From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.
2. betimes, i.e. by times, in good time, early; "the final s is
due to the habit of adding s or es to form adverbs" (Skeat, Ety.
Dict.). diluculo surgere, sc. saluberrimum est, to rise at dawn
is most healthy; an adage which Malone says Shakespeare found
in Lilly's Latin Grammar.
6. a false conclusion, a conclusion which does not follow upon
9. of the four elements, cp. H. V. iii. 7. 22, "he is pure air
and fire: and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in
him"; A. C. v. 2. 292, "I am fire and air, my other elements I
give to baser life."
10, 1. I think ... drinking. Warburton considers this to be in
ridicule of the medical theory of that time, which supposed
health to consist in the just temperament of the four elements in
the human frame.
13. a stoup, a vessel or flagon, sometimes used as equivalent to
a gallon, sometimes of a smaller measure. Wright points out
that the word is still used in our college halls and butteries.
15. my hearts, my fine fellows; cp. Temp. i. 1. 6, "Heigh, my
hearts, cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!"
15, 6. the picture ... three? a common ale-house sign "in
which two wooden-heads [louts, boors,] are exhibited with this
inscription 'We three logger-heads be.' The spectator or reader
is supposed to make the third. The Clown means to insinuate
that Sir Toby and Sir Andrew had as good a title to the name of
fool as himself" (Malone).
17. a catch, a part song; so called because each singer in his
turn catches up the air and the last words of the former singer.
18. an excellent breast, a musical voice; as we say 'he has
good lungs,' i.e. has a loud, strong, voice. Sir Andrew immediately afterwards varies the phrase by "so sweet a breath to sing."
20, 1. thou wast ... fooling, you jested in your best manner;
as we say, 'in good voice' = singing well.
22, 3. Pigrogromitus ... Queubus, see note on i. 5. 32.
24. leman, sweetheart; from "A. S. leof, dear; and mann, a
man or woman" (Skeat, Ety. Dict. ).
25. I did ... gratillity, I pocketed your gratuity; impeticos
probably, as the commentators remark, for 'impeticoat,' in
reference to the long coats sometimes worn by jesters as a mark
of their profession. The rest of the Clown's speech is no doubt
mere fooling, good enough in his opinion for the two knights,
though with Olivia and Maria he attempts wit.
28, 9. when ... done, the commoner expression is, 'when all is
said and done,' i.e. taking everything into consideration, after all;
cp. Macb. iii. 4. 67, "When all's done You look but on a stool."
32. testril, "a coin the value of which in Shakespeare's day
was sixpence. ... The word was variously written, — teston, tester,
testern, testril, — it had the king's head (teste) on it" (Dyce, Gloss.):
of me, from me, see Abb. § 165.
34. a song ... life, a song of a moral turn, sententious.
40. sweeting, a term of endearment, derived from the name of
an apple of particularly sweet character.
45. 'tis not hereafter, it is a thing of the present.
46. hath, is accompanied by.
48. no plenty, nothing that is satisfying.
49. sweet and twenty, a term of endearment said to mean
twenty times sweet; Steevens quotes The Merry Devil of
Edmonton, 1631, "his little wanton wagtailes, his sweet and
twenties his pretty pinkineyed pigsnies, etc, as he himself used
commonly to call them."
50. a stuff ... endure, a stuff which will not last out; not
endure being used with reference to such kinds of cloth, linen,
etc., as wear out quickly, are not durable.
52. A contagious breath. By a misuse of 'contagious' Sir Toby ridicules Sir Andrew's "mellifluous voice," and Sir Andrew
echoes the expression as though it were an apt description.
54. To hear ... contagion. Punning on the word breath,
which he had just now used in the sense of 'voice,' and perhaps
imitating the Clown's fooling, so highly commended by Sir
Andrew, Sir Toby says, "judging of the merit of his breath (i.e.
his singing) by the nose, as we judge of scent, it is sweet in contagion, not foul as contagious breath (in its ordinary sense)
55. make ... indeed, "drink till the sky seems [actually] to
turn round" (Johnson); Steevens quotes A. C. ii. 7. 124, 5,
"Cup us till the world go round."
