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Twelfth Night

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ACT IV SCENE I Before Olivia's house. 
 [Enter SEBASTIAN and Clown] 
Clown Will you make me believe that I am not sent for you? 
SEBASTIAN Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow: 
 Let me be clear of thee. 
Clown Well held out, i' faith! No, I do not know you; nor
 I am not sent to you by my lady, to bid you come 
 speak with her; nor your name is not Master Cesario; 
 nor this is not my nose neither. Nothing that is so is so. 
SEBASTIAN I prithee, vent thy folly somewhere else: Thou 
 know'st not me. 9
Clown Vent my folly! he has heard that word of some 
 great man and now applies it to a fool. Vent my 
 folly! I am afraid this great lubber, the world, 
 will prove a cockney. I prithee now, ungird thy 
 strangeness and tell me what I shall vent to my
 lady: shall I vent to her that thou art coming? 
SEBASTIAN I prithee, foolish Greek, depart from me: There's 
 money for thee: if you tarry longer, I shall give 
 worse payment. 
Clown By my troth, thou hast an open hand. These wise men
 that give fools money get themselves a good 
 report -- after fourteen years' purchase. 21
SIR ANDREW Now, sir, have I met you again? there's for you. 
SEBASTIAN Why, there's for thee, and there, and there. Are all 
 the people mad?
SIR TOBY BELCH Hold, sir, or I'll throw your dagger o'er the house. 
Clown This will I tell my lady straight: I would not be 
 in some of your coats for two pence. 
SIR TOBY BELCH Come on, sir; hold. 
SIR ANDREW Nay, let him alone: I'll go another way to work
 with him; I'll have an action of battery against 
 him, if there be any law in Illyria: though I 
 struck him first, yet it's no matter for that. 32
SEBASTIAN Let go thy hand. 
SIR TOBY BELCH Come, sir, I will not let you go. Come, my young
 soldier, put up your iron: you are well fleshed; come on. 
SEBASTIAN I will be free from thee. What wouldst thou now? If 
 thou darest tempt me further, draw thy sword. 
SIR TOBY BELCH What, what? Nay, then I must have an ounce or two 
 of this malapert blood from you.
 [Enter OLIVIA] 
OLIVIA Hold, Toby; on thy life I charge thee, hold! 40
OLIVIA Will it be ever thus? Ungracious wretch, 
 Fit for the mountains and the barbarous caves, 
 Where manners ne'er were preach'd! out of my sight!
 Be not offended, dear Cesario. 
 Rudesby, be gone! 
 I prithee, gentle friend, 
 Let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion, sway 
 In this uncivil and thou unjust extent
 Against thy peace. Go with me to my house, 
 And hear thou there how many fruitless pranks 50
 This ruffian hath botch'd up, that thou thereby 
 Mayst smile at this: thou shalt not choose but go: 
 Do not deny. Beshrew his soul for me,
 He started one poor heart of mine in thee. 
SEBASTIAN What relish is in this? how runs the stream? 
 Or I am mad, or else this is a dream: 
 Let fancy still my sense in Lethe steep; 
 If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!
OLIVIA Nay, come, I prithee; would thou'ldst be ruled by me! 60
SEBASTIAN Madam, I will. 
OLIVIA O, say so, and so be! 

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 4, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 1

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 illusion.

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 some writers.

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 dramatists.

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 wisest way.

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 Clown.

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 language.

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 manner?

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 'I.'

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. < >

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