William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, the famous gender-bending comedy, tells the story of Viola, a young woman who loses her brother at sea.
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > Twelfth-Night > Act I. Scene V.


Study Guides
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Merchant of Venice
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Bard Facts
Globe Theatre

Act I. Scene V.

Scene V.—A Room in OLIVIA'S House.

Enter MARIA and Clown.

Mar. Nay, either tell me where thou hast
been, or I will not open my lips so wide as a
bristle may enter in way of thy excuse. My
lady will hang thee for thy absence.
Clo. Let her hang me: he that is well hanged
in this world needs to fear no colours.
Mar. Make that good.
Clo. He shall see none to fear.
Mar. A good lenten answer: I can tell thee
where that saying was born, of, 'I fear no colours.'
Clo. Where, good Mistress Mary?
Mar. In the wars; and that may you be bold
to say in your foolery.
Clo. Well, God give them wisdom that have
it; and those that are fools, let them use their
Mar. Yet you will be hanged for being so
long absent; or, to be turned away, is not that as
good as a hanging to you?
Clo. Many a good hanging prevents a bad
marriage; and, for turning away, let summer
bear it out.
Mar. You are resolute then?
Clo. Not so, neither; but I am resolved on two
Mar. That if one break, the other will hold;
or, if both break, your gaskins fall.
Clo. Apt, in good faith; very apt. Well, go thy
way: if Sir Toby would leave drinking, thou wert
as witty a piece of Eve's flesh as any in Illyria.
Mar. Peace, you rogue, no more o' that. Here
comes my lady: make your excuse wisely, you
were best. [Exit.
Clo. Wit, an't be thy will, put me into good
fooling! Those wits that think they have thee,
do very oft prove fools; and I, that am sure I
lack thee, may pass for a wise man: for what
says Quinapalus? 'Better a witty fool than a
foolish wit.'

God bless thee, lady!'
Oli. Take the fool away.
Clo. Do you not hear, fellows? Take away
the lady.
Oli. Go to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of
you: besides, you grow dishonest.
Clo. Two faults, madonna, that drink and
good counsel will amend; for give the dry fool
drink, then is the fool not dry; bid the dis-
honest man mend himself: if he mend, he is no
longer dishonest; if he cannot, let the botcher
mend him. Any thing that's mended is but
patched: virtue that transgresses is but patched
with sin; and sin that amends is but patched
with virtue. If that this simple syllogism will
serve, so; if it will not, what remedy? As there
is no true cuckold but calamity, so beauty's a
flower. The lady bade take away the fool; there-
fore, I say again, take her away.
Oli. Sir, I bade them take away you.
Clo. Misprision in the highest degree! Lady,
cucullus non facit monachum; that's as much
to say as I wear not motley in my brain. Good
madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.
Oli. Can you do it?
Clo. Dexteriously, good madonna.
Oli. Make your proof.
Clo. I must catechise you for it, madonna:
good my mouse of virtue, answer me.
Oli. Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I'll
bide your proof.
Clo. Good madonna, why mournest thou?
Oli. Good fool, for my brother's death.
Clo. I think bis soul is in hell, madonna.
Oli. I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
Clo. The more fool, madonna, to mourn for
your brother's soul being in heaven. Take away
the fool, gentlemen.
Oli. What think you of this fool, Malvolio?
doth he not mend?
Mal. Yes; and shall do, till the pangs of
death shake him: infirmity, that decays the
wise, doth ever make the better fool.
Clo. God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity, for
the better increasing your folly! Sir Toby will
be sworn that I am no fox, but he will not pass
his Word for two pence that you are no fool.
Oli. How say you to that, Malvolio?
Mal. I marvel your ladyship takes delight in
such a barren rascal: I saw him put down the
other day with an ordinary fool that has no more
brain than a stone. Look you now, he's out of
his guard already; unless you laugh and minister
occasion to him, he is gagged. I protest, I take
these wise men, that crow so at these set kind of
fools, no better than the fools' zanies.
Oli. O! you are sick of self-love, Malvolio,
and taste with a distempered appetite. To be
generous, guiltless, and of free disposition, is to
take those things for bird-bolts that you deem
cannon-bullets. There is no slander in an al-
lowed fool, though he do nothing but rail; nor
no railing in a known discreet man, though he
do nothing but reprove.
Clo. Now, Mercury endue thee with leasing,
for thou speakest well of fools!

