(Sir Toby; Sir Andrew; Fabian; Maria; Malvolio)
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew have brought Fabian into the plot against Malvolio. Fabian hates the steward for having put him on Olivia’s bad side. Maria enters with the fake letter and leaves it where Malvolio is sure to find it, and the conspirators hide in the hedge to spy on the steward as he arrives. Malvolio enters talking to himself, considering the possibility that he could rise in social status by marrying Olivia, which is not an unheard-of sort of circumstance. Sir Toby is outraged as Malvolio thinks through just how wonderful life would be as a count — particularly the possibility of putting Sir Toby in his place. The steward finds the letter, and, deceived by the handwriting and the seal, takes it upon himself to open it. The message is enigmatic, but Malvolio soon manages to convince himself that it is a love letter from Olivia intended for him. The hidden conspirators mock him soundly as he goes through the letter. Malvolio soon believes that Olivia wishes him to dress in cross-gartered yellow stockings and that he should smile, and runs off to dress that way. Coming forth, the men kneel before Maria in adoration for what she has managed, and she urges them to follow to see the rest, since the style she has suggested Malvolio dress in is one that Olivia particularly detests. At this stage, the men are ready to do anything Maria tells them. (99 lines)
Enter Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian.
Come thy ways, Signior Fabian.
Nay, I’ll come. If I lose a scruple of this sport, let me be boil’d to death with melancholy.
Wouldst thou not be glad to have the niggardly rascally sheep-biter come by some notable shame?
I would exult, man. You know he brought me out o’ favor with my lady about a bear-baiting here.
To anger him we’ll have the bear again, and we will fool him black and blue, shall we not, Sir Andrew?
And we do not, it is pity of our lives.
Here comes the little villain. How now, my metal of India?
Get ye all three into the box-tree; Malvolio’s coming down this walk. He has been yonder i’ the sun practicing behavior to his own shadow this half hour. Observe him, for the love of mockery; for I know this letter will make a contemplative idiot of him. Close, in the name of jesting!
The men hide themselves.
Lie thou there;
Throws down a letter.
for here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling.
’Tis but fortune, all is fortune. Maria once told me she did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion. Besides, she uses me with a more exalted respect than any one else that follows her. What should I think on’t?
Here’s an overweening rogue!
O, peace! Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him. How he jets under his advanc’d plumes!
’Slight, I could so beat the rogue!
Peace, I say!
To be Count Malvolio!
Pistol him, pistol him!
There is example for’t: the Lady of the Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe.
Fie on him, Jezebel!
O, peace! Now he’s deeply in. Look how imagination blows him.
Having been three months married to her, sitting in my state—
O, for a stone-bow, to hit him in the eye!
Calling my officers about me, in my branch’d velvet gown; having come from a day-bed, where I have left Olivia sleeping—
Fire and brimstone!
O, peace, peace!
And then to have the humor of state; and after a demure travel of regard—telling them I know my place as I would they should do theirs—to ask for my kinsman Toby—
Bolts and shackles!
O, peace, peace, peace! Now, now.
Seven of my people, with an obedient start, make out for him. I frown the while, and perchance wind up my watch, or play with my—some rich jewel. Toby approaches; curtsies there to me—
Shall this fellow live?
Though our silence be drawn from us with cars, yet peace.
I extend my hand to him thus, quenching my familiar smile with an austere regard of control—
And does not Toby take you a blow o’ the lips then?
Saying, “Cousin Toby, my fortunes, having cast me on your niece, give me this prerogative of speech”—
“You must amend your drunkenness.”
Nay, patience, or we break the sinews of our plot!
“Besides, you waste the treasure of your time with a foolish knight”—
That’s me, I warrant you.
“One Sir Andrew”—
I knew ’twas I, for many do call me fool.
What employment have we here?
Taking up the letter.
Now is the woodcock near the gin.
O, peace, and the spirit of humors intimate reading aloud to him!
By my life, this is my lady’s hand. These be her very c’s, her u’s, and her t’s, and thus makes she her great P’s. It is, in contempt of question, her hand.
