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Twelfth Night

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[Enter MARIA and Clown]
MARIANay, either tell me where thou hast been, or I will
not open my lips so wide as a bristle may enter in
way of thy excuse: my lady will hang thee for thy absence.
ClownLet her hang me: he that is well hanged in this
world needs to fear no colours.
MARIAMake that good.
ClownHe shall see none to fear.
MARIAA good lenten answer: I can tell thee where that
saying was born, of 'I fear no colours.'
ClownWhere, good Mistress Mary?10
MARIAIn the wars; and that may you be bold to say in your foolery.
ClownWell, God give them wisdom that have it; and those
that are fools, let them use their talents.
MARIAYet you will be hanged for being so long absent; or,
to be turned away, is not that as good as a hanging to you?
ClownMany a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and,
for turning away, let summer bear it out.
MARIAYou are resolute, then?20
ClownNot so, neither; but I am resolved on two points.
MARIAThat if one break, the other will hold; or, if both
break, your gaskins fall.
ClownApt, in good faith; very apt. Well, go thy way; if
Sir Toby would leave drinking, thou wert as witty a
piece of Eve's flesh as any in Illyria.
MARIAPeace, you rogue, no more o' that. Here comes my
lady: make your excuse wisely, you were best.
ClownWit, an't be thy will, put me into good fooling!
Those wits, that think they have thee, do very oft
prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may

