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 2, Scene 5

           Enter SIR TOBY BELCH, SIR ANDREW,
           and FABIAN.

  1   Come thy ways, Signior Fabian.
1. Come thy ways: come on, let's go.

  2   Nay, I'll come: if I lose a scruple of this sport,
2. Nay: i.e., Don't worry. a scruple: the least little bit.

  3   let me be boiled to death with melancholy.
3. boiled: [With a pun on "bile." An excess of black bile, one of the four essential humours (fluids) of the body, was thought to be the cause of melancholy.]

  4   Wouldst thou not be glad to have the niggardly
  5   rascally sheep-biter come by some notable
5. sheep-biter: (Literally, a dog that attacks sheep; metaphorically, a mean person who nips at the heels of the innocent.)

  6   shame?

  7   I would exult, man: you know, he brought me out
  8   o' favour with my lady about a bear-baiting here.
8. bear-baiting: (A brutal entertainment in which a chained bear is attacked by dogs.)

  9   To anger him we'll have the bear again; and we
9. have . . . again: bring back.

 10   will fool him black and blue: shall we not,
10. fool: mock, make a fool of. black and blue: i.e., like a person who has suffered a beating.

 11   Sir Andrew?

 12   An we do not, it is pity of our lives.
12. it is pity of our lives: i.e., it'll be a crying shame.

           Enter MARIA.

 13   Here comes the little villain.
13. villain: (Said admiringly.)

 14   How now, my metal of India!
14. metal of India: i.e., gold (Maria is as good as gold.)

 15   Get ye all three into the box-tree: Malvolio's
15. box-tree: (Maybe a hedge; the shrubs known as "box" are still used for hedges.)

 16   coming down this walk: he has been yonder
 17   i' the sun practising behavior to his own shadow
17. behavior: exquiste manners, such as bowing and hand-kissing .

 18   this half hour: observe him, for the love of mockery;
 19   for I know this letter will make a contemplative
19. contemplative: thoughtful.

 20   idiot of him. Close, in the name of jesting!
20. Close: Keep hidden.

 21   Lie thou there, [Throws down a letter.] for here
21. Lie thou there: Said to the letter that Maria is throwing to the ground.

 22   comes the trout that must be caught with tickling.
22. tickling: Literally, stroking about the gills—something that was actually done to catch trout.

           [The men hide.]
           Exit [Maria].

           Enter MALVOLIO.

 23   'Tis but fortune; all is fortune. Maria once told
23. 'Tis . . . fortune: Wheel of Fortune It is all a matter of luck. 24. she: i.e.,Olivia. did affect me: was fond of me.

 24   me she did affect me: and I have heard herself
 25   come thus near, that, should she fancy, it should
 26   be one of my complexion. Besides, she uses me
 27   with a more exalted respect than any one else
 28   that follows her. What should I think on't?
28. follows her: serves her.

 29   Here's an overweening rogue!
29. overweening: arrogant, presumptuous.

 30   O, peace! Contemplation makes a rare
30. Contemplation: thought, conjecture, day-dreaming.

 31   turkey-cock of him: how he jets under his
31. jets: struts.

 32   advanced plumes!
32. advanced plumes: feathers fluffed out (to make the turkey look more impressive).

 33   'Slight, I could so beat the rogue!
33. 'Slight: By God's light—a mild oath.

 34   Peace, I say.
34. Peace: Shut up. (Said to Sir Andrew.)

 35   To be Count Malvolio!

 36   Ah, rogue!

 37   Pistol him, pistol him.
37. Pistol him: Pistol-whip him.

 38   Peace, peace!

 39   There is example for't; the lady of the Strachy
 40   married the yeoman of the wardrobe.
Malvolio in yellow stockings39. example: precedent. for't: for it (i.e., for a lady marrying a servant). 39-40. the lady of the Strachy / married the yeoman of the wardrobe: yeoman of the wardrobe: a servant who supervised the care of clothing and linen. 41. Jezebel: arrogant and cruel wife of Ahab, King of Israel. (But does Sir Andrew know that Jezebel was a woman?)

