From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. either tell ... or I, we should now say, "either tell me ... or
you will not find me open my lips," or "tell me ... or I will not,"
etc; that is, we should not use "either ... or" unless the conjunction in both cases referred to the same subject.
1-3. I will not ... excuse, the construction is "I will not open
my lips by way of your excuse (i.e. in the way of making excuses
for you) so wide as that a bristle may enter between them."
4, 5. he that is ... colours. A proverbial saying derived, as
Maria explains, from the wars, and meaning to fear no enemy's
colours, standards, and so no enemy. The first part of the
sentence, he that ... world, looks as though the Clown had
intended to refer to such a person's expectations in the next world.
6. Make that good. Prove that.
8. A ... answer, a fine meagre answer; lenten fare, i.e. the
meagre fare of strict Catholics during the feast of Lent, is a
common expression, and in Haml. ii. 2. 329 we have, "To think,
my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment
the players shall receive from you," i.e. what a scanty welcome,
poor treatment, etc.
9. of, "is used to connect words or phrases in apposition, the
saying here being 'I fear no colours.' So in Cor. ii. 1. 32, 'a very
little thief of occasion,' where occasion is the thief" (Wright).
11, 2. and that ... foolery: and that you may venture to say
when you are exercising your privilege of free jesting; said
ironically, as in such a statement there would be nothing to
excite the anger which the jester's witticisms often provoked.
13, 4. Well, ... talents. The Clown's inversion of Well, God
give them wisdom that have none; and those that are wise, let
them use their talents. There seems here to be a profane
allusion to the parable of the talents, Matthew xxv., in which
the man to whom the one talent was entrusted, and who laid it
up without obtaining any interest for it, has this one talent
taken away from him and given to him who had doubled the
five talents entrusted to him, Christ rebuking him for his sloth,
and saying, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and
he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be
taken even that which he hath."
16, 7. or, to ... you, or, as to being turned away, is not that
in your case equivalent to hanging; for the indefinite to be, see
Abb. § 356.
18. Many ... marriage; men are often saved from a miserable
life by being hanged before they can marry.
18, 9. and for ... out, and as for being turned away, let summer
make such a fate bearable, i.e. such a fate would be bearable so
long as it did not fall upon me in winter; for bear it out, cp.
0th. ii. 1. 19, "It is impossible they bear it out," 'bear it out'
being used indefinitely in both instances, though in the one it
means 'make endurable,' in the other 'endure.'
21. Not so, neither, not even that; a colloquialism more common in "not so, either."
22, 3. That if ... fall. Maria puns on the word points in the
sense of tags used for keeping up the breeches; cp. i. H, IV. ii.
4. 238, "Fal. Their points being broken, — (i.e. their sword
points) Poins. Down fell their hose." gaskins, called also
'galligaskins,' a loose kind of breeches. Skeat says that the
longer form is a corruption of Garguesques, Greguesques, and that
the notion of some of the weavers of galligaskins that they were
so called because they originally came from Gascony is a mistaken one.
24. Apt, a fitting, smart, quibble: Well, go thy way, said as
Maria prepares to leave them.
24-6. if Sir Toby ... Illyria, if Sir Toby would only give up
drinking, he could not do better than marry such a witty person
as yourself. This of course is implied, not expressed.
27. Peace, ... that. Hold your tongue; I will have no more
allusions to that subject.
28. you were best, for this ungrammatical remnant of ancient
usage, see Abb. § 230.
29. Wit ... fooling! Addressing his own wit, the Clown adjures
it to prompt him to a clever display of his art so that he may be
able to turn away the anger of his mistress from whom he expects
a scolding for his long absence.
30, 1. Those wits ... fools; those intelligences who fancy that
they are endowed with wit, those self-styled wits.
32. Quinapalus the name of a philosopher invented by the
Clown as an authority to quote in support of his own aphorism,
just as in ii. 3. 23-5 he is represented as inventing Pigrogromitus,
a geographer, the Vapians, a people, and Queubus, a country.
