« PreviousContinue »
We know also that there existed about that date a play upon the subject of Timon of Athens. The original manuscript of it is in the library of the Rev. Alexander Dyce, who has recently superintended an impression of it for the shakespeare Society He gives it as his opinion, that it was "intended for the amusement of an academic audience," and although the epilogue may be considered rather of a contrary complexion, the learned editor is probably right: it is, however, nearly certain that it was acted ; and although it will not bear a moment's comparison with Shakespeare's “ Timon of Athens," similar incidents and persons are contained in both. Thus, 'Timon is in the commencement rich, bountiful, and devoured by flatterers : he becomes poor, and is at once deserted by all but his faithful steward ; —but before he abandons Athens in disgust, he invites his parasites to a last. banquet, where he gives them stones painted to resemble artichokes, which he fings at them as he drives them out of his hall. Shakespeare represents Timon as regaling his guests with warm water; but it is very remarkable, that at the end of his mock-banquet scene, after the hero has quitted the stage, leaving certain lords behind him, upon whom he had thrown the warm water, the following dialogue occurs :
"1 Lord. Let's make no stay.
I feel 't upon my bones. 4 Lord. One day he gives us diamonds, next day stones.” Shakespeare's Timon had cast no "stones” at his guests, and the above extract reads exactly as if it had formed part of some play in which stones (as in the “ Timon” edited by the Rev. A. Dyce) had been employed instead of warm water. Unless stones' had been thrown, there could, as Steevens observes, be no propriety in the mention of them by the fourth Lord; and though Shakespeare may not have seen the academic play to which we have alluded, a fragment may by accident have found its way into his “ Timon of Athens," which belonged to some other drama, where the banquetscene was differently conducted. It is just possible that our great dramatist, at some subsequent date, altered his original draught, and by oversight left in the rhyming couplet with which the third Act concludes. We need not advert to other resemblances between the academic play and “ Timon of Athens,” because, by the liberality of the possessor of the manuscript, it may be now said to have become public, property
Timon, a noble Athenian.
, } Mistresses to Alcibiades. TIMANDRA, Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves, and At
SCENE, Athens; and the Woods adjoining.
TIMON OF ATHENS.
SCENE I.-Athens. A Hall in TIMON's House. Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and others, at
several Doors. Poet. Good day, sir. Pain. I am glad you 're well. Poet. I have not seen you long. How goes the
world ? Pain. It wears, sir, as it grows. Poet.
Ay, that's well known;
Pain. I know them both : th other 's a jeweller.
Nay, that's most fix'd.
Jew. I have a jewel here [Showing it.
'T is a good form.
cation. To the great lord. 1 Inured by practice. » Excels
3 Not in f. e. Vol. VI.-32
A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Pain. A picture, sir.-When comes your book forth ?
Poet. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
Admirable! How this grace
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life.
I'll say of it.
Enter certain Senators, who pass over the Stage.
Pain. How shall I understand you ?
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
gown: in folio. Pope made the change. ? oozes: in f. e. 3 Not in f. e. 4 wax : in f. e.
Upon his good and gracious nature hanging,
Pain. I saw them speak together.
Poet. Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill
'Tis conceiv'd to scope.
Nay, sir, but hear me on.
Ay, marry, what of these ?
Pain. 'T is common : A thousand moral paintings I can show, That shall demonstrate these quick blows of Fortune's More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well, To show lord Timon that : mean eyes have seen The foot above the head.
1 sit: in folio. Rowe made the change.