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Mal. My prayers, minx?
Mar. No, I warrant you, he will not hear of godliness.
Mal. Go, hang yourselves all! you are idle shallow things: I am not of your element; you shall know more hereafter. [Exit.
Sir To. Ist possible?
Fab. If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.
Sir To. His very genius hath taken the infection of the device, man.
Mar. Nay, pursue him now; lest the device take air, and taint.
Fab. Why, we shall make him mad, indeed.
Sir To. Come, we'll have him in a dark room9, and bound. My niece is already in the belief that he is mad; we may carry it thus, for our pleasure, and his penance, till our very pastime, tired out of breath, prompt us to have mercy on him: at which time, we will bring the device to the bar, and crown thee for a finder of madmen. But see, but see.
Enter SIR ANDREW AGUE-CHEEK.
Fab. More. matter for a May morning 10.
Sir And. Here's the challenge, read it; I warrant there's vinegar and pepper in't.
Fab. Is't so saucy ?
Sir And. Ay, is it, I warrant him: do but read.
Sir To. Give me. [Reads.]
thou art, thou art but a scurvy fellow.
Fab. Good, and valiant.
Sir To. Wonder not, nor admire not in thy mind, why I do call thee so, for I will show thee no reason for't.
9 The reason for putting him in a dark room was to make him believe he was mad, a mad-house seems formerly to have been. called a dark house.
10 It was usual on the First of May to exhibit metrical interludes of the comic kind, as well as other sports, such as the Morris Dance.
Fab. A good note: that keeps you from the blow' of the law.
Sir To. Thou comest to the lady Olivia, and in my sight she uses thee kindly: but thou liest in thy throat, that is not the matter I challenge thee for. Fab. Very brief, and exceeding good sense-less. Sir To. I will way-lay thee going home; where if it be thy chance to kill me,
Sir To. Thou killest me like a rogue and a villain. Fab. Still you keep. o'the windy side of the law: Good.
Sir To. Fare thee well: And God have mercy upon one of our souls! He may have mercy upon mine; but my hope is better, and so look to thyself. Thy friend, as thou usest him, and thy sworn enemy.
Sir To. If this letter move him not, his legs cannot: I'll give't him.
Mar. You may have very fit occasion for't; he is now in some commerce with my lady, and will by and by depart.
Sir To. Go, Sir Andrew; scout me for him at the corner of the orchard, like a bum-bailiff: so soon as ever thou seest him, draw; and, as thou drawest, swear horrible 11; for it comes to pass oft, that a terrible oath, with a swaggering accent sharply twanged off, gives manhood more approbation than ever proof itself would have earned him. Away. Sir And. Nay, let me alone for swearing. [Exit. Sir To. Now will not I deliver his letter: for the behaviour of the young gentleman gives him out to be of good capacity and breeding; his employment between his lord and my niece confirms no less; therefore this letter, being so excellently ignorant, will breed no terror in the youth, he will find it comes from a clodpole. But, sir, I will deliver his challenge by word of mouth; set upon Ague-cheek
11 Adjectives are often used by Shakspeare and his cotemporaries adverbially.
a notable report of valour; and drive the gentleman (as I know his youth will aptly receive it) into a most hideous opinion of his rage, skill, fury, and impetuosity. This will so fright them both, that they will kill one another by the look, like cockatrices.
Enter OLIVIA and VIOLA.
Fab. Here he comes with your niece: give them way, till he take leave, and presently after him. Sir To. I will meditate the while upon some horrid message for a challenge.
[Exeunt SIR TOBY, FABIAN, and MARIA. Oli. I have said too much unto a heart of stone, And laid mine honour too unchary 12 out: There's something in me, that reproves my fault; But such a headstrong potent fault it is, That it but mocks reproof.
Vio. With the same 'haviour that your passion bears,
Go on my master's griefs.
Oli. Here, wear this jewel 13 for me, 'tis my picture;
Refuse it not, it hath no tongue to vex you:
Oli. How with mine honour may I give him that Which I have given to you?
I will acquit you.
Vio. Oli. Well, come again to-morrow: Fare thee well; A fiend, like thee, might bear my soul to hell. [Exit.
Re-enter SIR TOBY BELOH and FABIAN.
Sir To. Gentleman, God save thee.
Vio. And you, sir.
13 Jewel anciently signified any precious ornament of superfluity.
Sir To. That defence thou hast, betake thee to't: of what nature the wrongs are thou hast done him, I know not; but thy intercepter, full of despight, bloody as the hunter, attends thee at the orchard end: dismount thy tuck 14, be yare 15 in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly. Vio. You mistake, sir; I am sure no man hath any quarrel to me; my remembrance is very free and clear from any image of offence done to any man.
Sir To. You'll find it otherwise, I assure you: therefore, if you hold your life at any price, betake you to your guard; for your opposite hath in him what youth, strength, skill, and wrath can furnish man withal.
Vio. I pray you, sir, what is he?
Sir To. He is knight, dubbed with unhatched rapier, and on carpet consideration 16; but he is a devil in private brawl: souls and bodies hath he divorced three; and his incensement at this moment is so implacable, that satisfaction can be none but by pangs of death and sepulchre: hob, nob 17, is his word; give't, or take't.
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 18.
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
15 Ready, nimble.
16 i. e. he is a carpet-knight not dubbed in the field, but on some peaceable occasion; unhatch'd was probably used in the sense of unhack'd. But perhaps we should read an hatch'd rapier, i. e. a rapier the hilt of which was enriched with silver or gold.
A corruption most probably of hab or nab: have or have not, hit or miss, at a venture. Quasi, have, or n'ave, i. e. haye not, from the Saxon habban, to have: nabban, not to have. So, in Holinshed's description of Ireland, The citizens in their rage shot habbe or nabbe.
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. Vio. Pray you, sir, do you know of this matter? Fab. I know the knight is incensed against you, even to a mortal arbitrement 19; but nothing of the circumstance more.
Vio. I beseech you, what manner of man is he? 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 20 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 s sir priest, than sir knight: I care not who knows so much of my mettle.
Re-enter SIR TOBY, with SIR ANDREW.
Sir To. Why, man, he's a very devil 21; I have not seen such a firago 22. I had a pass with him, rapier, scabbard, and all, and he gives me the stucketh in 23, with such a mortal motion, that it is inevitable;
19 Decision. 20 Adversary.
21 Shakspeare may have caught a hint for this scene from the behaviour of Sir John Daw and Sir A. La Fodlé in Jonson's Silent Woman, which was printed in 1609.
22 Firago, for virago. The meaning appears to be, I have never seen the most furious woman so obstreperous and violent as he is.
23 A corruption of stoccata, an Italian term in fencing.