Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Twelfth Night


SIR TOBY BELCHCome thy ways, Signior Fabian.
FABIANNay, I’ll come: if I lose a scruple of this sport,
let me be boiled to death with melancholy.
SIR TOBY BELCHWouldst thou not be glad to have the niggardly
rascally sheep-biter come by some notable shame?
FABIANI would exult, man: you know, he brought me out o’
favour with my lady about a bear-baiting here.
SIR TOBY BELCHTo anger him we’ll have the bear again; and we will
fool him black and blue: shall we not, Sir Andrew?
SIR ANDREWAn we do not, it is pity of our lives.10
SIR TOBY BELCHHere comes the little villain.
[Enter MARIA]
How now, my metal of India!
MARIAGet ye all three into the box-tree: Malvolio’s
coming down this walk: he has been yonder i’ the
sun practising behavior to his own shadow this half
hour: observe him, for the love of mockery; for I
know this letter will make a contemplative idiot of
him. Close, in the name of jesting! Lie thou there,
[Throws down a letter]
for here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling.
MALVOLIO‘Tis but fortune; all is fortune. Maria once told20
me she did affect me: and I have heard herself come
thus near, that, should she fancy, it should be one
of my complexion. Besides, she uses me with a more
exalted respect than any one else that follows her.
What should I think on’t?
SIR TOBY BELCHHere’s an overweening rogue!
FABIANO, peace! Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock
of him: how he jets under his advanced plumes!
SIR ANDREW‘Slight, I could so beat the rogue!
SIR TOBY BELCHPeace, I say.30
MALVOLIOTo be Count Malvolio!
SIR ANDREWPistol him, pistol him.
SIR TOBY BELCHPeace, peace!
MALVOLIOThere is example for’t; the lady of the Strachy
married the yeoman of the wardrobe.
SIR ANDREWFie on him, Jezebel!
FABIANO, peace! now he’s deeply in: look how
imagination blows him.
MALVOLIOHaving been three months married to her, sitting in40
my state,–
SIR TOBY BELCHO, for a stone-bow, to hit him in the eye!
MALVOLIOCalling my officers about me, in my branched velvet
gown; having come from a day-bed, where I have left
Olivia sleeping,–
SIR TOBY BELCHFire and brimstone!
FABIANO, peace, peace!
MALVOLIOAnd then to have the humour of state; and after a
demure travel of regard, telling them I know my
place as I would they should do theirs, to for my
kinsman Toby,–50
SIR TOBY BELCHBolts and shackles!
FABIANO peace, peace, peace! now, now.
MALVOLIOSeven of my people, with an obedient start, make
out for him: I frown the while; and perchance wind
up watch, or play with my–some rich jewel. Toby
approaches; courtesies there to me,–
SIR TOBY BELCHShall this fellow live?
FABIANThough our silence be drawn from us with cars, yet peace.
MALVOLIOI extend my hand to him thus, quenching my familiar
smile with an austere regard of control,–61
SIR TOBY BELCHAnd does not Toby take you a blow o’ the lips then?
MALVOLIOSaying, ‘Cousin Toby, my fortunes having cast me on
your niece give me this prerogative of speech,’–
MALVOLIO‘You must amend your drunkenness.’
FABIANNay, patience, or we break the sinews of our plot.
MALVOLIO‘Besides, you waste the treasure of your time with
a foolish knight,’–71
SIR ANDREWThat’s me, I warrant you.
MALVOLIO‘One Sir Andrew,’–
SIR ANDREWI knew ’twas I; for many do call me fool.
MALVOLIOWhat employment have we here?
[Taking up the letter]
FABIANNow is the woodcock near the gin.
SIR TOBY BELCHO, peace! and the spirit of humour intimate reading
aloud to him!
MALVOLIOBy my life, this is my lady’s hand these be her
very C’s, her U’s and her T’s and thus makes she her
great P’s. It is, in contempt of question, her hand.81
SIR ANDREWHer C’s, her U’s and her T’s: why that?
MALVOLIO[Reads] ‘To the unknown beloved, this, and my good
wishes:’–her very phrases! By your leave, wax.
Soft! and the impressure her Lucrece, with which she
uses to seal: ’tis my lady. To whom should this be?
FABIANThis wins him, liver and all.
Jove knows I love: But who?
Lips, do not move;90
No man must know.
‘No man must know.’ What follows? the numbers
altered! ‘No man must know:’ if this should be
thee, Malvolio?
SIR TOBY BELCHMarry, hang thee, brock!
I may command where I adore;
But silence, like a Lucrece knife,
With bloodless stroke my heart doth gore:
M, O, A, I, doth sway my life.
