Document: All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Twelfth Night > Act I, scene V
Jump to: the first appearance of Well,_God_give_them_wisdom_that_have_it
[Enter MARIA and Clown]
MARIA: 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.
Clown: Let her hang me: he that is well hanged in this
world needs to fear no colours.
MARIA: Make that good.
Clown: He shall see none to fear.
MARIA: A good lenten answer: I can tell thee where that
saying was born, of 'I fear no colours.'
Clown: Where, good Mistress Mary?
MARIA: In the wars; and that may you be bold to say in your foolery.
Clown: Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those
that are fools, let them use their talents.
MARIA: 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?
Clown: Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and,
for turning away, let summer bear it out.
MARIA: You are resolute, then?
Clown: Not so, neither; but I am resolved on two points.
MARIA: That if one break, the other will hold; or, if both
break, your gaskins fall.
Clown: 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.
MARIA: Peace, you rogue, no more o' that. Here comes my
lady: make your excuse wisely, you were best.
Clown: 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.'
[Enter OLIVIA with MALVOLIO]
God bless thee, lady!
OLIVIA: Take the fool away.
Clown: Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.
OLIVIA: Go to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of you:
besides, you grow dishonest.
Clown: Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel
will amend: for give the dry fool drink, then is
the fool not dry: bid the dishonest 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; therefore, I say again, take her away.
OLIVIA: Sir, I bade them take away you.
Clown: 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.
OLIVIA: Can you do it?
Clown: Dexterously, good madonna.
OLIVIA: Make your proof.
Clown: I must catechise you for it, madonna: good my mouse
of virtue, answer me.
OLIVIA: Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I'll bide your proof.
Clown: Good madonna, why mournest thou?
OLIVIA: Good fool, for my brother's death.
Clown: I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
OLIVIA: I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
Clown: The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's
soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.
OLIVIA: What think you of this fool, Malvolio? doth he not mend?
MALVOLIO: Yes, and shall do till the pangs of death shake him:
infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the
Clown: 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.
OLIVIA: How say you to that, Malvolio?
MALVOLIO: 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.
OLIVIA: Oh, 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 allowed fool, though he do
nothing but rail; nor no railing in a known discreet
man, though he do nothing but reprove.
Clown: Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou
speakest well of fools!
MARIA: Madam, there is at the gate a young gentleman much
desires to speak with you.
OLIVIA: From the Count Orsino, is it?
MARIA: I know not, madam: 'tis a fair young man, and well attended.
OLIVIA: Who of my people hold him in delay?
MARIA: Sir Toby, madam, your kinsman.
OLIVIA: Fetch him off, I pray you; he speaks nothing but
madman: fie on him!
Go you, Malvolio: if it be a suit from the count, I
am sick, or not at home; what you will, to dismiss it.
Now you see, sir, how your fooling grows old, and
people dislike it.
Clown: Thou hast spoke for us, madonna, as if thy eldest
son should be a fool; whose skull Jove cram with
brains! for,--here he comes,--one of thy kin has a
most weak pia mater.
[Enter SIR TOBY BELCH]
OLIVIA: By mine honour, half drunk. What is he at the gate, cousin?
SIR TOBY BELCH: A gentleman.
OLIVIA: A gentleman! what gentleman?
SIR TOBY BELCH: 'Tis a gentle man here--a plague o' these
pickle-herring! How now, sot!
Clown: Good Sir Toby!
OLIVIA: Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy?
SIR TOBY BELCH: Lechery! I defy lechery. There's one at the gate.
OLIVIA: Ay, marry, what is he?
SIR TOBY BELCH: Let him be the devil, an he will, I care not: give
me faith, say I. Well, it's all one.
OLIVIA: What's a drunken man like, fool?
Clown: 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 him.
OLIVIA: 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.
Clown: He is but mad yet, madonna; and the fool shall look
to the madman.
MALVOLIO: 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 therefore 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.
OLIVIA: Tell him he shall not speak with me.