pass for a wise man: for what says Quinapalus?
'Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.'33
God bless thee, lady!
OLIVIATake the fool away.
ClownDo you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.
OLIVIAGo to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of you:
besides, you grow dishonest.
ClownTwo faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel
will amend: for give the dry fool drink, then is
the fool not dry: bid the dishonest man mend
himself; if he mend, he is no longer dishonest; if
he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Any thing38
that's mended is but patched: virtue that
transgresses is but patched with sin; and sin that
amends is but patched with virtue. If that this
simple syllogism will serve, so; if it will not,
what remedy? As there is no true cuckold but
calamity, so beauty's a flower. The lady bade take
away the fool; therefore, I say again, take her away.
OLIVIASir, I bade them take away you.48
ClownMisprision in the highest degree! Lady, cucullus non
facit monachum; that's as much to say as I wear not
motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to
prove you a fool.
OLIVIACan you do it?
ClownDexterously, good madonna.
OLIVIAMake your proof.
ClownI must catechise you for it, madonna: good my mouse
of virtue, answer me.
OLIVIAWell, sir, for want of other idleness, I'll bide your proof.
ClownGood madonna, why mournest thou?61
OLIVIAGood fool, for my brother's death.
ClownI think his soul is in hell, madonna.
OLIVIAI know his soul is in heaven, fool.
ClownThe more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's
soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.
OLIVIAWhat think you of this fool, Malvolio? doth he not mend?
MALVOLIOYes, and shall do till the pangs of death shake him:
infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the
better fool.
ClownGod send you, sir, a speedy infirmity, for the71
better increasing your folly! Sir Toby will be
sworn that I am no fox; but he will not pass his
word for two pence that you are no fool.
OLIVIAHow say you to that, Malvolio?
MALVOLIOI marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a
barren rascal: I saw him put down the other day
with an ordinary fool that has no more brain
than a stone. Look you now, he's out of his guard
already; unless you laugh and minister occasion to
him, he is gagged. I protest, I take these wise men,
that crow so at these set kind of fools, no better
than the fools' zanies.82
OLIVIAOh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste
with a distempered appetite. To be generous,
guiltless and of free disposition, is to take those
things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon-bullets:
there is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do
nothing but rail; nor no railing in a known discreet
man, though he do nothing but reprove.
ClownNow Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou90
speakest well of fools!
[Re-enter MARIA]
MARIAMadam, there is at the gate a young gentleman much
desires to speak with you.
OLIVIAFrom the Count Orsino, is it?
MARIAI know not, madam: 'tis a fair young man, and well attended.
OLIVIAWho of my people hold him in delay?
MARIASir Toby, madam, your kinsman.
OLIVIAFetch him off, I pray you; he speaks nothing but
madman: fie on him!
[Exit MARIA]
Go you, Malvolio: if it be a suit from the count, I
am sick, or not at home; what you will, to dismiss it.
Now you see, sir, how your fooling grows old, and
people dislike it.102
ClownThou hast spoke for us, madonna, as if thy eldest
son should be a fool; whose skull Jove cram with
brains! for,--here he comes,--one of thy kin has a
most weak pia mater.
OLIVIABy mine honour, half drunk. What is he at the gate, cousin?
SIR TOBY BELCHA gentleman.
OLIVIAA gentleman! what gentleman?109
SIR TOBY BELCH'Tis a gentle man here--a plague o' these
pickle-herring! How now, sot!
ClownGood Sir Toby!
OLIVIACousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy?
SIR TOBY BELCHLechery! I defy lechery. There's one at the gate.
OLIVIAAy, marry, what is he?
SIR TOBY BELCHLet him be the devil, an he will, I care not: give
me faith, say I. Well, it's all one.
OLIVIAWhat's a drunken man like, fool?120
ClownLike a drowned man, a fool and a mad man: one
draught above heat makes him a fool; the second mads
him; and a third drowns him.
OLIVIAGo thou and seek the crowner, and let him sit o' my
coz; for he's in the third degree of drink, he's
drowned: go, look after him.
ClownHe is but mad yet, madonna; and the fool shall look
to the madman.
[Re-enter MALVOLIO]
MALVOLIOMadam, yond young fellow swears he will speak with
you. I told him you were sick; he takes on him to
understand so much, and therefore comes to speak
with you. I told him you were asleep; he seems to
have a foreknowledge of that too, and therefore
comes to speak with you. What is to be said to him,
lady? he's fortified against any denial.
OLIVIATell him he shall not speak with me.136
MALVOLIOHas been told so; and he says, he'll stand at your
door like a sheriff's post, and be the supporter to
a bench, but he'll speak with you.
OLIVIAWhat kind o' man is he?140
MALVOLIOWhy, of mankind.
OLIVIAWhat manner of man?
MALVOLIOOf very ill manner; he'll speak with you, will you or no.
OLIVIAOf what personage and years is he?
MALVOLIONot yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for
a boy; as a squash is before 'tis a peascod, or a
cooling when 'tis almost an apple: 'tis with him
in standing water, between boy and man. He is very
well-favoured and he speaks very shrewishly; one
would think his mother's milk were scarce out of him.151
OLIVIALet him approach: call in my gentlewoman.
MALVOLIOGentlewoman, my lady calls.
[Re-enter MARIA]
OLIVIAGive me my veil: come, throw it o'er my face.
We'll once more hear Orsino's embassy.
[Enter VIOLA, and Attendants]
VIOLAThe honourable lady of the house, which is she?
OLIVIASpeak to me; I shall answer for her.
Your will?
VIOLAMost radiant, exquisite and unmatchable beauty,--I
pray you, tell me if this be the lady of the house,
for I never saw her: I would be loath to cast away
my speech, for besides that it is excellently well
penned, I have taken great pains to con it. Good
beauties, let me sustain no scorn; I am very
comptible, even to the least sinister usage.163
OLIVIAWhence came you, sir?
VIOLAI can say little more than I have studied, and that
question's out of my part. Good gentle one, give me
modest assurance if you be the lady of the house,
that I may proceed in my speech.
OLIVIAAre you a comedian?169
VIOLANo, my profound heart: and yet, by the very fangs
of malice I swear, I am not that I play. Are you
the lady of the house?
OLIVIAIf I do not usurp myself, I am.
VIOLAMost certain, if you are she, you do usurp
yourself; for what is yours to bestow is not yours
to reserve. But this is from my commission: I will
on with my speech in your praise, and then show you
the heart of my message.
OLIVIACome to what is important in't: I forgive you the praise.179
VIOLAAlas, I took great pains to study it, and 'tis poetical.
OLIVIAIt is the more like to be feigned: I pray you,
keep it in. I heard you were saucy at my gates,
and allowed your approach rather to wonder at you
than to hear you. If you be not mad, be gone; if
you have reason, be brief: 'tis not that time of
moon with me to make one in so skipping a dialogue.
MARIAWill you hoist sail, sir? here lies your way.
VIOLANo, good swabber; I am to hull here a little
longer. Some mollification for your giant, sweet
lady. Tell me your mind: I am a messenger.190
OLIVIASure, you have some hideous matter to deliver, when
the courtesy of it is so fearful. Speak your office.
VIOLAIt alone concerns your ear. I bring no overture of
war, no taxation of homage: I hold the olive in my
hand; my words are as fun of peace as matter.
OLIVIAYet you began rudely. What are you? what would you?
VIOLAThe rudeness that hath appeared in me have I
learned from my entertainment. What I am, and what I
would, are as secret as maidenhead; to your ears,
divinity, to any other's, profanation.201
OLIVIAGive us the place alone: we will hear this divinity.
[Exeunt MARIA and Attendants]
Now, sir, what is your text?
VIOLAMost sweet lady,--
OLIVIAA comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it.
Where lies your text?
VIOLAIn Orsino's bosom.
OLIVIAIn his bosom! In what chapter of his bosom?209
VIOLATo answer by the method, in the first of his heart.
OLIVIAO, I have read it: it is heresy. Have you no more to say?
VIOLAGood madam, let me see your face.
OLIVIAHave you any commission from your lord to negotiate
with my face? You are now out of your text: but
we will draw the curtain and show you the picture.
Look you, sir, such a one I was this present: is't
not well done?
VIOLAExcellently done, if God did all.
OLIVIA'Tis in grain, sir; 'twill endure wind and weather.
VIOLA'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white220
Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on:
Lady, you are the cruell'st she alive,
If you will lead these graces to the grave
And leave the world no copy.
OLIVIAO, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted; I will give
out divers schedules of my beauty: it shall be
inventoried, and every particle and utensil
labelled to my will: as, item, two lips,
indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to
them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. Were
you sent hither to praise me?230
VIOLAI see you what you are, you are too proud;
But, if you were the devil, you are fair.
My lord and master loves you: O, such love
Could be but recompensed, though you were crown'd
The nonpareil of beauty!
OLIVIAHow does he love me?
VIOLAWith adorations, fertile tears,
With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.
OLIVIAYour lord does know my mind; I cannot love him:
Yet I suppose him virtuous, know him noble,
Of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth;240
In voices well divulged, free, learn'd and valiant;
And in dimension and the shape of nature
A gracious person: but yet I cannot love him;
He might have took his answer long ago.
VIOLAIf I did love you in my master's flame,
With such a suffering, such a deadly life,
In your denial I would find no sense;
I would not understand it.
OLIVIAWhy, what would you?
VIOLAMake me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;250
Write loyal cantons of contemned love
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out 'Olivia!' O, You should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth,
But you should pity me!
OLIVIAYou might do much.
What is your parentage?
VIOLAAbove my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.
OLIVIAGet you to your lord;260
I cannot love him: let him send no more;
Unless, perchance, you come to me again,
To tell me how he takes it. Fare you well:
I thank you for your pains: spend this for me.
VIOLAI am no fee'd post, lady; keep your purse:
My master, not myself, lacks recompense.
Love make his heart of flint that you shall love;
And let your fervor, like my master's, be
Placed in contempt! Farewell, fair cruelty.
OLIVIA'What is your parentage?'270
'Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.' I'll be sworn thou art;
Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit,
Do give thee five-fold blazon: not too fast:
soft, soft!
Unless the master were the man. How now!
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Methinks I feel this youth's perfections
With an invisible and subtle stealth
To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be.
What ho, Malvolio!
[Re-enter MALVOLIO]
MALVOLIOHere, madam, at your service.280
OLIVIARun after that same peevish messenger,
The county's man: he left this ring behind him,
Would I or not: tell him I'll none of it.
Desire him not to flatter with his lord,
Nor hold him up with hopes; I am not for him:
If that the youth will come this way to-morrow,
I'll give him reasons for't: hie thee, Malvolio.
MALVOLIOMadam, I will.
OLIVIAI do I know not what, and fear to find
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.290
Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decreed must be, and be this so.

