Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare

Act IV

Scene I. Before Olivia’s house.

Enter Sebastian and Clown

Clown Will you make me believe that I am not sent for you?

Sebastian Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow:
Let me be clear of thee.

Clown Well held out, i’ faith! No, I do not know you; nor I am not sent to you by my lady, to bid you come speak with her; nor your name is not Master Cesario; nor this is not my nose neither. Nothing that is so is so.

Sebastian I prithee, vent thy folly somewhere else: Thou know’st not me.

Clown Vent my folly! he has heard that word of some great man and now applies it to a fool. Vent my folly! I am afraid this great lubber, the world, will prove a cockney. I prithee now, ungird thy strangeness and tell me what I shall vent to my lady: shall I vent to her that thou art coming?

Sebastian I prithee, foolish Greek, depart from me: There’s money for thee: if you tarry longer, I shall give worse payment.

Clown By my troth, thou hast an open hand. These wise men that give fools money get themselves a good report — after fourteen years’ purchase.

Enter Sir Andrew, Sir Toby Belch, and Fabian

Sir Andrew Now, sir, have I met you again? there’s for you.

Sebastian Why, there’s for thee, and there, and there. Are all the people mad?

Sir Toby Belch Hold, sir, or I’ll throw your dagger o’er the house.

Clown This will I tell my lady straight: I would not be in some of your coats for two pence.


Sir Toby Belch Come on, sir; hold.

Sir Andrew Nay, let him alone: I’ll go another way to work with him; I’ll have an action of battery against him, if there be any law in Illyria: though I struck him first, yet it’s no matter for that.

Sebastian Let go thy hand.

Sir Toby Belch Come, sir, I will not let you go. Come, my young soldier, put up your iron: you are well fleshed; come on.

Sebastian I will be free from thee. What wouldst thou now? If thou darest tempt me further, draw thy sword.

Sir Toby Belch What, what? Nay, then I must have an ounce or two of this malapert blood from you.

Enter Olivia

Olivia Hold, Toby; on thy life I charge thee, hold!

Sir Toby Belch Madam!

Olivia Will it be ever thus? Ungracious wretch,
Fit for the mountains and the barbarous caves,
Where manners ne’er were preach’d! out of my sight!
Be not offended, dear Cesario.
Rudesby, be gone!

Exeunt Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew, and Fabian

I prithee, gentle friend,
Let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion, sway
In this uncivil and thou unjust extent
Against thy peace. Go with me to my house,
And hear thou there how many fruitless pranks
This ruffian hath botch’d up, that thou thereby
Mayst smile at this: thou shalt not choose but go:
Do not deny. Beshrew his soul for me,
He started one poor heart of mine in thee.

Sebastian What relish is in this? how runs the stream?
Or I am mad, or else this is a dream:
Let fancy still my sense in Lethe steep;
If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!

Olivia Nay, come, I prithee; would thou’ldst be ruled by me!

Sebastian Madam, I will.

Olivia   O, say so, and so be!


Scene II. Olivia’s house.

Enter Maria and Clown

Maria Nay, I prithee, put on this gown and this beard; make him believe thou art Sir Topas the curate: do it quickly; I’ll call Sir Toby the whilst.


Clown Well, I’ll put it on, and I will dissemble myself in’t; and I would I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown. I am not tall enough to become the function well, nor lean enough to be thought a good student; but to be said an honest man and a good housekeeper goes as fairly as to say a careful man and a great scholar. The competitors enter.

Enter Sir Toby Belch and Maria

Sir Toby Belch Jove bless thee, master Parson.

Clown Bonos dies, Sir Toby: for, as the old hermit of Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very wittily said to a niece of King Gorboduc, ‘That that is is;’ so I, being Master Parson, am Master Parson; for, what is ‘that’ but ‘that,’ and ‘is’ but ‘is’?

Sir Toby Belch To him, Sir Topas.

Clown What, ho, I say! peace in this prison!

Sir Toby Belch The knave counterfeits well; a good knave.

Malvolio [Within] Who calls there?

Clown Sir Topas the curate, who comes to visit Malvolio the lunatic.

Malvolio Sir Topas, Sir Topas, good Sir Topas, go to my lady.

Clown Out, hyperbolical fiend! how vexest thou this man! talkest thou nothing but of ladies?

Sir Toby Belch Well said, Master Parson.

Malvolio Sir Topas, never was man thus wronged: good Sir Topas, do not think I am mad: they have laid me here in hideous darkness.

Clown Fie, thou dishonest Satan! I call thee by the most modest terms; for I am one of those gentle ones that will use the devil himself with courtesy: sayest thou that house is dark?

Malvolio As hell, Sir Topas.

Clown Why it hath bay windows transparent as barricadoes, and the clearstores toward the south north are as lustrous as ebony; and yet complainest thou of obstruction?

Malvolio I am not mad, Sir Topas: I say to you, this house is dark.

Clown Madman, thou errest: I say, there is no darkness but ignorance; in which thou art more puzzled than the Egyptians in their fog.

