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Mar. Make that good.
Mar. A good lenten answer'. I can tell thee where that saying was born, of, I fear no colours.
Clo. Where, good mistress Mary?
Mar. In the wars; and that may you be bold to say in your foolery.
Clo. Well, God give them wisdom, that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.
Mar. 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?
Clo. Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and for turning away, let summer bear it out.
Mar. You are resolute, then?
Clo. Not so neither; but I am resolved on two points.
Mar. That, if one break, the other will hold; or, if both break, your gaskins fall'.
Clo. 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.
Mar. Peace, you rogue, no more o' that. Here comes my lady: make your excuse wisely; you were best.
[Exit. Enter OLIVIA, and MALVOLIO. Clo. 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.—God bless thee, lady!
easy to be explained. It seems to be used in a double sense, but somewhat connected, with reference to complexion and deception. Maria afterwards alludes to the colours used in war.
9 A good LENTEN answer.) i. e. as Steevens explains it, a short, spare answer, in allusion to the diet in Lent. The word “ lenten ” is often used in a figurative sense ; but when in “ Hamlet " we meet with the words “ what lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you,” the speaker adverts to the obstructions the actors in London met with during Lent, when restrictions were put upon their performances. Such, however, does not seem have been Steevens's notion of the passage. John Taylor, the water-poet, in his “ Praise of Clean Linen," mentions“
a lenten top,” which people whipped by way of amusement during Lent.
or, if both break, your Gaskins fall.] Gaskins were large breeches or hose. Maria puns upon the word “ points,” which were the tags at the ends of strings, used to fasten or sustain the dress before the general introduction of buttons. See this Vol. p. 130.
Oli. Take the fool away.
Clo. Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.
Oli. Go to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of you : besides, you grow dishonest.
Clo. 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
Oli. Sir, I bade them take away you.
Clo. Misprision in the highest degree!—Lady, cucullus non facit monachum : that's as much as to say, I wear? not motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.
Oli. Can you do it?
Clo. I must catechize you for it, madonna. Good my mouse of virtue, answer me.
that's as much as to say, I wear, &c.] In the old copies it stands, “that's as much to say, as I wear,” &c., “as” having been misplaced.
z 2 z 2
Oli. Well, sir, for want of other idleness I'll 'bide your proof.
Clo. Good madonna, why mourn’st thou?
Clo. The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven.—Take away the fool, gentlemen.
Oli. What think you of this fool, Malvolio ? doth he not mend ?
Mal. Yes; and shall do, till the pangs of death shake him : infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the better fool.
Clo. 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.
Oli. How say you to that, Malvolio?
Mal. 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'.
Oli. O! 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 birdbolts, 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.
– no better than the fools' zanies.] We have had “, zany ” before, in “ Love's Labour's Lost,” Vol. ii. p. 367. Douce says, that“ fools' zanies " in the text means “fools' baubles, which had upon the top of them the head of a fool.”
Clo. Now, Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou speakest well of fools?!
Re-enter Maria. Mar. Madam, there is at the gate a young gentleman much desires to speak with you.
Oli. From the count Orsino, is it?
Mar. I know not, madam : 'tis a fair young man, and well attended.
Oli. Who of my people hold him in delay?
Oli. Fetch him off, I pray you : he speaks nothing but madman. Fie on him! [Exit MARIA.] Go you, Malvolio : if it be a suit from the count, I am sick, or not at home; what you will, to dismiss it. [Exit Malvolio.] Now you see, sir, how your fooling grows old, and people dislike it.
Clo. 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. Oli. By mine honour, half drunk.—What is he at the gate, cousin ?
Sir To. A gentleman.
Sir To. 'Tis a gentleman here.—A plague o' these pickle-herrings !-How now, sot?
Clo. Good sir Toby,–
Oli. Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy?
3 Now, Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou speakest well of fools !] The sense is not very clear. Johnson says that it is, “ May Mercury teach thee to lie, since thou liest in favour of fools.” Warburton would read pleasing; and Hanmer substitutes learning ; but the old copies are correct, and Johnson's interpretation seems to be the true one. The clown means to say, that unless Olivia lied she could not “ speak well of fools ;" consequently, he prays Mercury to endue her with “ leasing," or lying.
Sir To. Lechery! I defy lechery. There's one at
Oli. Ay, marry; what is he?
Sir To. Let him be the devil, an he will, I care not: give me faith, say I. Well, it's all one. [Exit.
Oli. What's a drunken man like, fool ?
Clo. Like a drown'd man, a fool, and a madman: one draught above heat* makes him a fool, the second mads him, and a third drowns him.
Oli. Go thou and seek the coroner, and let him sit o' my coz, for he's in the third degree of drink; he's drown'd: go, look after him.
Clo. He is but mad yet, madonna; and the fool shall look to the madman.
[Exit Clown. Re-enter MALVOLIO. Mal. 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 fore-knowledge of that too, and therefore comes to speak with you. What is to be said to him, lady? he's fortified against any denial.
Oli. Tell him, he shall not speak with me.
Mal. He 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.
Oli. What kind of man is be?
Mal. Of very ill manner : he'll speak with you, will you, or no.
Oli. Of what personage, and years is he? - one draught ABOVE HEAT-
---) i.e. Above the proper degree of warmth, as Steevens explains it.
like a sheriff's Post,] The posts at the doors of sheriffs, on which originally proclamations and placards were exhibited, are very often mentioned in writers of the time. Modern editions, without warrant, read supporter of a bench,” just afterwards.