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work, and threw it aside in an unfinished state : that this was afterwards taken up by some inferior hand, who retained all that Shakespeare had written, and wrote out the other parts in accordance, as nearly as might be, with the original plan. Whatsoever may be judged of this theory in other respects, it seems to make clear work with the question why there should be in this case so great discrepancy of style and execution joined with such general unity of purpose
and movement. And it legitimates the supposal, that in this instance the Poet's choice of subject was determined by personal sympathy with the mood and temper of mind here exhibited, not by his judgment of dramatic fitness. For, supposing such choice to have proceeded on the former ground, his interest would naturally draw first to those parts which struck in with and gave vent to his overruling passion ; and then begin to flag and fall away as soon as, upon coming to those where such personal respects had no place, his dramatic judgment regained the upper hand. At all events, we must needs think that both the subject and the workmanship were here governed by somewhat else than poetical or artistic inspiration ; in which case his interest would be apt to break down when he reached a point where nothing but such inspiration would suffice to keep it up and carry it along
It is nowise improbable, therefore, that in one of these two latter theories is to be found the true solution of divers questions that have been raised touching this play. And there are at least two instances of incompleteness, resulting, apparently, from oversight, which may be in this way satisfactorily explained. One is in Act ii., where there seems a want of due connection between the first and second scenes, since we have the Fool speaking of his mistress, and the Page out on her errands, while as yet no hint has been given as to who or what their mistress is. Dr. Johnson saw this gap, and remarked upon it thus : “I suspect some scene to be lost, in which the entrance of the Fool and the Page was prepared by some introductory dialogue, wherein the audience was informed that they were the fool and page of Phrynia, Timandra, or some other courtesan, upon the knowledge of which depends the greater part of the ensuing jocularity.” The other is in the fifth scene of Act iii., where we have Alcibiades pleading with the Senate in behalf of a condemned soldier whose name has not been mentioned, nor has any representation or statement been made of the act for which the Senate are passing upon his life. Tbe whole matter comes in most abruptly, insomuch that our thoughts can hardly choose but revert to some scene or dialogue which has been omitted.
Now, upon the supposal, - which bears such and so many marks of likelihood that we have little doubt of its truth, that diffe parts of the play were from different hands; whether certain parts were borrowed froin an earlier drama; or whether certain were
supplied by a later hand; or whether, according to a frequent usage of the time, the play were the joint production of several hands working out a preconcerted plan; in either case these instances of abruptness and seeming omission may be easily accounted for; as any one can understand, whose experience in composition has taught him how difficult it is for one mind to reproduce, in all its details and the proper order of its parts, the conception of another. Indeed it is scarce possible, in such a case, that all the parts of a work should duly remember each other; or that any one, having some portions done to his hand, should so work in and adjust others of his own but that somewhat of connection and continuity will be lost.
As we have been arguing that different parts of this play were by different hands, the reader may naturally hold us bound to make some sign towards discriminating what parts belong to the Poet. This, certainly, is a somewhat delicate and hazardous undertaking, and one in which some approximation to the truth is the utmost that can be reached. Of course we can more confidently affirm what parts are Shakespeare's, than what are not; it being easier for him to fall below his height, than for another to raise himself up to it. And perhaps the line may be indicated the more sasely in the present instance, forasmuch as some portions of the play which relish least of Shakespeare are written with a good deal of vigour and spirit; but the vigour and spirit are thoroughly different from his : so that we may justly affirm that the nearer such portions come up in these respects to the level of his, the more appreciable is the difference between them.
