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such a letter it is as our John Dennis (while his phrenzy lasted) might be supposed to have written." C'est moi qui autrefois parlai le premier de ce Shakspeare: c'est moi qui le premier mon. trai aux François quelques perles quels j'avois trouvé dans son enorme fumier.” Mrs. Montague, the justly celebrated authoress of the Essay on the Genius and Writings of our author, was in Paris, and in the circle where these ravings of the Frenchman were first publickly recited. On hearing the illiberal expression already quoted, with no less elegance than readiness she replied “C'est un fumier qui a fertilizé une terre bien ingrate."- In short, the author of Zayre, Mahomet, and Semiramis, possesses all the mischievous qualities of a midnight felon, who, in the hope to conceal his guilt, sets the house he has robbed on fire.
As for Messieurs D'Alembert and Marmontel, they might safely be passed over with that neglect which their impotence of criticism deserves. Voltaire, in spite of his natural disposition to vilify an English poet, by adopting sentiments, characters, and si. tuations from Shakspeare, has bestowed on him involuntary praise. Happily, he has not been disgraced by the worthless encomiums or disfigured by the aukward imitations of the other pair, who “ follow in the chace not like hounds that hunt, but like those who fill up the cry.” When D'Alembert declares that more sterling sense is to be met with in ten French verses than in thirty English ones, contempt is all that he provokes-such contempt as can only be exceeded by that which every scholar will express, who may chance to look into the prose translation of Lucan by Marmontel, with the vain expectation of discovering either the sense, the spirit, or the whole of the original. Steevens.
THE story of the Misanthrope is told in almost every collection of the time, and particularly in two books, with which Shak. speare 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 K’atkerine, 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 lie 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. Ti. mon, in the last Act, is followed by his fickle mistress, &c. after he was recited 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 personæ dramatis are as follows.
" The actors names.
Philargurus, a covetous churlish ould man.
Abyssus, a usurer.
}Two lying philosophers. “ Speusippus, « Grunnio, a lean servant of Philargurus. "Obba, Tymon's butler. 6 Podio, Gelasimus page.
Two serjeants. " A sailor. Callimela, Philargurus daughter. Blatte, her prattling nurse. “ SCENE, Athens."
Steevens, 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; where
as 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
To the manuscript play mentioned by Mr. Steevens, our au. thor, 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.