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More counsel with more money, bounteous Timon."
It tells, in a word, the impotence of his misanthropy. It is cherished for his own gratification alone. Deeper than this fancy of hatred to the human race lies the romantic feeling with which he cherishes images of tranquillity beyond this agitating life :— "Come not to me again: but say to Athens, Timon hath made his everlasting mansion Upon the beached verge of the salt flood; Whom once a day with his embossed froth The turbulent surge shall cover."
The novelist of the 'Palace of Pleasure' thus explains Timon's choice of "his everlasting mansion:"-" He ordained himself to be interred upon the sea-shore, that the waves and surges might beat and vex his dead carcass." Shakspere has made Alcibiades furnish a more poetical solution of this choice, which is at the same time a key to Timon's general character:
"Though thou abhorr❜dst in us our human griefs, Scorn'dst our brain's flow, and those our drop
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
On thy low grave, on faults forgiven."
ARDEN OF FEVERSHAM.
IN 1592 was first published' The lamentable and true Tragedie of M. Arden of Feversham in Kent.' Subsequent editions of this tragedy appeared in 1599 and 1633. Lillo, the author of George Barnwell,' who died in 1739, left an unfinished tragedy upon the same subject, in which he has used the play of the 16th century very freely, but with considerable judgment. In 1770 the 'Arden of Feversham' originally published in 1592 was for the first time ascribed to Shakspere. It was then reprinted by Edward Jacob, a resident of Feversham (who also published a history
of that town and port), with a preface, in which he endeavours to prove that the tragedy was written by Shakspere, upon the fallacious principle that it contains certain expressions which are to be found in his acknowledged works. This is at once the easiest and the most unsatisfactory species of evidence. Resemblances such as this may consist of mere conventional phrases, the common property of all the writers of a particular period. If the phrases are so striking that they must have been first created by an individual process of thought, the repetition
of them is no proof that they have been twice used by the same person. Another may have adopted the phrase, perhaps unconsciously. General resemblances of style lead us into a wider range of inquiry; but even here we have a narrow inclosed ground compared with the entire field of criticism, which includes not only style, but the whole system of the poet's art. It has been said of this play, “ Arden of Feversham, a domestic tragedy, would, in point of absolute merit, have done no discredit to the early manhood of Shakspere himself; but, both in conception and execution, it is quite unlike even his earliest manner; while, on the other hand, its date cannot possibly be removed so far back as the time before which his own style had demonstrably been formed." * Tieck has translated the tragedy into German, and he assigns it with little hesitation to Shakspere. Ulrici also subscribes to this opinion; but he makes a lower estimate of its merit than his brother critic. The versification he holds to be tedious and monoto-Arden of Feversham' cannot be read for nous, and the dialogue, he says, is conducted with much exaggeration of expression. The play appears to us deserving of a somewhat full consideration. It was printed as early as 1592, and was most probably performed several years earlier; the event which forms its subject took place in 1551. What is very remarkable too for a play of this period (and in this opinion we differ from Ulrici), there is very little extravagance of language; and the criminal passion in all its stages is conducted with singular delicacy. There are many passages too which aim to be poetical, and are in fact poetical; but for the most part they want that vivifying dramatic power which makes the poetry doubly effective from its natural and inseparable union with the situation which calls it forth and the character which gives it utterance. The tragedy is founded upon a real event which had been popularly told with great minuteness of detail; and the dramatist has evidently thought it necessary to present all the points of the story, and in so doing has of course sometimes divided and weakened the interest. Of invention, properly so
called, there is necessarily very little; but there is still some invention, and that of a nature to show that the author had an imaginative conception of incident and cha| racter. Upon the whole, we should be inclined to regard it as the work of a young man; and the question then arises whether that young man was Shakspere. If Arden of Feversham,' like the Yorkshire Tragedy,' had been founded upon an event which happened in Shakspere's mature years, that circumstance would have been decisive against his being in any sense of the word the author. But whilst we agree with the writer in the Edinburgh Review' that "both in conception and execution it is quite unlike even his earliest manner," we are not so confident that "its date cannot possibly be removed so far back as the time before which his own style had demonstrably been formed." Whether it be due to the absorbing nature of the subject, or to the mode in which the story is dramatically treated, we think that
* Edinburgh Review, vol. lxxi. p. 471.
