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This comedy, (which is evidently the production of a scholar, many lines of Greek being introduced into it,) appears to have been written 'after Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, (1599,) to which it contains a reference; but I have not discovered the precise time when it was composed. If it were ascertained, it might be some guide to us in fixing the date of our author's Timon of Athens, which, on the grounds that have been already stated, I suppose to have been posterior to this anonymous play.
The great plagues of 1593 and 1603 must have made such an impression upon Shakspeare, that no inference can be safely drawn from that dreadful malady being more than once alluded to in Timon of Athens. However, it is possible that the following passages were suggested by the more immediate recollection of the plague which raged in 160g.
I thank them,” says Timon, “and would send them back the plague, could I but catch it for thein."
" Be as a planetary plague, when Jove
Cominius, in the panegyrick which he pronounces on Coriolanus, says,
In the brunt of seventeen battles fince " He lurch'd all swords of the garland." In Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, Ad V. sc. last,
8 Page 186.
we find (as Mr. Steevens has observed) the same phraseology: “ You have lurch'd your friends of the better half of the garland.”
I formerly thought this a sneer at Shakfpeare; but have lately met with nearly the same phrase in a pamphlet written by Thomas Nashe, and suppose it to have been a common phrase of that time.
This play is ascertained to have been written after the publication of Camden's Remaines, in 1605, by a speech of Menenius in the first act, in which he endeavours to convince the feditious populace of their unreasonableness by the wellknown apologue of the members of the body rebelling against the belly. This tale Shakspeare certainly found in the Life of Coriolanus as translated by North, and in general he has followed it as it is there given : but the fame tale is also told of Adrian the Fourth by Camden, in his Remaines, p. 199,
under the head of Wife Speeches, with more particularity; and one or two of the expresfions, as well as the enumeration of the functions performed by each of the members of the body, appear to have been taken from that book.
« On a time,” says Menenius in Plutarch, "all the members of man's body dyd rebel against the bellie, complaining of it that it only reinained in the midest of the bodie without doing any thing, neither dyd bear any labour to the maintenaunce of the rest : whereas all other partes and members dyd labour paynefully, and was veri careful to satisfy the appetites and desiers of the bodie. And so thé bellie, all this notwithstanding, laughed at their follie, and fayde, it is true, I first receyve all méates that norishe mans bodie ; but afterwardes
I send it againe to the norishment of other partes of the same. Even fo (q4. he) a you, my masters and citizens of Rome,” &c. In Camden the tale runs thus :
" All the meinbers of the body conspired against the stomach, as against the swallowing gulfe of all their labours; for whereas the eies beheld, the cares heard, the handes laboured, the feete travelled, the tongue Spake, and all partes performed their functions; onely the stomache lay ydle and consumed all. Hereuppon they joyntly agreed al' to forbeare their labours, and to pine away their lazie and publike enemy.
One day passed over, the second followed very tedious, but the third day was so grievous to them all, that they called a common counsel. The eyes waxed dimme, the feete could not support the body; the armes waxed lazie, the tongue faltered, and could not lay open the matter. Therefore they all with one accord desired the advice of the heart. There Reason layd open before them,” &c.
" There was a time when all the body's members
But, if you do remember,
The heart is called by one of the citizens, counsellor-heart;" and in making the counsellorheart the seat of the brain or understanding, where Reason fits enthroned, Shakspeare has certainly followed Camden.
Thelate date which I have assigned to Coriolanus, derives likewise some support from Volumnia's exhortation to her son, whom she advises to address the Roman people
now humble as the ripest mulberry, " Which cannot bear the handling. In a preceding page I have observed that mulberries were not much known in England before the year 160g. Some few mulberry-trees however had been brought from France and planted before that period, and Shakspeare, we find, had seen some of the fruit in a state of maturity before he wrote Coriolanus.'
33. OTHELLO, 1611. Dr. Warburton thinks that there is in this tragedy a satirical allusion to the inflitution of the order of Baronets, which dignity was created by King James I. in the year 1611:
The hearts of old gave hands,
Othello, Act III. fc, iv, 9 I have some doubts concerning the concluding remark on the date of this play. The tree which is fit for breeding silk-worms, is the white mulberry, of which great numbers were imported into England in the year 160g: but perhaps we had the other species, which produces the best fruit, before that time. If that was the case, my hypothesis concerning the time when our poet planted the celebrated mulberry tree, may be controverted, Valeat quantum valere poffit. “ Amongst their other prerogatives of honour," (says that commentator,)“ they (the new-created baronets] had an addition to their paternal arms, of an hand gules in an escutcheon argent. And we are not to doubt but that this was the new heraldry alluded to by our author; by which he insinuates, that some then created had hands indeed, but not hearts; that is, money to pay for the creation, but no virtue to purchase the honour." .Such is the observation of this critick.
But by what chymistry can the sense which he has affixed to this passage, be extraded from it?
Or is it probable, that Shakspeare, who has more than once condescended to be the encomiast of the unworthy founder of the order of Baronets, who had been personally honoured by a letter from his majesty, and fubftantially benefited by the royal licence granted to him and his fellow-comedians, should have been so impolitick, as to satirize the king, or to depretiate his new-created dignity?
These lines appear to me to afford an obvious meaning, without supposing them to contain such a multitude of allusions:
Of old, (says Othello,) in matrimonial alliances, the heart dictated the union of hands; but our modern junctions are those of hands, not of hearts.
On every marriage the arms of the wife are united to those of the husband. This circumflance, I believe, it was., that suggested heraldry, in this place, to our author. I know not whether a heart was ever used as an armorial enlign, nor is it, I conceive, necessary to inquire. It was the office of the herald to join, or, to speak technically, to quarter