Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Twelfth Night: Act 1, Scene 3

           Enter SIR TOBY BELCH and MARIA.

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

  4   By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in earlier
  5   a' nights: your cousin, my lady, takes great
5. a': of. cousin: kinswoman.

  6   exceptions to your ill hours.

  7   Why, let her except, before excepted.
John Hodgkinson as Sir Toby Belch7. except, before excepted: Toby is playing on the legal phrase exceptis excipiendis.

  8   Ay, but you must confine yourself within the
  9   modest limits of order.
9. modest: moderate. order: orderly conduct.

 10   Confine! I'll confine myself no finer than I am:
10. I'll confine myself no finer: As he says, the clothes he's wearing are good enough to drink in.

 11   these clothes are good enough to drink in; and so
 12   be these boots too: an they be not, let them hang
12. an: if.

 13   themselves in their own straps.

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

 18   Who, Sir Andrew Aguecheek?
18. Aguecheek:Sir Andrew Aguecheek .

 19   Ay, he.

 20   He's as tall a man as any's in Illyria.
20. tall: valiant, as in "standing tall."

 21   What's that to the purpose?
21. that: i.e., Aguecheek's height (Maria is being sarcastic).

 22   Why, he has three thousand ducats a year.

 23   Ay, but he'll have but a year in all these ducats:
23. he'll have but a year in all these ducats: he'll spend all of his money in a year.

 24   he's a very fool and a prodigal.

 25   Fie, that you'll say so! he plays o' th'
 26   viol-de-gamboys, and speaks three or four
26. viol-de-gamboys: viola da gamba (literally, "leg-viol").

 27   languages word for word without book, and
27. without book: from memory.

 28   hath all the good gifts of nature.
28. good gifts of nature: natural abilities.

 29   He hath indeed, almost natural: for besides that
29. natural: idiotic, retarded.

 30   he's a fool, he's a great quarreller: and but that
 31   he hath the gift of a coward to allay the gust he
31. allay the gust: decrease the gusto.

 32   hath in quarrelling, 'tis thought among the
 33   prudent he would quickly have the gift of a grave.

 34   By this hand, they are scoundrels and subtractors
34. substractors: (Sir Toby probably means "detractors.")

 35   that say so of him. Who are they?

 36   They that add, moreover, he's drunk nightly in
36. They that add: Maria is punning.

 37   your company.


 38   With drinking healths to my niece: I'll drink to
 39   her as long as there is a passage in my throat and
 40   drink in Illyria: he's a coward and a coystrill
40. coystrill: knave, punk.

 41   that will not drink to my niece till his brains turn
 42   o' the toe like a parish-top. What, wench!
41-42. turn o' the toe: spin. 42. parish-top: a spinning top.

 43   Castiliano vulgo! for here comes Sir Andrew
43. Castiliano vulgo!: Perhaps "Talk nice to him!"

 44   Agueface.
44. Agueface: (Toby's mistake for, or mockery of, "Aguecheek.")

           Enter SIR ANDREW.

 45   Sir Toby Belch! how now, Sir Toby Belch?

 46   Sweet Sir Andrew!

 47   Bless you, fair shrew.
Elizabeth Taylor as the Shrew47. shrew: To call a woman a "shrew" was, and is, an insult, but Maria doesn't seem to be bothered.

 48   And you too, sir.

 49   Accost, Sir Andrew, accost.

 50   What's that?

 51   My niece's chambermaid.
51. chambermaid: lady in waiting, companion.

 52   Good Mistress Accost, I desire better
 53   acquaintance.

 54   My name is Mary, sir.

 55   Good Mistress Mary Accost, —

 56   You mistake, knight; 'accost' is front her,
 57   board her, woo her, assail her.

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

 60   Fare you well, gentlemen.

 61   An thou let part so, Sir Andrew, would thou
61. An thou let part so: if you let her just leave.

 62   mightst never draw sword again.
61-62. thou mightst never draw sword again: i.e., you can't claim to be a real man.

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

 66   Sir, I have not you by the hand.
Maria with Sir Toby Belch

 67   Marry, but you shall have — and here's
 68   my hand.

 69   Now, sir, 'thought is free:' I pray you, bring
69. "thought is free": i.e., everyone is entitled to her own opinion.

 70   your hand to the buttery-bar and let it drink.
Buttery Bar by Jenni Söderlundbuttery: where the butts (casks) of wine are kept.

 71   Wherefore, sweet-heart? what's your
 72   metaphor?

 73   It's dry, sir.
73. dry: thirsty. (And a dry hand signifies impotence.)

 74   Why, I think so: I am not such an ass but I can
 75   keep my hand dry. But what's your jest?
74-75. I can keep my hand dry: i.e., I know to come in out of the rain.

 76   A dry jest, sir.
76. dry jest: subtly ironic witticism (as in "dry wit") and/or stupid butt of a witticism (as in "you are a joke").

