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Twelfth Night

SIR TOBY BELCHApproach, Sir Andrew: not to be abed after
midnight is to be up betimes; and ‘diluculo
surgere,’ thou know’st,–
SIR ANDREWNay, my troth, I know not: but I know, to be up
late is to be up late.
SIR TOBY BELCHA false conclusion: I hate it as an unfilled can.
To be up after midnight and to go to bed then, is
early: so that to go to bed after midnight is to go
to bed betimes. Does not our life consist of the
four elements?9
SIR ANDREWFaith, so they say; but I think it rather consists
of eating and drinking.
SIR TOBY BELCHThou’rt a scholar; let us therefore eat and drink.
Marian, I say! a stoup of wine!
[Enter Clown]
SIR ANDREWHere comes the fool, i’ faith.
ClownHow now, my hearts! did you never see the picture
of ‘we three’?
SIR TOBY BELCHWelcome, ass. Now let’s have a catch.
SIR ANDREWBy my troth, the fool has an excellent breast. I
had rather than forty shillings I had such a leg,
and so sweet a breath to sing, as the fool has. In
sooth, thou wast in very gracious fooling last
night, when thou spokest of Pigrogromitus, of the
Vapians passing the equinoctial of Queubus: ’twas
very good, i’ faith. I sent thee sixpence for thy25
leman: hadst it?
ClownI did impeticos thy gratillity; for Malvolio’s nose
is no whipstock: my lady has a white hand, and the
Myrmidons are no bottle-ale houses.
SIR ANDREWExcellent! why, this is the best fooling, when all
is done. Now, a song.
SIR TOBY BELCHCome on; there is sixpence for you: let’s have a song.31
SIR ANDREWThere’s a testril of me too: if one knight give a–
ClownWould you have a love-song, or a song of good life?
SIR TOBY BELCHA love-song, a love-song.
SIR ANDREWAy, ay: I care not for good life.
O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love’s coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;40
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man’s son doth know.
SIR ANDREWExcellent good, i’ faith.
What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.50
SIR ANDREWA mellifluous voice, as I am true knight.
SIR TOBY BELCHA contagious breath.
SIR ANDREWVery sweet and contagious, i’ faith.
SIR TOBY BELCHTo hear by the nose, it is dulcet in contagion.
But shall we make the welkin dance indeed? shall we
rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three
souls out of one weaver? shall we do that?
SIR ANDREWAn you love me, let’s do’t: I am dog at a catch.
ClownBy’r lady, sir, and some dogs will catch well.
SIR ANDREWMost certain. Let our catch be, ‘Thou knave.’
Clown‘Hold thy peace, thou knave,’ knight? I shall be
constrained in’t to call thee knave, knight.62
SIR ANDREW‘Tis not the first time I have constrained one to
call me knave. Begin, fool: it begins ‘Hold thy peace.’
ClownI shall never begin if I hold my peace.
SIR ANDREWGood, i’ faith. Come, begin.
[Catch sung]
[Enter MARIA]
MARIAWhat a caterwauling do you keep here! If my lady
have not called up her steward Malvolio and bid him
turn you out of doors, never trust me.
SIR TOBY BELCHMy lady’s a Cataian, we are politicians, Malvolio’s
a Peg-a-Ramsey, and ‘Three merry men be we.’ Am not
I consanguineous? am I not of her blood?
Tillyvally. Lady!
‘There dwelt a man in Babylon, lady, lady!’73
ClownBeshrew me, the knight’s in admirable fooling.
SIR ANDREWAy, he does well enough if he be disposed, and so do
I too: he does it with a better grace, but I do it
more natural.
SIR TOBY BELCH[Sings] ‘O, the twelfth day of December,’–
MARIAFor the love o’ God, peace!
MALVOLIOMy masters, are you mad? or what are you? Have ye
no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like
tinkers at this time of night? Do ye make an
alehouse of my lady’s house, that ye squeak out your
coziers’ catches without any mitigation or remorse
of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor
time in you?85
SIR TOBY BELCHWe did keep time, sir, in our catches. Sneck up!
MALVOLIOSir Toby, I must be round with you. My lady bade me
tell you, that, though she harbours you as her
kinsman, she’s nothing allied to your disorders. If
