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royal robes and put on his friar's habit; and in that disguise again he
presented himself before Angelo and Escalus: and the good old Escalus,
who thought Angelo had been falsely accused, said to the supposed
friar: 'Come, sir, did you set these women on to slander lord Angelo?'
He replied: 'Where is the duke? It is he who should hear me speak.'
Escalus said: 'The duke is in us, and we will hear you. Speak justly.'
'Boldly at least,' retorted the friar; and then he blamed the duke for
leaving the cause of Isabel in the hands of him she had accused, and
spoke so freely of many corrupt practices he had observed, while, as he
said, he had been a looker-on in Vienna, that Escalus threatened him
with the torture for speaking words against the state, and for
censuring the conduct of the duke, and ordered him to be taken away to
prison. Then, to the amazement of all present, and to the utter
confusion of Angelo, the supposed friar threw off his disguise, and
they saw it was the duke himself.

The duke first addressed Isabel. He said to her: 'Come hither, Isabel.
Your friar is now your prince, but with my habit I have not changed my
heart. I am still devoted to your service.' 'O give me pardon,' said
Isabel, 'that I, your vassal, have employed and troubled your unknown
sovereignty.' He answered that he had most need of forgiveness from
her, for not having prevented the death of her brother for not yet
would he tell her that Claudio was living; meaning first to make a
further trial of her goodness. Angelo now knew the duke had been a
secret witness of his bad deeds, and he said: 'O my dread lord, I
should be guiltier than my guiltiness, to think I can be undiscernible,
when I perceive your grace, like power divine, has looked upon my
actions. Then, good prince, no longer prolong my shame, but let my
trial be my own confession. Immediate sentence and death is all the
grace I beg.' The duke replied: 'Angelo, thy faults are manifest. We do
condemn thee to the very block where Claudio stooped to death; and with
like haste away with him; and for his possessions, Mariana, we do
instate and widow you withal, to buy a better husband.' 'O my dear
lord,' said Mariana, 'I crave no other, nor no better man': and then on
her knees, even as Isabel had begged the life of Claudio, did this kind
wife of an ungrateful husband beg the life of Angelo; and she said:
'Gentle my liege, O good my lord! Sweet Isabel, take my part! Lend me
your knees, and all my life to come I will lend you all my life, to do
you service!' The duke said: 'Against all sense you importune her.
Should Isabel kneel down to beg for mercy, her brother's ghost would
break his paved bed, and take her hence in horror.' Still Mariana said:
'Isabel, sweet Isabel, do but kneel by me, hold up your hand, say
nothing! I will speak all. They say, best men are moulded out of
faults, and for the most part become much the better for being a little
bad. So may my husband. Oh Isabel, will you not lend a knee?' The duke
then said: 'He dies for Claudio,' But much pleased was the good duke,
when his own Isabel, from whom he expected all gracious and honourable
acts, kneeled down before him, and said: 'Most bounteous sir, look, if
it please you, on this man condemned, as if my brother lived. I partly
think a due sincerity governed his deeds, till he did look on me. Since
it is so, let him not die! My brother had but justice, in that he did
the thing for which he died.'

The duke, as the best reply he could make to this noble petitioner for
her enemy's life, sending for Claudio from his prison-house, where he
lay doubtful of his destiny, presented to her this lamented bother
living; and he said to Isabel: 'Give me your hand, Isabel; for your
lovely sake I pardon Claudio. Say you will be mine, and he shall be my
brother too.' By this time lord Angelo perceived he was safe; and the
duke, observing his eye to brighten up a little, said: 'Well, Angelo,
look that you love your wife; her worth has obtained your pardon: joy
to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo! I have confessed her, and know her
virtue.' Angelo remembered, when dressed in a little brief authority,
how hard his heart had been, and felt how sweet is mercy.

