Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Measure for Measure

Persons Represented: Varrius might be omitted, for he is only once spoken to, and says nothing.

There it perhaps not one of Shakespeare's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its authour, and the unskilfulness of its editors, by distortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription.

I.i.6 (4,4) [lists] Bounds, limits.

I.i.7 (4,5)

 [Then no more remains,
           But that your sufficiency, as your worth is able,
           And let them work]

This is a passage which has exercised the sagacity of the editors, and is now to employ mine. [Johnson adds T's and W's notes] Sir Tho. Hammer, having caught from Mr. Theobald a hint that a line was lost, endeavours to supply it thus.

--Then no more remains, But that to your sufficiency you join A will to serve us, as your worth is able.

He has by this bold conjecture undoubtedly obtained a meaning, but, perhaps not, even in his own opinion, the meaning of Shakespeare.

That the passage is more or less corrupt, I believe every reader will agree with the editors. I am not convinced that a line is lost, as Mr. Theobald conjectures, nor that the change of but to put, which Dr. Warburton has admitted after some other editor, will amend the fault. There was probably some original obscurity in the expression, which gave occasion to mistake in repetition or transcription. I therefore suspect that the authour wrote thus,

--Then no more remains. But that to your sufficiencies your worth is abled, And let them work.

Then nothing remains more than to tell you, that your virtue is now invested with power equal to your knowledge and wisdom. Let therefore your knowledge and your virtue now work together. It may easily be conceived how sufficiencies was, by an inarticulate speaker, or inattentive hearer, confounded with sufficiency as, and how abled, a word very unusual, was changed into able. For abled, however, an authority is not wanting. Lear uses it in the same sense, or nearly the same, with the Duke. As for sufficiencies, D. Hamilton, in his dying speech, prays that Charles II. may exceed both the virtues and sufficiencies of his father.

I.i.11 (6,6) [the terms For common justice, you are as pregnant in] The later editions all give it, without authority,

--the terms Of justice,--

and Dr. Warburton makes terms signify bounds or limits. I rather think the Duke meant to say, that Escalus was pregnant, that is, ready and knowing in all the forms of law, and, among other things, in the terms or times set apart for its administration.

I.i.18 (7,7) [we have with special soul Elected him our absence to supply] [W: roll] This editor is, I think, right in supposing a corruption, but less happy in his emendation. I read,

--we have with special seal Elected him our absence to supply.

A special seal is a very natural metonymy for a special commission.

I.i.28 (8,8)

[There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history Fully unfold]

Either this introduction has more solemnity than meaning, or it has a meaning which I cannot discover. What is there peculiar in this, that a man's life informs the observer of his history? Might it be supposed that Shakespeare wrote this?

There is a kind of character in thy look.

History may be taken in a more diffuse and licentious meaning, for future occurrences, or the part of life yet to come. If this sense be received, the passage is clear and proper.

I.i.37 (8,1) [to fine issues] To great consequences. For high purposes.

I.i.41 (9,2) [But I do bend my speech To one that can my part in him advertise] I know not whether we may not better read,

One that can my part to him advertise,

One that can inform himself of that which it would be otherwise my part to tell him.

I.i.43 (9,3) [Hold therefore, Angelo] That is, continue to be Angelo; hold as thou art.

I.i.47 (9,4) [first in question] That is, first called for; first appointed.

I.i.52 (9,5) [We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice Proceeded to you] [W: a levell'd] No emendation is necessary. Leaven'd choice is one of Shakespeare's harsh metaphors. His train of ideas seems to be this. I have proceeded to you with choice mature, concocted, fermented, leavened. When bread is leavened it is left to ferment: a leavened choice is therefore a choice not hasty, but considerate, not declared as soon as it fell into the imagination, but suffered to work long in the mind. Thus explained, it suits better with prepared than levelled.

I.i.65 (10,6) [your scope is as mine own] That is, Your amplitude of power.

I.ii.22 (12,7) [in metre?] In the primers, there are metrical graces, such as, I suppose, were used in Shakespeare's time.

I.ii.25 (12,9) [Grace is grace, despight of all controversy] [Warbarton had suspected an allusion to ecclesiastical disputes.] I am in doubt whether Shakespeare's thoughts reached so far into ecclesiastical disputes. Every commentator is warped a little by the tract of his own profession. The question is, whether the second gentleman has ever heard grace. The first gentleman limits the question to grace in metre. Lucio enlarges it to grace in any form or language. The first gentleman, to go beyond him, says, or in any religion, which Lucio allows, because the nature of things is unalterable; grace is as immutably grace, as his merry antagonist is a wicked villain. Difference in religion cannot make a grace not to be grace, a prayer not to be holy; as nothing can make a villain not to be a villain. This seems to be the meaning, such as it is.

I.ii.28 (12,1) [there went but a pair of sheers between us] We are both of the same piece.

I.ii.35 (13,2) [be pil'd, as thou art pil'd, for a French velvet?] The jest about the pile of a French velvet alludes to the loss of hair in the French disease, a very frequent topick of our authour's jocularity. Lucio finding that the gentleman understands the distemper so well, and mentions it so feelingly, promises to remember to drink his health, but to forget to drink after him. It was the opinion of Shakespeare's time, that the cup of an infected person was contagious.

I.ii.50 (13,3) [To three thousand dollars a year] [A quibble intended between dollars and dolours. Hammer.] The same jest occured before in the Tempest.

I.ii.83 (15,5) [what with the sweat] This nay allude to the sweating sickness, of which the memory was very fresh in the time of Shakespeare: but more probably to the method of cure then used for the diseases contracted in brothels.

I.ii.124 (16,6)

[Thus can the demi-god, Authority, Make us pay down, for our offence, by weight.-- The words of heaven;--on whom it will, it will; On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just]

[Warburton had emended the punctuation of the second line] I suspect that a line is lost.

