Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 5

SCENE V. OLIVIA'S house.

[Enter MARIA and CLOWN.]

MARIA.
Nay, either tell me where thou hast been, or I will not open my
lips so wide as a bristle may enter in way of thy excuse. My lady
will hang thee for thy absence.

CLOWN.
Let her hang me. He that is well hang'd in this world needs to
fear no colours.

MARIA.
Make that good.

CLOWN.
He shall see none to fear.

MARIA.
A good lenten answer. I can tell thee where that saying was born,
of 'I fear no colours.'

CLOWN.
Where, good Mistress Mary?

MARIA.
In the wars; and that may you be bold to say in your foolery.

CLOWN.
Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are
fools, let them use their talents.

MARIA.
Yet you will be hang'd for being so long absent; or to be turn'd
away, is not that as good as a hanging to you?

CLOWN.
Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and, for turning
away, let summer bear it out.

MARIA.
You are resolute, then?

CLOWN.
Not so, neither; but I am resolv'd on two points.

MARIA.
That, if one break, the other will hold; or, if both break, your
gaskins fall.

CLOWN.
Apt, in good faith; very apt. Well, go thy way; if Sir Toby would
leave drinking, thou wert as witty a piece of Eve's flesh as any
in Illyria.

MARIA.
Peace, you rogue, no more o' that. Here comes my lady; make your
excuse wisely, you were best.

[Exit.]

CLOWN.
Wit, and 't be thy will, put me into good fooling! Those wits
that think they have thee do very oft prove fools; and I, that am
sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man: for what says
Quinapalus? 'Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.'

[Enter LADY OLIVIA with MALVOLIO.]

God bless thee, lady!

OLIVIA.
Take the fool away.

CLOWN.
Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.

OLIVIA.
Go to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of you: besides, you grow
dishonest.

CLOWN.
Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel will amend; for,
give the dry fool drink, then is the fool not dry: bid the
dishonest man mend himself; if he mend, he is no longer
dishonest; if he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Any thing
that's mended is but patch'd; virtue that transgresses is but
patch'd with sin; and sin that amends is but patch'd with virtue.
If that this simple syllogism will serve, so; if it will not,
what remedy? As there is no true cuckold but calamity, so
beauty's a flower. The lady bade take away the fool; therefore, I
say again, take her away.

OLIVIA.
Sir, I bade them take away you.

CLOWN.
Misprision in the highest degree! Lady, cucullus non facit
monachum; that's as much to say as I wear not motley in my brain.
Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.

OLIVIA.
Can you do it?

CLOWN.
Dexteriously, good madonna.

OLIVIA.
Make your proof.

CLOWN.
I must catechize you for it, madonna; good my mouse of virtue,
answer me.

OLIVIA.
Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I'll bide your proof.

CLOWN.
Good madonna, why mourn'st thou?

OLIVIA.
Good fool, for my brother's death.

CLOWN.
I think his soul is in hell, madonna.

OLIVIA.
I know his soul is in heaven, fool.

CLOWN.
The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in
heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.

OLIVIA.
What think you of this fool, Malvolio? doth he not mend?

MALVOLIO.
Yes, and shall do till the pangs of death shake him. Infirmity,
that decays the wise, doth ever make the better fool.

CLOWN.
God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity, for the better increasing
your folly! Sir Toby will be sworn that I am no fox; but he will
not pass his word for twopence that you are no fool.

OLIVIA.
How say you to that, Malvolio?

MALVOLIO.
I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal; I
saw him put down the other day with an ordinary fool that has no
more brain than a stone. Look you now, he's out of
his guard already; unless you laugh and minister occasion to him,
he is gagg'd. I protest, I take these wise men, that crow so at
these set kind of fools, no better than the fools' zanies.

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