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Twelfth-Night

(142) The persons of the drama were first enumerated, with all the cant of the modern stage, by Mr. Rowe.

I.i.2 (143,2) [that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die] [W: app'tite, Love] It is true, we do not talk of the death of appetite, because we do not ordinarily speak in the figurative language of poetry; but that appetite sickens by a surfeit is true, and therefore proper.

I.i.21 (145,6) [That instant was I turn'd into a hart] This image evidently alludes to the story of Acteon, by which Shakespeare seems to think men cautioned against too great familiarity with forbidden beauty. Acteon, who saw Diana naked, and was torn in pieces by his hounds, represents a man, who indulging his eyes, or his imagination, with the view of a woman that he cannot gain, has his heart torn with incessant longing. An interpretation far more elegant and natural than that of Sir Francis Bacon, who, in his Wisdom of the Antients, supposes this story to warn us against enquiring into the secrets of princes, by shewing, that those who knew that which for reasons of state is to be concealed, will be detected and destroyed by their own servants.

I.ii.25 (147,9) [A noble Duke in nature, as in name] I know not whether the nobility of the name is comprised in Duke, or in Orsino, which is, I think, the name of a great Italian family.

I.ii.42 (148,1)

[Vio. O, that I serv'd that lady; And might not be deliver'd to the world, 'Till I had made mine own occasion mellow What my estate is!]

I wish I might not be made public to the world, with regard to the state of my birth and fortune, till I have gained a ripe opportunity for my design.

Viola seems to have formed a very deep design with very little premeditation: she is thrown by shipwreck on an unknown coast, hears that the prince is a batchelor, and resolves to supplant the lady whom he courts.

I.ii.55 (149,2) [I'll serve this Duke] Viola is an excellent schemer, never at a loss; if she cannot serve the lady, she will serve the Duke.

I.iii.77 (152,5) [It's dry, sir] What is the jest of dry hand, I know not any better than Sir Andrew. It may possibly mean, a hand with no money in it; or, according to the rules of physiognomy, she may intend to insinuate, that it is not a lover's hand, a moist hand being vulgarly accounted a sign of an amorous constitution.

I.iii.148 (154,9) [Taurus? that's sides and heart] Alluding to the medical astrology still preserved in almanacks, which refers the affections or particular parts of the body, to the predominance of particular constellations.

I.iv.34 (155,1) [And all is semblative--a woman's part] That is, thy proper part in a play would be a woman's. Women were then personated by boys.

I.v.9 (156,2) [lenten answer] A lean, or as we now call it, a dry answer.

I.v.39 (157,4) [Better be a witty fool, than a foolish wit] Hall, in his Chronicle, speaking of the death of Sir Thomas More, says, that he knows not whether to call him a foolish wise man, or a wise foolish man.

I.v.105 (159,5) [Now Mercury indue thee with leasing, for thou speak'st well of fools!] [W: pleasing] I think the present reading more humourous. May Mercury teach thee to lie, since thou liest in favour of fools.

I.v.213 (164,1) [to make one in so skipping a dialogue] Wild, frolick, mad.

I.v.218 (164,2) [Some mollification for your giant] Ladies, in romance, are guarded by giants, who repel all improper or troublesome advances. Viola seeing the waiting-maid so eager to oppose her message, intreats Olivia to pacify her giant.

I.v.328 (168,8)

[Oli. I do, I know not what; and fear to find Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind]

I believe the meaning is; I am not mistress of my own actions, I am afraid that my eyes betray me, and flatter the youth without my consent, with discoveries of love.

II.i.15 (169,9) [to express myself] That is, to reveal myself.

II.i.28 (169,1) [with such estimable wonder] These words Dr. Warburton calls an interpolation of the players, but what did the players gain by it? they may be sometimes guilty of a joke without the concurrence of the poet, but they never lengthen a speech only to make it longer. Shakespeare often confounds the active and passive adjectives. Estimable wonder is esteeming wonder, or wonder and esteem. The meaning is, that he could not venture to think so highly as others of his sister.

II.ii.21 (171,2) [her eyes had lost her tongue] [W: crost] That the fascination of the eyes was called crossing ought to have been proved. But however that be, the present reading has not only sense but beauty. We say a man loses his company when they go one way and he goes another. So Olivia's tongue lost her eyes; her tongue was talking of the Duke and her eyes gazing on his messenger.

