Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

ELBOW

If it please your honour, I know not well what they
55are: but precise villains they are, that I am sure
of; and void of all profanation in the world that
good Christians ought to have.

ELBOW

If it pleases your honor, I don’t really know what they
are. But they’re definitely scoundrels, that I’m sure
of, and lacking the universal piety that all good Christians ought to have.

ESCALUS

This comes off well; here’s a wise officer.

ESCALUS

(to Angelo, sarcastically) He’s a good talker, and a real smart cop.

ANGELO

Go to: what quality are they of? Elbow is your
60name? why dost thou not speak, Elbow?

ANGELO

Out with it. What’s their rank? Your name’s Elbow? Why don’t you speak, Elbow?

POMPEY

He cannot, sir; he’s out at elbow.

POMPEY

He can’t, sir. He’s been pushed out of the way.

ANGELO

What are you, sir?

ANGELO

(to Pompey) What do you do, sir?

ELBOW

He, sir! a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd; one that
serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they
65say, plucked down in the suburbs; and now she
professes a hot-house, which, I think, is a very ill house too.

ELBOW

Him, sir! He’s a bartender, sir, and a part-time pimp, one who works for a madam. Her brothel in the suburbs, sir, was, as they say, torn down, and now she claims to run a bathhouse, and I think that’s a bad house too.

ESCALUS

How know you that?

ESCALUS

How do you know that?

ELBOW

My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and your honour,—
(confusing detest with attest)

ELBOW

My wife sir, whom I detest with heaven and your honor as my witnesses—

ESCALUS

70How? thy wife?

ESCALUS

What, you detest your wife?

ELBOW

Ay, sir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman,—

ELBOW

Yes, sir, whom, I thank heaven, is a morally upright woman—

ESCALUS

Dost thou detest her therefore?

ESCALUS

That’s why you detest her?

ELBOW

I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as
she, that this house, if it be not a bawd’s house,
75it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.

ELBOW

I say, sir, I’ll detest myself as well as her, if this
house, if it’s not a whorehouse, it’s a great pity, for it’s an immoral place.

ESCALUS

How dost thou know that, constable?

ESCALUS

How do you know that?