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acquaintance with Juvenal-certainly without the slightest direct imitation of him-becomes his unconscious rival,
reminding the reader alike of the splendid and impassioned declamation, the bitter sneer, and the lofty, stoical
morality of the great Roman satirist, and occasionally too of his revolting and cynical coarseness.
Among these foaming torrents of acrimonious invective, are images and expressions-such for instance as the

planetary plague, when Jove
Will o'er some high-vic'd city hang his poison

In the sick airwhich seem afterwards to have expanded themselves into the most magnificent passages of Milton; while the fiery imprecations may again be traced, as having lent energy and intensity to similar outpourings of rage and hatred in the most effective scenes of Otway, Lee, and Byron.

The inferior characters and the dialogue are sketched with much spirit and truth, yet not in the light-hearted mood of pure comedy, mingling the author's own gayety with that of his audience, but in the sarcastic vein of the satirist, more intent on truth of portraiture than on comic enjoyment.

All this still leaves Timon far below the rank of Othello or Macbeth, nor does it vie, either in poetry or philosophy, with the milder wisdom of As You Like It or the TEMPEST; yet it must surely add not a little even tu the fame of the author of those matchless dramas, that he had for a season also wielded the satirist's “horrible scourge,” (as Horace calls it,) with an energy as terrible as any of those whose fame rests upon that alone.

The idea of employing a frame-work of dramatic story and dialogue merely for satirical purposes was not new in England, for it had been frequently employed at an early period of English dramatic literature, in dramatized eclogues, or allegories ; rather, however, as attacks upon individuals, or classes of men, than for the purposes of moral satire. Ben Jonson has something of the same idea in his “ Poetaster,” which is also a personal dramatic satire. This very subject of Timon too had been employed for a purpose like that of Shakespeare ; with feeble power, indeed, though with more scholarship than he possessed.

Satirical poetry, in its more restricted sense, as we now commonly use the term, and as implying moral censure or ridicule, clothed in poetic language and ornament, and directed at popular errors or vices, first appeared in England and became familiar there in the later years of the sixteenth century, during the very years when Shakespeare was chiefly employed in his brilliant series of poetic comedies. The satires of Gascoigne, of Marston and of Hall, appeared successively, from 1576 to 1598. The first of these in the order of merit, as he claimed to be iu order of time, was Joseph Hall:

I first adventure-follow me who list,

And be the second English satirist. His satires were about contemporary, in composition and publication, with the MERCHANT OF VENICE, and the First Part of Henry IV., and he was no unworthy rival, in a different walk of the poet's art, to the great dramatist; for though his poetical reputation has been merged in the holier fame which, as Bishop Hall, he afterwards gained, and still retains, as a divine of singular and original powers of eloquence and thought, he deserves an honourable memory of his youthful satires, as distinguished for humour, force, and pungency of expression, discriminating censure, and well-dir ted indignation. His chief defect is one which he shared with the author of Timon and MEASURE FOR MEASURE, in a frequent turbid obscurity of language, overcharged with varied allusion, and imperfectly developed or over-compressed thought.

That Shakespeare had read Hall's satires is not only probable in itself, as he could not well have been ignorant of the works of a popular contemporary, who was soon after making his way to the higher honours of the church and the state, but is corroborated by several resemblances of imagery, which might well have been suggested by the satires. (See note on act iv. scene 3.) It is on that account worthy of remark that Hall, in his satires, had expressed contempt for that dramatic blank-verse which Shakespeare was then forming, and for which he had just thrown aside the artificial metrical construction upon which Hall prided himself :

Too popular is tragic poesie,
Straining his tip-toes for a furthing fee,
And doth besides in nameless numbers tread;

Unbid iambics flow from careless head. It is a singular fact, and it may possibly have arisen from this very challenge, that the spirited rhyming satirist was soon after eclipsed, in his own walk of moral satire, by the rhymeless iambics" of Timon, gushing with spontaneous impetuosity from a tragic source.

But whatever may have been the connection between the writings of the early English satirists and Shakespeare's essay in dramatic satire—which I mention rather as a point overlooked by the critics, and deserving more examination, than as carrying with it any conclusive proof—it is certain that he did not carry the experiment any further; whether it was that he felt its manifold inferiority, in every higher attribute of poetry, to the true drama of character and passion evolved in action or suffering, or whether it was that the indignant soreness of spirit which is the readiest prompter of such verses, soon passed off, and the morbid rage of Timon, “stung to the quick with high wrongs,” gave way for ever to the nobler reason of the “ kindlier-moved" Prospero.

