Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  Twelfth-Night; or, What You Will

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene V.

Twelfth-Night; or, What You Will

A Room in OLIVIA’S House.

Enter MARIA and Clown.

Mar.Nay, either tell me where thou hast been, or I will not open my lips so wide as a bristle may enter in way of thy excuse. My lady will hang thee for thy absence.

Clo.Let her hang me: he that is well hanged in this world needs to fear no colours.

Mar.Make that good.

Clo.He shall see none to fear.

Mar.A good lenten answer: I can tell thee where that saying was born, of, ‘I fear no colours.’

Clo.Where, good Mistress Mary?

Mar.In the wars; and that may you be bold to say in your foolery.

Clo.Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.

Mar.Yet you will be hanged for being so long absent; or, to be turned away, is not that as good as a hanging to you?

Clo.Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and, for turning away, let summer bear it out.

Mar.You are resolute then?

Clo.Not so, neither; but I am resolved on two points.

Mar.That if one break, the other will hold; or, if both break, your gaskins fall.

Clo.Apt, in good faith; very apt. Well, go thy way: if Sir Toby would leave drinking, thou wert as witty a piece of Eve’s flesh as any in Illyria.

Mar.Peace, you rogue, no more o’ that. Here comes my lady: make your excuse wisely, you were best.[Exit.

Clo.Wit, an ’t be thy will, put me into good fooling! Those wits that think they have thee, do very oft prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man: for what says Quinapalus? ‘Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.’


God bless thee, lady!

Oli.Take the fool away.

Clo.Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.

Oli.Go to, you’re a dry fool; I’ll no more of you: besides, you grow dishonest.

Clo.Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel will amend: for give the dry fool drink, then is the fool not dry; bid the dishonest man mend himself: if he mend, he is no longer dishonest; if he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Any thing that’s mended is but patched: virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin; and sin that amends is but patched with virtue. If that this simple syllogism will serve, so; if it will not, what remedy? As there is no true cuckold but calamity, so beauty’s a flower. The lady bade take away the fool; therefore, I say again, take her away.

Oli.Sir, I bade them take away you.

Clo.Misprision in the highest degree! Lady, cucullus non facit monachum; that’s as much to say as I wear not motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.

Oli.Can you do it?

Clo.Dexteriously, good madonna.

Oli.Make your proof.

Clo.I must catechise you for it, madonna: good my mouse of virtue, answer me.

Oli.Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I’ll bide your proof.

Clo.Good madonna, why mournest thou?

Oli.Good fool, for my brother’s death.

Clo.I think his soul is in hell, madonna.

Oli.I know his soul is in heaven, fool.

Clo.The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.

Oli.What think you of this fool, Malvolio? doth he not mend?

Mal.Yes; and shall do, till the pangs of death shake him: infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the better fool.

Clo.God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity, for the better increasing your folly! Sir Toby will be sworn that I am no fox, but he will not pass his word for two pence that you are no fool.

Oli.How say you to that, Malvolio?

Mal.I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal: I saw him put down the other day with an ordinary fool that has no more brain than a stone. Look you now, he’s out of his guard already; unless you laugh and minister occasion to him, he is gagged. I protest, I take these wise men, that crow so at these set kind of fools, no better than the fools’ zanies.

Oli.O! you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite. To be generous, guiltless, and of free disposition, is to take those things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon-bullets. There is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do nothing but rail; nor no railing in a known discreet man, though he do nothing but reprove.

Clo.Now, Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou speakest well of fools!

Re-enter MARIA.

Mar.Madam, there is at the gate a young gentleman much desires to speak with you.

Oli.From the Count Orsino, is it?

Mar.I know not, madam: ’tis a fair young man, and well attended.

Oli.Who of my people hold him in delay?

Mar.Sir Toby, madam, your kinsman.

Oli.Fetch him off, I pray you: he speaks nothing but madman. Fie on him![Exit MARIA.]Go you, Malvolio: if it be a suit from the count, I am sick, or not at home; what you will, to dismiss it.[Exit MALVOLIO.]Now you see, sir, how your fooling grows old, and people dislike it.

