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Entomb'd upon the very hem o' the sea:
Alcib. [Reads.] "Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft :
Seek not my name. A plague consume you wicked caitiffs
Here lie I Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:
Pass by, and curse thy fill; but pass, and stay not here thy gait?"
These well express in thee thy latter spirits:
Though thou abhorr'dst in us our human griefs,
Scorn'dst our brain's flow, and those our droplets which
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
Hereafter more.-Bring me into your city,
stint war; make each
of the inscription on the tomb of Timon; but in this place, in the old stagedirection, he is merely called "a Messenger."
and stay not here thy gait."] This, which is here given as one epitaph, is in fact two; as is evident, because in the first couplet the reader is told, "Seek not my name," and yet in the very next line he is told, "Here lie I, Timon," &c. They stand thus separately in "Plutarch's Lives," by Sir Thomas North, fol. 1579, p. 1003:
"Heere lyes a wretched corse, of wretched soule bereft.
Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked wretches left.
"It is reported that Timon himselfe, when he lived, made this epitaphe; for that which is commonly rehearsed was not his, but made by the poet Callimachus::-
"Heere lye I, Timon, who alive all living men did hate.
Passe by, and curse thy fill; but passe, and stay not here thy gate." The epitaph assigned to Timon in Paynter's "Palace of Pleasure," edit. Marsh, fo. 55, runs thus:
'My wretched catife dayes, expired now and past,
My carren corps intered here is fast in grounde,
"The Tragedie of Julius Cæsar" was first printed in the folio of 1623, where it occupies twenty-two pages; viz. from p. 109 to p. 130 inclusive, in the division of "Tragedies." The Acts, but not the Scenes, are distinguished; and it appeared in the same manner in the three later folios.
No early 4to. edition of "Julius Cæsar" is known, and there is reason to believe that it never appeared in that form. The manuscript originally used for the folio, 1623, must have been comparatively free from corruptions, for there is, perhaps, no drama in the volume more accurately printed; still it will be seen, in various instances, that our corrected folio, 1632, has been of considerable usc.
Malone and others have arrived at the conclusion that "Julius Cæsar" could not have been written before 1607. There is ground for believing that it was written and acted before 1603.
We found this opinion upon some circumstances connected with the publication of Drayton's " Barons' Wars," and with the resemblance between a stanza there found, and a passage in "Julius Cæsar," both of which it will be necessary to quote. In Act v. sc. 5, Antony gives the following character of Brutus:
"His life was gentle; and the elements
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, This was a man.”
In Drayton's "Barons' Wars," book iii. edit. 8vo, 1603, p. 61, we meet with the subsequent stanza. The author is speaking of
"Such one he was, of him we boldly say,
In whose rich soul all sovereign powers did suit,
In whom in peace th' elements all lay
So mix'd, as none could sovereignty impute;
As all did govern, yet all did obey:
His lively temper was so absolute,
That 't seem'd, when heaven his model first began,
In him it show'd perfection in a man.”
Italic type is hardly necessary to establish that one poet must have availed himself, not only of the thought, but of the very words. of the other. The question is, was Shakespeare indebted to Drayton, or Drayton to Shakespeare? We shall not enter into general probabilities, founded upon the original and exhaustless stores of the mind of our great dramatist, but advert to a few dates, which, we think, warrant the conclusion that Drayton, having heard "Julius Cæsar" at a theatre, or seen it in manuscript, before 1603, applied to his own purpose, perhaps unconsciously, what, in fact, belonged to another poet.
Drayton's "Barons' Wars" first appeared in 1596, 4to, under the title of "Mortimeriados." Malone had a copy without date, and he and Steevens erroneously imagined that the poem had been originally printed in 1598. In the 4to. of 1596, and in the undated edition, it is not divided into books, and is in seven-line
stanzas; and what is there said of Mortimer bears no likeness whatever to Shakespeare's expressions in "Julius Cæsar." Drayton afterwards changed the title from "Mortimeriados ’ to "The Barons' Wars," and remodelled the whole historical poem, altering the stanza from the English ballad form to the Italian ottava rima. This course he took before 1603, when it came out in octavo, with the stanza first quoted, which contains so marked a similarity to the lines from "Julius Cæsar." We apprehend that he did so, because he had heard or seen Shakespeare's tragedy before 1603; and we think that strong presumptive proof that he was the borrower, and not Shakespeare, is derived from the fact, that in the subsequent impressions of "The Barons' Wars," in 1605, 1607, 1608, 1610, and 1613, the stanza remained precisely as in the edition of 1603; but in 1619, after Shakespeare's death and before "Julius Cæsar" was printed, Drayton made even a nearer approach to the words of his original, thus:—
"He was a man, then boldly dare to say,
In whose rich soul the virtues well did suit;
That none to one could sovereignty impute;
He of a temper was so absolute,
As that it seem'd, when Nature him began,
We have been thus particular, because the point is new, and obviously important, as regards the date when "Julius Cæsar" was brought upon the stage. Malone seems to have thought that "The Barons' Wars" continued under its original name, and in its first shape, until the edition of 1608, and concluded that the resemblance to Shakespeare was first to be traced in that impression. He had not consulted the copies of 1603, or 1605 (which were not in his possession), for if he had looked at them he must have seen that Drayton had copied "Julius Cæsar" as early as 1603; and, consequently, unless Shakespeare imitated Drayton, that that tragedy must then have been in existence. That Drayton had not remodelled his "Mortimeriados" as late as 1602, we gather from the circumstance, that he reprinted his poems in that year without "The Barons' Wars" in any form, or under any title.
Another slight circumstance might be adduced to show that "Julius Cæsar was even an older tragedy than "Hamlet." In the latter (Act iii. sc. 2) it is said that Julius Cæsar was "killed in the Capitol:" in Shakespeare's drama such is the representation, although contrary to the truth of history. This seems to have been the popular notion, and we find it confirmed in Sir Edward Dyer's "Prayse of Nothing," 1585, 4to, a tract unknown to bibliographers, where these words occur: "Thy stately