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Measure for Measure

William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 1

page Act 5 Scene 1 Page 11

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Noble prince,
245As there comes light from heaven and words from breath,
As there is sense in truth and truth in virtue,
I am affianced this man’s wife as strongly
As words could make up vows: and, my good lord,
But Tuesday night last gone in’s garden-house
250He knew me as a wife. As this is true,
Let me in safety raise me from my knees
Or else for ever be confixed here,
A marble monument!


Noble prince, as light comes from heaven and words from breath, as there is meaning in truth and truth in virtue, I am engaged to this man as strongly as words can make vows. And, my good lord, last Tuesday night in a garden house, he treated me as a wife. This being the truth, let me safely rise from my knees, or else let me be fixed here forever, like a marble monument!


I did but smile till now:
255Now, good my lord, give me the scope of justice.
My patience here is touch’d. I do perceive
These poor informal women are no more
But instruments of some more mightier member
That sets them on: let me have way, my lord,
260To find this practise out.


I was amused up until now, but now my patience is exhausted. My good lord, let me apply the full force of the law. I believe these poor, demented women are just tools of some more powerful person who has put them up to this. Give me the chance, my lord, to unravel this plot.


Ay, with my heart
And punish them to your height of pleasure.
Thou foolish friar, and thou pernicious woman,
Compact with her that’s gone, think’st thou thy oaths,
265Though they would swear down each particular saint,
Were testimonies against his worth and credit
That’s seal’d in approbation? You, Lord Escalus,
Sit with my cousin; lend him your kind pains
To find out this abuse, whence ’tis derived.
270There is another friar that set them on;
Let him be sent for.


Yes, with all my heart, and punish them as much as you like. You foolish friar and you wicked woman, in collusion with that one we just took away—even if you swore by every single saint, do you think your oaths would mean anything against his worthiness and reputation, which are proven beyond a doubt? You, Lord Escalus, sit with my colleague. Do all you can to help him unravel this conspiracy and discover where it came from. There’s another friar who put them up to this. Send for him.

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