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whom the critic calls his brother fool as “good at anything, and yet a fool”? Lastly, is he a fool who rejects honour and advancement, and deserts the exiled Duke when he is restored to his state, because
“out of these convertites There is much matter to be heard and learn’d”?
Assuredly, upon the first blush of the question, we must say that the German critic is | wrong. And yet, what is a fool, according to the Shaksperean definition? The fool is one
“Who laid him down and bask'd him in the
The fool is one that doth “moral on the time;” one that hath been a courtier;
“ and in his brain,_ Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit After a voyage, – he hath strange places cramm'd
With observation, the which he vents
The fool is one that
“must have liberty
Withal, as large a charter as the wind.'
The fool is one who
“will through and through Cleanse the foul body of the infected world.”
The fool is one who aims at every man, but, hitting or missing, thus justifies his attack:
“Let me see wherein My tongue hath wrong'd him: if it do him right, Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free, Why then, my taxing like a wild goose flies, Unclaim'd of any man.”
And thus Jaques describes himself. Now let us see what is the character of the companion fool, Touchstone. He introduces himself to us with a bit of fool's logic—that is, a comment upon human actions, derived from premises that are either above, or below, —which you please, the ordinary argumentation of the world. His story of “a certain knight that swore by his honour they were
good pancakes” is not pointless. Perhaps it is a fool's bolt, and soon shot ; yet it hits. But the fool is not without his affections. The friendship which Celia had for Rosalind is reciprocated by the friendship which the fool has for Celia —
“Ro8. But, cousin, what if we essay'd to steal The clownish fool out of your father's court? Would he not be a comfort to our travel? Cel. He 'll go along o'er the wide world with me.”
He is fled to the forest with the two ladies, their comfort, their protector:
“My lord, the roynish clown, at whom so oft Your grace was wont to laugh, is also missing.”
They are in Arden; and then the fool becomes a philosopher:
“Ay, now am I in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at home I was in a better place; but travellers must be content.”
And then he goes on to laugh at romance in
The fool's manners are changing. He did not talk thus in the court. He is quickly growing a philosopher. Hazlitt truly tells us that the following dialogue is better than all “Zimmermann on Solitude, where only half the question is disposed of:—
“Cor. And how like you this shepherd's life, master Touchstone?
Touch. Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life it is naught. In respect that it is solitary I like it very well; but in respect that it is private it is a very vile life. Now, in respect it is in the fields it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court it is tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my humour well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach. Hast any philosophy in thee, shepherd?”
The fool has lived apart from human sympathies. He has been a thing to make idle people laugh ; to live in himself alone; to be in the world and not of the world; to be licensed and despised; to have no responsibilities. The fool goes out of the social state in which he has moved, and he becomes a human being. His affections are called forth in a natural condition of society; he is restored to his fellow-creatures, a man, and not a fool. We do not think that Shakspere meant the courtship of Touchstone and Audrey to be a travestic of the romantic passion of Orlando and Rosalind. It appears to us that it is anything but farce or irony when the fool and the shepherdess thus commune :—
“Touch. Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.
Aud. I do not know what poetical is: Is it honest in deed, and word? Is it a true thing?”
And there is anything but folly when Touchstone resolves
“Be it as it may be, I will marry thee.”
A touch of the court—of his old vocation of saying without accountableness—lingers with him, when, rejoicing in that most original hedge priest, who says, “Ne'er a fantastical knave of them all shall flout me out of my calling” — (the Fleet prison priest of a century ago) — he hugs himself with the belief that “I were better to be married of him than of another;”—but he is after all the true lover, when he rejects the “most vile Mar-text,” and in the honesty of his heart exclaims, “To-morrow is the joyful day, Audrey; to-morrow will we be married.”
And thus, it appears to us, is Ulrici justified in denominating Jaques and Touchstone “the two fools.” It was the characteristic of the Shaksperean fool to hang loose upon the society in which he was cherished; to affect no concern in its anxieties, no sympathy in its pleasures; to be passionless and sarcastic. Jaques, a banished courtier, refuses to seek companionship in the solitary life; he rejects its freedom –he finds in it only a distorted mirror of the social life. The wounded stag
is “a broken bankrupt,”—the “careless herd” are “fat and greasy citizens.” This is not real philosophy; it is false sentimentality. Jaques—refusing to adopt the tone of his companions, who have embraced the free life of the woods, its freshness, its privacy—has put himself into the condition of the fool, who belongs to the world only because he is a mocker of the world. When his friends sing, “Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets,”
“If it do come to pass
This is the answer of one for whom “motley's the only wear.”
And yet how beautifully all this harmonises with the pastoral character of this delightful comedy! The professional fool gradually slides into a real man, from the power of sympathy, which is strong in him, and which is called forth by the absence of a just occasion for his professional unrealities. He is no longer a chorus. The clever but self-sufficient courtier, half in jest, half in earnest, becomes a mocker and a pretended misanthrope. He is passed into the chorus of the real action. In the mean while the main business of the comedy goes forward; and we live amongst all the natural and kindly impulses of true thoughts and feelings, mingled with weaknesses that are a part of this sincerity. But most certainly the spirit which breathes throughout is not one of censure, or sarcasm, or irony. It is a most loving, and sincere, and tolerant spirit— radiant with poetry, and therefore with truth. We desire nothing better to show that Shakspere did not speak through Jaques than these words:—
“Jaques. Will you sit down with me? and we two will rail against our mistress the world, and all our misery.
Orlando. I will chide no breather in the world
but myself; against whom I know most faults.”
THIs comedy was first printed in the folio edition of 1623, under the title of ‘Twelfe Night, or What you will.’ The text is divided into acts and scenes; and the order of these has been undisturbed in the modern editions.
It is scarcely necessary to enter into any detail of the conjectures of the commentators as to the chronology of ‘Twelfth Night.” Their guesses have been proved to be very wide of the mark. There was found in the British Museum, in 1828, a little manuscript diary of a student of the Middle Temple, extending from 1601 to 1603*, in which the following decisive passage occurs:—
“Feb. 2, 1601 .
“At our feast we had a play called ‘Twelve night or what you will, much like the comedy of errors, or Menechmis in Plautus, but most like & 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 termes telling him what shee liked best in him, & prescribing his gestures, inscribing his apparaile, &c., and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad.”
Here is an end then of conjecture. The play was no doubt publicly acted before this performance at the Candlemas feast of the Middle Temple; and it belongs, therefore, to the first year of the seventeenth century,
* We derive our particulars from Mr. Collier's valuable “Annals of the Stage.” He says—“I was fortunate enough to meet with it among the Harleian Manuscripts in the Museum.” Mr. Hunter, in his “Disquisition on the Tempest,’ says, “You may remember when, in 1828, I called your attention, at the British Museum, to the discovery which I had then made in the Diary of Manningham, that “Twelfth Night' was performed in 1602, before the benchers of the Middle Temple.” Mr. Hunter subsequently came to a belief that the ‘Diary’ was that of John Manningham, who was entered at the Middle Temple in 1597.
or the last of the sixteenth ; for it is not found in the list of Meres, in 1598.