I.ii.162 (18,8) [the fault, and glimpse, of newness] Fault and glimpse have so little relation to each other, that both can scarcely be right: we may read flash for fault or, perhaps we may read,

Whether it be the fault or glimpse--

That is, whether it be the seeming enormity of the action, or the glare of new authority. Yet the sane sense follows in the next lines, (see 1765, I, 275, 4)

I.ii.188 (19,2) [There is a prone and speechless dialect] I can scarcely tell what signification to give to the word prone. Its primitive and translated senses are well known. The authour may, by a prone dialect, mean a dialect which men are prone to regard, or a dialect natural and unforced, as those actions seem to which we are prone. Either of these interpretations are sufficiently strained; but such distortion of words is not uncommon in our authour. For the sake of an easier sense, we may read,

--In her youth There is a pow'r, and speechless dialect, Such as moves men.

Or thus,

There is a prompt and speechless dialect.

I.ii.194 (20,3) [under grievous imposition] I once thought it should be inquisition, but the present reading is probably right. The crime would be under grievous penalties imposed.

I.iii.2 (20,4) [Believe not, that the dribbling dart of love Can pierce a compleat bosom] Think not that a breast compleatly armed can be pierced by the dart of love that comes fluttering without force.

I.iii.12 (21,5) [(A man of stricture and firm abstinence)] [W: strict ure] Stricture may easily be used for strictness; ure is indeed an old word, but, I think, always applied to things, never to persons.

I.iii.43 (22,9) [To do it slander] The text stood,

So do in slander.--

Sir Thomas Hammer has very well corrected it thus,

To do it slander.--

Yet perhaps less alteration might have produced the true reading,

And yet my nature never, in the fight, So doing slandered.--

And yet my nature never suffer slander by doing any open acts of severity. (see 1765, I,279,3)

I.iii.51 (23,2) [Stands at a guard] Stands on terms of defiance.

I.iv.30 (24,3) [make me not your story] Do not, by deceiving me, make me a subject for a tale.

I.iv.41 (26,5)

[as blossoming time That from the seedness the bare fallow brings To teeming foyson, so her plenteous womb Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry]

As the sentence now stands, it is apparently ungrammatical. I read,

At blossoming time, &c.

That is, As they that feed grow full, so her womb now at blossoming time, at that time through which the feed time proceeds to the harvest, her womb shows what has been doing. Lucio ludicrously calls pregnancy blossoming time, the time when fruit is promised, though not yet ripe.

I.iv.51 (26,6) [Bore many gentlemen, myself being one, In hand, and hope of action] To bear in hand is a common phrase for to keep in expectation and dependance, but we should read,

--with hope of action.

I.iv.56 (26,7) [with full line] With full extent, with the whole length.

I.iv.62 (27,8) [give fear to use] To intimidate use, that is, practices long countenanced by custom.

I.iv.69 (27,9) [Unless you have the grace] That is, the acceptableness, the power of gaining favour. So when she makes her suit, the provost says,

Heaven give thee moving graces. (1765, I,282,1)

I.iv.70 (27,1) [pith Of business] The inmost part, the main of my message.

I.iv.86 (28,4) [the mother] The abbess, or prioress.

II.i.8 (29,7) [Let but your honour know] To know is here to examine, to take cognisance. So in Midsummer-Night's Dream,

Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires; Know of your truth, examine well your blood.

II.i.23 (29,8)

['Tis very pregnant, The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it, Because we see it; but what we do not see, We tread upon, and never think of it]

'Tis plain that we must act with bad as with good; we punish the faults, as we take the advantages, that lie in our way, and what we do not see we cannot note.

II.i.28 (30,8) [For I have had such faults] That is, because, by reason that I have had faults.

II.i.57 (31,9) [This comes off well] This is nimbly spoken; this is volubly uttered.

II.i.63 (32,1) [a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd] This we should now express by saying, he is half-tapster, half-bawd. (1773)

II.i.66 (32,2) [she professes a hot-house] A hot-house is an English name for a bagnio.

Where lately harbour'd many a famous whore, A purging-bill now fix'd upon the door, Tells you it it a hot-house, so it may. And still be a whore-house. Ben. Jonson.

II.i.85 (32,3) [Ay, sir, by mistress Over-done's means] Here seems to have been some mention made of Froth, who was to be accused, and some words therefore may have been lost, unless the irregularity of the narrative may be better imputed to the ignorance of the constable.

II.i.180 (35,4) [Justice or Iniquity?] These were, I suppose, two personages well known to the audience by their frequent appearance in the old moralities. The words, therefore, at that time, produced a combination of ideas, which they have now lost.

II.i.183 (35,5) [Hannibal] Mistaken by the constable for Cannibal.

II.i.215 (36,6) [they will draw you] Draw has here a cluster of senses. As it refers to the tapster, it signifies to drain, to empty; as it is related to hang, it means to be conveyed to execution on a hurdle. In Froth's answer, it is the same as to bring along by some motive or power.

II.i.254 (37,7) [I'll rent the fairest house in it, after three pence a bay] A bay of building is, in many parts of England, a common term, of which the best conception that I could ever attain, is, that it is the space between the main beams of the roof; so that a barn crossed twice with beams is a barn of three bays.

II.ii.26 (40,8) [Stay yet a while] It is not clear why the provost is bidden to stay, nor when he goes out.

II.ii.32 (40,9) [For which I must not plead but that I am at war, 'twixt will, and will not] This is obscure; perhaps it may be mended by reading,

For which I must now plead; but yet I am At war, 'twixt will, and will not.

Yet and yt are almost indistinguishable in a manuscript. Yet no alteration is necessary, since the speech is not unintelligible as it now stands, (see 1765, 9I,294,5)

II.ii.78 (42,2) [And mercy then will breathe within your lips, Like man new made] I rather think the meaning is, You would then change the severity of your present character. In familiar speech, You would be quite another man. (see 1765, 1,296,7)

II.ii.99 (43,6)

[Isab. Yet shew some pity. Ang. I shew it most of all, when I shew justice; For then I pity those I do not know]

This was one of Bale's memorials. When I find myself swayed to mercy, let me remember, that there is a mercy likewise due to the country.