 41   Fie on him, Jezebel!

 42   O, peace! now he's deeply in: look how
 43   imagination blows him.
43. blows him: puffs him up.

 44   Having been three months married to her,
 45   sitting in my state, —
45. sitting in my state: i.e., on the court chair of, and dressed in the robes of, a Count (since Olivia is a Countess).

 46   O, for a stone-bow, to hit him in the eye!
46. stone-bow: crossbow used to shoot stones.

 47   Calling my officers about me, in my branched
47. officers: household staff. branched: embroidered with branches of leaves and flowers. 48. day-bed: couch. (Malvolio may be thinking that his love will have left Olivia very satisfied.)

 48   velvet gown; having come from a day-bed, where
 49   I have left Olivia sleeping, —

 50   Fire and brimstone!

 51   O, peace, peace!

 52   And then to have the humour of state; and
52. the humour of state: the manner of the powerful.

 53   after a demure travel of regard — telling
53. demure travel of regard: grave visual examination of all present. telling . . . place: (It is his "demure travel of regard" that tells everyone that Malvolio has the "place" of a Count.)

 54   them I know my place as I would they should
 55   do theirs — to ask for my kinsman Toby, —

 56   Bolts and shackles!
56. Bolts and shackles: leg irons (Sir Toby thinks Malvolio ought to be locked up.)

 57   O peace, peace, peace! now, now.

 58   Seven of my people, with an obedient start,
58. start: jump (as in "jump to it").

 59   make out for him: I frown the while; and
59. make out for: go after.

 60   perchance wind up my watch, or play with my
 61   — some rich jewel. Toby approaches; curtsies
61. play with my . . . jewel: (Malvolio was thinking of his steward's chain, but remembers that he'll be a Count.) curtsies: bows, and other signs of respect.

 62   there to me, —

 63   Shall this fellow live?

 64   Though our silence be drawn from us with cars,
64. be drawn . . . with cars: i.e., kept only with a great struggle .

 65   yet peace.

 66   I extend my hand to him thus, quenching my
 67   familiar smile with an austere regard of control, —
67. austere regard of control: severe look of authority.

 68   And does not Toby take you a blow o' the lips then?
68. take you a blow o': give you a punch on.

 69   Saying, 'Cousin Toby, my fortunes having cast me
 70   on your niece give me this prerogative of speech,' —
70. give me this prerogative of speech: i.e., you must acknowledge my right to give you a talking-to.

 71   What, what?
71. What, what?: i.e., What even more outrageous thing is he going to say next?.

 72   'You must amend your drunkenness.'

 73   Out, scab!
73. Out: Begone, Get out of my sight. scab: scurvy rascal.

 74   Nay, patience, or we break the sinews of our
 75   plot.

 76   'Besides, you waste the treasure of your time
 77   with a foolish knight,' —

 78   That's me, I warrant you.
78. warrant: promise.

 79   'One Sir Andrew,' —

 80   I knew 'twas I; for many do call me fool.

 81   What employment have we here?
81. employment: business.

           Taking up the letter.

 82   Now is the woodcock near the gin.
Chris Vettel as Malvolio (Right) with Justin Munoz as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Sean Patrick Nill as Fabian, & Don Hayden as Sir Toby Belch, STC 201682. woodcock: a really stupid bird. gin: trap.

 83   O, peace! and the spirit of humour intimate
 84   reading aloud to him!

 85   By my life, this is my lady's hand these be
 86   her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus
86. thus: Malvolio demonstrates—he may hold out his hand to be kissed, rather than shaken. 87. great: upper-case.

 87   makes she her great P's. It is, in contempt
 88   of question, her hand.
88. in contempt of question: without a doubt. hand: handwriting.

 89   Her C's, her U's and her T's: why that?
89. Her C's, her U's and her T's: ("Cut" was slang for female privates.)

      MALVOLIO [Reads]
 90   'To the unknown beloved, this, and my
90. unknown beloved: secret love.

 91   good wishes:' — her very phrases! By
 92   your leave, wax. Soft! and the impressure
91-92. By your leave: With your permission (He's talking to the letter as he opens it.) 92. Soft: wait a minute. impressure: impression in the wax seal. 93. Lucrece: Lucretia, emblem of chastity.

 93   her Lucrece, with which she uses to seal:
 94   'tis my lady. To whom should this be?

