[Enter VIOLA, and...

Twelfth Night

Act 3 Scene 1



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  • : 1
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Time/Place
Illyria, sixteenth-century
Act/Scene
Act 3 Scene 1

Scene Context

Viola (disguised as the male Cesario) has returned to see the Lady Olivia. She has another message

Scene Text

[Enter VIOLA, and CLOWN with a tabor.]

VIOLA.

Save thee, friend, and thy music. Dost thou live by thy tabor?

CLOWN.

No, sir, I live by the church.

VIOLA.

Art thou a churchman?

CLOWN.

No such matter, sir: I do live by the church; for I do live at my house, and my house doth

stand by the church.

VIOLA.

So thou mayst say the king lies by a beggar, if a beggar dwell near him; or the church stands

by thy tabor, if thy tabor stand by the church.

CLOWN.

You have said, sir.—To see this age!—A sentence is but a cheveril glove to a good wit. How

quickly the wrong side may be turned outward!

VIOLA.

Nay, that's certain; they that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton.

CLOWN.

I would, therefore, my sister had had no name, sir.

VIOLA.

Why, man?

CLOWN.

Why, sir, her name's a word; and to dally with that word might make my sister wanton. But

indeed words are very rascals, since bonds disgraced them.

VIOLA.

Thy reason, man?

CLOWN.

Troth, sir, I can yield you none without words; and words are grown so false I am loath to

prove reason with them.

VIOLA.

I warrant, thou art a merry fellow, and carest for nothing.

CLOWN.

Not so, sir, I do care for something: but in my conscience,

sir, I do not care for you; if that be to care for nothing, sir,

I would it would make you invisible.

VIOLA.

Art not thou the Lady Olivia's fool?

CLOWN.

No, indeed, sir; the Lady Olivia has no folly: she will keep no fool, sir, till she be married;

and fools are as like husbands as pilchards are to herrings, the husband's the bigger; I am, indeed,

not her fool, but her corrupter of words.

VIOLA.

I saw thee late at the Count Orsino's.

CLOWN.

Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere. I would be sorry,

sir, but the fool should be as oft with your master as with my mistress: I think I saw your wisdom

there.

VIOLA.

Nay, an thou pass upon me, I'll no more with thee.

Hold, there's expenses for thee.

CLOWN.

Now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard!

VIOLA.

By my troth, I'll tell thee, I am almost sick for one; though I would not have it grow on my

chin. Is thy lady within?

CLOWN.

Would not a pair of these have bred, sir?

VIOLA.

Yes, being kept together and put to use.

CLOWN.

I would play Lord Pandarus of Phrygia, sir, to bring a

Cressida to this Troilus.

VIOLA.

I understand you, sir; 'tis well begged.

CLOWN.

The matter, I hope, is not great, sir, begging but a beggar: Cressida was a beggar. My lady is

within, sir. I will construe to them whence you come; who you are and what you would are out of my

welkin: I might say element; but the word is overworn.

[Exit.]

VIOLA.

This fellow's wise enough to play the fool;

And, to do that well, craves a kind of wit:

He must observe their mood on whom he jests,

The quality of persons, and the time;

And, like the haggard, check at every feather

That comes before his eye. This is a practice

As full of labour as a wise man's art:

For folly, that he wisely shows, is fit;

But wise men, folly-fallen, quite taint their wit.

William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Act 3 sc.1

[Full text available on Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1526/pg1526.html