II.ii.126 (45,2) [We cannot weigh our brother with ourself] [W: yourself] The old reading is right. We mortals proud and foolish cannot prevail on our passions to weigh or compare our brother, a being of like nature and frailty, with ourself. We have different names and different judgments for the same faults committed by persons of different condition. (1773)

II.ii.141 (46,3) [She speaks, and 'tis Such sense, that my sense breeds with it] Thus all the folios. Some later editor has changed breeds to bleeds, and Dr. Warburton blames poor Mr. Theobald for recalling the old word, which yet is certainly right. My sense breeds with her sense, that is, new thoughts are stirring in my mind, new conceptions are hatched in my imagination.

So we say to brood over thought.

II.ii.149 (46,4) [tested gold] Rather cupelled, brought to the test, refined, (see 1765,I,299,6)

II.ii.157 (47,6) [For I am that way going to temptation, Where prayers cross] Which way Angelo is going to temptation, we begin to perceive; but how prayers cross that way, or cross each other, at that way, more than any other, I do not understand.

Isabella prays that his honour may be safe, meaning only to give him his title: his imagination is caught by the word honour; he feels that his honour is in danger, and therefore, I believe, answers thus:

I am that way going to temptation, Which your prayers cross.

That is, I am tempted to lose that honour of which thou implorest the preservation. The temptation under which I labour is that which thou hast unknowingly thwarted with thy prayer. He uses the same mode language a few lines lower. Isabella, parting, says, Save your honour! Angelo catches the word--Save it! From what? From thee; even from thy virtue!--(rev. 1778,II,52,3)

II.ii.165 (47,7)

[But it is I, That lying, by the violet, in the sun, Do, as the carrion does, not as the flower, Corrupt with virtuous season.]

I am not corrupted by her, but by my own heart, which excites foul desires under the same benign influences that exalt her purity, as the carrion grows putrid by those beams which encrease the fragrance of the violet.

II.ii.186 (48,8) [Ever, till now, When men were fond, I smil'd, and wonder'd how] As a day must now intervene between this conference of Isabella with Angelo, and the next, the act might more properly end here; and here, in my opinion, it was ended by the poet.

II.iii.11 (49,1) [Who falling in the flaws of her own youth, Hath blister'd her report] Who doth not see that the integrity of the metaphor requires we should read, --flames of her own youth? Warburton.]

Who does not see that, upon such principles, there is no end of correction?

II.iii.36 (50,3) [There rest] Keep yourself in this temper.

II.iii.40 (50,4) [Oh, injurious love] Her execution was respited on account of her pregnancy, the effects of her love: therefore she calls it injurious; not that it brought her to shame, but that it hindered her freeing herself from it. Is not this all very natural? yet the Oxford editor changes it to injurious law.

II.iv.9 (51,6) [Grown fear'd and tedious] [W: sear'd] I think fear'd

may stand. What we go to with reluctance may be said to be fear'd.

II.iv.13 (51,7) [case] For outside; garb; external shew.

II.iv.14 (51,8) [Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls To thy false seeming?] Here Shakespeare judiciously distinguishes the different operations of high place upon different minds. Fools are frighted, and wise men are allured. Those who cannot judge but by the eye, are easily awed by splendour; those who consider men as well as conditions, are easily persuaded to love the appearance of virtue dignified with power.

II.iv.16 (51,9) [Let's write good angel on the devil's horn; 'Tis not the devil's crest] [Hammer: Is't not the devil's crest] I am still inclined to the opinion of the Oxford editor. Angelo, reflecting on the difference between his seeming character, and his real disposition, observes, that he could change his gravity for a plume. He then digresses into an apostrophe, O dignity, how dost thou impose upon the world! then returning to himself, Blood, says he, thou art but blood, however concealed with appearances and decorations. Title and character do not alter nature, which is still corrupt, however dignified.

Let's write good angel on the devil's horn; Is't not?--or rather--'Tis yet the devil's crest.

It may however be understood, according to Dr. Warburton's explanation. O place, how dost thou impose upon the world by false appearances! so much, that if we write good angel on the devil's horn, 'tis not taken any longer to be the devil's crest. In this sense,

Blood, thou art but blood.!

is an interjected exclamation. (1773)

II.iv.27 (53,1) [The gen'ral subjects to a well-wish'd king] So the later editions: but the old copies read,

The general subject to a well-wish'd king.

The general subject seems a harsh expression, but general subjects has no sense at all; and general was, in our authour's time, a word for people, so that the general is the people, or multitude, subject to a king. So in Hamlet: The play pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general.

II.iv.47 (54,3) [Falsely to take away a life true made] Falsely is the same with dishonestly, illegally: so false, in the next lines, is illegal, illegitimate.

II.iv.48 (54,4) [As to put metal in restrained means] In forbidden moulds. I suspect means not to be the right word, but I cannot find another.

II.iv.50 (55,5) ['Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth] I would have it considered, whether the train of the discourse does not rather require Isabel to say,

'Tis so set down in earth, but not in heaven.

When she has said this, Then, says Angelo, I shall poze you quickly. Would you, who, for the present purpose, declare your brother's crime to be less in the sight of heaven, than the law has made it; would you commit that crime, light as it is, to save your brother's life? To this she answers, not very plainly in either reading, but more appositely to that which I propose:

I had rather give my body, than my soul. (1773)

II.iv.67 (56,6)

[Pleas'd you to do't at peril of your soul, Were equal poize of sin and charity]

The reasoning is thus: Angelo asks, whether there might not be a charity in sin to save this brother. Isabella answers, that if Angelo will save him, she will stake her soul that it were charity, not sin. Angelo replies, that if Isabella would save him at the hazard of her soul, it would be not indeed no sin, but a sin to which the charity would be equivalent.

II.iv.73 (56,7) [And nothing of your answer] I think it should be read,

And nothing of yours answer.

You, and whatever is yours, be exempt from penalty.

II.iv.86 (56,9) [Accountant to the law upon that pain] Pain is here for penalty, punishment.