36. Take ... lady, i.e. she has ordered you to take away the
fool, she is the fool, therefore take her away; one of the "simple syllogisms" of which the Clown boasts just below, though the
premisses are inferred, not stated.
37. a dry fool, a fool whose wit has run dry, is exhausted; cp.
T. C. i 3. 329, "were his brain as barren As banks of Libya,
though, Apollo knows 'Tis dry enough."
38. you grow dishonest, i.e. by absenting yourself from your
duties, as Maria has already accused him of doing.
39. madonna, Italian for 'my lady.'
40. dry fool, taking Olivia's expression in the sense of thirsty.
42. let the ... him, let him be sent to the mender of old clothes,
shoes, etc., to patch him up. To 'botch,' = to patch, is "borrowed directly from the O. Low German. Oudemans gives
botsen ... to strike; with its variant butsen, meaning both (1) to
strike or beat, and (2) to repair. The notion of repairing in a
rough manner follows at once from that of fastening by beating.
The root is the same as that of beat" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).
46. will serve, will do, is good enough for the purpose; so,
well and good.
49. Misprision, a mistake. In using the words in the highest
degree, the Clown probably has in his mind the phrase "misprision of treason." Skeat points out that the definition of that
offence, viz. "a neglect or light account made of treason" is due
to the word 'misprision' having been derived from the F.
mespris, contempt, instead of from the O. F. mesprison, error,
offence, with the same sense, and from the same source, as the
Mod. F. meprise, a mistake.
49, 50. cucullus ... monachum, the cowl, or hood, does not
make the monk.
50, 1. that's ... brain, which is equivalent to saying that though
I wear the party-coloured dress of a fool, I am not a fool in point
of intellect. motley, "of different colours ... So called because
spotted; originally applied to curdled milk, etc. — O. F. mattele, 'clotted, knotted, curdled, or curd-like,' Cotgrave" (Skeat. Ety.
54. Dexteriously, probably only an affectation of the Clown's,
though Wright points out that the word is used in Bacon's Adv. of Lear. ii. 22. 15, and in Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia.
56. for it, in order to establish my proof: my mouse of virtue,
my dear and virtuous lady; mouse was formerly a term of endearment.
58. for want ... idleness, as I have not just now any other
frivolous way of spending my time: I'll bide your proof, I will
submit myself to this proof of my folly which you undertake to
furnish; for bide, in this sense, cp. i. H. IV, iv. 4. 10, "Wherein
the fortune of ten thousand men Must bide the touch"; R. J. i.
1. 229, "Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes."
64, 5. for your ... heaven, for the fact of, etc.
67. mend, improve in the matter of wit.
69, 70. infirmity ... fool, the weakness attendant upon old age
which impairs the wisdom of the wise, only makes the fool more
worthy of his title. For decays, used transitively, cp. Cymb.
i. 5. 56, "And every day that comes comes to decay A day's
work in him."
71, 2. God ... folly! God grant that you may quickly become
old and infirm so that your folly (which you think wisdom) may
increase and improve in quality; for the preceding a verbal that
is followed by an obj., see Abb. § 93.
72, 3. will be ... fox, will readily swear that I am no very
73. will not ... two pence, will not wager twopence.
75. How say ... Malvolio? What have you to say in answer to
76. such ... rascal, a fellow of such barren, scanty, wit; cp. T.
C. i. 3. 329, quoted above on 1. 37.
77, 8. I saw him ... fool, I saw him worsted by a common fool,
one who did not profess the art of jesting: for with, = by, see
Abb. § 193.
79. he's out ... already, for out of his guard we should now
say "off his guard," i.e. not in a position to defend himself,
not prepared to continue the combat. Cp., for a similar metaphor, L. L. L. V. 1. 62, "Now by the salt wave of the Mediterranean, a sweet touch, a quick venue of wit! snip, snap, quick
and home," 'venue' being a technical term in fencing for a
79, 80. unless ... gagged, unless you encourage him by laughing
at his wit, and give him some opportunity, some provocative, he
is quite dumb, has not a word to say; for minister occasion, cp.
