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was borrowed again by Barnabe Rich, and set forth as The History of Apolonius and Silla ; making the second in his collection of tales entitled Farewell to the Military Profession, which was first printed in 1581.
Until the discovery of Manningham's Diary, Shakespeare was not supposed to have gone beyond these sources, and it was thought something uncertain to which of these he was most indebted for the raw material of his play. It is now held doubtful whether he drew from either of them. The
passage I have quoted from that Diary notes a close resemblance of Twelfth Night to an Italian play “called Inganni.” This has had the effect of directing attention to the Italian theatre in quest of his originals. Two comedies bearing the title of Gl Inganni have been found, both of them framed upon the novel of Bandello, and both in print before the date of Twelfth Night. These, as also the three forms of the tale mentioned above, all agree in having a brother and sister, the latter in male attire, and the two bearing so close a resemblance in person and dress as to be indistinguishable; upon which circumstance some of the leading incidents are made to turn. In one of the Italian plays, the sister is represented as assuming the name of Cesare ; which is so like Cesario, the name adopted by Viola in her disguise, that the one may well be thought to have suggested the other. Beyond this point, Twelfth Night shows no clear connection with either of those plays.
But there is a third Italian comedy, also lately brought to light, entitled GI Ingannati, which is said to have been first printed in 1537. Here the traces of indebtedness are much clearer and more numerous. I must content myself with abridging the Rev. Joseph Hunter's statement of the matter. In the Italian play, a brother and sister, named Fabritio and Lelia, are separated at the sacking of Rome in 1527. Lelia is carried to Modena, where a gentleman resides, named Flamineo, to whom she was formerly attached. She disguises herself as a boy, and enters his service. Flamineo, having forgotten his Lelia, is making suit to Isabella, a lady of Modena. The disguised Lelia is employed by him in his love-suit to Isabella, who remains utterly deaf to his passion, but falls desperately in love with the messenger. In the third Act the brother Fabritio arrives at Modena, and his close resemblance to Lelia in her male attire gives rise to some ludicrous mistakes. At one time, a servant of Isabella's meets him in the street, and takes him to her house, supposing him to be the messenger; just as Sebastian is taken for Viola, and led to the house of Olivia. In due time, the needful recognitions take place, whereupon Isabella easily transfers her affection to Fabritio, and Flamineo's heart no less easily ties up with the loving and faithful Lelia. In her disguise, Lelia takes the name of Fabio; hence, most likely, the name of Fabian, who figures as one of Olivia's servants. The Italian play has also a subordinate character called Pasquella, to whom Maria corresponds; and another named Malevolti, of which Malvolio is a happy adaptation. All which fully establishes the connection between the Italian comedy and the English. But it does not follow necessarily that the foreign original was used by Shakespeare; so much of the lighter literature of his time having perished, that we cannot, affirm with any certainty what importations from Italy may or may not have been accessible to him in his native tongue.
As for the more comic portions of Twelfth Night, those in which Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and the Clown figure so delectably,
we have no reason for believing that any part of them was borrowed; there being no hints or traces of any thing like them in the previous versions of the story, or in any other book or writing known to us. And it is to be observed, moreover, that the Poet's borrowings, in this instance as in others, relate orly to the plot of the work, the poetry and character being all his own; and that, bere as elsewhere, he used what he took merely as the canvas whereon to pencil out and express the breathing creatures of his mind. So that the whole workmanship is just as original, in the only right sense of that term, as if the story and incidents had been altogether the children of his own invention; and he but followed his usual custom of so ordering his work as to secure whatever benefit might accrue from a sort of preestablished harmony between his subject and the popular mind.