FABIANA fustian riddle!
SIR TOBY BELCHExcellent wench, say I.100
MALVOLIO‘M, O, A, I, doth sway my life.’ Nay, but first, let
me see, let me see, let me see.
FABIANWhat dish o’ poison has she dressed him!
SIR TOBY BELCHAnd with what wing the staniel cheques at it!
MALVOLIO‘I may command where I adore.’ Why, she may command
me: I serve her; she is my lady. Why, this is
evident to any formal capacity; there is no
obstruction in this: and the end,–what should
that alphabetical position portend? If I could make
that resemble something in me,–Softly! M, O, A,
SIR TOBY BELCHO, ay, make up that: he is now at a cold scent.
FABIANSowter will cry upon’t for all this, though it be as
rank as a fox.
MALVOLIOM,–Malvolio; M,–why, that begins my name.
FABIANDid not I say he would work it out? the cur is
excellent at faults.
MALVOLIOM,–but then there is no consonancy in the sequel;
that suffers under probation A should follow but O does.
FABIANAnd O shall end, I hope.
SIR TOBY BELCHAy, or I’ll cudgel him, and make him cry O!120
MALVOLIOAnd then I comes behind.
FABIANAy, an you had any eye behind you, you might see
more detraction at your heels than fortunes before
MALVOLIOM, O, A, I; this simulation is not as the former: and
yet, to crush this a little, it would bow to me, for
every one of these letters are in my name. Soft!
here follows prose.127
‘If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I
am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open
their hands; let thy blood and spirit embrace them;
and, to inure thyself to what thou art like to be,
cast thy humble slough and appear fresh. Be
opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants; let
thy tongue tang arguments of state; put thyself into
the trick of singularity: she thus advises thee
that sighs for thee. Remember who commended thy
yellow stockings, and wished to see thee ever
cross-gartered: I say, remember. Go to, thou art
made, if thou desirest to be so; if not, let me see
thee a steward still, the fellow of servants, and
not worthy to touch Fortune’s fingers. Farewell.
She that would alter services with thee,
Daylight and champaign discovers not more: this is
open. I will be proud, I will read politic authors,
I will baffle Sir Toby, I will wash off gross
acquaintance, I will be point-devise the very man.
I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade
me; for every reason excites to this, that my lady
loves me. She did commend my yellow stockings of
late, she did praise my leg being cross-gartered;
and in this she manifests herself to my love, and
with a kind of injunction drives me to these habits
of her liking. I thank my stars I am happy. I will
be strange, stout, in yellow stockings, and
cross-gartered, even with the swiftness of putting
on. Jove and my stars be praised! Here is yet a
‘Thou canst not choose but know who I am. If thou
entertainest my love, let it appear in thy smiling;
thy smiles become thee well; therefore in my
presence still smile, dear my sweet, I prithee.’158
Jove, I thank thee: I will smile; I will do
everything that thou wilt have me.
FABIANI will not give my part of this sport for a pension
of thousands to be paid from the Sophy.
SIR TOBY BELCHI could marry this wench for this device.
SIR ANDREWSo could I too.
SIR TOBY BELCHAnd ask no other dowry with her but such another jest.
SIR ANDREWNor I neither.
FABIANHere comes my noble gull-catcher.
[Re-enter MARIA]
SIR TOBY BELCHWilt thou set thy foot o’ my neck?
SIR ANDREWOr o’ mine either?170
SIR TOBY BELCHShall I play my freedom at traytrip, and become thy
SIR ANDREWI’ faith, or I either?
SIR TOBY BELCHWhy, thou hast put him in such a dream, that when
the image of it leaves him he must run mad.
MARIANay, but say true; does it work upon him?
SIR TOBY BELCHLike aqua-vitae with a midwife.
MARIAIf you will then see the fruits of the sport, mark
his first approach before my lady: he will come to
her in yellow stockings, and ’tis a colour she
abhors, and cross-gartered, a fashion she detests;
and he will smile upon her, which will now be so
unsuitable to her disposition, being addicted to a
melancholy as she is, that it cannot but turn him
into a notable contempt. If you will see it, follow
SIR TOBY BELCHTo the gates of Tartar, thou most excellent devil of wit!
SIR ANDREWI’ll make one too.

