From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. Will ... believe, do you wish to make me believe?
2. Go to, said here contemptuously; sometimes encouragingly.
3. clear of thee, free from your presence.
4. Well held ... faith, admirably persisted in, i.e. his pretence
of not knowing, or being known to, the Clown.
7. Nothing ... so, nothing is as it appears; everything is an
10. Vent, give expression to, air; a word several times used by
Shakespeare but not in the affected sense it seems to have had in
11, 2. I am ... cockney. "That is, affectation and foppery will
over-spread the world" (Johnson): lubber, big, burly, clumsy,
fellow: the origin of cockney is doubtful, but it formerly meant
'conceited,' 'coxcomb-like,' 'effeminate'; nowadays it is used
only of those who live in London, more especially the lower
classes, and 'cockneyism,' 'cockney language,' are the colloquialisms of those lower classes.
13. ungird thy strangeness, put off your affectation of not
knowing me: ungird is used by the Clown as a Roland for Sebastian's Oliver, 'vent,' which he regards as a piece of affectation.
16. foolish Greek, foolish jester; from the proverb, "As merry
as a Greek." "Pergroecor is translated by Coles, to revel, to play
the merry Greek or boon companion" (Malone); and "as
merry as a Greek" is an expression very frequent in the old
18. worse payment, sc. by beating you.
19. an open hand, a liberal hand.
21. after ... purchase, i.e. after a very long time. Read quotes
Sir J. Child's Discourse on Trade to show that about 1621 the
current price of land in England was twelve years' purchase, i.e.
the price paid for the fee simple was twelve times the annual rent.
The Clown's price therefore for a good report would be a very high
one. The pause after report, as after 'sense,' iii. 4. 148, is employed to emphasize the Clown's witticism. After may mean here, as C. Clarke says, "according to the rate of"; cp. M. M.
ii. 1. 225, "I'll rent the fairest house after three pence a bay";
Temp. ii. 2. 76, "he does not talk after the wisest," i.e. in the
22. there's for you, said as he strikes him.
24. Are all ...mad? with an emphasis on all; are all the
people of the place as mad as this fellow I met just now, i.e. the
25. I'll throw ... house, i.e. where you will not be able to get it
again, to a great distance.
26. straight, straightway, immediately: in some of your coats,
in the coats of some of you, 'in your shoes,' as we say colloquially.
27. for two pence, for a good deal, in the Clown's sarcastic
28. Come on, sir; hold. Come away, sir; cease from your
fighting, said to Sebastian.
30. I'll have ... him, I will prosecute him for assault; cp. M. M.
ii. 1. 188, Haml. v. 1. 111.
35, 6. my young soldier, my young warrior, said sarcastically,
as is your iron, your sword; cp. H. V. ii. 1. 8, "but I will wink
and hold out mine iron"; K. J. iv. 3. 99, "Put up thy sword
betimes, or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron, that you shall
think the devil is come from hell": fleshed, to 'flesh' was to
make eager for combat by giving a taste of blood, as hounds were
made eager by giving them a taste of raw meat; cp. K. J. v. 1.
71, "Shall a beardless boy ... brave our fields, And flesh his spirit
in a warlike soil?" H. V. iii. 3. 11, "And the flesh'd soldier,
rough and hard of heart."
35. come on, come away with me; not a challenge to fight.
36. I will ... thee, I desire to get rid of you. What ... now?
what is it that you wish?
38, 9. Nay, then ... you. Well, then, if you are so obstinate, I
must rid you of some of this saucy blood of yours.
42. Will it ... thus? Can you never behave in a decent
43. Fit ... mountains, fit only for a companion to those who live
in the mountains, and so know nothing of civilization; cp. the
use of 'mountaineer,' Cymb. iv. 2. 100, 120: barbarous caves,
caves inhabited by barbarians.
44. preach'd, taught.
46. Rudesby, rude, ill-mannered, fellow; used again in T. S.
iii. 2. 10, "a mad-brain rudesby full of spleen."
47-9. Let thy fair ... peace. In the matter of this violent and
undeserved attack against your peace (against you who are so
peacefully disposed), be guided by your calm wisdom, not by the
anger which it may so justly provoke. Extent "is, in law, a
writ of execution, whereby goods are seized for the king. It is
therefore taken here for violence in general" (Johnson). Delius
thinks the word means no more than a demonstration, and
Schmidt explains it by 'behaviour,' 'deportment.'
50. fruitless pranks, useless, unmeaning, freaks.
51. hath botch'd up, has contrived by his clumsiness. To
'botch' is properly to mend in a clumsy manner, to patch, which
word Shakespeare uses in A. C. ii. 2. 52, in a similar sense, to
make up of patches and shreds, "If you'll patch a quarrel. As matter whole you've not to make it with, It must not be with this." We use 'to patch up' a quarrel, in the sense of 'to make up,
heal,' a quarrel in the best way circumstances will allow of. Cp.
with a somewhat different meaning, H. V. ii. 1. 115, "All other
devils that suggest by treasons, Do botch and bungle up damnation with patches, colours," i.e. clumsily endeavour to give to damnation some colour of virtue.
52. thou Shalt ... go: you shall have no choice but to go, I will
not allow you to make any excuse; for 'to' omitted after but,'
see Abb. § 353.
53. Beshrew ... me, I pray that evil may befall him for what he
has done in starting, etc.; a mild form of imprecation, used by
Shakespeare, except in L. L. L. v. 2. 46, without the pronoun
54. He started ... thee, a pun upon started in the sense of
startling and of causing to take to night as a deer does when the
dogs surprise her, and also a pun upon heart and 'hart,' as in
i. 1. 17, 8; J. C. iii. 1. 207, 8, "O world, thou wast the forest to
this hart And this, indeed, O world, the heart to thee."
55. What relish ... this? How does this taste? What am I to
think of it? how ... stream, in what direction are matters going?
Whither is the stream of events carrying me?
56. Or ... or; 'or' is a contraction for 'other,' i.e. either, as
'nor' is of 'nother,' i.e. neither.
57. Lethe, one of the five rivers of hell; "the river of oblivion,"
Milton, Par. Lost, ii. 583.
58. If it be ... sleep, if I am destined to have such dreams as
this, I would gladly sleep for ever; cp. Oth. ii. 1. 191, 2, "If it
were now to die, 'Twere now to be most happy."
61. O, say so ... be! Not only say so, but be so. Olivia can
hardly believe, for joy, in Sebastian's readiness to do as she desires, she still believing him to be Cesario who had up to that time so persistently remsed to meet her wishes.
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_4_1.html >
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