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PART I.-Sources of "Twelfth Night."
I VENTURE to believe that we are too much accustomed to regard Shakespeare as a writer of impulse rather than premeditation;1 the fact is that almost throughout the whole period of his authorship he combined a marvellous spontaneity with an equally marvellous discipline of thought and command of material. And this fact is not less true of the sources of his dramas; he spares no pains in his research; he disdains no authority, and no hint in any authority.
To these preliminary considerations two other facts may be added. Shakespeare usually avoided the troublenot, of course, of elaborating-but of inventing a story; he preferred to adapt the plot of some existing novel or drama; and rightly, as I think; for a glance at almost any one of the great literatures of the world will convince us that to originate in the matter of myth or episode or narrative has been more often the frolic of a nation in its youth, or the task of mere ingenuity, and that the higher creative genius has displayed itself by its power of transmuting the crude metal of popular fable or story into the fine gold of drama and epic. But the remaining fact has yet to be stated; for this power of transmuting was possessed by Shakespeare in a far greater degree than by any other literary alchemist.
We are now prepared to discover in the narrative or dramatic literature which preceded Twelfth Night some original—or more probably some originals-that suggested to Shakespeare the leading incidents of his drama; and we 1 See notes on I. i. 5, 14, 35; I, v. 94; v. 375, etc.
must further expect to trace back to minor sources not a little of its material generally. But a good many of these minor sources, which are numerous and often recondite, will, of course, be reserved for the notes and commentary that are appended to the text later on.
The stream of story that flows through the main plot of Twelfth Night, as apart from the less serious underplay, had its source in a remote past; for the chief incidents of the drama turn on the confusions arising from the likeness of twins, which is the motive of the Menæchmi of Plautus, and had, moreover been derived by him from the Greek Alduμo; and this comedy of Plautus had already been adapted by Shakespeare when writing his Comedy of Errors. But as it pursued its course through the centuries of letters, this earlier stream of story was enriched by tributaries, and among these was the fable1 so well represented in Twelfth Night, and shadowed forth already in The Two Gentlemen of Verona; it is that of a woman disguised as a page who falls in love with her master, yet pleads his cause with another woman, who in turn falls in love with her. This twofold story in one form or another became popular, and it was told many times by dramatists or novelists, especially in the sixteenth century.
First to be mentioned among these productions or reproductions of the story is the Italian play Gl'Ingannati ("The Deceived, Cheated, Dupes "), which was acted at Siena in 1531 and printed at Venice in 1537; this Shakespeare almost certainly consulted; and in the poetical Induction 3 Il Sacrificio, which preceded the play, he doubtless found the name Malevolti, and changed it, as I believe, to Aguecheek. For Malvolio, see Appendix I. pp. 179, 180.
If not familiar with Italian literature, Shakespeare certainly had some means of access to it; this must be evident to all who study his works, and I see no reason to
1 See also Appendix I. pp. 178, 182.
See Appendix I. p. 178.
3 Appendix I. p. 178. It bears some slight comparison with the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew.
"Gosson says in his Plays Confuted (1581) that comedies in Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish had been thoroughly ransacked to furnish the playhouses in London," Hunter. See also Appendix, p. 181.
doubt that Gl'Ingannati contributed, and that materially, to the development of Twelfth Night.
It is to Hunter that we are indebted for the discovery of this Italian play, and the title of the volume containing it is Il Sacrificio, Comedia de gl'Intronati, a fuller account of which is given in Appendix I. pp. 177 sqq.
But Hunter was led on to this discovery by the following passage in the Diary of John Manningham, which was first published by Collier in 1831. Manningham was a barrister of the Middle Temple, and his Diary extends with certain breaks and digressions from Christmas 1601 to the 14th of April 1603. The passage runs thus:—
"Feb. 2.-At our feast wee had a play called 'Twelue Night, or What you Will,' much like the Commedy of Errores, or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni. A good practise in it to make the steward beleeue his Lady widdowe1 was in loue 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, etc., and then when he came to practise making him beleeue they tooke him to be mad."
