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Shakspeare is very fond of making use of musical terms, when he is speaking of the human body, and windpipe and notes savour strongly of a quibble.
STEEvens. Line 451. -for ever perfect.] That is, arrived at the perfection of happiness.
JOHNSON. Line 454. How had you been my friends else? why have you that charitable title from thousands, did you not chiefly belong to my heart ?] The meaning is probably this:-Why are you distinguished from thousands by that title of endearment, was there not a particular connection and intercourse of tenderness between you and me?
JOHNSON. Line 458. I confirm you.] I fix your characters firmly in my own mind.
JOHNSON Line 470. O joy, e'en made away ere it can be born!] Tears being the effect both of joy and grief, supplied our author with an opportunity of conceit, which he seldom fails to indulge. Timon, weeping with a kind of tender pleasure, cries out, joy, e'en made away, destroyed, turned to tears, before it can be born, before it can be fully possessed.
JOHNSON. Line 474.
to make them drink,] The covert sense of Apemantus is, what thou losest, they get.
JOHNSON. Line 476. -like a babe—] That is, a weeping babe. Johns.
-481. Much!] Apemantus means to say,—That extraordinary. Much was formerly an expression of admiration.
MALONE. Line 504. Like madness is the glory of this life,
As this pomp shows to a little oil, and root.] The glory of this life is very near to madness, as may be made appear from this pomp, exhibited in a place where a philosopher is feeding on oil and roots. When we see by example how few are the necessaries of life, we learn what madness there is in so much superfluity.
JOHNSON. Line 521. mine own device;] The mask appears to have been designed by Timon to surprize his guests. JOHNSON. Line 523.
even at the best.] I believe the meaning is, “ You have conceived the fairest of us," (to use the words of Lucullus in a subsequent scene,) you have estimated us too highly, perhaps above our deserts,
MALONE. to you.
Line 536. had not eyes behind ;] To see the miseries that are following her.
JOHNSON. Line 537. for his mind.]. For nobleness of soul. Johns. 543.
Advance this jewel ;] To prefer it; toraise it to honour by wearing it.
JOHNSON. Line 612. Ay, defiled land,] 1,- is the old reading, which apparently depends on a very low quibble. Alcibiades is told, that his estate lies in a pitch'd field. Now pitch, as Falstaff says, doth defile. Alcibiades therefore replies, that his estate lies in defiled land. This, as it happened, was not understood, and all the editors published I defy land
JOHNSON Line 617. All to you.] i. e. ail good wishes, or all happiness
STEEVENS. Line 622. Serving of becks,] Beck means a salutation made with the head. So Milton:
“ Nods and becks, and wreathed smiles." To serve a beck, is to offer a salutation.
JOHNSON. Line 623. I doubt whether their legs &c.] He plays upon the word leg, as it signifies a limb, and a bow or act of obeisance.
JOHNSON Line 633. -I fear me, thou
Wilt give away thyself in paper shortly.] i.e. be rained by his securities entered into.
WARBURTON. Line 643. Thy heaven] The pleasure of being flattered.
JOHNSON. ACT II. SCENE I. Line 10. Ask nothing, give it him, it foals me straight,
And able horses:) The passage means only this: “ If I give my horse to Timon, it immediately foals, and not only produces more, but able horses.”
STEEVENS. Line 13.
Can found his state in safety.] i.e. Reason cannot find his fortune to have any safe or solid foundation. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE II. Line 51. Good even, Varro:) It is observable, that this good evening is before dinner: for Timon tells Alcibiades, that they
will go forth again, as soon as dinner's done, which may prove that by dinner our author meant not the cæna of ancient times, but the mid-day's repast. I do not suppose the passage corrupt: such inadvertencies neither author nor editor can escape. JOHNSON,
Line 99. Enter Apemantus and a Fool.] I suspect some scene to be lost, in which the entrance of the Fool, and the page that follows him, was prepared by some introductory dialogue, in which the audience was informed that they were the fool and page of Phrynia, Timandra, or some other courtezan, upon the knowledge of which depends the greater part of the ensuing jocularity.
JOHNSON. Line 123. She's e'en setting on water to scald fc.] The old name for the disease got at Corinth was the brenning, and a sense of scalding is one of its first symptoms.
JOHNSON Line 124. 'Would, we could see you at Corinth.) A cant name for a bawdy-house, I suppose, from the dissoluteness of that ancient Greek city.
