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MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
This play was first printed in the folio of 1623, and is supposed, upon the slight foundation of two or three doubtful allusions to contemporary events, to have been written in 1603. The fact of its having been played before the Court on St. Stephen's night, December 26, 1604, which is gathered from Tylney's account of the expenses of The Revels from the end of October, 1604, to the end of the same month, 1605:
“By his Mates. plaiers. On St. Stivens Night in the Hall, A Play called Mesur for Mesur"
proves it to have been written before that date, and this really is all that is known with certainty respecting the period of its production. The plot appears to have been taken from Whetstone's drama, in two parts, called “ The right excellent and famous Historye of Promos and Cassandra,” &c. 1578, of which the “ Argument” is as follows :
* In the cyttie of Julio (sometimes vnder the dominion of Coruinus Kinge of Hungarie and Boemia) there was a law, that what man so euer committed adultery should lose his head, and the woman offender should weare some disguised apparel during her life, to make her infamouslye noted. This seuere lawe, by the fauour of some mercifull magistrato, became little regarded vntill the time of Lord Promos auctority; who conuicting a yong gentleman named Andrugio of incontinency, condemned both him and his minion to the execution of this statute. Andrugio had a very vertuous and beawtiful gentlewoman to his sister, named Cassandra : Cassandra to enlarge her brothers life, submitted an humble petition to the Lord Promos: Promos regarding her good behauiours, and fantasying her great beawtie, was much delighted with the sweete order of her talke; and, doying good that euill might come thereof, for a time he repryu'd her brother; but, wicked man, tourning his liking vnto vnlawfull lust, he set downe the spoile of her honour raunsome for her brothers life. Chaste Cassandra, abhorring both him and his sute, by no perswasion would yeald to this raunsome : but in fine, wonne with the importunitye of hir brother (pleading for life) vpon these conditions she agreede to Promos; first that he should pardon her brother, and after marry her. Promos, as feareles in promisse as carelesse in performance, with sollemne vowe sygned her conditions: but worse then any infydel, his will satisfyed, he performed neither the one nor the other; for, to keepe his aucthoritye vnspotted with fauour, and to preuent Cassandraes clamors, he commaunded the gayler secretly to present Cassandra with her brothers head. The gayler, with the outcryes of Andrugio [sic)
, abhorryng Promos lewdenes, by the prouidence of God prouided thus for his safety. He presented Cassandra with a felon's head newlie executed, who (being mangled, knew it not from her brothers, by the gayler who was set at libertie) was so agreeued at this trecherye, that, at the pointe to kyl her selfe, she sparod that stroke to be auenged of Promos : and deuisyng a way, she concluded to make her fortunes knowne vnto the kinge. She (executinge this resolution) was so highly fauoured of the king, that forthwith he hasted to do justice on Promos : whoso judgement was, to marrye Cassandra to repaire her crased honour; which donre, for his hainous offence he should lose his head. This maryage solempnised, Cassandra, tyed in the greatest bondes of affection to her husband, became an earnest suter for his life: the kinge (tendringe the generall benefit of the common weale before her special ease, although he fauoured her much,) would not graunt her sute. Andrugio (disguised amonge the company) sorrowing the griefe of his sister, bewrayde his safetye, and craued pardon. The kinge, to renowne the vertues of Cassandra, pardoned both him and Promos. The circumstances of this rare historye in action lyuelye foloweth.”
Whetstone was indebted for the story, of which he afterwards introduced a prose narrative in his “Heptameron of Civil Discourses ” 1582, to Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi, Parte Seconda, Deca. viii. Novella 5 :
“ Juriste è mandato da Massamiano Imperadore in Ispruchi, ove fà prendere un giovane violatore di una vergine, e condannalo a morte : la sorella cerca di liberarlo : Juriste da speranza alla donna di pigliarla per moglie, e di darle libero il fratello : ella con lui si giace, e la notte istessa Juriste fà tagliar al giovane la testa, e la manda alla sorella. Ella ne fà querela all' Imperadore, il quale fà sposare ad Juriste la donna ; poscia lo fa dare ad essere ucciso: la donna lo libera, e con lui si vive amorevolissimamente."
And given his deputation all the organs
As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand.
But do not like to stage me to their eyes :
Their loud applause, and aves vehement,
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion,
well. Ang. The heavens give safety to your purposes ! Enter ANGELO.
Escal. Lead forth, and bring you back in
happiness! ANG. Always obedient to your grace's will, DUKE. I thank you.
well. [Exit. I come to know your pleasure.
Escal. I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave DUKE.
To have free speech with you ; and it concerns me There is a kind of character in thy life,
To look into the bottom of my place : That to the observer doth thy history
A power I have, but of what strength and nature Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
I am not yet instructed. Are not thine own so proper, as to waste
Ang. "T'is so with me. Let us withdraw together, Thyself upon thy virtues, them* on thee.
And we may soon our satisfaction have Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Touching that point. Not light them for themselves ; for if our virtues
I'll wait upon your honour. Did not go forth of us, 't were all alike
rExeunt. As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely
SCENE II.-A Street.
Enter Lucio and two Gentlemen.
Lucro. If the duke, with the other dukes, come In our remove be thou at full ourself ;
not to composition with the king of Hungary, why Mortality and mercy in Vienna
then, all the dukes fall upon the king. Live in thy tongue and heart: old Escalus,
1 Gent. Heaven grant us its peace, but not Though first in question, is thy secondary : the king of Hungary's ! Take thy commission.
2 GENT. Amen. Ang. Now, good my lord,
Lucio. Thou concludest like the sanctimonious Let there be some more test made of my metal, pirate, that went to sea with the Ten CommandBefore so noble and so great a figure
ments, but scraped one out of the table. Be stamp'd upon it.
2 GENT. Thou shalt not steal ? DUKE. No more evasion :
Lucio. Ay, that he razed. We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice 1 Gunt. Why, 'twas a commandment to Proceeded to you ; therefore take your honours. command the captain and all the rest from their Our haste from hence is of so quick condition, functions: they put forth to steal. There's not a That it prefers itself, and leaves unquestion'd soldier of us all, that, in the thanksgiving before Matters of needful value. We shall write to you, meat; doth relish the petition well that prays for As time and our concernings shall importune,
peace. How it goes with us ; and do look to know
2 Gent. I never heard any soldier dislike it. What doth befall you here. So, fare
well: Lucio. I believe thee ; for I think thou never To the hopeful execution do I leave you
wast where grace was said. Of your commissions.
2 GENT. No? a dozen times at least. Ang.
Yet, give leave, my lord, 1 GENT. What, in metre? That we may bring you something on the way. Lucro. In any proportion or in any language. DUKE. My haste may not admit it;
1 Gent. I think, or in any religion. Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do
Lucio. Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite With any scruple: your scope is as mine own, of all controversy : as for example,—thou thysel So to enforce or qualify the laws
art a wicked villain, despite of all grace.
(*) Old text, they.
a Use.) Use formerly signified interest of money.