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“For pity is the virtue of the law,
thography) in which Timon, having invited And none but tyrants use it cruelly."
his false friends to a banquet, resents their "To revenge is no valour, but to bear." perfidy and ingratitude. Laches is the faith“ To be in anger is impiety,
ful steward of this old play. The guests are But who is man that is not angry?"
Gelasimus, Eutrapelus, Demeas, Philargurus, The form of expression in these scenes with Hermogenes, and Stilpo :Alcibiades appears to us as remarkably un- “ Timon. O happy me, equal to Jove himself! Shaksperean as the character of the thought. I going touch the stars. Break out, О joy, By nothing is our poet more distinguished And smother not thyself within my breast ! than by his conciseness,—the quality that So many friends, so many friends I see; makes him so often apparently obscure.
Not one hath falsified his faith to me. Shakspere would have dismissed the follow- What if I am oppressed with poverty? ing idea in three words instead of three
And grief doth vex me? fortune left me poor? lines :
All this is nothing: they relieve my wants;
The one doth promise help, another gold, “By decimation, and a tithed death,
A third a friendly welcome to his house, (If thy revenges hunger for that food
And entertainment; each man acts his part; Which nature loathes,) take thou the destin'd
All promise counsel and a faithful heart. tenth."
Gelas. Timon, thou art forgetful of thy feast. The original stage direction of the sixth Tim. Why do ye not fall to? I am at home: scene of the fourth act is, “Enter divers I 'll standing sup, or walking, if I please.Friends at several doors;" and there is a Laches, bring here the artichokes with speed.subsequent direction at the end of the scene Eutrapelus, Demeas, Hermogenes, _" Enter the Senators with other Lords." I'll drink this cup, a health to all your healths! Ulrici, looking at the modern stage direction,
Lach. Convert it into poison, O ye gods ! “Enter divers Lords,” is surprised that
Let it be ratsbane to them!
[Astde. Timon's most intimate friends (Lucius,
Gelas. What, wilt thou have the leg or else
We Lucullus, Sempronius) are omitted.
Eutr. Carve ye that capon. doubt whether the previous scenes in which
Dem. I will cut him up, these friends are introduced are those of
And make a beast of him. Shakspere; and in the same way it appears
Phil. Timon, this health to thee. to us that our poet took the scene before us
Tim. I 'll pledge you, sir. as he found it, adding perhaps Timon's vehe
These artichokes do no man's palate please. ment imprecations against his
Dem. I love them well, by Jove ! “Most smiling, smooth, detested parasites." Tim. Here, take them, then!
[Stones painted like to them : and The scene concludes with this line
throws them at them. “One day he gives us diamonds, next day Nay, thou shalt have them, thou, and all of ye ! stones."
Yo wicked, base, perfidious rascals, Steevens had seen a MS. play, written or
Think ye my hate 's so soon extinguished? transcribed about 1600, entitled Timon,'
[Tim. beats Herm. above all the rest.
Dem. O my head ! which was in the possession of Mr. Strutt.
Herm. O my cheeks! Of this play he says—“There is a scene in
Phil. Is this a feast? it resembling Shakspere's banquet given by
Gelas. Truly, a stony one. Timon to his flatterers. Instead of warm
Stil. Stones sublunary have the same matter water, he sets before them stones painted with the heavenly. like artichokes.” This manuscript has passed Tim. If I Jove's horrid thunderbolt did hold into the possession of the Rev. A. Dyce; and
Within my hand, thus, would I dart it! the Shakspere Society have printed the play
[He hits Herm. under Mr. Dyce's superintendence.
We Herm. Woe and alas, my brains are dashed transcribe the passage (modernizing the or- out!
Gelas. Alas, alas, 'twill never be my hap however, briefly point out the passages which To travel now to the Antipodes !
we believe not to be his. The second scene Oh! that I had my Pegasus but here! of the fourth act, between the Steward and I'd fly away, by Jove !
his servants, has some touches undoubtedly [Exeunt all except Tim. and Lach.
of the master's hand; the Steward's speech, Tim. Ye are a stony generation,
after the servants have left, again presents Or harder, if aught harder may be found;
us the rhyming couplets, and the unmetrical Monsters of Scythia inhospital,
blank verse. The scene between the Poet Nay, very devils, hateful to the gods.
and the Painter, at the commencement of Lach. Master, they are gone."