II.iv.90 (57,2) [But in the loss of question,] The loss of question I do not well understand, and should rather read,

But in the toss of question.

In the agitation, in the discussion of the question. To toss an argument is a common phrase.

II.iv.106 (57,4) [a brother dy'd at once] Perhaps we should read,

Better it were, a brother died for once, Than that a sister, by redeeming him. Should die for ever.

II.iv.123 (58,6) [Owe, and succeed by weakness] To owe is, in this place, to own, to hold, to have possession.

II.iv.125 (59,7) [the glasses where they view themselves; Which are as easily broke, as they make forms] Would it not be better to read,

----take forms.

II.iv.128 (59,8) [In profiting by them] In imitating them, in taking them for examples.

II.iv.139 (59,1)

[I have no tongue but one. Gentle my lord, Let me intreat you, speak the former language]

Isabella answers to his circumlocutory courtship, that she has but one tongue, she does not understand this new phrase, and desires him to talk his former language, that is, to talk as he talked before.

II.iv.150 (60,3) [Seeming, seeming!] Hypocrisy, hypocrisy; counterfeit virtue.

II.iv.156 (60,4) [My Touch against you] [The calling his denial of her charge his vouch, has something fine. Vouch is the testimony one man bears for another. So that, by this, he insinuates his authority was so great, that his denial would have the same credit that a vouch or testimony has in ordinary cases. Warburton.] I believe this beauty is merely imaginary, and that vouch against means no more than denial.

II.iv.165 (60,5) [die the death] This seems to be a solemn phrase for death inflicted by law. So in Midsummer Night's Dream.

Prepare to die the death.

II.iv.178 (61,6) [prompture] Suggestion, temptation, instigation.

III.i.5 (62,8) [Be absolute for death] Be determined to die, without any hope of life. Horace,--

--The hour, which exceeds expectation will be welcome.

III.i.7 (62,9) [I do lose a thing, That none but fools would keep] [W: would reck] The meaning seems plainly this, that none but fools would wish to keep life; or, none but fools would keep it, if choice were allowed. A sense, which whether true or not, is certainly innocent.

III.i.14 (63,3) [For all the accommodations, that thou bear'st Are nurs'd by baseness] Dr. Warburton is undoubtedly mistaken in supposing that by baseness is meant self-love here assigned as the motive of all human actions. Shakespeare only meant to observe, that a minute analysis of life at once destroys that splendour which dazzles the imagination. Whatever grandeur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by baseness, by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the shambles and the dunghill, all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry, and all the pomp of ornaments dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine.

III.i.16 (64,4) [the soft and tender fork Of a poor worm] Worm is put for any creeping thing or serpent. Shakespeare supposes falsely, but according to the vulgar notion, that a serpent wounds with his tongue, and that his tongue is forked. He confounds reality and fiction, a serpent's tongue is soft but not forked nor hurtful. If it could hurt, it could not be soft. In Midsummer Night's Dream he has the same notion.

--With doubler tongue Than thine, O serpent, never adder stung.

III.i.17 (64,5)

[Thy best of rest is sleep, And that thou oft provok'st; yet grosly fear'st Thy death which is no more]

Here Dr. Warburton might have found a sentiment worthy of his

animadversion. I cannot without indignation find Shakespeare saying, that death is only sleep, lengthening out his exhortation by a sentence which in the friar is impious, in the reasoner is foolish, and in the poet trite and vulgar.

III.i.19 (64,6)

[Thou art not thyself, For thou exist'st on many thousand grains, That issue out of dust]

Thou art perpetually repaired and renovated by external assistance, thou subsistest upon foreign matter, and hast no power of producing or continuing thy own being.

III.i.24 (64,7) [strange effects] For effects read affects; that is, affections, passions of mind, or disorders of body variously affected. So in Othello, The young affects.

III.i.32 (65,9)

[Thou hast nor youth, nor age; But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep, Dreaming on both]

This is exquisitely imagined. When we are young, we busy ourselves in forming schemes for succeeding time, and miss the gratifications that are before us; when we are old, we amuse the languor of age with the recollection of youthful pleasures or performances; so that our life, of which no part is filled with the business of the present time, resembles our dreams after dinner, when the events of the morning are mingled with the designs of the evening.

III.i.34 (65,1)

[for all thy blessed youth Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms Of palsied eld]

[W: for pall'd, thy blazed youth Becomes assuaged] Here again I think Dr. Warburton totally mistaken. Shakespeare declares that man has neither youth nor age; for in youth, which is the happiest time, or which might be the happiest, he commonly wants means to obtain what he could enjoy; he is dependent on palsied eld; must beg alms from the coffers of hoary avarice: and being very niggardly supplied, becomes as aged, looks, like an old man, on happiness which is beyond his reach. And when he is old and rich, when he has wealth enough for the purchase of all that formerly excited his desires, he has no longer the powers of enjoyment,

--has neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty, To make his riches pleasant.--

I have explained this passage according to the present reading, which may stand without much inconvenience; yet I am willing to persuade my reader, because I have almost persuaded myself, that our authour wrote,

--for all thy blasted youth Becomes as aged--

III.i.37 (66,2) [Thou has neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty To make thy riches pleasant] [W: nor bounty] I am inclined to believe, that neither man nor woman will have much difficulty to tell how beauty makes riches pleasant. Surely this emendation, though it it elegant and ingenious, is not such as that an opportunity of inserting it should be purchased by declaring ignorance of what every one knows, by confessing insensibility to what every one feels.

III.i.40 (66,3) [more thousand deaths] For this sir T. Hammer reads, ---- a thousand deaths:---- The meaning is not only a thousand deaths, but a thousand deaths besides what have been mentioned.

III.i.55 (67,5) [Why, as all comforts are; most good in Deed] If this reading be right, Isabella must mean that she brings something better than words of comfort, she brings an assurance of deeds. This is harsh and constrained, but I know not what better to offer. Sir Thomas Hammer reads,--in speed.