That Timon of Athens, as to all its higher and more characteristic portions, was written about the period to which Hallam and Coleridge assign it, there can be no reasonable doubt. The extrinsic evidence is indeed negative; but it shows, by the absence of all such references to this play, as are to be traced in respect to almost all Shakespeare's works, and to all those of his youth, that this one had not been very long known before his death ; thus corroborating the internal indications that it was written a few years before or after LEAR. We find no evidence that it was ever played at all, and it is certain that it could not have been very often represented, or the



diligence of the Shakespeare Society and its indefatigable associates would have afforded us some record of its performance. It was published only in the folio of 1623, and the manner in which it there appears, strangely and variously distorted and confused, raises some of the most curious and doubtful questions of critical theory and discussion.

In the text, as originally printed, the reader is startled, at first sight, by frequent successions of very short lines or half lines, metrically looking like lyrical blank verse; but which no art of good reading, or of editorial ingenuity, can bring to any thing like harmony or regularity, even of that careless and rugged tone in which Shakespeare at times thought fit to clothe his severer poetry. Stevens, as is his wont, applied himself boldly to bring the lines into regular metre; but, with all his editorial skill of patching and mending, altering and transposing, he succeeded only in arranging the intractable words in lines of ten syllables, which no ear can recognise as verse, though they look like it. There are again passages, printed as prose, that seem to contain the mutilated elements of rhythmical melody, and may have been intended for such. We find, moreover, much more than the ordinary difficulties of obscured or ambiguous meaning. These arise partially from manifest errors of the printer or the copyist, and some of these the acuteness of various critics has been able to clear up, while others still remain unexplained ; appearing as if the author had not paused to develope his own idea, but had contented himself with an indication of his general sense, such as is often employed by persons not writing immediately for the press, or for any eye but their own.

But more especially, in addition to all these causes of perplexity, there is a most strongly marked difference of manner between the truly Shakespearian rhythm and diction and imagery of the principal scenes and soliloquies, which give to the drama its poetic character, and the tamer and uncharacteristic style of much of the detail of the story and dialogue, and the accessories of the main interest. This is as marked as the contrast in the author's juvenile dramas, between the original ground-work and the occasional enlargements and additions of his ripening taste, such as the passages in Love's Labour's Lost, which can be confidently ascribed to the period of that comedy's being “corrected and augmented.” We might be disposed to offer the same explanation of the cause of difference in this case as that ascertained in the other instances, were it not that the inferior portion of Timon has scarcely any of the peculiar character of the author's more youthful manner, which was as distinguishable as that of any other period of his intellectual progress, and almost always more finished and polished in its peculiar way.

Several theories have been proposed for the elucidation of these doubts. The first is that of the English commentators, of the age and school of Stevens and Malone, who think that every thing is accounted for by the general allegation that the text is uncommonly corrupt. But these errors and confusion of sense or metre, even where they appear to be past remedy, yet affect only the several passages where they are found, and influence but little the general spirit and tone of the dialogue. They are of the same sort with those found in CoriolanUS, All's WELL THAT Ends Well, etc.; and like them may be struck out of the context, without essential change in its sense or style. This, therefore, cannot account for such marked discrepancy of execution, where the meaning is clear.

The next solution, in order of time, is that of Coleridge, which however first appeared in print in 1842, in Collier's Introduction to his edition of TimoN OF ATHENS. Mr. Collier there says :

“There is an apparent want of finish about some portions of Timon of Athens, while others are elaborately wrought. In his lectures, in 1815, Coleridge dwelt upon this discordance of style at considerable length, but we find no trace of it in the published fragments of his lectures in 1818. Coleridge said, in 1815, that he saw the same vigorous hand at work throughout, and gave no countenance to the notion that any parts of a previously existing play had been retained in Timon OF ATHENS, as it had come down to us. It was Shakespeare's throughout; and, as originally written, he apprehended that it was one of the author's most complete pertorinances: the players, however, he felt convinced, had done the Poet much injustice; and he especially instanced (as indeed he did in 1818) the clumsy, “clap-trap' blow at the Puritans, in act iii. scene 3, as an interpolation by the actor of the part of Timon's servant. Coleridge accounted for the ruggedness and inequality of the versification upon the same principle, and he was persuaded that only a corrupt and imperfect copy had come to the hands of the player-editors of the folio of 1623. Why the manuscript of TIMON OF AThens should have been more mutilated than that from which other dramas were printed, for the first time, in the same volume, was a question into which he did not enter. His admiration of some parts of the tragedy was unbounded; but he maintained that it was, on the whole, a painful and disagreeable production, because it gave only a disadvantageous picture of human nature, very inconsistent with what, he firmly believed, was our great Poet's real view of the characters of his fellow creatures. He said that the whole piece was a bitter dramatic satire-a species of writing in which Shakespeare had shown, as in all other kinds, thrat he could reach the very highest point of excellence. Coleridge could not help suspecting that the subject might have been taken up under some temporary feeling of vexation and disappointment."