Clo.Thou hast spoken for us, madonna, as if thy eldest son should be a fool; whose skull Jove cram with brains! for here comes one of thy kin has a most weak pia mater.


Oli.By mine honour, half drunk. What is he at the gate, cousin?

Sir To.A gentleman.

Oli.A gentleman! what gentleman?

Sir To.’Tis a gentleman here,—a plague o’ these pickle herring! How now, sot!

Clo.Good Sir Toby.

Oli.Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy?

Sir To.Lechery! I defy lechery! There’s one at the gate.

Clo.Ay, marry, what is he?

Sir To.Let him be the devil, an he will, I care not: give me faith, say I. Well, it’s all one.[Exit.

Oli.What’s a drunken man like, fool?

Clo.Like a drowned man, a fool, and a madman: one draught above heat makes him a fool, the second mads him, and a third drowns him.

Oli.Go thou and seek the crowner, and let him sit o’ my coz; for he’s in the third degree of drink, he’s drowned: go, look after him.

Clo.He is but mad yet, madonna; and the fool shall look to the madman.[Exit.

Re-enter MALVOLIO.

Mal.Madam, yond young fellow swears he will speak with you. I told him you were sick: he takes on him to understand so much, and therefore comes to speak with you. I told him you were asleep: he seems to have a foreknowledge of that too, and therefore comes to speak with you. What is to be said to him, lady? he’s fortified against any denial.

Oli.Tell him he shall not speak with me.

Mal.Ha’s been told so; and he says, he’ll stand at your door like a sheriff’s post, and be the supporter to a bench, but he’ll speak with you.

Oli.What kind o’man is he?

Mal.Why, of mankind.

Oli.What manner of man?

Mal.Of very ill manner: he’ll speak with you, will you or no.

Oli.Of what personage and years is he?

Mal.Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy; as a squash is before ’tis a peascod, or a codling when ’tis almost an apple: ’tis with him in standing water, between boy and man. He is very well-favoured, and he speaks very shrewishly: one would think his mother’s milk were scarce out of him.

Oli.Let him approach. Call in my gentlewoman.

Mal.Gentlewoman, my lady calls.[Exit.

Re-enter MARIA.

Oli.Give me my veil: come, throw it o’er my face.

We’ll once more hear Orsino’s embassy.

Enter VIOLA and Attendants.

Vio.The honourable lady of the house, which is she?

Oli.Speak to me; I shall answer for her. Your will?

Vio.Most radiant, exquisite, and unmatchable beauty,—I pray you tell me if this be the lady of the house, for I never saw her: I would be loath to cast away my speech; for, besides that it is excellently well penned, I have taken great pains to con it. Good beauties, let me sustain no scorn; I am very comptible, even to the least sinister usage.

Oli.Whence came you, sir?

Vio.I can say little more than I have studied, and that question’s out of my part. Good gentle one, give me modest assurance if you be the lady of the house, that I may proceed in my speech.

Oli.Are you a comedian?

Vio.No, my profound heart; and yet, by the very fangs of malice I swear I am not that I play. Are you the lady of the house?

Oli.If I do not usurp myself, I am.

Vio.Most certain, if you are she, you do usurp yourself; for, what is yours to bestow is not yours to reserve. But this is from my commission: I will on with my speech in your praise, and then show you the heart of my message.

Oli.Come to what is important in ’t: I forgive you the praise.

Vio.Alas! I took great pains to study it, and ’tis poetical.

Oli.It is the more like to be feigned: I pray you keep it in. I heard you were saucy at my gates, and allowed your approach rather to wonder at you than to hear you. If you be not mad, be gone; if you have reason, be brief: ’tis not that time of moon with me to make one in so skipping a dialogue.

Mar.Will you hoist sail, sir? here lies your way.

Vio.No, good swabber; I am to hull here a little longer. Some mollification for your giant, sweet lady.

Oli.Tell me your mind.

Vio.I am a messenger.

Oli.Sure, you have some hideous matter to deliver, when the courtesy of it is so fearful. Speak your office.