III.i.59 (68,6) [an everlasting leiger. Therefore your best appointment] Leiger is the same with resident. Appointment; preparation; act of fitting, or state of being fitted for any thing. So in old books, we have a knight well appointed; that is, well armed and mounted or fitted at all points.

III.i.68 (68,8)

[Tho' all the world's vastidity you had, To a determin'd scope]

A confinement of your mind to one painful idea; to ignominy, of which the remembrance can neither be suppressed nor escaped.

III.i.79 (69,9)

[And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great, As when a giant dies]

The reasoning is, that death is no more than every being must suffer, though the dread of it is peculiar to man; or perhaps, that we are inconsistent with ourselves, when we so much dread that which we carelessly inflict on other creatures, that feel the pain as acutely as we.

III.i.91 (69,1) [follies doth emmew] Forces follies to lie in cover without daring to show themselves.

III.1.93 (69,3) [His filth within being cast] To cast a pond is to empty it of mud.

Mr. Upton reads,

His pond within being cast, he would appear A filth as deep as hell.

III.1.94 (70,4)

            [Claud. The princely Angelo?
            Isab.  Oh, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,
              The damned'st body to invest and cover
              In princely guards!]

[W: priestly guards] The first folio has, in both places, prenzie,

from which the other folios made princely, and every editor may make what he can.

III.i.113 (71,7)

[If it were damnable, he being so wise, Why would he for the momentary trick Be perdurably fin'd?]

Shakespeare shows his knowledge of human nature in the conduct of Claudio. When Isabella first tells him of Angelo's proposal, he answers, with honest indignation, agreeably to his settled principles,

Thou shalt not do't.

But the love of life being permitted to operate, soon furnishes him with sophistical arguments, he believes it cannot be very dangerous to the soul, since Angelo, who is so wise, will venture it.

III.i.121 (71,8) [delighted spirit] This reading may perhaps stand, but many attempts have been made to correct it. The most plausible is that which substitutes,

--the benighted spirit,

alluding to the darkness always supposed in the place of future punishment.

Perhaps we may read,

--the delinquent spirit,

a word easily changed to delighted by a bad copier, or unskilful reader. Delinquent is proposed by Thirlby in his manuscript.(1773)

III.i.127 (72,9) [lawless and incertain thoughts] Conjecture sent out to wander without any certain direction, and ranging through all possibilities of pain.

III.i.139 (73,2) [Is't not a kind of incest, to take life From thine own sister's shame?] In Isabella's declamation there is something harsh, and something forced and far-fetched. But her indignation cannot be thought violent, when we consider her not only as a virgin, but as a nun.

III.i.149 (74,4) [but a trade] A custom; a practice, an established habit. So we say of a man much addicted to any thing, he makes a trade of it.

III.i.176 (75,6) [Hold you there] Continue in that resolution.

III.i.255 (77,l) [only refer yourself to this advantage] This is scarcely to be reconciled to any established mode of speech. We may read, only reserve yourself to, or only reserve to yourself this advantage.

III.i.266 (77,2) [the corrupt deputy scaled] To scale the deputy may be, to reach him, notwithstanding the elevation of his place; or it may be, to strip him and discover his nakedness, though armed and concealed by the investments of authority.

III.ii.6 (78,4) [since, of two usuries] Sir Thomas Hammer corrected this with less pomp [than Warburton], then since of two usurers the merriest was put down, and the worser allowed, by order of law, a furr'd gown, &c. His punctuation is right, but the alteration, small as it is, appears more than was wanted. Usury may be need by an easy licence for the professors of usury.

III.ii.14 (79,5) [father] This word should be expunged.

III.ii.40 (80,7) [That we were all, as some would seem to be, Free from all faults, as faults from seeming free!]

Sir T. Hammer reads,

Free from all faults, as from faults seeming free.

In the interpretation of Dr. Warburton, the sense is trifling, and the expression harsh. To wish that men were as free from faults, as faults are free from comeliness [instead of void of comeliness] is a very poor conceit. I once thought it should be read,

O that all were, as all would seem to be. Free from all faults, or from false seeming free.

So in this play,

O place, 0 power--how dost thou Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls To thy false seeming.

But now I believe that a less alteration will serve the turn.

Free from all faults, or faults from seeming free;

that men were really good, or that their faults were known, that men were free from faults, or faults from hypocrisy. So Isabella calls Angelo's hypocrisy, seeming, seeming.

III.ii.42 (81,8) [His neck will come to your waist] That is, his neck will be tied, like your waist, with a rope. The friars of the Franciscan order, perhaps of all others, wear a hempen cord for a girdle. Thus Buchanan,

Fac gemant suis, Variata terga funibus.

III.ii.51 (81,1) [what say'st thou to this tune, matter and method? Is't not drown'd i' the last rain?] [W: It's not down i' the last reign] Dr. Warburton's emendation is ingenious, but I know not whether the sense may not be restored with less change. Let us consider it. Lucio, a prating fop, meets his old friend going to prison, and pours out upon him his impertinent interrogatories, to which, when the poor fellow makes no answer, he adds, What reply? ha? what say'st thou to this? tune, matter, and method,--is't not? drown'd i' th' last rain? ha? what say'st thou, trot? &c. It is a common phrase used in low raillery of a man crest-fallen and dejected, that he looks like a drown'd puppy, Lucio, therefore, asks him, whether he was drowned in the last rain, and therefore cannot speak.

III.ii.52 (82,2) [what say'st thou, trot?] Trot, or as it is now often pronounced, honest trout, is a familiar address to a man among the provincial vulgar. (1773)

III.ii.54 (82,3) [Which is the way?] What is the mode now?

III.ii.59 (82,4) [in the tub] The method of cure for veneral complaints is grosly celled the powdering tub.

III.ii.89 (83,6) [Go--to kennel, Pompey--go] It should be remembered, that Pompey is the common name of a dog, to which allusion is made in the mention of a kennel. (1773)

III.ii.135 (85,9) [clack-dish] The beggars, two or three centuries ago, used to proclaim their wont by a wooden dish with a moveable cover, which they clacked to shew that their vessel was empty. This appears in a passage quoted on another occasion by Dr. Gray, (see 1765, I,331,9 and the note in the 1765 Appendix)

III.ii.144 (86,1) [The greater file of the subject] The larger list, the greater number.

