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Shakspeare undoubtedly formed this play on the passage in Plutarch's Life of Antony relative to Timon, and not on the twentyeighth 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 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 banquetscene, 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. MALONE,
Timon, a noble Athenian.
Ventidius, one of Timon's false Friends.
Flavius, Steward to Timon.
Lords, and Flatterers of Timon.
Servants to Timon's Creditors.
Two Servants of Varro, and the Servant of Isidore;
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.
TIMON OF ATHENS.
SCENE I. Athens. A Hall in Timon's House.
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and
Poet. Good day, sir.
am glad you are 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: But what particular rarity? what strange, Which manifold record not matches? See, Magick of bounty! all these spirits thy power Hath conjur'd to attend. I know the merchant. Pain. I know them both; t'other's a jeweller. Mer. O, 'tis a worthy lord! Jew.
Nay, that's most fix'd. Mer. A most incomparable man; breath'd, as it
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
Jew. I have a jewel here.
breath'd, as it were,] Breathed is inured by constant practice; so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse, is to exercise him for the course.
He passes.] i. e. exceeds, goes beyond common bounds.
Mer. O, pray, let's see't: For the lord Timon, sir?
Jew. If he will touch the estimate: But, for that
Poet. When we for recompense have prais'd the vile,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
"Tis a good form. [Looking at the Jewel. Jew. And rich: here is a water, look you. Pain. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.
Poet. A thing slipp'd idly from me. Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes From whence 'tis nourished: The fire i'the flint Shows not, till it be struck; our gentle flame Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies Each bound it chafes. What have you there? Pain. A picture, sir.-And when comes your book forth?
Poet. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir. Let's see your piece.
"Tis a good piece.
Poet. So 'tis: this comes off well and excellent.
Admirable: How this grace
3 touch the estimate:] Come up to the price.
4 When we for recompense, &c.] We must here suppose the poet busy in reading in his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addressed to Timon, which he afterwards gives the Painter an account of. Warburton.
5 and, like the current, flies
Each bound it chafes.] This jumble of incongruous images seems to have been designed, and put into the mouth of the Poetaster, that the reader might appreciate his talents: his language therefore should not be considered in the abstract.
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power This eye shoots forth! how big imagination Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture One might interpret.
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life. Here is a touch; Is't good?
I'll say of it,
Enter certain Senators, and pass over.
Pain. How this lord's follow'd!
Poet. You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors.
I have, in this rough work, shap'd out a man,
Pain. How shall I understand you?
I'll unbolt' to you.
artificial strife-] Strife is the contest of art with
"Halts not particularly,] My design does not stop at any single character. JOHNSON.
8 In a wide sea of wax :] Anciently they wrote upon waxen tables with an iron style.
9 — no levell'd malice, &c.] To level is to aim, to point the shot at a mark. Shakspeare's meaning is, my poem is not a satire written with any particular view, or levelled at any single person; I fly like an eagle into the general expanse of life, and leave not, by any private mischief, the trace of my passage.
I'll unbolt-] I'll open, I'll explain. JOHNSON.