MALVOLIO: Has 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 you.
OLIVIA: What kind o' man is he?
MALVOLIO: Why, of mankind.
OLIVIA: What manner of man?
MALVOLIO: Of very ill manner; he'll speak with you, will you or no.
OLIVIA: Of what personage and years is he?
MALVOLIO: Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for
a boy; as a squash is before 'tis a peascod, or a
cooling 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.
OLIVIA: Let him approach: call in my gentlewoman.
MALVOLIO: Gentlewoman, my lady calls.
OLIVIA: Give me my veil: come, throw it o'er my face.
We'll once more hear Orsino's embassy.
[Enter VIOLA, and Attendants]
VIOLA: The honourable lady of the house, which is she?
OLIVIA: Speak to me; I shall answer for her.
VIOLA: Most radiant, exquisite and unmatchable 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.
OLIVIA: Whence came you, sir?
VIOLA: 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.
OLIVIA: Are you a comedian?
VIOLA: 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?
OLIVIA: If I do not usurp myself, I am.
VIOLA: 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 commission: I will
on with my speech in your praise, and then show you
the heart of my message.
OLIVIA: Come to what is important in't: I forgive you the praise.
VIOLA: Alas, I took great pains to study it, and 'tis poetical.
OLIVIA: 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 approach 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.
MARIA: Will you hoist sail, sir? here lies your way.
VIOLA: No, good swabber; I am to hull here a little
longer. Some mollification for your giant, sweet
lady. Tell me your mind: I am a messenger.
OLIVIA: Sure, you have some hideous matter to deliver, when
the courtesy of it is so fearful. Speak your office.
VIOLA: 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 fun of peace as matter.
OLIVIA: Yet you began rudely. What are you? what would you?
VIOLA: The rudeness that hath appeared in me have I
learned from my entertainment. What I am, and what I
would, are as secret as maidenhead; to your ears,
divinity, to any other's, profanation.
OLIVIA: Give us the place alone: we will hear this divinity.
[Exeunt MARIA and Attendants]
Now, sir, what is your text?
VIOLA: Most sweet lady,--
OLIVIA: A comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it.
Where lies your text?
VIOLA: In Orsino's bosom.
OLIVIA: In his bosom! In what chapter of his bosom?
VIOLA: To answer by the method, in the first of his heart.
OLIVIA: O, I have read it: it is heresy. Have you no more to say?
VIOLA: Good madam, let me see your face.
OLIVIA: Have you any commission from your lord to negotiate
with my face? You are now out of your text: but
we will draw the curtain and show you the picture.
Look you, sir, such a one I was this present: is't
not well done?
VIOLA: Excellently done, if God did all.
OLIVIA: 'Tis in grain, sir; 'twill endure wind and weather.
VIOLA: 'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white
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.
OLIVIA: 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?
VIOLA: I see you what you are, you are too proud;
But, if you were the devil, you are fair.
My lord and master loves you: O, such love
Could be but recompensed, though you were crown'd
The nonpareil of beauty!
OLIVIA: How does he love me?
VIOLA: With adorations, fertile tears,
With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.
OLIVIA: 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 divulged, 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.
VIOLA: 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.
OLIVIA: Why, what would you?
VIOLA: 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;
Halloo 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!
OLIVIA: You might do much.
What is your parentage?
VIOLA: Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.
OLIVIA: 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.
VIOLA: I am no fee'd post, lady; keep your purse:
My master, not myself, lacks recompense.
Love make his heart of flint that you shall love;
And let your fervor, like my master's, be
Placed in contempt! Farewell, fair cruelty.
OLIVIA: '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 spirit,
Do give thee five-fold blazon: not too fast:
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!
MALVOLIO: Here, madam, at your service.
OLIVIA: 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 am not for him:
If that the youth will come this way to-morrow,
I'll give him reasons for't: hie thee, Malvolio.
MALVOLIO: Madam, I will.
OLIVIA: 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.