From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. Save thee, God save thee, of which the Fr. equivalent is
used 1. 64 below.
1, 2. live ..tabor? get your living by playing the tabor, or
tambourine, a kind of small drum used at festivities; cp. M. A.
ii. 3. 15, "I have known when there was no music with him but
the drum and the fife (i.e. when he cared for none but martial
music), and now had he rather hear the tabor and the pipe (i.e.
music for the dance)."
3. by the church, near the church; for a similar equivoque,
cp. Oth. iii. 4. 1-6.
4. a Churchman, an ecclesiastic.
5. No such matter, not at all, nothing of the kind.
10. You have said, sir, you are quite right. To see ... age! to
think of the wonderful cleverness of the people of this age!
10-2. A sentence ... outward. A clever fellow will as quickly
turn a sentence upside-down as one can turn a kid glove inside-out. cheveril, from Fr. chevreau, kid; cp. R. J. ii. 4. 87, "Here's a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an inch narrow to an ell broad"; H. VIII. ii. 3. 32, "your soft cheveril conscience."
13. dally nicely, play ingeniously.
15, 6. since bonds ... them. A play upon the words in the sense
of (1) since they have been disgraced by being put into bonds (into confinement) and (2) since they were used in money bonds.
Hudson sees here an allusion to an order issued by the Privy
Council in June, 1600, which laid very severe restrictions upon
stage performances, but this is a very forced meaning to put
upon the words.
19. to prove reason, to establish the reasonableness of what I say.
21, 2. carest for nothing, have no cares of any kind.
24. I do not ... you, I do not like you; playing on the phrase
24, 5. If that he ... invisible, if my not caring for you be
equivalent to caring for nothing, I should be glad if it (my not
caring for you) would induce you to take yourself off, make
yourself as invisible as 'nothing' is.
29. pilchards, a small sea fish, resembling the sprat; spelled also
'pilcher,' as by Beaumont and Fletcher and by Middleton.
32. the orb, this orb of the earth.
33-5. I would be ... there, I should be sorry if the fool were
not as often with your master as with my mistress, for I think I
saw your wisdom (i.e. you who lay claim to so much wisdom)
with him (and wisdom should be counteracted, corrected, by
folly). For a somewhat subtle explanation of would here, see
Abb. § 331; for but, § 124. your wisdom, cp. A. C. i. 2. 20,
"Vex not his prescience," i.e. this prescient one, said sarcastically of the sooth-sayer.
36. an thou ... me, if you are going to cut jokes at my expense;
the metaphor is from fencing, in which science a 'pass' is a thrust;
cp. Temp. iv. 1. 244, "an excellent pass of pate," i.e. a clever
thrust of wit.
37. there's expenses for thee, here, there is money for you to
spend; accept this douceur from me.
38, 9. in his ... hair, when next he supplies men with hair,
sends out a consignment of hair; as though Jove were a tradesman and men his customers; cp. i. H. IV. i. 2. 93, "I would to
God I knew where a commodity of good names were to be
40. I am ... one, sick from desire of one; but meaning, as she
adds, not one to grow on her chin, but him who wears a beard,
i.e. her master, Orsino.
43. Would not ... sir? Would not a pair of these coins have
produced more? Cp. M. V. i. 3. 97, "Ant. Or is your gold and
silver ewes and rams? Shy. I cannot tell; I make it breed as
44. put to use, put out to interest; cp. M. A. ii. l. 288,
"Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for
it, a double heart for his single one"; V. A. 768, "gold that's
put to use more gold begets."
45. I would ... Phrygia, I would act as a go-between; as
Pandarus of Troy is represented in the mediaeval romances as
acting between Troilus and Cressida.
47. 'tis well begged, you have made your petition very cleverly.
48, 9. The matter ... beggar, it is nothing very great that I have
begged, for in begging for a Cressida to unite with this Troilus, I
have but begged a beggar, for Cressida was but a beggar; in the
abovementioned romances she is represented in her later days as
having fallen into extreme poverty.
50. construe to them, explain to them.
51, 2. are out ... over-worn, are out of my sphere, I might say
out of my 'element,' but the word has been worn to tatters by
constant use; welkin, the regions of the clouds, "- A. S. wolcnu,
clouds, pl. of wolcen, a cloud ... Of uncertain origin." ... (Skeat,
Ety. Dict.). Of course while satirizing the fantastic use of
'element,' the Clown, in 'welkin,' uses a still more fantastic word.
54. craves, needs, lit. begs.
55. He must, i.e. he who plays the fool: their mood on whom,
the mood, temper, of those at whom he aims his jests.