To this theory the same answer may be given as to the preceding, with the additional improbability that (as we know from the antiquarian inquiries published since Coleridge's lectures) Timon was much less exposed to such corruption than other more popular dramas; for we cannot find, from the lists of plays performed at court, the manuscripts of critical dramatists, like Dr. Forman, or the theatrical barrister, who fixed the date of Twelfth Night, that Shakespeare's Timon was ever acted at all before it was printed; and the strong probability is that it was never what is called a stock-piece, for repeated representation. There was, therefore, but little likelihood of any great and frequent alterations or interpolations of this play, if it had been originally a complete and finished performance; though some particular passages, such as the sneer at the Puritans, insisted upon by Coleridge, might have thus crept into the dialogue. We have next the theory of Mr. Knight, who, assuming a theory first suggested by Dr. Farmer, that there


existed some earlier popular play of which Timon was the hero, thence maintains, from the contrast of style exhibited throughout the drama, between the free and flowing grace, the condensation of poetical imagery, the tremendous vigour of moral satire, in its nobler parts, and the poverty of thought, meagreness of diction, and barrenness of fancy of large portions of the remainder, that “Timon of Athens was a play originally produced by an artist very inferior to Shakespeare, which probably retained possession of the stage, for some time, in its first form; that it has come down to us not wholly re-written, but so far remodelled, that entire scenes of Shakespeare 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 Shakespearian 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 Shakespeare."

We must refer the reader of this edition to the remarks prefixed to Timon in Mr. Knight's edition, for the very ingenious and eloquent detail of argument with which he supports his conviction that Shakespeare, when he remodelled the character of the Misanthropist, “left it standing apart, in its naked power and majesty, without much regard to what surrounded it. It might have been a hasty experiment to produce a new character for Bur. bage, the greatest of Elizabethan actors. That Timon is so all in all in the play is, to our minds, much better explained by the belief that Shakespeare engrafted it upon the feebler Timon of a feeble drama, that held possession of the stage, than by the common opinion that he, having written the play entirely, had left us only a corrupt text, or left it unfinished, with parts not only out of harmony with the drama as a whole, in action, in sentiment, in versification, but altogether different from any thing he had himself produced in his early, his mature, or his later years."

The theory has much to give it probability, and may possibly give the true solution of the question. Yet there are some weighty reasons that may be opposed to it.

We have lately been made acquainted, through Mr. Dyce's edition of 1842, with the original drama of Timon, referred to by Stevens, and other editors, who had seen or heard of it in manuscript. This is certainly anterior to Shakespeare's Timon, and the manuscript transcript is believed to have been made before 1600. It is the work of a scholar, and it appears to have been acted. But to this Timon, it is apparent that Shakespeare was under no obligation of the kind required by Mr. Knight's theory, although it may possibly have been the medium through which he derived one or two incidents from Lucian. We must then presume the existence of another and more popular drama, on the same subject, of which all other trace is lost, and of a piece which, if it even existed, could not have been from any despicable hand; for the portions of the Shakespearian drama ascribed to it, however inferior to the glow and vigour of the rest, are yet otherwise, as compared with the writings of preceding dramatists, written with no little dramatic spirit and satiric humour. This is surely a somewhat unlikely presumption.

But what weighs most with me is this: that, great as the discrepancy of style and execution may be. yet in the characters, and the whole plot, incidents, and adjuncts required to develope them, there is an entire unison of thought, as if proceeding from a single mind; much more so, for instance, than in the TAMING OF THE SHREW, where the materials may be distinctly assigned to different workmen, as well as the taste and fashion of the decoration.

Another theory is patronized by Ulrici, and is said to be the opinion commonly received in Germany, where Shakespeare has of late years found so many ardent admirers and acute critics. It is that Timon is one of Shakespeare's very latest works, and has come down to us unfinished.

