Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 2

page Act 4 Scene 2 Page 2

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ABHORSON

25A bawd, sir? fie upon him! he will discredit our mystery.

ABHORSON

A pimp, sir? To hell with him! He’ll discredit our profession.

PROVOST

Go to, sir; you weigh equally; a feather will turn
the scale.

PROVOST

Go on, sir. You two are worth the same. No more than a featherweight’s difference, anyway.
Exit
He exits.

POMPEY

Pray, sir, by your good favour,—for surely, sir, a
good favour you have, but that you have a hanging
30look,—do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?

POMPEY

Sir, would you please—for you do have a pleasing face, except for your hanging expression—tell me if you call your job a profession?

ABHORSON

Ay, sir; a mystery

ABHORSON

Yes, sir, a profession.

POMPEY

Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and
your whores, sir, being members of my occupation,
using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery:
35but what mystery there should be in hanging, if I
should be hanged, I cannot imagine.

POMPEY

I’ve heard it said that painting, sir, is a profession, and since whores—who are in my field—paint their faces, they prove my occupation is a profession. But I’ll be hanged if I can imagine how hanging is a profession.

ABHORSON

Sir, it is a mystery.

ABHORSON

Sir, it is a profession.

POMPEY

Proof?

POMPEY

Can you prove it?

ABHORSON

Every true man’s apparel fits your thief: if it be
40too little for your thief, your true man thinks it
big enough; if it be too big for your thief, your
thief thinks it little enough: so every true man’s
apparel fits your thief.

ABHORSON

A thief steals and puts on the clothes of an honest man. If the thief thinks the clothes don’t make him seem honest enough, a truly honest man will think that’s appropriate. If the thief thinks the clothes make him seem extra honest, then the thief thinks the disguise fits just right. So someone is always happy with the way the disguise works for the thief.
Re-enter Provost
The Provost re-enters.

PROVOST

Are you agreed?

PROVOST

Have you reached an agreement?

POMPEY

45Sir, I will serve him; for I do find your hangman is
a more penitent trade than your bawd; he doth
oftener ask forgiveness.

POMPEY

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