56, 7. draw three ... weaver? Weavers, to whose fondness
for singing Shakespeare again refers in i, H. IV. ii. 4. 147,
"I would I were a weaver; I could sing psalms or anything."
were most of them Calvinists in Shakespeare's day and greatly
addicted to psalm singing. The power of music in drawing
the soul out of a man's body is referred to in M. A. ii. 3.
60-2, "Is it not strange that sheep's guts (i.e. musical instruments strung with cat-gut) should hale souls out of men's bodies."
Here Sir Toby speaks of a catch which shall be so entrancing
that it will hale not merely one soul, but three, out of a weaver.
Warburton and Nares see an allusion to the peripatetic philosophy which assigned to every man three souls, the vegetative, the animal, and the rational ; but this would spoil the point of the joke, and if it had been intended, we should have had 'a weaver' instead of 'one weaver.' A like fondness for singing is
ascribed, i. H. IV. iii. 1. 264, to tailors whose occupation like
that of weavers is a sedentary one.
58. I am ... catch, I am a wonderful hand at a catch; a dog at doing anything, i.e. very skilful, is still in slang use. The article
was often omitted in the phrase, e.g. Middleton's Women Beware
Women, i. 2. 115, "I'm dog at a hole."
61, 2. I shall ... knave, he by the terms of a catch being obliged
to take up the last words of the previous singer, which in the
present case are "thou knave."
63, 4. 'Tis not ... knave. Sir Andrew says this as though he
were speaking of something of which he might be proud. So, in
ii. 5. 74, when Malvolio reading the forged letter comes to the
passage "Besides, you waste the treasure of your time with a
foolish knight," Sir Andrew at once accepts the allusion as being
to him, and when his name is mentioned, says, "I knew 'twas I,
for many do call me fool."
67. a caterwauling, "caterwaul, to cry as a cat. Formed from cat, and the verb waw, with the addition of i to give the word a frequentative force" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).
67-9. If my lady ... me, i.e. I assure you on my word that my
lady has called up, etc.
69. a Cataian, "meaning properly a native of Cataia or
Cathay, i.e. China...
70. we are politicians, i.e. wise men.
71. a Peg-a-Ramsey, according to Chappell, the name of two
old tunes, both as old as Shakespeare's time. Sir Toby means
that Malvolio was no better than the subject of a common ballad.
'Three merry ... we,' the burthen of several old songs.
72. Tillyvally, a contemptuous exclamation; said by Douce
to be a hunting call borrowed from the French.
73. 'There dwelt ... lady.' "The ballad of Susanna, from whence this line is taken, was licensed by T. Colwell in 1562,
under the title of The goodly and constanat Wyfe Susanna" ... (Warton).
74. the knight's ... fooling, the Clown returns the knight's
compliment in II. 20. 1. above.
75. disposed, "used absolutely, signifies, in the humour for
mirth. So in L. L. L. v. 2. 465: 'The trick To make a lady
laugh when she's disposed'" (Wright).
76, 7. more natural, more naturally, but with a play upon the
word in the sense of an idiot.
78. 'O, the ... December,' part of another old song now lost.
81. but to gabble, to prevent your gabbling, chattering, etc.
For but, see Abb. § 122: tinkers, Shakespeare again refers to
their love of tippling, i. H. IV. ii. 4. 20.
82, 3. make an ... house, turn my lady's house into a tavern.
83. coziers', a cozier is a botcher, whether of shoes or clothes.
84. without ... voice? without even lowering your voices;
Malvolio's affectation of fine language.
86. Sneck-up, i.e. go and be hanged; a contemptuous exclamation frequent in old writers, e.g. Chapman, May Day, ii. 4,
"That's true, Sir, but for a paltry disguise, being a magnifico,
she shall go snicke-up": so snickle, sb. and vb. = noose; cp. Marlowe, The Jew of Malta iv. 6. 22, "and he and I, snickle hand too fast, strangled a friar."
87. round, plain spoken...
