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Twelfth Night


ACT II SCENE IThe sea-coast.
ANTONIOWill you stay no longer? nor will you not that I go with you?
SEBASTIANBy your patience, no. My stars shine darkly over
me: the malignancy of my fate might perhaps
distemper yours; therefore I shall crave of you your
leave that I may bear my evils alone: it were a bad
recompense for your love, to lay any of them on you.
ANTONIOLet me yet know of you whither you are bound.8
SEBASTIANNo, sooth, sir: my determinate voyage is mere
extravagancy. But I perceive in you so excellent a
touch of modesty, that you will not extort from me
what I am willing to keep in; therefore it charges
me in manners the rather to express myself. You
must know of me then, Antonio, my name is Sebastian,
which I called Roderigo. My father was that
Sebastian of Messaline, whom I know you have heard
of. He left behind him myself and a sister, both
born in an hour: if the heavens had been pleased,
would we had so ended! but you, sir, altered that;
for some hour before you took me from the breach of
the sea was my sister drowned.
ANTONIOAlas the day!20
SEBASTIANA lady, sir, though it was said she much resembled
me, was yet of many accounted beautiful: but,
though I could not with such estimable wonder
overfar believe that, yet thus far I will boldly
publish her; she bore a mind that envy could not but
call fair. She is drowned already, sir, with salt
water, though I seem to drown her remembrance again with more.
ANTONIOPardon me, sir, your bad entertainment.
SEBASTIANO good Antonio, forgive me your trouble.
ANTONIOIf you will not murder me for my love, let me be
your servant.31
SEBASTIANIf you will not undo what you have done, that is,
kill him whom you have recovered, desire it not.
Fare ye well at once: my bosom is full of kindness,
and I am yet so near the manners of my mother, that
upon the least occasion more mine eyes will tell
tales of me. I am bound to the Count Orsino’s court: farewell.
ANTONIOThe gentleness of all the gods go with thee!
I have many enemies in Orsino’s court,
Else would I very shortly see thee there.40
But, come what may, I do adore thee so,
That danger shall seem sport, and I will go.

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1

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

1, 2. nor will … you? and do you not desire that I should go with you? For will, see Abb. § 316, and, for the double negative, § 306.

3. By your patience, if you will suffer it to be so.

3, 4. My stars … me, the stars which ruled at my birth are not favourable to me; see note on i. 3.

4, 5. the malignancy … yours; the malevolence of my destiny might perhaps even affect yours injuriously; ‘malignant’ was an epithet commonly applied to stars, and is so used by Shakespeare, i. H. VI. iv. 5. 6, “Omalignant and ill-boding stars”; see note on i. 3. 117: for distemper, cp. V. A. 653, “Jealousy … Distempering gentle Love in his desire.”

5. I shall crave of you, I will ask you.

9. sooth, indeed: my determinate … extravagancy; my purposed travel is mere vagrancy; I have no fixed goal before me. determinate, which properly means ‘fixed’ is used for the sake of enhancing the contrast with exytavagancy; for which word, in this literal sense, cp. Haml. i. 1. 154, “the extravagant and erring spirit hies To his confine”; Oth, i. 1. 137, “Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes In an extravagant and wheeling stranger Of here and everywhere,” and see Abb. p. 13.

10. a touch, a dash, spice; cp. H. V. iv. Chor. 47, “Behold, as may unworthiness define, A little touch of Harry in the night.”

11. I am willing … in; I am desirous of keeping to myself.

12, 3. therefore it … myself, therefore I feel all the more bound by courtesy to reveal who I am; for manners, = good manners, cp. Sonn. Lxxxv. 1, “My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still.”

13. must know, must learn: of me, concerning me.

14. which I … Roderigo, though I have hitherto called myself Roderigo.

15. Messaline, Hanmer would read ‘Metelin’ i.e. Mitylene, but probably Shakespeare here, as in so many places, invented his geography.

16, 7. in an hour, in one and the same hour; for an, = one, see Abb. § 81.

17, 8. would … ended, I wish that we had died together; there is a sort of confusion between ‘would that it had pleased the heavens that we should have so ended,’ and ‘If the heavens had been pleased that we should so end, it would have been well’; for ended, in this sense, cp. Cymb. v. 5. 30, “How ended she?”

18. some hour, for ‘some,’ qualifying nouns of time, see Abb. § 21.

19. breach … sea, the breaking of the waves; Steevens compares Per. ii. 1. 161, “And spite of all the rupture of the sea.”

22. was yet, for the omission of the relative, see Abb. § 244.

22-5. but though … fair; but though, since she was thought so like me in person, I should be going too far if with admiration as appreciative I were to believe what was said in praise of her beauty, yet I will venture so far to express my opinion of her as to say that her disposition was such that even the most envious could not deny its excellence.

23. estimable, here actively; in M. V. i. 3. 67, passively; for adjectives thus used, see Abb. § 3: publish, cp. W. T, ii. 1. 98, “How will this grieve you … that you thus have published me”: envy, abstr. for concr.

25-7. She is … more. Cp. Haml. iv. 7. 187, 8, where Laertes is speaking of the drowned Ophelia, “Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, And therefore I forbid my tears.”

28. your … entertainment, the treatment I have been able to bestow upon you which is so unworthy of what you are; see note on i. 5. 119, above.

30. If you … servant, unless, in return for the love which I bear to you, you wish to kill me, let me be your servant, i.e. I shall die if you refuse to let me serve you.

34-6. my bosom … me. I am at this moment so full of womanly tenderness that the slightest further provocation will cause me to show my weakness by weeping; for the manners of my mother, cp. H. V. iv. 6. 31, “And all my mother came into my eyes And gave me up to tears”; Haml. iv. 7. 190, “when these are gone The woman will be out”; and for the converse, Beaumont’s Philaster, i. 1, “Shrink not worthy sir, But add your father to you.”

38. gentleness, kindness, good will.

40. see thee there, meet you there; cp. Cymb, i. 1. 124, “when shall we see again?”

42. sport, a mere pastime.


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1889.