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 5

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

1 . Come thy ways, come along with me; see note on i. 5. 24, and Abb. § 25.

2. Nay, I’ll comeNay used not in refusal but in assent to something proposed, or in confirmation of something already stated; probably elliptical for ‘nay, do not fear’: a scruple, the smallest portion, lit. the smallest weight in the apothecaries’ table of weights.

3. boiled … melancholy, as criminals were sometimes boiled to death in lead or oil; cp. W. T. iii. 2. 178, “What studied torments, tyrant, hast thou for me? What wheels? racks? fires? what flaying? boiling? In leads or oils?”

5. sheep-biter, “a cant term for a thief” (Dyce); in support of which Rolfe quotes Taylor the Water-Poet, “And in some places I have heard and scene That currish sheep-biters have hanged beene.” Schmidt explains “a morose, surly and malicious fellow.” In M. M. v. 1. 359, “Show your knave’s face … show your sheep-biting face,” the word might have either meaning: come by, meet with, lit. come near, and so attain to.

6, 7. he brought … favour, he brought me into some disgrace; cp. A. W. v. 1. 50, “It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some grace, for you did bring me out”: about … here, in reference to some bear-baiting we had here; see above, i. 3. 86.

9. will fool … blue, fool him to the utmost extent; an adaptation of the phrase to beat a man black and blue, i.e. till he is all over bruises; cp. M. W. iv. 3. 115; C, E. ii. 2. 194.

10. it is … lives, it will be the geatest mistake in the world, one that we shall bitterly regret, i.e. assuredly we will fool him, etc., cp. M. M. ii. 1. 77; M. N. D. iii. 1. 44.

11. little villain, little rogue; said approvingly of Maria.

12. metal of India, i.e. heart of gold, precious one. Many edd. adopt the reading of the second folio, ‘nettle of India,’ and explain it by reference to the Urtica Marina, a zoophite abounding in the Indian seas, and producing a smarting, stinging sensation.

13. box-tree, originally a wild tree, which was introduced into gardens to form the border to beds of flowers, and also as a tree which could be clipped into the various fantastic shapes so much affected in Shakespeare’s day.

15. practising … hour, practising courtly attitudes for the last half hour by observing himself as reflected in his shadow thrown by the sun; cp. W. T. i. 2. 117, “making practised smiles As in a looking-glass.”

16. for the … mockery, as you love derision, or that which gives scope for derision.

17. will make … him, will, as he contemplates it, broods over it, turn him into a thorough idiot; cp. 1. 27 below, “Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him.”

17, 8. Close … jesting, keep close, do not let yourselves be seen, I adjure you in the name of jesting; “for the love of mockery.”

18, 9. here comes … tickling, here comes the fish that must be caught by flattery; we still use the phrase ‘tickling for trout’ for a kind of poaching with the hand; cp. Marston’s Antonio and Mellida, Pt. i., ii. 1. 115-7, “how he tickles yon trout under the gills! you shall see him take him by and by with groping flattery.”

20. ‘Tis but fortune, it is nothing else than fortune; it is all a matter of good luck.

