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Orfino, Duke of Illyria.
Sebaftian, a young gentleman, brother to Viola.
Valentine, Gentlemen attending on the Duke.
Sir Toby Belch, uncle to Olivia.
Clown, Servants to Olivia.
Olivia, a rich countess.
Viola, in love with the Duke:
Maria, Olivia's woman.
Lords, Prieft, Sailors, Officers, Muficians, and other
SCENE, a city in Illyria; and the fea-coaft near it.
WHAT YOU WILL'.
A Room in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, CURIO, and Lords; Muficians attending.
1 There is great reafon to believe, that the serious part of this comedy is founded on fome old tranflation of the feventh hiftory in the fourth volume of Belleforest's Hiftoires Tragiques. It appears from the books of the Stationers' Company, July 15, 1596, that there was a verfion of "Epitomes des cent Hiftoires Tragiques, partie extraictes des actes des Romains, et autres, &c." Belleforeft took the ftory, as usual, from Bandello. The comick scenes appear to have been entirely the production of Shakspeare. Ben Jonfon, who takes every opportunity to find fault with Shakspeare, feems to ridicule the conduct of Twelfth Night in his Every Man out of bis Humour, at the end of A& III. fc. vi. where he makes Mitis fay, "That the argument of his comedy might have been of fome other nature, as of a duke to be in love with a counters, and that countess to be in love with the duke's fon, and the fon in love with the lady's waiting-maid: fome fuch cross wooing, with a clown to their ferving-man, better than be thus near and familiarly allied to the time." STEEVENS.
I fuppofe this comedy to have been written in 1614. If however the foregoing paffage was levelled at Twelfib-Night, my fpeculation falls to the ground. See An Attempt to afcertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, Vol. I. MALONE.
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,
Cur. Will you go hunt, my lord?
Cur. The hart.
Duke. Why, fo I do, the nobleft that I have:
Methought, the purg'd the air of pestilence;
20, it came o'er my ear like the fweet fouth, That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing, and giving odour.] Milton, in his Paradife Loft, b. iv. bas very fuccessfully introduced the fame image:
"now gentle gales,
"Fanning their odoriferous wings, difpenfe
"Native perfumes, and whisper whence they ftole
The old copy reads-fweet found, which Mr. Rowe changed into svind, and Mr. Pope into fouth. STEEVENS.
Here Shakspeare makes the fouth fteal odour from the violst. In his 99th Sonnet, the violet is made the thief:
"The forward violet thus did I chide :
"Sweet thief, whence didst thou fteal thy fweet that smells, "If not from my love's breath?" MALONE.
3 Of what validity and pitch foever,] Validity is here ufed for value. See Vol. III. p. 471, n. 3. MALONE.
4 That it alone is high-fantaftical.] High-fantaftical, means no more than fantastical to the beight. So, in All's Well that ends Well:
"My bigh-repented blames
"Dear fovereign, pardon me." STEEVENS.
5 That inftant was I turn'd into a bart ;] This image evidently alludes to the ftory of Acteon, by which Shakspeare feems to think men cau tioned against too great familiarity with forbidden beauty. Acteon,