ePub 版

of use.

Commend me to their loves; and, I am proud, kind of people, the deed of saying is quite out say,

To promise is most courtly and fashThat my occasions have found time to use them ionable: performance is a kind of will, or testaToward a supply of money: let the request ment, which argues a great sickness in his Be fifty talents.

judgment that makes it.

Noble Timon,

Poet. I am thinking what I shall say I have What friendship may I do thee?

provided for him: It must be a personating of

himself: a satire against the softness of prosTim.

None, but to Maintain my opinion.

perity; with a discovery of the infinite flatteries

that follow youth and opulency.” Alc.

What is it, Timon?
Tim. Promise me friendship, but perform

We have thus prepared the reader, who is none: If

familiar with the ordinary text, not to rely Thou wilt not promise, the gods plague thee, for Thou art a man ! if thou dost perform, confound

upon it as a transcript of the ancient copies; thee,

and we shall now endeavour to show that, For thou 'rt a man!"

by a careful examination of the original, we

may arrive at some conclusions with regard The third and last series of examples to this drama which have been hitherto enwhich we shall furnish exhibits the meta-tirely overlooked. morphosis of the verse of the original into The disguises of the ancient text, which prose:

have been so long accepted without hesita

tion, have given to the Timon of Athens' ANCIENT COPIES.

something of the semblance of uniformity in

the structure of the verse; although in reality Act v. SCENE I.

the successive scenes, even in the modern Painter. Good as the best.

text, present the most startling contrarieties Promising is the very air o' th’ time;

to the ear which is accustomed to the versiIt opens the eyes of expectation.

fication of Shakspere. The ordinary explaPerformance is ever the duller for his act,

nation of this very striking characteristic is, And, but in the plainer and simpler kind of that the ancient text is corrupt. This is the people,

belief of the English editors. Another theory, The deed of saying is quite out of use.

which has been received in Germany, is, that To promise is most courtly and fashionable; Performance is a kind of will and testament

the 'Timon,' being one of the latest of ShakWhich argues a great sickness in his judgment

spere's performances, has come down to us

unfinished. The conviction to which we That makes it.

have ourselves arrived neither rests upon Poet. I am thinking

the probable corruption of the text, nor the What I shall say I have provided for him:

possibility that the poet has left us only It must be a personating of himself:

an unfinished draft of his performance; but A satire against the softness of prosperity, upon the belief that the differences of style, With a discovery of the infinite flatteries as well as the more important differences That follow youth and opulency.”

in the cast of thought, which prevail in

the successive scenes of this drama, are so MODERN COPIES.

remarkable as to justify the conclusion that

it is not wholly the work of Shakspere. We Act v. SCENE I.

think it will not be very difficult so to exhiPainter. Good as the best. Promising is

bit these differences in detail as to warrant the very air o' the time; it opens the eyes of us in requesting the reader's acquiescence expectation: performance is ever the duller for in the principle which we seek to establish, his act; and, but in the plainer and simpler | namely, that the “ Timon of Athens' was a

play originally produced by an artist very slightest particle of arrogance ; he builds inferior to Shakspere, and which probably his munificence upon the necessity of gratiretained possession of the stage for some time fying without restraint the deep sympathies in its first form; that it has come down to us which he cherishes to all of the human not only re-written, but so far re-modelled family. He is the very model too of patrons, that entire scenes of Shakspere have been appearing to receive instead of to confer a substituted for entire scenes of the elder play; favour in his reward of art,-a complete and lastly, that this substitution has been gentleman even in the act of purchasing a almost wholly confined to the character of jewel of a tradesman. That the Apemantus Timon, and that in the development of that of this scene belongs wholly to Shakspere is character alone, with the exception of some not to our minds qutie so certain. There is few occasional touches here and there, we little of wit in any part of this dialogue ; must look for the unity of the Shaksperean and the pelting volley of abuse between the conception of the Greek Misanthropos—the Cynic, the Poet, and the Painter, might Timon of Aristophanes and Lucian and have been produced by any writer who was Plutarch—“the enemy to mankind,” of the not afraid of exhibiting the tu quoque style popular story books—of the ‘Pleasant His- of repartee which distinguishes the angry tories and excellent Novels,' which were rhetoric of fish-wives and school-boys. Shakgreedily devoured by the contemporaries of spere, however, has touched upon the original the boyish Shakspere*.

