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Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye,
Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues.*
Biron's Mirthfulness described.
A merrier man,
Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal :
His eye begets occasion for his wit ;
For every object that the one doth catch,
The other turns to a mirth-moving-jest ;
Which his fair tongue (conceit's expositor)
Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
That aged ears play truant at his tales,
And younger hearings are quite ravished ;
So sweet and voluble in his discourse.
Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye
('Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument) Persuade my heart to this false perjury?
Vows, for thee broke, deserve not punishment. A woman I foreswore ; but, I will prove,
Thou being a goddess, I foreswore not thee : My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;
Thy grace being gain’d, cures all disgrace in me : Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is ;
Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine, Exhal'st this vapour vow; in thee it is :
If broken, then, it is no fault of mine ;
If by me broke. What fool is not so wise,
To lose an oath to win a paradise ?
* Chapman, a dealer or seller.
The Power of Love
But love, first learned in a lady's eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain ;
But, with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power ;
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye :
A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind ;
A lover's ear will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stoppid;
Love's feeling is more soft and sensible
Than are the tender horns of cockled snails ;
Love's tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste ;
For valour, is not love a Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides ?
Subtle as sphinx ; as sweet and musical
As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair ;
And, when love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were temper'd with love's sighs :
O, then his lines would ravage savage ears,
And plant in tyrants mild humility.
From woman's eyes this doctrine I derive :
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain, and nourish all the world.
Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, announces his intention to leave his dominions and travel in Poland. Taking leave of his friends, he deputes Angelo, assisted by Escalus (both of them lords of his court), to govern in his absence. Instead, however, of taking his departure, the Duke disguises himself as a friar, and remains in Vienna, being desirous of ascertaining how justice is administered when he is an absentee. No sooner has he disappeared from the court than Angelo, reviving an obsolete law, commits Claudio, a young gentleman in love with Juliet, to prison, and inhumanly condemns him to death. Isabella, Claudio's sister, a lady of exalted character, who is about to enter a nunnery, becomes a suppliant to Angelo for her brother's life ; she, however, sues in vain, and Claudio is left for execution. An interview between the brother and sister takes place in the prison, and their conversation is overheard by the Duke, who thus is made aware of the harsh manner in which Angelo is overstraining the laws. At length the Duke throws off his disguise, and condemns Angelo to death, whom he, however, subsequently pardons at the intercession of Isabella. Claudio is released and marries Juliet, and the Duke himself, charmed with the nobility of character and piety of Isabella, offers her his hand. Dr. Johnson, speaking of “ Measure for Measure,” says: “ The light or comic part is very natural and pleasing ; but the grave scenes (a few passages excepted), have more labour than elegance ; the plot is rather intricate than artful."
Virtue given to be Exerted. HEAVEN doth with us as we with torches do ; Not light them for themselves : for if our virtues Did not go forth of us, 't were all alike As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd,
But to fine issues : nor nature never lends
The smallest scruple of her excellence ;
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,
Both thanks and use.*
Eloquence and Beauty.
In her youth
There is a pronet and speechless dialect,
Such as moves men; beside, she hath prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse,
And well she can persuade.
Angelo's Character as a Governor described.
Lord Angelo is precise ;
Stands at a guard with envy ; scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone : hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be.
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.
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.
* Interest of money.
+ Facile, ready.
The Duty of Forgiveness.
Alas ! alas !
Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once,
And he that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that ;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.
The Abuse of Power.
O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength : but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
The Abuse of Authority.
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,
Splitt’st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak,
Than the soft myrtle : 0, but man, proud man!
Drest in a little brief authority :
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence,-like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep.
The Privilege of Authority. That in the captain's but a choleric word, Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
* Mean, despicable.