Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

woods, his misanthropical melancholy, and his death. ness, as well as his anchoretical seclusion. This is parThe only thing which may be called an episode, is the ticularly evident in the incomparable scene where the banishment of Alcibiades, and his return by force of cynic Apemantus visits Timon in the wilderness. They arms. However, they are both examples of ingratitude, have a sort of competition with each other in their trade -the one of a state towards its defender, and the other of misanthropy: the cynic reproaches the impoverished of private friends to their benefactor. As the merits of Timon with having been merely driven by necessity to the general towards his fellow-citizens suppose more take to the way of living which he had been long folstrength of character than those of the generous prodi- lowing of his free choice, and Timon cannot bear the gal. their respective behaviours are no less different: thought of being merely an imitator of the cynic. As in Timon frets himself to death; Alcibiades regains his this subject the effect could only be produced by an aclest dignity by violence. If the poet very properly sides cumulation of similar features, in the variety of the with Timon against the common practice of the world, shades an amazing degree of understanding has been he is, on the other hand, by no means disposed to spare displayed by Shakspeare. What a powerfully diversiTimon. Timon was a fool in his generosity; he is a fied concert of flatteries and empty testimonies of demadman in his discontent; he is every where wanting votedness! It is highly amusing to see the suitors, in the wisdom which enables man in all things to ob- whom the ruined circumstances of their patron had disserve the due measure. Although the truth of his ex-persed, immediately flock to him again when they learn travagant feelings is proved by his death, and though that he had been revisited by fortune. In the speeches when he digs up a treasure, he spurns at the wealth of Timon, after he is undeceived, all the hostile figures which seems to solicit him, we yet see distinctly enough of language are exhausted,-it is a dictionary of elothat the vanity of wishing to be singular, in both parts quent imprecations.'† of the plays, had some share in his liberal self-forgetful

* It appears to me that Schlegel and Professor Richardson have taken a more unfavourable view of the character of Timon, than our great poet intended to convey. Timon had not only been a benefactor to his private unworthy friends, but he had rendered the state service, which ought not to have been forgotten. He himself expresses his consciousness of this when he sends one of his servants to request a thousand talents at the hands of the senators:

Of whom, even to the state's best health, I have Deserved this hearing.'

And Alcibiades afterwards confirms this :

[blocks in formation]

friends. Shakspeare seems to have entered entirely
into the feelings of bitterness, which such conduct was
likely to awaken in a good and susceptible nature, and
has expressed it with vehemence and force. The vir-
tues of Timon too may be inferred from the absence of
any thing which could imply dissoluteness or intempe-
rance in his conduct: as Richardson observes, He is
convivial, but his enjoyment of the banquet is in the
pleasure of his guests; Phrynia and Timandra are
not in the train of Timon, but of Alcibiades. He is
not so desirous of being distinguished for magnificence,
as of being eminent for courteous and beneficent ac-
tions: he solicits distinction, but it is by doing good."
Johnson has remarked that the attachment of his ser
vants in his declining fortunes, could be produced by
nothing but real virtue and disinterested kindness. I
cannot, therefore, think that Shakspeare meant to stig-
matize the generosity of Timon as that of a fool, or that
he meant his misanthropy to convey to us any notion
of the vanity of wishing to be singular.'
† Schlegel.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Jew.

I have a jewel here.

Mer. O, pray, let's see't: for the Lord Timon, sir? Jew. If he will touch the estimate: But for that

Poet. When we for recompense have prais'd the vile,

3 Breath'd is exercised, inured by constant practice, so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse is to exercise him for the course: continuate for continued course. He passes, i. e. exceeds or goes beyond common bounds."

4 Touch the estimate, that is, come up to the price. 5 We must here suppose the Poet busy in reciting part of his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addressed to Timon.

[blocks in formation]

To the great lord.
Poet.
A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Our poesy
is a gum, which oozes
From whence 'tis nourished: The fire i' the flint
Shows not, till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself, and like the current, flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there?
Puin. A picture, sir.-And when comes your
book forth?

Poet. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir,
Let's see your piece.
Pain.
Poet. So 'tis: this comes off well and excellent.
Pain. Indifferent.

"Tis a good piece.

grace

Poet. Admirable: How this Speaks his own standing! what a mental power This eye shoots forth! how big imagination Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture One might interpret.

Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life. Here is a touch; Is't good?

Poet.

I'll say of it,

It tutors nature: artificial strife"

Lives in these touches, livelier than life.

[Enter certain Senators, and pass over.]

Pain. How this lord's follow'd!

Poet. The Senators of Athens :-Happy men!
Pain. Look, more!