Temp. ii. 1. 73, "and did to minister occasion to these gentlemen."
80-2. I protest ... zanies. I declare that I look upon these
men who have the reputation of being wise, but who laugh so
heartily at professed buffoons like this one, as being no better
than poor imitations, shadows, of buffoons; for crow, cp. A. Y. L.
ii. 7. 30, "when I did hear The motley fool thus moral on the
time, My lungs began to crow like chanticleer ... And I did
laugh sans intermission An hour by this dial": kind, must be regarded as a noun of multitude. On zany, a writer in the
Edin. Review, for July, 1869, remarks, "The zany in Shakespeare's day was not so much a buffoon and a mimic as the
obsequious follower of a buffoon, and the attenuated mime of a
mimic. He was the vice, servant, or attendant of the professional
clown or fool, who, dressed like his master, accompanied him on
the stage or in the ring, following his movements, attempting to
imitate his tricks and adding to the general merriment by
his ludicrous failures and comic imbecility. It is this characteristic not merely of mimicry, but of weak and abortive mimicry,
that gives its distinctive meaning to the word, and colours it
with a special tinge of contempt" .... Middleton also uses
the word for an 'attendant' simply. From "It. Zane, 'the
name of John, or a sillie John, a gull, a noddie'... Florio. Mod.
Ital. Zanni, Zane, and Zanni are familiar forms of Giovanni,
John" ... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). In the same sense we use a 'Jack-pudding.'
83. sick of self-love, i.e. out of, from, self-love: and taste ...
appetite, and regard everything with a diseased judgment, see
things with a jaundiced eye.
84-6. To be ... bullets. They who are of a generous nature, conscious of no evil in themselves, and unsuspicious of others,
regard those things as mere harmless sport which to you seem
serious offences: bird-bolts, were short, thick arrows, with broad blunt, ends: we speak of the 'bullets' (using a diminutive) of a
rifle or gun, but of cannon-balls.
86-8. there is no ... reprove. In the jests of one who is a professional fool there is nothing malicious, even though he does
nothing but rail at one; just as a man of known discretion cannot be said to rail, however much he may reprove.
89, 90. Now ... fools! Johnson explains this, "May Mercury
teach thee to lie, since thou liest in favour of fools." Mercury
was the divinity of commerce and gain, his name being connected
with merx, profit, and mercari to barter, and hence of unjust
gain, cheating, falsehood. Leasing is the A.S. leasing, from A.S.
leas, false, originally, empty.
91. much desires, sc. who much, etc. For the omission of the
relative, see Abb. § 244.
94. 'tis a ... man, cp. H. V. iii. 6. 70, "Why 'tis a gull, a fool,
a rogue"; A. C. iii. 2. 6, "'tis a noble Lepidus": and well
attended, who has several attendants with him.
96. hold ... delay, hold him in check and so delay his coming to
98. Fetch him off, get him out of the way: he speaks ... madman, he talks nothing but what is utter folly; cp. K. J. ii. 1.
462, "He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke and bounce":
M. A. ii. 1. 255, "She speaks poniards"; Oth, ii. 3. 281,
"Drunk? and speak parrot?"
99, 100. if it be a suit, if his object in coming is to plead for
the Count: I am ... home, i.e. say that I, etc.
101. to dismiss it, in order to get rid of the solicitations of the
101, 2. Now you ... it, you see, from what Malvolio says, that
your jesting appears to be in its dotage, and people no longer
103. for us, sc. the fraternity, or guild, of fools.
104. should be, was likely to be.
104, 5. for, — here he ... mater, this is the reading of the Camb.
Edd. for "for here he comes one of thy kin," etc: i.e. for, — here
he comes of whom I speak, — one of your kin, etc.; pia mater, the
thin inner membrane which immediately envelopes the brain: weak, liable to give way at the least exertion.
