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ACT II SCENE III
A room in a prison.
Enter, severally, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as a friar, and Provost.
Hail to you, provost! so I think you are.
I am the provost. What's your will, good friar?
Bound by my charity and my blest order,
I come to visit the afflicted spirits
Here in the prison. Do me the common right
To let me see them and to make me know
The nature of their crimes, that I may minister
To them accordingly.
I would do more than that, if more were needful.
Look, here comes one: a gentlewoman of mine,
Who, falling in the flames of her own youth,
Hath blister'd her report: she is with child;
And he that got it, sentenced; a young man
More fit to do another such offence
Than die for this.
When must he die?
As I do think, to-morrow.
I have provided for you: stay awhile,
And you shall be conducted.
Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?
I do; and bear the shame most patiently.
I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
And try your penitence, if it be sound,
Or hollowly put on.
I'll gladly learn.
Love you the man that wrong'd you?
Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.
So then it seems your most offenceful act
Was mutually committed?
Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.
I do confess it, and repent it, father.
'Tis meet so, daughter: but lest you do repent,
As that the sin hath brought you to this shame,
Which sorrow is always towards ourselves, not heaven,
Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it,
But as we stand in fear,--
I do repent me, as it is an evil,
And take the shame with joy.
Your partner, as I hear, must die to-morrow,
And I am going with instruction to him.
Grace go with you, Benedicite!
Must die to-morrow! O injurious law,
That respites me a life, whose very comfort
Is still a dying horror!
'Tis pity of him.
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 3
From Measure for Measure. Ed. William J. Rolfe. New York: Harper & Brothers., 1899.
4.Spirits in prison. There is an allusion to I Peter, iii.
10.Of mine. He calls her so because she had been placed in his
care. Cf. ii. 2. 23 fol. above.
11.Flames. The folios have "flawes" or "flaws;" but it is probably
a misprint for flames, which Davenant substituted. Cf Ham. iii. 4 83:
"To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,
And melt in her own fire."
26.Offenceful. The 1st folio misprints "offence full."
30.Lest. The reading of the 4th folio; the earlier folios have "least,"
which Coll. and V. retain.
31.As that. For the reason that, because that. Tyrwhitt puts it thus: "lest you repent (not so much of your fault, as it is an evil) as that, etc."
33.Spare heaven. "That is, spare to offend heaven" (Malone). Pope reads 'seek heaven," and the Coll. MS. "serve heaven." Sr. conjectures "appease heaven."
36.There rest. "Keep yourself in this temper" (Johnson).
39.Grace go with you! D. gives these words to Juliet (Kitson's conjecture).
40.Law. The folios have "love;" corrected by Hanmer. "Neither her love nor its consequences had any effect upon her life; but the law in question, declaring, as we learn in the old tale on which the play is
founded, that the man who broke it 'should lose his head, and the woman offender should ever after be infamously noted,' thus did respite her 'a life whose very comfort' was 'a dying horror'" (W.). Some editors retain "love," and Tollet explains the passage thus with that reading: "O love, that is injurious in expediting Claudio's death, and that respites me
a life which is a burden to me worse than death!"