you can separate yourself and your misdemeanors, you
are welcome to the house; if not, an it would please
you to take leave of her, she is very willing to bid
you farewell.92
SIR TOBY BELCH‘Farewell, dear heart, since I must needs be gone.’
MARIANay, good Sir Toby.
Clown‘His eyes do show his days are almost done.’
MALVOLIOIs’t even so?
SIR TOBY BELCH‘But I will never die.’
ClownSir Toby, there you lie.
MALVOLIOThis is much credit to you.
SIR TOBY BELCH‘Shall I bid him go?’100
Clown‘What an if you do?’
SIR TOBY BELCH‘Shall I bid him go, and spare not?’
Clown‘O no, no, no, no, you dare not.’
SIR TOBY BELCHOut o’ tune, sir: ye lie. Art any more than a
steward? Dost thou think, because thou art
virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
ClownYes, by Saint Anne, and ginger shall be hot i’ the
mouth too.
SIR TOBY BELCHThou’rt i’ the right. Go, sir, rub your chain with
crumbs. A stoup of wine, Maria!110
MALVOLIOMistress Mary, if you prized my lady’s favour at any
thing more than contempt, you would not give means
for this uncivil rule: she shall know of it, by this hand.
MARIAGo shake your ears.
SIR ANDREW‘Twere as good a deed as to drink when a man’s
a-hungry, to challenge him the field, and then to
break promise with him and make a fool of him.
SIR TOBY BELCHDo’t, knight: I’ll write thee a challenge: or I’ll
deliver thy indignation to him by word of mouth.119
MARIASweet Sir Toby, be patient for tonight: since the
youth of the count’s was today with thy lady, she is
much out of quiet. For Monsieur Malvolio, let me
alone with him: if I do not gull him into a
nayword, and make him a common recreation, do not
think I have wit enough to lie straight in my bed:
I know I can do it.
SIR TOBY BELCHPossess us, possess us; tell us something of him.
MARIAMarry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of puritan.
SIR ANDREWO, if I thought that I’ld beat him like a dog!
SIR TOBY BELCHWhat, for being a puritan? thy exquisite reason,134
dear knight?
SIR ANDREWI have no exquisite reason for’t, but I have reason
good enough.
MARIAThe devil a puritan that he is, or any thing
constantly, but a time-pleaser; an affectioned ass,
that cons state without book and utters it by great
swarths: the best persuaded of himself, so
crammed, as he thinks, with excellencies, that it is
his grounds of faith that all that look on him love
him; and on that vice in him will my revenge find
notable cause to work.
SIR TOBY BELCHWhat wilt thou do?140
MARIAI will drop in his way some obscure epistles of
love; wherein, by the colour of his beard, the shape
of his leg, the manner of his gait, the expressure
of his eye, forehead, and complexion, he shall find
himself most feelingly personated. I can write very
like my lady your niece: on a forgotten matter we
can hardly make distinction of our hands.
SIR TOBY BELCHExcellent! I smell a device.
SIR ANDREWI have’t in my nose too.
SIR TOBY BELCHHe shall think, by the letters that thou wilt drop,
that they come from my niece, and that she’s in
love with him.151
MARIAMy purpose is, indeed, a horse of that colour.
SIR ANDREWAnd your horse now would make him an ass.
MARIAAss, I doubt not.
SIR ANDREWO, ’twill be admirable!
MARIASport royal, I warrant you: I know my physic will
work with him. I will plant you two, and let the
fool make a third, where he shall find the letter:
observe his construction of it. For this night, to
bed, and dream on the event. Farewell.
SIR TOBY BELCHGood night, Penthesilea.161
SIR ANDREWBefore me, she’s a good wench.
SIR TOBY BELCHShe’s a beagle, true-bred, and one that adores me:
what o’ that?
SIR ANDREWI was adored once too.
SIR TOBY BELCHLet’s to bed, knight. Thou hadst need send for
more money.
SIR ANDREWIf I cannot recover your niece, I am a foul way out.
SIR TOBY BELCHSend for money, knight: if thou hast her not i’
the end, call me cut.171
SIR ANDREWIf I do not, never trust me, take it how you will.
SIR TOBY BELCHCome, come, I’ll go burn some sack; ’tis too late
to go to bed now: come, knight; come, knight.

