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TIMON OF ATHENS.
ACT I. SCENE I,
Line 14. breath'd, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness :) Breathed is inured by constant practice: so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse, is to exercise him for the course. JOHNSON. Line 21. -touch the estimate:] Come up to the price.
JOHNSON. 23. 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. WARB. Line 35. — and, like a current, flies
Each bound it chafes.] Thus the folio reads, and rightly..
WARBURTON. This speech of the Poet is very obscure. He seems to boast the copiousness and facility of his vein, by declaring that verses drop from a poet as gums from odoriferous trees, and that his flame kindles itself without the violence necessary to elicit sparkles from the flint. What follows next? that it, like a current, flies each bound it chafes. This may mean, that it expands itself notwithstanding all obstructions, but the images in the com
parison are so ill sorted, and the effect so obscurely expressed, that I cannot but think something omitted that connected the last sentence with the former. It is well known that the players often shorten speeches to quicken the representation : and it may be suspected, that they sometimes performed their amputations with more haste than judgment.
JOHNSON. Line 39. Upon the heels &c.] As soon as my book has been presented to lord Timon.
JOHNSON. Line 42 this comes off well and excellent.] The meaning is, the figure rises well from the canvas. C'est bien relevé.
JOHNSON. Line 47
to the dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.) The figure, though dumb, seems to have a capacity of speech. The allusion is to the puppetshows, or motions, as they were termed in our author's time. The person who spoke for the puppets was called an interpreter.
MALONE. Line 52. <artificial strife-] Strife for action or motion.
WARBURTON. Strife is either the contest of art with nature:
“Hic ille est Raphael, timuit, quo sospite vinci
“ Rerum magna parens, & moriente mori." or it is the contrast of forms or opposition of colours. JOHNSON. Line 57. this confluence, this great flood of visitors.]
Mane salutantúm totis vomit ædibus undam. JOANS. Line 62. Halts not particularly,] My design does not stop at any single character.
JOHNSON. Line 63. In a wide sea of wax:] Anciently they wrote upon waxen tables with an iron style.
HANMER. Line 63. 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.
JOHNSON. Line 68. I'U unbolt-] I'll open, I'll explain. JOHNSON.
-75. glass-fac'd fatterer-] That shows in his look, as by reflection, the looks of his patron.
Line 78. even he drops down &c.] Either Shakspeare meant to put a falsehood into the mouth of his Poet, or had not yet thoroughly planned the character of Apemantus; for in the ensuing scenes, bis behaviour is as cynical to Timon as to his followers.
STEEVENS. Line 85. rank'd with all deserts,] Cover'd with ranks of all kinds of men.
JOHNSON. Line 87. To propagate their states:] To advance or improve their various conditions of life.
JOHNSON Line 93. -conceiv'd to scope.] Properly imagined, appositely, to the purpose.
JOHNSON. Line 98. In our condition.] Condition for art. WARBURTON.
103. Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,] Whisperings attended with such respect and veneration as accompany sacrifices to the gods. Such, I suppose, is the meaning.
MALONE. Line 104.
Drink the free air.] That is, catch his breath in affected fondness.
JOHNSON. Line 114. A thousand moral paintings I can show,] Shakspeare seems to intend in this dialogue to express some competition between the two great arts of imitation. Whatever the poet declares himself to have shown, the painter thinks he could have shown better.
Johnson. Line 164. Therefore he will be, Timon:] Therefore he will continue to be so, and is sure of being sufficiently rewarded by the consciousness of virtue; and he does not need the additional blessing of a beautiful and accomplished wife. MALONE. Line 192.
That state or fortune fall into my keeping,
Which is not ow'd to you!) The meaning is, let me never henceforth consider any thing that I possess, but as owed. or duc to you; held for your service, and at your proposal.
JOHNSON. Line 204. pencil'd figures are
Even such as they give out.] Pictures have no hypocrisy; they are what they profess to be. JOHNSON.
Line 216. unclew me quite.] To unclew is to unwind a
ball of thread. To unclew a man, is to draw out the whole mass of his fortunes.
JOHNSON. Enter Apemantus.] See this character of a cynick finely drawn by Lucian, in his Auction of the Philosophers; and how well Shakspeare has copied it.
WARBURTON. Line 232. When thou art Timon's dog,) When thou hast gotten a better character, and instead of being Timon as thou art, shalt be changed to Timon's dog, and become more worthy kindness and salutation.
JOHNSON. Line 313. - The strain of man's bred out
Into baboon and monkey.] Man is exhausted and degenerated; his strain or lineage is worn down into a monkey.
JOHNSON. Line 348. All use of quittance.) i. e. all the customary returns made in discharge of obligations.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 366. If our betters play at that game, &c.] The term our betters, being used by the inferior classes of men when they speak of their superiors in the state, Shakspeare uses these words, with his usual laxity, to express persons of high rank and fortune.
MALONE. Line 394. -I myself would have no power:] These words refer to what follows, not to that which precedes. I claim no era traordinary power in right of my being master of the house: I wish not by my commands to impose silence on any one: but though I myself do not enjoin you to silence, let my meat stop your mouth. MALONE. Line 396. I scorn thy meat; 'twould choke me, for I should
Ne'er flatter thee.) The meaning is,-I could not swallow thy meat, for I could not pay for it with flattery; and what was given me with an ill will would stick in my throat. JOHNSON. Line 400.
80 many dip their meat
In one man's blood;] The allusion is to a pack of hounds trained to pursuit by being gratified with the blood of an animal which they kill, and the wonder is that the animal on which they are feeding cheers them to the chase. JOHNSON.
Line 412. windpipe's dangerous notes:] The notes of the windpipe seem to be only the indications which show where the windpipe is.