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A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR,
AND A SELECTION OF
NOTES, CRITICAL, HISTORICAL, AND EXPLANATORY,
REV. W. HARNESS, A. M.
OP CHRIST'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
WHAT YOU WILL.
THERE is no edition of this play earlier than the first folio in 1623.—Mr. Malone supposes, that it was produced in the year 1607; but there is no evidence either to support, or refute such a supposition. Mr. Chalmers conceives that it was written in 1613.-If any probable conjecture respecting its date may be derived from the merits of the work, I should have little hesitation in ranking this among our author's latest productions. It is marked by the ease and certainty of an experienced hand. There is nothing superfluous. Every passage tends to the effect designed. No part could be abstracted without material injury to the beauty of the whole. The serious portion of the comedy may have been taken from the seventh history of the fourth volume of Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques. The comic scenes and characters appear to have been entirely Shakspeare's own.- -The commentators have discovered that Ben Jonson designed to ridicule Twelfth Night, in Every Man out of his Humour.-Mitis says in Act 3. of that play, "The argument of this comedy might have been of some other nature, as of a Duke to be in love with a Countess, and this Countess to be in love with the Duke's son, and the son in love with the lady's waiting-maid : some such cross wooing with a clown to their serving-man, &c."-Where Mr. Steevens found the point of this passage, I am unable to say-in Twelfth Night there is no Countess in love with a Duke's son, nor any Duke's son in love with a waiting-maid." What is more to the purpose," says Mr. Gifford, "Ben Jonson's play was written at least a dozen years before Twelfth Night appeared."