88. harbours you, gives you house room; allows you to stay
in her house; 'harbour,' "a lodging, shelter, place of refuge, ...
M. E. herberwe ... from Icel. herbergi, a harbour, inn, lodging,
lit. a host-shelter ... derived from Icel. herr, an army, and bjarga,
to save, defend"... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).
89. she's nothing allied, she is in no way connected, has
nothing in common with your disorderly ways; allied, used for
the sake of the word 'kinsman' in the previous clause.
89, 90. If you ... misdemeanours, if you can divorce yourself
from your ill doings; the metaphor of relationship is still kept
up. she is very willing, she would be very willing, etc., if it
would please you, and is willing even, etc. See Abb. § 371.
93. Farewell, dear heart. The entire song from which Sir
Toby quotes this and the following lines is to be found in Percy's
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.
99. This is ... you. Said sarcastically, and equivalent to 'Are
you not ashamed of yourself for roaring out these snatches of
104. Out of time, angrily referring to Malvolio's words, "Is there no respect ... nor time in you?" The folios read 'tune,'
which Theobald corrected. any more, anything else than; for
the ellipse of the noun, see Abb. § 401.
105, 6. Dost thou ...ale? Do you suppose, because you pretend to such austere virtue, that nobody else is to enjoy himself?
It has been fancied that this is a fling at Malvolio's Puritanism,
and that the Clown follows it up by swearing by St. Anne as a
further provocation; but Maria's charge of Puritanism, line 127,
below, can hardly be taken as serious.
107, 8. and ginger ... too. Yes, and we will not only feast
upon cakes and ale, but will continue as hitherto to enjoy hot
spices like ginger. In M. M. iv. 3. 6, 8, M. V. iii. 1. 10, Shakespeare speaks of the fondness of old women for eating ginger.
109, 10. rub your ... crumbs. Stewards in old days wore
chains as a mark of superiority over the other servants of the
household, and one method of cleaning those chains was by
rubbing them with bread crumbs. Steevens quotes Webster's
Duchess of Malfi, "Yea, and the chippings of the buttery fly
after him, to scour his gold chain."
111-3. if you prize ... rule, if you had anything like respect
for my lady's favour, anything besides contempt, you would not
abet them in this disorderly conduct of theirs; rule, probably
line of conduct, though Dyce believes it to mean 'revel, noisy sport,' and compares M. N. D, iii. 2. 5, "What night-rule now
about this haunted grove?"
113. by this hand, swearing by his hand; see note on i. 3.
114. Go ... ears, i.e. you long-eared ass.
115. 'Twere as ... field, to challenge him to a duel and then to
break faith with him and make a fool of him would be a capital
idea, and would be reversing the order of things like a man
drinking when he is hungry; cp. i. H. IV. ii. 1. 32, 3, "An
'twere not as good deed as drink, to break the pate on thee, I am
a very villain." Some editors accept Rowe's insertion of 'to' before the field, which Dyce condemns, though he gives no
parallel to the construction here, apparently that of the cognate
119. deliver thy indignation, convey an intimation of your
120. be patient for to-night, take no notice of Malvolio's
impertinence tonight, but go to bed quietly for my lady's sake
as she is ill at ease, troubled in mind.
122, 3. let me ... him, leave him to me to deal with.
123. if I do not ... nayword, if I do not hoax him so that he
will become a byword, a proverb for his idiocy, a laughing-stock;
nayword is elsewhere used by Shakespeare for 'watchword': gull, to deceive, from the mistaken idea that the gull was a
very stupid bird; cp. H. V. ii. 2. 121, "If that same demon that
hath gull'd thee thus."
123, 4. a common recreation, the sport of every one.
124, 5. to lie ... bed, i.e. for what any fool can do.
126. Possess us, acquaint us with, put us in possession of, your
idea; the word in this sense is frequent in Shakespeare.
127. he is ... puritan, he affects a puritanical demeanour.
129. thy exquisite reason, your subtle reason; lit. one diligently sought out.
