Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare

Preview: Issue 1 of 9

SCENE: A City in Illyria; and the Sea-coast near it.


SCENE I. An Apartment in the DUKE'S Palace.

[Enter DUKE, CURIO, Lords; Musicians attending.]

DUKE. If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken and so die.— That strain again;—it had a dying fall; O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south, That breathes upon a bank of violets, Stealing and giving odour.—Enough; no more; 'Tis not so sweet now as it was before. O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou! That, notwithstanding thy capacity Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there, Of what validity and pitch soever, But falls into abatement and low price Even in a minute! so full of shapes is fancy, That it alone is high-fantastical.

CURIO. Will you go hunt, my lord?

DUKE. What, Curio?

CURIO. The hart.

DUKE. Why, so I do, the noblest that I have: O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first, Methought she purg'd the air of pestilence; That instant was I turn'd into a hart; And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, E'er since pursue me.—How now! what news from her?


VALENTINE. So please my lord, I might not be admitted, But from her handmaid do return this answer: The element itself, till seven years' heat, Shall not behold her face at ample view; But like a cloistress she will veiled walk, And water once a-day her chamber round With eye-offending brine: all this to season A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh And lasting in her sad remembrance.

DUKE. O, she that hath a heart of that fine frame To pay this debt of love but to a brother, How will she love when the rich golden shaft Hath kill'd the flock of all affections else That live in her; when liver, brain, and heart, These sovereign thrones, are all supplied and fill'd,— Her sweet perfections,—with one self king!— Away before me to sweet beds of flowers: Love-thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers.


SCENE II. The sea-coast.

[Enter VIOLA, CAPTAIN, and Sailors.]

VIOLA. What country, friends, is this?

CAPTAIN. This is Illyria, lady.

VIOLA. And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium. Perchance he is not drown'd—What think you, sailors?

CAPTAIN. It is perchance that you yourself were sav'd.

VIOLA. O my poor brother! and so perchance may he be.

CAPTAIN. True, madam; and, to comfort you with chance, Assure yourself, after our ship did split, When you, and those poor number sav'd with you, Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother, Most provident in peril, bind himself,—- Courage and hope both teaching him the practice,— To a strong mast that liv'd upon the sea; Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back, I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves So long as I could see.

VIOLA. For saying so, there's gold! Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope, Whereto thy speech serves for authority, The like of him. Know'st thou this country?

CAPTAIN. Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and born Not three hours' travel from this very place.

VIOLA. Who governs here?

CAPTAIN. A noble duke, in nature As in name.

VIOLA. What is his name?

CAPTAIN. Orsino.

VIOLA. Orsino! I have heard my father name him. He was a bachelor then.

CAPTAIN. And so is now, Or was so very late; for but a month Ago I went from hence; and then 'twas fresh In murmur,—as, you know, what great ones do, The less will prattle of,—that he did seek The love of fair Olivia.

VIOLA. What's she?

CAPTAIN. A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count That died some twelvemonth since; then leaving her In the protection of his son, her brother, Who shortly also died; for whose dear love, They say, she hath abjured the company And sight of men.

VIOLA. O that I served that lady! And might not be delivered to the world, Till I had made mine own occasion mellow, What my estate is.

CAPTAIN. That were hard to compass: Because she will admit no kind of suit, No, not the duke's.

VIOLA. There is a fair behaviour in thee, captain; And though that nature with a beauteous wall Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee I will believe thou hast a mind that suits With this thy fair and outward character. I pray thee, and I'll pay thee bounteously, Conceal me what I am; and be my aid For such disguise as, haply, shall become The form of my intent. I'll serve this duke; Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him; It may be worth thy pains, for I can sing, And speak to him in many sorts of music, That will allow me very worth his service. What else may hap to time I will commit; Only shape thou silence to my wit.

CAPTAIN. Be you his eunuch and your mute I'll be; When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.

VIOLA. I thank thee. Lead me on.