II.ii.29 (171,3) [the pregnant enemy] is, I believe, the dexterous fiend, or enemy of mankind. (1773)

II.ii.30 (171,4)

[How easy is it, for the proper false In women's waxen hearts to set their forms]

This is obscure. The meaning is, how easy is disguise to women; how easily does their own falsehood, contained in their waxen changeable hearts, enable them to assume deceitful appearances. The two next lines are perhaps transposed, and should be read thus,

For such as we are made, if such we be, Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we.

II.iii.27 (175,9) [I did impeticoat thy gratility] This, Sir T. Hammer tells us, is the same with impocket thy gratuity. He is undoubtedly right; but we must read, I did impeticoat thy gratuity. The fools were kept in long coats, to which the allusion is made. There is yet much in this dialogue which I do not understand.

II.iii.51 (176,1) [In delay there lies no plenty] [W: decay] I believe delay is right.

II.iii.52 (176,2) [Then come kiss me, sweet, and twenty] This line is obscure; we might read,

Come, a kiss then, sweet, and twenty.

Yet I know not whether the present reading be not right, for in some counties sweet and twenty, whatever be the meaning, is a phrase of endearment.

II.iii.59 (176,3) [make the welkin dance] That is, drink till the sky seems to turn round.

II.iii.75 (177,5) [They sing a catch] This catch is lost.

II.iii.81 (177,6) [Peg-a-Ramsey] Peg-a-Ramsey I do not understand. Tilly vally was an interjection of contempt, which Sir Thomas More a lady is recorded to have had very often in her mouth.

II.iii.97 (178,7) [ye squeak out your coziers catches] A Cozier is a taylor, from coudre to sew, part, consu, French, (see 1765, 11,383,2)

II.iii.128 (180,l) [rub your chain with crums] I suppose it should be read, rub your chin with crums, alluding to what had been said before that. Malvolio was only a steward, and consequently dined after his lady.

II.iii.131 (180,2) [you would not give means for this uncivil rule] Rule is, method of life, so misrule is tumult and riot.

II.iii.149 (181,3) [Possess us] That is, inform us, tell us, make us masters of the matter.

II.iv.5 (183,5) [light airs, and recollected terms] I rather think that recollected signifies, more nearly to its primitive sense, recalled, repeated, and alludes to the practice of composers, who often prolong the song by repetitions.

II.iv.26 (184,6) [favour] The word favour ambiguously used.

II.iv.35 (184,7) [lost and worn] Though lost and worn may means lost and worn out, yet lost and won being, I think, better, these two words coming usually and naturally together, and the alteration being very slight, I would so read in this place with Sir Tho. Hammer.

II.iv.46 (185,8) [free] is, perhaps, vacant, unengaged, easy in mind.

II.iv.47 (185,9) [silly sooth] It is plain, simple truth.

II.iv.49 (185,2) [old age] The old age is the ages past, the times of simplicity.

II.iv.58 (185,3) [My part of death no one so true Did share it] Though death is a part in which every one acts his share, yet of all these actors no one is so true as I.

II.iv.87 (187,6)

[But 'tis that miracle, and queen of gems, That nature pranks her in]

[W: pranks, her mind] The miracle and queen of gems is her beauty, which the commentator might have found without so emphatical an enquiry. As to her mind, he that should be captious would say, that though it may be formed by nature it must be pranked by education.

Shakespeare does not say that nature pranks her in a miracle, but in the miracle of gems, that is, in a gem miraculously beautiful.

II.v.43 (191,2) [the lady of the Strachy] [W: We should read Trachy. i.e. Thrace; for so the old English writers called it] What we should read is hard to say. Here it an allusion to some old story which I have not yet discovered.

II.v.51 (191,3) [stone-bow] That is, a cross-bow, a bow which shoots stones.

II.v.66 (192,4) [wind up my watch] In our author's time watches were very uncommon. When Guy Faux was taken, it was urged as a circumstance of suspicion that a watch was found upon him.

II.v.70 (192,5) [Tho' our silence be drawn from us with carts] I believe the true reading is, Though our silence be drawn from us with carts, yet peace. In the The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of the Clowns says, I have a mistress, but who that is, a team of horses shall not draw from me. So in this play, Oxen and wainropes will not bring them together.

II.v.97 (193,7) [her great P's] [Steevens: In the direction of the letter which Malvolio reads, there is neither a C, nor a P, to be found] There may, however, be words in the direction which he does not read. To formal directions of two ages ago were often added these words, Humbly Present. (1773)

II.v.144 (195,2) [And O shall end, I hope] By O is here meant what we now call a hempen collar.

II.v.207 (197,6) [tray-trip] The word tray-trip I do not understand.

