Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 2

page Act 4 Scene 2 Page 9

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PROVOST

Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.

PROVOST

Forgive me, good father. It’s against my oath.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Were you sworn to the duke, or to the deputy?

DUKE VINCENTIO

Did you swear allegiance to the duke, or to the deputy?

PROVOST

To him, and to his substitutes.

PROVOST

To him, and to his representatives.

DUKE VINCENTIO

190You will think you have made no offence, if the duke
avouch the justice of your dealing?

DUKE VINCENTIO

Will you think you’ve done nothing wrong if the duke vouches for the justice of your action?

PROVOST

But what likelihood is in that?

PROVOST

But how likely is that?

DUKE VINCENTIO

Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see
you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor
195persuasion 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.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Not a possibility, but a certainty. Yet since I see
you’re afraid, that neither my religious robes, integrity, nor arguments can easily persuade you, I’ll go
farther than I meant to, to dispel all your fears. (displays a letter) Look, sir, here’s the duke’s handwriting and seal. You recognize them both, I’m sure.

PROVOST

200I know them both.

PROVOST

I know them both.

DUKE VINCENTIO

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
205very day receives letters of strange tenor;
perchance of the duke’s death; perchance entering
into some monastery; but, by chance, nothing of what
is writ. Look, the unfolding star calls up the
shepherd. Put not yourself into amazement how these
210things 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 amazed; but this shall absolutely resolve you.
215Come away; it is almost clear dawn.

DUKE VINCENTIO

This letter’s contents describe the duke’s return; you can read it over at your leisure, and you’ll learn that he’ll be here in two days. Angelo doesn’t know this, since today he’ll be getting some letters with strange news, maybe about the duke’s death, maybe about him entering some monastery—but nothing about what’s written here. Look, the morning star is out. Don’t be confused by all this. Everything makes sense after it’s been done. Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine’s head. I’ll give him confession, and prepare him for a better place. You’re still stunned, but this absolutely will explain everything to you. Let’s go, it’s almost dawn.

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