Poet. You see this confluence, this great flood of

visitors.

I have, in this rough work, shap'd out a man,
Whom this beneath world❞ doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment: My free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax:11 no levell'd malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
Leaving no tract behind.

Pain. How shall I understand you?
Poet.
I'll unbolt' to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
(As well of glib and slippery creatures, as
Of grave and austere quality,) tender down
Their services to Lord Timon: his large fortune,
Upon his good and gracious nature hanging,

1 The old copies read:

Our poesie is a gorene which uses.'

2 It is not certain whether this word is chufes or chases in the folio. I think the former is the true read ing. The poetaster means that the vein of a poet flows spontaneously, like the current of a river, and flies from each bound that chafes it in its course, as scorning all impediment, and requiring no excitement. In Julius Cæsar we have:

The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores.' 3 i. e. as soon as my book has been presented to Timon.

4 This comes off well, apparently means this is cle. verly done, or this piece is well executed. The phrase is used in Measure for Measure ironically.

5 How the graceful attitude of this figure proclaims that it stands firm on its centre, or gives evidence in favour of its own fixture. Grace is introduced as bearing witness to propriety.

6 One might venture to supply words to such intelligible action. Such significant gesture ascertains the sentiments that should accompany it. So in Cymbeline,

Act ii. Sc. 4:

never saw I pictures

So likely to report themselves.' 7 i. e. the contest of alt with nature. This was 2 very common mode of expressing the excellence of a painter. Shakspeare has it again more clearly expressed in his Venus and Adonis :-

'His art with nature's workmanship at strife." 8 Mane salutantum totis vomit ædibus undam.' 9 So in Measure for Measure we have,This under generation;' and in King Richard II. the lower world. I

[blocks in formation]

all,

Is rank'd with all deserts, all kind of natures,
That labour on the bosom of this sphere
To propagate their states:15 amongst them
Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady fix'd,
One do I personate of Lord Timon's frame,"
Whom Fortune with her ivory hand wafts to her:
Whose present grace to present slaves and servants
Translates his rivals.
Pain.
'Tis conceiv'd to scope.'
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
With one man beckon'd from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the steepy mount
To climb his happiness, would be well express'd
In our condition.

Poet.

Nay, sir, but hear me on:

All those which were his fellows but of late,
(Some better than his value,) on the moment
Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance,
Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,18
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
Drink the free air.19

Pain.
Ay, marry, what of these?
Poet. When Fortune, in her shift and change of
mood,

Spurns down her late belov'd, all his dependants,
Which labour'd after him to the mountain's top,
Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.

Pain. "Tis common:

A thousand moral paintings I can show,
That shall demonstrate these quick blows of fortune
More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well,
To show Lord Timon, that mean eyes have seen
The foot above the head.

Trumpets sound. Enter TIMON, attended; the Servant of VENTIDIUS talking with him.

Tim.
Imprison'd is he, say you?
Ven. Serv. Ay, my good lord: five talents is his
debt;

His means most short, his creditors most strait :
Your honourable letter he desires

To those have shut him up; which failing to him, Periods his comfort.

10 My design does not stop at any particular character. 11 An allusion to the Roman practice of writing with a style on tablets, covered with wax: a custom which also prevailed in England until about the close of the fourteenth century.

12 i. e. open, explain.

13 i. . subjects and appropriates.

14 One who shows Ly reflection the looks of his patron. The poet was mistaken in the character of Apemantus; but seeing that he paid frequent visits to Timon, he naturally concluded that he was equally courteous with his other guests.

15 i. e. to improve or promote their conditions. 16 i. e. extensively imagined, largely conceived. 17 i. e. in our art, in painting. Condition was used

for profession, quality; façon de faire.

13 Whisperings of officious servility, the incense of the worshipping parasite to the patron as a god. Gray has excellently expressed in his Elegy these sacrificial offerings to the great from the poetic tribe :To heap the shrine of luxury and pride With incense kindled at the Muses' flame." 19 To drink the air, like the huustos ætherios of Virgil is merely a poetic phrase for draw the air, or breathe. To drink the free air,' therefore, through mother,' is to breathe freely at his will only, so as to depend on him for the privilege of life not even to breathe freely without his permission.

20 i. e. inferior spectators.

21 To period is perhaps a verb of Shakspeare's coinage.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Tim. Attends he here, or no?-Lucilius !
Enter LUCILIUS.

Luc. Here, at your lordship's service.
Old Ath. This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy
creature,

By night frequents my house. I am a man
That from my first have been inclin'd to thrift;
And my estate deserves an heir more rais'd,
Than one which holds a trencher.

Tim.