Re-enter MARIA.
Mar. Madam, there is at the gate a young
gentleman much desires to speak with you.
Oli. From the Count Orsino, is it?
Mar. I know not, madam: 'tis a fair young
man, and well attended.
Oli. Who of my people hold him in delay?
Mar. Sir Toby, madam, your kinsman.
Oli. Fetch him off, I pray you: he speaks
nothing but madman. Fie on him! [Exit MARIA.]
Go you, Malvolio: if it be a suit from the count,
I am sick, or not at home; what you will, to
dismiss it. [Exit MALVOLIO.] Now you see, sir,
how your fooling grows old, and people dislike it.
Clo. Thou hast spoken for us, madonna, as if
thy eldest son should be a fool; whose skull
Jove cram with brains! for here comes one of
thy kin has a most weak pia mater.

Oli. By mine honour, half drunk. What is
he at the gate, cousin?
Sir To. A gentleman.
Oli. A gentleman! what gentleman?
Sir To. 'Tis a gentleman here,—a plague o'
those pickle herring! How now, sot!
Clo. Good Sir Toby.
Oli. Cousin, cousin, how have you come so
early by this lethargy?
Sir To. Lechery! I defy lechery! There's
one at the gate.
Clo. Ay, marry, what is he?
Sir To. Let him be the devil, an he will, I
care not: give me faith, say I. Well, it's all one.
Oli. What's a drunken man like, fool?
Clo. Like a drowned man, a fool, and a mad-
man: one draught above heat makes him a
fool, the second mads him, and a third drowns
Oli. Go thou and seek the crowner, and let
him sit o' my coz; for he's in the third degree
of drink, he's drowned: go, look after him.
Clo. He is but mad yet, madonna; and the
fool shall look to the madman. [Exit.

Re-enter MALVOLIO.
Mal. Madam, yond young fellow swears he will
speak with you. I told him you were sick: he
takes on him to understand so much, and there-
fore comes to speak with you. I told him you
were asleep: he seems to have a foreknowledge of
that too, and therefore comes to speak with you.
What is to be said to him, lady? he's fortified
against any denial.
Oli. Tell him he shall not speak with me.
Mal. Ha's been told so; and he says, he'll
stand at your door like a sheriff's post, and be
the supporter to a bench, but he'll speak with
Oli. What kind o' man is he?
Mal. Why, of mankind.
Oli. What manner of man?
Mal. Of very ill manner: he'll speak with
you, will you or no.
Oli. Of what personage and years is he?
Mal. Not yet old enough for a man, nor young
enough for a boy; as a squash is before 'tis a
peascod, or a codling when 'tis almost an apple:
'tis with him in standing water, between boy and
man. He is very well-favoured, and he speaks
very shrewishly: one would think his mother's
milk were scarce out of him.
Oli. Let him approach. Call in my gentle-
Mal. Gentlewoman, my lady calls. [Exit.

Re-enter MARIA.
Oli. Give me my veil: come, throw it o'er my
We'll once more hear Orsino's embassy.