106. What is he? who is he? with a notion of indefiniteness.
110, 1. a plague ... herring, curses on these pickled herrings
which, by driving me to drink so much, cause me to hiccough in
this way; referring to his words being broken off after here by
his catching his breath. Herrings pickled in brine are a dish
Sir Toby would be likely to eat of plenteously as a provocative
to drinking, and so would be subject to indigestion, resulting in
a hiccough. Dyce prints pickle-herring, the apostrophe indicating the plural; Rolfe considers the word a true plural, like
trout, salmon, and compares Lear, iii. 6. 33, "two white herring."
111. How now, sot? Though 'sot' is generally used by
Shakespeare for 'dolt,' 'fool,' Knight thinks that the humour
here consists in the drunken Sir Toby addressing the Clown as
113, 4. how have ... lethargy? how is it that you are in this
half-sleepy state so early in the morning? come by, acquired.
115. Lechery! To Sir Toby this word would be familiar, but
'lethargy' is above his understanding.
118, 9. give me ... I, what I delight in is good faith, trust:
Well ... one, well, it does not matter: the drunkard's carelessness
121, 2. one ... heat, one glass more than is enough to warm the
blood: mads, maddens.
124. the crowner, the coroner, lit. an officer appointed by the
crown, and then specially one who holds the inquest into the
cause of a man's death; for the form of the word, cp. Haml.
V. 1, 24, "crowner's quest law." Shakespeare also uses crownet
for 'coronet,' A. C. iv. 12. 27, v. 2. 91: sit o' my coz, hold an
inquest upon my cousin; coz, a common contraction of 'cousin.'
125. for he's ... drink, according to the Clown's classification of
127. but mad yet, so far only in the second stage; though in
his original statement the Clown puts the climax, 'drowned,'
first: shall look to, shall take care of.
130, 1. he takes ... you, he professes to be, assumes the responsibility of being, aware of that, and therefore he says (though
one might have expected this knowledge to deter him) he comes, etc.
132, 3. he seems ... you, he appears to have known this before
he was told of it, and therefore (not in spite of it, as one would
have expected him to say), he comes, etc.
137. Has, for the omission of the nominative, see Abb. § 400.
138. a sheriff's post, it is commonly stated that these posts
were used for fixing royal and civic proclamations upon them;
Knight doubts this, and is inclined to believe that they were
only a token of authority, to denote the residence of a magistrate.
He gives a pictorial illustration of such posts, to which it would
not have been easy to affix proclamations of any kind: the supporter to a bench, i.e. as firmly fixed, as stationary, as the legs
which support a bench to sit upon.
139. but he'll you, rather than not speak to you: see Abb. § 121.
141. of mankind, one of the human race; a piece of Malvolio's
143. Of ... manner, Olivia having used 'manner' in the sense
of 'kind,' Malvolio again displays his wit by using the word in a
different sense = manners, behaviour: will you or no, whether
you are willing or not.
145. personage, personal appearance; cp. M. N. D. iii. 2.
292, "And with her personage, her tall personage."
147. as a squash ... peascod, he is to a man what a squash is to
a peascod; a squash is a peascod, or peaspod in its earlier stage
before the pea is formed in the pod, when it is soft and easily
squeezed, squashed: a codling, here an unripe apple, though in
though in present use as a particular kind of apple. Formed from cod =
husk, "by the help of the diminutive—ling; cp. codlings in the
sense of 'green peas' (Halliwell) with the word pease-cod, showing that codlings are properly the young pods" (Skeat, Ety.
148. e'en standing water, neither at the flow nor at the ebb;
cp. Temp. ii. 1. 221-4, "Seb. Well, I am standing water. Ant. I'll teach you how to flow. Seb. Do so: to ebb Hereditary sloth instructs me": e'en for 'in' is Steevens' correction; if 'in' is
retained, it must mean 'in the condition of,' as Wright explains.
149. He is ... shrewlshly, he is comely in appearance, and (yet)
he speaks very sharply, tartly.
150, 1. one would ... him, from his appearance one would think
that it was not so very long since he was weaned (and therefore
one might expect gentler language from him). For the subject
in the subordinate sentence, see Abb. § 368.
152. call in, summon to be present with me during the interview.
157. I shall ... her, I will make answer for her. Your will? What is your desire?
158-60. I pray you ... her: Viola interrupts herself for fear she
should be casting away, wasting, her speech on some one else
162. to con it, to learn it by heart; to 'con,' "a secondary
verb, formed from A. S. cunnan, to know; it signifies accordingly 'to try to know'; and may be regarded as the desiderative
of to know" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): let me ... no scorn; do not
subject me to any disdain while delivering the message entrusted
to me: for sustain, in this sense, cp. Cymb. i. 4. 125, H. VIII.
ii. 2. 5.
162, 3. I am very ... usage, I am very sensitive, susceptible, to,
very easily disconcerted by, the least unkindness.
166-8. give me ... speech, give me such assurance that you are
the lady of the house as will enable one as timid as myself to go
on with my speech.
169. Are ... comedian? sc. that you speak of studying a part.
170. my profound heart, my most wise lady; heart, as a term of affectionate or familiar address, is used by Shakespeare sometimes unqualified, sometimes qualified by such adjectives as 'dear,' 'good,; 'noble,' 'sweet.' Here the words my profound
heart are merely a continuation of the euphuistic style in which
Viola had begun her address, "Most radiant, exquisite," etc.
170, 1. by the very ... play, this seems to mean, I invoke upon
myself the bitterest things that can be said of me if I lie in
declaring that my character is an assumed one, and so far I am a
comedian. For fangs, used in a figurative sense, cp. A. Y. L. ii
1. 6, "the icy fang And churlish chiding of the winter's wind."
173. If I ... myself, if I do not claim a title which does not
belong to me.
174. you do ... yourself; you do in regard to yourself claim as a right that which is no right of yours.
176. to reserve, to keep wholly to yourself: i.e. it is your duty
to marry and give the house a lord and master.
176. from my commission: beyond, out of, what was committed to me to deliver; for from, see Abb. § 158.
176, 7. I will on ... message, I will go on with my speech in
praise of you, which I began and broke off in (and which is merely
an ornamental preface), and will then come to what is the pith
and essence of the message entrusted to me.
178, 9. I forgive ... praise, I remit that as a tribute you need
181. It is ... feigned, if it is poetical, it is all the more likely
to be untrue, counterfeit; cp. M. N. D. i. 1. 30, 1, "Thou
hast by moonlight at her window sung With feigning voice verses
of feigning love"; A. Y. L. iii. 3. 22, "the truest poetry is the
181, 2. keep it in, restrain it, do not deliver it.
182, 3. and allowed ... you, and allowed you to be admitted not
so much in order to listen to what you had to say as to indulge
my wonder at one who had so impudently demanded entrance.
183, 4. If you he ... brief; I have followed Mason in omitting
'not' of the folios before mad. Olivia had said that she
admitted Viola chiefly because she was so astonished at her
saucy behaviour, and she goes on, if, as that behaviour seem to indicate, you are not in your right mind, you had better
take yourself off; if, however, you are in your senses, you had
better say as briefly as you can what the object of your visit is.
Knight, retaining 'not,' thinks that Shakespeare "means Olivia
to say, If you are not quite without reason, begone; if you have
some reason, be brief, that you may soon be gone; giving the
effect of an antithetical construction without actually being so."
184, 5. 'tis not ... dialogue, I am not now under the influence
of the moon, in a state of lunacy, so that I should be inclined to
take part in so flighty a dialogue; for skipping, cp. M. V. ii. 2.
196, "Pray thee, take pain to allay with some cold drops of
modesty thy skipping spirit."
186. hoist sail, put up sail and be off.