III.ii.193 (87,5) [He's now past it] Sir Thomas Hammer, He is not past it yet. This emendation was received in the former edition, but seems not necessary. It were to be wished, that we all explained more, and amended less. (see 1765, I,333,5)

III.ii.277 (90,9)

[Pattern in himself to know, Grace to stand, and virtue go]

These lines I cannot understand, but believe that they should be read thus:

Patterning himself to know, In grace to stand, in virtue go;

To pattern is to work after a pattern, and, perhaps, in Shakespeare's licentious diction, simply to work. The sense is, he that bears the sword of heaven should be holy as well as severe; one that after good examples labours to know himself, to live with innocence, and to act with virtue.

III.ii.294 (91,5)

[So disguise shall, by the disguis'd Pay with falshood false exacting]

So disguise shall by means of a person disguised, return an injurious demand with a counterfeit person.

IY.i.13 (93,4) [My mirth it much displeas'd, but pleas'd my woe] Though the musick soothed my sorrows, it had no tendency to produce light merriment.

IV.i.21 (93,5) [constantly] Certainly; without fluctuation of mind.

IV.i.28 (93,6) [circummur'd with brick] Circummured, walled round. He caused the doors to be mured and cased up.

Painter's Palace of Pleasure.

IV.i.40 (94,7) [In action all of precept] I rather think we should read,

In precept all of action,--

that is, in direction given not by words, but by mute signs.

IV.i.44 (94,8) [I have possess'd him] I have made him clearly and strongly comprehend.

IV.i.60 (95,9) [O place and greatness] [It plainly appears, that this fine speech belongs to that which concludes the preceding scene, between the Duke and Lucio.... But that some time might be given to the two women to confer together, the players, I suppose, took part of the speech, beginning at No might nor greatness, &c. and put it here, without troubling themselves about its pertinency. Warburton.] I cannot agree that these lines are placed here by the players. The sentiments are common, and such as a prince, given to reflection, must have often present. There was a necessity to fill up the time in which the ladies converse apart, and they must have quick tongues and ready apprehensions, if they understood each other while this speech was uttered.

IV.i.60 (95,1) [false eyes] That is, Eyes insidious and traiterous.

IV.i.62 (95,2) [contrarious quests] Different reports, running counter to each other.

IV.i.76 (96,4) [for yet our tithe's to sow] [W: tilth] The reader is here attacked with a pretty sophism. We should read tilth, i.e. our tillage is to make. But in the text it is to sow; and who has ever said that his tillage was to sow? I believe tythe is right, and that the expression is proverbial, in which tithe is taken, by an easy metonymy, for harvest.

IV.ii.69 (100,7)

[ As fast lock'd up in sleep, as guiltless labour
  When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones ]

Stiffly. These two lines afford a very pleasing image.

IV.ii.83 (101,1) [Even with the stroke] Stroke is here put for the stroke of a pen or a line.

IV.ii.86 (101,2) [To qualify] To temper, to moderate, as we say wine is qualified with water.

IV.ii.86 (101,3) [Were he meal'd] Were he sprinkled; were he defiled,

A figure of the same kind our authour uses in Macbeth,

The blood-bolter'd Banquo.

IV.ii.91 (101,4) [that spirit's possess'd with haste, That wounds the unresisting postern with these strokes] The line is irregular, and the unresisting postern so strange an expression, that want of measure, and want of sense, might justly raise suspicion of an errour, yet none of the later editors seem to have supposed the place faulty, except sir Tho. Hammer, who reads,

the unresting postern.

The three folio's have it,

unsisting postern,

out of which Mr. Rowe made unresisting, and the rest followed him. Sir Thomas Hammer seems to have supposed unresisting the word in the copies, from which he plausibly enough extracted unresting, but be grounded his emendation on the very syllable that wants authority. What can be made of unsisting I know not; the best that occurs to me is unfeeling.

IV.ii.103 (103,6) [Duke. This is his lordship's man.

Prov. And here comes Claudio's pardon]

[Tyrwhitt suggested that the names of the speakers were misplaced] When, immediately after the Duke had hinted his expectation of a pardon, the Provost sees the Messenger, he supposes the Duke to to have known something, and changes his mind. Either reading may serve equally well. (1773)

IV.ii.153 (104,7) [desperately mortal] This expression is obscure. Sir Thomas Hammer reads, mortally desperate. Mortally is in low conversation used in this sense, but I know not whether it was ever written. I am inclined to believe, that desperately mortal means desperately mischievous. Or desperately mortal may mean a man likely to die in a desperate state, without reflection or repentance. (see 1765, I,348,7)

IV.ii.187 (106,8) [and tie the beard] A beard tied would give a very new air to that face, which had never been seen but with the beard loose, long, and squalid. (1773)

IV.iii.4 (107,2) [First, here's young master Rash] This enumeration of the inhabitants of the prison affords a very striking view of the practices predominant in Shakespeare's age. Besides those whose follies are common to all times, we have four fighting men and a traveller. It is not unlikely that the originals of the pictures were then known.

IV.iii.17 (108,4) [master Forthlight] Should not Forthlight be Forthright, alluding to the line in which the thrust is made? (1773)

IV.iii.21 (108,6) [in for the Lord's sake] [i.e. to beg for the rest of their lives. Warburton.] I rather think this expression intended to ridicule the puritans, whose turbulence and indecency often brought them to prison, and who considered themselves as suffering for religion.

It is not unlikely that men imprisoned for other crimes, might represent themselves to casual enquirers, as suffering for puritanism, and that this might be the common cant of the prisons. In Donne's time, every prisoner was brought to jail by suretiship.

IV.iii.68 (110,7) [After him, fellows] Here was a line given to the Duke, which belongs to the Provost. The Provost, while the Duke is lamenting the obduracy of the prisoner, cries out,

After him, fellows, &c.

and, when they are gone out, turns again to the Duke.

