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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 8.
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 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.
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.
8 – no better than the Fools' zanies.] i. e. fools' baubles, which had upon the top of them the head of a fool. Douce.
9 Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou speakest well of fools !] This is a stupid blunder. We should read, “ with pleasing," i. e. with eloquence, make thee a gracious and powerful speaker, for Mercury was the god of orators as well as cheats. But the first editors, who did not understand the phrase, “endue thee with pleasing," made this foolish correction ; more excusable, however, than the last editor's, who, when this emendation was pointed out to him, would make one of his own; and so, in his Oxford edition, reads, “with learning ;” without troubling himself to satisfy the reader how the first editor should blunder in a word so easy to be understood as learning, though they well might in the word pleasing, as it is used in this place. WARBURTON.
I think the present reading more humorous : “ May Mercury teach thee to lie, since thou liest in favour of fools !" Johnson.
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: Fye on him! (Erit 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 2-A plague o' these pickle-herrings !-How now, sot ?
1- a most weak PIA MATER.] The pia mater is the membrane that immediately covers the substance of the brain. So, in Philemon Holland's Translation of Pliny's Natural History, book xxiv. chap. 8: “— the fine pellicle called pia mater, which lappeth and enfoldeth the braine.” Edit. 1601, p. 185. STEEVENS.
2 'Tis a gentleman HERE —] He had before said it was a gentleman. He was asked, what gentleman? and he makes this reply; which, it is plain, is corrupt, and should be read thus :
"'Tis a gentleman-heir." i. e, some lady's eldest son just come out of the nursery ; for this was the appearance Viola made in men's clothes. See the character Malvolio draws of him presently after. WARBURTON.
Can any thing be plainer than that Sir Toby was going to describe the gentleman, but was interrupted by the effects of his pickle-herring? I would print it as an imperfect sentence. Mr. Edwards has the same observation. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens's interpretation may be right: yet Dr. WarburClo. Good sir Toby,
Oli. Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy?
Sir To. Lechery! I defy lechery: There's one at the gate.
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.
Oir. 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.
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 of a bench, but he'll speak with you.
ton's reading is not so strange, as it has been represented. In Broome's Jovial Crew, Scentwell says to the gypsies: “We must find a young gentlewoman-heir among you.” FARMER.
3 — above-heat -] i. e. above the state of being warm in a proper degree. STEEVENS.
4-stand at your door like a SHERIFF's post,] It was the custom for that officer to have large posts set up at his door, as an indication of his office : the original of which was, that the king's
Oli. What kind of man is he?
MAL. Of very ill manner ; he'll speak with you, will you, or no.
Oli. Of what personage, and years, is he? Mal. Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy; as a squash is before 'tis a peascod, or a codling when 'tis almost an apple - : 'tis with him e'en standing water, between boy and man. He is very well-favoured, and he speaks very
proclamations, and other public acts, might be affixed thereon, by way of publication. So, Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour:
put off “To the Lord Chancellor's tomb, or the Shrives posts." So again, in the old play called Lingua:
“ Knows he how to become a scarlet gown ? hath he a pair of fresh posts at his door?” WARBURTON.
Dr. Letherland was of opinion, that “ by this post is meant a post to mount a horse from, a horse-block, which, by the custom of the city, is still placed at the sheriff's door."
In the Contention for Honour and Riches, a masque by Shirley, 1633, one of the competitors swears :
“ By the Shrive's post," &c. Again, in A Woman Never Vex'd, com. by Rowley, 1632 :
“ If e'er I live to see thee sheriff of London,
" I'll gild thy painted posts cum privilegio." STEEVENS. s – or a cooling when 'tis almost an APPLE :] A codling anciently meant an immature apple. So, in Ben Jonson's Alchemist :
“ Who is it, Dol ?
“A fine young quodling.” The fruit at present styled a codling, was unknown to our gardens in the time of Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
Codling (a mere diminutive of cod, Mr. Gifford remarks in a note on Jonson's Alchemist) is not necessarily restricted to this or that-it means an involucrum or kell, and was used by our old writers for that early state of vegetation, when the fruit, after shaking off the blossom, began to assume a globular and determinate form." Boswell.
6- 'tis with him s'en standing water,] The old copy has-in. The emendation was made by Mr. Steevens. In the first folio e'en and in are very frequently confounded. MALONE.
shrewishly; one would think, his mother's milk were scarce out of him.
Oli. Let him approach: Call in my gentlewoman. Mat: Gentlewoman, my lady calls. (Exit.
Enter Viola. Vio. The honourable lady of the house, which is she ?
Oli. Speak to me, I shall answer for her ? Your will ?
Vio. 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 penn'd, 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.
Oli. Whence came you, sir ?
V10. 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.
Oli. Are you a comedian ?
Vio. 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 ?
? – I am very comptible] Comptible for ready to call to account. WARBURTON.
Viola seems to mean just the contrary. She begs she may not be treated with scorn, because she is very submissive, even to lighter marks of reprehension. Steevens. VOL. XI.