WARBURTON. Line 167. his artificial one:] Meaning the celebrated philosopher's stone, which was in those times much talked of. Sir Thomas Smith was one of those who lost considerable sums in seeking of it.
JOHNSON. Sir Richard Steele was one of the last eminent men who entertained hopes of being successful in this pursuit. His laboratory was at Poplar, a village near London, and is now converted into a garden house.
STEEVENS. Line 206. Though you hear now, (too late!) yet now's a time,] Though you now at last listen to my remonstrances, yet now your affairs are in such a state that the whole of your remaining fortune will scarce pay half your debts. You are therefore wise too late.
MALONE Line 216. 0. my good lord, the world is but a word;] The meaning is, as the world itself may be comprised in a word, you might give it away in a breath.
WARBURTON. Line 228. -a wasteful cock,] A wasteful cock is a cock or pipe with a turning stopple running to waste. In this sense, both the terms have their usual meaning; but I know not that cock is ever used (as Hanmer and Warburton assert) for cockloft, or wasteful for lying in wasle, or that lying in waste is at all a phrase. JOHNS. VOL. X.
Line 243. No villainous bounty yet hath puss'd my heart;
Unwisely, not ignobly, have I given.] Every reader must rejoice in this circumstance of comfort which presents itself to Timon, who, although beggar'd through want of prudence, consoles himself with reflection that his ruin was not brought on by the pursuit of guilty pleasures. STEEVENS.
Line 249. And try the argument-] The licentiousness of our author forces us often upon far-fetched expositions. Arguments may mean contents, as the arguments of a book: or evidences and proofs.
JOHNSON. Line 276. I knew it the most general way,] General is not speedy, but compendious, the way to try many at a time. JOHNs.
Line 291. intending-] is regarding, turning their notice to other things.
JOHNSON. Line 292. and these hard fractions,] Flavius, by fractions, means broken hints, interrupted sentences, abrupt remarks.
Johnson. Line 293. -cold-moving nods,] Cold-moving is the same as coldly-moving. So-perpetual sober gods, for perpetually sober; lazy-pacing cloudsloving-jealous-flattering sweet, &c. Such distant and uncourteous salutations are properly termed cold-moring, as proceeding from a cold and unfriendly disposition. MALONE.
ACT III. SCENE I. Line 8. very respectively welcome, sir.] i. e. respectfully. So, in King John: “ 'Tis too respective,” &c.
STEEVENS. Line 50. And we alive, that liv'd?] i. e. And we who were alive then, alive now. As much as to say, in so short a time.
WARBURTON. Line 56. Let molten coin be thy damnation,] Perhaps the poet alludes to the punishment inflicted on M. Aquilius by Mithridates.
STEEVENS. Line 59. It turns in less than two nights?] Alluding to the turning or acescence of milk.
JOHNSON Line 65. of nature-] Flaminius considers that nutriment which Lucullus had for a length of time received at Timon's table, as constituting a great part of his animal system. STEEVENS. ACT III, SCENE II. Line 71. We know him for no less,] That is, we know him by report to be no less than you represent him, though we are strangers to his person.
JOHNSON. Line 111. If his occasion were not virtuous,] i. e.--If he did not want it for a good use.
JOHNSON. Line 139
flatterer's spirit.] This, says he is the soul or spirit of the world: every flatterer plays the same game, makes sport with the confidence of his friend.
JOHNSON Line 148. in respect of his,] In respect of his fortune : what Lucius denies to Timon is in proportion to what Lucius possesses, less than the usual alms given by good men to beggars.
JOHNSON, Line 157. I would have put my wealth into donation,
And the best half should have return'd to him,] Had his necessity made use of me, I would have put my fortune into a condition to be alienated, and the best half of what I had guined myself, or received from others, should have found its way to him.
STEEVENS. ACT III. SCENE III. Line 202. takes virtuous copies to be wicked ; like those &c.] This is a reflection on the Puritans of that time. These people were then set upon the project of new-modelling the ecclesiastical and civil government according to scripture rules and examples; which makes him say, that under zeal for the word of God, they would set whole realms on fire. WARBURTON
Line 212. keep his house.) i. e. keep within doors for fear of duns.
ACT III. SCENE IV.
Line 235. a prodigal course
Is like the sun's ;] That is, like him in blaze and splendor.
Soles occidere f redire possunt. Catul. JOHNS. Line 298. Enter Servilius.] It may be observed that Shakspeare has unskilfully filled his Greek story with Roman names.