Not to be too positive, then, in the matter, our own judgment runs something thus : The first scene in Act i., down to the entrance of Apemantus; the first scene in Act ii., and the latter half of the second scene, from the re-entrance of 'Timon and Flavius; the first and third scenes in Act iv., with the exception of Flavius' first speech in the latter scene; the first and second scenes in Aet V.; - these portions, we should say, are wholly Shakespeare Besides these, there are divers passages scattered here and there, in which we distinctly taste the Poet's hand; as in the latter half of the first scene in Act i., aiter the entrance of Alcibiades; also, in the second scene of the same act, especially just after Apemantus' Grace; again, in the latter part of the sixth scene in Act iii.; in the first half of the second scene in Act iv.; and in the fifth scene in Act v. There are, also, several portions which we should set down as of doubtful authorship; such as the dialogue between Apemantus, the Merchant, the Jeweller, the Poet, and Timon, in the first scene of the play; the first half of the second scene in Act ii.; some parts of the second and fourth scenes in Act iii.
It may be worth the while to mention, as further evidence of different hands in the play, that in the sixth scene of Act iii., the stage-direction of the original is, “ Enter divers friends at several doors," and the prefixes to the speeches are 1 Lord, 2 Lord, and 3 Lord, where the course of the action renders it all but certain that Lucius, Lucullus, and Sempronius are the persons meant. These, be it observed, are the three friends named by Timon, when he is sending out servants to borrow money, in the latter half of the second scene in Act ii., which we have assigned to Shakespeare. The same persons are also named, near the close of the fourth scene in Act iii., as the chief of those whom Timon orders to be invited to the banquet. Our belief is, that in both these instances we have the Poet's hand; and that in the sixth scene of Act iii. the giving of thanks, and the subsequent speech of Timon's, is all that can be set down as Shakespeare's. At all events, it can scarce be denied that these incoherences in the naming and ordering of the persons strongly argue that the whole of the play did not proceed from one and the same mind. And a like inference may be fairly drawn from the confusion in regard to Timon's epitaph, in the last scene of the play.
It is also worth noting, that in those parts of the play which relish clearly of Shakespeare there is little if any difficulty in distinguishing what is meant for verse and what for prose; wbile in the other parts the two are often hardly possible to be distinguished. For instance, the speech of Apemantus in the first scene of Act i.. -" Aches contract and starve your supple joints,” &c., is printed in the original as prose; yet any good ear accustomed to Shakespeare's language can hardly fail to pronounce it verse, and such verse as carries the mind at once to the greatest of poets. The other parts, on the contrary, abound in speeches, which are given in the original as verse, but which run in so hobbling, disjointed, and unrhythmical a fashion that neither the ear nor the mind can possibly receive or read them as such. Several of these we have set forth as prose, – though good prose they certainly are not, - in order to save the reader from the vexation of endeavoring to read as verse what cannot be so read; as, for example, the first speech of Ventidius, the second and fourth speeches of Timon, the first speech of Apemantus after the Masque of Ladies, and the speech of Flavius beginning, - -« What will this come to?" - in the sec. ond scene of Act i.; also, the speech of Sempronius in the third scene of Act ii.
The story of Timon the Misanthrope seems to have been something of a common-place in the literature of Shakespeare's time. We have an allusion to it in Love's Labour's Lost, Act iv. sc. 3: “ And critic Timon laugh at idle toys.” And in a collection of Epigrams and Satires, entitled Skialetheia, and published in 1598, occurs the line, -“ Like hate-man Timon in his cell he sits." Also, in the anonymous play called Jack Drum's Entertainment, 1601, is found the following : “But if all the brewers' jades in the town can drag me from the love of myself, they shall do more than e'er the seven wise men of Greece could. Come, come ; now I'll be as sociable as Timon of Athens.” But by far the most note-worthy use of the subject is in the form of a play which has come down to our time in manuscript, supposed to have been written or transcribed about the year 1600. The original manuscript was consulted by Steevens, being then in the possession of Mr. Strutt the engraver. Some years ago it passed into the hands of Mr. Dyce, who set forth an edition of it for the Shakespeare Society, in 1842. The play is referred to by Malone in the following terms: “Here Shakespeare found the faithful steward, the banquet-scene, and the story of Timon's being possessed of great sums of gold which he had dug up in the woods; a cir. cumstance which he could not have had from Lucian, there being then no translation of the dialogue that relates to this subject.” Mr. Dyce thinks the play “was evidently intended for the amusement of an academic audience," and that there is “ strong presumptive proof” of its having been really acted. Touching the point affirmed by Malone, he speaks thus : “I leave to others a minute discussion of the question, whether or not Shakespeare was indebted to the present piece. I shall merely observe, that I entertain considerable doubts of his having been acquainted with a drama, which was certainly never performed in the metropolis, and which was likely to have been read only by a few of the author's particular friends, to whom transcripts of it had been presented.”
