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To Apemantus, that few things loves better
I saw them speak together *. POET. Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant
Feign'd Fortune to be thron'd: The base o' the
Is rank'd with all deserts, all kind of natures,
2-glass-fac'd flatterer-] That shows in his look, as by reflection, the looks of his patron. JOHNSON.
3 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, his behaviour is as cynical to Timon as to his followers. STEEVENS.
The Poet, seeing that Apemantus paid frequent visits to Timon, naturally concluded that he was equally courteous with his other guests. RITSON.
I saw them speak TOGETHER.] The word-together, which only serves to interrupt the measure, is, I believe, an interpolation, being occasionally omitted by our author, as unnecessary to sense, on similar occasions. Thus, in Measure for Measure : "Bring me to hear them speak; "i. e. to speak together, to converse. Again, in another of our author's plays: "When spoke you last?" Nor is the same phraseology, at this hour, out of use. STEEVENS.
- rank'd with all deserts,]
of men. JOHNSON.
Cover'd with ranks of all kinds
6 TO PROPAGATE their states :] To advance or improve their various conditions of life. JOHNSON.
7 Feign'd FORTUNE to be thron'd :——
-on this SOVEREIGN LADY, &c.] So, in The Tempest:
66 Now my
dear lady," &c. MALONE.
Whose present grace to present slaves and servants Translates his rivals.
"Tis conceiv'd to scope.
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
Nay, sir, but hear me on:
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
8-conceiv'd to scope.] Properly imagined, appositely, to the purpose. JOHNSON.
9 In our CONDITION.] Condition, for art. WARBUrton.
* Rain SACRIFICIAL whisperings in his ear,] The sense is obvious, and means, in general, flattering him. The particular kind of flattery may be collected from the circumstance of its being offered up in whispers: which shows it was the calumniating those whom Timon hated or envied, or whose vices were opposite to his own. This offering up, to the person flattered, the murdered reputation of others, Shakspeare, with the utmost beauty of thought and expression, calls sacrificial whisperings, alluding to the victims offered up to idols. WARBURTON.
Whisperings attended with such respect and veneration as accompany sacrifices to the gods. Such, I suppose, is the meaning. MALONE.
By sacrificial whisperings, I should simply understand whisperings of officious fervility, the incense of the worshipping parasite to the patron as to a god. These whisperings might probably immolate reputations for the most part, but I should not reduce the epithet in question to that notion here. Mr. Gray has excellently expressed in his Elegy these sacrificial offerings to the great from the poetick tribe:
"To heap the shine of luxury and pride
"With incense kindled at the muse's flame." WAKEFIELD. 2-Through him
DRINK the free air.] That is, catch his breath in affected fondness. JOHNSON.
Ay, marry, what of these? POET. When Fortune, in her shift and change of
Spurns down her late belov'd, all his dependants, Which labour'd after him to the mountain's top, Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down 3, Not one accompanying his declining foot.
PAIN. "Tis common:
A thousand moral paintings I can show *,
That shall demonstrate these quick blows of fortune's 5
A similar phrase occurs in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour: By this air, the most divine tobacco I ever drank !” To drink, in both these instances, signifies to inhale. STEEVENS. Dr. Johnson's explanation appears to me highly unnatural and unsatisfactory. "To drink the air," like the haustos atherios of Virgil, is merely a poetical phrase for draw the air, or breathe. To" drink the free air," therefore, through another," is to breathe freely at his will only; so as to depend on him for the privilege of life: not even to breathe freely without his permission. WAKEFIELD.
So, in our author's Venus and Adonis :
"His nostrils drink the air."
Again, in The Tempest:
"I drink the air before me."
- let him SLIP down,] The old copy reads:
66 - let him sit down."
The emendation was made by Mr. Rowe. STEEVENS.
4 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.
these quick blows of FORTUNE'S -] This was the phraseology of Shakspeare's time, as I have observed in a note on King John, Act II. Sc. I. The modern editors read, more elegantly, of fortune. The alteration was first made in the second folio, from ignorance of Shakspeare's diction.
Though I cannot impute such a correction to the ignorance of the person who made it, I can easily suppose what is here styled the phraseology of Shakspeare, to be only the mistake of a vulgar transcriber or printer. Had our author been constant in his use
More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well,
Trumpets sound. Enter TIMON, attended; the Servant of VENTIDIUS talking with him.
Imprison'd is he, say you?? VEN. SERV. Ay, my good lord: five talents is his
His means most short, his creditors most strait :
To those have shut him up; which failing,
Noble Ventidius! Well ;
I am not of that feather, to shake off
My friend when he must need me1. I do know him
A gentleman, that well deserves a help,
of this mode of speech (which is not the case) the propriety of Mr. Malone's remark would have been readily admitted.
mean eyes] i. e. inferior spectators. So, in Wotton's Letter to Bacon, dated March the last, 1613: "Before their majesties, and almost as many other meaner eyes," &c. TÓLLET. 7 Imprison'd Is HE, say you?] Here we have another interpolation destructive to the metre. Omitting-is he, we ought to read:
"Imprison'd, say you." STEEVens.
8 which failing TO HIM,] Thus the second folio. The first omits to him, and consequently mutilates the verse. STEEVENS.
9 PERIODS his comfort.] To period is, perhaps, a verb of Shakspeare's introduction into the English language. I find it, however, used by Heywood, after him, in A Maidenhead Well Lost, 1634:
66 How easy could I period all my care."
Again, in The Country Girl, by T. B. 1647:
"To period our vain-grievings." STEEVENS.
MUST need me.] i. e. when he is compelled to have need of my assistance; or, as Mr. Malone has more happily explained “cannot but want my assistance." STEEVENS
Which he shall have: I'll pay the debt, and free
VEN. SERV. Your lordship ever binds him.
TIM. Commend me to him: I will send his ran
And, being enfranchis'd, bid him come to me :'Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support him after 2.-Fare you well.
Enter an old Athenian.
OLD ATH. Lord Timon, hear me speak.
Freely, good father. OLD ATH. Thou hast a servant nam'd Lucilius. TIM. I have so: What of him?
OLD ATH. Most noble Timon, call the man be
TIM. Attends he here, or no ?-Lucilius !
Luc. Here, at your lordship's service.
OLD ATH. This fellow here, lord Timón, this
By night frequents my house. I am a man
2 'Tis not enough, &c.] This thought is better expressed by Dr. Madden in his Elegy on Archbishop Boulter:
"More than they ask'd he gave; and deem'd it mean
"Only to help the poor-to beg again." JOHNSON. It has been said that Dr. Johnson was paid ten guineas by Dr. Madden for correcting this poem. STEEVENS.
3 - your honour!] The common address to a lord in our author's time, was your honour, which was indifferently used with your lordship. See any old letter, or dedication of that age; and Richard III. Act II. Sc. II. where a Pursuivant, speaking to Lord Hastings, says,- 66 I thank your honour." STEEVENS.