133, 4. The devil ... time-pleaser, Maria has said that he is
'sometimes a kind of puritan'; she now adds, but he is neither
puritan nor anything else constantly , except a time-serving humbug; the devil a puritan, a colloquial expression for 'anything
but,' etc. So, in the song, "The devil fell ill, the devil a saint
would be; The devil got well, the devil a saint was he," i.e. he
was as far from being a saint as ever, was as bad as ever.
134. affectioned, full of affectation; in which sense the word
is used in L. L. L. v. 1. 4, "witty without affection."
134, 5. that cons ... swarths, learns dignity of deportment by
heart, and pours forth its rules in great sweeps; cp. H. V. iii. 6.
79. "this they con perfectly in the phrase of war," i.e. have
learnt and can describe in the proper technical terms: a 'swarth,'
or 'swath,' as it is more correctly spelled in T. C. v. 5. 25, is as
much grass as a man can mow with one sweep of the scythe.
135, 6. the best ... himself, a fellow with the firmest belief in
himself, so richly endowed, in his own opinion, with every kind
of good quality that it is an article of faith with him that, etc.;
the belief is so firmly grounded in him that, etc.
138, 9. and on ... work, and on that weakness in him my
revenge will find ample, excellent, material to employ itself.
141. obscure ... love, love-letters of enigmatical character,
letters which hint at love felt for him.
143. expressure, expression; cp. T. C. iii. 3. 204, "Than
breath or pen can give expression to."
144. most ... personated, most clearly indicated as the person
meant; feelingly, so as to be felt, so as to touch to the quick, cp.
M. M. i. 2. 36, "Do I speak feelingly now."
145, 6. on a forgotten ... hands, in the case of a matter that has
passed out of our memory we can hardly distinguish between her
writing and mine.
147. smell, figuratively.
152. a horse ... colour, something of that kind; cp. A. Y. L. iii. 2. 435, "as boys and women are for the most part cattle of
154. Ass, I doubt not. Maria repeating Sir Andrew's last word,
indirectly calls him 'ass'; there is also a pun on "as I doubt
156, 7. will work with him, will operate upon him, have its
effect upon him.
158. his construction, the construction he puts upon it.
161. Penthesilea, was Queen of the Amazons, and the term is
applied to Maria for her courage in the matter and also in jocose
allusion to her diminutive size in contrast to that of the masculine
162. Before me, a weakened form of asseveration, as in Oth. iv.
1. 149, for before heaven, before God, and equivalent to 'by my
163. a beagle, a small hound used in hunting hares; cp. Tim.
iv. 3. 174, "Get thee away, and take Thy beagles with thee," i.e.
the rapacious women accompanying Alcibiades.
164. what o' that? speaking as though he were accustomed to
166. hadst need send, for the omission of 'to' before send, see
Abb. § 349.
168. If I cannot ... out. If I do not succeed in winning your
niece, I shall be terribly out of pocket; he, in courting Olivia,
having like Roderigo in his pursuit of Desdemona, "wasted"
himself "out of" his "means," Oth, iv. 2. 186, 7. To 'recover'
is frequent in Shakespeare in the sense of 'gaining,' 'reaching,'
i.e. without any idea of getting back what was lost, expended.
170. Send for money, cp. Iago's injunction to Roderigo when
hoping to win over Desdemona, Oth. i. 3. 347, 51, 2, 3, "put
money in thy purse," "put but money in thy purse," "fill thy
purse with money."
171. cut, a name frequently given to a common horse, from his
being docked, hence a term of contempt for a man; cp. i. H. IV.
ii. 4. 215, "I tell the what, Hal, if I tell thee a lie, spit in my
face, call me horse."
172. If I do ... me. Be sure I will call you 'cut,' however
much you may be offended at my doing so.
173. burn some sack, warm some sack for drinking; sack, was
a Spanish wine generally of a dry character, though there were
also sweet varieties. The derivation of the word is seco or sec,
which in Spanish means dry, and in French the wine was formerly
called "vin sec," dry wine. It was frequently taken warm with
sugar in it. In i. H. IV. i. 2. 125, the Prince calls Falstaff
"Sir John Sack-and-Sugar."
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. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/twn_2_3.html >.