 77   Are you full of them?

 78   Ay, sir, I have them at my fingers' ends: marry,
78. have them at my fingers' ends: have at the ready.

 79   now I let go your hand, I am barren.
79. barren: incapable of producing (any more jests).

           Exit Maria.

 80   O knight thou lackest a cup of canary: when did I
80. canary: sweet wine from the Canary Islands.

 81   see thee so put down?
81. put down: mocked, defeated in a battle of wits.

 82   Never in your life, I think; unless you see canary
 83   put me down. Methinks sometimes I have no more
83. put me down: make me drunk and stupid.

 84   wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has: but I
84. Christian: i.e., average Joe.

 85   am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm
 86   to my wit.
85-86. great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit: A common idea of the time, echoed in the modern insult, "meathead."

 87   No question.

 88   An I thought that, I'ld forswear it. I'll ride home
88. An: if. I'ld forswear: I would give up. it: i.e., eating beef (Sir Andrew doesn't really think that eating beef makes him stupid.)

 89   tomorrow, Sir Toby.

 90   Pourquoi, my dear knight?

 91   What is 'Pourquoi'? do or not do? I would
91. Pourquoi: Why? (French).

 92   I had bestowed that time in the tongues that
92. bestowed: given. the tongues: foreign languages.

 93   I have in fencing, dancing and bear-baiting.
93. Bear-baitingbear-baiting:

 94   O, had I but followed the arts!

 95   Then hadst thou had an excellent head of
 96   hair.

 97   Why, would that have mended my hair?
97. mended: improved.

 98   Past question; for thou seest it will not
 99   curl by nature.
99. James Fleet as Sir Andrew Aguecheek it will not curl by nature:.

100   But it becomes me well enough, does't
101   not?

102   Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff;
102. flax on a distaff:Woman Spinning Flax with distaff
103. huswife: housewife; also hussy, whore. 104. spin it off: Loss of hair was a sign of infection with an STD.

103   and I hope to see a housewife take thee
104   between her legs and spin it off.

105   Faith, I'll home tomorrow, Sir Toby: your
106   niece will not be seen; or if she be, it's four
107   to one she'll none of me: the count himself
107. the count himself: i.e., Orsino.

108   here hard by woos her
108. here hard by: nearby.

109   She'll none o' the count: she'll not match above
109-110. not match above her degree: not marry her superior.

110   her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit; I
110. estate: fortune, social position.

111   have heard her swear't. Tut, there's life in't,
111. there's life in't: i.e.,there's still hope that you can win her.

112   man.

113   I'll stay a month longer. I am a fellow o' the
114   strangest mind i' the world; I delight in masques
114. masques: masquerades.

115   and revels sometimes altogether.
115. revels: partying.

116   Art thou good at these kickshawses, knight?
116. kickshawses: trifles, elegant amusements.

117   As any man in Illyria, whatsoever he be, under the
118   degree of my betters; and yet I will not compare
119   with an old man.
117-118. under the degree of my betters: except for those who are better. old man: i.e., more experienced man.

120   What is thy excellence in a galliard, knight?
120. galliard: a fast dance with a lot of tricky steps, including capers.

121   Faith, I can cut a caper.
121. cut a caper: make a lively leap.

122   And I can cut the mutton to't.
122. to't: to go with it (Capers were and are used in condiments. Also, "mutton" can mean "whore").

123   And I think I have the back-trick simply as strong
123. back-trick: backward step or kick in the galliard.

124   as any man in Illyria.

125   Wherefore are these things hid? wherefore have
126   these gifts a curtain before 'em? are they like to
127   take dust, like Mistress Mall's picture? why dost
127. take dust: gather dust. Mistress Mall's picture: perhaps a painting with a protective curtain.

128   thou not go to church in a galliard and come home in
129   a coranto? My very walk should be a jig; I would not
129. coranto: a running dance.

130   so much as make water but in a sink-a-pace. What
130. make water: pee. sink-a-pace: dance like the galliard.

131   dost thou mean? Is it a world to hide virtues in?
132   I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy
133   leg, it was formed under the star of a galliard.
133. star of: astrological sign favorable to.

134   Ay, 'tis strong, and it does indifferent well in a
134. indifferent: moderately (Sir Andrew is proudly modest).

135   flame-coloured stock. Shall we set about some
135. stock: stocking.

136   revels?

137   What shall we do else? were we not born under
138   Taurus?
138. Taurus: the second sign of the Zodiac.

139   Taurus! That's sides and heart.
139. sides and heart: (Sir Andrew is wrong; Leo governs sides and heart.)

140   No, sir; it is legs and thighs. Let me see the
140. legs and thighs: (Sir Toby is right, but Taurus is more commonly associated with neck and throat, appropriate for drinkers.)

141   caper; ha! higher: ha, ha! excellent!