I am quite at a loss to conceive why Twelfth Night should ever have been referred to the Poet's latest period of authorship. The play naturally falls, by the internal notes of style, temper, and poetic grain, into the middle period of his productive years. It has no such marks of vast but immature powers as are often met with in his earlier plays; nor, on the other hand, any of “that intense idiosyncrasy of thought and expression, — that unparalleled fusion of the intellectual with the passionate," — which distinguishes his later ones. Every thing is calm and quiet, with an air of unruffled serenity and composure about it, as if the Poet had purposely taken to such matter as he could easily mould into graceful and entertaining forms; thus exhibiting none of that crushing muscularity of mind to which the hardest materials afterwards or elsewhere became as limber and pliant as clay in the hands of a potter. Yet the play has a marked severity of taste; the style, though by no means so great as in some others, is singularly faultless; the graces of wit and poetry are distilled into it with indescribable delicacy, as if they came from a hand at once the most plentiful and the most sparing: in short, the work is everywhere replete with “the modest charm of not too much "; its beauty, like that of the heroine, being of the still, deep, retiring sort, which it takes one long to find, forever to exhaust, and which can be fully caught only by the reflective imagination in “ the quiet and still air of delightful studies.” Thus all things are disposed in most happy keeping with each other, and tempered in the blandest proportion of Art; so as to illustrate how
“Grace, laughter, and discourse may meet,
And yet the beauty not go less ;
If the characters of this play are generally less interesting in themselves than some we meet with elsewhere in the Poet's works, the defect is pretty well made up by the felicitous grouping of them. Their very diversities of temper and purpose are made to act as so many mutual affinities; and this too in a manner so spontaneous that we see not how they could possibly act otherwise. For broad comic effect, the cluster of which Sir Toby is the centre all of them drawn in clear yet delicate colours is inferior only to the unparalleled assemblage that makes rich the air of Eastcheap. Of Sir Toby himself — that most whimsical, madcap, frolicsome old toper, so full of antics and fond of sprees, with a plentiful stock of wit, which is kept in motion by an equally plentiful lack of money it is enough to say, with our Mr. Verplanck, that “he certainly comes out of the same associations where the Poet saw Falstaff hold his revels"; and that, though “not Sir John, nor a fainter sketch of him, yet he has an odd sort of a family likeness to him.” Sir Toby has a decided penchant for practical jokes; though rather because he takes a sort of disinterested pleasure in them, than because he loves to see himself in the process of engineering them through: for he has not a particle of ill-nature in him. Though by no means a coward himself, he nevertheless enjoys the exposure of cowardice in others; yet this again is not so much because such exposure feeds his self-esteem, as because he delights in the game for its own sake, and for the nimble pastime it yields to his faculties : that is, his impulses seem to rest in it as an ultimate object, or a part of what is to him the summum bonum of life. And it is much the same with his addiction to vinous revelry, and to the moister kind of minstrelsy; an addiction that pro
ceeds in part from his keen gust of fun, and the haps piness he finds in making sport for others as well as for himself: he will drink till the world turns round, but not unless others are at hand to enjoy the turning along with him.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the aspiring, lackadaisical, selfsatisfied echo and sequel of Sir Toby, fitly serves the double purpose
of a butt and a foil to the latter, at once drawing him out and setting him off. Ludicrously proud bf the most petty, childish irregularities, which, however, his natural fatuity keeps him from acting, and barely suffers him to affect, on this point he reminds us of that impressive imbecility, Abraham Slender; yet not in such sort as to encroach at all on Slender's province. There can scarcely be found a richer piece of diversion than Sir Toby's practice in dandling Sir Andrew out of his money, and paying him off with the odd hope of gaining Olivia's hand. And the funniest of it is, that while Sir Toby understands him thoroughly he has not himself the slightest suspicion or inkling of what he is; he being as confident of his own wit as others are of his want of it. Nor are we here touched with any revulsions of moral feeling, such as might disturb our enjoyment of their fellowship; on the contrary, we sympathize with Sir Toby's sport, without any reluctances of virtue or conscience. To our sense of the matter, he neither has nor ought to have any scruples or compunctions about the game he is hunting. For, in truth, his dealing with Sir Andrew is all in the way of fair exchange. He gives as much pleasure as he gets. If he is cheating Sir Andrew out of his money, he is also cheating him into the proper felicity of his nature, and thus paying him with the equivalent best suited to his capacity. It suffices that, in being stuffed with the preposterous delusion about Olivia, Sir Andrew is rendered supremely happy at the time; while he manifestly has not force enough to remember it with any twinges of shame or