Well; what further? Old Ath. One only daughter have I, no kin else, On whom I may confer what I have got: The maid is fair, o' the youngest for a bride, And I have bred her at my dearest cost, In qualities of the best. This man of thine Attempts her love: I pr'ythee, noble lord, Join with me to forbid him her resort; Myself have spoke in vain. Tim. The man is honest. Old Ath. Therefore he will be, Timon:4 His honesty rewards him in itself,

It must not bear my daughter.

Tim.

Does she love him?

Old Ath. She is young, and apt:
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity's in youth.

Tim. [To LUCILIUS.] Love you the maid?
Luc. Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
Old Ath. If in her marriage my consent be missing,
I call the gods to witness, I will choose
Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world,
And dispossess her all.

Tim.

How shall she be endow'd, If she be mated with an equal husband? Old Ath. Three talents, on the present; in futore, all.

Tim. This gentleman of mine hath serv'd me long; To build his fortune, I will strain a little, For 'tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter:

1 Should we not read When he most needs me? 2 Johnson says this thought is better expressed by Dr. Madden in his Elegy on Archbishop Boulter:

More than they ask'd he gave; and deem'd it mean Only to help the poor-to beg again."

It is said that Dr. Madden gave Johnson ten guineas for correcting this poem.

3 See note on King Richard III. Act iii. Sc. 2.

4 It appears to me that a word is omitted in this line. Perhaps we should read:-

Therefore he will be [rewarded,] Timon;
His honesty rewards him in itself,

It must not bear my daughter.

It is true that Shakspeare often uses elliptical phrases, and this has been thought to mean: You say the man is honest; therefore he will continue to be so, and is sure of being sufficiently rewarded by the consciousness of virtue; he does not need the additional blessing of a beautiful and accomplished wife. Bet it must not bear my daughter,' means, His honesty is its own reward, it must not carry my daughter. A similar expression occurs in Othello:

• What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe
It he can carry her thus.'

[blocks in formation]

What, my lord? dispraise? Tim. A mere satiety of commendations. If I should pay you for't as 'tis extoll'd, It would unclew me quite.

Jew.

My lord, 'tis rated As those, which sell, would give: But you well

know,

Things of like value, differing in the owners,
Are prized by their masters: believe 't, dear lord,
You'mend the jewel by wearing it.

Tim.
Well mock'd.
Mer. No, my good lord; he speaks the common
tongue,

Which all men speak with him.

Tim. Look, who comes here. Will you be chid? Enter APEMANTUS.

Jew. We will bear, with your lordship.

Mer:
He'll spare none.
Tim. Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!
Apem. Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good

[blocks in formation]

Duncan:

Your servants ever

Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs in compt,
To make their audit at your highness' pleasure,
Still to return your own.

6 Pictures have no hypocrisy; they are what they profess to be.

7 To unclew a man is to draw out the whole mass of his fortunes. To unclew being to unwind a ball of thread.

S Are rated according to the esteem in which their possessor is held.

9 See this character of a cynic finely drawn by Lu. cian, in his Auction of the Philosophers; and how well Shakspeare has copied it.

10 Stay for thy good morrow till I be gentle, which will happen at the same time when thou art Timon's dog, and these knaves honest,'—i. e. nevér.

[blocks in formation]

Apem. Thy mother's of my generation; What's she, if I be a dog?

Tim. Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?
Apem. No; I eat not lords.

Tim. An thou should'st, thou'dst anger ladies. Apem. O, they eat lords: so they come by great bellies.

Tim. That's a lascivious apprehension.

Apem. So thou apprehend'st it: Take it for thy labour.

Tim. How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
Apem. Not so well as plain-dealing, which will

not cost a man a doit.

Tim. What dost thou think 'tis worth?

And all this court'sy! The strain of man's bred out
Into baboon and monkey.4

Tim.

Alcib. Sir, you have sav'd my longing, and I feed
Most hungrily on your sight.
Right welcome, sir.
Ere we depart, we'll share a bounteous time
In different pleasures. Pray you, let us in.
[Exeunt all but APEMANTUS,
Enter two Lords.

1 Lord. What time a day is't, Apemantus?
Apem. Time to be honest.

1 Lord. That time serves still.

Apem. The most accursed thou, that still omit'st it.
2 Lord. Thou art going to Lord Timon's feast.
Apem. Ay; to see meat fill knaves, and wine
heat fools.

2 Lord. Fare thee well, fare thee well.
Apem. Thou art a fool, to bid me farewell twice.
2 Lord. Why, Apemantus?

Apem. Should have kept one to thyself, for I mean to give thee none.

