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Act IV. Scene III.
THE FABLE AND COMPOSITION
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.
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 man-hater, 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 unto 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 a manuscript play mentioned by Mr. Steevens, in the possession of Mr. Streett, 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 b
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. MALONE.
The play of Timon is a domestic tragedy, and therefore strongly fastens on the attention of the reader. In the plan there is not much art, but the incidents are natural, and the characters various and exact. The catastrophe affords a very powerful warning against that ostentatious liberality, which scatters bounty, but confers no benefits, and buys flattery, but not friendship.
In this tragedy are many passages perplexed, obscure, and probably corrupt, which I have endeavoured to rectify, or explain with due diligence; but having only one copy, cannot promise myself that my endeavours shall be much applauded. JOHNSON.
This play was altered by Shadwell, and brought upon the stage in 1678. In the modest title-page he calls it, Timon of Athens, or the Man-hater, as it is acted at the duke's theatre and made into a play. 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.
Poet. Good day, sir.
I am glad you are well. Poet. I have not seen you long; How goes the
Pain. It wears, sir, as it grows.
Ay, that's well known:
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
I have a jewel here.