IV.iii.72 (110,8) [to transport him] To remove him from one world to another. The French trepas affords a kindred sense.

IV.iii.115 (112,1)

       [I will keep her ignorant of her good,
  To make her heavenly comforts of despair,
  When least it is expected.]

A better reason might have been given. It was necessary to keep Isabella in ignorance, that she might with more keenness accuse the deputy.

IV.iii.139 (113,2) [your bosom] Your wish; your heart's desire.

IV.iii.149 (113,3) [I am combined by a sacred vow] I once thought this should be confined, but Shakespeare uses combine for to bind by a pact or agreement, so he calls Angelo the combinate husband of Mariana.

IV.iii.163 (113,4) [if the old fantastical duke] Sir Thomas Hammer reads, the odd fantastical duke, but old is a common word of aggravation in ludicrous language, as, there was old revelling.

IV.iii.170 (114,5) [woodman] That is, huntsman, here taken for a hunter of girls.

IV.iv.19 (115,6) [sort and suit] Figure and rank.

IV.iv.27 (115,7) [Yet reason dares her No] Mr. Theobald reads,

--Yet reason dares her note.

Sir Thomas Hammer,

--Yet reason dares her: No.

Mr. Upton,

--Yet reason dares her--No,

which he explains thus: Yet, says Angelo, reason will give her courage--No, that is, it will not. I am afraid dare has no such signification. I have nothing to offer worth insertion.

IV.iv.28 (116,8)

[For my authority bears a credent bulk; That no particular scandal once can touch]

Credent is creditable, inforcing credit, not questionable. The old English writers often confound the active and passive adjectives. So Shakespeare, and Milton after him, use inexpressive from inexpressible.

Particular is private, a French sense. No scandal from any private mouth can reach a man in my authority.

IV.iv.36 (116,9) [Nothing goes right; we would, and we would not] Here undoubtedly the act should end, and was ended by the poet; for here is properly a cessation of action, and a night intervenes, and the place is changed, between the passages of this scene, and those of the next. The next act beginning with the following scene, proceeds without any interruption of time or change of place.

IV.v.1 (117,1) [Duke. These letters at fit time deliver me] Peter never delivers the letters, but tells his story without any credentials. The poet forgot the plot which he had formed.

IV.vi.4 (118,2) [He says, to vail full purpose] [T: t'availful] [Warburton had explained "full" as "beneficial."] To vail full purpose, may, with very little force on the words, mean, to hide the whole extent of our design, and therefore the reading may stand; yet I cannot but think Mr. Theobald's alteration either lucky or ingenious. To interpret words with such laxity, as to make full the sane with beneficial, is to put an end, at once, to all necessity of emendation, for any word may then stand in the place of another.

IV.vi.9 (118,3) [Enter Peter] This play has two Friars, either of whom might singly have served. I should therefore imagine, that Friar Thomas, in the first act, might be changed, without any harm, to Friar Peter; for why should the Duke unnecessarily trust two in an affair which required only one. The none of Friar Thomas is never mentioned in the dialogue, and therefore seems arbitrarily placed at the head of the scene.

IV.vi.14 (119,4) [Have bent the gates] Have taken possession of the gates, (rev. 1778, II,134,4)

V.i.20 (120,5) [vail your regard] That is, withdraw your thoughts from higher things, let your notice descend upon a wronged woman. To vail, is to lower.

V.i.45 (121,6) [truth is truth To the end of reckoning] That is, truth has no gradations; nothing which admits of encrease can be so much what it is, as truth is truth. There may be a strange thing, and a thing more strange, but if a proposition be true, there can be none more true.

V.i.54 (121,7) [as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute] As shy; as reserved, as abstracted: as just; as nice, as exact: as absolute; as complete in all the round of duty.

V.i.56 (121,8) [In all his dressings] In all his semblance of virtue, in all his habiliments of office.

V.i.64 (122,1) [do not banish reason For inequality] Let not the high quality of my adversary prejudice you against me.

V.i.104 (124,4) [Oh, that it were as like, as it is true!] [Warburton had explained "like" as "seemly."] Like I have never found for seemly.

V.i.107 (124,8) [In hateful practice] Practice was used by the old writers for any unlawful or insidious stratagem. So again,

This must needs be practice:

and again,

Let me have way to find this practice out.

V.i.145 (125,6) [nor a temporary medler] It is hard to know what is meant by a temporary medler. In its usual sense, as opposed to perpetual, it cannot be used here. It may stand for temporal: the sense will then be, I know him for a holy man, one that meddles not with secular affairs. It may mean temporising: I know him to be a holy man, one who would not temporise, or take the opportunity of your absence to defame you. Or we may read,

Not scurvy, nor a tamperer and medler:

not one who would bare tampered with this woman to make her a false evidence against your deputy.

V.i.160 (126,8) [So vulgarly and personally accus'd] Meaning either so grosly, with such indecency of invective, or by so mean and inadequate witnesses.

V.i.205 (128,2) [This is a strange abuse] Abuse stands in this place for deception, or puzzle. So in Macbeth,

This strange and self abuse,

means, this strange deception of himself.

V.i.219 (129,3) [her promised proportions Came short of composition] Her fortune, which was promised proportionate to mine, fell short of the composition, that is, contract or bargain.

V.i.236 (129,4) [These poor informal women] I once believed informal had no other or deeper signification than informing, accusing. The scope of justice, is the full extent; but think, upon farther enquiry, that informal signifies incompetent, not qualified to give testimony. Of this use there are precedents to be found, though I cannot now recover them.

V.i.245 (130,5) [That's seal'd in approbation?] Then any thing subject to counterfeits is tried by the proper officers and approved, a stamp or seal is put upon it, as among us on plate, weights, and measures. So the Duke says, that Angela's faith has been tried, approved, and seal'd in testimony of that approbation, and, like other things so sealed, is no more to be called in question.

V.i.255 (131,6) [to hear this matter forth] To hear it to the end; to search it to the bottom.