21. she did affect me, that she, Olivia, cared for me; for affect, cp. Cymb. v. 5. 38, “First, she confess’d she never loved you, only Affected greatness got by you, not you.” come thus near, sc. admitting her love for me.

22. should she fancy, if ever she should fall in love with any one: complexion, disposition, character, as indicated by external appearance.

23, 4. uses me … her, treats me with more respect than any of her other servants; Malvolio uses follows for ‘serves,’ as a sop to his own dignity, just as Falstaff, i. H. IV. v. 4. 166, says, “I’ll follow, as they say, for reward”; though the word is frequent in Shakespeare in the sense of serving without any notion of euphemism: should I, nearly = ought I; for should in direct questions about the past, where shall is used about the future, see Abb. § 325.

27, 8. makes … him, causes him to strut like a turkey-cock.

28. how he … plumes! how proudly he stalks with his feathers spread out like a turkey-cock when excited; cp. Cymb. iii. 3. 5, “the gates of monarchs Are arched so high that giants may jet through And keep their turbans on”; Fr. jeter, to cast, throw, dart out violently.

29. ‘Slight, by God’s light; a petty form of oath, as ”zounds,’ God’s wounds, ”slife,’ God’s life, etc.

31. Count Malvolio, imagining himself raised to that dignity by his marriage with Olivia.

35. example, precedent.

35, 6. yeoman of the wardrobe, an old term for officer of the wardrobe; Marston The Fawn, 2. 229, speaks of the “yeoman of the bottles,” i.e. butler.

37. Jezebel, Sir Andrew having heard the name ‘Jezebel’ used as a term of reproach, and ignorant that Jezebel was a woman, applies it to Malvolio; for the history of Jezebel, see i. Kings, xxi. xxii.

38. deeply in, well into the snare.

39. blows him, distends him with pride; cp. Lear, iv. 4. 27, “No blown ambition doth our aims incite”; i. H. IV. ii. 4. 366.

41. in my state, in my seat of dignity; properly a canopied chair; cp. i. H. IV. ii. 4. 416; Cor. v. 4. 22.

42. stone-bow, a cross-bow, used for shooting stones.

43. branched, figured, stamped, with designs of leaves and flowers.

44. day-bed, sofa, couch, in which one might recline in the day time.

48. And then … state, and then to assume the haughty manner suitable to my high position.

49. demure … regard, slowly and gravely looking them over one by one: demure, from “O. F. demurs, i.e. de bon murs, of good manners” (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

49, 50. as I would … theirs, and I should be glad if they by their behaviour showed that they knew what their position was in relation to mine, i.e. how far below me they were.

51. Bolts and shackles! how I long to throw the fellow into prison!

53. my people, my attendants: make … him, rush off to fetch him.

54. I frown the while, I in the meantime, while they are seeking for him, wear an austere look.

55. or play … jewel. The reading in the text is Collier’s suggestion; many edd. omit my, others explain it “some rich jewel of mine.” Brinsley Nicholson believes with great probability that Malvolio was about to say “with my chain,” but remembering his altered condition, checks himself, and substitutes “some rich jewel.” Massinger seems to have imitated this passage when, in the Bondman, ii. 3. 54-6, the slave Gracculo, who imagines himself freed and raised to a high position, is made to say, “and if I did not Sleep on the bench with the drowsiest of them, flay with my chain. Look on my watch,” etc.

56. courtesies, salutes me with a bow; ‘courtesy’ was used in Shakespeare’s day of the salutation made by either sex, whereas we now use ‘courtesy’ in this sense, or its shortened form ‘curtsey,’ of women only.

58, 9. Though … cars, though the impulse put upon us to break silence is as strong as if that silence were dragged out of us by cars or carts. Johnson compares T. G. iii. 1. 265, “I have a mistress, but who that is Ateam of horses shall not pluck from me,” and below, iii. 2. 53, “Oxen and wainropes cannot hale them together.” Various emendations have been proposed, as “by th’ears,” “with carts,” “with cables,” “with tears,” “with racks,” “with cords,” “with cart-ropes,” but no change seems necessary.

