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Meirion, farewell—and ne'er again
“OH BLEST ARE THEY, AND THEY ALONE.”
To fame to wealth to power unknown; .
Whose lives in one perpetual tenor glide,
On all the race they hate.
The wild and wintry deep,
Which blackening eddies whirl,
And crested surges hurl
The repercussive caves resound.
In solitary pride,
By Dirce's murmuring side,
“OH BLEST ARE THEY, AND THEY ALONE.”
And waved its tresses of imperial might; Now low in dust its blackened boughs are laid
Its dark root withers in the depth of night. Nor hoarded gold, nor pomp of martial power
Can check necessity's supreme control, That cleaves unerringly the rock-built tower, And whelms the flying bark where shoreless oceans roll.
Performed at Siena in 1531.
[Published in 1862.]
PREFACE BY T. L. PEACOCK. MR. COLLIER, in his Annals of the Stage, * published in 1831, gives an account of a Diary, in which he found recorded a performance of Shakspeare's Twelfth Night. “This Diary,” he says, “I was fortunate enough to meet with among the Harleian MSS, in the Mu. seum. It was kept by an individual, whose name is nowhere given, but who seems to have been a barrister, and consequently a member of one of the Inns of Court. The dates, which are inserted with much particularity, extend from January, 1600-1, to April, 1603; and when I state, that it includes original and unpublished anecdotes of Shakspeare, Spenser, Tarleton, Ben Jonson, Marston, Sir John Davis, Sir Walter Raleigh, and others, it will not be disputed that it is a very valuable and remarkable source of information. ...
“The period when Shakspeare wrote his Twelfth Night, or, What You Will, has been much disputed among the commentators. Tyrwhitt was inclined to fix it in 1614, and Malone was for some years of the same opinion : but he afterwards changed the date he had adopted to 1607. Chalmers thought he found circumstances in the play to justify him in naming 1613; but what I am about to state affords a striking, and, at the same time, a rarely occurring and convincing proof, how little these conjectures merit confidence. That comedy was unquestionably written before 1602, for in February of that year it was an established play, and so much liked, that it was chosen for performance at the Reader's Feast, on Candlemas Day, at the Inn of Court, to which the author of this Diary belonged-most likely the Middle Temple, which, at that date, was famous for its costly entertainments. After reading the following quotation, it is utterly impossible, although the name of the poet be not mentioned, to feel a moment's doubt as to the identity of the play there described and the production of Shakspeare :
* Vol. i. pp. 327, 328.
6. Feb. 2, 1601-2. “'At our feast we 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. A good practice in it, to make the steward believe his lady widdowe* was in love with him, by counterfayting a letter, as from his lady, in general termes, telling him what she liked best in him, and prescribing his gestures, inscribing his apparaile, &c., and then, when he came to practise, making him believe they took him to be mad.'
“Should the Italian comedy, called Inganni, turn up, we shall probably find in it the actual original of Twelfth Night, which it has been hitherto supposed was founded upon the story of Apollonius and Silla, in Barnabe Riche's Farewell to Military Profession, twice printed, viz.: in 1583 and 1606."
Riche's Farewell was reprinted by the Shakspeare Society in 1846. The editor, after alluding to Bandello's tale of Nicuola and Lattantio, and Belleforest's French version of that tale, says: “It seems more likely that Riche resorted to Bandello ; but it is possible that this novel was one of those which had been dramatized before Riche wrote, and if this were the case, it would establish the new and important fact, that a play on the same story as Twelfth Night, had been produced before 1581.
“Two Italian comedies, upon very similar incidents, one called Inganni, and the other Ingannati, were certainly then in existence, and may have formed the groundwork of a drama, anterior to Shakspeare, in our own language. The names given by Riche to the various personages are not those which occur in Bandello, Belleforest, or the Italian comedies : neither are they the same as any used by Shakspeare. Riche perhaps obtained them from the old English drama."
