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Vio. I will return again into the house, and desire some conduct of the lady. I am no fighter. I have heard of some kind of men, that put quarrels purposely on others, to taste their valour: belike, this is a man of that quirk.
Sir To. Sir, no; his indignation derives itself out of a very competent * injury; therefore, get you on, and give him his desire. Back you shall not to the house, unless you undertake that with me, which with as much safety you might answer him: therefore, on, or strip your sword stark naked; for meddle you must, that's certain, or forswear to wear iron about you.
Vio. This is as uncivil, as strange. I beseech you, do me this courteous office, as to know of the knight what my offence to him is; it is something of my negligence, nothing of my purpose.
Sir To. I will do so. Signior Fabian, stay you by this gentleman till my return. [Exit Sir Toby.
V1o. Pray you, sir, do you know of this matter?
FAB. I know, the knight is incensed against you, even to a mortal arbitrement; but nothing of the circumstance more.
V10. I beseech you, what manner of man is he?
* First folio, computent.
Is not this the origin of our hob nob, or challenge to drink a glass of wine at dinner? The phrase occurs in Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub :
“ I put it
M. Mason. So, in Holinshed's Hist. of Ireland: “ The citizens in their rage -shot habbe or nabbe, at random." Malone.
6 – meddle -] Is here perhaps used in the same sepse as the French mêlée. Steevens.
Afterwards, Sir Andrew says—“ Pox on't, l’ll not meddle with him.” The vulgar yet say, “ I'll neither meddle nor make with it." MALONE.
FAB. Nothing of that wonderful promise, to read him by his form, as you are like to find him in the proof of his valour. He is, indeed, sir, the most skilful, bloody, and fatal opposite that you could possibly have found in any part of Illyria: Will you walk towards him ? I will make your peace with him, if I can.
Vio. I shall be much bound to you for't: I am one, that would rather go with sir priest, than sir knight : I care not who knows so much of my mettle.
[Exeunt. Re-enter Sir Toby, with Sir Andrew. Sir To. Why, man, he's a very devil ? ; I have not seen such a firago 8. I had a pass with him, rapier, scabbard, and all, and he gives me the stuckin”, with such a mortal motion, that it is inevitable;
7 Why, man, he's a very devil, &c.] Shakspeare might have caught a hint for this scene from Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, which was printed in 1609. The behaviour of Viola and Aguecheek appears to have been formed on that of Sir John Daw and Sir Amorous La Foole. Steevens.
8 I have not seen such a virago.] Virago cannot be properly used here, unless we suppose Sir Toby to mean, I never saw one that had so much the look of woman with the prowess of man.
Johnson. The old copy reads—firago. A virago always means a female warrior, or, in low language, a scold, or turbulent woman. In Heywood's Golden Age, 1611, Jupiter enters “ like a nymph or virago ;” and says, “I may pass for a bona-robe, a rounceval, a virago, or a good manly lass.” If Shakspeare (who knew Viola to be a woman, though Sir Toby did not,) has made no blunder, Dr. Johnson has supplied the only obvious meaning of the word. Firago may however be a ludicrous term of Shakspeare's coinage.
STEEVENS. Why may not the meaning be more simple, “I have never seen the most furious woman so obstreperous and violent as he is ?”
I do not conceive that firago was a word of Shakspeare's coinage, but a common corruption for virago, like fagaries for vagaries. Malone.
9 — the stuck -] The stuck is a corrupted abbreviation of and on the answer, he pays you' as surely as your feet hit the ground they step on: They say, he has been fencer to the Sophy.
Sir And. Pox on't, I'll not meddle with him.
Sir To. Ay, but he will not now be pacified : Fabian can scarce hold him yonder.
Sir And. Plague on't; an I thought he had been valiant, and so cunning in fence, I'd have seen him damned ere I'd have challenged him. Let him let the matter slip, and I'll give him my horse, grey Capilet.
Sir To. I'll make the motion : Stand here, make a good show on't ; this shall end without the perdition of souls : Marry, I'll ride your horse as well as I ride you.
