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SEVERAL of the conjectural chronologists of the plays of Shakspeare assign a very late date to the first appearance of the “ TWELFTH Night;" considering it, indeed, to have been the lastwritten of all his wondrous dramas: and, certainly, of his many marvelous works, there is not one upon which the seal of that consummate perfection for which even the most exalted genius must stand indebted to all-maturing Time, is more lovelily and vividly set. But the truth is, little is positively known as to the actual order in which the plays of Shakspeare were either written or acted: and of his numerous commentators, the figural labors have been equally futile and superfluous with the great bulk of their verbal ingenuities.
The story of the serious portions of this fine play, “ the right happy and copious industry” (as his contemporary Webster somewhat sneeringly phrases it) of its great author may have derived from one of Belleforest's “HISTOIRES TRAGIQUES," or from its Italian original, the thirty-sixth novel of the second part of the “TALES OF BANDELLO;" a novelist in whose rich
mine all the dramatists of the age of Elizabeth wrought deeply for the materials of their incessant gorgeous poetic coinage; from one of the “ Eglogs” of Barnaby Googe, whose poems were published in 1563; or from the “ HISTORY OF APPOLLONIUS AND SILLA,” which was printed in 1583, in a miscellany
entitled, “RICH, HIS FAREWELL TO MILITARY PROFESSION.” It was, however, the mere form of which Shakspeare • availed himself: the subtle spirit of the work is his, and his alone; and the exquisitely comic characters of the
drama — that prince-royal of joyous topers, Sir Toby Belch, a joker worthy to have been the intimate of Sir John Falstaff; the foolish, prodigal, conceited, quarrelsome, cowardly, super-silly fortune-hunter, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (a distant cousin, we have always thought, of Master Abraham Slender), who “harms his wit” by his “great eating of beef;" who has “an excellent head of hair," that “hangs like flax on a distaff;" who, in dancing, has “the back-trick simply as strong as any man in Illyria;' and who “delights in masks and revels sometimes altogether:" the exuberantly witty Clown, Festo the Jester, “a fool that the lady Olivia's father took much delight in,” and whose veriest freedoms are, therefore, rendered permissive, and even sacred, to the lady Olivia : he, the pathetic vocalist, who “takes pleasure in singing;” Malvolio, the fantastic, ill-natured, self-admiring, and sadly but deservedly betricked steward: and the vivacious little Maria, “the youngest wren of nine," the “nettle of India:" — these admirable creations are Shakspeare, soul, body, and all!
As we abandon ourselves to the poetry of this play, the sweetest spirit of love floats balmily over the heart and imagination,
_“Like the sweet south,
Stealing and giving odor.” The sense is saturated with it. We are “canopied with bowers,” under the fragrant beauty of which our lovethoughts “ lie rich” beyond richness. By the "rich golden shaft” of the heavenliest of human passions, are killed “the flock of all affections else that live in us;' and in its sole and omnipotent power we are chained, entranced, spell-bound:
“It gives a very echo to the seat
Twelftly Ilight: ør, What You Will.
SCENE I. — An Apartment in the DUKE's Palace. The element itself, till seven years heat,
Shall not behold her face at ample view; Enter DUKE, CURIO, Lords; Musicians attending.
But, like a cloistress, she will veiled walk, Duke. If music be the food of love, play on, And water once a day her chamber round Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting,
With eye-offending brine : all this to season The appetite may sicken, and so die.
A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh That strain again; — it had a dying fall : And lasting in her sad remembrance. O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south, Duke. O, she that hath a heart of that fine That breathes upon a bank of violets,
frame Stealing and giving odor.— Enough; no more; To pay this debt of love but to a brother, 'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
How will she love when the rich golden shaft O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou ! Hath killed the flock of all affections else That, notwithstanding thy capacity
That live in her! when liver, brain and heart, Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there, These sovereign thrones, are all supplied and Of what validity and pitch soe'er,
filled But falls into abatement and low price,
(Her sweet perfections) with one self king ! Even in a minute! so full of shapes is fancy, Away before me to sweet beds of flowers; That it alone is high-fantastical.
Love-thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers. · Cur. Will you go hunt, my lord ?
[Exeunt. Duke. What, Curio ? Cur.
SCENE II.— The Sea-coast.
Enter VIOLA, Captain, and Sailors.
Vio. What country, friends, is this?
My brother he is in Elysium.
Perchance he is not drowned ::- What think you, Enter VALENTINE.
sailors ? Val. So please, my lord; I might not be admitted, Cap. It is perchance that you yourself were But from her handmaid do return this answer: . saved.
Vio. O my poor brother! and so, perchance, Vio. There is a fair behavior in thee, captain; may he be.
And though that nature with a beauteous wall
I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
For such disguise as haply shall become
It may be worth thy pains; for I can sing,
That will allow me very worth his service. Vio. For saying so, there's gold : What else may hap, to time I will commit; Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,
Only shape thou thy silence to my wit. Whereto thy speech serves for authority,
Cap. Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll The like of him. Know'st thou this country?
be; Cap. Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not born
see! Not three hours' travel from this very place. Vio. I thank thee; lead me on. [Excunt.