 95   This wins him, liver and all.
95. wins him: gets him. liver: The organ of love.

      MALVOLIO [Reads]
 96         'Jove knows I love:
 97            But who?
 98         Lips, do not move;
 99         No man must know.'
100   'No man must know.' What follows? The
101   numbers altered! 'No man must know:'
101. numbers altered: meter changed. Maybe Malvolio is thinking that, if said just right, No man must know, sounds like Mal-vol-i-o.

102   if this should be thee, Malvolio?

103   Marry, hang thee, brock!
103. brock: badger, a stinking beast.

      MALVOLIO [Reads]
104      'I may command where I adore;
104. where: i.e., the person whom.

105        But silence, like a Lucrece knife,
105. Lucrece knife: (After being raped by Tarquin, Lucretia stabbed herself to death.)

106      With bloodless stroke my heart doth gore:
107        M, O, A, I, doth sway my life.'

108   A fustian riddle!
108. fustian: high-sounding, but empty—so perfect for Malvolio.

109   Excellent wench, say I.
109. Excellent wench: i.e., Maria, who wrote the letter.

110   'M, O, A, I, doth sway my life.' Nay, but first,
111   let me see, let me see, let me see.

112   What dish o' poison has she dressed him!
112. What: What a. she dressed him: she has prepared for him.

113   And with what wing the staniel cheques at it!
113. wing: flight, speed. staniel: an inferior hawk.cheques at it: goes for it. (When a hawk cheques, it turns and goes after the wrong target.)

114   'I may command where I adore.' Why, she
115   may command me: I serve her; she is my lady.
116   Why, this is evident to any formal capacity;
116. formal capacity: normal understanding.

117   there is no obstruction in this: and the end,
117. obstruction: difficulty, obstacle.

118   — what should that alphabetical position
118. alphabetical position: arrangement of the letters.

119   portend? If I could make that resemble
120   something in me, — Softly! M, O, A, I, —
120. Softly!: Slowly! Carefully!.

121   O, ay, make up that: he is now at a cold scent.
121. O, ay: (Toby is mocking Malvolio's reading.) make up that: make something out of that. cold scent: faint, deceptive trail.

122   Sowter will cry upon't for all this, though
122. Sowter: (Typical name of a stupid hunting dog.)

123   it be as rank as a fox.
123. will . . . fox: despite the fact that the trail is cold, he will give tongue as though he had found the true scent, even though the deception stinks like a fox.

124   M, — Malvolio; M, — why, that begins my
125   name.

126   Did not I say he would work it out? the cur is
127   excellent at faults.
127. faults: places where the trail of scent is broken. (Fabian means that Malvolio will read the letter to suit himself, no matter what.)

128   M, — but then there is no consonancy in the
128. consonancy: agreement, consistency.

129   sequel; that suffers under probation A should
129. sequel; that suffers under probation: following letters which are subject to examination. (What's funny about this speech is that Malvolio uses many high-flown, legalistic words to say the obvious.)

130   follow but O does.

131   And O shall end, I hope.
131. O shall end: i.e., O, the hangman's noose, will put an end to him, and/or this joke will end in a cry of pain "O," when Malvolio discovers the truth.

132   Ay, or I'll cudgel him, and make him cry O!

133   And then I comes behind.

134   Ay, an you had any eye behind you, you might
134. an: if. any eye behind you: i.e., an eye in the back of your head. 135. detraction: insults, mockery. fortunes: good luck, rewards. before you: in front of you.

135   see more detraction at your heels than fortunes
136   before you.

137   M, O, A, I; this simulation is not as the former:
137. simulation: disguised meaning.

138   and yet, to crush this a little, it would bow to me,
138. crush: force. bow: yield.

139   for every one of these letters are in my name.
140    Soft! here follows prose.
140. Soft: hold on, wait a minute, etc.


141     'If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars
141. revolve: think things over. stars: fortune.

142     I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness:
143     some are born great, some achieve greatness,
144     and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. Thy
145     Fates open their hands; let thy blood and spirit
145. open their hands: (They're in a giving mood.) thy blood and spirit: i.e., every fiber of your being.

