L S W - 06/02/00

 

Special Guest :- Stephen Boxer

Segment Text drawn from 12th Night

Act 1, Scene 5 opening
Act 3, Scene 1 opening

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 On Acting the Clown

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Act 1, Scene 5

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 hanged 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 hanged for being so long absent; or,
to be turned 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 resolved 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, an'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 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 patched: virtue that
transgresses is but patched with sin; and sin that
amends is but patched 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

Dexterously, good madonna.

OLIVIA

Make your proof.

Clown

I must catechise 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 mournest 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 two pence 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 gagged. I protest, I take these wise men,
that crow so at these set kind of fools, no better
than the fools' zanies.

OLIVIA

Oh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste
with a distempered appetite. To be generous,
guiltless and of free disposition, is to take those
things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon-bullets:
there is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do
nothing but rail; nor no railing in a known discreet
man, though he do nothing but reprove.

Clown

Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou
speakest well of fools!                                 Re-enter MARIA

MARIA

Madam, there is at the gate a young gentleman much
desires to speak with you.

OLIVIA

From the Count Orsino, is it?

MARIA

I know not, madam: 'tis a fair young man, and well attended.

OLIVIA

Who of my people hold him in delay?

MARIA

Sir Toby, madam, your kinsman.

OLIVIA

Fetch him off, I pray you; he speaks nothing but
madman: fie on him!                                    Exit MARIA
Go you, Malvolio: if it be a suit from the count, I
am sick, or not at home; what you will, to dismiss it.
Exit MALVOLIO
Now you see, sir, how your fooling grows old, and
people dislike it.

Clown

Thou hast spoke for us, madonna, as if thy eldest
son should be a fool; whose skull Jove cram with
brains! for,--here he comes,--one of thy kin has a
most weak pia mater.                        Enter SIR TOBY BELCH

OLIVIA

By mine honour, half drunk. What is he at the gate, cousin?

SIR TOBY BELCH

A gentleman.

OLIVIA

A gentleman! what gentleman?

SIR TOBY BELCH

'Tis a gentle man here--a plague o' these
pickle-herring! How now, sot!

Clown

Good Sir Toby!

OLIVIA

Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy?

SIR TOBY BELCH

Lechery! I defy lechery. There's one at the gate.

OLIVIA

Ay, marry, what is he?

SIR TOBY BELCH

Let him be the devil, an he will, I care not: give
me faith, say I. Well, it's all one.                         Exit

OLIVIA

What's a drunken man like, fool?

Clown

Like a drowned man, a fool and a mad man: one
draught above heat makes him a fool; the second mads
him; and a third drowns him.

OLIVIA

Go thou and seek the crowner, and let him sit o' my
coz; for he's in the third degree of drink, he's
drowned: go, look after him.

Clown

He is but mad yet, madonna; and the fool shall look
to the madman.                                 Exit

 

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Act 3, Scene 1

OLIVIA's garden
.

Enter VIOLA, and Clown with a tabour

VIOLA

Save thee, friend, and thy music: dost thou live by
thy tabour?

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
tabour, if thy tabour 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 every where. 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;   Aside  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 over-worn.     Exit