the first time without exciting a very considerable interest; and this interest is certainly not produced by any violent exhibitions of passion, any sudden transitions of situation, or any exciting display of rhetoric or poetry; but by a quiet and natural succession of incidents, by a tolerably consistent, if not highly forcible, delineation of character, and by equable and unambitious dialogue, in which there is certainly less extravagance of expression than we should readily find in any of the writers for the stage between 1585 and 1592. Do we then think that 'Arden of Feversham' belongs to the early manhood of Shakspere? We do not think so with any confidence; but we do think that, considering its date, it is a very remarkable play, and we should be at a loss to assign it to any writer whose name is associated with that early period of the drama, except to Shakspere. In questions of this nature there may be a conviction resulting from an examination of the whole evidence, the reasons for which cannot be satisfactorily communicated to others. But we are less anxious to make our readers think with us than to enable them to think for themselves; and we
shall endeavour to effect this object in the analysis to which we now proceed.
The murder of Arden of Feversham must have produced an extraordinary and even permanent sensation in an age when deeds of violence were by no means unfrequent. Holinshed's Chronicle' was first published in 1577; the event happened twenty-six years before, but the writer of the Chronicle' says, 66 The which murder, for the horribleness thereof, although otherwise it may seem to be but a private matter, and therefore as it were impertinent to this history, I have thought good to set it forth somewhat at large, having the instructions delivered to me by them that have used some diligence to gather the true understanding of the circumstances." The narrative in Holinshed occupies seven closely printed columns, and all the details are brought out with a remarkable graphic power. We have no doubt that this narrative strongly seized upon the imagination of the writer of the play. To judge correctly of the poetical art of that writer, we must follow the narrative step by step. The relative position of the several parties is thus described:
This Arden was a man of a tall and comely personage, and matched in marriage with a gentlewoman, young, tall, and well favoured of shape and countenance, who chancing to fall in familiarity with one Mosbie, a tailor by occupation, a black swart man, servant to the Lord North, it happened this Mosbie upon some mistaking to fall out with her; but she, being desirous to be in favour with him again, sent him a pair of silver dice by one Adam Foule, dwelling at the Flower-de-luce, in Feversham. After which he resorted to her again, and oftentimes lay in Arden's house; and although (as it was said) Arden perceived right well their mutual familiarity to be much greater than their honesty, yet because he would not offend her, and so lose the benefit he hoped to gain at some of her friends' hands in bearing with her lewdness, which he might have lost if he should have fallen out with her, he was contented to
wink at her filthy disorder, and both permitted and also invited Mosbie very often to lodge in his house. And thus it continued a good space before any practice was begun by them against
Master Arden. She at length, inflamed in love with Mosbie, and loathing her husband, wished, and after practised, the means how to hasten his end."
The first evidence of a sound judgment in the dramatist is the rejection of the imputation of the chronicler that Arden connived at the conduct of his wife from mercenary motives. In the opening scene he puts Arden in a thoroughly different position. The play opens with a dialogue between Master Arden and his friend Master Franklin, in which Franklin exhorts him to cheer up his spirits because the king has granted him letters-patent of the lands of the abbey of Feversham. This is the answer of Arden :
"Franklin, thy love prolongs my weary life; And but for thee, how odious were this life, That shows me nothing, but torments my soul;
And those foul objects that offend mine eyes, Which make me wish that, for* this veil of
The earth hung over my head and cover'd me! Love-letters post 'twixt Mosbie and my wife, And they have privy meetings in the town; Nay, on his finger did I spy the ring Which, at our marriage, the priest put on: Can any grief be half so great as this?" Presently Arden breaks out into a burst of passion, and Franklin thus counsels him :"Be patient, gentle friend, and learn of me To ease thy grief and save her chastity: Entreat her fair; sweet words are fittest engines
To raze the flint walls of a woman's breast;
Nor make no question of her love to thee,
Alice, the wife of Arden, enters; and he accuses her, but mildly, of having called on Mosbie in her sleep; the woman dissembles, and they part in peace. We have then the incident of the silver dice sent to the para
mour by Adam of the Flower-de-luce. The
"Mosbie. Where is your husband?