60, 1. quenching … control, repressing the friendly smile which I am wont to show to my friends, and substituting for it a severe and authoritative look.

62. take you a blow, give you a blow; cp. H. V. iv. 1. 231, “I will take thee a box on the ear”; M. M. ii. 1. 189, “he took you a box o’ the ear”; T. S. iii. 2. 165, “took him such a cuff“; R. III. i. 4. 159.

64, 5. my fortunes … speech, my good destiny having made it my lot to marry your niece gives me the privilege of remonstrating with you in this way: prerogative, was originally the privilege of voting first in the tribal elections at Rome.

68. scab, scabby, scurvy, fellow.

69. we break … plot, we ruin our stratagem; for sinews, used figuratively; cp. H. V. i. 2. 233, “The noble sinews of our power”; i. H. VI. ii. 3. 63, “These are his substance, sinews, arms and strength.”

70. the treasure … time, your time which should be so precious to you.

72. That’s me, see note on ii. 3. 63, 4.

75. What … here? What business, matter, is this?

76. Now is … gin, now is the fool close to the trap, on the point of being taken in the snare; woodcock was a proverbial term for a simpleton, either because that bird was supposed to have little brains, or was easily taken in nets; so ‘snipe,’ a bird of the same genus, Oth. i. 3. 191, “If I would time expend with such a snipe.”

77, 8. and the spirit … him! and may the genius of merriment, mischief, prompt him to read the letter aloud!

80, 1. her very … P’s. As the letters mentioned do not occur in the letter, Ritson suggests that the address on its back might have run, in accordance with the custom of the time, “To the Unknown beloved, this, and my good wishes, with Care Present.”

81. in contempt of question, beyond all doubt; cp. Lear, ii. 3. 8, “in contempt of man,” i.e. in spite of humanity; her hand, her handwriting.

84. By your … wax, pardon my breaking you (i.e, the seal of wax) in order to open the letter; so Cymb. iii. 2. 35, “Good wax, thy leave.” soft, gently, stopping himself when on the point of breaking the seal.

85. impressure, impression; cp. “expressure” for expression, ii. 3. 143, above: her Lucrece, her seal, representing Lucrece, the wife of L. Tarquinius Collatinus, whose rape by Sextus Tarquinius led to the dethronement of Tarquinius Superbus, and the establishment of a republic in Rome.

86. To whom … be? For whom can this possibly be intended?

87. This wins … all, this will catch him, ensnare him, completely.

90. Lips … move, i.e. I must not speak my love.

92. the numbers, the versification in the following stanza.

93. if this … Malvolio? suppose it should turn out that I am intended, that this letter is for me.

94. brock, badger, a term of contempt from the rank smell of the animal.

96. Lucrece knife, for the genitive Lucrece, see Abb. § 22.

98. doth … life, has entire power over my existence; cp. A. Y. L. iii. 2. 4, “Thy huntress’ name that my full life doth sway.”

99. fustian, commonplace and absurd; fustian was coarse cotton stuff; so in Oth. i. 1. 13, “with a Bombast circumstance Horribly stuff’d with epithets of war,” ‘bombast’ being cotton used to stuff out garments.

103. what dish, what a dish, what a fine dish; for the omission of the article, see Abb. § 86: him, for him.

104. And with … it, and how eagerly he pounces upon it; staniel, a species of hawk called also ‘kestrel’: ‘to check at,’ used of hawks that pursuing the quarry at which they had been flown, are diverted from it by the sight of some other prey which they then pounce upon.

107. to any formal capacity, to any well-regulated understanding, to any capacity that has shape and form; cp. C. E. v. 1. 105, “To make of him a formal man again,” i.e. to restore him to his right senses.

107, 8. there is … this, there is nothing to hinder the meaning from being seen.

111. make up that, piece that out, complete that, make it resemble something in you; at … scent, in a difficulty, as hounds are when the scent grows cold, i.e. hardly perceptible.

