I'll privily away: I love the people,

But do not like to stage me to their eyes:
Though it do well, I do not relish well
Their loud applause, and aves vehement :
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion,

That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.
Ang. The heavens give safety to your purposes !
Escal. Lead forth, and bring you back in happiness.
Duke. I thank you: Fare you well.

Escal. I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
To have free speech with you; and it concerns me
To look into the bottom of my place:

A power I have; but of what strength and nature
I am not yet instructed.

Ang. Tis so with me:-Let us withdraw together


And we may soon our satisfaction have

Touching that point.


I'll wait upon your honor.


The Duke proceeds to a Monastery in the city, and assumes the disguise of a Friar.

SCENE.-A Monastery.

Enter DUKE, and Friar THOMAS.

Duke. No; holy father; throw away that thought;

Believe not that the dribbling dart of love

Can pierce a complete bosom: why I desire thee
To give me secret harbor, hath a purpose

More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth.


May your grace speak of it? Duke. My holy sir, none better knows than you How I have ever lov'd the life removed;

And held in idle price to haunt assemblies,

Where youth, and costs, and witless bravery keeps.
I have deliver'd to lord Angelo

(A man of stricture, and firm abstinence,)

My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
And he supposes me travell'd to Poland;
For so I have strew'd it in the common ear,
And so it is receiv'd: Now, pious sir,
You will demand of me, why I do this?
Fri. Gladly, my lord.

Duke. We have strict statutes, and most biting laws,
(The needful bits and curbs for headstrong steeds,)
Which for these fourteen years we have let sleep;
Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,

That goes not out to prey: Now, as fond fathers
Having bound up the threat'ning twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight,
For terror, not to use; in time the rod

Becomes more mock'd, than fear'd, so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose,

The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart

Goes all decorum.


It rested on your grace

To unloose this tied-up justice, when you pleas'd:
And it in you more dreadful would have seem'd,
Than in Lord Angelo.

I do fear, too dreadful:

Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,
"Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
For what I bid them do: For we bid this be done,

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