« PreviousContinue »
learned his first lesson; that is, to speake pittifully, to looke ruthfully, to promise largely, to serue diligently and to speake carefully: Now he was learning his second lesson, that is, to reward liberally, to giue bountifully, to present willingly and to write louingly. Thus Apolonius was so busied in his new study that, I warrant you, there was no man that could chalenge him for plaiyng the truant, he followed his profession with so good will: And who must be the messenger to carrie the tokens and loue letters to the Lady Iulina but Siluio his man: in him the Duke reposed his onely cofidence to goe between him and his Lady."
Elliot. Now the resemblance begins to open upon us.
Bourne. And it will grow more and more striking every minute. After some reflections on the cruel situation in which Silla, alias Silvio, was placed, Rich goes on thus: "Iulina now hauing many times taken the gaze of this yong youth Siluio, perceiuing him to bee of such excellent perfect grace, was so intangeled with the often sight of this sweete temptation that she fell into as great a liking with the man, as the maister was with her selfe: And on a time Siluio beyng sent from his maister with a message to the Lady Iulina, as he beganne very earnestly to solicite in his maisters behalfe, Iulina interrupting him in his tale saied: Siluio, it is enough that you haue saied for your maister; from henceforth either speake for your self or say nothing at all. Silla, abashed to heare these words, bega in her mind to accuse the blindnes of loue, that lulina, neglecting the good of so noble a Duke, wold preferre her loue vnto such a one as nature it selfe had denied to recopence her liking."
Elliot. Ay, now we enter into the very heart of Shakespeare's play: Le vrai peut quelquefois nitre pas vraisemblable, and this was an instance, for your assertion did not at first seem borne out.
Bourne. I thought you were at first a little incredulous: you seemed afraid of coming under the ironical censure of our friend Rabelais, " Un homme de bons sens croit toujours ce qu'on luy did &; qu'il trouve par escript." We now come to Silla's brother, Silvio, the Sebastian of Shakespeare: Silvio at the time of these transactions was in the interior of Africa, and was not like Sebastian wrecked in the same ship with Viola. Returning to Cyprus, he vows to discover Silla, and after various travels he arrives at Constantinople, "where as he was walking in an euening for his owne recreation on a pleasante grene yarde without the walles of the Cittie, he fortuned to meet with the Lady lulina, who likewise had been abroad to take the aire; and as she sodainly cast her eyes vpon Siluio, thinking him to be her olde acquaintance, by reason they were so like one another, as you have heard before, said vnto him, sir, Siluio, if your hast be not the greater, I pray you let me haue a little talke with you, seeing I haue so luckily met you in this place." At first the young man appears somewhat astonished and shy, but noting the lady's beauty, he affects to have forgotten himself, and to be what Julina supposes him. Julina, as a widow, may be excused for being something bolder than a virgin, and she actually invites Silvio not only to her house, but to her bed, and he consents without reluctance.
Morton. Something more must be said about the resemblance of the brother and sister, to account for the mistake, than what you read just now: you probably omitted to mention it.
Bourne. I forgot it in the proper place; for it is stated that Silvio loved his sister Silla " as dearly as his own life, and the rather for that as she was his naturall sister both by the Father and Mother, so the one of them was so like the other in countenance and fauour, that there was no man able to descerne the one from the other by their faces."
Elliot. That was a very important circumstance. If Shakespeare were wrong in making Olivia not a widow, he was right in not carrying her love to Cesario or to the man she fancied was he, to such an extreme as Rich represents it.
Bourne. Of course; but Rich, as you will find, has no scruple of that sort, for Julina afterwards proves to be in the family way:—but we shall see more of that presently. Duke Apolonius is informed by his domestics, that the widow preferred his servant to himself, and that she had given most unequivocal proofs of it: he consequently throws the unfortunate Silla into a dungeon, and refuses to listen to her entreaties. Julina, in the mean time, finding the consequences of her intercourse with the brother but too apparent, is in a state of great alarm, "fearing to become banckrout of her honour," and appealing to Apolonius, Silla is brought from her prison into their presence: she requires Julina to contradict the charge that she, Silla, had made love to her, Julina, for herself instead of her master. Julina, on the other hand, still mistaking the sister for the brother, calls upon Silla first to admit their mutual love, and that failing, to avow the criminal intercourse that had passed between them. The speeches in this interview run to a considerable length, Julina repeating to Silla the vows her brother Silvio had, in fact, made of love and constancy, and asserting that she had received him "for her loyal husband." The duke is convinced that his page has wronged the lady most grossly, and drawing his rapier, insists that Silla shall make all possible amends. This forms a very interesting scene, and our compassion is much divided between the duke, who saw the lady of his love thus degraded, Julina, who complains of the ingratitude of one whom she so dearly valued, and Silla, who is the innocent victim of mistake and accident.
Elliot. Shakespeare has made no use of it, and could not in the structure of his play; but he has turned the resemblance between the brother and sister to a comic account, if I may so say, and has made it the source of several most ludicrous scenes. Are any of these touched upon or related in Rich's story?
Bourne. They are not: the irresistibly comic part of Twelfth Night appears to be wholly Shakespeare's. In Rich's novel there is not any ludicrous character, or, indeed, any person whose name has not been already mentioned. You may wish to hear a few sentences from the reply of Silla to Julina's accusation before the duke. "Ah, Madame Iulina, I desire no other testimonie, then your owne honestie and vertue, thinking that you wil not so much blemish the brightnesse of your honour, knowing that a woman is, or should be, the Image of curtesie, continencie and shamefastnesse, from the which so soone as she stoopeth, and leaueth the office of her duetie and modesty, besides the degradation of her honour she thrusteth her selfe into the pit of perpetuall infamy: and as I cannot think you would so forget your selfe, by the refusal of a noble Duke to dimme the light of your renowne and glorie, which hetherto you haue maintained amongest the best and noblest Ladies, by such a one as I knowe my selfe to be, too farre vnworthie your degree and calling, so most humbly I beseech you to confesse a troth, whereto tendeth those vowes and promises you speake of, which speeches bee so obscure vnto me, as I know not for my life how I might vnderstand them."
Morton. The sentence of the duke, commanding