It is not our purpose to enter upon the minute discussion” which Mr. Dyce has left to others. In the incidents of the play there are certainly divers close resemblances to Shakespeare's Timon. But beyond this there is not the slightest trace of similarity; and the resemblance here is such as to infer nothing more than a drawing from a common source. The anonymous play, as a whole, is indescribably flat and worthless, thoroughly charged with a kind of sophomoric pedantry, and with the most lame and abortive attempts at wit and humour : Timon himself being but a debauched and low-minded spendthrift and prodigal, unredeemed by a single noble or even respectable quality; and the whole char. acterisation, if such it can be termed, being in a style of vulgar and vapid extravagance mistaking itself for something brilliant and spirited, like the unwitting caricatures of a boyish awkward
The material of the piece was evidently borrowed from Lucian, all that is properly characteristic of the Greek satirist being lost in the borrowing.
The most common authority for the character of Timon in Shakespeare's time was Paynter's Palace of Pleasure, in the first volume of which, published before 1567, “ the strange and beastly nature of Timon of Athens” is briefly set forth, the matter being professedly derived from Plutarch's Lise of Mark Antony. We subjoin the passage relating to Timon, as given in Sir Thomas Norih's translation of Plutarch, which came out in 1579 :
« Antonius forsook the city and company of his friends, and built him a house in the sea, by the isle of Pharos, and dwelt there as a man that banished himself from all men's company ; saying he would lead Timon's life, because he had the like wrong offered him that was before offered unto Timon; and that, for the unthankfulness of those he had done good unto, and whom he took to be his friends, he was angry with all men, and would trust no
This Timon was a citizen of Athens, that lived about the war of Peloponnesus, as appeareth by Plato, and Aristophanes' comedies; in the which they mocked him, calling him a viper, and malicious man unto mankind, to shun all other men's companies but the company of Alcibiades, a bold and insolent youth whom he would greatly feast and make much of, and kissed him very gladly. Ăpemantus, wondering at it, asked him the cause what he meant to make so much of that young man alone, and to hate all others. Timon answered him, "I do it, because I know that one day he shall do great mischief unto the Athenians. This Timon sometimes would have Apemantus in his company, because he was much like of his nature and conditions, and also followed him in his manner of life. On a time when they sol. emnly celebrated the feast called Choæ at Athens, where they make sprinklings and sacrifices for the dead, and that they two feasted together by themselves, Apemantus said unto the other, "O, here is a trim banquet, Timon. Timon answered again, Yea, so thou wert not here.' It is reported of him also, that this Timon on a time, the people being assembled in the marketplace about despatch of some affairs, got up into the pulpit for orations, where the orators commonly used to speak unto the people; and silence being made, every man listening to hear what he would say, because it was a wonder to see him in that place, at length he began to speak in this manner : • My lords of Athens, I have a little yard at my house where there groweth a fig-tree, on the which many citizens have hanged themselves; and, because · I mean to make some building on that place, I thought good to let you all understand it, that before the fig-tree be cut down, if any of you be desperate, you may there in time go hang yourselves.' He died in the city of Hales, and was buried upon the sea-side. Now, it chanced so, that the sea getting in compassed his tomb round about, that no man could come to it; and upon the same was written this epitaph :
• Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft: Seek not my name; a plague consume you wicked wretches
It is reported that Timon himself, when he lived, made this epitaph : for that which is commonly rehearsed was not his, but made by the poet Callimachus : VOL. VIII.