To the theory as thus stated I must object. that so far as we can apply to a great author any thing resembling those rules whereby the criticism of art is enabled so unerringly to divide the works of great painters into their several successive “ manners," and to appropriate particular works of Raphael or Titian to their youth, or their improved taste and talent in their several changes until maturity; we must assign Timon, not to the latest era of Shakespeare's style and fancy, as shown in the Tempest and the Winter's Tale, but to the period where it is placed by Hal. lam and Coleridge, as of the epoch of MEASURE FOR MEASURE, the revised HAMLET, and Lear.

But the conclusive argument against this opinion is, that the play does not, except in a very few insulated passages, resemble the unfinished work of a great master, where parts are finished, and the rest marked out only by the outline, or still more imperfect hints. On the contrary, it is like such a work left incomplete and finished by another hand, inferior, though not without skill, and working on the conceptions of the greater master.

This is precisely the hypothesis to which the examination of the other theories has brought my own mind. The hypothesis which I should offer certainly with no triumphant confidence of its being the truth, but as more probable than any other—is this : Shakespeare, at some time during that period when his temper, state of health, or inclination of mind, from whatever external cause, strongly prompted him to a severe judgment of human nature, and acrimonious moral censure, adopted the canvass of Timon's story as a fit vehicle for poetic satire, in the highest sense of the term, as distinguished alike from personal lampoons and from the playful exhibition of transient follies. In this he poured forth his soul in those scenes and soliloquies, the idea of which had invited him to the subject; while, as to the rest, he contented himself with a rapid and careless composition of some scenes, and probably on others, (such as that of Alcibiades with the Senate,) contenting himself with simply sketching out the substance of an intended dialogue to be afterwards elaborated. In this there is no improbability, for literary history has preserved the evidence of such a mode of composition in Milton and others. The absence of all trace


of the piece from this time till it was printed in 1623, induces the supposition that in this state the author threw aside his unfinished work, perhaps deterred by its want of promise of stage effect and interest, perhaps invited by some more congenial theme. When, therefore, it was wanted by his friends and fellows,” Heminge & Condell, after his death, for the press and the stage, some literary artist like Heywood was invited to fill up the accessory and subordinate parts of the play upon the author's own outline ; and this was done, or attempted to be done, in the manner of the great original, as far as possible, but with little distinction of his varieties of style.

Upon this hypothesis, I suppose the play to be mainly and substantially Shakespeare's, filled up indeed by an inferior hand, but not interpolated in the manner of Tate, Davenant, or Dryden, with the rejection and adulteration of parts of the original; so that its history would be nearly that of many of the admired paintings of Rubens and Murillo, and other prolific artists, who often left the details and accessories of their work to be completed by pupils or dependents.

The reader must decide for himself among these contending conjectures, where nothing is certain but the fact of a singular discrepancy of taste, style, and power of execution in the same piece, combined with a perfect nnity of plot, purpose, and intent.


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The historical Timon was popularly known, in Shakespeare's age, merely as the cynical misanthropist described by Plutarch, and made familiar to the common English reader by numerous allusions to him in the dramatists and poets of their times, or by such versions of his story as that contained in Paynter's “ Palace of Pleasure." (See note on act v. scene 3.) But the Poet has engrafted upon this popular notion of Timon's story the additional idea of a man of overflow kindness and bounty, made savage by the ingratitude of his friends and his country; and this, as well as the most marked incidents of the plot, came unquestionably, either directly or indirectly, from the dialogue of the Greek satirist Lucian. The poetical colouring and all the filling up of the picture are his own. The following abridgment of Lucian's dialogue, as given by Skottowe, shows the amount of the Poet's obligation to the old satirist, as well as the difference between the same subject and topics when viewed under the dry light of sarcastic worldly wit, and when expanded and illustrated by poetical philosophy :

