Measure for Measure By William Shakespeare Act III

ACT III.

SCENE I. A Room in the prison.

[Enter DUKE, CLAUDIO, and PROVOST.]

DUKE.
So, then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?

CLAUDIO.
The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope:
I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.

DUKE.
Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life, —
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skiey influences,
That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st
Hourly afflict; mere'y, thou art death's fool;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,
And yet runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble;
For all the accommodations that thou bear'st
Are nurs'd by baseness. Thou art by no means valiant;
For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
And that thou oft provok'st; yet grossly fear'st
Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself:
For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;
For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get;
And what thou hast, forgett'st. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
After the moon. If thou art rich, thou art poor;
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none;
For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire,
The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,
But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both: for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.

CLAUDIO.
I humbly thank you.
To sue to live, I find I seek to die;
And, seeking death, find life. Let it come on.

ISABELLA.
[Within.] What, ho! Peace here; grace and good company!

PROVOST.
Who's there? come in: the wish deserves a welcome.

DUKE.
Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.

CLAUDIO.
Most holy sir, I thank you.

[Enter ISABELLA.]

ISABELLA.
My business is a word or two with Claudio.

PROVOST.
And very welcome. Look, signior, here's your sister.

DUKE.
Provost, a word with you.

PROVOST.
As many as you please.

DUKE.
Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be conceal'd.

[Exeunt DUKE and PROVOST.]

CLAUDIO.
Now, sister, what's the comfort?

ISABELLA.
Why,
As all comforts are; most good, most good, in deed:
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger:
Therefore, your best appointment make with speed;
To-morrow you set on.

CLAUDIO.
Is there no remedy?

ISABELLA.
None, but such remedy as, to save a head,
To cleave a heart in twain.

CLAUDIO.
But is there any?

ISABELLA.
Yes, brother, you may live:
There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
If you'll implore it, that will free your life,
But fetter you till death.

CLAUDIO.
Perpetual durance?

ISABELLA.
Ay, just; perpetual durance; a restraint,
Though all the world's vastidity you had,
To a determin'd scope.

CLAUDIO.
But in what nature?

ISABELLA.
In such a one as, you consenting to't,
Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,
And leave you naked.

CLAUDIO.
Let me know the point.

ISABELLA.
O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.

CLAUDIO.
Why give you me this shame?
Think you I can a resolution fetch
From flowery tenderness? If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride
And hug it in mine arms.

ISABELLA.
There spake my brother; there my father's grave
Did utter forth a voice! Yes, thou must die:
Thou art too noble to conserve a life
In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy, —
Whose settled visage and deliberate word
Nips youth i' the head, and follies doth emmew
As falcon doth the fowl, — is yet a devil;
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.

CLAUDIO.
The precise Angelo?

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