Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Is 't real that I see?

Hel. No, my good lord; 'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,

The name, and not the thing.

Ber.

Both, both :-Oh, pardon !

Hel. Oh, my good lord, when I was like this maid,

I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring; And, look you, here's your letter; this it says: "When from my finger you can get this ring And are by me with child,” &c.67 This is done: Will you be mine, now you are doubly won? Ber. If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,

I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.

Hel. If it appear not plain, and prove untrue, Deadly divorce step between me and you!— Oh, my dear mother, do I see you living?

Laf. Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep

anon:

[To Parolles.] Good Tom Drum, lend me a handkerchief: so, I thank thee: wait on me home, I'll

67. When from my finger, &c. Comparing the wording of the letter here with its wording in Act iii., sc. 2, an instance is afforded of the variations which Shakespeare gives in repeated passages of this kind. We stated in Note 110, Act ii., "Mer. chant of Venice," that we believe these variations to have been purposely made by the dramatist for the sake of characteristic effect. In the present instance, Helena quotes from her husband's letter; but, although we feel sure that she knows its every cruel sentence by heart, yet the very inaccuracy of the cited words serves to indicate the quivering of the lip that repeats them, and the shaking of the hand that holds out the paper containing them.

68. The even truth. Here is another instance of Shakespeare's using the word "even" peculiarly in this play. In the present passage it has the effect of smooth,' and also the effect of 'correspondent,' 'equalised;' "truth" " that will then have

make sport with thee: let thy courtesies alone, they are scurvy ones.

King. Let us from point to point this story know,

To make the even truth 68 in pleasure flow.-
[To Diana.] If thou be'st yet a fresh uncropped
flower,

Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower;
For I can guess that, by thy honest aid,
Thou kept'st a wife herself, thyself a maid.-
Of that, and all the progress, more and less,
Resolvedly 69 more leisure shall express :
All yet seems well; and if it end so meet,
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.70
[Flourish.

The king's a beggar, now the play is done :
All is well ended, if this suit be won,
That you express content; which we will pay,
With strife to please you, day exceeding day:
Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts;
Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.71
[Exeunt.

been made consistent from "point to point." See Note 55, Act ii.

[ocr errors]

69. Resolvedly. This word is here used partly in the sense of 'determinately,' implying that the King is resolved' to hear all explained; partly in the sense of 'settledly,' 'composedly,' 'sedately;' and partly (as Shakespeare often uses the passive for the active form) for 'resolvingly,' in the sense of 'solvinga question,' 'convincing the mind,' 'clearing all doubts.'

70. All yet seems well; and if it end, &c. In this line, and the next but two, is presented the third passage in which there is reference to the title of the play. See Note 1, Act i.

71. Ours be your patience then, &c. These two lines are each of them antithetical; and ("our parts" being taken in the sense of 'our exertions,' 'our united performance') the meaning is, 'Grant us your patient hearing, and accept our zealous efforts; lend us your hands in applause, and take our hearty thanks.'

[blocks in formation]
[graphic][merged small][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

TWELFTH-NIGHT; OR, WHAT YOU WILL.

ACT I.

SCENE I.-An Apartment in the DUKE's Palace. Enter DUKE, CURIO, Lords; Musicians attending. Duke. If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,

