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The story of the Misanthrope is told in almost every collection of the time, and particularly in two books, with which Shakspeare was intimately acquainted; the Palace of Pleasure, and the English Plutarch. Indeed from a passage in an old play, called Jack Drum's Entertainment, I conjecture that he had before made his appearance on the stage. FARMER.
The passage in Jack Drum's Entertainment, or Pasquil and Katherine, 1601, is this :
Come, I'll be as sociable as Timon of Athens.” But the allusion is so slight, that it might as well have been borrowed from Plutarch or the novel.
Mr. Strutt the engraver, to whom our antiquaries are under no inconsiderable obligations, has in his possession a MS. play on this subject. It appears to have been written, or transcribed, about the year 1600. There is a scene in it resembling Shakspeare's banquet given by Timon to his flatterers. Instead of warm water he sets before them stones 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 disguised himself to continue his services to his master. Timon, in the last Act, is followed by his fickle mistress, &c. after he was reported to have discovered a hidden treasure by digging. The piece itself (though it appears to be the work of an academick) is a wretched one. The
dramatis are as follows :
“ The actors names. “ Timon. “ Laches, his faithful servant.
Eutrapelus, a dissolute young man.
Gelasimus, a cittie heyre.
Philargurus, a covetous churlish ould man.
Two lying philosophers. “ Grunnio, a lean servant of Philargurus. “ Obba, Tymon's butler. " Pædio, Gelasimus page. “ Two serjeants.
“ A sailor.
Callimela, Philargurus daughter.
STEEVENS. Shakspeare undoubtedly formed this play, in some measure, on the
passage in Plutarch’s Life of Antony relative to Timon, and not altogether on the twenty-eighth novel of the first volume of Painter's Palace of Pleasure; because he is there merely described as “a manhater,of a strange and beastly nature,” without any cause assigned; whereas Plutarch furnished our author with the following hint to work upon :
“ Antonius forsook the citie, and companie of his friendes, --saying that he would lead Timon's life, because he had the like
offered him, that was offered unto Timon; and for the unthankfulness of those he had done good unto, and whom he tooke to be his friendes, he was angry with all men, and would trust no man."
To the manuscript play mentioned by Mr. Steevens, our author, I have no doubt, was also indebted for some other circumstances. Here he found the faithful steward, the banquet-scene, and the story of Timon's being possessed of great sums of gold which he had dug up in the woods : a circumstance which he could not have had from Lucian, there being then no translation of the dialogue that relates to this subject.
Spon says, there is a building near Athens, yet remaining, called Timon's Tower.
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.
Servants to Timon's Creditors.
two of Timon's Creditors. Cupid and Maskers. Three Strangers. Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant. An old Athenian. A Page. A Fool.
Mistresses to Alcibiades.
Other Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves,
SCENE, Athens; and the Woods adjoining.
Phrynia,] (Or as this name should have been written by Shakspeare, Phryne,) was an Athenian courtezan so exquisitely beautiful, that when her judges were proceeding to condemn her for numerous and enormous offences, a sight of her bosom (which, as we learn from Quintillian, had been artfully denuded by her advocate, disarmed the court of its severity, and secured her life from the sentence of the law. STEEVENS.
TIMON OF ATHENS.
ACT I. SCENE I
Athens. A Hall in TIMON'S House.
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant", and
Others, at several Doors.
I am glad you are well. Poer. I have not seen you long; How goes the
world? Pain. It wears, sir, as it grows. PoET. .
Ay, that's well known : But what particular rarity * ? what strange,
Jeweller, Merchant,] In the old copy: “ Enter, 8c. Merchant, and Mercer, &c." STEEVENS.
3 Poet. Good day sir.] It would be less abrupt to begin the play thus:
“ Poet. Good day.
“ Pain. Good day, sir: I am glad you're well.” FARMER. The present deficiency in the metre also pleads strongly in behalf of the supplemental words proposed by Dr. Farmer.
STBEVENS. 4 But what particular rarity ? &c.] I cannot but think that this
passage is at present in confusion. The poet asks a question, and stays not for an answer, nor has his question any apparent drift or consequence.
“ Pain. See !
“ Poet. Magic of bounty !" &c. It
may not be improperly observed here, that as there is only
copy of this play, no help can be had from collation, and more ljberty must be allowed to conjecture. Johnson.