canvas;-no one can doubt to whom these The contrast of style which is to be traced lines belong :throughout this drama is sufficiently striking in the two opening scenes which now con

“So, so; there!stitute the first act. Nothing can be more

Aches contract and starve your supple joints !-free and flowing than the dialogue between That there should be small love 'mongst these

sweet knaves, the Poet and the Painter. It has all the

And all this court'sy! The strain of man 's bred equable graces of Shakspere's facility, with

out occasional examples of that condensation of Into baboon and monkey." poetical images which so distinguishes him from all other writers. For instance :

These lines in the original are printed as

prose ; and they continued so to be printed “ All those which were his fellows but of late,

by Theobald and the editors who succeeded (Some better than his value,) on the moment Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tend that aches is a dis-syllable. This circum

him, probably from its not being considered

stance is a confirmation to us that the diaRain sacrificial whisperings in his ear, Make sacred even his stirrup, and through

logue with Apemantus is not entirely Shakhim

spere's ; for it is a most remarkable fact Drink the free air."

that, in all those passages of which there

cannot be a doubt that they were vholly The foreshadowing of the fate of Timon in written by our poet, there is no confusion of the conclusion of this dialogue is part of prose for verse,—no difficulties whatever in the almost invariable system by which Shak

the metrical arrangement,

, -no opportunity spere very early infuses into his audience a presented for the exercise of any ingenuity dim notion of the catastrophe,-most fre

in “regulation.” It was this fact which quently indeed in the shape of some pre

first led us to perceive, and subsequently to sentiment. When Timon enters, we feel

trace, the differences between particular certain that he is the Timon of Shakspere's

scenes and passages. Wherever the modern own conception. He is as graceful as he is

text follows the ancient text with very slight generous; his prodigality is without the

changes, there we could put our finger un* The Palace of Pleasure,' in which the story of Timon

doubtingly upon the work of Shakspere. is found, was first published in 1575.

Wherever the tinkering of Steevens had



been at work, we could discover that he had Upon whose age we void it up again, been attempting to repair,—not "the chinks With poisonous spite and envy. which time had made,”—but something very

Who lives that is not depraved, or depraves? different from the materials with which Who dies, that bears not one spurn to their Shakspere constructed. The evidence of

graves this is at hand.

Of their friends' gift? If, in the first scene, it would be very dif

I should fear, those that dance before me now, ficult to say with certainty what is not

Would one day stamp upon me: It has been

done: Shakspere's, so in the second scene it appears

Men shut their doors against a setting sun. to us equally difficult to point out what is Shakspere's. We believe that scarcely any

ACT IV. SCENE III. part of this scene was written by him ; we

“ Thou hast cast away thyself, being like thyfind ourselves at once amidst a different structure of verse from the foregoing. We

A madman so long, now a fool: What, think'st encounter this difference remarkably in the

That the bleak air, thy boi erous chamberfirst speech of Timon :

lain, "I gave it freely ever; and there's none

Will put thy shirt on warm? Will these moist Can truly say he gives, if he receives:

trees, If our betters play at that game, we must not

That have outliv'd the eagle, page thy heels, dare

And skip when thou point'st out? Will the To imitate them; faults that are rich are fair."

cold brook,

Candied with ice, caudle thy morning taste, In the first scene we do not find a single

To cure thy o'er-night's surfeit? call the crea. rhyming couplet ;-in the second scene their

tures, recurrence is more frequent than in any of Whose naked natures live in all the spite Shakspere's plays, even the earliest. This Of wreakful heaven; whose bare unhoused scene alone gives us sixteen examples of trunks, this form of verse ; which, in combination To the conflicting elements expos'd, with prose or blank verse, had been almost Answer mere nature,-bid them flatter thee; entirely rejected by the mature Shakspere, 0! thou shalt find except to render emphatic the close of a scene. In the instance before us, we find