1. The earliest known copy of this charming comedy is the one in the 1623 Folio, where it forms the thirteenth play. Mr. Payne Collier and Mr. Joseph Hunter divide the honour of discovering an entry in a small MS. diary, apparently by a Temple student, named John Manningham, which affords proof that the play was probably written somewhere about 1600. The entry runs thus:"February 2, 1601 [2]. At our feast we had a play called Twelve-Night, or What you Will, much like the Comedy of Errors, or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian, called Inganni. A good practise in it to make the steward believe his lady widdowe was in love with him, by counterfayting a letter, as from his lady, in generall terms telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gestures, inscribing his apparaile, &c., and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad." The original source of the plot has been traced to the Thirty-sixth Novel, Part the Second, by Bandello, which furnished the plot to two Italian plays, entitled Gl' Inganni; but it is supposed that to a third Italian play, called Gl' Ingannati, printed in 1537, and bearing the general title of II Sacrificio, Shakespeare more directly owed the ground-work of this comedy. Not only does the story of the brother and sister separated by misfortune, their respective adventures, and their final restoration to each other, under the romantic circumstances described in "TWELFTHNIGHT," bear resemblance to the one in G' Ingannati, but some similarity of subordinate incident, and names that appear to have suggested the names of Fabian and Malyolio, are to be found in the last-mentioned Italian play. Mr. Hunter, after detailing these vestiges of likeness, adds-"A phrase occurring in a long prologue or preface to this play in the Italian ('La Notte di Beffana') appears to me to have suggested the title 'Twelfth-Night."" If this be the case-as seems very probable-" Beffana" is in all likelihood a misprint for "Beffania;” since, in Florio's Dictionary, we find "Beffania" explained thus-"the Epiphanie: it is spoken in mockerie;" while he explains "Beffana," ' 'a bug-beare,' 'a bull-begger,' 'a scarecrowe,' 'a toy to mocke an ape.' While stating the supposed sources of Shakespeare's plots we are always struck with the mere thread of outline that he owes to others' inventions, and with the wealth of colouring, accuracy of drawing, grace of grouping, amplitude of development, perfection of finish, that he supplied from his own brain and hand. He took a meagre

The appetite may sicken, and so die.—
That strain again!—it had a dying fall:2
Oh, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,3
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!-Enough; no more:

tracing, and filled it up with immortal painting. How Duke Orsino, with his love-saturated imagination and luxurious musings, his passion for music, love of flowers, and sense of beauty; Countess Olivia, with her gentle memories of her dead brother, and her facilely captivated fancy for the youthful page; Sir Toby, with his English name and English nature naturalising it somehow naturally in Illyria; delectable Sir Andrew; that most original of stewards, Malvolio; that most quaint and whimsical and light-hearted of clowns, Feste; that sprightliest-witted, daintiest little waiting-maid, Maria; the good fellow, Fabian; the hearty sea captain, Antonio; the manly youth, Sebastian, whose manliness makes his page-sister's feminineness the more apparent, and yet whose youthfulness harmonises with her assumed boyhood; and last, not least, the lovely Viola herself, with her power of singing" and "speaking in many sorts of music," her reticent demeanour at Orsino's court, her graceful sauciness as page-messenger, her bewitching cowardice at sight of a sword, her air that proclaims her gentle birth, her “ tongue, face, limbs, actions, spirit, that give her five-fold blazon," her figure, her look, her "smooth and rubious lip," her exquisite tenderness and poetry of nature-how all these enchanting characters come before us in their fine individual limning, and in their admirable assembling, as the masterly picture produced by Shakespeare under the name of "Twelfth-Night, or What You Will!" His were creations, purely original creations; and sprang as natively from the first slender filament of story as Raffaelle's Transfiguration from out the blank square of canvas, Phidias's Parthenon group from out the block of marble, or Mozart's Requiem from out the ruled lines of music-paper.

2. A dying fall. Those who have felt the full voluptuous effect of a melodious cadence in music or poetry-the downy subsiding of the one, or the melting languor of the latter; the soft gradual drop of the notes in the one, the liquid lapse of the syllables through a closing line of the other-will perceive the exquisite aptness of this expression.

3. The sweet south. The Folio prints 'sound' for "south" (Pope's correction); and not only our own strong desire for preserving the original wording wherever it is possible, but the earnest pleading of Mr. Charles Knight in favour of 'sound' weighs strongly with us: nevertheless, "south "-the suggestion of another poet-has always had so perfectly the effect to our ear and feeling of having been Shakespeare's word here, that we

« ÎnapoiContinuă »