the fifth act, is so unmetrical, that it has It is pretty clear that Shakspere owed no been printed as prose by all modern editors. obligation to the writer of this scene. Mr. We have already exhibited a specimen of Dyce justly says, “I entertain considerable this hobbling approach to metre—the chadoubts of his having been acquainted with a racteristic of several of the rude plays which drama which was certainly never performed preceded Shakspere, such as 'The Famous in the metropolis, and which was likely to Victories of Henry the Fifth. Mr. Collier have been read only by a few of the author's considers that play to be wholly prose ; but particular friends, to whom transcripts of it he adds, " by the time it was printed, blank had been presented.” We have little doubt, verse had completely superseded both rhyme however, that Timon was familiar to the and prose : the publisher seems, stage before Shakspere took up the subject; account, to have chopped up much of the although it is tolerably evident that the original prose into lines of various lengths, play which Mr. Dyce has given to the world in order to look like some kind of measure, was not the play which Shakspere, as we be- and now and then he has contrived to find lines lieve, partly made his own. Shakspere, of ten syllables each, that run with tolerable according to our belief, did what he under- smoothness, and as if they had been written for took to do, and perhaps he did more than he blank verse.” We venture to think, that, intended. He completely remodelled the although the greater part of “The Famous character of Timon. Ile left it standing | Victories' was intended for prose, “the lines apart in its naked power and majesty, with- of ten syllables each that run with tolerable out much regard to what surrounded it. It smoothness" were written for blank verse; might have been a hasty experiment to pro- and this, we believe, is the case with parts duce a new charaeter for Burbage, the of the scene in ' Timon' which we are now greatest of Elizabethan actors. That Timon describing. But, whether they speak in is so all in all in the play is, to our minds, prose or verse, the Poet and the Painter of much better explained by the belief that this scene are as unlike the Poet and the Shakspere engrafted it upon the feebler Painter of the first act, in the tone of their Timon of a feeble drama that held possession dialogues, as can be well imagined. Timon, of the stage, than by the common opinion in the lines which he speaks aside, has that he, having written the play entirely, caught this infection of unmetrical blank had left us only a corrupt text, or left it un- verse which reads like prose, and jingling finished, with parts not only out of harmony couplets which want the spirit of poetry. with the drama as a whole, in action, in sen- The soldier at Timon's tomb is marked by timent, in versification, but altogether dif- the same characteristics. Of the concluding ferent from anything he had himself pro- scene of the return of Alcibiades to Athens, duced in his early, his mature, or his later we have already spoken. years.
It is not by looking apart at the scenes It is scarcely necessary for us very mi- and passages which we have endeavoured to nutely to follow the successive passages of separate from the undoubted scenes and pasthe fourth and fifth acts, in our endeavours sages of Shakspere in this play, that we can to trace the hand of Shakspere. We may, | rightly judge of their inferiority. They must
be contrasted with the great scenes of the | the ordinary cynic, such as he is described fourth act, and with Timon's portion of the by Lucian:-“ But now, mind how you are fifth,—the essentially tragic portions of this to bebave : you must be bold, saucy, and extraordinary drama. In power those scenes abusive to everybody, kings and beggars are almost unequalled. They are not pleas- alike ; this is the way to make them look ing—they are sometimes positively repulsive upon you, and think you a great man. Your in the images which they present to us: but | voice should be barbarous, and your speech in the tremendous strength of passionate in- dissonant, as like a dog as possible; your vective we know not what can be compared countenance rigid and inflexible, and your to them. In 'Lear,' the deep pity for the gait and demeanour suitable to it : everyfather is an ever-present feeling, mingling thing you say savage and uncouth: modesty, with the terror which he produces by his equity, and moderation you must have nodenunciations of his daughters; but, in Ti- | thing to do with : never suffer a blush to mon, the poet has not once sought to move come upon your cheek: seek the most public our pity: by throwing him into an attitude and frequented place ; but, when you are of undiscriminating hostility to the human there, desire to be alone, and permit neither race, he scarcely claims any human sympathy. friend nor stranger to associate with you; Properly to understand the scenes of the for these things are the ruin and destruction fourth and fifth acts, we must endeavour to of power and empire.”* The contrast in form a general estimate of the character Shakspere between Timon and Apemantus, which Shakspere has here created.