The duke commanded Claudio to marry Juliet, and offered himself again
to the acceptance of Isabel, whose virtuous and noble conduct had won
her prince's heart. Isabel, not having taken the veil, was free to
marry; and the friendly offices, while hid under the disguise of a
humble friar, which the noble duke had done for her, made her with
grateful joy accept the honour he offered her; and when she became
duchess of Vienna, the excellent example of the virtuous Isabel worked
such a complete reformation among the young ladies of that city that
from that time none ever fell into the transgression of Juliet, the
repentant wife of the reformed Claudio. And the mercy-loving duke long
reigned with his beloved Isabel, the happiest of husbands and of


Sebastian and his sister Viola, a young gentleman and lady of
Messaline, were twins, and (which was accounted a great wonder) from
their birth they so much resembled each other, that, but for the
difference in their dress, they could not be known apart. They were
both born in one hour, and in one hour they were both in danger of
perishing, for they were shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, as they
were making a sea-voyage together. The ship, on board of which they
were, split on a rock in a violent storm, and a very small number of
the ship's company escaped with their lives. The captain of the vessel,
with a few of the sailors that were saved, got to land in a small boat,
and with them they brought Viola safe on shore, where she, poor lady,
instead of rejoicing at her own deliverance, began to lament her
brother's loss; but the captain comforted her with the assurance that
he had seen her brother, when the ship split, fasten himself to a
strong mast, on which, as long as he could see anything of him for the
distance, he perceived him borne up above the waves. Viola was much
consoled by the hope this account gave her, and now considered how she
was to dispose of herself in a strange country, so far from home; and
she asked the captain if he knew anything of Illyria. 'Ay, very well,
madam,' replied the captain, 'for I was born not three hours' travel
from this place.' 'Who governs here?' said Viola. The captain told her,
Illyria was governed by Orsino, a duke noble in nature as well as
dignity. Viola said, she had heard her father speak of Orsino, and that
he was unmarried then. 'And he is so now,' said the captain; 'or was so
very lately, for, but a month ago, I went from here, and then it was
the general talk (as you know what great ones do, the people will
prattle of) that Orsino sought the love of fair Olivia, a virtuous
maid, the daughter of a count who died twelve months ago, leaving
Olivia to the protection of her brother, who shortly after died also;
and for the love of this dear brother, they say, she has abjured the
sight and company of men.' Viola, who was herself in such a sad
affliction for her brother's loss, wished she could live with this
lady, who so tenderly mourned a brother's death. She asked the captain
if he could introduce her to Olivia, saying she would willingly serve
this lady. But he replied, this would be a hard thing to accomplish,
because the lady Olivia would admit no person into her house since her
brother's death, not even the duke himself. Then Viola formed another
project in her mind, which was, in a man's habit, to serve the duke
Orsino as a page. It was a strange fancy in a young lady to put on male
attire, and pass for a boy; but the forlorn and unprotected state of
Viola, who was young and of uncommon beauty, alone, and in a foreign
land, must plead her excuse.

She having observed a fair behaviour in the captain, and that he showed
a friendly concern for her welfare, entrusted him with her design, and
he readily engaged to assist her. Viola gave him money, and directed
him to furnish her with suitable apparel, ordering her clothes to be
made of the same colour and in the same fashion her brother Sebastian
used to wear, and when she was dressed in her manly garb, she looked so
exactly like her brother that some strange errors happened by means of
their being mistaken for each other; for, as will afterwards appear,
Sebastian was also saved.

Viola's good friend, the captain, when he had transformed this pretty
lady into a gentleman, having some interest at court, got her presented
to Orsino under the feigned name of Cesario. The duke was wonderfully
pleased with the address and graceful deportment of this handsome
youth, and made Cesario one of his pages that being the office Viola
wished to obtain: and she so well fulfilled the duties of her new
station, and showed such a ready observance and faithful attachment to
her lord, that she soon became his most favoured attendant. To Cesario
Orsino confided the whole history of his love for the lady Olivia. To
Cesario he told the long and unsuccessful suit he had made to one who,
rejecting his long services, and despising his person, refused to admit
him to her presence; and for the love of this lady who had so unkindly
treated him, the noble Orsino, forsaking the sports of the held and all
manly exercises in which he used to delight, passed his hours in
ignoble sloth, listening to the effeminate sounds of soft music, gentle
airs, and passionate love-songs; and neglecting the company of the wise
and learned lords with whom he used to associate, he was now all day
long conversing with young Cesario. Unmeet companion no doubt his grave
courtiers thought Cesario was for their once noble master, the great
duke Orsino.

It is a dangerous matter for young maidens to be the confidants of
handsome young dukes; which Viola too soon found to her sorrow, for all
that Orsino told her he endured for Olivia, she presently perceived she
suffered for the love of him; and much it moved her wonder, that Olivia
could be so regardless of this her peerless lord and master, whom she
thought no one could behold without the deepest admiration, and she
ventured gently to hint to Orsino, that it was a pity he should affect
a lady who was so blind to his worthy qualities; and she said: 'If a
lady were to love you, my lord, as you love Olivia (and perhaps there
may be one who does), if you could not love her in return, would you
not tell her that you could not love, and must she not be content with
this answer?' But Orsino would not admit of this reasoning, for he
denied that it was possible for any woman to love as he did. He said,
no woman's heart was big enough to hold so much love, and therefore it
was unfair to compare the love of any lady for him, to his love for
Olivia. Now, though Viola had the utmost deference for the duke's
opinions, she could not help thinking this was not quite true, for she
thought her heart had full as much love in it as Orsino's had; and she
said: 'Ah, but I know, my lord.' 'What do you know, Cesario?' said
Orsino. 'Too well I know,' replied Viola, 'what love women may owe to
men. They are as true of heart as we are. My father had a daughter
loved a man, as I perhaps, were I a woman, should love your lordship.'
'And what is her history?' said Orsino. 'A blank, my lord,' replied
Viola: 'she never told her love, but let concealment, like a worm in
the bud, feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought, and with a
green and yellow melancholy, she sat like Patience on a monument,
smiling at Grief.' The duke inquired if this lady died of her love, but
to this question Viola returned an evasive answer; as probably she had
feigned the story, to speak words expressive of the secret love and
silent grief she suffered for Orsino.

While they were talking, a gentleman entered whom the duke had sent to
Olivia, and he said: 'So please you, my lord, I might not be admitted
to the lady, but by her handmaid she returned you this answer: Until
seven years hence, the element itself shall not behold her face; but
like a cloistress she will walk veiled, watering her chamber with her
tears for the sad remembrance of her dead brother.' On hearing this,
the duke exclaimed: 'O she that has a heart of this fine frame, to pay
this debt of love to a dead brother, how will she love, when the rich
golden shaft has touched her heart!' And then he said to Viola: 'You
know, Cesario, I have told you all the secrets of my heart; therefore,
good youth, go to Olivia's house. Be not denied access; stand at her
doors, and tell her, there your fixed foot shall grow till you have
audience.' 'And if I do speak to her, my lord, what then?' said Viola.
'O then,' replied Orsino, 'unfold to her the passion of my love. Make a
long discourse to her of my dear faith. It will well become you to act
my woes, for she will attend more to you than to one of graver aspect.'

Away then went Viola; but not willingly did she undertake this
courtship, for she was to woo a lady to become a wife to him she wished
to marry: but having undertaken the affair, she performed it with
fidelity; and Olivia soon heard that a youth was at her door who
insisted upon being admitted to her presence. 'I told him,' said the
servant, 'that you were sick: he said he knew you were, and therefore
he came to speak with you. I told him that you were asleep: he seemed
to have a foreknowledge of that too, and said, that therefore he must
speak with you. What is to be said to him, lady? for he seems fortified
against all denial, and will speak with you, whether you will or no.'
Olivia, curious to see who this peremptory messenger might be, desired
he might be admitted; and throwing her veil over her face, she said she
would once more hear Orsino's embassy, not doubting but that he came
from the duke, by his importunity. Viola, entering, put on the most
manly air she could assume, and affecting the fine courtier language of
great men's pages, she said to the veiled lady: 'Most radiant,
exquisite, and matchless beauty, I pray you tell me if you are the lady
of the house; for I should be sorry to cast away my speech upon
another; for besides that it is excellently well penned, I have taken
great pains to learn it.' 'Whence come you, sir?' said Olivia. 'I can
say little more than I have studied,' replied Viola; 'and that question
is out of my part.' 'Are you a comedian?' said Olivia. 'No,' replied
Viola; 'and yet I am not that which I play'; meaning that she, being a
woman, feigned herself to be a man. And again she asked Olivia if she
were the lady of the house. Olivia said she was; and then Viola, having
more curiosity to see her rival's features, than haste to deliver her
master's message, said: 'Good madam, let me see your face.' With this
bold request Olivia was not averse to comply; for this haughty beauty,
whom the duke Orsino had loved so long in vain, at first sight
conceived a passion for the supposed page, the humble Cesario.

