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once, in one harmonious group, before the “mind's eye" of the Poet, previously to his actually commencing the formal business of writing, and bearing no indication either of an original groundwork of incident, afterwards enriched by the additions of a fuller mind, or of thoughts, situations, and characters accidentally suggested, or growing unexpectedly out of the story, as the author proceeded.
SOURCE OF THE PLOT AND CHARACTERS.
The Shakespearian critics of the present century have been very industrious in their endeavours to trace out the source of the plot of the TWELFTH NIGHT. I abridge, from Mr. Collier, the substance of their researches and discoveries. It is, however, very obvious that though there were several tales and plays founded on incidents similar to the story of Viola, yet Shakespeare has borrowed nothing from them of character, situation, or imagery, and is indeed in no way indebted to them, beyond the suggestion of the leading ideas of a resembling twin, brother and sister, their separation, and the heroine being disguised as a page, and living in the service of a prince whom she passionately loves, and who loves another. Several authors had used these materials, and he must have read all or most of them, so that the recollection of these incidents somewhat mingled with his own invention or adaptation of the main plot; but there is nothing in the comedy that looks at all like the adopting and translating any particular original, still less like compiling from more than one. There is no verbal trace of any obligation to any of them, such as have been pointed out in ROMEO AND JULIET to Brooke's poem, and such as in fact he never disdained to use whenever it would add to the effect of his work. But here he selected for the groundwork of his plot two or three incidents which he knew to be familiar and pleasing to his audience, and possessing a certain dramatic or romantic interest; and beyond this he owes nothing to those who had worked on the same materials. "Several originals of TWELFTH NIGHT, in English, French, and Italian, have been pointed out, nearly all of them discovered within the present century. A voluminous and various author, of the name of Barnabe Rich, who had been brought up a soldier, published a volume, called Rich his Farewell to Military Profession,' without date, but between the years 1578 and 1581. It contains a novel entitled 'Apolonius and Silla,' which has many points of resemblance to Shakespeare's comedy. Rich derived his chief materials from the Italian of Bandello, or from the French of Belleforest. In Bandello it forms the thirty-sixth novel of the Seconda Parte, where it bears the subsequent title:- Nicuola, innamorata di Latantio, và à servirlo vestita da paggio; e dopo molti casi seco si marita; e ciò che ad un suo fratello avvenne.' In the collection by Belleforest, (Paris, 1572,) it is headed as follows:Comme une fille Romaine, se vestant en page, servist long temps un sien amy sans estre cogneue, et depuis l'eust mary, avec autres divers discours.' Belleforest adopts the names of Bandello, but abridges or omits many of the speeches and some portions of the narrative: what in Bandello occupies several pages is often included by Belle. forest in a single paragraph.
"Upon the novel by Bandello two Italian plays were composed, which were printed, and have come down to our time. The title of one of these is given by Manningham, where he says that Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT was 'most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni.' It was first acted in 1547, and was printed in 1582, when it bore the title of Gl' Inganni Commedia del Signor N. S.' The other Italian drama, founded upon Bandello's novel, bears this title:- Gl' Ingannati Commedia degl' Accademici Intronati di Siena,' which was several times printed. Whether our great dramatist saw either of these pieces before he wrote his TWELFTH NIGHT, may admit of doubt. It might seem as if it were a matter understood, at the time TWELFTH NIGHT was acted at the Temple, on Feb. 2, 1602, that it was founded upon the Inganni.' There is no indication in the MS. Diary that the writer of it was versed in Italian literature, and 'G' Inganni' might at that day be a known comedy of which it was believed Shakespeare had availed himself.
"To Gl Ingannati,' as respects its similarity of construction with TWELFTH NIGHT, attention was first directed by the Rev. Joseph Hunter, in his Disquisition on Shakespeare's TEMPEST.' 'G' Ingannati' follows Bandello's novel with more exactness than Gl' Inganni,' though both change the names of the parties; and here we have the important feature that the heroine, called Lelia, (disguised as Fabio,) is a page to Flamminio, with whom she is in love, but who is in love with a lady named Isabella. Lelia, as in Shakespeare, is employed by
Flamminio to forward his suit with Isabella.
"The likeness between Gl Ingannati' and TWELFTH NIGHT is, in some points, stronger than that between G Inganni' and Shakespeare's drama; but to neither can we say, with any degree of certainty, that our great dramatist resorted, although he had perhaps read both, when he was considering the best mode of adapting to the stage the incidents of Bandello's novel. There is no hint, in any source yet discovered, for the smallest portion of the comic business of TWELFTH NIGHT. In both the Italian dramas it is of the most homely and vulgar materials, by the intervention of empirics, braggarts, pedants, and servants, who deal in the coarsest jokes and the grossest buffoonery. Shakespeare shows his infinite superiority in each department: in the more serious portion of his drama he employed the incidents furnished by predecessors as the mere scaffolding for the erection of his own beautiful edifice; and for the comic scenes, combining so admirably with, and assisting so importantly in the progress of the main plot, he seems, as usual, to have drawn merely upon his own interminable resources.'
SCENE I.-An Apartment in the DUKE's Palace. Enter DUKE, CURIO, Lords; Musicians altending.
Duke. If music be the food of love, play on:
Even in a minute! so full of shapes is fancy,
Cur. Will you go hunt, my lord?
Val. So please my lord, I might not be admitted,
And water once a day her chamber round
A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh
Duke. O! she that hath a heart of that fine frame,
Cap. It is perchance that you yourself were sav'd. Vio. O, my poor brother! and so, perchance, may he be.
Cap. True, madam: and, to comfort you with chance,
Assure yourself, after our ship did split,
(Courage and hope both teaching him the practice)
Cap. Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and born, Not three hours' travel from this very place.
Vio. Who governs here?
Cap. A noble duke, in nature as in name.
Vio. There is a fair behaviour in thee, captain, And though that nature with a beauteous wall Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
I will believe, thou hast a mind that suits
For such disguise as haply shall become
SCENE III-A Room in OLIVIA'S House.
Enter Sir TOBY BELCH, and MARIA. Sir To. What a plague means my niece, to take the death of her brother thus? I am sure care's an enemy to life.
Mar. By my troth, sir Toby, you must come in earlier o' nights: your cousin, my lady, takes great exceptions to your ill hours.
Sir To. Why, let her except before excepted. Mar. Ay, but you must confine yourself within the modest limits of order.
Sir To. Confine? I'll confine myself no finer than I am. These clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots too: an they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps. Mar. That quaffing and drinking will undo you:
I heard my lady talk of it yesterday, and of a foolish knight, that you brought in one night here to be her
Sir To. Who? Sir Andrew Ague-cheek?
Sir To. He's as tall a man as any's in Illyria.
Sir To. Why, he has three thousand ducats a year.
Mar. Ay, but he'll have but a year in all these ducats: he's a very fool, and a prodigal.
Sir To. Fie, that you'll say so! he plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, and speaks three or four languages word for word without book, and hath all the good gifts of nature.
Mar. He hath, indeed,-almost natural; for, besides that he's a fool, he's a great quarreller; and, but that he hath the gift of a coward to allay the gust he hath in quarrelling, 'tis thought among the prudent he would quickly have the gift of a grave.
Sir To. By this hand, they are scoundrels, and substractors that say so of him. Who are they? Mar. They that add, moreover, he's drunk nightly in your company.
Sir To. With drinking healths to my niece. I'll drink to her, as long as there is a passage in my throat, and drink in Illyria. He's a coward and a coystril, that will not drink to my niece, till his brains turn o' the toe like a parish-top.