1 Lord. Hang thyself.

Apem. No, I will do nothing at thy bidding; make

Apem. Not worth my thinking.-How now, poet? thy requests to thy friend.
Poet. How now, philosopher?

Apem. Thou liest.

Poet. Art not one?

Apem. Yes.

Poet. Then I lie not.

Apem. Art not a poet?
Poet. Yes.

Apem. Then thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou hast feign'd him a worthy fellow. Poet. That's not feign'd, he is so.

Apem. Yes, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee for thy labour: He that loves to be flattered, is worthy o' the flatterer. Heavens, that I were a

lord!

Tim. What would'st do then, Apemantus? Apem. Even as Apemantus does now, hate a lord with my

heart.

Tim. What, thyself?

Apem. Ay.

Tim. Wherefore?

[blocks in formation]

Apem. Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not!
Mer. If traffic do it, the gods do it.

Apem. Traffic's thy god, and thy god confound thee.

us.

2 Lord. Away, unpeaceable dog, or I'll spurn thee hence.

Apem. I will fly, like a dog, the heels of the ass.

[Exit.

1 Lord. He's opposite to humanity. Come, shall

we in,

And taste Lord Timon's bounty? he outgoes
The very heart of kindness.

2 Lord. He pours it out; Plutus, the god of gold,
Is but his steward: no meed," but he repays
Sevenfold above itself; no gift to him,
But breeds the giver a return exceeding
All use of quittance."

1 Lord.

The noblest mind he carries, That ever govern'd man. 2 Lord. Long may he live in fortunes! Shall we in? 1 Lord. I'll keep you company.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II. The same.
A Room of State in Ti-
mon's House. Hautboys playing loud music. A
great banquet served in; FLAVIUS and others attend-
ing; then enter TIMON, ALCIBIADES, LUCIUS,
LUCULLUS, SEMPRONIUS, and other Athenian
Senators, with VENTIDIUS, and Attendants.-
Then comes dropping after all, APEMANTUS, dis-
contentedly.

Ven. Most honour'd Timon, 't hath pleas'd the
gods to remember

Trumpets sound. Enter a Servant. My father's age, and call him to long peace. Tim. What trumpet's that? He is gone happy, and has left me rich: Serv. 'Tis Alcibiades, and Then, as in grateful virtue I am bound Some twenty horse, all of companionship.3 To your free heart, I do return those talents, Tim. Pray, entertain them; give them guide to Doubled, with thanks, and service, from whose help [Exeunt some Attendants. I deriv'd liberty. You must needs dine with me :-Go not you hence,Till I have thank'd you;-and, when dinner's done, Honest Ventidius: you mistake my love; O, by no means, Show me this piece.-I am joyful of your sights.-I gave it freely ever; and there's none Can truly say, he gives, if he receives: If our betters play at that game, we must not dare To imitate them; Faults that are rich, are fair. Ven. A noble spirit.

Enter ALCIBIADES, with his Company.

[They salute.

Most welcome, sir!
Apem.
So, so; there!-
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!-
That there should be small love 'mongst these sweet
knaves,

1 Alluding to the proverb: Plain-dealing is a jewel, but they who use it die beggars.

2 This line is corrupt undoubtedly, and none of the emendations or substitutions that have been proposed are satisfactory. Perhaps we should read, That I had (now angry) wish'd to be a lord: or, That I had (so angry) will to be a lord.' Malone proposed to point the passage thus, That I had no angry wit. To be a lord and explains it, That I had no weit [or discretion] in my anger, but was absurd enough to wish myself one of that set of men, whom I despise. These are the best helps I can afford the reader towards a solution of this enigmatical passage, and it must be confessed they are feeble.

3 i. e. Alcibiades' companions, or such as he consorts with and sets on a level with himself.

Tim.

[They all stand ceremoniously looking on TIMON.

4 Man is degenerated; his strain or lineage is worn down into a monkey.

5 It has been before observed that to depart and to part
were anciently synonymous. So in King John, Act ii.
Sc. 2-Hath willingly departed with a part.'
6 Ritson says we should read:-

The more accursed thou.'
So in The Two Gentlemen of Verona :---

The more degenerate and base art thou.'
7 Meed here means desert.

8 i. e. all the customary returns made in discharge of obligations.

9 The faults of rich persons, and which contribute to the increase of riches, wear a plausible appearance, and as the world goes are thought fair; but they are faults notwithstanding.'