When Viola asked to see her face, Olivia said: 'Have you any commission
from your lord and master to negotiate with my face?' And then,
forgetting her determination to go veiled for seven long years, she
drew aside her veil, saying: 'But I will draw the curtain and show the
picture. Is it not well done?' Viola replied: 'It is beauty truly
mixed; the red and white upon your cheeks is by Nature's own cunning
hand laid on. You are the most cruel lady living, if you will lead
these graces to the grave, and leave the world no copy.' 'O, sir,'
replied Olivia, 'I will not be so cruel. The world may have an
inventory of my beauty. As, item, two Lips, indifferent red; item, two
grey eyes, with lids to them; one neck; one chin; and so forth. Were
you sent here to praise me?' Viola replied: 'I see what you are: you
are too proud, but you are fair. My lord and master loves you. O such a
love could but be recompensed, though you were crowned the queen of
beauty: for Orsino loves you with adoration and with tears, with groans
that thunder love, and sighs of fire.' 'Your lord,' said Olivia, 'knows
well my mind. I cannot love him; yet I doubt not he is virtuous; I know
him to be noble and of high estate, of fresh and spotless youth. All
voices proclaim him learned, courteous, and valiant; yet I cannot love
him, he might have taken his answer long ago.' 'If I did love you as my
master does,' said Viola, 'I would make me a willow cabin at your
gates, and call upon your name, I would write complaining sonnets on
Olivia, and sing them in the dead of the night; your name should sound
among the hills, and I would make Echo, the babbling gossip of the air,
cry out Olivia. O you should not rest between the elements of earth and
air, but you should pity me.' 'You might do much,' said Olivia: 'what
is your parentage?' Viola replied: 'Above my fortunes, yet my state is
well. I am a gentleman.' Olivia now reluctantly dismissed Viola,
saying: 'Go to your master, and tell him, I cannot love him. Let him
send no more, unless perchance you come again to tell me how he takes
it.' And Viola departed, bidding the lady farewell by the name of Fair
Cruelty. When she was gone, Olivia repeated the words, Above my
fortunes, yet my state is well. I am a gentleman. And she said aloud:
'I will be sworn he is; his tongue, his face, his limbs, action, and
spirit, plainly show he is a gentleman.' And then she wished Cesario
was the duke; and perceiving the fast hold he had taken on her
affections, she blamed herself for her sudden love: but the gentle
blame which people lay upon their own faults has no deep root; and
presently the noble lady Olivia so far forgot the inequality between
her fortunes and those of this seeming page, as well as the maidenly
reserve which is the chief ornament of a lady's character, that she
resolved to court the love of young Cesario, and sent a servant after
him with a diamond ring, under the presence that he had left it with
her as a present from Orsino. She hoped by thus artfully making Cesario
a present of the ring, she should give him some intimation of her
design; and truly it did make Viola suspect; for knowing that Orsino
had sent no ring by her, she began to recollect that Olivia's looks and
manner were expressive of admiration, and she presently guessed her
master's mistress had fallen in love with her. 'Alas,' said she, 'the
poor lady might as well love a dream. Disguise I see is wicked, for it
has caused Olivia to breathe as fruitless sighs for me as I do for

Viola returned to Orsino's palace, and related to her lord the ill
success of the negotiation, repeating the command of Olivia, that the
duke should trouble her no more. Yet still the duke persisted in hoping
that the gentle Cesario would in time be able to persuade her to show
some pity, and therefore he bade him he should go to her again the next
day. In the meantime, to pass away the tedious interval, he commanded a
song which he loved to be sung; and he said: 'My good Cesario, when I
heard that song last night, methought it did relieve my passion much.
Mark it, Cesario, it is old and plain. The spinsters and the knitters
when they sit in the sun, and the young maids that weave their thread
with bone, chant this song. It is silly, yet I love it, for it tells of
the innocence of love in the old times.'


Come away, come away, Death
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath,
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white stuck all with yew, O prepare it!
My part of death no one so true did share it.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet
On my black coffin let there be strewn:
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown
A thousand thousand sighs to save, lay me O where
Sad true lover never kind my grave, to weep there!

