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play originally produced by an artist very inferior to Shakspere, and which probably retained possession of the stage for some time in its first form; that it has come down to us not only re-written, but so far re-modelled that entire scenes of Shakspere have been substituted for entire scenes of the elder play; and lastly, that this substitution has been almost wholly confined to the character of Timon, and that in the development of that character alone, with the exception of some few occasional touches here and there, we must look for the unity of the Shaksperean conception of the Greek Misanthropos-the Timon of Aristophanes and Lucian and Plutarch-"the enemy to mankind," of the popular story books-of the 'Pleasant Histories and excellent Novels,' which were greedily devoured by the contemporaries of the boyish Shakspere*.
The contrast of style which is to be traced throughout this drama is sufficiently striking in the two opening scenes which now constitute the first act. Nothing can be more free and flowing than the dialogue between the Poet and the Painter. It has all the equable graces of Shakspere's facility, with occasional examples of that condensation of poetical images which so distinguishes him from all other writers. For instance :
"All those which were his fellows but of late,
slightest particle of arrogance; he builds his munificence upon the necessity of gratifying without restraint the deep sympathies which he cherishes to all of the human family. He is the very model too of patrons, appearing to receive instead of to confer a favour in his reward of art,-a complete gentleman even in the act of purchasing a jewel of a tradesman. That the Apemantus of this scene belongs wholly to Shakspere is not to our minds qutie so certain. There is little of wit in any part of this dialogue; and the pelting volley of abuse between the Cynic, the Poet, and the Painter, might have been produced by any writer who was not afraid of exhibiting the tu quoque style of repartee which distinguishes the angry rhetoric of fish-wives and school-boys. Shakspere, however, has touched upon the original canvas; no one can doubt to whom these lines belong:
So, so; there!-
And all this court'sy! The strain of man's bred
Into baboon and monkey."
These lines in the original are printed as prose; and they continued so to be printed by Theobald and the editors who succeeded
Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tend him, probably from its not being considered
Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
that aches is a dis-syllable. This circumstance is a confirmation to us that the dialogue with Apemantus is not entirely Shak
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through spere's; for it is a most remarkable fact
Drink the free air."
The foreshadowing of the fate of Timon in the conclusion of this dialogue is part of the almost invariable system by which Shakspere very early infuses into his audience a dim notion of the catastrophe,—most frequently indeed in the shape of some presentiment. When "Timon enters, we feel certain that he is the Timon of Shakspere's own conception. He is as graceful as he is generous; his prodigality is without the
*The Palace of Pleasure,' in which the story of Timon is found, was first published in 1575.
that, in all those passages of which there cannot be a doubt that they were wholly written by our poet, there is no confusion of prose for verse, no difficulties whatever in the metrical arrangement,—no opportunity presented for the exercise of any ingenuity in " regulation.” It was this fact which first led us to perceive, and subsequently to trace, the differences between particular scenes and passages. Wherever the modern text follows the ancient text with very slight changes, there we could put our finger undoubtingly upon the work of Shakspere. Wherever the tinkering of Steevens had
been at work, we could discover that he had been attempting to repair,-not "the chinks which time had made,”—but something very different from the materials with which Shakspere constructed. The evidence of this is at hand.
If, in the first scene, it would be very difficult to say with certainty what is not Shakspere's, so in the second scene it appears to us equally difficult to point out what is Shakspere's. We believe that scarcely any part of this scene was written by him; we find ourselves at once amidst a different structure of verse from the foregoing. We encounter this difference remarkably in the first speech of Timon:
If our betters play at that game, we must not dare
To imitate them; faults that are rich are fair." In the first scene we do not find a single rhyming couplet ;-in the second scene their recurrence is more frequent than in any of Shakspere's plays, even the earliest. This scene alone gives us sixteen examples of this form of verse; which, in combination with prose or blank verse, had been almost entirely rejected by the mature Shakspere, except to render emphatic the close of a scene. In the instance before us, we find the couplet introduced in the most arbitrary
and inartificial manner-in itself neither impressive nor harmonious. But the contrast between the second scene and the first
is equally remarkable in the poverty of the thought, and the absence of poetical imagery. It will be sufficient, we think, to exhibit together the Cynic of this scene and of a subsequent scene, to show the impossibility of the character having been wholly minted from the same die :
"Thou hast cast away thyself, being like thyself;
A madman so long, now a fool: What, think'st That the bleak air, thy boisterous chamberlain,
Will put thy shirt on warm? Will these moist trees,
That have outliv'd the eagle, page thy heels, And skip when thou point'st out? Will the cold brook,
Candied with ice, caudle thy morning taste, To cure thy o'er-night's surfeit? call the crea tures,―
Whose naked natures live in all the spite
To the conflicting elements expos'd,
Let us try the Steward of the first act and the Steward of the second act by the same test. We print the speech of the first act as we find it in the original. With the exception of the two rhyming couplets, it is difficult to say whether it is prose or verse. It has been "regulated" into verse, but no change can make it metrical ;-the feebleness of the thought is the same under every disguise. On the other hand, the harmony, the vigour, the poetical elevation of the second passage, like the greater part of the fourth and fifth acts, effectually prevent all substitution and transposition :—
To show him what a beggar his heart is, Being of no power to make his wishes good; His promises fly so beyond his state,
they were the fool and page of Phrynia, Timandra, or some other courtezan, upon the knowledge of which depends the greater
That what he speaks is all in debt, he owes for part of the ensuing jocularity." We shall
have occasion to notice this want of connexion in other scenes of the play. In that before us, if the 'Timon' were an older drama remodelled by Shakspere, the reason for the retention of the scene, disjointed as it is, is obvious.-The audience had been accustomed to the Fool; and it was of little consequence whether his speeches had any very strict connexion with the more important scenes. The whole thing wants the spirit of Shakspere, and it wants also the play upon words which he almost invariably employed upon such occasions. The Fool, the Page, the Cynic, and the Servants, are simply abusive.
