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OLL. 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.
VIO. 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 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.
have reason, be
skipping-] Wild, frolick, mad. JOHNSON.
So, in K. Henry IV. P. I:
"The skipping king, he ambled up and down," &c..
MAR. Will you hoist sail, sir? here lies your
V10. No, good swabber; I am to hull here1 a little longer. Some mollification for your giant," sweet lady.
OLI. Tell me
Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
"To allay, with some cold drops of modesty,
I am to hull here-] To hull means to drive to and fro upon the water, without sails or rudder. So, in Philemon Holland's translation of the 9th Book of Pliny's Natural History, 1601, p. 239: " - fell to be drowsie and sleepie, and hulled to and fro with the waves, as if it had beene half dead." Again, in The Noble Soldier, 1634:
"That all these mischiefs hull with flagging sail.”
— some mollification for your giant,] Ladies, in romance, are guarded by giants, who repel all improper or troublesome advances. Viola, seeing the waiting-maid so eager to oppose her message, intreats Olivia to pacify her giant. JOHNSON.
Viola likewise alludes to the diminutive size of Maria, who is called on subsequent occasions, little villain, youngest wren of nine, &c. STEEVENS.
So, Falstaff to his
"Sirrah, you giant," &c. K. Henry IV. P. II. Act I.
Oli. Tell me your Vio. I am a messenger.] These words (which in the old copy are part of Viola's last speech) must be divided between the two speakers.
Viola growing troublesome, Olivia would dismiss her, and therefore cuts her short with this comm nmand, Tell me your mind. The other, taking advantage of the ambiguity of the word mind, which signifies either business or inclination, replies as if she had used it in the latter sense, I am a messenger.