Viola did not fail to mark the words of the old song which in such true
simplicity described the pangs of unrequited love, and she bore
testimony in her countenance of feeling what the song expressed. Her
sad looks were observed by Orsino, who said to her: 'My life upon it,
Cesario, though you are so young, your eye has looked upon some face
that it loves: has it not, boy?' 'A little, with your leave,' replied
Viola. 'And what kind of woman, and of what age is she?' said Orsino.
'Of your age and of your complexion, my lord,' said Viola; which made
the duke smile to hear this fair young boy loved a woman so much older
than himself, and of a man's dark complexion; but Viola secretly meant
Orsino, and not a woman like him.

When Viola made her second visit to Olivia, she found no difficulty in
gaining access to her. Servants soon discover when their ladies delight
to converse with handsome young messengers; and the instant Viola
arrived, the gates were thrown wide open, and the duke's page was shown
into Olivia's apartment with great respect; and when Viola told Olivia
that she was come once more to plead in her lord's behalf, this lady
said: 'I desired you never to speak of him again; but if you would
undertake another suit, I had rather hear you solicit, than music from
the spheres.' This was pretty plain speaking, but Olivia soon explained
herself still more plainly, and openly confessed her love; and when she
saw displeasure with perplexity expressed in Viola's face, she said: 'O
what a deal of scorn looks beautiful in the contempt and anger of his
lip! Cesario, by the roses of the spring, by maidhood, honour, and by
truth, I love you so, that, in spite of your pride, I have neither wit
nor reason to conceal my passion.' But in vain the lady wooed; Viola
hastened from her presence, threatening never more to come to plead
Orsino's love; and all the reply she made to Olivia's fond solicitation
was, a declaration of a resolution Never to love any woman.

No sooner had Viola left the lady than a claim was made upon her
velour. A gentleman, a rejected suitor of Olivia, who had learned how
that lady had favoured the duke's messenger, challenged him to fight a
duel. What should poor Viola do, who, though she carried a manlike
outside, had a true woman's heart, and feared to look on her own sword?

When she saw her formidable rival advancing towards her with his sword
drawn, she began to think of confessing that she was a woman; but she
was relieved at once from her terror, and the shame of such a
discovery, by a stranger that was passing by, who made up to them, and
as if he had been long known to her, and were her dearest friend, said
to her opponent: 'If this young gentleman has done offence, I will take
the fault on me; and if you offend him, I will for his sake defy you.'
Before Viola had time to thank him for his protection, or to inquire
the reason of his kind interference, her new friend met with an enemy
where his bravery was of no use to him; for the officers of justice
coming up in that instant, apprehended the stranger in the duke's name,
to answer for an offence he had committed some years before: and he
said to Viola: 'This comes with seeking you': and then he asked her for
a purse, saying: 'Now my necessity makes me ask for my purse, and it
grieves me much more for what I cannot do for you, than for what
befalls myself. You stand amazed, but be of comfort.' His words did
indeed amaze Viola, and she protested she knew him not, nor had ever
received a purse from him; but for the kindness he had just shown her,
she offered him a small sum of money, being nearly the whole she
possessed. And now the stranger spoke severe things, charging her with
ingratitude and unkindness. He said: 'This youth, whom you see here, I
snatched from the jaws of death, and for his sake alone I came to
Illyria, and have fallen into this danger.' But the officers cared
little for hearkening to the complaints of their prisoner, and they
hurried him off, saying: 'What is that to us?' And as he was carried
away, he called Viola by the name of Sebastian, reproaching the
supposed Sebastian for disowning his friend, as long as he was within
hearing. When Viola heard herself called Sebastian, though the stranger
was taken away too hastily for her to ask an explanation, she
conjectured that this seeming mystery might arise from her being
mistaken for her brother; and she began to cherish hopes that it was
her brother whose life this man said he had preserved. And so indeed it
was. The stranger, whose name was Antonio, was a sea-captain. He had
taken Sebastian up into his ship, when, almost exhausted with fatigue,
he was floating on the mast to which he had fastened himself in the

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Online LibraryCharles LambTales of Shakespeare → online text (page 16 of 23)