V.i.303 (132,4) [to retort your manifest appeal] To refer back to Angelo and the cause in which you appealed from Angelo to the Duke.

V.i.317 (133,5) [his subject I am not, Nor here provincial] Nor here accountable. The meaning seems to be, I am not one of his natural subjects, nor of any dependent province.

V.i.323 (133,6) [the forfeits in a barber's shop] [Warburton had explained that a list of forfeitures were posted in barber shops to warn patrons to keep their hands off the barber's surgical instruments.] This explanation may serve till a better is discovered. But whoever has seen the instruments of a chirurgeon, knows that they may be very easily kept out of improper hands in a very small box, or in his pocket.

V.i.336 (134,7) [And was the duke a fleshmonger, a fool, and a coward, as you then reported him to be?] So again afterwards,

You, sirrah, that know me for a fool, a coward, One of all luxury--

But Lucio had not, in the former conversation, mentioned cowardice among the faults of the duke.--Such failures of memory are incident to writers more diligent than this poet.

V.i.359 (135,8) [show your sheep-biting face, and be hang'd an hour' Will't not off?] This is intended to be the common language of vulgar indignation. Our phrase on such occasions is simply; show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged. The words an hour have no particular use here, nor are authorised by custom. I suppose it was written thus, show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged--an' how? wilt not off? In the midland counties, upon any unexpected obstruction or resistance, it is common to exclaim an' how?

V.i.388 (136,9) [Advertising, and holy] Attentive and faithful.

V.i.393 (136,l) [be you as free to us] Be as generous to us, pardon us as we have pardoned you.

V.i.401 (136,2) [That brain'd my purpose] We now use in conversation a like phrase. This it was that knocked my design on the head. Dr. Warburton reads,

--baned my purpose.

V.i.413 (137,3) [even from his proper tongue] Even from Angelo's own tongue. So above.

In the witness of his proper ear To call him villain.

V.i.438 (138,5) [Against all sense you do importune her] The meaning required is, against all reason and natural affection; Shakespeare, therefore, judiciously uses a single word that implies both; sense signifying both reason and affection.

V.i.452 (139,6) ['Till he did look on me] The duke has justly observed that Isabel is importuned against all sense to solicit for Angelo, yet here against all sense she solicits for him. Her argument is extraordinary.

A due sincerity govern'd his deeds, 'Till he did look on me; since it is so. Let him not die.

That Angelo had committed all the crimes charged against him, as far as he could commit them, is evident. The only intent which his act did not overtake, was the defilement of Isabel. Of this Angelo was only intentionally guilty.

Angela's crimes were such, as must sufficiently justify punishment, whether its end be to secure the innocent from wrong, or to deter guilt by example; and I believe every reader feels some indignation when he finds him spared. From what extenuation of his crime, can Isabel, who yet supposes her brother dead, form any plea in his favour. Since he was good 'till he looked on me, let him not die. I am afraid our varlet poet intended to inculcate, that women think ill of nothing that raises the credit of their beauty, and are ready, however virtuous, to pardon any act which they think incited by their own charms.

V.i.488 (140,7) [But, for those earthly faults, I quit them all] Thy faults, so far as they are punishable on earth, so far as they are cognisable by temporal power, I forgive.

V.i.499 (141,8) [By this, lord Angelo perceives he's safe] It is somewhat strange, that Isabel is not made to express either gratitude, wonder or joy at the sight of her brother.

V.i.501 (141,9) [your evil quits you well] Quits you, recompenses, requites you.

V.i.502 (141,1) [Look, that you love your wife; her worth, worth yours] Sir T. Hammer reads,

Her worth works yours.

This reading is adopted by Dr. Warburton, but for what reason? How does her worth work Angelo's worth? it has only contributed to work his pardon. The words are, as they are too frequently, an affected gingle, but the sense is plain. Her worth, worth yours; that is, her value is equal to your value, the match is not unworthy of you.

V.i.504 (141,2) [And yet here's one in place I cannot pardon] After the pardon of two murderers, Lucio might be treated by the good duke with less harshness; but perhaps the poet intended to show, what is too often seen, that men easily forgive wrongs which are not committed against themselves.

V.i.509 (142,3) [according to the trick] To my custom, my habitual practice.

V.i.526 (142,4) [thy other forfeits] Thy other punishments.

V.i.534 (142,5) [Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness] I have always thought that there is great confusion in this concluding speech. If my criticism would not be censured as too licentious, I should regulate it thus,

Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness. Thanks. Provost, for thy care and secrecy; We shall employ thee in a worthier place. Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home The head of Ragozine for Claudio's. Ang. Th' offence pardons itself. Duke. There's more behind That is more gratulate. Dear Isabel, I have a motion,&c,

V.i.545 (143,6) General Observation The novel of Cynthio Giraldi, from which Shakespeare is supposed to have borrowed this fable, may be read in Shakespeare illustrated, elegantly translated, with remarks which will assist the enquirer to discover how much absurdity Shakespeare has admitted or avoided. I cannot but suspect that some other had new-modelled the novel of Cynthio, or written a story which in some particulars resembled it, and that Cynthio was not the authour whom Shakespeare immediately followed. The emperour in Cynthio is named Maximine; the duke, in Shakespeare's enumeration of the persons of the drama, is called Vincentio. This appears a very slight remark; but since the duke has no name in the play, nor is ever mentioned but by his title, why should he be called Vincentio among the persons, but because the name was copied from the story, and placed superfluously at the head of the list by the mere habit of transcription? It is therefore likely that there was then a story of Vincentio duke of Vienna, different from that of Maximine emperour of the Romans.

Of this play the light or comick part is very natural and pleasing, but the grave scenes, if a few passages be excepted, have more labour than elegance. The plot is rather intricate than artful. The time of the action is indefinite; some time, we know not how much, must have elapsed between the recess of the duke and the imprisonment of Claudio; for he must have learned the story of Mariana in his disguise, or he delegated his power to a man already known to be corrupted. The unities of action and place are sufficiently preserved.

Samuel Johnson