1605 Measure For Measure
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to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare; for truly,
sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn.
PROVOST. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.
Exeunt ABHORSON and POMPEY
Th' one has my pity; not a jot the other,
Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death;
'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow
Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine?
CLAUDIO. As fast lock'd up in sleep as guiltless labour
When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones.
He will not wake.
PROVOST. Who can do good on him?
Well, go, prepare yourself. [Knocking within] But hark, what
Heaven give your spirits comfort! Exit CLAUDIO
[Knocking continues] By and by.
I hope it is some pardon or reprieve
For the most gentle Claudio.
Enter DUKE, disguised as before
DUKE. The best and wholesom'st spirits of the night
Envelop you, good Provost! Who call'd here of late?
PROVOST. None, since the curfew rung.
DUKE. Not Isabel?
DUKE. They will then, ere't be long.
PROVOST. What comfort is for Claudio?
DUKE. There's some in hope.
PROVOST. It is a bitter deputy.
DUKE. Not so, not so; his life is parallel'd
Even with the stroke and line of his great justice;
He doth with holy abstinence subdue
That in himself which he spurs on his pow'r
To qualify in others. Were he meal'd with that
Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous;
But this being so, he's just. [Knocking within] Now are they
come. Exit PROVOST
This is a gentle provost; seldom when
The steeled gaoler is the friend of men. [Knocking within]
How now, what noise! That spirit's possess'd with haste
That wounds th' unsisting postern with these strokes.
PROVOST. There he must stay until the officer
Arise to let him in; he is call'd up.
DUKE. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet
But he must die to-morrow?
PROVOST. None, sir, none.
DUKE. As near the dawning, Provost, as it is,
You shall hear more ere morning.
You something know; yet I believe there comes
No countermand; no such example have we.
Besides, upon the very siege of justice,
Lord Angelo hath to the public ear
Profess'd the contrary.
Enter a MESSENGER
This is his lordship's man.
DUKE. And here comes Claudio's pardon.
MESSENGER. My lord hath sent you this note; and by me this further
charge, that you swerve not from the smallest article of it,
neither in time, matter, or other circumstance. Good morrow; for
as I take it, it is almost day.
PROVOST. I shall obey him. Exit MESSENGER
DUKE. [Aside] This is his pardon, purchas'd by such sin
For which the pardoner himself is in;
Hence hath offence his quick celerity,
When it is borne in high authority.
When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended
That for the fault's love is th' offender friended.
Now, sir, what news?
PROVOST. I told you: Lord Angelo, belike thinking me remiss in mine
office, awakens me with this unwonted putting-on; methinks
strangely, for he hath not us'd it before.
DUKE. Pray you, let's hear.
PROVOST. [Reads] 'Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let
Claudio be executed by four of the clock, and, in the afternoon,
Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have Claudio's
head sent me by five. Let this be duly performed, with a thought
that more depends on it than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not
to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.'
What say you to this, sir?
DUKE. What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in th'
PROVOST. A Bohemian born; but here nurs'd up and bred.
One that is a prisoner nine years old.
DUKE. How came it that the absent Duke had not either deliver'd him
to his liberty or executed him? I have heard it was ever his
manner to do so.
PROVOST. His friends still wrought reprieves for him; and, indeed,
his fact, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to
an undoubted proof.
DUKE. It is now apparent?
PROVOST. Most manifest, and not denied by himself.
DUKE. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison? How seems he to
PROVOST. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a
drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless, of what's past,
present, or to come; insensible of mortality and desperately
DUKE. He wants advice.
PROVOST. He will hear none. He hath evermore had the liberty of the
prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not; drunk many
times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft
awak'd him, as if to carry him to execution, and show'd him a
seeming warrant for it; it hath not moved him at all.
DUKE. More of him anon. There is written in your brow, Provost,
honesty and constancy. If I read it not truly, my ancient skill
beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning I will lay myself
in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is no
greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath sentenc'd him. To
make you understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but four
days' respite; for the which you are to do me both a present and
a dangerous courtesy.
PROVOST. Pray, sir, in what?
DUKE. In the delaying death.
PROVOST. Alack! How may I do it, having the hour limited, and an
express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view
of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the
DUKE. By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if my instructions
may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning executed,
and his head borne to Angelo.
PROVOST. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.
DUKE. O, death's a great disguiser; and you may add to it. Shave
the head and tie the beard; and say it was the desire of the
penitent to be so bar'd before his death. You know the course is
common. If anything fall to you upon this more than thanks and
good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I will plead against
it with my life.
PROVOST. Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.
DUKE. Were you sworn to the Duke, or to the deputy?
PROVOST. To him and to his substitutes.
DUKE. You will think you have made no offence if the Duke avouch
the justice of your dealing?
PROVOST. But what likelihood is in that?
DUKE. Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you
fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor persuasion, can
with ease attempt you, I will go further than I meant, to pluck
all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of
the Duke. You know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is
not strange to you.
PROVOST. I know them both.
DUKE. The contents of this is the return of the Duke; you shall
anon over-read it at your pleasure, where you shall find within
these two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows
not; for he this very day receives letters of strange tenour,
perchance of the Duke's death, perchance entering into some
monastery; but, by chance, nothing of what is writ. Look, th'
unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put not yourself into
amazement how these things should be: all difficulties are but
easy when they are known. Call your executioner, and off with
Barnardine's head. I will give him a present shrift, and advise
him for a better place. Yet you are amaz'd, but this shall
absolutely resolve you. Come away; it is almost clear dawn.
POMPEY. I am as well acquainted here as I was in our house of
profession; one would think it were Mistress Overdone's own
house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young
Master Rash; he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old
ginger, nine score and seventeen pounds, of which he made five
marks ready money. Marry, then ginger was not much in request,
for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one Master
Caper, at the suit of Master Threepile the mercer, for some four
suits of peach-colour'd satin, which now peaches him a beggar.
Then have we here young Dizy, and young Master Deepvow, and
Master Copperspur, and Master Starvelackey, the rapier and dagger
man, and young Dropheir that kill'd lusty Pudding, and Master
Forthlight the tilter, and brave Master Shootie the great
traveller, and wild Halfcan that stabb'd Pots, and, I think,
forty more- all great doers in our trade, and are now 'for the
ABHORSON. Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.
POMPEY. Master Barnardine! You must rise and be hang'd, Master
ABHORSON. What ho, Barnardine!
BARNARDINE. [Within] A pox o' your throats! Who makes that noise
there? What are you?
POMPEY. Your friends, sir; the hangman. You must be so good, sir,
to rise and be put to death.