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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 4th vol. 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. It is not impossible, however, that the circumstances of the Duke sending his Page to plead his cause with the Lady, and of the Lady's falling in love with the Page, &c. might be borrowed from the Fifth Eglog of Barnaby Googe, published with his other original Poems in 1563.


This play is in the graver part elegant and easy, and in some of the lighter scenes exquisitely humorous. Ague-cheek is drawn with great propriety, but his character is, in a great measure, that of natural fatuity, and is therefore not the propor prey of a satirist. The soliloquy of Malvolio is truly comic; he is betrayed to ridicule merely by his pride. The marriage of Olivia, and the succeeding perplexity, though well enough contrived to divert on the stage, wants credibility, and fails to produce the proper instruction required in the drama, as it exhibits no just picture of life. JOHNSON

The first edition of this play is in the folio of 1623.


ORSINO, duke of Illyria.

SEBASTIAN, a young gentleman, brother to Viola.
ANTONIO, a sea captain, friend to Sebastian.
A Sea Captain, friend to Viola.

VALENTINE, gentlemen, attending on the duke.


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


SCENE-a City in Illyria; and the Sea-coast near it.



SCENE I.-An Apartment in the Duke's Palace.
CURIO, Lords; Musicians attending.


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 :
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,▾
That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Enter Duke,

Stealing, and giving odour. 2-Enough; no more ;
'Tis not so sweet now, as it was before.

O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou!
That, notwithstanding thy capacity

[1] Amongst the beauties of this charming similitude, its exact propriety is not the least. For, as a south wind, while blowing over a violet bank, wafts away the odour of the flowers, it at the same time communicates its own sweetness to it; so the soft affecting music, here described, though it takes away the natural sweet tranquillity of the mind, yet, at the same time, it communicates a new pleasure to it. Or, it may allude to another property of music, where the same strains have a power to excite pain or pleasure, as the state is in which it finds the hearer. Hence Milton makes the self-same strains of Orpheus proper to excite both the affections of mirth and melancholy, just as the mind is then disposed. If to mirth, he calls for such music, "That Orpheus' self may heave his head

From golden slumbers on a bed

Of heap'd Elysian Howers, and hear

Such strains as would have won the ear

Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain'd Eurydice."

If to melancholy,


"Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as warbled to the string,
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek,

And made hell grant what love did seek." Il Penseroso. WARB. [2] Milton, in his Paradise Lost, B. IV. has very successfully introduced the same image :


"now gentle gales,

Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense

Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils."



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