Enter VIOLA and Attendants.
Vio. The honourable lady of the house, which
is she?
Oli. Speak to me; I shall answer for her.
Your will?
Vio. Most radiant, exquisite, and unmatch-
able beauty,—I pray you tell me if this be the
lady of the house, for I never saw her: I would
be loath to cast away my speech; for, besides
that it is excellently well penned, I have taken
great pains to con it. Good beauties, let me
sustain no scorn; I am very comptible, even to
the least sinister usage.
Oli. Whence came you, sir?
Vio. I can say little more than I have studied,
and that question's out of my part. Good gentle
one, give me modest assurance if you be the lady
of the house, that I may proceed in my speech.
Oli. Are you a comedian?
Vio. No, my profound heart; and yet, by the
very fangs of malice I swear I am not that I play.
Are you the lady of the house?
Oli. If I do not usurp myself, I am.
Vio. Most certain, if you are she, you do usurp
yourself; for, what is yours to bestow is not
yours to reserve. But this is from my com-
mission: I will on with my speech in your praise,
and then show you the heart of my message.
Oli. Come to what is important in 't: I forgive
you the praise.
Vio. Alas! I took great pains to study it, and
'tis poetical.
Oli. It is the more like to be feigned: I pray
you keep it in. I heard you were saucy at my
gates, and allowed your approacher rather to
wonder at you than to hear you. If you be not
mad, be gone; if you have reason, be brief: 'tis
not that time of moon with me to make one in
so skipping a dialogue.
Mar. Will you hoist sail, sir? here lies your way.
Vio. No, good swabber; I am to hull here a
little longer. Some mollification for your giant,
sweet lady.
Oli. Tell me your mind.
Vio. I am a messenger.
Oli. Sure, you have some hideous matter to
deliver, when the courtesy of it is so fearful.
Speak your office.
Vio. It alone concerns your ear. I bring no
overture of war, no taxation of homage: I hold
the olive in my hand; my words are as full of
peace as matter.
Oli. Yet you began rudely. What are you?
what would you?
Vio. The rudeness that hath appear'd in me
have I learn'd from my entertainment. What I
am, and what I would, are as secret as maiden-
head; to your ears, divinity; to any other's,
Oli. Give us the place alone: we will hear
this divinity. [Exit MARIA and Attendants.]
Now, sir; what is your text?
Vio. Most sweet lady,—
Oli. A comfortable doctrine, and much may
be said of it. Where lies your text?
Vio. In Orsino's bosom.
Oli. In his bosom! In what chapter of his
Vio. To answer by the method, in the first of
his heart.
Oli. O! I have read it: it is heresy. Have
you no more to say?
Vio. Good madam, let me see your face.
Oli. Have you any commission from your lord
to negotiate with my face? you arc now out of
your text: but we will draw the curtain and
show you the picture. [ Unveiling.] Look you,
sir, such a one I was as this present: is't not well
Vio. Excellently done, if God did all.
Oli. 'Tis in grain, sir; 'twill endure wind and
Vio. 'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and
Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on:
Lady, you are the cruell'st she alive,
If you will lead these graces to the grave
And leave the world no copy.
Oli. O! sir, I will not be so hard-hearted; I
will give out divers schedules of my beauty: it
shall be inventoried, and every particle and
utensil labelled to my will: as Item, Two lips,
indifferent red; Item, Two grey eyes, with lids to
them; Item, One neck, one chin, and so forth.
Were you sent hither to praise me?
Vio. I see you what you are: you are too
But, if you were the devil, you are fair.
My lord and master loves you: O! such love
Could be but recompens'd, though you were
The nonpareil of beauty.
Oli. How does he love me?
Vio. With adorations, with fertile tears,
With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.
Oli. Your lord does know my mind; I cannot
love him;
Yet I suppose him virtuous, know him noble,
Of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth;
In voices well divulg'd, free, learn'd, and valiant;
And, in dimension and the shape of nature
A gracious person; but yet I cannot love him:
He might have took his answer long ago.
Vio. If I did love you in my master's flame,
With such a suffering, such a deadly life,
In your denial I would find no sense;
I would not understand it.
Oli. Why, what would you?
Vio. Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love,
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Holla your name to the reverberate hills,
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out, 'Olivia!' O! you should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth,
But you should pity me!
Oli. You might do much. What is your
Vio. Above my fortune, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.
Oli. Get you to your lord:
I cannot love him. Let him send no more,
Unless, perchance, you come to me again,
To tell me how he takes it. Fare you well:
I thank you for your pains: spend this for me.
Vio. I am no fee'd post, lady; keep your
My master, not myself, lacks recompense.
Love make his heart of flint that you shall love,
And let your fervour, like my master's, be
Plac'd in contempt! Farewell, fair cruelty.
Oli. 'What is your parentage?'
'Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.' I'll be sworn thou art:
Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions, and
Do give thee five-fold blazon. Not too fast:
soft! soft!
Unless the master were the man. How now!
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Methinks I feel this youth's perfections
With an invisible and subtle stealth
To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be.
What, ho! Malvolio!

Re-enter MALVOLIO.
Mal. Here, madam, at your service.
Oli. Run after that same peevish messenger,
The county's man: he left this ring behind him,
Would I, or not: tell him I'll none of it
Desire him not to flatter with his lord,
Nor hold him up with hopes: I'm not for him.
If that the youth will come this way to-morrow,
I'll give him reasons for't. Hie thee, Malvolio.
Mal. Madam, I will. [Exit.
Oli. I do I know not what, and fear to find
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.
Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decreed must be, and be this so! [Exit.
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards