Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Twelfth Night (Modern)
  • Editors: David Carnegie, Mark Houlahan
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-372-4

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editors: David Carnegie, Mark Houlahan
    Peer Reviewed

    Twelfth Night (Modern)

    50Enter Viola, a Captain, and Sailors [as from a shipwreck].
    What country, friends, is this?
    This is Illyria, lady.
    And what should I do in Illyria?
    My brother he is in Elysium.
    55Perchance he is not drowned--what think you, sailors?
    It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
    Oh, my poor brother! And so perchance may he be.
    True, madam, and to comfort you with chance,
    Assure your self, after our ship did split,
    60When you, and those poor number saved with you,
    Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother,
    Most provident in peril, bind himself--
    Courage and hope both teaching him the practice--
    To a strong mast, that lived upon the sea;
    65Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back,
    I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
    So long as I could see.
    [Giving him gold] For saying so, there's gold.
    Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,
    70Whereto thy speech serves for authority,
    The like of him. Know'st thou this country?
    Ay, madam, well, for I was bred and born
    Not three hours' travel from this very place.
    Who governs here?
    A noble duke, in nature as in name.
    What is his name?
    Orsino! I have heard my father name him.
    He was a bachelor then.
    And so is now, or was so very late;
    For but a month ago I went from hence,
    And then 'twas fresh in murmur (as you know,
    What great ones do, the less will prattle of)
    That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.
    What's she?
    A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
    That died some twelvemonth since, then leaving her
    In the protection of his son, her brother,
    Who shortly also died; for whose dear love,
    90They say, she hath abjured the sight
    And company of men.
    Oh, that I served that lady,
    And might not be delivered to the world
    Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,
    95What my estate is!
    That were hard to compass,
    Because she will admit no kind of suit,
    No, not the duke's.
    There is a fair behavior in thee, Captain;
    100And though that nature with a beauteous wall
    Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
    I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
    With this thy fair and outward character.
    I prithee--and I'll pay thee bounteously--
    105Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
    For such disguise as haply shall become
    The form of my intent. I'll serve this duke.
    Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him--
    It may be worth thy pains, for I can sing,
    110And speak to him in many sorts of music,
    That will allow me very worth his service.
    What else may hap, to time I will commit,
    Only shape thou thy silence to my wit.
    Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be;
    115When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
    I thank thee. Lead me on.