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 4


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 3

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

2. betimes, i.e. by times, in good time, early; “the final s is due to the habit of adding s or es to form adverbs” (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). diluculo surgere, sc. saluberrimum est, to rise at dawn is most healthy; an adage which Malone says Shakespeare found in Lilly’s Latin Grammar.

6. a false conclusion, a conclusion which does not follow upon the premisses.

9. of the four elements, cp. H. V. iii. 7. 22, “he is pure air and fire: and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him“; A. C. v. 2. 292, “I am fire and air, my other elements I give to baser life.”

10, 1. I think … drinking. Warburton considers this to be in ridicule of the medical theory of that time, which supposed health to consist in the just temperament of the four elements in the human frame.

13. a stoup, a vessel or flagon, sometimes used as equivalent to a gallon, sometimes of a smaller measure. Wright points out that the word is still used in our college halls and butteries.

15. my hearts, my fine fellows; cp. Temp. i. 1. 6, “Heigh, my hearts, cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!”

15, 6. the picture … three? a common ale-house sign “in which two wooden-heads [louts, boors,] are exhibited with this inscription ‘We three logger-heads be.’ The spectator or reader is supposed to make the third. The Clown means to insinuate that Sir Toby and Sir Andrew had as good a title to the name of fool as himself” (Malone).

17. a catch, a part song; so called because each singer in his turn catches up the air and the last words of the former singer.

18. an excellent breast, a musical voice; as we say ‘he has good lungs,’ i.e. has a loud, strong, voice. Sir Andrew immediately afterwards varies the phrase by “so sweet a breath to sing.”

20, 1. thou wast … fooling, you jested in your best manner; as we say, ‘in good voice’ = singing well.

22, 3. Pigrogromitus … Queubus, see note on i. 5. 32.

24. leman, sweetheart; from “A. S. leof, dear; and mann, a man or woman” (Skeat, Ety. Dict. ).

25. I did … gratillity, I pocketed your gratuity; impeticos probably, as the commentators remark, for ‘impeticoat,’ in reference to the long coats sometimes worn by jesters as a mark of their profession. The rest of the Clown’s speech is no doubt mere fooling, good enough in his opinion for the two knights, though with Olivia and Maria he attempts wit.

28, 9. when … done, the commoner expression is, ‘when all is said and done,’ i.e. taking everything into consideration, after all; cp. Macb. iii. 4. 67, “When all’s done You look but on a stool.”

32. testril, “a coin the value of which in Shakespeare’s day was sixpence. … The word was variously written, — teston, tester, testern, testril, — it had the king’s head (teste) on it” (Dyce, Gloss.): of me, from me, see Abb. § 165.

34. a song … life, a song of a moral turn, sententious.

40. sweeting, a term of endearment, derived from the name of an apple of particularly sweet character.

45. ’tis not hereafter, it is a thing of the present.

46. hath, is accompanied by.

48. no plenty, nothing that is satisfying.

49. sweet and twenty, a term of endearment said to mean twenty times sweet; Steevens quotes The Merry Devil of Edmonton, 1631, “his little wanton wagtailes, his sweet and twenties his pretty pinkineyed pigsnies, etc, as he himself used commonly to call them.”

50. a stuff … endure, a stuff which will not last out; not endure being used with reference to such kinds of cloth, linen, etc., as wear out quickly, are not durable.

52. A contagious breath. By a misuse of ‘contagious’ Sir Toby ridicules Sir Andrew’s “mellifluous voice,” and Sir Andrew echoes the expression as though it were an apt description.

54. To hear … contagion. Punning on the word breath, which he had just now used in the sense of ‘voice,’ and perhaps imitating the Clown’s fooling, so highly commended by Sir Andrew, Sir Toby says, “judging of the merit of his breath (i.e. his singing) by the nose, as we judge of scent, it is sweet in contagion, not foul as contagious breath (in its ordinary sense) usually is.”