SCENE III. A Room in OLIVIA'S House.


SIR TOBY. What a plague means my niece, to take the death of her brother thus? I am sure care's an enemy to life.

MARIA. By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in earlier o' nights; your cousin, my lady, takes great exceptions to your ill hours.

SIR TOBY. Why, let her except, before excepted.

MARIA. Ay, but you must confine yourself within the modest limits of order.

SIR TOBY. Confine? I'll confine myself no finer than I am: these clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots too; an they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps.

MARIA. That quaffing and drinking will undo you: I heard my lady talk of it yesterday; and of a foolish knight that you brought in one night here to be her wooer.

SIR TOBY. Who? Sir Andrew Ague-cheek?

MARIA. Ay, he.

SIR TOBY. He's as tall a man as any's in Illyria.

MARIA. What's that to the purpose?

SIR TOBY. Why, he has three thousand ducats a year.

MARIA. Ay, but he'll have but a year in all these ducats; he's a very fool, and a prodigal.

SIR TOBY. Fye that you'll say so! he plays o' the viol-de-gambo, and speaks three or four languages word for word without book, and hath all the good gifts of nature.

MARIA. He hath indeed,—almost natural: for, besides that he's a fool, he's a great quarreller; and, but that he hath the gift of a coward to allay the gust he hath in quarrelling, 'tis thought among the prudent he would quickly have the gift of a grave.

SIR TOBY. By this hand, they are scoundrels and subtractors that say so of him. Who are they?

MARIA. They that add, moreover, he's drunk nightly in your company.

SIR TOBY. With drinking healths to my niece; I'll drink to her as long as there is a passage in my throat and drink in Illyria. He's a coward and a coystril that will not drink to my niece till his brains turn o' the toe like a parish-top. What, wench! Castiliano-vulgo! for here comes Sir Andrew Ague-face.


AGUE-CHEEK. Sir Toby Belch! how now, Sir Toby Belch!

SIR TOBY. Sweet Sir Andrew?

SIR ANDREW. Bless you, fair shrew.

MARIA. And you too, sir.

SIR TOBY. Accost, Sir Andrew, accost.

SIR ANDREW. What's that?

SIR TOBY. My niece's chamber-maid.

SIR ANDREW. Good Mistress Accost, I desire better acquaintance.

MARIA. My name is Mary, sir.

SIR ANDREW. Good Mistress Mary Accost,—

SIR TOBY. You mistake, knight: accost is, front her, board her, woo her, assail her.

SIR ANDREW. By my troth, I would not undertake her in this company. Is that the meaning of accost?

MARIA. Fare you well, gentlemen.

SIR TOBY. An thou let part so, Sir Andrew, would thou mightst never draw sword again.

SIR ANDREW. An you part so, mistress, I would I might never draw sword again. Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand?

MARIA. Sir, I have not you by the hand.

SIR ANDREW. Marry, but you shall have; and here's my hand.

MARIA. Now, sir, thought is free. I pray you, bring your hand to the buttery-bar and let it drink.

SIR ANDREW. Wherefore, sweetheart? what's your metaphor?

MARIA. It's dry, sir.

SIR ANDREW. Why, I think so; I am not such an ass but I can keep my hand dry. But what's your jest?

MARIA. A dry jest, sir.

SIR ANDREW. Are you full of them?

MARIA. Ay, sir, I have them at my fingers' ends: marry, now I let go your hand I am barren.

[Exit MARIA.]

SIR TOBY. O knight, thou lack'st a cup of canary: When did I see thee so put down?

SIR ANDREW. Never in your life, I think; unless you see canary put me down. Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has; but I am great eater of beef, and, I believe, that does harm to my wit.

SIR TOBY. No question.

SIR ANDREW. An I thought that, I'd forswear it. I'll ride home to-morrow, Sir Toby.

SIR TOBY. Pourquoy, my dear knight?

SIR ANDREW. What is pourquoy? do or not do? I would I had bestowed that time in the tongues that I have in fencing, dancing, and bear-baiting. Oh, had I but followed the arts!

SIR TOBY. Then hadst thou had an excellent head of hair.

SIR ANDREW. Why, would that have mended my hair?

SIR TOBY. Past question; for thou seest it will not curl by nature.

SIR ANDREW. But it becomes me well enough, does't not?

SIR TOBY. Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a houswife take thee between her legs and spin it off.

SIR ANDREW. Faith, I'll home to-morrow, Sir Toby; your niece will not be seen; or, if she be, it's four to one she'll none of me; the count himself here hard by woos her.

SIR TOBY. She'll none o' the Count; she'll not match above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit; I have heard her swear't. Tut, there's life in't, man.

SIR ANDREW. I'll stay a month longer. I am a fellow o' the strangest mind i' the world; I delight in masques and revels sometimes altogether.

SIR TOBY. Art thou good at these kick-shaws, knight?

SIR ANDREW. As any man in Illyria, whatsoever he be, under the degree of my betters; and yet I will not compare with an old man.

SIR TOBY. What is thy excellence in a galliard, knight?

SIR ANDREW. Faith, I can cut a caper.

SIR TOBY. And I can cut the mutton to't.

SIR ANDREW. And, I think, I have the back-trick simply as strong as any man in Illyria.

SIR TOBY. Wherefore are these things hid? wherefore have these gifts a curtain before them? are they like to take dust, like Mistress Mall's picture? why dost thou not go to church in a galliard and come home in a coranto? My very walk should be a jig; I would not so much as make water but in a sink-a-pace. What dost thou mean? is it a world to hide virtues in? I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was formed under the star of a galliard.

SIR ANDREW. Ay, 'tis strong, and it does indifferent well in flame-colour'd stock. Shall we set about some revels?

SIR TOBY. What shall we do else? were we not born under Taurus?

SIR ANDREW. Taurus? that's sides and heart.

SIR TOBY. No, sir; it is legs and thighs. Let me see thee caper: ha, higher: ha, ha!—excellent!


SCENE IV. A Room in the DUKE'S Palace.

[Enter VALENTINE, and VIOLA in man's attire.]

VALENTINE. If the duke continue these favours towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced; he hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger.

VIOLA. You either fear his humour or my negligence, that you call in question the continuance of his love. Is he inconstant, sir, in his favours?

VALENTINE. No, believe me.

[Enter DUKE, CURIO, and Attendants.]

VIOLA. I thank you. Here comes the count.

DUKE. Who saw Cesario, ho?

VIOLA. On your attendance, my lord; here.

DUKE. Stand you awhile aloof.—Cesario, Thou know'st no less but all; I have unclasp'd To thee the book even of my secret soul: Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her; Be not denied access, stand at her doors, And tell them there thy fixed foot shall grow Till thou have audience.

VIOLA. Sure, my noble lord, If she be so abandon'd to her sorrow As it is spoke, she never will admit me.

DUKE. Be clamorous and leap all civil bounds, Rather than make unprofited return.

VIOLA. Say I do speak with her, my lord. What then?

DUKE. O, then unfold the passion of my love, Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith: It shall become thee well to act my woes; She will attend it better in thy youth Than in a nuncio of more grave aspect.

VIOLA. I think not so, my lord.

DUKE. Dear lad, believe it, For they shall yet belie thy happy years That say thou art a man: Diana's lip Is not more smooth and rubious; thy small pipe Is as the maiden's organ, shrill and sound, And all is semblative a woman's part. I know thy constellation is right apt For this affair:—some four or five attend him: All, if you will; for I myself am best When least in company:—prosper well in this, And thou shalt live as freely as thy lord, To call his fortunes thine.

VIOLA. I'll do my best To woo your lady. [Aside] Yet, a barful strife! Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife.

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