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 5

From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.

1. either tell ... or I, we should now say, "either tell me ... or you will not find me open my lips," or "tell me ... or I will not," etc; that is, we should not use "either ... or" unless the conjunction in both cases referred to the same subject.

1-3. I will not ... excuse, the construction is "I will not open my lips by way of your excuse (i.e. in the way of making excuses for you) so wide as that a bristle may enter between them."

4, 5. he that is ... colours. A proverbial saying derived, as Maria explains, from the wars, and meaning to fear no enemy's colours, standards, and so no enemy. The first part of the sentence, he that ... world, looks as though the Clown had intended to refer to such a person's expectations in the next world.

6. Make that good. Prove that.

8. A ... answer, a fine meagre answer; lenten fare, i.e. the meagre fare of strict Catholics during the feast of Lent, is a common expression, and in Haml. ii. 2. 329 we have, "To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you," i.e. what a scanty welcome, poor treatment, etc.

9. of, "is used to connect words or phrases in apposition, the saying here being 'I fear no colours.' So in Cor. ii. 1. 32, 'a very little thief of occasion,' where occasion is the thief" (Wright).

11, 2. and that ... foolery: and that you may venture to say when you are exercising your privilege of free jesting; said ironically, as in such a statement there would be nothing to excite the anger which the jester's witticisms often provoked.

13, 4. Well, ... talents. The Clown's inversion of Well, God give them wisdom that have none; and those that are wise, let them use their talents. There seems here to be a profane allusion to the parable of the talents, Matthew xxv., in which the man to whom the one talent was entrusted, and who laid it up without obtaining any interest for it, has this one talent taken away from him and given to him who had doubled the five talents entrusted to him, Christ rebuking him for his sloth, and saying, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken even that which he hath."

16, 7. or, to ... you, or, as to being turned away, is not that in your case equivalent to hanging; for the indefinite to be, see Abb. § 356.

18. Many ... marriage; men are often saved from a miserable life by being hanged before they can marry.

18, 9. and for ... out, and as for being turned away, let summer make such a fate bearable, i.e. such a fate would be bearable so long as it did not fall upon me in winter; for bear it out, cp. 0th. ii. 1. 19, "It is impossible they bear it out," 'bear it out' being used indefinitely in both instances, though in the one it means 'make endurable,' in the other 'endure.'

21. Not so, neither, not even that; a colloquialism more common in "not so, either."

22, 3. That if ... fall. Maria puns on the word points in the sense of tags used for keeping up the breeches; cp. i. H, IV. ii. 4. 238, "Fal. Their points being broken, — (i.e. their sword points) Poins. Down fell their hose." gaskins, called also 'galligaskins,' a loose kind of breeches. Skeat says that the longer form is a corruption of Garguesques, Greguesques, and that the notion of some of the weavers of galligaskins that they were so called because they originally came from Gascony is a mistaken one.

24. Apt, a fitting, smart, quibble: Well, go thy way, said as Maria prepares to leave them.

24-6. if Sir Toby ... Illyria, if Sir Toby would only give up drinking, he could not do better than marry such a witty person as yourself. This of course is implied, not expressed.

27. Peace, ... that. Hold your tongue; I will have no more allusions to that subject.

28. you were best, for this ungrammatical remnant of ancient usage, see Abb. § 230.

29. Wit ... fooling! Addressing his own wit, the Clown adjures it to prompt him to a clever display of his art so that he may be able to turn away the anger of his mistress from whom he expects a scolding for his long absence.

30, 1. Those wits ... fools; those intelligences who fancy that they are endowed with wit, those self-styled wits.

32. Quinapalus the name of a philosopher invented by the Clown as an authority to quote in support of his own aphorism, just as in ii. 3. 23-5 he is represented as inventing Pigrogromitus, a geographer, the Vapians, a people, and Queubus, a country.

36. Take ... lady, i.e. she has ordered you to take away the fool, she is the fool, therefore take her away; one of the "simple syllogisms" of which the Clown boasts just below, though the premisses are inferred, not stated.

37. a dry fool, a fool whose wit has run dry, is exhausted; cp. T. C. i 3. 329, "were his brain as barren As banks of Libya, though, Apollo knows 'Tis dry enough."

38. you grow dishonest, i.e. by absenting yourself from your duties, as Maria has already accused him of doing.

39. madonna, Italian for 'my lady.'

40. dry fool, taking Olivia's expression in the sense of thirsty.

42. let the ... him, let him be sent to the mender of old clothes, shoes, etc., to patch him up. To 'botch,' = to patch, is "borrowed directly from the O. Low German. Oudemans gives botsen ... to strike; with its variant butsen, meaning both (1) to strike or beat, and (2) to repair. The notion of repairing in a rough manner follows at once from that of fastening by beating. The root is the same as that of beat" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

46. will serve, will do, is good enough for the purpose; so, well and good.

49. Misprision, a mistake. In using the words in the highest degree, the Clown probably has in his mind the phrase "misprision of treason." Skeat points out that the definition of that offence, viz. "a neglect or light account made of treason" is due to the word 'misprision' having been derived from the F. mespris, contempt, instead of from the O. F. mesprison, error, offence, with the same sense, and from the same source, as the Mod. F. meprise, a mistake.

49, 50. cucullus ... monachum, the cowl, or hood, does not make the monk.

50, 1. that's ... brain, which is equivalent to saying that though I wear the party-coloured dress of a fool, I am not a fool in point of intellect. motley, "of different colours ... So called because spotted; originally applied to curdled milk, etc. — O. F. mattele, 'clotted, knotted, curdled, or curd-like,' Cotgrave" (Skeat. Ety. Dict.).

54. Dexteriously, probably only an affectation of the Clown's, though Wright points out that the word is used in Bacon's Adv. of Lear. ii. 22. 15, and in Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia.

56. for it, in order to establish my proof: my mouse of virtue, my dear and virtuous lady; mouse was formerly a term of endearment.

58. for want ... idleness, as I have not just now any other frivolous way of spending my time: I'll bide your proof, I will submit myself to this proof of my folly which you undertake to furnish; for bide, in this sense, cp. i. H. IV, iv. 4. 10, "Wherein the fortune of ten thousand men Must bide the touch"; R. J. i. 1. 229, "Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes."

64, 5. for your ... heaven, for the fact of, etc.

67. mend, improve in the matter of wit.

69, 70. infirmity ... fool, the weakness attendant upon old age which impairs the wisdom of the wise, only makes the fool more worthy of his title. For decays, used transitively, cp. Cymb. i. 5. 56, "And every day that comes comes to decay A day's work in him."

71, 2. God ... folly! God grant that you may quickly become old and infirm so that your folly (which you think wisdom) may increase and improve in quality; for the preceding a verbal that is followed by an obj., see Abb. § 93.

72, 3. will be ... fox, will readily swear that I am no very cunning fellow.

73. will not ... two pence, will not wager twopence.

75. How say ... Malvolio? What have you to say in answer to that?

76. such ... rascal, a fellow of such barren, scanty, wit; cp. T. C. i. 3. 329, quoted above on 1. 37.

77, 8. I saw him ... fool, I saw him worsted by a common fool, one who did not profess the art of jesting: for with, = by, see Abb. § 193.

79. he's out ... already, for out of his guard we should now say "off his guard," i.e. not in a position to defend himself, not prepared to continue the combat. Cp., for a similar metaphor, L. L. L. V. 1. 62, "Now by the salt wave of the Mediterranean, a sweet touch, a quick venue of wit! snip, snap, quick and home," 'venue' being a technical term in fencing for a thrust, hit.

79, 80. unless ... gagged, unless you encourage him by laughing at his wit, and give him some opportunity, some provocative, he is quite dumb, has not a word to say; for minister occasion, cp. Temp. ii. 1. 73, "and did to minister occasion to these gentlemen."

80-2. I protest ... zanies. I declare that I look upon these men who have the reputation of being wise, but who laugh so heartily at professed buffoons like this one, as being no better than poor imitations, shadows, of buffoons; for crow, cp. A. Y. L. ii. 7. 30, "when I did hear The motley fool thus moral on the time, My lungs began to crow like chanticleer ... And I did laugh sans intermission An hour by this dial": kind, must be regarded as a noun of multitude. On zany, a writer in the Edin. Review, for July, 1869, remarks, "The zany in Shakespeare's day was not so much a buffoon and a mimic as the obsequious follower of a buffoon, and the attenuated mime of a mimic. He was the vice, servant, or attendant of the professional clown or fool, who, dressed like his master, accompanied him on the stage or in the ring, following his movements, attempting to imitate his tricks and adding to the general merriment by his ludicrous failures and comic imbecility. It is this characteristic not merely of mimicry, but of weak and abortive mimicry, that gives its distinctive meaning to the word, and colours it with a special tinge of contempt" .... Middleton also uses the word for an 'attendant' simply. From "It. Zane, 'the name of John, or a sillie John, a gull, a noddie'... Florio. Mod. Ital. Zanni, Zane, and Zanni are familiar forms of Giovanni, John" ... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). In the same sense we use a 'Jack-pudding.'