55. make … indeed, “drink till the sky seems [actually] to turn round” (Johnson); Steevens quotes A. C. ii. 7. 124, 5, “Cup us till the world go round.”

56, 7. draw three … weaver? Weavers, to whose fondness for singing Shakespeare again refers in i, H. IV. ii. 4. 147, “I would I were a weaver; I could sing psalms or anything.” were most of them Calvinists in Shakespeare’s day and greatly addicted to psalm singing. The power of music in drawing the soul out of a man’s body is referred to in M. A. ii. 3. 60-2, “Is it not strange that sheep’s guts (i.e. musical instruments strung with cat-gut) should hale souls out of men’s bodies.”

Here Sir Toby speaks of a catch which shall be so entrancing that it will hale not merely one soul, but three, out of a weaver. Warburton and Nares see an allusion to the peripatetic philosophy which assigned to every man three souls, the vegetative, the animal, and the rational ; but this would spoil the point of the joke, and if it had been intended, we should have had ‘a weaver’ instead of ‘one weaver.’ A like fondness for singing is ascribed, i. H. IV. iii. 1. 264, to tailors whose occupation like that of weavers is a sedentary one.

58. I am … catch, I am a wonderful hand at a catch; a dog at doing anything, i.e. very skilful, is still in slang use. The article was often omitted in the phrase, e.g. Middleton’s Women Beware Women, i. 2. 115, “I’m dog at a hole.”

61, 2. I shall … knave, he by the terms of a catch being obliged to take up the last words of the previous singer, which in the present case are “thou knave.”

63, 4. ‘Tis not … knave. Sir Andrew says this as though he were speaking of something of which he might be proud. So, in ii. 5. 74, when Malvolio reading the forged letter comes to the passage “Besides, you waste the treasure of your time with a foolish knight,” Sir Andrew at once accepts the allusion as being to him, and when his name is mentioned, says, “I knew ’twas I, for many do call me fool.”

67. a caterwauling, “caterwaul, to cry as a cat. Formed from cat, and the verb waw, with the addition of i to give the word a frequentative force” (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

67-9. If my lady … me, i.e. I assure you on my word that my lady has called up, etc.

69. a Cataian, “meaning properly a native of Cataia or Cathay, i.e. China…

70. we are politicians, i.e. wise men.

71. a Peg-a-Ramsey, according to Chappell, the name of two old tunes, both as old as Shakespeare’s time. Sir Toby means that Malvolio was no better than the subject of a common ballad. ‘Three merry … we,’ the burthen of several old songs.

72. Tillyvally, a contemptuous exclamation; said by Douce to be a hunting call borrowed from the French.

73. ‘There dwelt … lady.’ “The ballad of Susanna, from whence this line is taken, was licensed by T. Colwell in 1562, under the title of The goodly and constanat Wyfe Susanna” … (Warton).

74. the knight’s … fooling, the Clown returns the knight’s compliment in II. 20. 1. above.

75. disposed, “used absolutely, signifies, in the humour for mirth. So in L. L. L. v. 2. 465: ‘The trick To make a lady laugh when she’s disposed'” (Wright).

76, 7. more natural, more naturally, but with a play upon the word in the sense of an idiot.

78. ‘O, the … December,’ part of another old song now lost.

81. but to gabble, to prevent your gabbling, chattering, etc. For but, see Abb. § 122: tinkers, Shakespeare again refers to their love of tippling, i. H. IV. ii. 4. 20.

82, 3. make an … house, turn my lady’s house into a tavern.

83. coziers’, a cozier is a botcher, whether of shoes or clothes.

84. without … voice? without even lowering your voices; Malvolio’s affectation of fine language.

86. Sneck-up, i.e. go and be hanged; a contemptuous exclamation frequent in old writers, e.g. Chapman, May Day, ii. 4, “That’s true, Sir, but for a paltry disguise, being a magnifico, she shall go snicke-up“: sosnickle, sb. and vb. = noose; cp. Marlowe, The Jew of Malta iv. 6. 22, “and he and I, snickle hand too fast, strangled a friar.”

87. round, plain spoken…

88. harbours you, gives you house room; allows you to stay in her house; ‘harbour,’ “a lodging, shelter, place of refuge, … M. E. herberwe … from Icel. herbergi, a harbour, inn, lodging, lit. a host-shelter … derived from Icel. herr, an army, and bjarga, to save, defend”… (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

89. she’s nothing allied, she is in no way connected, has nothing in common with your disorderly ways; allied, used for the sake of the word ‘kinsman’ in the previous clause.

89, 90. If you … misdemeanours, if you can divorce yourself from your ill doings; the metaphor of relationship is still kept up. she is very willing, she would be very willing, etc., if it would please you, and is willing even, etc. See Abb. § 371.

93. Farewell, dear heart. The entire song from which Sir Toby quotes this and the following lines is to be found in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.

99. This is … you. Said sarcastically, and equivalent to ‘Are you not ashamed of yourself for roaring out these snatches of song?’

104. Out of time, angrily referring to Malvolio’s words, “Is there no respect … nor time in you?” The folios read ‘tune,’ which Theobald corrected. any more, anything else than; for the ellipse of the noun, see Abb. § 401.

105, 6. Dost thou …ale? Do you suppose, because you pretend to such austere virtue, that nobody else is to enjoy himself? It has been fancied that this is a fling at Malvolio’s Puritanism, and that the Clown follows it up by swearing by St. Anne as a further provocation; but Maria’s charge of Puritanism, line 127, below, can hardly be taken as serious.

107, 8. and ginger … too. Yes, and we will not only feast upon cakes and ale, but will continue as hitherto to enjoy hot spices like ginger. In M. M. iv. 3. 6, 8, M. V. iii. 1. 10, Shakespeare speaks of the fondness of old women for eating ginger.

109, 10. rub your … crumbs. Stewards in old days wore chains as a mark of superiority over the other servants of the household, and one method of cleaning those chains was by rubbing them with bread crumbs. Steevens quotes Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, “Yea, and the chippings of the buttery fly after him, to scour his gold chain.”

111-3. if you prize … rule, if you had anything like respect for my lady’s favour, anything besides contempt, you would not abet them in this disorderly conduct of theirs; rule, probably line of conduct, though Dyce believes it to mean ‘revel, noisy sport,’ and compares M. N. D, iii. 2. 5, “What night-rule now about this haunted grove?”

113. by this hand, swearing by his hand; see note on i. 3. 31, above.

114. Go … ears, i.e. you long-eared ass.

115. ‘Twere as … field, to challenge him to a duel and then to break faith with him and make a fool of him would be a capital idea, and would be reversing the order of things like a man drinking when he is hungry; cp. i. H. IV. ii. 1. 32, 3, “An ’twere not as good deed as drink, to break the pate on thee, I am a very villain.” Some editors accept Rowe’s insertion of ‘to’ before the field, which Dyce condemns, though he gives no parallel to the construction here, apparently that of the cognate accusative.

119. deliver thy indignation, convey an intimation of your anger.

120. be patient for to-night, take no notice of Malvolio’s impertinence tonight, but go to bed quietly for my lady’s sake as she is ill at ease, troubled in mind.

122, 3. let me … him, leave him to me to deal with.

123. if I do not … nayword, if I do not hoax him so that he will become a byword, a proverb for his idiocy, a laughing-stock; nayword is elsewhere used by Shakespeare for ‘watchword’: gull, to deceive, from the mistaken idea that the gull was a very stupid bird; cp. H. V. ii. 2. 121, “If that same demon that hath gull’d thee thus.”

123, 4. a common recreation, the sport of every one.

124, 5. to lie … bed, i.e. for what any fool can do.

126. Possess us, acquaint us with, put us in possession of, your idea; the word in this sense is frequent in Shakespeare.

127. he is … puritan, he affects a puritanical demeanour.

129. thy exquisite reason, your subtle reason; lit. one diligently sought out.

