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His servants moralize among themselves:
"So noble a master fallen! All gone! and not
And go along with him! As we do turn our backs
Slink all away; leave their false vows with him,
With his disease of all-shunned poverty,
A powerful contrast is made by the extremes of magnanimous honesty and love in the faithful steward, Flavius, who would support his master in his calamity, and of detestable malignity in the ferocious dog Apemantus, who seems to cherish savage hate and contempt for their own sakes. Musing on the despised and ruinous state of his lord, a monument of good deeds evilly bestowed, the good Flavius breaks out:
"What viler thing upon the earth than friends,
Who'd be so mocked with glory? or to live
To have his pomp, and all what state compounds,
For bounty, that makes gods, does still mar men."
Ere this man, who "never knew the middle of humanity, but the extremity of both ends," dies, he prepares his tomb on the hem of the sea, and sends word to the Athenians:
"Timon hath made his everlasting mansion
Upon the beached verge of the salt flood;
And let my gravestone be your oracle.”
When Alcibiades peruses the bitter epitaph which the unhappy misanthrope had left on his tomb, he says:
"These well express in thee thy latter spirits.
Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
The penetrating melancholy and lacerating earnestness with which, in this whole play, and in oft-repeated instances in his other plays, Shakespeare portrays and denounces false friendship, unkindness, and ingratitude, compel the conviction that he must himself, at some period of his life, have undergone some most painful and indelible experience of the kind. Such heart-rending expressions, and so recurrent, could never have sprung from mere interpretative insight unquickened by revivescent motions.
Lastly, Shakespeare gives us, as a pair of friends, Hamlet and Horatio. The deep-hearted, metaphysical prince was of a make and mood that could not live without sympathetic confiding. From his heart to the hearts of his comrades led "the beaten way of friendship." How movingly he conjures his old schoolfellows, "by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me!" Fit communion he found with the accomplished companion whom he loved so well, the scholarly and thoughtful Horatio, who meets him in precisely the spirit adapted to soothe, encourage, and bless his o'er-fraught mind, a spirit at once of loving deference and of manly frankness.
"Ham. Thou wouldst not think how ill all 's here about my heart but it is no matter.
Hor. Nay, good my lord —
"Ham. It is but foolery.
"Hor. If your mind dislike anything, obey it.
"Ham. Not a whit; we defy augury. There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”
And then what a soulful aroma breathes in the frank words, which one can hardly read without being made both sad and glad!
"Ham. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation coped withal.
"Hor. O, my dear lord!
For what advancement may I hope from thee,
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
Nay, do not think I flatter:
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blessed are those,
The tragedy is closing. The envenomed point has done its work.
"Ham. You that look pale, and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act,
Had I but time - O, I could tell you
But let it be. Horatio, ....
Report me and my cause aright.
"Hor. Never, believe it. Here's yet some liquor left.
"Ham. Give me the cup; - let go,
- by heaven, I'll have it! O God! Horatio, what a wounded name, Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
The potent poison quite o'ercrows my spirit.
The rest is silence.
"Hor. Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"
ART. V. - NEW READINGS OF THE PSALMS.
1. A Translation of the Syriac Peshito Version of the Psalms of David; with Notes, Critical and Explanatory. By the REV. ANDREW OLIVER, M. A. Boston: E. P. Dutton & Co. 1861. 12mo. pp. xiv., 331.
2. Zur Textkritik der Psalmen. Von EMIL FR. JUL. V. ORTENBERG. Halle Verlag von Richard Muehlmann., 1861. 8vo. pp. viii., 30.
5. 76. Bright
Ir the Psalms of David are not thoroughly understood, it is not from lack of critical aids. No age of the Church has failed to furnish its quota of illustration of these sacred lyrics. In version, and paraphrase, and emendation, and comment, exegetical, mystical, musical, and practical, ingenuity would seem to have found out all that can be known of the Psalter, were it not that every year gives something new. The "Songs of the Unity," a collection in use in one of our newer churches, show an originality in the arrangement of David's verse hardly less marked than that of the old Puritan Psalm-books. A century and a half ago, Le Long, in his "Bibliotheca Sacra," could number five hundred commentaries on the book of the Psalms, not counting those which made part of more extensive critical survey, or were monographs upon single psalms. Of these last, the number is very large. It seems to have been the delight of the painful preachers of the seventeenth century to exhibit these divine poems in endless changes and in all possible lights. A manuscript indorsement on the fly-leaf of a volume in our possession, by "that late faithfull and worthy minister of Jesus Christ, Mr. Arthur Hildersam," informs us that he spent six years and three months, from September, 1625, to December, 1631, in preparing "CLII. Lectures upon the LI. Psalme." A patient student would need more than six years and three months to read, mark, and inwardly digest the logic and the learning of his 830 folio pages.
If there were five hundred commentaries upon the Psalter in the early part of the last century, what a multitude now, since the revival of Biblical studies! What shall we say of the four volumes of Hupfeld, finished during the last year,
which have added many things to the two volumes of Delitsch, finished during the year before the last? Doubtless some new work will speedily appear, which shall supersede even these exhaustive treatises. There is no fear of working this mine clean of ore. The more it is wrought, the more there is in it to be wrought. It is our purpose in this short article only to call attention to two specimens of critical aid which have recently appeared, one of them the offering of an American scholar. We are not competent to pronounce upon the faithfulness of Mr. Oliver's translation of the Syriac Psalter; and probably very few of those who are called to enjoy its idiomatic English will venture to say that they know it to be an exact rendering of the Aramaan script. In the absence of all contradiction, we shall presume that the translation is as accurate as the long labor of a quiet student could make it, and is as good as we shall be likely to get. The translator candidly confesses that he has sometimes allowed himself, for the sake of his English style, to make "verbal variations" from the original (Ps. x. 8, 9, for instance), not altering the "sense of the original." It would have been better, as we think, to have rendered the words in their exact meaning, and to have allowed readers to judge from these the original sense. We differ, too, from the translator, as to the fitness of giving the "titles" of the Psalms, which have no claim to genuineness, and, so far from being "interesting as an ancient commentary," are in most instances incorrect, and in some instances ludicrously absurd; - as where Psalm vii. is styled a "Confession of the Trinity," and Psalm xxxii. is said to be "concerning the offence of Adam, who presumptuously sinned." These titles detract from the value of the genuine Peshito as a comment upon the Hebrew text. They are at best only a comment upon a comment. We are glad to notice that, though Mr. Oliver gives them for what they are worth, he does not commit himself to their defence. That he is himself a careful Biblical student in Greek and in Hebrew, is proved by the correctness, as well as by the number, of his citations. He has produced a very creditable and valuable book.
The Syriac Peshito has always been regarded by scholars as very important in the interpretation of the Hebrew Scrip