146     embrace them; and, to inure thyself to what
147     thou art like to be, cast thy humble slough and
147. cast thy humble slough Literally, a "slough" is the discarded skin of a snake. 148. opposite: contrary.

148     appear fresh. Be opposite with a kinsman, surly
149     with servants; let thy tongue tang arguments of
149. tang: sound loud with. 149-150. arguments of state: political opinions. 150. trick: habit. singularity: uniqueness, eccentricity.

150     state; put thyself into the trick of singularity:
151     she thus advises thee that sighs for thee.
152     Remember who commended thy yellow stockings,
153     and wished to see thee ever cross-gartered: I say,
153. ever: always. cross-gartered:David Pichette as Malvolio 154. Go to: i.e., wake up. thou art made: i.e., you are assured of being a gentleman. 155. still: always. 156. fellow: companion.

154     remember. Go to, thou art made, if thou desirest
155     to be so; if not, let me see thee a steward still,
156     the fellow of servants, andnot worthy to touch
157     Fortune's fingers. Farewell.
158        She that would alter services with thee,
158. alter services: (Malvolio now serves Olivia; if they married, she would serve him.)


160   Daylight and champaign discovers not more: this
160. champaign: open country. discovers: reveals.

161   is open. I will be proud, I will read politic authors,
161. open: obvious. politic authors:

162   I will baffle Sir Toby, I will wash off gross
162. baffle: put down. wash off: get rid of. gross: lowly,ignorant.

163   acquaintance, I will be point-devise the very man.
163. point-devise the very man: exactly the man, to the letter. 164. jade: trick.

164   I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade
165   me; for every reason excites to this, that my lady
165. every reason excites to: all the evidence points to.

166   loves me. She did commend my yellow stockings
167   of late, she did praise my leg being cross-gartered;
168   and in this she manifests herself to my love, and
169   with a kind of injunction drives me to these habits
170   of her liking. I thank my stars I am happy. I will
170. happy: fortunate.

171   be strange, stout, in yellow stockings, and
171. strange: aloof. stout: haughty.

172   cross-gartered, even with the swiftness of putting
173   on. Jove and my stars be praised! Here is yet a
174   postscript.


175     'Thou canst not choose but know who I am. If thou
176     entertainest my love, let it appear in thy smiling;
176. entertainest: accept.

177     thy smiles become thee well; therefore in my
178     presence still smile, dear my sweet, I prithee.'

179   Jove, I thank thee: I will smile; I will do
180   everything that thou wilt have me.


181   I will not give my part of this sport for a
182   pension of thousands to be paid from the Sophy.
182. the Sophy: the Shah of Persia.

183   I could marry this wench for this device.
183. this wench: i.e., Maria.

184   So could I too.

185   And ask no other dowry with her but such another jest.

186   Nor I neither.

187   Here comes my noble gull-catcher.
187. gull-catcher: tricker of suckers.

           Enter MARIA.

188   Wilt thou set thy foot o' my neck?
188. o': on. Toby is saying, "You're the boss!"

189   Or o' mine either?

190   Shall I play my freedom at tray-trip, and become
190. play: gamble. tray-trip: a dice game.

191   thy bond-slave?

192   I' faith, or I either?

193   Why, thou hast put him in such a dream, that
194   when the image of it leaves him he must run mad.
194. when the image of it leaves him: i.e., when Malvolio learns the truth.= . . . 

195   Nay, but say true; does it work upon him?

196   Like aqua-vitae with a midwife.
196. aqua-vitae: brandy, whisky, etc. midwife: (Apparently it didn't take much to make a midwife drunk.)

197   If you will then see the fruits of the sport, mark
198   his first approach before my lady: he will come to
199   her in yellow stockings, and 'tis a colour she
200   abhors, and cross-gartered, a fashion she detests;
201   and he will smile upon her, which will now be so
202   unsuitable to her disposition, being addicted to a
203   melancholy as she is, that it cannot but turn him
204   into a notable contempt. If you will see it, follow
204. notable contempt: common object of scorn.

205   me.

206   To the gates of Tartar, thou most excellent devil of wit!
206. Tartar: Tartarus, hell.

207   I'll make one too.
207. make one: be one of the group (of those who will see Malvolio make a fool of himself).