Her c’s, her u’s, and her t’s: why that?
“To the unknown belov’d, this, and my good wishes”:—
Her very phrases! By your leave, wax. Soft! And the impressure her Lucrece, with which she uses to seal. ’Tis my lady. To whom should this be?
This wins him, liver and all.
“Jove knows I love,
Lips, do not move;
No man must know.”
“No man must know.” What follows? The numbers alter’d! “No man must know.” If this should be thee, Malvolio?
Marry, hang thee, brock!
“I may command where I adore,
But silence, like a Lucrece knife,
With bloodless stroke my heart doth gore;
M.O.A.I. doth sway my life.”
A fustian riddle!
Excellent wench, say I.
“M.O.A.I. doth sway my life.” Nay, but first let me see, let me see, let me see.
What dish a’ poison has she dress’d him!
And with what wing the staniel checks at it!
“I may command where I adore.” Why, she may command me: I serve her, she is my lady. Why, this is evident to any formal capacity, there is no obstruction in this. And the end—what should that alphabetical position portend? If I could make that resemble something in me! Softly! M.O.A.I.—
O ay, make up that. He is now at a cold scent.
Sowter will cry upon’t for all this, though it be as rank as a fox.
M—Malvolio; M—why, that begins my name.
Did not I say he would work it out? The cur is excellent at faults.
M—but then there is no consonancy in the sequel that suffers under probation: A should follow, but O does.
And O shall end, I hope.
Ay, or I’ll cudgel him, and make him cry O!
And then I comes behind.
Ay, and you had any eye behind you, you might see more detraction at your heels than fortunes before you.
M.O.A.I. This simulation is not as the former; and yet, to crush this a little, it would bow to me, for every one of these letters are in my name. Soft, here follows prose.
“If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands, let thy blood and spirit embrace them, and to inure thyself to what thou art like to be, cast thy humble slough and appear fresh. Be opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants; let thy tongue tang arguments of state; put thyself into the trick of singularity. She thus advises thee that sighs for thee. Remember who commended thy yellow stockings, and wish’d to see thee ever cross-garter’d: I say, remember. Go to, thou art made if thou desir’st to be so; if not, let me see thee a steward still, the fellow of servants, and not worthy to touch Fortune’s fingers. Farewell. She that would alter services with thee,
Daylight and champian discovers not more. This is open. I will be proud, I will read politic authors, I will baffle Sir Toby, I will wash off gross acquaintance, I will be point-devise the very man. I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade me; for every reason excites to this, that my lady loves me. She did commend my yellow stockings of late, she did praise my leg being cross-garter’d, and in this she manifests herself to my love, and with a kind of injunction drives me to these habits of her liking. I thank my stars, I am happy. I will be strange, stout, in yellow stockings, and cross-garter’d, even with the swiftness of putting on. Jove and my stars be prais’d! Here is yet a postscript.
“Thou canst not choose but know who I am. If thou entertain’st my love, let it appear in thy smiling; thy smiles become thee well. Therefore in my presence still smile, dear my sweet, I prithee.”
Jove, I thank thee. I will smile, I will do every thing that thou wilt have me.
I will not give my part of this sport for a pension of thousands to be paid from the Sophy.
I could marry this wench for this device—
So could I too.
And ask no other dowry with her but such another jest.
Nor I neither.
Here comes my noble gull-catcher.
Wilt thou set thy foot o’ my neck?
Or o’ mine either?
Shall I play my freedom at tray-trip, and become thy bond-slave?
I’ faith, or I either?
Why, thou hast put him in such a dream, that when the image of it leaves him he must run mad.
Nay, but say true, does it work upon him?
Like aqua-vitae with a midwife.
If you will then see the fruits of the sport, mark his first approach before my lady. He will come to her in yellow stockings, and ’tis a color she abhors, and cross-garter’d, a fashion she detests; and he will smile upon her, which will now be so unsuitable to her disposition, being addicted to a melancholy as she is, that it cannot but turn him into a notable contempt. If you will see it, follow me.
To the gates of Tartar, thou most excellent devil of wit!
I’ll make one too.