From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. a Jot, a tittle; here, the shortest possible time. "Englished
from Lat. iota." (Skeat, Ety. Dict).
2. dear venom, my dear angry fellow.
4. do more favours, show more kindnesses, more signs of love.
7. the while, at the time she was showing him more favours;
see Abb. § 137.
9. argument, proof, indication; cp. M. A. ii. 3. 243, "it is no
addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly."
11. 'Slight, see note on ii. 5. 29.
12, 3. I will ... legitimate, I will show that my argument is
logical, is a legitimate inference from the premisses: upon ...
reason, as established by the asseverations of, etc.
14. grand-jurymen, the office of the grand-jury is to decide
whether the evidence in charges brought up at an assize is prima
facie such as should justify their coming before a judge and the
17. your dormouse valour, your valour which is so often asleep,
inactive; dormouse, "lit. 'dozing-mouse.' The prefix is from a
prov. E. dor, to sleep, appearing in dorrer, a sleeper, lazy person
(Halliwell), and probably closely related to E. doze" (Skeat,
18. liver, as being the supposed seat of passion, especially the
passion of love; cp. M. A. iv. 1. 233, "if ever love had interest
in his liver."
19. accosted, attacked, addressed; see note on i. 3. 45.
19, 20. fire-new ... mint, freshly-coined, brand-new; cp. R. III.
i. 3. 256, "your fire-new stamp of honour"; L. L. L. i. 1. 179,
"a man of fire-new words."
20. banged, beaten; figuratively.
21, 2. This was ... hand, this was expected of you by her: and
this was balked, and she was disappointed of this; lit., this was
barred, hindered; 'balk,' a beam, bar.
22, the double ... opportunity, this doubly-favourable opportunity; articles of plate were often gilt, washed with gold, sometimes singly, sometmies doubly.
23, 4. into the ... opinion, into the coldest quarter, i.e. her feelings towards you are now icily cold; cp. R. III. iv. 4. 484, "Stan. No, my good lord, my friends are in the north. K. Rich.
Cold friends to Richard."
25, 6. unless you ... policy, unless by some praiseworthy act of
courage, or stroke of policy, you redeem the bad opinion you
have given her of yourself.
27. An't ... way, if it is to be done in any way.
28. a Brownist, the Brownists were so called from Robert
Browne, a noted separatist, or dissenter, from the Church of
England in Elizabeth's reign: a politician, Wright points out
that Shakespeare generally uses this word in an unfavourable
sense, as denoting a political intriguer or conspirator, and quotes
i. H. IV. 1.3. 246, Haml. v. 1. 86, etc. Cp. also The Duchess of
Malfi iii. 2, "A politician is the devil's quilted anvil; He fashions
all sins on him, and the blows Are never heard."
29. build me, let me see you establish your fortunes, etc.; for
me in the dative case, see Abb. § 220.
30. Challenge me, let me see you challenge: to fight, with the
purpose of fighting with him.
31. shall take note, will be obliged to notice; for shall, used
with the first, second, and third person, see Abb. § 315.
32. no love-broker, nothing which serves to bring man and
woman together in the matter of love so efficiently; a 'broker'
is a middle-man in transactions of trade; cp. T. C. iii. 2. 211,
33. in man's commendation, in commending a man to a
woman's good opinion.
37. a martial hand, a handwriting that shall look like that of
a soldier, a large, bold, handwriting, such as would be in keeping
with the "martial stalk" (Haml. i. 1. 6), of a soldier: curst,
surly in your style.
38, 9. it is no ... invention, it will not matter how full of witty
jests you make it, provided its language is forcible and original.
In no matter ... witty, Sir Toby is of course laughing at Sir
Andrew's want of wit, there being no fear of his being too witty.
39. taunt ... ink, taunt him with all the freedom that ink will
give you scope to do.
39, 40. if thou ... amiss, if you address him as 'thou' some
two or three times, it will be as well: thou "towards strangers
who were not inferiors was an insult," Abb. § 233. Theobald
believed there was an allusion here to the insulting language
used by Attorney-General Coke towards Sir W. Raleigh in his
trial, "All that he did was by thy instigation, thou viper, for I
thou thee, thou traitor!" but the play is known to have been
acted in 1601-2, while the trial did not take place till November,
40, 1. and as ... paper, and do you give him the lie as often as
you have room to do so in your sheet of paper.
