« VorigeDoorgaan »
TIMON OF ATHENS,] The flory of the Milanthrope is told in almost every colledion of the time, and particularly in two books, with which Shakspeare was intimately acquainted; the Palace of Pleafure, and the English Plutarch. Indeed from a paffage in an old play, called Jack Drum's Entertainment, I conje&ure that he bad before made his appearance ou the ftage. FARMER.
The paffage in Jack Drum's Entertainment or Pafquil and Katherine, 1601, is this:
"Come, I'll be as fociable as Timon of Athens.' But the allufion is fo flight, that it might as well have been borrowed from Plutarch or the novel.
Mr. Strutt the engraver, to whom our antiquaries are under no ince afiderable obligations, has in his poffeffion a MS. play on this fubje&. It appears to have been written, or tranfcribed, about the year 1600. There is a fcene in it refembling Shakspeare's banquet given by Timon to his flatterers. Iaftead of warm water he fets before them tones painted like artichokes, and afterwards beats them out of the room. He then retires to the woods, attended by his faithful steward, who, (like Kent in King Lear) has difguifed himfelf to continue his fervices to his mafter. Timon, in the laft act is followed by his fickle mifirefs, &c. after he was reported to have difcovered a hidden treafure by digging. The piece itfelf (though it appears to be the work of an academick) is a wretched one. The perfona dramatis are as follows:
"The actors names.
"Laches, his faithful fervant.
"Eutrapelus, a diffolute young man.
Gelafimus, a cittie heyre.
"Pfeudocheus, a lying travailer.
"Demeas, an orator.
"Philargurus, a covetous churlish ould man.
"Hermogenes, a fidler.
"Abyffus, a ufurer.
"Lollio, a cuatrey clowne, Philargurus fonne.
Two lying philofophers.
"Gruonio, a lean fervant of Philargurus.
"Obba, Tymou's builer.
"Podio, Gelafimus page.
Callimela, Philargurus daughter.
"Blatte, her prattling nuife.
Shakspeare undoubtedly formed this play on the paffage in Plutarch's Life of Antony relative to Timon, and not on the twentyeighth novel of the first volume of Painter's Palace of Pleasure; because he is there merely defcribed as "a man-hater, of a ftrange and beaftly nature," without any cause affigned; whereas Plutarch furnished our author with the following hint to work upon. "Antonius forfook the citie, and companie of his friendes,-faying, that he would lead Timon's life, because he had the like wrong offered him, that was offered unto Timon; and for the unthankfulnefs of thofe he had done good unto, and whom he tooke to be his friendes, he was angry with all men, and would truft no man."
To the manufcript play mentioned by Mr. Steevens, our author I have no doubt, was alfo indebted for fome other circumftances. Here he found the faithful fteward, the banquet-fcene, and the story of Timon's being poffeffed of great fums of gold which he had dug up in the woods: a circumftance which he could not have had from Lucian, there being then no tranflation of the dialogue that relates to this fubje&.
Spon fays, there is building near Athens, yet remaining, called
Timon of Athens was written, I imagine, in the year 1610. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.
Timon, a noble Athenian.
Ventidius, one of Timon's falfe Friends.
Alcibiades, an Athenian General.
Two Servants of Varro, and the Servant of Ifidore; two of Timon's Creditors.
Cupid and Mafkers. Three Strangers.
Timandra Mistresses to Alcibiades.
Other Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves,
Phrynia,] (or, as this name fhould have been written by Shakfpeare, Phryne,) was an Athenian courtezan fo exquifitely beautiful, that when her judges were proceeding to condemn her for numerous and enormous offences, a fight of her bofom (which, as we learn from Quintilian, had been artfully denuded by her advocate,} difarmed the court of its feverity, and fecured her life from the fentence of the law. STEEVENS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Athens. A Hall in Timon's Houfe.
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant,
POET. Good day, fir. 3
I am glad you are well.
POET. I have not feen you long; How goes the
Poet. Good day.
It would be lefs abrupt to begin the
Pain. Good day, fir: I am glad you're well. The present deficiency in the metre alfo pleads ftrongly in behalf STEEVENS. of the supplemental words proposed by Dr. Farmer.
4 But what particular rarity? &c.] I cannot but think that this paffage is at prefent in confufion. The poet afks a queftion, and Rays not for an answer, nor has his queftion any apparent drift or confequence. I would range the paffage thus:
Poet. Ay, that's well known.
But what particular rarity? what fo frange,
That manifold record not matches?
Poet, Magick of bounty! &c.
It may not be improperly observed here, that as there is only one copy of this play, no help can be had from collation, and more liberty must be allowed to conje&ure. JOHNSON.
Which manifold record not matches? See,
Nay, that's moft fix'd. MER. A moft incomparable man; breath'd, as
To an untirable and continuate goodness: 4
Johnfon fuppofes that there is some error in this paffage, because the Poet afks a queftion, and ftays not for an anfwer; and therefore fuggefts a new arrangement of it. But there is nothing more common in real life than queftions asked in that manner. And with refpect to his propofed arrangement, I can by no means approve of it; for as the Poet and the Painter are going to pay their court to Timon, it would be ftrange if the latter fhould point out to the former, as a particular rarity, which manifold record could not match, a merchant and a jeweller, who came there on the fame errand. M. MASON.
The poet is led by what the painter has faid, to ask whether any thing very frange and unparalleled had lately happened, without any expectation that any fuch had happened: -and is prevented from waiting for an aufwer by obferving fo many conjured by Timon's bounty to attend. See, Magick of bounty!" &c.
To an untirable and continuate goodness:] Breathed is inured by conftant practice; fo trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horfe, is to exercife him for the courfe. JOHNSON.
So, in Hamlet:
"It is the breathing time of day with me." STEEVENS.
continuate This word is ufed by many ancient English writers. Thus, by Chapman, in his verfion of the fourth book of the Ody Jey:
Her handmaids join'd in a continuale yell."
He paffes, i. e. exceeds, goes beyond common bounds. So, in The Merry Wives of Windfor:
"Why this paffes, mafter Ford." STEEVENS.