The scene between Timon and the Steward, to the end of the act, is unquestionably from the master-hand of our poet. The character of Timon as his ruin is approaching him is beautifully developed. His reproach. of his Steward, slightly unjust as it is, is in a tone perfectly in accordance with the kindness of his nature; and his rising anger is
How many prodigal bits have slaves, and pea- forgotten in a moment in his complete con
This night englutted! Who is not Timon's? What heart, head, sword, force, means, but is lord Timon's?
Great Timon; noble, worthy, royal Timon! Ah! when the means are gone that buy this praise,
The breath is gone whereof this praise is made: Feast-won, fast-lost; one cloud of winter showers, These flies are couch'd."
The modern division of this play into acts and scenes has given us a remarkable short second act. The Senator of the first scene may be Shakspere's. The scene between the Servants, the Fool, and the Cynic, has very little of his animation or his wit. But who is the Fool's mistress? Johnson saw the want of connexion between this dialogue and what had preceded it :-"I suspect some scene to be lost, in which the entrance of the Fool and the Page that follows him was prepared by some introductory dialogue, in which the audience was informed that
viction of the integrity of that honest servant. His entire reliance upon the gratitude of his friends is most touching. roughly Shaksperean is the Steward's description of the coldness of the Senators; and Timon's answer is no less characteristic of the great interpreter of human feelings.
We venture to express a conviction that very little of the third act is Shakspere's. The ingratitude of Lucullus in the first scene, and of Lucius in the second, is amusingly displayed; but there is little power in the development of character-little discrimination. The passionate invective of Flaminius is forcible; but the force is not exactly that of Shakspere. The dialogue between the Strangers, at the end of the second scene, is unmetrical enough in the original; Steevens has made it hobble still worse. The third scene has the same incurable defects. It seems to us perfectly impossible that Shakspere could have produced thoughts so commonplace, and verse
so unmusical, as we find in the speech of Sempronius. The fourth scene, again, has little peculiarity. It might be Shakspere's, or it might be the work of an inferior writer. Of the fifth scene we venture to say most distinctly that it is not Shakspere's. Independently of the internal evidence of thought and style (which we shall come to presently), this scene of the banishment of Alcibiades, and the concluding scene of his return to Athens, appear to belong to a drama of which the story of this brave and profligate Athenian formed a much more important feature than in the present play. That story stands here strictly as an episode. The banishment of Alcibiades is perfectly unconnected with the misanthropy of Timon;the return of Alcibiades takes place after Timon's death. We feel no interest in either event. Ulrici has noticed the uncertain connexion of this drama as a whole, particularly in the scene before us," where it remains quite unknown who is the unfortunate friend for whom Alcibiades petitions so earnestly that he is banished for it." In Shakspere's hand the banishment of Aleibiades is only used in connexion with the | wonderful scene in the fourth act. In the older drama we have no doubt that it formed an integral portion of the action, and that Timon himself was only incidental to the catastrophe. Shakspere was satisfied to take the frame-work, as he found it, of the story which he might connect with his display of the character of Timon. The scene before us, and the concluding scene of the fifth act, present, we think, nearly every characteristic by which the early contemporaries of Shakspere are to be distinguished from him; and the negation, in the same degree, of all those qualities which render him so immeasurably superior to every other dramatic poet.