Alice. Nay, Mosbie, let me still enjoy thy love,
And happen what will, I am resolute."
It is impossible to doubt, whoever was the writer of this play, that we have before us the work of a man of no ordinary power. The transitions of passion in this scene are true to nature; and, instead of the extravagant ravings of the writers of this early
Mosbie. There let him; henceforward, know period of our drama, the appropriateness of
Alice. Is this the end of all thy solemn
Is this the fruit thy reconcilement buds?
Remember when I lock'd thee in my closet,
Decree to murder Arden in the night?
The heavens can witness, and the world can
Before I saw that falsehood look of thine,
the language to the passion is most remarkable. There is poetry too, in the ordinary sense of the word, but the situation is not encumbered with the ornament. We would remark also, what is very striking throughout the play, that the versification possesses that freedom which we find in no other writer of the time but Shakspere. Ulrici holds a contrary opinion, but we cannot consent to surrender our judgment to a foreign ear. There is too in this scene the condensation of Shakspere, that wonderful quality by which he makes a single word convey a complex idea:
"Is this the fruit thy reconcilement buds ?"
is an example of this quality. The whole scene is condensed. A writer of less genius, whoever he was, would have made it thrice as long. The guilty pair being reconciled, Mosbie says that he has found a painter who can so cunningly produce a picture that the person looking on it shall die. Alice is for more direct measures-for a poison to be Mosbie. Ungentle and unkind Alice, now I given in her husband's food. Here again theChronicle' is followed :
"There was a painter dwelling in Feversham, who had skill of poisons, as was reported; she therefore demanded of him whether it were true that he had such skill in feat or not? And he denied not but that he had indeed. Yea, said she, but I would have such a one made as should have most vehement and speedy operation to despatch the eater thereof. That can I do, quoth he; and forthwith made her such a one. The painter enters, and his reward, it appears, is to be Susan Mosbie. The painter is a dangerous and wicked person, but he speaks of his art and of its inspiration with a high enthusiasm :—
Alice, make ready my breakfast, I must hence.
Mosbie. Arden, I thought not on her, I came to thee;
But rather than I'll put up this wrong
Franklin. What will you do, sir? Mosbie. Revenge it on the proudest of you both.
[Then ARDEN draws forth MOSBIE's sword.
Arden. So, sirrah, you may not wear a sword,
The statute made against artificers forbids it. I warrant that I do*. Now use your bodkin, Your Spanish needle, and your pressing-iron; For this shall go with me: And mark my words,―
You, goodman botcher, 't is to you I speak,The next time that I take thee near my house, Instead of legs, I'll make thee crawl on stumps.
Mosbie. Ah, master Arden, you have in
I do appeal to God and to the world. Franklin. Why, canst thou deny thou wert a botcher once?
Mosbie. Measure me what I am, not what I once was.
Arden. Why, what art thou now but a velvet drudge,
A cheating steward, and base-minded peasant? Mosbie. Arden, now hast thou belch'd and vomited
The rancorous venom of thy mis-swoln heart,
And that she knows; and all the world shall
I lov'd her once, sweet Arden; pardon me :
And, Arden, though I frequent thine house,
Arden. With these thy protestations The deadly hatred of my heart's appeas'd, And thou and I'll be friends if this prove true. As for the base terms that I gave thee late, Forget them, Mosbie; I had cause to speak, When all the knights and gentlemen of Kent Make common table-talk of her and thee.
Mosbie. Who lives that is not touch'd with slanderous tongues?
Franklin. Then, Mosbie, to eschew the speech of men,
Upon whose general bruit all honour hangs, Forbear his house.
Arden. Forbear it! nay, rather frequent it
I justify that which I do.