as developed in the fourth act, is one of the The Timon of Shakspere is not the Timon most remarkable proofs of our poet's wonderof the popular stories of Shakspere's day. ful sagacity in depicting the nicer shades of The twenty-eighth novel of 'The Palace of character. Johnson, speaking of the scene Pleasure' has for its title, ‘Of the strange between the misanthrope and the cynic in and beastly nature of Timon of Athens, enemy the fourth act, says, “I have heard Mr. to mankind. According to this authority, Burke commend the subtlety of discrimina"he was a man but by shape only,”—he lived tion with which Shakspere distinguishes the “a beastly and churlish life.” The story present character of Timon from that of further tells us, “at the same time there was Apemantus, whom to vulgar eyes he would in Athens another of like quality called Ape- now resemble.” The “ Timon' of Shakspere mantus, of the very same nature, different is in many respects essentially different from from the natural kind of man.” Neither any model with which we are acquainted, was the Timon of Plutarch the Timon of but it approaches nearer, as Mr. Skottowe Shakspere. The Greek biographer, indeed, first observed, to the ‘Timon' of Lucian than tells us, that he was angry with all men, and the commentators have chosen to point out: would trust no man, “ for the unthankfulness “ It has been deemed a satisfactory concluof those he had done good unto, and whom sion that he derived none of his materials he took to be his friends," but that he was from Lucian, because no translation of the represented as a viper and malicious man dialogue of Timon' is known to have existed unto mankind, to shun all other men's com- in Shakspere's age. But it should rather panies but the company of young Alcibiades, have been inferred, from the many striking a bold and insolent youth, whom he would coincidences between the play and the diagreatly feast, and make much of, and kissed logue, that Lucian had some influence over him very gladly." Plutarch also adds, “This the composition of “Timon, although the Timon sometimes would have Apemantus in channel through which that influence was his company, because he was much liked to communicated is no longer to be traced.” + his nature and conditions, and also followed Before we proceed to an analysis of the him in manner of life.” The Timon, therefore, of Plutarch, and of the popular stories
* Lucian's 'Sale of Philosophers.'-Franklin's Translaof Shakspere's time, was little different from t. Life of Shakspeare,' vol. ii. p. 280.
Shaksperean 'Timon,' it may be well to take The subsequent dialogue between Mercury a rapid glance at the dialogue of Lucian, to and Plutus, upon the use of riches, is exwhich Mr. Skottowe refers.
ceedingly acute and amusing. The gods, * Timon, or the Misanthrope,' opens with upon approaching Timon, descry him workan address of Timon to Jupiter,—the pro- ing with his spade, in company with Labour, tector of friendship and of hospitality. The Poverty, Wisdom, Courage, and all the virmisanthrope asks what has become of the tues that are in the train of indigence. god's thunderbolt, that he no longer revenges Poverty thus addresses Plutus:"You come the wickedness of men? He then describes to find Timon; and as to me who have his own calamities. After having enriched received him enervated by luxury, he would a crowd of Athenians that he had rescued forsake me when I have rendered him virfrom misery,—after having profusely distri- tuous; you come to enrich him anew, which buted his riches amongst his friends, those will render him as before, idle, effeminate, ungrateful men despise him because he has and besotted." Timon rejects the offers become poor. Timon speaks from the desert, which Plutus makes him; and the gods leave where he is clothed with skins, and labours him, desiring him to continue digging. He with a spade. Jupiter inquires of Mercury then finds gold, and thus apostrophizes it:who it is cries so loud from the depth of the “ It is, it must be, gold, fine, yellow, noble valley near Mount Hymettus; and Mercury gold; heavy, sweet to behold. . . . . Burning answers that he is Timon—that rich man like fire, thou shinest day and night: come who so frequently offered whole hecatombs to me, thou dear delightful treasure ! now to the gods; and adds, that it was at first do I believe that Jove himself was once thought that he was the victim of his good-turned into gold: what virgin would not ness, his philanthropy, and his compassion spread forth her bosom to receive so beautiful for the unfortunate, but that he ought to a lover?” But the Timon of Lucian has attribute his fall to the bad choice which he other uses for his riches than Plutus anticimade of his friends, and to the want of dis- pated ;-he will guard them without employcernment which prevented him seeing that ing them; he will, as he says, purchase he was heaping benefits upon wolves and some retired spot, there build a tower* to
“ Whilst these vultures were prey- keep my gold in, and live for myself alone: ing upon his liver, he thought them his best this shall be my habitation; and, when I am friends, and that they fed upon him out of dead, my sepulchre also : from this time pure love and affection.