“ Timon, or the Misanthrope,' opens with an address of Timon to Jupiter—the protector of friendship and of nospitality. The misanthrope asks what has become of the god's thunderbolt, that he no longer revenges the wickedness of men?. He then describes his own calamities. After having enriched a crowd of Athenians that he had rescued from misery-after having profusely distributed his riches among his friends—those ungrateful men despise him because he has become poor. Timon speaks from the desert, where he is clothed with skins, and labours with the spade. Jupiter inquires of Mercury, who it is cries so loud from the depth of the valley near Mount Hymettus; and Mercury answers that he is Timon—that rich man who so frequently offered whole hecatombs to the gods; and adds, that it was at first thought that he was the victim of his goodness, his philanthropy, and his compassion for the unfortunate, but that he ought to attribute his fall to the bad choice which he made of his friends, and to the want of discernment, which prevented him seeing that he was heaping benefits upon wolves and ravens. While these vultures were preying upon his liver, he thought them his best friends, and that they fed upon him out of pure love and affection. After they had gnawed him all round, ate his bones bare, and, if there was any marrow in them, sucked it carefully out, they left him, cut down to the roots and withered; and so far from relieving or assisting him in their turns, would not so much as know or look upon him. This has made him turn digger; and here, in his skin-garment, he tills the earth for hire; ashamed to show himself in the city, and venting his rage against the ingratitude of those who, enriched as they had been by him, now proudly pass along, and know not whether his name is Timon.' Jupiter resolves to despatch Mercury and Plutus to bestow new wealth upon Timon, and the god of riches very reluctantly consents to go, because, if he return to Timon, he should again become the prey of parasites and courtesans. The gods, upon approaching Timon, descry him working with his spade, in company with Labour, Poverty, Wisdom, Courage, and all the virtues that are in the train of indigence. Poverty thus addresses Plutus :— You come to find Timon; and as to me who have received him enervated by luxury, he would forsake me when I have rendered him virtuous: you come to enrich him anew, which will render him as before, idle, effeminate, and besotted.' Timon rejects the offer which Plutus makes him; and the gods leave him, desiring him to continue digging. He then finds gold, and apostrophizes it. (See note on act iv. scene 3.) But the Timon of Lucian has other uses for his riches than Plutus anticipated; he will guard them without employing them. He will, as he says, “purchase some retired spot, there build a tower to keep my gold in, and live for myself alone. This shall be my habitation; and, when I am dead, my sepulchre also. From this time forth it is my fixed resolution to have no commerce or connection with mankind, but to despise and avoid it. I will pay no regard to acquaintance, friendship, pity, or compassion : to pity the distressed or to relieve the indigent I shall consider as a weakness--nay, as a crime; my life, like the beasts of the field, shall be spent in solitude; and Timon alone shall be Timon's friend. I will treat all beside as enemies and betrayers; to converse with them were profanation ; to herd with them, impiety. Accursed be the day that brings them to my sight! The most agreeable name to me (he adds) shall be that of Misanthrope. A crowd approach who have heard of his good fortune ; and first comes Gnathon, a parasite, who brings him a new poema dithyrambe. Timon strikes him down with his spade. Another, and another, succeeds; and one comes from the senate to hail him as the safeguard of the Athenians. Each in his turn is welcomed with blows. The dialogue concludes with Timon's determination to mount upon a rock, and to receive every man with a shower of stones.”

It is very possible that Shakespeare may have drawn the points of character and incidents, peculiar to Lucian, from the piece on the same subject since printed by Mr. Dyce, if he had happened to have seen it performed ; where the author, a scholar and probably a university man, follows Lucian in making Timon, at the commencement, rich, liberal, and surrounded by parasites, and then overwhelmed by adversity, and deserted by all except his steward. To some such preceding drama, Malone and the English critics generally insist that he must have been indebted for the faithful steward, the banquet scene, and the gold dug up in the woods; “ they being circumstances which he could not have had from Lucian, there being then no English translation of the dialogue ou this subject."

It may have been so; yet from the close verbal resemblance of the apostrophe to the gold, and some slighter points of similitude, it seems to me more probable that Shakespeare did get his idea of Timon immediately from Lucian's dialogue—though certainly not from the Greek original;—for I see no reason whatever to suppose that he had any acquaintance with the Greek language, or with its literature, except through translation. But in that way Lucian was very accessible to him. We have had repeated occasions to show that he probably drew several of his dramatic plots directly from the Italian, and that at the period when he wrote Timon, (which is clearly not a juvenile work, if not precisely of the date assigned it in the preceding remarks,) he understood at least enough of the Italian language to read it prose authors. Now we learn from the bibliographers, Brunet and Ebberts, that there was an Italian translation of most of Lucian, and including the Timon, by Lonigo, which had passed through three or more editions, between 1528 and 1551.

Besides this there was a Latin translation of all Lucian, printed in various forms, both separately and accompanying the Greek in several editions; and this a very slight and schoolboy knowledge of the language, not exceed

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