187. swabber, one who swabs, sweeps with a brush called a
swab, the decks of a ship. I am ... longer, I am to beat about here, etc. To 'hull,' is to drive hither and thither when masts
and sails have gone, or when the sails are all taken in during a
calm, and the 'hull' or body of the vessel is almost all that is
seen above the water. For the word used in a metaphorical
sense, cp. H. VIII. ii. 4. 199, "Thus hulling in The wild sea of
my conscience"; and Marston, Sophonisba, i. 2. 193, "since the
billow (sc. of war) Is risen so high we may not hull." In swabber
and hull, Viola is merely carrying on Maria's metaphor.
188. Some ... giant, I beg you to pacify this formidable attendant of yours; ironically referring to the diminutive size
of Maria (who is called by Sir Toby, iii. 2. 70, below, "the
youngest wren of nine"), and also with an allusion to the giants
who, in old romances, are represented as being kept by ladies of
rank for their protection.
189. Tell me your mind. Tell me what you wish to say; to
which Viola replies, I have not to deliver my mind, I come as
a messenger to deliver what has been entrusted to me. Warburton first arranged the text as it stands; the folios give
the words tell me your mind as a part of Viola's speech.
191, 2. Sure ... fearful, evidently the message you bring must
be a terrible one, seeing that in your courtesy you show yourself
so afraid to deliver it for fear of the effect it might have upon me.
192. your office, that which you were commissioned to deliver: cp. iii. 4. 299, "do thy office."
193. It ... ear: alone belongs to ear, not to it.
193, 4. no overture of war, no disclosure, announcement, of
terms of war; overt, lit. means 'open.'
194. no taxation of homage, no demand of homage due as a
tribute; I am not come to tax you in the matter of homage.
the olive the emblem of peace.
195. as full ... matter, as peaceful as they are material, important.
199. from my entertainment, from the treatment I received
at the hands of your servants; if they had not treated me
rudely, I should not have shown any rudeness myself; for
entertainment, cp. Temp, i. 2. 465, "I will resist such entertainment till mine enemy has more power."
200, 1. to your ... profanation, what I am, and what I desire,
are matters which if delivered to your ears are as something holy,
but which it would be profanation to deliver to other ears.
202. Give us ... alone, leave us alone. this divinity, this message which Viola speaks of as something holy.
203, 4. your text, that text or subject on which your
discourse is to enlarge.
206. A comfortable doctrine, this doctrine which you preach
(in using the words "Most sweet lady") is of a character comforting to the soul; "a comfortable doctrine" is a phrase used
in religious or theological language. much ... it, is one that
affords much scope for enlargement upon it.
207. Where ... text? In what scriptures is this text to be
209. In what chapter, in what part; as we say, "give me
chapter and verse for your statement," i.e. tell me exactly where
you got it from, what authority you have for it.
210. by the method, in accordance with the mode of your
speech: in the first of his heart, i.e. it is the very beginning and
most essential part of what is written in his heart.
211. it is heresy, it is false doctrine, not the truth; cp.
Cymb. iii. 4. 83, 4, where Imogen is speaking of the letters of
Posthumus, which she has in her bosom, "What is here? The
scriptures of the loyal Leonatus All turned to heresy." In text,
comfortable doctrine, chapter, first of his heart, heresy, Olivia
is merely carrying on the idea suggested by Viola's use of
divinity and profanation.
215. You are ... text; you have now exceeded the text of your
216. draw the curtain, here = undraw; Shakespeare uses the
phrase both for covering and uncovering.
218. if God did all, if you are what nature made you and owe
nothing to art.
219. in grain, of a fast colour; grain in this phrase is
cochineal, a dye obtained from the dried bodies of insects of the
species Coccus cacti, but supposed by the ancients to be made
from a berry, the meaning of the Lat. coccus; cp. C. E, iii. 2.
108. "Ant. S. That's a fault that water will mend. Dro.
S. No, sir, 'tis in grain; Noah's flood could not do it," i.e.
wash it out: 't will ... weather, it will not lose its colour from
wind or rain.