Let us try the Steward of the first act the couplet introduced in the most arbitrary and the Steward of the second act by the and inartificial manner-in itself neither

same test. We print the speech of the first impressive nor harmonious. But the con

act as we find it in the original. With trast between the second scene and the first

the exception of the two rhyming couplets, is equally remarkable in the poverty of the it is difficult to say whether it is prose or thought, and the absence of poetical imagery. verse. It has been “regulated ”into verse, but It will be sufficient, we think, to exhibit

no change can make it metrical ;-the feebletogether the Cynic of this scene and of a ness of the thought is the same under every subsequent scene, to show the impossibility disguise. On the other hand, the harmony, of the character having been wholly minted the vigour, the poetical elevation of the from the same die :

second passage, like the greater part of the

fourth and fifth acts, effectually prevent all ACT 1. SCENE II.

substitution and transposition :Hey day, what a sweep of vanity comes this way!

ACT I. SCENE II. They dance! they are mad women:

What will this come to? Like madness is the glory of this life,

He commands us to provide, and give great As this pomp shows to a little oil and root. gifts, We make ourselves fools to disport ourselves; And all out of an empty coffer.And spend our flatteries, to drink those men, Nor will he know his purse; or yield me this,

« Flav.


To show him what a beggar his heart is, they were the fool and page of Phrynia, Being of no power to make his wishes good; Timandra, or some other courtezan, .upon His promises fly so beyond his state,

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 every word;

have occasion to notice this want of conHe is so kind, that he now pays interest for 't;

nexion in other scenes of the play. In that His lands put to their books. Well, 'would I

before us, if the Timon' were an older

drama remodelled by Shakspere, the reason Gently put out of office, before I were forc'd out!

for the retention of the scene, disjointed as Happier is he that hath no friend to feed, Than such that do even enemies exceed.

it is, is obvious.—The audience had been I bleed inwardly for my lord.

accustomed to the Fool; and it was of little

consequence whether his speeches had any Act II. SCENE II.

very strict connexion with the more import

ant scenes. The whole thing wants the Flav. If you suspect my husbandry, or false spirit of Shakspere, and it wants also the

hood, Call me before the exactest auditors,

play upon words which he almost invariably And set me on the proof. So the gods bless me, employed upon such occasions. The Fool, When all our offices have been oppress'd

the Page, the Cynic, and the Servants, are With riotous feeders; when our vaults have wept

simply abusive. With drunken spilth of wine; when every room

The scene between Timon and the Steward, Hath blazd with lights, and bray'd with min

to the end of the act, is unquestionably strelsy;

from the master-hand of our poet. The I have retir'd me to a wasteful cock,

character of Timon as his ruin is approaching And set mine eyes at flow.

him is beautifully developed. His reproach Tim.

Prithee, no more. of his Steward, slightly unjust as it is, is in Flav. Heavens, have I said, the bounty of a tone perfectly in accordance with the kindthis lord !

ness of his nature ; and his rising anger is How many prodigal bits have slaves, and pea- forgotten in a moment in his complete consants,

viction of the integrity of that honest serThis night englutted! Who is not Timon's?

vant. His entire reliance upon the gratiWhat heart, head, sword, force, means, but is

tude of his friends is most touching. Tholord Timon's?

roughly Shaksperean is the Steward's descripGreat Timon; noble, worthy, royal Timon!

tion of the coldness of the Senators ; and Ah! when the means are gone that buy this

Timon's answer is no less characteristic of praise, The breath is gone whereof this praise is made:

the great interpreter of human feelings. Feast-won, fast-lost; one cloud of winter showers,

We venture to express a conviction that These flies are couch'd."

very little of the third act is Shakspere's.

