Imatges de pàgina

Persons Represented

Vincentio, duke of Vienna.
Angelo, lord deputy in the duke's absence.
Escalus, an ancient lord, joined with Angelo in the deputasime
Claudio, a young gentleman.
Lucio, a fantastick.
Two other like gentlemen.
Varrius*, a gentleman, fervant to the duke

two friars.
A justice.
Elbow, a fimple constable.
Froth, a foolish gentleman.
Clorun, fer want to Mrs. Over-done,
Abhorson, an executioner.
Barnardine, a dissolute prisoner.


, }

Isabella, fifter to Claudio.
Mariana, betrothed to Angelo.
Juliet, beloved by Claudio.
Francisca, a nun.
Miftress Overdone, a bawd.

Lords, gentlemen, guards, officers, and other attendanti

SCENE, Vienna.

Varrius might be omitted, for he is only once spoken to, and fays nothing. JOHNSON.



A room in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, EscALUS, Lords, and Attendants.
Duke. Escalus,
Escal. My Lord.

Duke. Of government the properties to unfold,
Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse;

1 The story is taken from Cinthio's Novels, Decad. 8. Novel 5. POPE.

We are sent to Cinthio for the plot of Measure for Measure, and Shakspeare's judgment hath been attacked for fome deviations from him in the conduct of it, when probably all he knew of the matter was from Madam Isabella, in the Heptameron of Whetstone, Lond. 4to. 1582.She reports, in the fourth dayes Exercise, the rare Historie of Promos and Cassandra. A marginal note informs us, that Wberstone was the author of the Comedie on that subject; which likewise had probably fallen into the hands of Shakspeare. FARMER.

There is perhaps not one of Shakspeare'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. JOHNSON.

Shakspeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and Calandra of G. Whetstone, published in 1578. "See Theobald's note at the end.

A hint, like a seed, is more or less prolifick, according to the qualities of the soil on which it is thrown. This story, which in the hands of Whetstone produced little more than barren infipidity, under the culture of Shakspeare became fertile of entertainment. 'The curious reader will find that the old play of Promos and Cassandra exhibits an aimolt complete embryo of Measure for Measure; yet the hints on which it is formed are so light, that it is nearly as impoffible to detect them, as it is to point out in the acorn the future ramifications of the oak.

The reader will find the argument of G. Whetstone's Promos and Caffandra, at the end of this play. It is too bulky to be inserted here. See likewise the piece itself among Six old Plays ox wbicb Sbakspeare founded &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-crofs. STEVENS.

Measure for Measure was, I believe, written in 1603. See an Ato temprio ascertain ibe order of Sbakspeare's plays, ante. MALONE. B 2


Since I am put to know?, that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists 3 of all advice
My strength can give you: Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency as your worth is able,
And let them work 4. The nature of our people,
Our city's institutions, and the terms

3 4

春 **

2. Since I am put to know,-) I om put to know may mean, I am obliged to acknowledge. So, in King Henry VI. Part II. sc. i:

had I first been put to speak my mind." STEEVENS. - lifts] Bounds, limits. JOHNSON,

Tben no more romains, But that to your fufficiency

as your worth is able, And let them work.] I have not the smallest doubt that the composia tor's eye glanced from the middle of the second of these lines to that under it in the Mr. and that by this means two half lines have been omitted. . The very fame error may be found in Macbeth, edit. 1632:

which, being taught, return,
“To plague the ingredients of our poison'd chalice

“ To our own lips." inficad of

" --which, being taught, return,
“ To plague the inventor. Ibis even-banded justice

Commends beingredients of our poison'd chalice” &c. Again, in Mucb ado about notbing, edit. 1623. p. 103:

" And I will break with her. Was't not to this end, &c.“ infead of

" And I will break with her, and with ber faiber,

And thou fialt bave ber. Was't not to this end, &c." Mr. Theobald would supply the defect thus :

But that to your sufficiency you add

Due diligence, as your worth is able, &c. Sir T. Hanmer reads:

But that to your sufficiency you join

A will to serve us, as your worth is able, &c. The following paliage, in K. Henry IV. P. I. which is constructed in a manner tomewhat similar to the piesent when corrected, appears to me to strengthen the supposition that two half lines have been lost:

“ Send danger from the cast unto the west,
“ So bonour cross it from the north to louth,

And let ibem grapple.Sufficiency is skillin government; ability to execute his office. And les them work, a figurative expression; Letibem ferment. MALONE.