83. sick of self-love, i.e. out of, from, self-love: and taste ... appetite, and regard everything with a diseased judgment, see things with a jaundiced eye.

84-6. To be ... bullets. They who are of a generous nature, conscious of no evil in themselves, and unsuspicious of others, regard those things as mere harmless sport which to you seem serious offences: bird-bolts, were short, thick arrows, with broad blunt, ends: we speak of the 'bullets' (using a diminutive) of a rifle or gun, but of cannon-balls.

86-8. there is no ... reprove. In the jests of one who is a professional fool there is nothing malicious, even though he does nothing but rail at one; just as a man of known discretion cannot be said to rail, however much he may reprove.

89, 90. Now ... fools! Johnson explains this, "May Mercury teach thee to lie, since thou liest in favour of fools." Mercury was the divinity of commerce and gain, his name being connected with merx, profit, and mercari to barter, and hence of unjust gain, cheating, falsehood. Leasing is the A.S. leasing, from A.S. leas, false, originally, empty.

91. much desires, sc. who much, etc. For the omission of the relative, see Abb. § 244.

94. 'tis a ... man, cp. H. V. iii. 6. 70, "Why 'tis a gull, a fool, a rogue"; A. C. iii. 2. 6, "'tis a noble Lepidus": and well attended, who has several attendants with him.

96. hold ... delay, hold him in check and so delay his coming to me.

98. Fetch him off, get him out of the way: he speaks ... madman, he talks nothing but what is utter folly; cp. K. J. ii. 1. 462, "He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke and bounce": M. A. ii. 1. 255, "She speaks poniards"; Oth, ii. 3. 281, "Drunk? and speak parrot?"

99, 100. if it be a suit, if his object in coming is to plead for the Count: I am ... home, i.e. say that I, etc.

101. to dismiss it, in order to get rid of the solicitations of the Count.

101, 2. Now you ... it, you see, from what Malvolio says, that your jesting appears to be in its dotage, and people no longer appreciate it.

103. for us, sc. the fraternity, or guild, of fools.

104. should be, was likely to be.

104, 5. for, — here he ... mater, this is the reading of the Camb. Edd. for "for here he comes one of thy kin," etc: i.e. for, — here he comes of whom I speak, — one of your kin, etc.; pia mater, the thin inner membrane which immediately envelopes the brain: weak, liable to give way at the least exertion.

106. What is he? who is he? with a notion of indefiniteness.

110, 1. a plague ... herring, curses on these pickled herrings which, by driving me to drink so much, cause me to hiccough in this way; referring to his words being broken off after here by his catching his breath. Herrings pickled in brine are a dish Sir Toby would be likely to eat of plenteously as a provocative to drinking, and so would be subject to indigestion, resulting in a hiccough. Dyce prints pickle-herring, the apostrophe indicating the plural; Rolfe considers the word a true plural, like trout, salmon, and compares Lear, iii. 6. 33, "two white herring."

111. How now, sot? Though 'sot' is generally used by Shakespeare for 'dolt,' 'fool,' Knight thinks that the humour here consists in the drunken Sir Toby addressing the Clown as drunkard.

113, 4. how have ... lethargy? how is it that you are in this half-sleepy state so early in the morning? come by, acquired.

115. Lechery! To Sir Toby this word would be familiar, but 'lethargy' is above his understanding.

118, 9. give me ... I, what I delight in is good faith, trust: Well ... one, well, it does not matter: the drunkard's carelessness of consequences.

121, 2. one ... heat, one glass more than is enough to warm the blood: mads, maddens.

124. the crowner, the coroner, lit. an officer appointed by the crown, and then specially one who holds the inquest into the cause of a man's death; for the form of the word, cp. Haml. V. 1, 24, "crowner's quest law." Shakespeare also uses crownet for 'coronet,' A. C. iv. 12. 27, v. 2. 91: sit o' my coz, hold an inquest upon my cousin; coz, a common contraction of 'cousin.'

125. for he's ... drink, according to the Clown's classification of degrees.

127. but mad yet, so far only in the second stage; though in his original statement the Clown puts the climax, 'drowned,' first: shall look to, shall take care of.

130, 1. he takes ... you, he professes to be, assumes the responsibility of being, aware of that, and therefore he says (though one might have expected this knowledge to deter him) he comes, etc.

132, 3. he seems ... you, he appears to have known this before he was told of it, and therefore (not in spite of it, as one would have expected him to say), he comes, etc.

137. Has, for the omission of the nominative, see Abb. § 400.

138. a sheriff's post, it is commonly stated that these posts were used for fixing royal and civic proclamations upon them; Knight doubts this, and is inclined to believe that they were only a token of authority, to denote the residence of a magistrate. He gives a pictorial illustration of such posts, to which it would not have been easy to affix proclamations of any kind: the supporter to a bench, i.e. as firmly fixed, as stationary, as the legs which support a bench to sit upon.

139. but he'll you, rather than not speak to you: see Abb. § 121.

141. of mankind, one of the human race; a piece of Malvolio's wit.

143. Of ... manner, Olivia having used 'manner' in the sense of 'kind,' Malvolio again displays his wit by using the word in a different sense = manners, behaviour: will you or no, whether you are willing or not.

145. personage, personal appearance; cp. M. N. D. iii. 2. 292, "And with her personage, her tall personage."