133, 4. The devil … time-pleaser, Maria has said that he is ‘sometimes a kind of puritan’; she now adds, but he is neither puritan nor anything else constantly , except a time-serving humbug; the devil a puritan, a colloquial expression for ‘anything but,’ etc. So, in the song, “The devil fell ill, the devil a saint would be; The devil got well, the devil a saint was he,” i.e. he was as far from being a saint as ever, was as bad as ever.

134. affectioned, full of affectation; in which sense the word is used in L. L. L. v. 1. 4, “witty without affection.”

134, 5. that cons … swarths, learns dignity of deportment by heart, and pours forth its rules in great sweeps; cp. H. V. iii. 6. 79. “this they con perfectly in the phrase of war,” i.e. have learnt and can describe in the proper technical terms: a ‘swarth,’ or ‘swath,’ as it is more correctly spelled in T. C. v. 5. 25, is as much grass as a man can mow with one sweep of the scythe.

135, 6. the best … himself, a fellow with the firmest belief in himself, so richly endowed, in his own opinion, with every kind of good quality that it is an article of faith with him that, etc.; the belief is so firmly grounded in him that, etc.

138, 9. and on … work, and on that weakness in him my revenge will find ample, excellent, material to employ itself.

141. obscure … love, love-letters of enigmatical character, letters which hint at love felt for him.

143. expressure, expression; cp. T. C. iii. 3. 204, “Than breath or pen can give expression to.”

144. most … personated, most clearly indicated as the person meant; feelingly, so as to be felt, so as to touch to the quick, cp. M. M. i. 2. 36, “Do I speak feelingly now.”

145, 6. on a forgotten … hands, in the case of a matter that has passed out of our memory we can hardly distinguish between her writing and mine.

147. smell, figuratively.

152. a horse … colour, something of that kind; cp. A. Y. L. iii. 2. 435, “as boys and women are for the most part cattle of this colour.”

154. Ass, I doubt not. Maria repeating Sir Andrew’s last word, indirectly calls him ‘ass’; there is also a pun on “as I doubt not.”

156, 7. will work with him, will operate upon him, have its effect upon him.

158. his construction, the construction he puts upon it.

161. Penthesilea, was Queen of the Amazons, and the term is applied to Maria for her courage in the matter and also in jocose allusion to her diminutive size in contrast to that of the masculine Queen.

162. Before me, a weakened form of asseveration, as in Oth. iv. 1. 149, for before heaven, before God, and equivalent to ‘by my soul.’

163. a beagle, a small hound used in hunting hares; cp. Tim. iv. 3. 174, “Get thee away, and take Thy beagles with thee,” i.e. the rapacious women accompanying Alcibiades.

164. what o’ that? speaking as though he were accustomed to be adored.

166. hadst need send, for the omission of ‘to’ before send, see Abb. § 349.

168. If I cannot … out. If I do not succeed in winning your niece, I shall be terribly out of pocket; he, in courting Olivia, having like Roderigo in his pursuit of Desdemona, “wasted” himself “out of” his “means,” Oth, iv. 2. 186, 7. To ‘recover’ is frequent in Shakespeare in the sense of ‘gaining,’ ‘reaching,’ i.e. without any idea of getting back what was lost, expended.

170. Send for money, cp. Iago’s injunction to Roderigo when hoping to win over Desdemona, Oth. i. 3. 347, 51, 2, 3, “put money in thy purse,” “put but money in thy purse,” “fill thy purse with money.”

171. cut, a name frequently given to a common horse, from his being docked, hence a term of contempt for a man; cp. i. H. IV. ii. 4. 215, “I tell the what, Hal, if I tell thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse.”

172. If I do … me. Be sure I will call you ‘cut,’ however much you may be offended at my doing so.

173. burn some sack, warm some sack for drinking; sack, was a Spanish wine generally of a dry character, though there were also sweet varieties. The derivation of the word is seco or sec, which in Spanish meansdry, and in French the wine was formerly called “vin sec,” dry wine. It was frequently taken warm with sugar in it. In i. H. IV. i. 2. 125, the Prince calls Falstaff “Sir John Sack-and-Sugar.”


How to cite the explanatory notes:

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