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the intervals of passion, or blended with the more powerful impulses of nature, is hardly surpassed in any of his plays. But there is a general want of passion; the affections are at a stand; our sympathies are repulsed and defeated in all directions.” Isabella is a lovely example of female parity and virtue;
with mental energies of a very superior kind, she is placed in a situation to make trial of them all, and the firmness with which her virtue resists the appeal of natural affection has something in it heroically sublime. The passages in which she encourages her brother to meet death with firmness rather than dishonour, bis burst of indignant passion on learning the price at which his life might be redeemed, and his subsequent clinging to life, and desire that she would make the sacrifice required, are among the finest dramatic passages of Shakspeare. What heightens the effect is that this scene follows the fine exhortation of the Duke in the character of the Friar about the little value of life which had almost made Claudio • resolved to die.' The comic parts of the play are lively and amusing, and the reckless Barnardine, “fearless of what's past, present, and to come,' is in fine contrast to the sentimentality of the other characters. Shakspeare “was a moralist in the same sense in which nature is one. He taught what he had learnt from her. He showed the greatest knowledge of humanity with the greatest fellow feeling for it*.”
Malone supposes this play to have been written about the close of the year 1603.
* Characters of Shakspeare's Plays, 2d ed. London, 1818,
VINCENTIO, Duke of Vienna.
ISABELLA, Sister to Claudio.
Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and other
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
SCENE I. An Apartment in the Duke's Palace.
Enter DUKE, ESCALUS, Lords, and Attendants.
Duke. Of government the properties to unfold, Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse; Since I am put to know?, that
your own science Exceeds, in that, the lists? of all advice My strength can give you: Then no more remains But that to your sufficiency), as your worth is able, And let them work. The nature of our people, Our city's institutions, and the terms For common justice, you are as pregnant* in,
' i. e. since I am so placed as to know. Mr. Stevens says it may mean, I am compelled to acknowledge. And instances from Henry VI. Pt. ii. Sc. 1.
had I first been put to speak my mind.' 2 Lists are bounds.
3 Some words seem to be lost here. The sense of whieh may have been
Then no more remains
And let them work.
4 i. e. ready in.
As art and practice hath enriched any
(Exit an Attendant. What figure of us think you he will bear? For
you must know, we have with special soul
Escal. If any in Vienna be of worth
Look, where he comes.
5 So much thy own property.
6 i. e. high purposes. 7 Two negatives, not employed to make an affirmative, are common in Shakspeare's writings, so in Julius Cæsar:
· Nor to no Roman else.'
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Now, good my lord,
No more evasion :
well: To the hopeful execution do I leave you Of
your commissions. Ang.
Yet, give leave, my lord, That we may bring you something on the way.
8 i.e. Nature requires and allots to herself the same advantages that creditors usually enjoy—thanks for the endowments she has bestowed, and extraordinary exertions in those whom she has favoured; by way of use (i. e, interest) for what she has lent.
9 i.e. to one who is already sufficiently conversant with the nature and duties of my office ;-of that office which I have now delegated to him.
10 i.e. I delegate to thy tongue the power of pronouncing sentence of death, and to thy heart the privilege of exercising mercy.
11 A choice mature, concocted, fermented; i. e. not hasty, but considerate.