Some words teem to have been lot here, the sense of which, perhaps, may be thus supplied :

-ben no more remains, But that to ysur fufficiency you put A zeal as willing as your woribis able, &c. TYRWHITT.


For common justices, you are as pregnant in ,
As art and practice hath enriched any
That we remember: There is our commission,
From which we would not have you warp.-Call hither,
I say, bid come before us Angelo.-[Exit an attendant.
What figure of us think you he will bear?
For you must know, we have with special soul ?
Elected him our absence to supply;
Lent him our terror, dreft him with our love;
And given his deputation all the organs
Of our own power: What think you of it?

Escal. If any in Vienna be of worth
To undergo such ample grace and honour,
It is lord Angelo.

Duke. Look where he comes.

Ang. Always obedient to your grace's will,
I come to know your pleasure.

Duke. Angelo,
There is a kind of character in thy life,
That, to the observer, doth thy history 8

and the terms
For common justice,] Terms means the technical language of the

An old book called Les Termes de la Ley, (written in Henry the Eighth's time) was in Shakspeare's days, and is now, the accidence of young Itudents in the law. BLACKSTONE.

- as pregnant in, ] Pregnant is ready, knowing. JOHNSON.
? — with special foul] By the words with special soul elected bim, I
believe, the poet meant no more than obat be was ibe immediate cboice of
bis beart. So, in the Tempeft:

« for several virtues
" Have I lik'd several women, never any

“ With so full soul, but some defect” &c. STEEVENS.
This seems to be only a translation of the usual formal words inserted
in all royal grants : “ de graria noftra fpeciali, et •ex mero
hobe motu-,” MALONE.
There is a kind of chara&ter in thy life,

That, to the obferver, dorb iby history

Fully unfold:] What is there peculiar in this, that a man's life informs the observer of his history?

Hiftory 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. JOHNSON,


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B 3

Fully unfold; Thyself and thy belongings?
Are not thine own so proper, as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, them on thee 2.
Heaven doth with us, as we with torches do ;
Not light them for themselves: for if our virtues 3
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike
As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touca'd,
But to fine issues 4: nor nature never lends s
The smalleft fcruple of her excellence,
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,
Both thanks and use 6. But I do bend my speech
To one that can my part in him advertise ?;

Shakspeare has the same thought in Henry IV, which is some coma ment on this passage before us :

" There is a history in all men's lives,
“ Figuring the nature of the times deceas'd :
“ The which observ'd, a man may prophecy
“ With a near aim, of the main chance of things
« As yet not come to life, &c. STEEVENS.

tby belongings] i. e. endowments. MALONE. - are not sbire own so proper,] i. e. are not so much thy own property.

STEEVENS. 2 -- them on tbee. The old copy reads_bey on thee. STEEVENS. Corrected by Sir Tho. Hanmer. MALONE.

- for if our virtues &c.]
Paulum sepultæ diftat inertiæ

Celata virtus.--Hor. THEOBALD. 4 to fine issues :) To great consequences; for high purposes. JOHNSON.

s- nor nature never lends] Two negatives, not employed to make an affirmative, are common in our author. STIEVENS.

he determines Herself tbe glory of a creditor,

Borbebanks and use.) i. e. She (Nature) requires and allots to berself the same advantages that creditors usually enjoy,—thanks for the endowments the has bestowed, and extraordinary exertions in those whom the hath thus favoured, by way of interest for what she has lent. Use, in the phraseology of our author's age, signified intereft of money.


I do bend my speech To one ebat can my part in him advertise ;] I believe, the meaning is, I am talking to one who is himself already fufficiently conversant with the nature and duties of my office;-ot that ofice, wbicb I bave now delegated to bim. MALONE.




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