112. Sowter … this, the clumsy hound will nevertheless give tongue as showing that he has again caught up the scent: Sowter, is properly a ‘cobbler,’ ‘botcher,’ here a name given to a hound; for to cry upon, cp. T. S. Ind. i. 23, “Why, Belman [the name of a hound] is as good as he, my lord. He cried upon it at the merest loss, And twice to-day picked out the dullest scent.”

112, 3. though … fox, we should rather have expected “though it (sc. the scent) be not,” etc., and Hanmer inserted the negative. But Wright’s explanation seems satisfactory: “Fabian,” he says, “speaks ironically, Malvolio will make it out in time, though it is plain enough.”

115. work it out, puzzle it out.

115, 6. the cur … faults, ill-bred hound as he is, he is still most excellent in picking up the scent when the pack is at fault; ‘fault’ is a technical term in coursing and hunting when the hounds lose the scent of the hare or fox; cp. T. S. Ind. i. 20, “Silver made it good in the coldest fault,” i.e. picked up the scent even when it was least perceptible.

117. there is … sequel, the latter part does not agree, fit in, with the former.

118. that … probation, when put to the proof, tested, that does not come out as it should, does not come out well.

119. And … hope, and it will end, I trust, in your groaning.

122. any eye, punning on Malvolio’s “I comes behind.”

123. at your heels, following closely on your steps: than … you, referring to Malvolio’s words above, i. 5. 20, “‘Tis but fortune; all is fortune.”

124. this simulation … former, this disguise of meaning is not so easily seen through as the former.

124, 5. and yet … me, and yet by squeezing, straining, the meaning a little, it would bend towards me in indication that I am meant; for crush, cp. H. V. i. 2. 175, “For that is but a crushed necessity.”

125, 6. every one … are, all are; for every one, used as a pl. pronoun, see Abb. § 12.

128. In my stars, in my fortune, position in life; see note on 1. 3. 117.

131. open their hands, sc. with generous intention.

131, 2. let thy … them, summon up your courage and high spirit to take all that is offered you by the Fates.

132, 3. and, to inure … fresh, and in order to accustom yourself to that high position which is destined to be yours, put off that lowly character that has hitherto been yours, and appear full of new life and vigour; inure, from in– and ure, work, operation, from “O. F. ovre, oevre, uevre, eure, work, action, operation … — Lat. opera, work” … (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). For slough, the skin of a snake, used figuratively, cp. H. V. iv. 1. 23, “Withcasted slough and fresh legerity.”

133, 4. Be opposite … kinsman, show yourself antagonistic, hostile towards a kinsman, sc. Sir Toby.

134, 5. let thy … state, let your tongue ring with political discussions, let your talk be of a lofty, statesmanlike character. The phrase is repeated in iii. 4. 65, with the variation of “tang with arguments” for tang arguments. The subs. tang is used in Temp. ii. 2. 52, “For she had a tongue with a tang.”

135, 6. put thyself … singularity, adopt a garb (figuratively) of singularity, dress yourself in a mood of eccentricity.

137. yellow stockings, a fashionable colour at the time.

138. cross-gartered, Steevens quotes some lines from Barton Holyday to show that cross-gartering was a fashion affected by the Puritans, and most commentators accept this as a corroboration of Maria’s charge of Puritanism brought against Malvolio. But Wright in an exhaustive note has shown conclusively that the fashion was by no means distinctive of the Puritans, though probably retained by them when it had gone out among more fashionable people; and it has always seemed strange to me that Maria’s charge should have been taken seriously.

Wright has also shown that the fashion consisted in “wearing the garters both above and below the knee, so as to be crossed at the back of the leg,” and “not like a stage bandit” with the gartering from the knee downwards to the ankle, as may be seen in certain prints; though from the ‘villanous’ way in which, according to Maria, Malvolio had cross-gartered himself, and from his own admission of the “obstruction in the blood” caused by so doing, we may perhaps infer that in the present instance the fashion had been exaggerated, travestied. Go to, an expression sometimes, as here, of encouragement, sometimes of reproach: thou art made, you are a made man, your fortune is assured; cp. Oth. 1. 2. 51, “If it prove lawful prize, he’s made for ever.”

