« PreviousContinue »
Coptcnts Botes, <§»Ias3itri|, fife,
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
GEOHGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL.
TIMON OF ATHENS.
"Tke Life of Tymon of Athens" appeared first in the folio of l623. At what period it was written wo have no evidenco, though Molone assigns it to the year l6l0. The story, originally derived from Lucian, was a popular ono in Shakespearo's time, and must have been known to him from its forming tho subject of a novel in Paynter's "Palace of Pleasuro," and from tho account of Timon given in North's translation of Plutarch. The immediate archetype of tho play, however, was probably some old and now lost drama, remodelled and partially ro-written by our author, but of which he permitted much of tho rudo material to remain, with scarcely any alteration.
It is upon this theory alone wo find it possible to reconcile tho discordance botweon the defectivo plan, and tho faultless execution of particular parts,—between tho poverty and negligence observable in some scenes, and tho grandeur and consummate finish displayed in others. The basis of Shakespeare's "Timon " was long supposed to bo an anonymous pioco, tho manuscript of which was in tho possession of Mr. Strutt, and is now the property of Mr. Dyco. But this manuscript was printed, in l842, for the Shakespeare Society; and although it is found to have ono character, Laches, who is a coarse counterpart to tho faithful steward, y Plavius, and two or threo incidents, particularly that of the mock ban/ quet, whero the misanthrope regalos his porasitos with stones, painted to look like artichokes, which correspond in some moasuro with transactions in tho piece before us, there is not the slightest reason for believing V. Shakespearo ever saw it. Theso resemblances are no doubt merely owing to both plays being founded on a common origin; for tho subject was evidently familiar to the stago long before wo can suppose Shakespearo to have produced his version. In Guilpin's Colloction of Epigrams and Satires, called " Skialotheia," l098, wo have in Epigram 52 :—
"Like hate-man Timon in his cell he sits," VOl. Ill, R