Re-enter Fabian and Viola. I have his horse [to Fab.] to take up the quarrel; I have persuaded him, the youth's a devil.
Fab. He is as horribly conceited of him ? ; and pants, and looks pale, as if a bear were at his heels.
Sir To. There's no remedy, sir; he will fight with you for his oath sake: marry, he hath better bethought him of his quarrel, and he finds that now scarce to be worth talking of: therefore draw, for the supportance of his vow; he protests, he will not hurt you.
the stoccata, an Italian term in fencing. So, in The Return from Parnassus, 1606: “ Here's a fellow, Judicio, that carried the deadly stock in his pen.” Again, in Marston's Mal-content, 1604 : “ The close stock, O mortal,” &c. Again, in Antonio's Revenge, 1602:
" I would pass on him with a mortal stock.” STEEVENS. Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor:
“ thy stock, thy reverse, thy montant." MALONE. I- he pays you —] i. e. hits you. Malone,
? He is as HORRIBLY CONCeiten of him ;] That is, he has as horrid an idea or conception of him. Malone.
Vio. Pray God defend me! A little thing would make me tell them how much I lack of a man.
Aside. FAB. Give ground, if you see him furious.
Sir To. Come, sir Andrew, there's no remedy ; the gentleman will for his honour's sake, have one bout with you : he cannot by the duello 3 avoid it : but he has promised me, as he is a gentleman and a soldier, he will not hurt you. Come on; to't.
Sir And. Pray God, he keep his oath! [Draws.
[Draws. Ant. Put up your sword ;-If this young gen
tleman Have done offence, I take the fault on me; If you offend him, I for him defy you. [Drawing.
Sir To. You, sir ? why, what are you?
Sir To. Nay, if you be an undertaker 4, I am for you.
3 — by the duello -] i. e. by the laws of the duello, which, in Shakspeare's time, were settled with the utmost nicety.
STEEVENS. 4 Nav, if you be an UNDERTAKER,] But why was an undertaker so offensive a character? I believe this is “a touch upon the times," which may help to determine the date of this play. At the meeting of the parliament in 1614, there appears to have been a very general persuasion, or jealousy at least, that the King had been induced to call a parliament at that time, by certain persons, who hall undertaken, through their influence in the House of Commons, to carry things according to his Majesty's wishes. These persons were immediately stigmatized with the invidious name of undertakers ; and the idea was so unpopular, that the King thought it necessary, in two set speeches, to deny positively (how truly is another question) that there had been any such underlaking. Parl. Hist. vol. v. p. 277, and 286. Sir
Enter two Officers. Fab. O good sir Toby, hold; here come the officers.
Sir To. I'll be with you anon. [To Antonio.
[To Sir AndrEW. Sir And. Marry, will I, sir ;-and, for that I promised you, I'll be as good as my word: He will bear you easily, and reins well.
1 OFF. This is the man; do thy office.
2 OFF. Antonio, I arrest thee at the suit Of count Orsino. Ant.
You do mistake me, sir. 1 OFF. No, sir, no jot; I know your favour well, Though now you have no sea-cap on your head. Take him away; he knows, I know him well. Ant. I must obey.-This comes with seeking
you ; But there's no remedy; I shall answer it. What will you do? Now my necessity Makes me to ask you for my purse: It grieves me Much more, for what I cannot do for you, Than what befalls myself. You stand amaz'd; But be of comfort.
Francis Bacon also (then attorney-general) made an artful, apologetical speech in the House of Commons upon the same subject; “ when the house (according to the title of the speech) was in great heat, and much troubled about the undertakers."
Bacon's Works, vol. ii. p. 236, 4to. edit. TYRWHITT. Undertakers were persons employed by the King's purveyors to take up provisions for the royal household, and were no doubt exceedingly odious. But still, I think, the speaker intends a quibble; the simple meaning of the word being one who undertakes, or takes up the quarrel or business of another. Ritson.
I am of Ritson's opinion, that by an undertaker Sir Toby means a man who takes upon himself the quarrel of another. Mr. Tyrwhitt's explanation is too learned to be just, and was probably suggested by his official situation. M. Mason.