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Twelfth Night

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SEBASTIAN This is the air; that is the glorious sun; 
 This pearl she gave me, I do feel't and see't; 
 And though 'tis wonder that enwraps me thus, 
 Yet 'tis not madness. Where's Antonio, then?
 I could not find him at the Elephant: 
 Yet there he was; and there I found this credit, 
 That he did range the town to seek me out. 
 His counsel now might do me golden service; 
 For though my soul disputes well with my sense,
 That this may be some error, but no madness, 10
 Yet doth this accident and flood of fortune 
 So far exceed all instance, all discourse, 
 That I am ready to distrust mine eyes 
 And wrangle with my reason that persuades me
 To any other trust but that I am mad 
 Or else the lady's mad; yet, if 'twere so, 
 She could not sway her house, command her followers, 
 Take and give back affairs and their dispatch 
 With such a smooth, discreet and stable bearing
 As I perceive she does: there's something in't 20
 That is deceiveable. But here the lady comes. 
 [Enter OLIVIA and Priest] 
OLIVIA Blame not this haste of mine. If you mean well, 
 Now go with me and with this holy man 
 Into the chantry by: there, before him,
 And underneath that consecrated roof, 
 Plight me the full assurance of your faith; 
 That my most jealous and too doubtful soul 
 May live at peace. He shall conceal it 
 Whiles you are willing it shall come to note,
 What time we will our celebration keep 30
 According to my birth. What do you say? 
SEBASTIAN I'll follow this good man, and go with you; 
 And, having sworn truth, ever will be true. 
OLIVIA Then lead the way, good father; and heavens so shine,
 That they may fairly note this act of mine! 

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 5, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 3

From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.

1, 2. This is ... see't, i.e. I am able to feel and see things as they really are, I am under no hallucination.

3, 4. And though ... madness. And though I am enveloped with wonder I am not enveloped with madness; for enwraps, cp. A. W. v. 3. 128, "I am wrapped in dismal thinkings," M. A. iv. 1. 146, "attired in wonder," M. V. i. 1. 91, "dressed in an opinion of wisdom": Where's Antonio, then? If this is so, if I am in my right senses, how is it I could not find Antonio?

6. there he was, had been lately; not, was there when I went to look for him: this credit, this belief, this thing believed, regarding him. Steevens takes credit for oral intelligence, and quotes passages which may bear out his interpretation, though it does not seem at all a necessary one.

8. might ... service, might be of the greatest possible use to me; golden, precious.

9, 10. For though ...madness, for though my mind argues skilfully with my senses to prove that even if I be mistaken in this belief of mine as to the reality of my experience, I am not mad.

11, 2. Yet doth ... discourse, yet this good fortune which has befallen me in such full measure, so far exceeds all example and all reason; for discourse. Singer quotes Glanville, "The act of the mind which connects propositions, and deduces conclusions from them, the schools call discourse, and we shall not miscall it if we name it reason"; cp. Haml. i. 2. 50, "a beast that wants discourse of reason," and Oth. iv. 2. 153.

14-6. And wrangle ... mad; and dispute with my reason that would persuade me to a confident belief in anything except that either I am mad or that my lady is so: in disputes, discourse and wrangle, Sebastian is using the language of the schools, and, in this sense, the last term is still in use at Cambridge in 'wrangler,' originally a disputant in the schools: trust, belief.

18-20. Take ... does, attend to matters of business and see that her orders are carried out with so unruffled, clear-sighted, and steady a method as I see is the case with her; take and give back. is equivalent to 'administer,' 'attend to,' by receiving reports from her steward and passing orders upon them; and 'see to,' or some such verb, is easily supplied from take and give back. Dyce would read 'them' for their, which seems to me unnecessary and tautological.

20, 1. there's ... deceiveable, there is something in the matter that is delusive; for deceiveable, in this sense, cp. R. II. ii. 3. 84, "Show me thy humble heart, and not thy knee, Whose duty is deceiveable and false"; and for adjectives in -ble having both an act. and a pass. meaning, see Abb. § 3.

22. If you mean well, if your intentions are sincere.

24. Into ... by, into the chantry which is close at hand; a 'chantry' was a church or chapel endowed with lands, or other yearly revenue, for the maintenance of one priest or more, to sing mass for the souls of the donors, and of such others as they appointed; hence for religious services generally; cp. H. V. iv. 1. 318, "and I have built Two chantries where the sad and solemn priests Still sing for Richard's soul."

26. full assurance, complete assurance, as shown by the solemn ceremony of bethrothal. Bethrothal, or troth-plight, in Shakespeare's time was looked upon as a contract much more binding than the 'engagement' of modern times, and was accompanied by certain ceremonies such as the joining of hands before witnesses (often before a priest), as in W. T. iv. 4. 394, etc.; the exchange of kisses, K. J. ii. 1. 532-5; the interchange of rings, v. 1. 159- 62, below; R. III, i. 2. 302; T. G. ii. 5. 5-7.

27. 8. That my ... peace, that my soul, which is so jealous and doubtful about you, may be at rest.

28. May live ... it, for the sake of the metre, Hanmer would insert 'henceforth' before live; Abbott (§ 506) considers the line as one with four accents, with an interruption at peace.

29. Whiles, until; "while now means only 'during the time when,' but in Elizabethan English both while and whiles meant also 'up to the time when'" (Abb. § 137); Irishmen often say still 'wait while I come' for 'wait till I come': it shall ... note, it shall be made known, proclaimed.

30. What time, at which time; for the omission of the preposition in adverbial expressions, see Abb. § 202: celebration, sc. of the marriage ceremony.

31. According ... birth, in a way suitable to my high birth.

33. truth, faith, troth.

34, 5. and heavens ... mine! and may the heavens so shine as to look down favourably upon, etc., may the heavens show their approval of, etc.

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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