Vio.It alone concerns your ear. I bring no overture of war, no taxation of homage: I hold the olive in my hand; my words are as full of peace as matter.

Oli.Yet you began rudely. What are you? what would you?

Vio.The rudeness that hath appear’d in me have I learn’d from my entertainment. What I am, and what I would, are as secret as maidenhead; to your ears, divinity; to any other’s, profanation.

Oli.Give us the place alone: we will hear this divinity.[Exit MARIA and Attendants.]

Now, sir; what is your text?

Vio.Most sweet lady,—

Oli.A comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it. Where lies your text?

Vio.In Orsino’s bosom.

Oli.In his bosom! In what chapter of his bosom?

Vio.To answer by the method, in the first of his heart.

Oli.O! I have read it: it is heresy. Have you no more to say?

Vio.Good madam, let me see your face.

Oli.Have you any commission from your lord to negotiate with my face? you are now out of your text: but we will draw the curtain and show you the picture.[Unveiling.]Look you, sir, such a one I was as this present: is ’t not well done?

Vio.Excellently done, if God did all.

Oli.’Tis in grain, sir; ’twill endure wind and weather.

Vio.’Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white

Nature’s own sweet and cunning hand laid on:

Lady, you are the cruell’st she alive,

If you will lead these graces to the grave

And leave the world no copy.

Oli.O! Sir, I will not be so hard-hearted; I will give out divers schedules of my beauty: it shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labelled to my will: as Item, Two lips, indifferent red; Item, Two grey eyes, with lids to them; Item, One neck, one chin, and so forth.

Were you sent hither to praise me?

Vio.I see you what you are: you are too proud;

But, if you were the devil, you are fair.

My lord and master loves you: O! such love

Could be but recompens’d, though you were crown’d

The nonpareil of beauty.

Oli.How does he love me?

Vio.With adorations, with fertile tears,

With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.

Oli.Your lord does know my mind; I cannot love him;

Yet I suppose him virtuous, know him noble,

Of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth;

In voices well divulg’d, free, learn’d, and valiant;

And, in dimension and the shape of nature.

A gracious person; but yet I cannot love him:

He might have took his answer long ago.

Vio.If I did love you in my master’s flame,

With such a suffering, such a deadly life,

In your denial I would find no sense;

I would not understand it.

Oli.Why, what would you?

Vio.Make me a willow cabin at your gate,

And call upon my soul within the house;

Write loyal cantons of contemned love,

And sing them loud even in the dead of night;

Holla your name to the reverberate hills,

And make the babbling gossip of the air

Cry out, ‘Olivia!’ O! you should not rest

Between the elements of air and earth,

But you should pity me!

Oli.You might do much. What is your parentage?

Vio.Above my fortune, yet my state is well:

I am a gentleman.

Oli.Get you to your lord:

I cannot love him. Let him send no more,

Unless, perchance, you come to me again,

To tell me how he takes it. Fare you well:

I thank you for your pains: spend this for me.

Vio.I am no fee’d post, lady; keep your purse:

My master, not myself, lacks recompense.

Love make his heart of flint that you shall love,

And let your fervour, like my master’s, be

Plac’d in contempt! Farewell, fair cruelty.[Exit.

Oli.‘What is your parentage?’

‘Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:

I am a gentleman.’ I’ll be sworn thou art:

Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions, and spirit,

Do give thee five-fold blazon. Not too fast: soft! soft!

Unless the master were the man. How now!

Even so quickly may one catch the plague?

Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections

With an invisible and subtle stealth

To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be.

What, ho! Malvolio!

Re-enter MALVOLIO.

Mal.Here, madam, at your service.

Oli.Run after that same peevish messenger,

The county’s man: he left this ring behind him,

Would I, or not: tell him I’ll none of it.

Desire him not to flatter with his lord,

Nor hold him up with hopes: I’m not for him.

If that the youth will come this way to-morrow,

I’ll give him reasons for ’t. Hie thee, Malvolio.

Mal.Madam, I will.[Exit.

Oli.I do I know what, and fear to find

Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.

Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;

What is decreed must be, and be this so![Exit.