The romance literature of Europe was a common property, from which the Elizabethan writers of every grade drew materials for their own performances, using them up with all possible variety of adaptation. Italy was the great fountain-head of these fictions; although they might have travelled thither from the East, and gradually assumed European shape and character. In the hands of real poets, such as Boccaccio and Shakspere, the original material was little more than the canvass upon which the artist worked. The commentators upon our poet tell us, with regard to “Twelfth Night,' “There is great reason to believe that the serious part of this comedy is founded on some old translation of the seventh history in the fourth volume of Belleforest's ‘Histoires Tragiques.” Belleforest took the story, as usual, from Bandello. The comic scenes appear to have been entirely the production of Shakspeare.” He did create, then, Sir Andrew, and Sir Toby, and Malvolio, and the Clown. But who created Viola, and Olivia, and the Duke 2 They were made, say the critics, according to the recipe of Bandello : —Item, a twin brother and sister; item, the sister in love, and becoming a page in the service of him she loved ; item, the said page sent as a messenger to the lady whom her master loved ; item, the lady falling in love with the page; item, the lady meeting with the twin-brother; item, all parties happily matched. All this will be found at great length in Mrs. Lenox’s “Shakspeare Illustrated,” accompanied with many profound remarks upon the poet's stupidity in leaving the safe track of the novelist; which remarks, being somewhat antiquated, may be passed over. Nor is it necessary for us to republish the entire story of “Apolonius and Silla,’ as told in a collection published by Barnaby Rich, “containing very pleasant discourses fit for a peaceable time, gathered together for the only delight of the courteous gentlewomen of England and Ireland.” The argument of Rich's story does not infer any great resemblance in the plots of the novel and the drama:-‘Apolonius, Duke, having spent a year's service in the wars against the Turk, returning homewards with his company by sea, was driven by force of weather to the isle of Cypres, where he was well received by Pontus, governor of the same isle, with whom Silla, daughter to Pontus, fell so strangely in love, that, after Apolonius was departed to Constantinople, Silla, with one man, followed, and coming to Constantinople she served Apolonius in the habit of a man, and, after many pretty accidents falling out, she was known to Apolonius, who in requital of her love married her.” But in the “many pretty accidents” we find a clear resemblance between the poet and the novelist ; with the exception that the poet has thrown his own exquisite purity of imagination over the conduct of the two heroines, and that the novelist is not at all solicitous about this matter. The following somewhat long extract, which includes the main points of resemblance, will furnish a very adequate notion of the difference between a dull and tedious narration and a drama running over with imagination, and humour, and wit ;—in which the highest poetry is welded with the most intense fun : and we are made to feel that the loftiest and the most ludicrous aspect of human affairs can only be adequately presented by one who sees the whole from an eagle-height to which ordinary men cannot soar. But we do not complain that Barnaby Rich was not a Shakspere:—
“And now, to prevent a number of injuries that might be proffered to a woman that was left in her case, she determined to leave her own apparel, and to sort herself into some of those suits, that, being taken for a man, she might pass through the country in the better safety; and as she changed her apparel she thought it likewise convenient to change her name; wherefore, not readily happening of any other, she called herself Silvio, by the name of
her own brother, whom you have heard spoken of before. “In this manner she travelled to Constantinople, where she inquired out the palace of the Duke Apolonius, and, thinking herself now to be both fit and able to play the servingman, she presented herself to the Duke, craving his service. The Duke, very willing to give succour unto strangers, perceiving him to be a proper smooth young man, gave him entertainment. Silla thought herself now more than satisfied for all the casualties that had happened unto her in her journey, that she might at her pleasure take but the view of the Duke Apolonius, and above the rest of his servants was very diligent and attendant upon him, the which the Duke perceiving, began likewise to grow into good liking with the diligence of his man, and therefore made him one of his chamber: who but Silvio, then, was most near about him, in helping of him to make him ready in a morning in the setting of his ruffs, in the keeping of his chamber? Silvio pleased his master so well, that above all the rest of his servants about him he had the greatest credit, and the Duke put him most in trust. “At this very instant there was remaining in the city a noble dame, a widow, whose husband was but lately deceased, one of the noblest men that were in the parts of Grecia, who left his lady and wife large possessions and great livings. This lady's name was called Julina, who, besides the abundance of her wealth and the greatness of her revenues, had