The ingratitude of Lucullus in the first The modern division of this play into acts scene, and of Lucius in the second, is amuand scenes has given us a remarkable short singly displayed ; but there is little power in second act. The Senator of the first scene the development of character-little dismay be Shakspere's. The scene between crimination. The passionate invective of the Servants, the Fool, and the Cynic, has very Flaminius is forcible ; but the force is not little of his animation or his wit. But who exactly that of Shakspere. The dialogue is the Fool's mistress ? Johnson saw the between the Strangers, at the end of the want of connexion between this dialogue second scene, is unmetrical enough in the and what had preceded it :—“I suspect original ; Steevens has made it hobble still some scene to be lost, in which the entrance worse. The third scene has the same inof the Fool and the Page that follows him curable defects. It seems to us perfectly was prepared by some introductory dialogue, impossible that Shakspere could have proin which the audience was informed that | duced thoughts so commonplace, and verse


so unmusical, as we find in the speech of departure from his usual principle of versiSempronius. The fourth scene, again, has fication, presenting even in this play an little peculiarity. It might be Shakspere's, especial contrast to the mighty rush and or it might be the work of an inferior writer. sustained grandeur of the blank verse in the Of the fifth scene we venture to say most speeches of Timon in the fourth and fifth distinctly that it is not Shakspere's. Inde-acts? Is not the perpetual and offensive pendently of the internal evidence of thought recurrence of the couplet an evidence that and style (which we shall come to presently), this and other scenes of the play were of this scene of the banishment of Alcibiades, the same school as “The History of King and the concluding scene of his return to Lear and his Three Daughters,' upon which Athens, appear to belong to a drama of Shakspere founded his own · Lear?' which the story of this brave and profligate The whole of the senate scene in Timon is Athenian formed a much more important singularly unmetrical; but, wherever the feature than in the present play. That story verse becomes regular, it is certainly not the stands here strictly as an episode. The metre of Shakspere. Mark the pause, for banishment of Alcibiades is perfectly uncon- example, that occurs at the end of every line nected with the misanthropy of Timon ; of the first speech of Alcibiades. the return of Alcibiades takes place after linked sweetness long drawn out is utterly Timon's death. We feel no interest in either wanting. The last scene of the fifth act has event. Ulrici has noticed the uncertain the same peculiarity. But, in addition to the connexion of this drama as a whole, particu- structure of the verse, the character of the larly in the scene before us, “ where it re- thought is essentially different from that of mains quite unknown who is the unfortunate the true Shaksperean drama. Where is our friend for whom Alcibiades petitions so poet's imagery? From the first line of this earnestly that he is banished for it.” In scene to the last, the speeches, though cast Shakspere's hand the banishment of Alci- into the form of verse, are in reality nothing biades is only used in connexion with the but measured prose. The action of this scene wonderful scene in the fourth act. In the admitted either of passion or reflection; and older drama we have no doubt that it formed we know how Shakspere puts forth either an integral portion of the action, and that power whenever the occasion demands it. Timon himself was only incidental to the The passion of Alcibiades is of the most catastrophe. Shakspere was satisfied to take vapid character:the frame-work, as he found it, of the story

"Now the gods keep you old enough; that you which he might connect with his display of the character of Timon. The scene before

Only in bone that none may look on you!" us, and the concluding scene of the fifth act, present, we think, nearly every charac- Let us contrast for a moment the Shakteristic by which the early contemporaries sperean Coriolanus, under somewhat similar of Shakspere are to be distinguished from circumstances :bim; and the negation, in the same degree,

You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate, of all those qualities which render him so

As reek o'th' rotten fens : whose loves I prize, immeasurably superior to every other dra

As the dead carcasses of unburied men,

That do corrupt my air: I banish you." The scene between Alcibiades and the Senate consists of about a hundred and In this scene between Alcibiades and the twenty lines. Of these lines twenty-six senate, the usually profound reflection of form rhyming couplets. This of itself is Shakspere, which plunges us into the depths enough to make us look suspiciously upon of our own hearts, and the most unfathomthe scene, when presented as the work of able mysteries of the world around us and Shakspere. Could the poet have proposed beyond us, is exchanged for such slight any object to himself, by this extraordinary | axioms as the following :

may live

matic poet.

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