If a play on the same subject as Twelfth Night had been produced before 1581, it could scarcely have escaped the notice of the writer of the Diary. As to the two coinedies, Gľ Inganni and Gl Ingannati, the latter was first in time, and claims to be strictly original.
The Ingannati was performed in Siena in 1531; the Inganni at Milan in 1547.7 The first has most resemblance to Twelfth Night, and was probably in the mind of the author of the Diary, though he called it Inganni. That he could make a slight mistake as to what was before him, is evident from his calling Olivia a widow.
I first became acquainted with the Inganni in the French version of Pierre de Larivey, under the title of Les Tromperies, 1611. This French comedy had become very scarce; but it has been republished
* Olivia is not a widow; but the mis prision is of no moment.
+ Gl Inganni, Comedia del Signor N. S. [Sechi], recitata in Milano l'anno 1547, dinanzi alla Maestà del Re Filippo. In Fiorenza, appresso i Giunti, 1562.*
Charles V., before leaving Spain in 1543, had given the title of King of Spain to his son Philip (Philip II.).
* This is the oldest edition I have seen referred to. There are editions in the British Museum of 1566, 1582, 1587, 1602, 1615.
in the Ancien Théâtre Français of the Bibliothèque Elzévirienne, * I have since read the original in the British Museum.
The scene of the Inganni was laid in Italy. Larivey transferred it to France. I give the Italian argument.
Anselmo, a merchant of Genoa, who traded with the Levant, went on a voyage to Syria, taking with him his wife and his twin children, Fortunato and Ginevra, aged four years, whom, for the convenience of the sea passage, he dressed precisely alike, so that the girl passed for a boy. On the voyage they were captured by Corsairs. Anselmo was taken into Natolia, where he remained in slavery fourteen years. Fortunato was several times sold, but ultimately in Naples, where the scene is laid, and where he is serving Dorotea, a lady no better than she should be. The mother and Ginevra, after various adventures, were purchased, also in Naples, by Messer Massimo Caraccioli. The mother had deemed it prudent to continue the male apparel of her daughter, and through her the brother and sister had been made known to each other. The mother had died six years previously to the opening of the comedy. Ginevra had taken the name of Roberto. Massimo has a son named Gostanzo, and a daughter named Portia. Portia is in love with the supposed Reberto, and Gostanzo with Dorotea, who returns his attachment, but her mother, Gilletta, a rapacious and tyrannical woman, forbids him the house, after she has extorted from him all the money he could dispose of. Ginevra, persecuted by the love of Portia, smuggles her brother Fortunato into the house, and, when occasion serves, substitutes him for herself. At the opening of the play, Portia is on the point of increasing the population of Naples. Ginevra is in double grief, fearing the anger of Massimo, and suffering under her own love for Gostanzo, seeing his love for Dorotea. In despair, she discovers herself to Gostanzo, who transfers his love to her, and Anselmo arrives, abundantly rich, in time to appease the wrath of Massimo, and unite Gostanzo to Ginevra, and Fortunato to Portia.
In all this, what little there is of resemblance to Twelfth Night, is taken, as will be presently seen, and not changed for the better, from the Ingannati.
Much of this comedy is borrowed, in parts closely translated, from the Asinaria of Plautus. Cleaereta, the mother; Philenium, the daughter; Argyrippus, the lover; are reproduced in Gilletta, Dorotea, and Gostanzo. So are the old physician and his wife reproductions of the old man Demaenetus, and his wife Artemona. The scenes of
* The comedies of Larivey, nine in number, all taken from the Italian, are all reprinted in this collection. Les Tromperies is the ninth. The editor, M. Viollet Le Duc, says: “Les six premières comédies de Larivey obtinrent un grand succès, constaté par plusieurs éditions. Les trois dernières n'ont été inprimées qu'une fois, ce qui s'explique par la mort de l'auteur, et surtout par cette circonstance, que ces trois pièces n'avoient pas comme les premières, l'attrait de la nouveauté. Ce volume n'ayant eu qu'une seule édition, est devenue très rare, et se paie au poids de l'or dans les ventes publiques."Tome v. p. xx.