147. as a squash ... peascod, he is to a man what a squash is to a peascod; a squash is a peascod, or peaspod in its earlier stage before the pea is formed in the pod, when it is soft and easily squeezed, squashed: a codling, here an unripe apple, though in though in present use as a particular kind of apple. Formed from cod = husk, "by the help of the diminutive—ling; cp. codlings in the sense of 'green peas' (Halliwell) with the word pease-cod, showing that codlings are properly the young pods" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

148. e'en standing water, neither at the flow nor at the ebb; cp. Temp. ii. 1. 221-4, "Seb. Well, I am standing water. Ant. I'll teach you how to flow. Seb. Do so: to ebb Hereditary sloth instructs me": e'en for 'in' is Steevens' correction; if 'in' is retained, it must mean 'in the condition of,' as Wright explains.

149. He is ... shrewlshly, he is comely in appearance, and (yet) he speaks very sharply, tartly.

150, 1. one would ... him, from his appearance one would think that it was not so very long since he was weaned (and therefore one might expect gentler language from him). For the subject in the subordinate sentence, see Abb. § 368.

152. call in, summon to be present with me during the interview.

157. I shall ... her, I will make answer for her. Your will? What is your desire?

158-60. I pray you ... her: Viola interrupts herself for fear she should be casting away, wasting, her speech on some one else than Olivia.

162. to con it, to learn it by heart; to 'con,' "a secondary verb, formed from A. S. cunnan, to know; it signifies accordingly 'to try to know'; and may be regarded as the desiderative of to know" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): let me ... no scorn; do not subject me to any disdain while delivering the message entrusted to me: for sustain, in this sense, cp. Cymb. i. 4. 125, H. VIII. ii. 2. 5.

162, 3. I am very ... usage, I am very sensitive, susceptible, to, very easily disconcerted by, the least unkindness.

166-8. give me ... speech, give me such assurance that you are the lady of the house as will enable one as timid as myself to go on with my speech.

169. Are ... comedian? sc. that you speak of studying a part.

170. my profound heart, my most wise lady; heart, as a term of affectionate or familiar address, is used by Shakespeare sometimes unqualified, sometimes qualified by such adjectives as 'dear,' 'good,; 'noble,' 'sweet.' Here the words my profound heart are merely a continuation of the euphuistic style in which Viola had begun her address, "Most radiant, exquisite," etc.

170, 1. by the very ... play, this seems to mean, I invoke upon myself the bitterest things that can be said of me if I lie in declaring that my character is an assumed one, and so far I am a comedian. For fangs, used in a figurative sense, cp. A. Y. L. ii 1. 6, "the icy fang And churlish chiding of the winter's wind."

173. If I ... myself, if I do not claim a title which does not belong to me.

174. you do ... yourself; you do in regard to yourself claim as a right that which is no right of yours.

176. to reserve, to keep wholly to yourself: i.e. it is your duty to marry and give the house a lord and master.

176. from my commission: beyond, out of, what was committed to me to deliver; for from, see Abb. § 158.

176, 7. I will on ... message, I will go on with my speech in praise of you, which I began and broke off in (and which is merely an ornamental preface), and will then come to what is the pith and essence of the message entrusted to me.

178, 9. I forgive ... praise, I remit that as a tribute you need not pay.

181. It is ... feigned, if it is poetical, it is all the more likely to be untrue, counterfeit; cp. M. N. D. i. 1. 30, 1, "Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung With feigning voice verses of feigning love"; A. Y. L. iii. 3. 22, "the truest poetry is the most feigning."

181, 2. keep it in, restrain it, do not deliver it.

182, 3. and allowed ... you, and allowed you to be admitted not so much in order to listen to what you had to say as to indulge my wonder at one who had so impudently demanded entrance.

183, 4. If you he ... brief; I have followed Mason in omitting 'not' of the folios before mad. Olivia had said that she admitted Viola chiefly because she was so astonished at her saucy behaviour, and she goes on, if, as that behaviour seem to indicate, you are not in your right mind, you had better take yourself off; if, however, you are in your senses, you had better say as briefly as you can what the object of your visit is. Knight, retaining 'not,' thinks that Shakespeare "means Olivia to say, If you are not quite without reason, begone; if you have some reason, be brief, that you may soon be gone; giving the effect of an antithetical construction without actually being so."

184, 5. 'tis not ... dialogue, I am not now under the influence of the moon, in a state of lunacy, so that I should be inclined to take part in so flighty a dialogue; for skipping, cp. M. V. ii. 2. 196, "Pray thee, take pain to allay with some cold drops of modesty thy skipping spirit."

186. hoist sail, put up sail and be off.

187. swabber, one who swabs, sweeps with a brush called a swab, the decks of a ship. I am ... longer, I am to beat about here, etc. To 'hull,' is to drive hither and thither when masts and sails have gone, or when the sails are all taken in during a calm, and the 'hull' or body of the vessel is almost all that is seen above the water. For the word used in a metaphorical sense, cp. H. VIII. ii. 4. 199, "Thus hulling in The wild sea of my conscience"; and Marston, Sophonisba, i. 2. 193, "since the billow (sc. of war) Is risen so high we may not hull." In swabber and hull, Viola is merely carrying on Maria's metaphor.

188. Some ... giant, I beg you to pacify this formidable attendant of yours; ironically referring to the diminutive size of Maria (who is called by Sir Toby, iii. 2. 70, below, "the youngest wren of nine"), and also with an allusion to the giants who, in old romances, are represented as being kept by ladies of rank for their protection.

