Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

of the Bible (edit. 1589, 1 Kings, chap. 13, v. 33) where it occurs in a like sense, “ Howbeit, after this, Jeroboam con

verted not from his wicked way.” CUNNING. Act V., Sc. 5.

“Shame that they wanted cunning." Cunning is skill. It is not here used in the sense of deception.

See Taming of the Shrew.' CURIOSITY. Act IV., Sc. 3.

“They mocked thee for too much curiosity.” : Curiosity is particularity, niceness, delicacy. Dich. Act I., Sc. 2.

“Much good dich thy good heart.” Dr. Johnson considers dich to be a corruption of do it, used

here in the sense of may it do. Archdeacon Nares says

that there is no other instance of its use. DRINK. Act I., Sc. 1.

“Drink the free air.” That is they lived, breathed, only through him. FIERCE. Act IV., Sc. 2.

“O, the fierce wretchedness.”
Fierce is violent, excessive; "fierce credulity” occurs in Ben

Jonson.
GRAVE. Act IV., Sc. 3.

And ditches grave you all.”
To grave is to receive as in a grave. Chapman, in his transla-
tion of the “Iliad,' has-

“The throats of dogs shall grave His manly limbs.” GRIZE. Act IV., Sc. 3.

“For every grize of fortune.” Grize is degree, step. The word appears as greese, gree,

griece. See ` Twelfth Night.' HONESTY. Act III., Sc. 1.

“Every man has his fault, and honesty is his.” Honesty here means liberality. KNIVES. Act I., Sc. 2.

“Methinks, they should invite them without knives."

In Shakspere's time the guests brought their own knives.
LIMITED. Act IV., Sc. 3.

“ In limited professions."
Limited is legalised, professions to which bounds are set.

OFFICES. Act II., Sc. 2.

“When all our offices have been oppress’d.” Offices is not here used in the modern sense of apartments for

servants, but for rooms of entertainment, in the same way as it is used by Shirley :

“Let all the offices of entertainment

Be free and open." Passes. Act I., Sc. 1.

“He passes." To pass is to excel. See • Merry Wives of Windsor.' RESPECTIVELY. Act III., Sc. 1.

“You are very respectively welcome.” Respectively is here respectfully. ROTHER. Act IV., Sc. 3.

“It is the pasture lards the rother's sides." Phillips, in his World of Words' (1696) says,—Rother

beasts, a word used in old statutes, and still in the northern parts of England for horned beasts, as cows, oxen, steers, heifers, &c.” The usual reading is brother's, and the passage has given rise to many emendations; among the best was Warburton's, who proposed to read wether's. Mr. Collier's

MS. Corrector has made the change to rother. Stout. Act IV., Sc. 3.

“ Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads." Stout is here used in the sense of being in health. There was,

and indeed is, a notion that the pangs of death were rendered more easy by taking away the pillow “from below"

the head. STRAIGHT. Act II., Sc. 1.

“It folds me, straight.” Straight is immediately, the modern straightway. Touch. Act IV., Sc. 3.

"O thou touch of hearts." Touch is a contraction of touchstone. UNBOLT. Act I., Sc. I.

“I'll unbolt to you." Unbolt is to open, to disclose. Wax. Act I., Sc. 1.

“In a wide sea of wax.” This is an allusion to the waxen tablets which were written on

with a style.

In the 'Pictorial Shakspere’ we expressed our belief that 'Timon of Athens' was founded by our poet upon some older play. The structure of the verse, in some scenes as compared with others, presents the most startling contrarieties to the ear which is accustomed to the versification of Shakspere. To account for this, it has been held that the original text is corrupt. Some German critics consider that 'Timon' was one of Shakspere's latest performances, and has come down to us unfinished. We have gone minutely into an investigation through which we have arrived at the conclusion, that this was a play originally produced by an artist very inferior to Shakspere, and which probably retained possession of the stage for some time in its first form; that it has come down to us not only re-written, but so far remodelled that entire scenes of Shakspere 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. "

Charles Lamb has the following remarks connected with the character of Timon :

“I was pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who being asked which book he esteemed most in his library, answered, 'Shakspere :' being asked which he esteemed the next best, replied, 'Hogarth. His graphic representations are indeed books : they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Others' pictures we look at his prints we read

“In pursuance of this parallel, I have sometimes entertained myself with comparing the "Timon of Athens' of Shakspere (wbich I have just mentioned) and Hogarth's 'Rake's Progress' together. The story, the moral, in both is nearly the same. The wild course of riot and extravagance, ending in the one with driving the Prodigal from the society of men into the solitude of the deserts, and in the other with conducting the Rake through his several stages of dissipation into the still more complete desolations of the mad-house, in the play and in the picture are described with almost equal force and nature. The · Levee of the Rake,'

which forms the subject of the second plate in the series, is almost a transcript of Timon's Levee in the opening scene of that play. We find a dedicating poet, and other similar characters, in both. The concluding scene in the “Rake's Progress' is perhaps superior to the last scenes of Timon.'"

We apprehend that this delightful writer has scarcely done justice to Shakspere's Timon. Hogarth's Rake is a mere sensualist. He is a selfish profligate ; whilst Timon, however lavish, is essentially high-minded and generous. Plutarch distinctly records the circumstance which converted the generous Timon into a misanthrope :

“ Antonius forsook the city (Alexandria) and company of his friends, and built him a house in the sea, by the Isle of Pharos, upon certain forced mounts which he caused to be cast into the sea, and dwelt there as a man that banished himself from all men's company : saying that he would lead Timon's life, because he had the like wrong offered him that was afore 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 man.” But Plutarch says, that Timon was represented as “a viper and malicious man unto mankind, to shun all other men's companies but the company of young Alcibiades, a bold and insolent youth.” The all-absorbing defect of Timon--the root of those generous vices which wear the garb of virtue-- is the entire want of discrimination in the distribution of his bounty. Shakspere has seized upon this point, and held firmly to it. He releases Ventidius from prison,--he bestows an estate upon his servant,-he lavishes jewels upon all the dependants who crowd his board. That universal philanthropy, of which the most selfish man sometimes talk, is in Timon an active principle; but let it be observed that he has no preferences—a most remarkable example of the profound sagacity of Shakspere.. When the ingratitude of those whom he had served was placed beyond doubt, his false confidence was at once, and irreparably, destroyed. If Timon bad possessed one friend with whom he could have interchanged confidence upon equal terms, he would have been saved from his fall, and certainly from his misanthropy.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]
« ElőzőTovább »