The scene between Alcibiades and the Senate consists of about a hundred and twenty lines. Of these lines twenty-six form rhyming couplets. This of itself is enough to make us look suspiciously upon the scene, when presented as the work of Shakspere. Could the poet have proposed any object to himself, by this extraordinary
departure from his usual principle of versification, presenting even in this play an especial contrast to the mighty rush and sustained grandeur of the blank verse in the speeches of Timon in the fourth and fifth acts? Is not the perpetual and offensive recurrence of the couplet an evidence that this and other scenes of the play were of the same school as 'The History of King Lear and his Three Daughters,' upon which Shakspere founded his own 'Lear?'
The whole of the senate scene in Timon is singularly unmetrical; but, wherever the verse becomes regular, it is certainly not the metre of Shakspere. Mark the pause, for example, that occurs at the end of every line of the first speech of Alcibiades. "The linked sweetness long drawn out is utterly wanting. The last scene of the fifth act has the same peculiarity. But, in addition to the structure of the verse, the character of the thought is essentially different from that of the true Shaksperean drama. Where is our poet's imagery? From the first line of this scene to the last, the speeches, though cast into the form of verse, are in reality nothing but measured prose. The action of this scene admitted either of passion or reflection; and we know how Shakspere puts forth either power whenever the occasion demands it. The passion of Alcibiades is of the most vapid character:
"Now the gods keep you old enough; that you may live
Only in bone that none may look on you!" Let us contrast for a moment the Shaksperean Coriolanus, under somewhat similar circumstances:—
"You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate,
In this scene between Alcibiades and the senate, the usually profound reflection of Shakspere, which plunges us into the depths of our own hearts, and the most unfathomable mysteries of the world around us and beyond us, is exchanged for such slight axioms as the following:
But who is man that is not angry?" The form of expression in these scenes with Alcibiades appears to us as remarkably unShaksperean as the character of the thought. By nothing is our poet more distinguished than by his conciseness, the quality that makes him so often apparently obscure. Shakspere would have dismissed the following idea in three words instead of three lines :
"By decimation, and a tithed death,"
(If thy revenges hunger for that food Which nature loathes,) take thou the destin'd tenth."
The original stage direction of the sixth scene of the fourth act is, "Enter divers Friends at several doors;" and there is a subsequent direction at the end of the scene
"Enter the Senators with other Lords." Ulrici, looking at the modern stage direction, "Enter divers Lords," is surprised that Timon's most intimate friends (Lucius, Lucullus, Sempronius) are omitted. doubt whether the previous scenes in which these friends are introduced are those of Shakspere; and in the same way it appears to us that our poet took the scene before us as he found it, adding perhaps Timon's vehement imprecations against his
"Most smiling, smooth, detested parasites." The scene concludes with this line
"One day he gives us diamonds, next day stones."
Steevens had seen a MS. play, written or transcribed about 1600, entitled 'Timon,' which was in the possession of Mr. Strutt. Of this play he says-" There is a scene in it resembling Shakspere's banquet given by Timon to his flatterers. Instead of warm water, he sets before them stones painted like artichokes." This manuscript has passed into the possession of the Rev. A. Dyce; and the Shakspere Society have printed the play under Mr. Dyce's superintendence. We transcribe the passage (modernizing the or
thography) in which Timon, having invited his false friends to a banquet, resents their perfidy and ingratitude. Laches is the faithful steward of this old play. The guests are Gelasimus, Eutrapelus, Demeas, Philargurus, Hermogenes, and Stilpo:
"Timon. O happy me, equal to Jove himself! I going touch the stars. Break out, O joy, And smother not thyself within my breast! So many friends, so many friends I see; Not one hath falsified his faith to me. What if I am oppressed with poverty? And grief doth vex me? fortune left me poor? All this is nothing: they relieve my wants; The one doth promise help, another gold, A third a friendly welcome to his house, And entertainment; each man acts his part; All promise counsel and a faithful heart. Gelas. Timon, thou art forgetful of thy feast. Tim. Why do ye not fall to? I am at home: I'll standing sup, or walking, if I please.— Laches, bring here the artichokes with speed.-Eutrapelus, Demeas, Hermogenes,
I'll drink this cup, a health to all your healths! Lach. Convert it into poison, O ye gods! Let it be ratsbane to them!
Gelas. What, wilt thou have the leg or else
Eutr. Carve ye that capon.
Dem. I will cut him up,
And make a beast of him.
Phil. Timon, this health to thee.
These artichokes do no man's palate please.
Dem. I love them well, by Jove!
Tim. Here, take them, then!
[Stones painted like to them: and
throws them at them.
Nay, thou shalt have them, thou, and all of ye!
Stil. Stones sublunary have the same matter with the heavenly.
Tim. If I Jove's horrid thunderbolt did hold Within my hand, thus, would I dart it!
[He hits Herm. Herm. Woe and alas, my brains are dashed out!