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Twelfth Night, Or What You Will

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Act II, Scene 5

OLIVIA’s garden.



  • Fabian. Nay, I'll come: if I lose a scruple of this sport, 1030
    let me be boiled to death with melancholy.
  • Sir Toby Belch. Wouldst thou not be glad to have the niggardly
    rascally sheep-biter come by some notable shame?
  • Fabian. I would exult, man: you know, he brought me out o'
    favour with my lady about a bear-baiting here. 1035
  • Sir Toby Belch. To anger him we'll have the bear again; and we will
    fool him black and blue: shall we not, Sir Andrew?
  • Sir Toby Belch. Here comes the little villain.
    [Enter MARIA] 1040
    How now, my metal of India!
  • Maria. Get 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 1045
    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 told
    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 1055
    exalted respect than any one else that follows her.
    What should I think on't?
  • Fabian. O, peace! Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock
    of him: how he jets under his advanced plumes! 1060
  • Malvolio. There is example for't; the lady of the Strachy
    married the yeoman of the wardrobe.
  • Fabian. O, peace! now he's deeply in: look how 1070
    imagination blows him.
  • Malvolio. Having been three months married to her, sitting in
    my state,—
  • Malvolio. Calling my officers about me, in my branched velvet 1075
    gown; having come from a day-bed, where I have left
    Olivia sleeping,—
  • Malvolio. And then to have the humour of state; and after a 1080
    demure travel of regard, telling them I know my
    place as I would they should do theirs, to for my
    kinsman Toby,—
  • Fabian. O peace, peace, peace! now, now. 1085
  • Malvolio. Seven 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,—
  • Fabian. Though our silence be drawn from us with cars, yet peace.
  • Malvolio. I extend my hand to him thus, quenching my familiar
    smile with an austere regard of control,—
  • Malvolio. Saying, 'Cousin Toby, my fortunes having cast me on 1095
    your niece give me this prerogative of speech,'—
  • Malvolio. 'You must amend your drunkenness.'
  • Fabian. Nay, patience, or we break the sinews of our plot. 1100
  • Malvolio. 'Besides, you waste the treasure of your time with
    a foolish knight,'—
  • Malvolio. What employment have we here?

[Taking up the letter]

  • Fabian. Now is the woodcock near the gin.
  • Sir Toby Belch. O, peace! and the spirit of humour intimate reading
    aloud to him! 1110
  • Malvolio. By 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.
  • Malvolio. [Reads] 'To the unknown beloved, this, and my good 1115
    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?
  • Fabian. This wins him, liver and all.
  • Malvolio. [Reads] 1120
    Jove knows I love: But who?
    Lips, do not move;
    No man must know.
    'No man must know.' What follows? the numbers
    altered! 'No man must know:' if this should be 1125
    thee, Malvolio?
  • Malvolio. [Reads]
    I may command where I adore;
    But silence, like a Lucrece knife, 1130
    With bloodless stroke my heart doth gore:
    M, O, A, I, doth sway my life.
  • Malvolio. 'M, O, A, I, doth sway my life.' Nay, but first, let 1135
    me see, let me see, let me see.
  • Fabian. What dish o' poison has she dressed him!
  • Malvolio. 'I may command where I adore.' Why, she may command
    me: I serve her; she is my lady. Why, this is 1140
    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,
    I,— 1145
  • Fabian. Sowter will cry upon't for all this, though it be as
    rank as a fox.
  • Malvolio. M,—Malvolio; M,—why, that begins my name.
  • Fabian. Did not I say he would work it out? the cur is 1150
    excellent at faults.
  • Malvolio. M,—but then there is no consonancy in the sequel;
    that suffers under probation A should follow but O does.
  • Fabian. And O shall end, I hope.
  • Fabian. Ay, an you had any eye behind you, you might see
    more detraction at your heels than fortunes before
  • Malvolio. M, O, A, I; this simulation is not as the former: and 1160
    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.
    'If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I 1165
    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, 1170
    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 1175
    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. 1180
    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 1185
    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; 1190
    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 1195
    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; 1200
    thy smiles become thee well; therefore in my
    presence still smile, dear my sweet, I prithee.'
    Jove, I thank thee: I will smile; I will do
    everything that thou wilt have me.


  • Fabian. I will not give my part of this sport for a pension
    of thousands to be paid from the Sophy.
  • Sir Toby Belch. And ask no other dowry with her but such another jest. 1210
  • Fabian. Here comes my noble gull-catcher.

[Re-enter MARIA]

  • Sir Toby Belch. Shall I play my freedom at traytrip, and become thy
  • Sir Toby Belch. Why, thou hast put him in such a dream, that when
    the image of it leaves him he must run mad. 1220
  • Maria. Nay, but say true; does it work upon him?
  • Maria. If 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 1225
    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 1230
  • Sir Toby Belch. To the gates of Tartar, thou most excellent devil of wit!