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OLI. Who of my people hold him in delay?
OLI. Fetch him off, I pray you; he speaks nothing but madman: Fye 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.1
Enter Sir TOBY BELCH.
OLI. By mine honour, half drunk.-What is he at the gate, cousin?
SIR TO. A gentleman.
OLI. A gentleman? What gentleman?
SIR TO. 'Tis a gentleman here2-A plague o'these pickle-herrings!-How now, sot?
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.
'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.
CLO. 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. OLI. What's a drunken man like, fool?
CLO. Like a drown'd man, a fool, and a madman: one draught above heat3 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.
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.
Mr. Steevens's interpretation may be right: yet Dr. Warbur 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.' 99 FARMER. above heat-] i. e, above the state of being warm in a proper degree. STEEVENS.
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. OLI. What kind of man is he?
MAL. Why, of man kind.
OLI. What manner of man?
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:"
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 proclamations, and other public acts, might be affixed thereon, by way of publication. So, Jonson's Every Man out of
"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.
or a codling 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.
'tis with him e'en 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.
OLI. Let him approach: Call in my gentle
MAL. Gentlewoman, my lady calls.
OLI. Give me my veil: come, throw it o'er my face;
We'll once more hear Orsino's embassy.
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.
6'tis with him e'en standing water,] The old copy hasin. The emendation was made by Mr. Steevens. In the first folio e'en and in are very frequently confounded. MALONE. 7 I am very comptible,] Comptible for ready to call to 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.
OLI. Whence came you, sir?
VIO. 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?
V10. 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?
OLI. If I do not usurp myself, I am.
VIO. 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 shew you the heart of my message.
OLI. Come to what is important in't: I forgive you the praise.
V10. Alas, I took great pains to study it, and 'tis poetical.
OLI. 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.
If you be not mad, be gone; if you have reason, be brief:] The sense evidently requires that we should read:
"If you be mad, be gone," &c.
For the words be mad, in the first part of the sentence, are opposed to reason in the second. M. MASON.
? — skipping —] Wild, frolick, mad. JOHNSON.
So, in K. Henry IV. P. I:
"The skipping king, he ambled up and down," &c.