Page images

Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture

One night interpret".

PAIN. It is a pretty mocking of the life. Here is a touch; Is't good?


It tutors nature: artificial strife

I'll say of it,


Lives in these touches, livelier than life.

prefixed to the word Grace, as it proves that what the Poet pointed out, was some real object, not merely an abstract idea. M. MASON.

9 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 puppet-shows, or motions, as they were termed in our author's time. The person who spoke for the puppets was called an interpreter.

on Hamlet, Act III. Sc. V. MALONE.

See a note

Rather-one might venture to supply words to such intelligible action. Such significant gesture ascertains the sentiments that should accompany it. STEEVens.

So, in Cymbeline, p. 84:


never saw I pictures

"So likely to report themselves."

See Johnson's note on that passage. BosWELL.

[merged small][ocr errors]

artificial STRIFE -] Strife, for action or motion.


Strife is either the contest of art with nature:
Hic ille est Raphael, timuit, quo sospite vinci
Rerum magna parens, et moriente mori.

or it is the contrast of forms or opposition of colours. JOHNSON. So, under the print of Noah Bridges, by Faithorne:

"Faithorne, with nature at a noble strife,

"Hath paid the author a great share of life," &c.


And Ben Jonson, on the head of Shakspeare by Droeshout: "This figure which thou here seest put,

"It was for gentle Shakspeare cut:

"Wherein the graver had a strife

"With nature, to out-doo the life." HENLEY.

[ocr errors]

That artificial strife means, as Dr. Johnson has explained it, 'the contest of art with nature,' and not the contrast of forms or opposition of colours,' may appear from our author's Venus and Adonis, where the same thought is more clearly expressed:

TIMON, a noble Athenian.


LUCULLUS, Lords, and Flatterers of Timon.


VENTIDIUS, one of Timon's false Friends.

APEMANTUS, a churlish Philosopher.

ALCIBIADES, an Athenian General.

FLAVIUS, Steward to Timon.

[blocks in formation]

Two Servants of Varro, and the Servant of Isidore; two of Timon's Creditors.

Cupid and Maskers. Three Strangers.
Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant.
An old Athenian. A Page. A Fool.



Mistresses to Alcibiades.

Other Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves, and Attendants.


SCENE, Athens; and the Woods adjoining.

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 Quintillian, had been artfully denuded by her advocate,) disarmed the court of its severity, and secured her life from the sentence of the law. STEEvens.



Athens. A Hall in TIMON'S House.

Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and Others, at several Doors.

POET. Good day, sir 3.


I am glad you are well.

POET. I have not seen you long; How goes the

[blocks in formation]

In the old copy: "Enter, &c.

Merchant, and Mercer, &c." STEEvens.

3 Poet. Good day sir.] It would be less abrupt to begin the play thus:


Poet. Good day.

"Pain. Good day, sir: I am glad you're well." FARMER. The present deficiency in the metre also pleads strongly in behalf of the supplemental words proposed by Dr. Farmer.

4 But what particular rarity? &c.] passage is at present in confusion.



I cannot but think that
The poet asks a question,

and stays not for an answer, nor has his question any apparent drift or consequence. I would range the passage

"Poet. Ay, that's well known.


"But what particular rarity? what so strange,
"That manifold record not matches?-

66 Pain. See!

"Poet. Magic of bounty!" &c.

It may not be improperly observed here, that as there is only copy of this play, no help can be had from collation, and more liberty must be allowed to conjecture. JOHNSON.


Enter certain Senators, and pass over.

PAIN. How this lord's follow'd!

POET. The senators of Athens :-Happy men 2! PAIN. Look, more!

POET. You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors 3.

I have, in this rough work, shap'd out a man,
Whom this beneath world* doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment: My free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself

In a wide sea of wax: no levell'd malice'

[ocr errors]

Look, when a painter would surpass the life,

"In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
"His art with nature's workmanship at strife,

As if the dead the living should exceed;
"So did this horse excell," &c.

In Drayton's Mortimeriados, printed I believe in 1596, (afterwards entitled The Barons' Wars,) there are two lines nearly resembling these:


"Done for the last with such exceeding life,
"As art therein with nature were at strife.

[ocr errors]


- Happy MEN!] Mr. Theobald reads-happy man; and certainly the emendation is sufficiently plausible, though the old reading may well stand. MALone.

The text is right. The Poet envies or admires the felicity of the senators in being Timon's friends, and familiarly admitted to his table, to partake of his good cheer, and experience the effects of his bounty. RITSON.




this confluence, this great flood of visitors.]

Mane salutantûm totis vomit ædibus undam. JOHNSON. - this BENEATH world-] So, in Measure for Measure, we have "This under generation; and in King Richard II. : the lower world." STEEVENS.


[ocr errors]

5 Halts not particularly,] My design does not stop at any single character. JOHNSON.

In a wide sea of wax:] Anciently they wrote upon waxen tables with an iron style. HANmer.

I once thought with Sir T. Hanmer, that this was only an allusion to the Roman practice of writing with a style on waxen tablets; but it appears that the same custom prevailed in England about the year 1395, and might have been heard of by Shak


Infects one comma in the course I hold 1;
But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
Leaving no tract behind.

PAIN. How shall I understand you?


I'll unbolt to you.

POET. You see how all conditions, how all minds, (As well of glib and slippery creatures, as Of grave and austere quality,) tender down Their services to lord Timon: his large fortune, Upon his good and gracious nature hanging, Subdues and properties to his love and tendance All sorts of hearts1; yea, from the glass-fac'd flat2 terer

speare. It seems also to be pointed out by implication in many of our old collegiate establishments. See Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 151. STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Astle observes in his very ingenious work On the Origin and Progress of Writing, quarto, 1784, that "the practice of writing on table-books covered with wax was not entirely laid aside till the commencement of the fourteenth century.' As Shakspeare, I believe, was not a very profound English antiquary, it is surely improbable that he should have had any knowledge of a practice which had been disused for more than two centuries before he was born. The Roman practice he might have learned from Golding's translation of the ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses:

“Her right hand holds the pen, her left doth hold the emptie waxe," &c. MALONE.

7 -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.



8 I'll unbolt-] I'll open, I'll explain. JOHNSON. - glib and slippery creatures,] Warburton after him, read-natures.

sisting. JOHNSON.


Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr.
Slippery is smooth, unre-

[blocks in formation]

"Even to the very quality of my lord." STEEVENS.

« PreviousContinue »