After they had forth it is my fixed resolution to have no gnawed him all round, eaten bis bones bare, commerce or connexion with mankind, but and if there was any marrow in them sucked to despise and avoid it. I will pay no regard it carefully out, they left him, cut down to to acquaintance, friendship, pity, or compasthe roots and withered, and, so far from re- sion: to pity the distressed, or to relieve the lieving or assisting him in their turns, would indigent, I shall consider as a weakness, not so much as know or look upon him. This nay, as a crime; my life, like the beasts of has made him turn digger; and here, in his the field, shall be spent in solitude, and skin garment, he tills the earth for hire; Timon alone shall be Timon's friend. I will ashamed to show himself in the city, and treat all beside as enemies and betrayers; to venting his rage against the ingratitude of converse with them were profanation ; to those who, enriched as they had been by herd with them, impiety : accursed be the him, now proudly pass along, and know not day that brings them to my sight!” The whether his name is Timon." Jupiter re- most agreeable name to me, he adds, shall solves to despatch Mercury and Plutus to be that of Misanthrope. A crowd approach bestow new wealth upon Timon, and the god who have heard of his good fortune ; and of riches very reluctantly consents to go, be- first comes Gnathon, a parasite, who brings cause, if he return to Timon, he should again
* A building called the Tower of Timon is mentioned become the prey of parasites and courtezans. by Pausanias.
him a new poem-a dithyrambe. Timon to Timon: “ The wild course of riot and exstrikes him down with his spade. Another, travagance, ending in the one with driving and another, succeeds; and one comes from the Prodigal from the society of men into the senate to hail him as the safeguard of the solitude of the deserts; and, in the other, the Athenians. Each in his turn is welcomed with conducting Hogarth's Rake through his with blows. The dialogue concludes with several stages of dissipation into the still Timon's determination to mount upon a more complete desolations of the mad-house, rock, and to receive every man with a shower in the play and in the picture are deof stones.
scribed with almost equal force and nature.” There can be no doubt, we think, that a Hogarth's Rake is all sensuality and selfishgreat resemblance may be traced between ness; Timon is essentially high-minded and the Greek satirist and the English dramatist. generous: he truly says, in the first chill of The false friends of Timon are much more his fortunes,fully described by Lucian than by Plutarch. “No villainous bounty yet hath pass'd my heart. The finding the gold is the same, -the rejec- Unwisely, not ignobly, have I given.” tion of it by the Timon of Shakspere is In his splendid speech to Apemantus in the essentially the same : the Poet of the play fourth act, he distinctly proclaims that, in was perhaps suggested by the flatterer who
the weakness with which he had lavished came with the new ode ;-the senator with his fortunes upon the unworthy, he had not his gratulations is not very different from
pampered his own passionsthe senators in the drama ;—the blows and
“Hadst thou, like us, from our first swath, prostones are found both in the ancient and the
ceeded modern. There are minor similarities which
The sweet degrees that this brief world affords might be readily traced, if we believed that
To such as may the passive drugs of it Shakspere had gone direct to Lucian. But
Freely command, thou wouldst have plunged our opinion is that he found those similari
thyself ties in the play which we are convinced he In general riot; melted down thy youth remodelled. It is in the conception and the In different beds of lust; and never learn'd execution of the character of Timon that the
The icy precepts of respect, but follow'd original power of Shakspere is to be traced.
The sugar'd game before thee. But myself, The vices of Shakspere's Timon are not Who had the world as my confectionary; the vices of a sensualist. It is true that The mouth, the tongues, the eyes, and hearts his offices have been oppressed with riotous
of men feeders,—that his vaults have wept with At duty, more than I could frame employdrunken spilth of wine,—that every room
That numberless upon me stuck, as leaves “ Hath blaz’d with lights, and bray'd with
Do on the oak, have with one winter's brush minstrelsy;"
Tell from their boughs, and left me open, bare but he has nothing selfish in the enjoyment
For every storm that blows." of his prodigality and his magnificence. He The all-absorbing defect of Timon-the root himself truly expresses the weakness, as well of those generous vices which wear the garb as the beauty, of his own character : “Why, of virtue—is the entire want of discrimiI have often wished myself poorer, that I nation, by which he is also characterized might come nearer to you. We are born to in Lucian's dialogue. Shakspere has seized do benefits, and what better or properer can upon this point, and held firmly to it. we call our own, than the riches of our friends? He releases Ventidius from prison,--he be0, what a precious comfort 't is, to have so stows an estate upon his servant,--he lavishes many, like brothers, commanding one another's jewels upon all the dependants who crowd fortunes !” Charles Lamb, in his contrast be- his board ;tween Timon of Athens' and Hogarth's “Methinks I could deal kingdoms to my friends, Rake's Progress,' has scarcely done justice And ne'er be weary."