Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

If any in Vienna be of worth
To undergo such ample grace and honour,
It is Lord Angelo.
If anyone in Vienna deserves such an honor, it’s Lord Angelo.
25Look where he comes.
Here he comes.
ANGELO enters.
Always obedient to your grace’s will,
I come to know your pleasure.
Here I am, obedient as always; what can I do for you?
There is a kind of character in thy life,
30That 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, they on thee.
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
35Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, ’twere all alike
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
40But, 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;
45In our remove be thou at full ourself;
Mortality and mercy in Vienna
Live in thy tongue and heart: old Escalus,
Though first in question, is thy secondary.
Take thy commission.
Angelo, there is a distinctive pattern to your life that tells people what sort of man you are. But your talents don’t belong to you alone, and you mustn’t waste them by keeping them to yourself. Heaven uses us the way we use a torch—not to shine for itself, but to shed light onto the world. If we don't use our talents in the world, it would be the same as if we didn't have those talents at all. People are given certain natures to accomplish certain things. Mother Nature doesn’t lend you even a smidgen of talent without expecting you to pay her back—with interest and gratitude. But here I am talking to someone who could instruct me! So, stand firm, Angelo—in my absence, you’ll stand in for me completely. Vienna’s criminals will be executed or pardoned based on what you feel and say. Although old Escalus is senior to you, he’ll be your second-in-command. Take your written orders.