220. 'Tis beauty ... blent, it is beauty the colours of which are
honestly mixed, not due to art, but laid on by the sweet and
skilful pencil of nature.
222. she, lady, woman; as frequently in Shakespeare.
223, 4. If you ... copy. If instead of allowing such beauty to be led to the altar, and so, by marriage, leaving a copy of that
original, you should take it to the grave, leaving no copy behind you; cp. W. T. i. 2. 122, ii. 3. 99. In Sonn. xi. 14, copy is
used in a similar metaphor, though there the meaning is the
original form from which a similar form is created, "She
[Nature] carv'd thee for her seal, and meant thereby Thou
should'st print more, nor let that copy die."
225-7. I will ... will; carrying on her affectation of legal
phraseology, Olivia says that, so far from leaving no copy
behind, she will cause to be published various bills setting forth
the particulars of her beauty; she will have an inventory made
of every particular and article of it, and this inventory shall be
affixed to her will, like a list of goods and chattels; a schedule
is lit. a small leaf of paper, and label, a small flap or lappet, then
a small slip of paper.
227. item, "a separate article or particular ... The mod. use
of item as a subs. is due to the old use of it in enumerating
particulars. Properly it is an adv. meaning 'also' or 'likewise' ... from Lat. item, in like manner, likewise, also" ... (Skeat, Ety.
228. indifferent, fairly, tolerably; see note on i. 3. 118, above.
230. to praise, probably, as most edd. take it, for 'appraise'; cp. T. C. iii. 2. 97, "praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we
233-5. O, such love ... beauty? Beautiful as you are, such love
as his would not be more than compensated by the return of your
love, even if you had been crowned by general consent as peerless in beauty.
235. nonpareil, one without an equal; cp. Cymb, ii. 5. 8, "my
mother seemed The Dian of that time; so doth my wife The
nonpareil of this."
236. With adorations, with the utterance of vows of love:
fertile tears, tears so abundant as to fertilize the soil on which
they fall. With was inserted by Pope before fertile, and seems
clearly needed not merely for the metre, but for the balance of
239. suppose him virtuous, assume, though I have no absolute
knowledge, that he is of a virtuous disposition.
241. In voices well divulged. This is generally taken by
itself as = well spoken of by the world, of good reputation. It
seems to me to be connected with the rest of the line, i.e. well
spoken of by the world as being free (gracious), learned, and
valiant. Having first referred to what she can only assume
regarding the Duke, ac. his virtue, Olivia goes on to mention
wnat she knows as facts, viz. that he is of noble birth and
fortune, that his youth has been blamelessly spent, that he is
spoken of as gracious, learned, and valiant, that his personal
appearance is handsome. His being free, learned, and valiant
would be a matter of opinion, his being considered so would be a
matter of fact within her knowledge.
242, 3. And in ... person, and in the stature and shape given
him by nature, a good-looking person; for gracious, cp. K. J.
iii. 4. 81, "For since the birth of Cain, the first male child ...
There was not such a gracious creature born."
244. He might ... ago. He might long ago have accepted the
fact that I would not marry him; for took, see Abb. § 343.
245. in my ... flame, with such a burning passion as my master
feels for you.
246. With such ... life, with such a painful and fatal vitality of
love; deadly life, for the sake of the antithesis; cp. H. V. iv. 2.
64, 5, "To demonstrate the life of such a battle In life so lifeless
as it shows itself."
247. would ... sense, would see no meaning.
248. what would you, sc. do.
249. a willow cabin, a hut of osier twigs woven together. The
willow was an emblem of unhappy love...
250. my soul, i.e. her, Olivia, who would be the very life and
soul of Viola if she loved as her master did.
251. loyal cantons, songs of ever faithful love; canton, anbther
form of 'canto' used in Shakespeare's day.
252. loud, loudly.
