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of the likelihood of the manage between the Duke and the ladie, one of the servantes of Julina saied that he never sawe his ladie and mistres use so good a countenaunce to the Duke hym self, as she had doen to Silvio, his manne;" a reminiscence of which plainly appears in Sir Andrew Ague-cheek's complaint to Sir Toby, "Marry, I saw your niece do more favours to the Count's serving man, than ever she bestow'd upon me."
The date of the production of this comedy is determinable with a near approach to certainty and precision. It was once thought, upon grounds too inadequate to merit specification, to have been one of Shakespeare's latest productions, if not the very last; but the hither limit of the period, during which it was produced, was fixed by the discovery of the following entry in a diary kept by John Manningham, a student of the Middle Temple in Shakespeare's time.*
"1601. Feb. 2. At our feast wee 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.f A good practise in it to make the Steward beleeve his lady widdowe % was in love with him, by counterfayting a lettre as from his lady in generall termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparraile, &c, and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad," &c.
Meres does not include Twelfth Night in his citation of Shakespeare's best comedies; and this negative evidence would be quite decisive that it had not been produced when he wrote, even had it not the positive support of the fact that the new map in Linschoten's Voyages into the Easte and West Indies, to which Malvolio's smiling face is likened by Maria, (Act III. Sc. 2,) was not published until 1598. As one of Shakespeare's plays would hardly be performed at the Inns of Court before it had become a favorite at the Globe Theatre, and the company there had derived all the benefit which justly belonged to them from its novelty, and as he would not refer to a map before it had become well known to, at least, a considerable part of his audience, there need be no hesitation in assigning the production of Twelfth Night either to 1599 or 1600. This enables us to determine with all needful, if, indeed, not all desirable, particularity the place which Twelfth Night holds in the order of Shakspeare's productions, and the relations which it bears to his other plays and to the development of his faculties. For Twelfth Night is homogeneous in structure and in style; and the question as to the date when it was written is entirely free from those interesting complications which exist with regard to the production and revision of The Merry Wives of Windsor, All's Well that Ends Well, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and others of Shakespeare's dramas. It is, perhaps, safe to consider the play as written at the close of the year 1599.
* Mr. Hunter and Mr. Collier appear to have had the good luck of discovering this interesting memorandum at about the same time, among the Harleian MSS. of the British Museum; but the determination of its authorship is due to the patience and ingenuity of the former gentleman.
f Of the Inganni and the Ingannati, it is more like the Ingannati; but the latter, as well as the former, was known in England when Manningham wrote; and the difference between the two names in such a diary is not worth consideration.
% As Mr. Collier suggests, Manningham probably mistook the occasion of the mourning that Olivia wore for her brother; but it is possible that when the play was first produced she was represented as a widow.
The text exists in great purity in the folio of 1623, where it was first printed; no intention even to issue an earlier edition being indicated on the Books of the Stationers' Company. As the corruptions of the text in the folio are purely typographical, and with two or three exceptions easily corrected, the non-existence of a surreptitious quarto copy, in which there would inevitably have appeared various readings, is matter of sincere congratulation to all those, whether they hold the pen of an editor and commentator or not, who take comfort in Shakespeare, and love to enjoy him in peace and quietness.
The period of the action of this comedy is absolutely indefinable, as it ought to be. Who would thank the man that took Olivia the peerless, the gentle Viola, the love-sick Duke, and that dear simpleton, Sir Andrew Ague-cheek, out of the realms of pure imagination, numbered them, dated them, and filed them away, as per chronological table and geographical dictionary! The costume is, of course, entirely arbitrary: it may be any Italian dress of a period precedent to the acting of the play. But Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are as English as their names, although the other characters are Italian. Those who are confused or troubled by this discrepancy may find comfort and repose in the elaborate and ingenious disentanglement effected by Mr. Knight for the benefit of such as are not of kin to Alexander. Mr. Knight suggests that Orsino should be regarded as a Venetian governor of a part of Illyria, which remained under the dominion of the republic at the beginning of the seventeenth century; that the members of his household, as well as Olivia and the members of hers, except Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, are also Venetians; and that those worthy knights " are English residents; the former a maternal uncle to Olivia — her father, a Venetian Count, having married Sir Toby's sister!" A national Illyrian or Dalmatian costume is of course required for Viola and Sebastian, that the identity of its fashion and material may make the deception of Olivia the more probable.
The comedy derives its title from its embodiment of the spirit of the Twelfth Night (twelfth after Christmas) sports and revels; a time devoted to festivity and merriment. That it has no more special meaning, is shown by its second title, What You Will. J2
Orsino, Duke of Illyria.
Sebastian, Brother to "Viola.
Antonio, a Sea-Captain, Friend to Sebastian.
A Sea-Captain, Friend to Yiola.
Valentine, ) Qentiemm attending on the Duke.
Sir Toby Belch, Uncle to Olivia.
Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek.
Malvolio, Steward to Olivia.
Fabian, \ Servants to Olivia.
Olivia, a rich Countess.
Lords, Priests, Officers, Sailors, Musicians, and Attendants. SCENE: A City in Illyria; and the Sea-Coast near it.
TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT YOU WILL.
Scene I. — An Apartment in the Duke's Palace. Enter Duke, Cukio, Lords; Musicians attending,
IF music be the food of love, play on;