II.v.215 (198,7) [aqua vitae] Is the old name of strong waters.

III.i.57 (200,9) [lord Pandarus] See our author's play of Troilus and Cressida.

III.i.71 (200,1) [And, like the haggard, check at every feather] The meaning may be, that he must catch every opportunity, as the wild hawk strikes every bird. But perhaps it might be read more properly,

Not like the haggard.

He must chuse persons and times, and observe tempers, he must fly at proper game, like the trained hawk, and not fly at large like the haggard, to seize all that comes in his way. (1773)

III.i.75 (201,2) [But wise-men's folly fall'n] Sir Thomas Hammer reads, folly shewn. [The sense is, But wise men's folly, when it is once fallen into extravagance, overpowers their discretion. Revisal.] I explain it thus. The folly which he shows with proper adaptation to persons and times, is fit, has its propriety, and therefore produces no censure; but the folly of wise men when it falls or happens, taints their wit, destroys the reputation of their judgment. (see 1765, II,402,2)

III.i.86 (202,4) [she is the list of my voyage] Is the bound, limit, farthest point.

III.i.100 (202,5) [most pregnant and vouchsafed ear] Pregnant is a word in this writer of very lax signification. It may here mean liberal. (1773)

III.i.123 (203,6) [After the last enchantment (you did hear)] [W: enchantment you did here] The present reading is no more nonsense than the emendation.

III.i.132 (203,8) [a Cyprus] Is a transparent stuff.

III.i.135 (204,9) [a grice] Is a step, sometimes written greese from degres, French.

III.i.170 (205,1) [I have one heart, one bosom, and one truth, And that no woman has] And that heart and boson I have never yielded to any woman.

III.ii.45 (207,5) [Go, write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief] Martial hand, seems to be a careless scrawl, such as shewed the writer to neglect ceremony. Curst, is petulant, crabbed--a curst cur, is a dog that with little provocation snarls and bites. (1773)

III.iv.61 (213,1) [midsummer madness] Hot weather often turns the brain, which is, I suppose, alluded to here.

III.iv.82 (214,3) [I have lim'd her] I have entangled or caught her, as a bird is caught with birdlime.

III.iv.85 (214,4) [Fellow:] This word which originally signified companion, was not yet totally degraded to its present meaning; and Malvolio takes it in the favourable sense.

III.iv.130 (215,6) [Hang him, foul collier] The devil is called Collier for his blackness, Like will to like, says the Devil to the Collier. (1773)

III.iv.154 (216,7) [a finder of madmen] This is, I think, an allusion to the witch-finders, who were very busy.

III.iv.184 (217,8) [God have mercy upon one of our souls! He may have mercy upon mine, but my hope is better] We may read, He may have mercy upon thine, but my hope is better. Yet the passage may well enough stand without alteration.

It were much to be wished, that Shakespeare in this and some other passages, had not ventured so near profaneness.

III.iv.228 (218,9) [wear this jewel for me] Jewel does not properly signify a single gem, but any precious ornament or superfluity.

III.iv.257 (219,2) [Be is knight, dubb'd with unhack'd rapier, and on carpet consideration] That is, he is no soldier by profession, not a Knight Banneret, dubbed in the field of battle, but, on carpet consideration, at a festivity, or on sone peaceable occasion, when knights receive their dignity kneeling not on the ground, as in war, but on a carpet. This is, I believe, the original of the contemptuous term a carpet knight, who was naturally held in scorn by the men of war.

III.iv.301 (222,4) [I have not seen such a virago] Virago cannot be properly used here, unless we suppose Sir Toby to mean, I never saw one that had so much the look of woman with the prowess of man.

III.iv.408 (225,7)

[Methinks, his words do from such passion fly, That he believes himself;--so do not I]

This I believe, means, I do not yet believe myself, when, from this accident, I gather hope of my brother's life.

IV.i.14 (227,8) [I am afraid this great lubber the world will prove a cockney] That is, affectation and foppery will overspread the world.

IV.i.57 (228,2) [In this uncivil and unjust extent] Extent is, in law, a writ of execution, whereby goods are seized for the king. It is therefore taken here for violence in general.

IV.i.60 (228,3) [This ruffian hath botch'd up] I fancy it is only a coarse expression for made up, as a bad taylor is called a botcher. and to botch is to make clumsily.

IV.i.63 (229,4) [He started one poor heart of mine in thee] I know not whether here be not an ambiguity intended between heart and hart. The sense however is easy enough. He that offends thee attacks one of my hearts; or, as the antients expressed it, half my heart.

