Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

276

TWELFTH NIGHT.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

Duke. What's her history?

Viola. A blank, my lord : She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: She pin'd in thought;
And, with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love, indeed ?
We men may say more, swear more; but, indeed,
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows, but little in our love.

Duke. But died thy sister of her love, my boy ?

Viola. I am all the daughters of my father's house, And all the brothers too ;-and yet I know not. “Shakspeare alone could describe the effect of his own poetry:

“0, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing, and giving odour." “What we so much admire here is not the image of Patience on a monument, which has been so generally quoted, but the lines before and after it, “They give a very echo to the seat where love is throned." How long ago it is since we first learnt to repeat them; and still they vibrate on the heart like the sounds which the passing wind draws from the trembling strings of a harp left on some desert shore! There are other passages of not less impassioned sweetness. Such is Olivia's address to Sebastian, whom she supposed to have already deceived her in a promise of mar.. riage.

Blame not this haste of mine :-
Plight me the full assurance of your faith ;
That my most jealous and too doubtful soul

May live at peace.' “One of the most beautiful of Shakspeare's Songs occurs in this play with a preface of his own to it.

Duke. O fellow, come, the song we had last night:-
Mark it, Cesario ; it is old, and plain;
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun,
And the free maids that weave their thread with bones
Do use to chauut it; it is silly sooth,
And dallies with the innocence of love,

Like the old age.' "After reading other parts of this play, and particularly the garden scene where Malvolio picks up the letter, if we were to say that Shakspeare's genius for comedy was less than his genius for tragedy, it would perhaps only prove that our own taste in such matters is more saturnine than mercuriall."

1 Hazlitt's Characters of Shakspeare's Plays, p. 256.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

Gentlemen attending on the Duke.

ORSINO, Duke of Illyria.
SEBASTIAN, a young Gentleman, Brother to Viola.
ANTONIO, a Sea Captain, Friend to Sebastian.
VALENTINE,
CURIO,
Sir Toby BELCH, Uncle of Olivia.
SIR ANDREW AGUE-CHEEK,
MALVOLIO, Steward to Olivia.
FABIAN,

Servants to Olivia.
Clown,

OLIVIA, 'a rich Countess.
Viola, in love with the Duke.
MARIA, Olivia's Woman.

Lords, Priests, Sailors, Officers, Musicians, and other

Attendants.

SCENE, a City in Illyria; and the Sea Coast

near it.

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, The appetite may sicken, and so die.That strain again ;—it had a dying fall : 0, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south 1, That breathes upon a bank of violets, Stealing, and giving odour2. - Enough; no more; "Tis not so sweet now as it was before. O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou !

1 The old copies read sound, the emendation is Pope's. Rowe had changed it to wind. In Sidney's Arcadia, 1590, we have more sweet than a gentle south-west wind which comes creeping over flowery fields.'

2 Milton has very successfully introduced the same image in Paradise Lost:

Now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole

Those balmy spoils.' Shakspeare, in his Ninety-ninth Sonnet, has made the violet the thief.

"The forward violet thus did I chide :
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,

If not from my love's breath.'
Pope, in his Ode on St. Cecilia's Day; and Thomson, in his
Spring, have availed themselves of the epithet a dying fall.

That notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity 3 and pitch soever,
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute! so full of shapes is fancy,
That it alone is high fantastical 4.
Cur. Will you go hunt, my lord ?
Duke.

What, Curio ?
Cur.

The hart. Duke. Why, so I do, the noblest that I have: 0, when mine eyes did see Olivia first, Methought she purg'd the air of pestilence; That instant was I turn'd into a hart; And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, E'er since pursue me. ó- How now? what news

from her ?

Enter VALENTINE. Val. So please my lord, I might not be admitted, But from her handmaid do return this answer: The element itself, till seven years heat , Shall not behold her face at ample view; But, like a cloistress, she will veiled walk, And water once a day her chamber round With eye-offending brine: all this, to season A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh, And lasting, in her sad remembrance.

3 Value.
4 Fantastical to the height.

5 Shakspeare seems to think men cautioned against too great familiarity with forbidden beauty by the fable of Acteon, who saw Diana naked, and was torn to pieces by his hounds; as a man indulging his eyes or his imagination with a view of a woman he cannot gain, has his heart torn with incessant longing. An interpretation far more elegant and natural than Lord Bacon's, who, in his Wisdom of the Ancients, supposes this story to warn us against inquiring into the secrets of princes, by showing that those who know that which for reasons of state ought to be concealed will be etected and destroyed by their own servants. The thought may have been suggested by Daniel's Fifth Sonnet, in his Delia ; or by Whitney's Einblems, 1586, p. 15; and a passage in the Dedication to Aldington's translation of "The golden Ass of Apuleius, 1566, may have suggested these.

6 Heat for heated.

« AnteriorContinuar »