189. Tell me your mind. Tell me what you wish to say; to which Viola replies, I have not to deliver my mind, I come as a messenger to deliver what has been entrusted to me. Warburton first arranged the text as it stands; the folios give the words tell me your mind as a part of Viola's speech.

191, 2. Sure ... fearful, evidently the message you bring must be a terrible one, seeing that in your courtesy you show yourself so afraid to deliver it for fear of the effect it might have upon me.

192. your office, that which you were commissioned to deliver: cp. iii. 4. 299, "do thy office."

193. It ... ear: alone belongs to ear, not to it.

193, 4. no overture of war, no disclosure, announcement, of terms of war; overt, lit. means 'open.'

194. no taxation of homage, no demand of homage due as a tribute; I am not come to tax you in the matter of homage. the olive the emblem of peace.

195. as full ... matter, as peaceful as they are material, important.

199. from my entertainment, from the treatment I received at the hands of your servants; if they had not treated me rudely, I should not have shown any rudeness myself; for entertainment, cp. Temp, i. 2. 465, "I will resist such entertainment till mine enemy has more power."

200, 1. to your ... profanation, what I am, and what I desire, are matters which if delivered to your ears are as something holy, but which it would be profanation to deliver to other ears.

202. Give us ... alone, leave us alone. this divinity, this message which Viola speaks of as something holy.

203, 4. your text, that text or subject on which your discourse is to enlarge.

206. A comfortable doctrine, this doctrine which you preach (in using the words "Most sweet lady") is of a character comforting to the soul; "a comfortable doctrine" is a phrase used in religious or theological language. much ... it, is one that affords much scope for enlargement upon it.

207. Where ... text? In what scriptures is this text to be found?

209. In what chapter, in what part; as we say, "give me chapter and verse for your statement," i.e. tell me exactly where you got it from, what authority you have for it.

210. by the method, in accordance with the mode of your speech: in the first of his heart, i.e. it is the very beginning and most essential part of what is written in his heart.

211. it is heresy, it is false doctrine, not the truth; cp. Cymb. iii. 4. 83, 4, where Imogen is speaking of the letters of Posthumus, which she has in her bosom, "What is here? The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus All turned to heresy." In text, comfortable doctrine, chapter, first of his heart, heresy, Olivia is merely carrying on the idea suggested by Viola's use of divinity and profanation.

215. You are ... text; you have now exceeded the text of your instructions.

216. draw the curtain, here = undraw; Shakespeare uses the phrase both for covering and uncovering.

218. if God did all, if you are what nature made you and owe nothing to art.

219. in grain, of a fast colour; grain in this phrase is cochineal, a dye obtained from the dried bodies of insects of the species Coccus cacti, but supposed by the ancients to be made from a berry, the meaning of the Lat. coccus; cp. C. E, iii. 2. 108. "Ant. S. That's a fault that water will mend. Dro. S. No, sir, 'tis in grain; Noah's flood could not do it," i.e. wash it out: 't will ... weather, it will not lose its colour from wind or rain.

220. 'Tis beauty ... blent, it is beauty the colours of which are honestly mixed, not due to art, but laid on by the sweet and skilful pencil of nature.

222. she, lady, woman; as frequently in Shakespeare.

223, 4. If you ... copy. If instead of allowing such beauty to be led to the altar, and so, by marriage, leaving a copy of that original, you should take it to the grave, leaving no copy behind you; cp. W. T. i. 2. 122, ii. 3. 99. In Sonn. xi. 14, copy is used in a similar metaphor, though there the meaning is the original form from which a similar form is created, "She [Nature] carv'd thee for her seal, and meant thereby Thou should'st print more, nor let that copy die."

225-7. I will ... will; carrying on her affectation of legal phraseology, Olivia says that, so far from leaving no copy behind, she will cause to be published various bills setting forth the particulars of her beauty; she will have an inventory made of every particular and article of it, and this inventory shall be affixed to her will, like a list of goods and chattels; a schedule is lit. a small leaf of paper, and label, a small flap or lappet, then a small slip of paper.

227. item, "a separate article or particular ... The mod. use of item as a subs. is due to the old use of it in enumerating particulars. Properly it is an adv. meaning 'also' or 'likewise' ... from Lat. item, in like manner, likewise, also" ... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

228. indifferent, fairly, tolerably; see note on i. 3. 118, above.

230. to praise, probably, as most edd. take it, for 'appraise'; cp. T. C. iii. 2. 97, "praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we prove."

233-5. O, such love ... beauty? Beautiful as you are, such love as his would not be more than compensated by the return of your love, even if you had been crowned by general consent as peerless in beauty.

235. nonpareil, one without an equal; cp. Cymb, ii. 5. 8, "my mother seemed The Dian of that time; so doth my wife The nonpareil of this."

236. With adorations, with the utterance of vows of love: fertile tears, tears so abundant as to fertilize the soil on which they fall. With was inserted by Pope before fertile, and seems clearly needed not merely for the metre, but for the balance of sentences.

239. suppose him virtuous, assume, though I have no absolute knowledge, that he is of a virtuous disposition.