Vio. Who governs here?
Cap. A noble duke in nature,
SCENE III.- A Room in OLIVIA's house.
Enter SiR TOBY BELCH and MARIA.
Sir Toby. What a plague means my niece, to !| He was a bachelor then.
take the death of her brother thus? I am sure Cap. And so is now, or was so very late: care 's an enemy to life. For but a month ago I went from hence;
Mar. By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in And then 't was fresh in murmur (as, you know, earlier o' nights; your cousin, my lady, takes great What great ones do, the less will prattle of) exceptions to your ill hours. That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.
Sir Toby. Why, let her except before excepted. Vio. What's she?
Mar. Ay, but you must confine yourself within Cap. A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count the modest limits of order. That died some twelvemonth since; then leaving Sir Toby. Confine! I'll confine myself no finer her
than I am; these clothes are good enough to drink In the protection of his son, her brother, in, and so be these boots too ! an' they be not, let Who shortly also died : for whose dear love, them hang themselves in their own straps. They say, she hath abjured the company
Mar. That quaffing and drinking will undo you: And sight of men.
I heard my lady talk of it yesterday; and of a foolVio. O, that I served that lady: ish knight, that you brought in one night here to And might not be delivered to the world
be her wooer. Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,
Sir Toby. Who? Sir Andrew Aguecheek? What my estate is.
Mar. Ay, he. Cap. That were hard to compass,
Sir Toby. He's as tall a man as any's ini Because she will admit no kind of suit,
Illyria. No, not the duke's.
| Mar. What's that to the purpose ?
he fool and a prodig he plays o' is mar. Now sir, thousut
Sir Toby. Why, he has three thousand ducats might never draw sword again. Fair lady, do you a-year.
think you have fools in hand ? Mar. Ay; but he 'll have but a year in all these Mar. Sir, I have not you by the hand. ducats; he's a very fool and a prodigal.
Sir And. Marry, but you shall have: and here Sir Toby. Fye, that you 'll say so! he plays o' is my hand. the viol-de-gambo, and speaks three or four lan- Mar. Now sir, thought is free: I pray you, guages word for word without book, and hath all bring your hand to the buttery-bar, and let it drink. the good gifts of nature.
Sir And. Wherefore, sweet heart? what 's your Mar. He hath, indeed, — almost natural : for, metaphor ? besides that he's a fool, he's a great quarreler; Mar. It 's dry, sir. and, but that he hath the gift of a coward to allay Sir And. Why, I think so; I am not such an the gust he hath in quarreling, 't is thought among ass but I can keep my hand dry. But what's your the prudent, he would quickly have the gift of a jest ? grave.
Mar. A dry jest, sir. Sir Toby. By this hand, they are scoundrels and Sir And. Are you full of them ? subtractors that say so of him. Who are they? | Mar. Ay, sir; I have them at my fingers' ends :
Mar. They that add, moreover, he's drunk marry, now I let go your hand I am barren. nightly in your company.
[Exit MARIA. Sir Toby. With drinking healths to my niece; Sir Toby. O knight, thou lack'st a cup of caI'll drink to her as long as there is a passage in nary: When did I see thee so put down? my throat, and drink in Illyria : He's a coward Sir And. Never in your life, I think : unless and a coystril that will not drink to my niece till you see canary put me down : Methinks, somehis brains turn o' the toe like a parish top. What, times I have no more wit than a Christian, or an wench? Castiliano vulgo; for here comes Sir ordinary man has : but I am a great eater of beef, Andrew Agueface.
and I believe that does harm to my wit.
Sir Toby. No question.
Sir And. An' I thought that, I'd forswear it.
Sir Toby. Pourquoy, my dear knight! Sir Toby. Sweet Sir Andrew!
Sir And. What is pourquoy ? do or not do? I Sir And. Bless you, fair shrew.
would I had bestowed that time in the tongues, Mar. And you too, sir..
that I have in fencing, dancing, and bear-baiting : Sir Toby. Accost, Sir Andrew, accost. O, had I but followed the arts ! Sir And. What's that?
Sir Toby. Then hadst thou had an excellent Sir Toby. My niece's chambermaid.
head of hair. Sir And. Good Mistress Accost, I desire better Sir And. Why, would that have mended my acquaintance.
hair? Mar. My name is Mary, sir.
Sir Toby. Past question ; for thou seest it will Sir And. Good Mistress Mary Accost, — not curl by nature.
Sir Toby. You mistake, knight; accost is, front Sir And. But it becomes me well enough, does her, board her, woo her, assail her.
't not? Sir And. By my troth, I would not undertake Sir Toby. Excellent ! it hangs like fax on a disher in this company. Is that the meaning of ac- taff; and I hope to see a housewife take thee becost ?
tween her legs, and spin it off. Mar. Fare you well, gentlemen.
Sir And. 'Faith, I 'll home to-morrow, Sir Toby: Sir Toby. An' thou let part so, Sir Andrew, your niece will not be seen; or, if she be, it's four 'would thou mightst never draw sword again. to one she 'll none of me: the count himself, here Sir And. An' you part so, mistress, I would I hard by, wooes her.