[blocks in formation]

Apem. Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon; I come to observe; I give thee warning on't. Tim. I take no heed of thee; thou art an Athe-me to 'em. nian; therefore welcome: I myself would have power: pr'ythee, let my meat make thee silent.4 Apem. I scorn thy meat; 'twould choke me, for

I should

Ne'er flatter thee.-O you gods! what a number
Of men eat Timon, and he sees them not!
It grieves me, to see so many dip their meat
In one man's blood; and all the madness is,
He cheers them up too.

no

I wonder, men dare trust themselves with men :
Methinks they should invite them without knives;
Good for their meat, and safer for their lives.
There's much example for't; the fellow, that
Sits next him now, parts bread with him, and pledges
The breath of him in a divided draught,

Is the readiest man to kill him: it has been prov'd.

KI
Were a huge man, I should fear to drink at meals;
Lest they should spy my windpipe's dangerous
Great men should drink with harness on their

notes:

throats.

Tim. My lord, in heart;10 and let the health go

round.

2 Lord. Let it flow this way, my good lord. Apem. Flow this way! A brave fellow!-he keeps his tides well. Timon,11 Those healths will make thee, and thy state, look ill. Here's that, which is too weak to be a sinner, Honest water, which ne'er left man i' the mire: This, and my food, are equals; there's no odds. Feasts are too proud to give thanks to the gods.

1 There seems to be some allusion to a common proverbial saying of Shakspeare's time, 'Confess and be hanged. See Othello, Act iv. Sc. 1.

2 The old copy reads 'Yond' man's very angry.' 3 Steevens and Malone dismissed apperil from the text, and inserted own peril: but Mr. Gifford has shown that the word occurs several times in Ben Jonson :-'Sir, I will bail you at mine own upperil. Devil is an Ass. 4 I myself would have no power to make thee silent, but I wish thou wouldst let my meat stop your mouth.' 5 For in the sense of cause or because.

6 It grieves me to see so many feed luxuriously, or sauce their meat at the expense of one man, whose very blood (means of living) must at length be exhausted by them; and yet he preposterously encourages them to proceed in his destruction.'

7 It was the custom in old times for every guest to bring his own knife, which he occasionally whetted on a stone that hung behind the door. One of these whetstones was formerly to be seen in Parkinson's Museum. It is scarcely necessary to observe that they were stran gers to the use of forks.

8The windpipe's notes' were the indications in the throat of its situation when in the act of drinking; it should be remembered that our ancestors' throats were uncovered. Perhaps, as Steevens observes, a quibble is intended on windpipe and notes.

1 Lord. Might we but have that happiness, my lord, that you would once use our hearts, whereby we might express some part of our zeals, we should think ourselves for ever perfect.13

Tim. O, no doubt, my good friends, but the gods themselves have provided that I shall have much help from you: How had you been my friends else? why have you that charitable title from thousands, did you not chiefly belong to my heart? I have told more of you to myself, than you can with moconfirm you. O, you gods, think I, what need we desty speak in your own behalf; and thus far I have any friends, if we should never have need of should we ne'er have use for them: and would most them? they were the most needless creatures living, keep their sounds to themselves. Why, I have often resemble sweet instruments hung up in cases, that wished myself poorer, that I might come nearer to you. We are born to do benefits: and what better or properer can we call our own, than the riches of our friends? O, what a precious comfort 'tis to have so many, like brothers, commanding one anobe born!15 Mine eyes cannot hold out water, ther's fortunes! O joy, e'en made away ere it can methinks to forget their faults, I drink to you.

Apem. Thou weepest to make them drink, Timon. 2 Lord. Joy had the like conception in our eyes, And, at that instant, like a babe sprung up.

Apem. Ho, ho! I laugh to think that babe a bastard. 3 Lord. I promise you, my lord, you mov'd me

much.

Apem. Much!16

[Tucket sounded. Tim. What means that trump ?-How now?

[merged small][ocr errors]

10 My lord's health in sincerity. Knightes Tale :

So in Chaucer's

'And was all his in chere, as his in herte." 11 This speech, except the concluding couplet, is printed as prose in the old copy, nor could it be exhibited as verse without transposing the word Timon, which folthat many of the speeches in this play, which are now lows look ill, to its present place. I think with Malone exhibited in a loose and imperfect kind of metre, were intended by Shakspeare for prose, in which form they are exhibited in the old copy.

12 Foolish.

13 i. e. arrived at the perfection of happiness.

14 'Why are you distinguished from thousands by that tion and intercourse of tenderness between you and me?' title of endearment, was there not a particular connecThus Milton :

Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother.'

15 O joy! e'en made away [i. e. destroyed, turned to tears] ere it can be born.' So in Romeo and Juliet: These violent delights have violent ends,

And in their triumphs die.'

16 Much was a common ironical expression of doubt or suspicion.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »