Measure for Measure, Act IV, Scene III

Barnardine is a bit kind of star part. We hear about him the entire play, a murderer who is to be executed, and he finally here makes his appearance, where he does not consent to be beheaded. Scholars read him as a figure of the artist.


ABHORSON. Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?
POMPEY. Very ready, sir.
BARNARDINE. How now, Abhorson, what’s the news with you?
ABHORSON. Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers;
for, look you, the warrant’s come.
BARNARDINE. You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not
fitted for’t.
POMPEY. O, the better, sir! For he that drinks all night and is
hanged betimes in the morning may sleep the sounder all the next

Enter DUKE, disguised as before

ABHORSON. Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father.
Do we jest now, think you?
DUKE. Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are
to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with
BARNARDINE. Friar, not I; I have been drinking hard all night, and
I will have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my
brains with billets. I will not consent to die this day, that’s
DUKE. O, Sir, you must; and therefore I beseech you
Look forward on the journey you shall go.
BARNARDINE. I swear I will not die to-day for any man’s persuasion.
DUKE. But hear you-
BARNARDINE. Not a word; if you have anything to say to me, come to
my ward; for thence will not I to-day.

DUKE. Unfit to live or die. O gravel heart!
After him, fellows; bring him to the block.