140. the fellow of servants, the companion of servants, and so no better than a servant.

140, 1. not worthy … fingers, i.e. still less to embrace the hands of Fortune, as Olivia in the forged letter is supposed to bid him do.

141, 2. She that … thee, she who would gladly serve you, as your wife, instead of your serving her as a steward.

142. The Fortunate-Unhappy, she who in the matter of fortune is well off, but unhappy in loving you without having her love returned.

143. Daylight … more, this is as plain as daylight in open country; champain, now spelled ‘champaign,’ from Fr. champaigne, Lat. campania, a plain; cp. Lear, i. 1. 65, “With shadowy forests and with champainsrich’d.”

144. politic authors, writers on politics; in order that his tongue may “tang arguments of state”: baffle, foil, disgrace, treat with contempt; the term originally meant to subject to public disgrace or infamy, and especially to disgrace a perjured knight.

145. wash … acquaintance, discard low-born acquaintances, among servants; answering to “cast thy humble slough”: point-devise … man, in all respects, to the minutest point, the very man she has desired me to show myself. According to Douce, the phrase has been “supplied from the labours of the needle. Poinct in the French language denotes a stitch; devise, anything invented, disposed, arranged. Point-devise was therefore a particular sort of patterned lace worked with the needle; and the term point-lace is still familiar to every female.”

146, 7. to let … me, so as to allow fortune to play me a jade’s trick; ‘jade,’ subs., was generally used of a tired, broken-down horse, and so as a term of contempt for both men and women.

147. excites to this, calls out to me, stirs me up, to believe this.

149. being cross-gartered, when it was cross-gartered.

150, 1. and with … liking, and as it were compels me by her injunction to adopt these fashions which she admires.

152. happy, fortunate, in having won her love: I will be strange, i.e. I will put myself “into the trick of singularity”: stout, the Camb. Edd. record an anonymous conjecture, ‘strut,’ which Dyce considers probable; butstout seems to answer to ‘surly’ in the letter; cp. ii. II. VI. i. 1. 187, “Oft have I seen the haughty cardinal … As stout and proud as he were lord of all.”

153. even with … putting on, even as swiftly as I can put them on.

155. Thou canst … am, you cannot help knowing who I am.

156. entertainest, accept and return.

157, 8. still, ever, constantly: dear my sweet, for the transposition, see Abb. § 13.

161. my part of, my share in.

162. the Sophy, the Sufi, or Shah, of Persia.

163. for this device, in return for, as a reward for, this device.

168. gull-catcher, snarer of simpletons.

169. set thy … neck, in token of my subjection to you, my readiness to be your slave for life.

171. Shall … tray-trip, shall I stake and lose my freedom to you as money is staked and lost at tray-trip, a game played with dice, success in which chiefly depended upon the throwing of treys, i.e. threes.

177. Like … mid- wife, as powerfully as strong spirits act upon, etc. aqua-vitae lit. the water of life, Fr. eau-de-vie, brandy.

182, 3. unsuitable … she is, so distasteful to her present frame of mind, she being now given over to a state of melancholy. Wright points out the word addicted “is now generally used in connection with some bad habit, but this is a modern sense, for it is said with praise of the house of Stephanas (i. Cor. xvi. 15), that they had ‘addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.'” Cp. also Heywood’s If you Know not Me, etc., Pt. ii., “so well addicted Unto the poor’s relief.”

183, 4. that it … contempt, that it is certain to bring down upon him her extremest contempt. If you will see it, if you wish to be a witness to it.

185. Tartar, the same form for ‘Tartarus,’ i.e. hell, occurs in H. V. ii. 2. 123; C. E. iv. 2. 32: thou most … wit! you most ingenious spirit of witty mischief.

187. I’ll … too, i.e. of the party, I too will go with you.


How to cite the explanatory notes:

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