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MEASURE FOR MEASURE

by: William Shakespeare


Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not to use, in time the rod
Becomes more mocked than feared; so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.

--Duke, Act I, scene iii

Our doubts are traitors
And makes us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.

--Lucio, Act I, scene iv

When maidens sue,
Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
All their petitions are as freely theirs
As they themselves would owe them.

--Lucio, Act I, scene iv

We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.

--Angelo, Act II, scene i

The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try.

--Angelo, Act II, scene i

The jewel that we find, we stoop and take 't
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon and never think of it.

--Angelo, Act II, scene i

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.

--Escalus, Act II, scene i

Mercy is not itself that oft looks so;
Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.

--Escalus, Act II, scene i

No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.

--Isabella, Act II, scene ii

The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.

--Angelo, Act II, scene ii

O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

--Isabella, Act II, scene ii

Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder,
Nothing but thunder!--Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle; but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep, who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

--Isabella, Act II, scene ii

Great men may jest with saints; 't is wit in them,
But in the less foul profanation.

--Isabella, Act II, scene ii

That in the captain's but a choleric word
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

--Isabella, Act II, scene ii

Authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
That skins the vice o' the top.

--Isabella, Act II, scene ii

Is this her fault or mine?
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most? Ha!
Not she; nor doth she tempt; 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.

--Angelo, Act II, scene ii

Thieves for their robbery have authority
When judges steal themselves.

--Angelo, Act II, scene ii

O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint,
With saints dost bait thy hook!

--Angelo, Act II, scene ii

Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving nature.

--Angelo, Act II, scene ii

O perilous mouths,
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue,
Either of condemnation or approof;
Bidding the law make court'sy to their will,
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws!

--Isabella, Act II, scene iv

The miserable have no other medicine,
But only hope.

--Claudio, Act III, scene i

Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skyey influences,
That dost this habitation where thou keep'st
Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art death's fool;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,
And yet runn'st toward him still.

--Duke, Act III, scene i

If thou art rich, thou 'rt poor;
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee.

--Duke, Act III, scene i

The sense of death is most in apprehension,
And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.

--Isabella, Act III, scene i

If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride,
And hug it in mine arms.

--Claudio, Act III, scene i

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling!--'t is too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

--Claudio, Act III, scene i

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.

--Duke, Act III, scene i

No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?

--Duke, Act III, scene ii

He who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe,
Pattern in himself to know
Grace to stand, and virtue go;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self-offenses weighing.

--Duke, Act III, scene ii

Shame to him whose cruel striking
Kills for faults of his own liking!

--Duke, Act III, scene ii

O, what may man within him hide,
Though angel on the outward side!

--Duke, Act III, scene ii

There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure, but security enough to make fellowship accurst.

--Duke, Act III, scene ii

Music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good, and good provoke to harm.

--Duke, Act IV, scene i

Truth is truth
To the end of reckoning.

--Isabella, Act V, scene i

Harp not on that, nor do not banish reason
For inequality; but let your reason serve
To make the truth appear where it seems hid,
And hide the false seems true.

--Isabella, Act V, scene i

They say, best men are moulded out of faults,
And, for the most, become much more the better
For being a little bad.

--Mariana, Act V, scene i

Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.

--Duke, Act V, scene i

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