57. Not, like ... eye. The Folio reads "And, like," etc., for
which the majority of mod. edd. have adopted Johnson's conjecture, 'Not, like,' etc., Not, like an untramed hawk, swoop at
every bird that comes in its way: haggard, "a wild, untrained
hawk ('Faulcon hagard. A Hagard; a Falcon that preyed for
herself long before she was taken, Cotgrave's Fr. and Eng. Dict.')" (Dyce, Gloss.). For check at, see note on ii. 5. 104.
58, 9. This is ... art, to know when and where to give vent to
his jests, the proper seasons, and the right persons at whom to
aim his witticisms, requires as much study as a wise man's art.
60. For folly ... fit, for the folly of such a fool, i.e. of one who
knows when and where, etc., is fitting folly.
61. But wise ... wit. But wise men, when they betake themselves to folly, to fooling, cause their reputation for wisdom to be
quite tainted, to lose its good savour.
64. Dieu ... monsieur, God keep, protect, you.
65. Et vous ... serviteur, and you also; your humble servant.
67. Will you ... house, probably in ridicule of the fantastic
jargon of the euphuists, further imitated in "she is in the list of
my voyage," "taste your legs," "pregnant and vouchsafed ear."
68. if your ... her, if your business be with her; but with a
reference to trading with a foreign country; cp. Haml, iii. 2.
346, "Have you any further trade with us?"
69, 70. I am ... voyage, the port for which I am bound is your
niece's house, that is the limit, goal, of my voyage; list is lit. a
stripe or border of cloth, which latter word is used by Marlowe,
Ovid's Elegies, Bk. i., xi. 2, in the same sense, "whose cunning
hath no border"; cp. Oth. v. 2. 268, "here is my butt And very
sea-mark of my utmost sail."
71. Taste your legs, make experiment of; 'taste' was formerly
used of handling, using, as well as of touching with the palate,
but Sir Toby is only carrying on his affected language.
72. do better understand me, with a play upon the word in the
sense of 'support.'
75. I will ... entrance, I will answer you, meet your wishes, by
going and entering; imitating Sir Toby's affectation of language: gait, though really derived from the verb to 'get,' was popularly
connected with the verb to 'go.'
75, 6. we are prevented, my intention of going is anticipated, i.e.
by the entrance of Olivia; cp. Haml. ii. 2. 305, "So shall my
anticipation prevent your discovery"; J. C. v. 1. 105.
81, 2. My matter ... ear, my business, that with which I am
charged, can be spoken only in your own most receptive and
vouchsafing ear; can be told only to you if, as you have hitherto
shown yourself, you are graciously pleased to hear it: pregnant,
ready to listen, quick at taking in: for vouchsafed, = vouchsafing,
cp, Cymb. v. 4. 102, "to make my gift, The more delayed,
83, 4. I'll get ... ready, I will get all these phrases by heart
and have them ready for use when an opportunity offers.
85. to my hearing, to hear alone the message that has been
88. My duty ... service, i.e. I pay you my, etc., said as she
gives her hand.
91. My servant, sir? used by Olivia in the sense in which the
word was employed as a term of gallantry by suitors speaking of
themselves to the ladies whose love they sought, and also by
ladies in addressing those suitors.
91, 2. 'Twas never ... compliment; the world has never gone
well since the pretence of humility was used in the place of
courtesy; for compliment, cp. W. T. i. 2. 371, "even now I met
him With customary compliment": for the omission of the
article, see Abb. § 84.
96. For him, as for him, as regards him.
96, 7. for his ... me! as for his thoughts I would they were as
a sheet of paper on which nothing has been written, rather than
that they should be written over with me, filled from top to
bottom of the page with me.
98. to whet, to sharpen, and so excite, stimulate; cp. Haml. iii. 4. lll, "to whet my almost blunted purposes."
99. by your leave, if you will pardon my saying so.
101. would you ... suit, if you were willing to urge another
102. I had ... that, I would more gladly listen to your prayers in that matter; for hear you to, see Abb. Â § 349.
103. Than ... spheres, an allusion to the Pythagorean belief
that the stars in their revolution produced a heavenly music;
cp. M. V. V. 1. 58-62, "Look now the floor of heaven Is thick
inlaid with patines of bright sold: There's not the smallest orb
which thou behold'st But in his motion like an angel sings, still
quiring to the young-eyed cherubins"; A. C. v. 2. 84, "his voice was propertied As all the tuned spheres."
104. beseech you, i.e. I beseech you; as very frequently in
105. After ... here, after the last occasion on which you exercised
your magical influence over me; for did in its original sense of 'caused,' 'made,' see Abb. § 303.