likewise the sovereignty of all the dames of Constantinople for her beauty. To this lady Julina, Apolonius . became an earnest suitor, and, according to the manner of lovers, besides fair words, sorrowful sighs, and piteous countenances, there must be sending of loving letters, chains, bracelets, brooches, rings, tablets, gems, jewels, and presents I know not what: * * * * Thus Apolonius was so busied in his new study, that I warrant you there was no man that could challenge him for playing the truant, he followed his profession with so good a will: and who must be the messenger to carry the tokens and loveletters to the lady Julina but Silvio his man? in him the Duke reposed his only confidence, to go between him and his lady. “Now, gentlewomen, do you think there could have been a greater torment devised, wherewith to afflict the heart of Silla, than herself to be made the instrument to work her own
mishap, and to play the attorney in a cause that made so much against herself! But Silla, altogether desirous to please her master, cared nothing at all to offend herself, followed his business with so good a will as if it had been in her own preferment. “Julina, now having many times taken the gaze of this young youth Silvio, perceiving him to be of such excellent perfect grace, was so entangled with the often sight of this sweet temptation, that she fell into as great a liking with the man as the master was with herself: and on a time, Silvio being sent from his master with a message to the lady Julina, as he began very earnestly to solicit in his master's behalf, Julina interrupting him in his tale, said, “Silvio, it is enough that you have said for your master; from henceforth either speak for yourself, or say nothing at all.’ + + + + “And now for a time leaving matters depending as you have heard, it fell out that the right Silvio indeed (whom you have heard spoken of before, the brother of Silla), was come to his father's court, into the isle of Cypres, where, understanding that his sister was departed in manner as you have heard, conjectured that the very occasion did proceed of some liking had between Pedro, her man (that was missing with her), and herself; but Silvio, who loved his sister as dearly as his own life, and the rather for that she was his natural sister both by father and mother; so the one of them was so like the other in countenance and favour that there was no man able to discern the one from the other by their faces, saving by their apparel, the one being a man, the other a woman. “Silvio therefore vowed to his father not only to seek out his sister Silla, but also to revenge the villany which he conceived in Pedro for the carrying away of his sister; and thus departing, having travelled through many cities and towns without hearing any manner of news of those he went to seek for, at the last he arrived at Constantinople, where, as he was walking in an evening for his own recreation on a pleasant green parade without the walls of the city, he fortuned to meet with the lady Julina, who likewise had been abroad to take the air; and as she suddenly cast her eyes upon Silvio, thinking him to be her old acquaintance, by reason they were so like one another, as you have heard before, said unto him, ‘I pray you let me have a little talk with you, seeing I have so luckily met you in this place.”
“Silvio, wondering to hear himself so rightly named, being but a stranger not of above two days’ continuance in the city, very courteously came towards her, desirous to hear what she would say.”
The rest may be imagined.
Mr. Collier informs us, in his ‘Farther Particulars,' that, after vainly searching for eight years, he in 1839 met with the Italian play of the ‘Inganni,” mentioned in the barrister's Diary. This play, as Mr. Collier thinks, was known to Shakspere; and certainly there is some resemblance between its plot and that of ‘Twelfth Night.” The differences, however, are so considerable, that the parallel would scarcely be worth following out. We have to add that Mr. Hunter mentions that he has traced, in an Italian play called the ‘Ingannati” (not the ‘Inganni' of Manningham), the foundation of the serious part of ‘Twelfth Night.”
There is something to our minds very precious in that memorial of Shakspere which is preserved in the little Table-book of the Student of the Middle Temple: “Feb. 2, 1601 . At our feast we had a play called ‘Twelve night or what you will.’” What a scene do these few plain words call up before us! The Christmas festivities have lingered on till Candlemas. The Lord of Misrule has resigned his sceptre; the Fox and the Cat have been hunted round the hall; the Masters of the Revels have sung their songs; the drums are silent which lent their noisy chorus to the Marshal's proclamations; and Sir Francis Flatterer and Sir Randle Rackabite have passed into the ranks of ordinary men”. But there is still a feast; and after the dinner a play; and that play Shakspere's “Twelfth Night.' And the actual roof under which the happy company of benchers, and barristers, and students first listened to that joyous and exhilarating play, full of the truest and most beautiful humanities, especially fitted for a season of cordial mirthfulness, is still standing ; and we may walk into that stately hall and think, Here Shakspere’s “Twelfth Night’ was acted in the Christmas of 1601 ; and
* Consult Dugdale's “Origines Juridiciales.’