42. bed of Ware, "This celebrated bed, made of oak richly
carved, is still preserved: it measures seven feet six inches in
height, ten feet nine inches in length, and ten feet nine inches
in width. At what inn in Ware it was kept during Shakespeare's
days is uncertain: but, after being for many years at the
Saracen's Head, it was sold there by auction in September, 1864,
and knocked down at a hundred guineas" (Dyce, Gloss.).
43. go, about it, go, set about it: gall, vegetable gall was one
of the main ingredients of ink in Shakespeare's time; cp. Cymb,
i. l. 101. Here = bitterness.
43, 4. though thou ... matter, if there be plenty of bitterness
in your letter, it will not matter even though you write with a
goose-quill; with an allusion to the supposed stupidity of geese.
46. at the cubiculo, at your apartment; cubiculo, ablative case
of Latin cubiculum, a bedroom.
47. This is ... you, this is a precious little fellow for you.
48. dear to him, playing upon the word in the sense of
'costly'; I have cost him some two thousand pounds; strong, to
the extent, strength, amount, of two, etc.; commonly used in regard to the numbers of an army. Cp. what Sir Andrew says above, ii. 3. 168, 9.
50. We shall ... him, he is sure to produce a wonderful specimen of a letter.
52. Never ... then, never trust me again if I do not, i.e.
assuredly I will.
53, 4. I think ... together, I don't believe any force in the world
would bring them together in a duel, induce them to fight.
Boswell quotes The Loyal Subject of Beaumont and Fletcher, "A
coach and four horses cannot draw me from it": wain, waggon;
see note on ii. 5. 58.
54. For Andrew, as for Andrew: opened, i.e. his body after
54, 5. and you find, and you were to find; find, subjunctive:
liver, here as the seat of courage: clog, impede: anatomy, body;
57. his opposite, his adversary, antagonist.
58. great ... cruelty, great indication of a fierce disposition.
59. youngest wren of nine, a reference to Maria's diminutive
size. The wren lays a large number of eggs; and Steevens says,
though I do not know upon what authority, that "the last
hatched of all birds are usually the smallest and weakest of the
60. If you ... spleen, if you wish to have your spleen enlarged
by overlaughing yourself; the spleen, though supposed to have
to do with passion of various kinds, was especially connected in
the belief of former times with the impulse of laughter; cp.
M. M. ii. 2. 122, "Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens Would all themselves laugh mortal"; L. L. L. iii. 1. 77, "By virtue, thou enforcest laughter; thy silly thought my spleen.
61. Yond gull, see note on ii. 5. 108.
62. a very renegado, a thorough apostate from the faith in
which he was brought up; from Low Lat. renegare, to deny
62-4. for there ... grossness, I say heathen and renegade, for
he must be so, since not a Christian in the whole world, who expects salvation from holding the true faith, can ever believe such grossly impossible doctrines as Malvolio has embraced in putting
faith in the directions of my letter, passages seems to be used in the sense of passages from Scripture laying down principles of conduct, and such ... grossness, to be put for passages of such
gross impossibility. For impossible, cp. M. A. ii. 1. 252,
"huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance upon me that," etc., where Dyce remarks, "Shakespeare, like other early writers, employs the word impossible with great license; so
before in this play [ii. 1. 143], we have impossible slanders"; in
M. W. iii. 5 , "I will examine impossible places"; T. N. iii. 2. , "impossible passages of grossness"; T. C. iii. l. ,
"strive with things impossible."
66. Most villanously, in a most extravagant, outlandish,
66, 7. a school i' the church. "It was not unfrequently the
custom for schools to be kept in the parvis or room over the
church porch" ..(Wright). Halliwell states that the grammar
school at Stratford was at intervals during Shakespeare's time
kept in the adjacent Chapel of the Guild. like his murderer,
like a man who persistently dogs the steps of one whom he
intends to murder.
68. that I ... him, in order to beguile him into the folly he is
69. does smile ... lines, by smiling contorts his face into more
70. new map ... Indies, Steevens, who has been generally followed by the commentators, supposed this map to be one
engraved for Linschoten's Voyages, but Mr. Coote, in a paper
published in the New Shakespeare Society argues that
Shakespeare here refers to the map found in some copies of the
complete edition of Hakluyt's Voyages (1599-1600), in which the
East Indies are given in greater detail than in any previous map.
72. will strike him, will be so angry with him that she will
box his ears.
73. take't ... favour, be highly flattered by it as being a mark
74. bring us, conduct us.
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_2.html >
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