108. in chase, in pursuit of you, after you: so I did abuse, and
in doins so I misused, did a wrong to; me, dat. reflexively, for
108-10. Under ... yours, you must, I fear, have put a harsh
construction upon my act in forcing upon your acceptance, by an
unworthy trick, that which you knew did not belong to you; to
force, for this gerundive use of the infinitive, see Abb. § 356.
110. what ... think? what could you think? might, the past
tense indicative of may; see Abb. § 312.
111-3. Have you ... think? Have you not (i.e. I am sure you
must have) tied my honour to the stake (as a bear is tied when
baited by dogs) and hunted it to death with the most unchecked
thoughts that a cruel heart could entertain; for the same
metaphor, cp. Macb. v. 7. 1, "They have tied me to a stake; I
cannot fly, But bear-like I must fight the course": of your
receiving, of your ready apprehension, understanding.
114. a cypress ... heart, i.e. my thoughts are plainly visible to
you; cypress, crape, a thin, transparent, fabric; see note on ii.4.53.
116. That's ... love, that is some way towards loving me.
117. No, not a grize, no, not even a single step; Lat. gressus, a step; cp. Oth. i. 3. 200, "a sentence, Which, as a grize, may help these lovers Into your favour": 'tis a ... proof, it is a thing
commonly proved, a matter of every-day experience.
119. Why, then, ... again. If that is so, if you are so utterly
unrelenting, nothing is to be gained by my continuing sorrowful.
120. how apt, how ready; how much addicted to being proud.
121. If one should be, if one is destined to become.
122. To fall ... wolf! to fall a victim to a lion, who would be
generous in his anger, rather than to a wolf, who woidd show
none of that generosity.
124. I will ... you, I will not marry you.
125. when wit ... harvest, when you grow to man's estate, and
are possessed of the intelligence which will then be yours.
126. is like, is likely: to reap, carrying on the metaphor in
128. Then westward-ho! then for the west! This and "Eastward-ho," were cries used by the watermen plying on the Thames,
and have civen names to two comedies, the former by Dekker,
the latter by Ben Jonson, Marston and Chapman.
128, 9. Grace ... ladyship! May the grace of heaven and a
peaceful mind wait upon your ladyship!
130. you'll nothing ... me? You will not, I suppose, send any
message to my lord by me?
133. That you ... are, that you suppose you are not making a
mistake in loving me, whereas you really are doing so.
134. I think ... you, i.e. that you are somebody of higher position
than you seem to be; not understanding the purport of Viola's
135. I am ... am, "I am not the man I seem to be, and I seem
not to be the woman I am" (C. Clarke).
136. as I would ... be, as I should wish you to be, i.e. in love
137. Would it ... am? If I were as you would wish me to be
should I be something better than I am?
138. your fool, the object of your mockery.
139. 40. O, what ... lip! how well even such scorn as his becomes him when displayed in the contemptuous and angry pouting of his lip! Steevens compares V. A. 70, "Which bred more
beauty in his angry eyes."
142. love's night is noon, the greatest secrecy that love can
maintain is as open and clear to lookers-on as the noonday.
143. by the roses, I swear by, etc.
144. maidhood, maidenhood, virginity; cp. Oth. i. 1. 173,
"youth and maidhood."
145. maugre, in spite of, notwithstanding, your being so proud
and stem; Fr. maugre, mal gre; cp. Lear. v. 3. 131; T. A. iv.
146. wit, wisdom, prudence.
147. Do not ... clause, do not endeavour forcibly to release
from the sentence in which they are imprisoned reasons which
shall seem adeauate to you: clause, apparently is used with
reference to its literal sense from Lat. claudere, to shut up, and
the metaphor is kept up in fetter, two lines lower: thy reasons,
reasons which you desire to find.
148. For that ... cause, seeing that I woo, you have no cause to
puzzle about my reasons for loving you; for for that, see Abb. §§ 151, 288.
149. 50. But rather ... better. But instead of endeavouring to,
etc., couple together two chains of reasoning, viz., to seek and
win love is good, but to win love without seeking is better still.
152. I have ... truth, my heart, my thoughts, and my faith are
single, i.e. given to one person only.
153. And that ... has, and that heart, those thoughts, and that
faith belong to no woman (they being all given to Orsino): save
I alone, except myself; for save, see Abb. § 118.
155. Will I ... deplore, will I come to you to tell you in sorrowful accents of my master's sufferings.
158. which now abhors, sc. his love.
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. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/twn_3_1.html >