241. In voices well divulged. This is generally taken by itself as = well spoken of by the world, of good reputation. It seems to me to be connected with the rest of the line, i.e. well spoken of by the world as being free (gracious), learned, and valiant. Having first referred to what she can only assume regarding the Duke, ac. his virtue, Olivia goes on to mention wnat she knows as facts, viz. that he is of noble birth and fortune, that his youth has been blamelessly spent, that he is spoken of as gracious, learned, and valiant, that his personal appearance is handsome. His being free, learned, and valiant would be a matter of opinion, his being considered so would be a matter of fact within her knowledge.

242, 3. And in ... person, and in the stature and shape given him by nature, a good-looking person; for gracious, cp. K. J. iii. 4. 81, "For since the birth of Cain, the first male child ... There was not such a gracious creature born."

244. He might ... ago. He might long ago have accepted the fact that I would not marry him; for took, see Abb. § 343.

245. in my ... flame, with such a burning passion as my master feels for you.

246. With such ... life, with such a painful and fatal vitality of love; deadly life, for the sake of the antithesis; cp. H. V. iv. 2. 64, 5, "To demonstrate the life of such a battle In life so lifeless as it shows itself."

247. would ... sense, would see no meaning.

248. what would you, sc. do.

249. a willow cabin, a hut of osier twigs woven together. The willow was an emblem of unhappy love...

250. my soul, i.e. her, Olivia, who would be the very life and soul of Viola if she loved as her master did.

251. loyal cantons, songs of ever faithful love; canton, anbther form of 'canto' used in Shakespeare's day.

252. loud, loudly.

253. reverberate hills, hills that would re-echo them, reverberant; the passive adj. used actively. Steevens quotes Ben Jonson, The Masque of Blackness, "which skill Pythagoras First taught to man by a reverberate glass."

254, 5. And make ... 'Olivia!' And cause the air, which tattles about everything like an old gossip, to cry out 'Olivia!' In Per. i. 2. 87, we have "the listening air," i.e. ready to catch up anything uttered in it.

255-7. O, you ... me! You should find no rest anywhere between earth and sky unless you showed pity to me; for but, see Abb. § 121.

257. You might do much, sc. towards winning my love.

259. Above ... well. My parentage is above my position as a page, though I have nothing to complain of in my present circumstances.

263. To tell ... it, to tell me how (i.e. with anger or with resignation) he receives my refusal.

265. I am ... post, I am not a messenger who requires to be paid for his trouble; post = messenger, is frequent in Shakespeare, e.g. K. J. i. 1. 219, M. V. ii. 9. 100.

266. My master ... recompense. It is my master, not I, who needs reward, the reward of your love for his constancy.

267. Love ... love; may the god of love (Cupid) make the heart of him with whom you fall in love as hard as a flint!

268, 9. And let ... contempt! And may your ardour, like my master's, find no other reception than that of contempt; cp. M. V. ii. 6. 57, "And therefore, like herself, wise, fair and true, Shall she be placed in my constant soul."

269. fair cruelty, fair but cruel one; abstr. for concr., cp. K. J. iii. 4. 36, "O fair affliction, peace!" Temp. v. 1. 241, "Bravely, my diligence" etc., i.e. my diligent servant.

274. Do give ... blazon; do each of them proclaim you a gentleman: blazon, from "F. blason, 'a coat of arms; in the eleventh century a buckler, shield; then a shield with the coat of arms of a knight painted on it; lastly, towards the fifteenth century, the coats of arms themselves' (Brachet)"... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). Hence the description or portraiture of other things besides a coat of arms.

274, 5. not too ... man. I must not allow my regard for him to run on too fast; I must check myself; this will not do, unless the master and the servant could change places, and the latter loved me as dearly as the former does; the master, equivalent to 'he who loves me so.'

275. How now! not a question, but a rebuke to herself for her sudden love.

276. the plague, i.e. of love

279. To creep ... eyes. Cp. M. V. iii. 2. 67, "Tell me where is fancy (i.e. love) bred ... It is engender'd in the eyes. With gazing fed"; for to after feel, see Abb. § 349. let it be, never mind, let things take their course; as she says just after, "What is decreed must be, and this be so."

280. at your service, I am here to wait upon you.

281. peevish, wilful, obstinate. The word is used by Shakespeare in various senses, silly, thoughtless, wayward, capricious, etc.

282. The county's man, the count's man-servant; county, another form of 'count,' several times used by Shakespeare; originally meaning a companion, i.e. of some great leader, the modern 'county,' = shire, being the portion of territory of which the 'count' had the government.

283. Would I or not, whether I liked it or not. I'll none of it, I will have nothing to do with it.

284. to flatter ... lord, to encourage him with hopes; for flatter with, cp. T. G. iv. 4. 193, "Unless I flatter with myself too much."

285. hold him ... hopes, give him the support of hope: I am ... him, he need not hope to win me for his wife.

286. If that, for the conjunctional affix, see Abb. § 287.

287. for't, for my refusal: hie thee, haste thee; for 'thee' used instead of 'thou,' see Abb. § 212.

289, 90. and fear ... mind. "She fears that her eyes had formed so flattering an idea of Cesario that she should not have strength of mind sufficient to resist the impression. She had just before said, 'Methinks, I feel this youth's perfections, With an invisible and subtle stealth To creep in at mine eyes'" (M. Mason).

291. force, power: owe, own, possess, are masters of; the -n of owen, to possess, which was dropped in Elizabethan Eng., has now been restored.

How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1889. Shakespeare Online. 20 Dec. 2010. < >

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