Malvolio I say, this house is as dark as ignorance, though ignorance were as dark as hell; and I say, there was never man thus abused. I am no more mad than you are: make the trial of it in any constant question.

Clown What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild fowl?

Malvolio That the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit a bird.

Clown What thinkest thou of his opinion?

Malvolio I think nobly of the soul, and no way approve his opinion.

Clown Fare thee well. Remain thou still in darkness: thou shalt hold the opinion of Pythagoras ere I will allow of thy wits, and fear to kill a woodcock, lest thou dispossess the soul of thy grandam. Fare thee well.

Malvolio Sir Topas, Sir Topas!

Sir Toby Belch My most exquisite Sir Topas!

Clown Nay, I am for all waters.

Maria Thou mightst have done this without thy beard and gown: he sees thee not.

Sir Toby Belch To him in thine own voice, and bring me word how thou findest him: I would we were well rid of this knavery. If he may be conveniently delivered, I would he were, for I am now so far in offence with my niece that I cannot pursue with any safety this sport to the upshot. Come by and by to my chamber.

Exeunt Sir Toby Belch and Maria

Clown [Singing]
‘Hey, Robin, jolly Robin,
Tell me how thy lady does.’

Malvolio Fool!

Clown ‘My lady is unkind, perdy.’

Malvolio Fool!

Clown ‘Alas, why is she so?’

Malvolio Fool, I say!

Clown ‘She loves another’— Who calls, ha?

Malvolio Good fool, as ever thou wilt deserve well at my hand, help me to a candle, and pen, ink and paper: as I am a gentleman, I will live to be thankful to thee for’t.

Clown Master Malvolio?

Malvolio Ay, good fool.

Clown Alas, sir, how fell you besides your five wits?

Malvolio Fool, there was never a man so notoriously abused: I am as well in my wits, fool, as thou art.

Clown But as well? then you are mad indeed, if you be no better in your wits than a fool.

Malvolio They have here propertied me; keep me in darkness, send ministers to me, asses, and do all they can to face me out of my wits.

Clown Advise you what you say; the minister is here. Malvolio, Malvolio, thy wits the heavens restore! endeavour thyself to sleep, and leave thy vain bibble babble.

Malvolio Sir Topas!

Clown Maintain no words with him, good fellow. Who, I, sir? not I, sir. God be wi’ you, good Sir Topas. Merry, amen. I will, sir, I will.

Malvolio Fool, fool, fool, I say!

Clown Alas, sir, be patient. What say you sir? I am shent for speaking to you.

Malvolio Good fool, help me to some light and some paper: I tell thee, I am as well in my wits as any man in Illyria.

Clown Well-a-day that you were, sir

Malvolio By this hand, I am. Good fool, some ink, paper and light; and convey what I will set down to my lady: it shall advantage thee more than ever the bearing of letter did.

Clown I will help you to’t. But tell me true, are you not mad indeed? or do you but counterfeit?

Malvolio Believe me, I am not; I tell thee true.

Clown Nay, I’ll ne’er believe a madman till I see his brains. I will fetch you light and paper and ink.

Malvolio Fool, I’ll requite it in the highest degree: I prithee, be gone.

Clown [Singing]
I am gone, sir,
And anon, sir,
I’ll be with you again,
In a trice,
Like to the old Vice,
Your need to sustain;
Who, with dagger of lath,
In his rage and his wrath,
Cries, ah, ha! to the devil:
Like a mad lad,
Pare thy nails, dad;
Adieu, good man devil.


Scene III. Olivia’s garden.

Enter Sebastian

Sebastian This is the air; that is the glorious sun;
This pearl she gave me, I do feel’t and see’t;
And though ’tis wonder that enwraps me thus,
Yet ’tis not madness. Where’s Antonio, then?
I could not find him at the Elephant:
Yet there he was; and there I found this credit,
That he did range the town to seek me out.
His counsel now might do me golden service;
For though my soul disputes well with my sense,
That this may be some error, but no madness,
Yet doth this accident and flood of fortune
So far exceed all instance, all discourse,
That I am ready to distrust mine eyes
And wrangle with my reason that persuades me
To any other trust but that I am mad
Or else the lady’s mad; yet, if ’twere so,
She could not sway her house, command her followers,
Take and give back affairs and their dispatch
With such a smooth, discreet and stable bearing
As I perceive she does: there’s something in’t
That is deceiveable. But here the lady comes.

Enter Olivia and Priest

Olivia Blame not this haste of mine. If you mean well,
Now go with me and with this holy man
Into the chantry by: there, before him,
And underneath that consecrated roof,
Plight me the full assurance of your faith;
That my most jealous and too doubtful soul
May live at peace. He shall conceal it
Whiles you are willing it shall come to note,
What time we will our celebration keep
According to my birth. What do you say?

Sebastian I’ll follow this good man, and go with you;
And, having sworn truth, ever will be true.

Olivia Then lead the way, good father; and heavens so shine,
That they may fairly note this act of mine!


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59