To Hunter the discovery of this important Diary may be partly due; it was he at least who identified its author. Moreover, its mention of the Italian play Inganni prompted those researches which led him to the earlier and far more important Gl'Ingannati. As to the Inganni of Manningham, there were two plays with that title, one was printed at Florence in 1562, and-so we read on the title-page"Recitata in Milano l'anno 1547"; and the author was one Nicolo Secchi; but compared with Gl' Ingannati, its resemblance to Twelfth Night is not by any means striking; and although Shakespeare may have glanced at its pages, they do not appear to have laid him under any serious obligation.2
1 See Note A, p. 196.
2 P. 182. The Buggbears (c. 1564) was founded in part on Gl Ingannati.
Somewhat more deserving of mention is another Italian play, another Inganni,1 which followed the former after an interval of thirty years. This was the work of Curzio Gonzaga, and it was printed at Venice in 1592. Like that of the earlier Inganni, its plot turned on the pivot of a resemblance between a brother and a sister, the latter being dressed in man's attire; but, as in the former instance, the play itself affords no very material proof of having been used by Shakespeare. In this case, however, we have to note one item of evidence which is almost convincing (especially in connection with Hunter's volume of five plays which is described below), and reminds us of the probable origin of the name "Malvolio," and the possible origin of "Fabian"; for in Gonzaga's play the name assumed by the lady in disguise is "Cesare"; and when we remember the many other occasions on which Shakespeare borrowed only a name or two from a whole play or a whole book, we may well believe that he was indebted for his "Cesario " to this Inganni by Gonzaga. Further, it is at least a remarkable coincidence that Hunter should have found Gonzaga's Inganni of 1592 and Gl'Ingannati of 1585 bound up in a volume with three other Italian plays, in one of which, Il Viluppo, di M. G. Parabosco, 1547, Orsino innamorato appears among the Dramatis Persona. No wonder that Hunter should imagine that the volume must have been used by Shakespeare." Of the poet's indebtedness to Gl'Ingannati, and the " Sacrificio of the Intronati,” I have spoken already.3
There is yet to be mentioned a third Inganni, that of Cornaccini, also printed at Venice, and dated 1604; but apart from the date, which, as we shall see further on, is too late for Twelfth Night, this Inganni is less important for our purpose than either of the others.
It is customary to assume that Shakespeare gained access to Italian books through English or perhaps French (and we might add Latin) translations, and we know that a French version of Gl'Ingannati appeared as early as 1543, and that a Latin version, Laelia, of which the MS. is pre
1 P. 190.
2 See p. 190, footnote 2.
* See pp. 177 sqq.
served at Lambeth Palace, was performed at Queens' College, Cambridge, in 1594-5; and further, that a Spanish translation was made in 1556 by Lope de Rueda, entitled Los Engaños or (edition of 1567) Comedia de los Engañados.1 Of such renderings it is likely enough that Shakespeare glanced at the Latin, but again I prefer to think that he had some access to the Italian; and, as we shall see below, he appears to have read Bandello in the original, and if so, why not Gl'Ingannati as well? 2
From these Italian plays we now turn to other probable sources of Twelfth Night. The story which is woven into the plot of Gl'Ingannati is told also in Bandello's Novelle, 1554, and in Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques, 1570, where we have a French version of the former. That Shakespeare had Bandello before him when he wrote Twelfth Night is in my opinion much more than possible; the resemblances of thought and phrase, some of which are given in the Appendix, are almost incontestable evidence. Belleforest he may also have used, but I incline to believe that he consulted Bandello.
From Bandello, or from Bandello through Belleforest, was derived, as we may suppose, the Apolonius and Silla of Barnabe Riche, which is the last to be mentioned among these possible sources of Twelfth Night. The story is one of eight, and the title of the containing volume is, " Riche, his Farewell to Militarie Profession: conteining verie pleasaunt discourses fit for a peaceable time, etc. etc. Imprinted at London by Robart Walley, 1581."
Again the incidents of the oft told tale are repeated in their main outlines, and the influence of Belleforest, though Riche has changed the name of every character in the story, is quite evident. It was long supposed that this version by Riche was the "indisputable source of Twelfth Night"; but although written in English, and therefore more presumably within Shakespeare's reach, its claim to such a distinction is hardly worth considering. However,
1 See p. 185.
8 See Appendix, pp. 183 $99.
See p. x, footnote 4.
See p. 188. For another possible suggestion in Riche, see pp. 189, 190.