Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

LUCIO

[Aside to ISABELLA] Ay, well said.

LUCIO

(aside to ISABELLA) Yes, well said.

ANGELO

The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept:
115Those many had not dared to do that evil,
If the first that did the edict infringe
Had answer’d for his deed: now ’tis awake
Takes note of what is done; and, like a prophet,
Looks in a glass, that shows what future evils,
120Either new, or by remissness new-conceived,
And so in progress to be hatch’d and born,
Are now to have no successive degrees,
But, ere they live, to end.

ANGELO

The law wasn’t dead, but it was asleep. All those people wouldn’t have dared to commit that crime if the first lawbreaker had been punished. Now the law’s awake, notes what’s going on, and, like a fortuneteller, looks in a crystal ball to see what future evils, either newly conceived or just being contemplated, will someday hatch. Now, they won’t develop any further but will die before they’re born.

ISABELLA

Yet show some pity.

ISABELLA

Show some pity.

ANGELO

125I show it most of all when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss’d offence would after gall;
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;
130Your brother dies to-morrow; be content.

ANGELO

I show it most of all when I show justice, for then I pity all those people I don’t know who’d be harmed by an unpunished crime. I do right to the man who, by paying for one wrong act, doesn’t live to commit another one. Be satisfied with this. Your brother dies tomorrow. Accept it.

ISABELLA

So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he, that suffer’s. O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

ISABELLA

So you must be the first one to impose this sentence,
and he the first one to suffer it. Oh, it’s excellent
to have a giant’s strength, but it’s tyranny to use it like a giant.

LUCIO

135[Aside to ISABELLA] That’s well said.

LUCIO

(aside to ISABELLA) That’s well said.