253. reverberate hills, hills that would re-echo them, reverberant; the passive adj. used actively. Steevens quotes Ben
Jonson, The Masque of Blackness, "which skill Pythagoras
First taught to man by a reverberate glass."
254, 5. And make ... 'Olivia!' And cause the air, which
tattles about everything like an old gossip, to cry out 'Olivia!'
In Per. i. 2. 87, we have "the listening air," i.e. ready to catch
up anything uttered in it.
255-7. O, you ... me! You should find no rest anywhere between earth and sky unless you showed pity to me; for but, see
Abb. § 121.
257. You might do much, sc. towards winning my love.
259. Above ... well. My parentage is above my position as
a page, though I have nothing to complain of in my present
263. To tell ... it, to tell me how (i.e. with anger or with
resignation) he receives my refusal.
265. I am ... post, I am not a messenger who requires to be
paid for his trouble; post = messenger, is frequent in Shakespeare, e.g. K. J. i. 1. 219, M. V. ii. 9. 100.
266. My master ... recompense. It is my master, not I, who
needs reward, the reward of your love for his constancy.
267. Love ... love; may the god of love (Cupid) make the heart
of him with whom you fall in love as hard as a flint!
268, 9. And let ... contempt! And may your ardour, like my
master's, find no other reception than that of contempt; cp.
M. V. ii. 6. 57, "And therefore, like herself, wise, fair and
true, Shall she be placed in my constant soul."
269. fair cruelty, fair but cruel one; abstr. for concr., cp. K.
J. iii. 4. 36, "O fair affliction, peace!" Temp. v. 1. 241, "Bravely,
my diligence" etc., i.e. my diligent servant.
274. Do give ... blazon; do each of them proclaim you a
gentleman: blazon, from "F. blason, 'a coat of arms; in the
eleventh century a buckler, shield; then a shield with the coat
of arms of a knight painted on it; lastly, towards the fifteenth
century, the coats of arms themselves' (Brachet)"... (Skeat, Ety.
Dict.). Hence the description or portraiture of other things
besides a coat of arms.
274, 5. not too ... man. I must not allow my regard for him
to run on too fast; I must check myself; this will not do, unless
the master and the servant could change places, and the latter
loved me as dearly as the former does; the master, equivalent to
'he who loves me so.'
275. How now! not a question, but a rebuke to herself for her
276. the plague, i.e. of love
279. To creep ... eyes. Cp. M. V. iii. 2. 67, "Tell me where
is fancy (i.e. love) bred ... It is engender'd in the eyes. With
gazing fed"; for to after feel, see Abb. § 349. let it be, never
mind, let things take their course; as she says just after, "What
is decreed must be, and this be so."
280. at your service, I am here to wait upon you.
281. peevish, wilful, obstinate. The word is used by Shakespeare in various senses, silly, thoughtless, wayward, capricious,
282. The county's man, the count's man-servant; county, another form of 'count,' several times used by Shakespeare; originally meaning a companion, i.e. of some great leader, the modern 'county,' = shire, being the portion of territory of which the
'count' had the government.
283. Would I or not, whether I liked it or not. I'll none of it,
I will have nothing to do with it.
284. to flatter ... lord, to encourage him with hopes; for flatter
with, cp. T. G. iv. 4. 193, "Unless I flatter with myself too much."
285. hold him ... hopes, give him the support of hope: I am ...
him, he need not hope to win me for his wife.
286. If that, for the conjunctional affix, see Abb. § 287.
287. for't, for my refusal: hie thee, haste thee; for 'thee'
used instead of 'thou,' see Abb. § 212.
289, 90. and fear ... mind. "She fears that her eyes had formed
so flattering an idea of Cesario that she should not have strength
of mind sufficient to resist the impression. She had just before
said, 'Methinks, I feel this youth's perfections, With an
invisible and subtle stealth To creep in at mine eyes'" (M. Mason).
291. force, power: owe, own, possess, are masters of; the -n of owen, to possess, which was dropped in Elizabethan Eng., has now been restored.
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. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/twn_1_5.html >.