IV.i.64 (229,5) [What relish is this?] How does it taste? What judgment am I to make of it?

IV.ii.53 (231,9) [constant question] A settled, a determinate, a regular question.

IV.ii.68 (232,1) [Nay, I am for all waters] I rather think this expression borrowed from sportsmen, and relating to the qualifications of a complete spaniel.

IV.ii.99 (233,2) [They have here property'd me] They have taken possession of me as of a man unable to look to himself.

IV.ii.107 (233,3) [Maintain no words with him] Here the Clown in the dark acts two persons, and counterfeits, by variation of voice, a dialogue between himself and Sir Topas.--I Will, sir, I Will. is spoken after a pause, as if, in the mean time, Sir Topas had whispered.

IV.ii.121 (234,4) [tell me true, are you not mad, indeed, or do you but counterfeit?] If he was not mad, what did be counterfeit by declaring that he was not mad? The fool, who meant to insult him, I think, asks, are you mad, or do you but counterfeit? That is, you look like a madman, you talk like a madman: Is your madness real, or have you any secret design in it? This, to a man in poor Malvolio's state, was a severe taunt.

IV.ii.134 (234,5) [like to the old vice] Vice was the fool of the old moralities. Some traces of this character are still preserved in puppet-shows, and by country mummers.

IV.ii.141 (235.6)'Adieu, goodman devil] This last line has neither rhime nor meaning. I cannot but suspect that the fool translates Malvolio's name, and says,

Adieu, goodman mean-evil. (1773)

IV.iii.12 (236,8) [all instance, all discourse] Instance is example. (see 1765, II,433,9)

IV.iii.15 (236,9) [To any other trust] To any other belief, or confidence, to any other fixed opinion.

IV.iii.29 (236,1) [Whiles] Is until. This word is still so used in the northern counties. It is, I think, used in this sense in the preface to the Accidence.

IV.iii.33 (237,2) [And, having sworn truth, ever will be true] Truth is fidelity.

V.i.23 (238,3) [so that, conclusions to be as kisses, if your four negatives make your two affirmatives, why, then the worse for my friends, and the better for my foes] Though I do not discover much ratiocination in the Clown's discourse, yet, methinks, I can find some glimpse of a meaning in his observation, that the conclusion is as kisses. For, says he, if four negatives make two affirmatives, the conclusion is as kisses; that is, the conclusion follows by the conjunction of two negatives, which, by kissing and embracing, coalesce into one, and make an affirmative. What the four negatives are I do not know. I read, So that conclusions be as kisses.

V.i.42 (239,4) [bells of St. Bennet] When in this play he mentioned the bed of Ware, he recollected that the scene was in Illyria, and added in England; but his sense of the same impropriety could not restrain him from the bells of St. Bennet.

V.i.67 (240,5) [desperate of shame, and state] Unattentive to his character or his condition, like a desperate man.

V.i.112 (241,5) [as fat and fulsome] [W: flat] Fat means dull; so we say a fatheaded fellow; fat likewise means gross, and is sometimes used for obscene; and fat is more congruent to fulsome than flat.

V.i.168 (244,7) [case] Case is a word used contemptuously for skin. We yet talk of a fox case, meaning the stuffed skin of a fox.

V.i.204 (246,9) [A natural perspective] A perspective seems to be taken for shows exhibited through a glass with such lights as make the pictures appear really protruberant. The Duke therefore says, that nature has here exhibited such a show, where shadows seem realities; where that which is not appears like that which is.

V.i.306 (249,3) [but to read his right wits, is to read thus] Perhaps so,--but to read his wits right is to read thus. To represent his present state of mind, is to read a madman's letter, as I now do, like a madman. (1773)

V.i.326 (249,4) [One day shall crown the alliance on't, so please you] [Revisal: an't so] This is well conjectured; but on't may relate to the double character of sister and wife. (1773)

V.i.347 (250,5) [to frown Upon sir Toby, and the lighter people] People of less dignity or importance.

V.i.351 (250,6) [geck] A fool.

(253) General Observation. This play is in the graver part elegant and easy, and in some of the lighter scenes exquisitely humorous. Ague--cheek is drawn with great propriety, but his character is, in a great measure, that of natural fatuity, and is therefore not the proper prey of a satirist. The soliloquy of Malvolio is truly comic; he is betrayed to ridicule merely by his pride. The marriage of Olivia, and the succeeding perplexity, though well enough contrived to divert on the stage, wants credibility, and fails to produce the proper instruction required in the drama, as it exhibits no just picture of life.

Samuel Johnson