« PreviousContinue »
* TIMON OF ATHENS.] 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 ropm. 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 persona dramatis are as
"The actors names.
"Philargurus, a covetous churlish ould man.
66 Abyssus, a usurer.
"Lollio, a cuntrey clowne, Philargurus sonne.
"Grunnio, a lean servant of Philargurus.
Two lying philosophers.
"Callimela, Philargurus daughter.
Blatte, her prattling nurse.
Shakspeare undoubtedly formed this play on the passage in Plutarch's Life of Antony relative to Timon, and not 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 wrong 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. MALONE.
Timon, a noble Athenian.
Ventidius, one of Timon's false Friends.
Lords, and Flatterers of Timon.
Servants to Timon's Creditors.
Two Servants of Varro, and the Servant of Isidore;
Phrynia, Mistresses to Alcibiades.
Other Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves, and Attendants.
SCENE, Athens; and the Woods adjoining.
1 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 Quintilian, had been artfully denuded by her advocate,) disarmed the court of its severity, and secured her life from the sentence of the law. STEEVENS.