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PAGE. [To the Fool.] Why, how now, captain? what do you in this wise company?-How dost thou, Apemantus?
APEM. Would I had a rod in my mouth, that I might answer thee profitably.
PAGE. Pr'ythee, Apemantus, read me the superscription of these letters; I know not which is which.
APEM. Canst not read?
APEM. There will little learning die then, that day thou art hanged. This is to lord Timon; this to Alcibiades. Go; thou wast born a bastard, and thou❜lt die a bawd.
PAGE. Thou wast whelped a dog; and thou shalt famish, a dog's death. Answer not, I am gone. [Exit Page.
APEM. Even so thou out-run'st grace. Fool, I will go with you to lord Timon's.
FOOL. Will you leave me there?
APEM. If Timon stay at home.-You three serve three usurers?
ALL SERV. Ay; 'would they served us!
APEM. So would I,-as good a trick as ever hangman served thief.
I have not hesitated to print mistress in both places. Master was frequently printed in the old copy instead of mistress, and vice versa, from the ancient mode of writing an M. only, which stood in the MSS. of Shakspeare's time either for the one or the other; and the copyist or printer completed the word without attending to the context. This abbreviation is found in Coriolanus, folio, 1623, p. 21:
"Where's Cotus? My M. calls for him?'
Again, more appositely, in The Merchant of Venice, 1623:
"What ho, M. [Master] Lorenzo, and M. [Mistress] Lorenzo."
In vol. v. p. 396, n. 1; and Henry VI. Part I. Act. I. Sc. III. are found corruptions similar to the present, in consequence of the printer's completing the abbreviated word of the MS. improperly.
FOOL. Are you three usurers' men ?
FOOL. I think, no usurer but has a fool to his servant My mistress is one, and I am her fool. When men come to borrow of your masters, they approach sadly, and go away merry; but they enter my mistress' house 5 merrily, and go away sadly: The reason of this?
VAR. SERV. I could render one.
APEM. Do it then, that we may account thee a whoremaster, and a knave; which notwithstanding, thou shalt be no less esteemed.
VAR. SERV. What is a whoremaster, fool?
FOOL. A fool in good clothes, and something like thee. 'Tis a spirit: sometime, it appears like a lord; sometime, like a lawyer; sometime, like a philosopher, with two stones more than his artificial one: He is very often like a knight; and, generally in all shapes, that man goes up and down in, from fourscore to thirteen, this spirit walks in.
VAR. SERV. Thou art not altogether a fool. FOOL. Nor thou altogether a wise man: as much foolery as I have, so much wit thou lackest. APEM. That answer might have become Ape
my MISTRESS' house] Here again the old copy readsmaster's. I have corrected it for the reason already assigned. The context puts the matter beyond a doubt. Mr. Theobald, I find, had silently made the same emendation; but in subsequent editions the corrupt reading of the old copy was again restored.
6 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.
ALL SERV. Aside, aside; here comes lord Timon.
Re-enter TIMON and FLAVIUS.
APEM. Come, with me, fool, come.
FOOL. I do not always follow lover, elder brother, and woman; sometime, the philosopher.
[Exeunt APEMANTUS and Fool. FLAV. 'Pray you, walk near; I'll speak with you
[Exeunt Serv. TIM. You make me marvel: Wherefore, ere this
Had you not fully laid my state before me;
You would not hear me,
At many leisures I propos'd.
Perchance, some single vantages you took,
O my good lord!
At many times I brought in my accounts,
Laid them before you; you would throw them off, And say, you found them in mine honesty.
When, for some trifling present, you have bid me Return so much, I have shook my head, and wept; Yea, 'gainst the authority of manners, pray'd you To hold your hand more close: I did endure
7- made your minister,] So the original. The second folio and the later editions have all:
made you minister."
The construction is:- And made that unaptness your minister." MALONE.
8 Return so MUCH,] He does not mean so great a sum, but a certain sum, as it might happen to be. Our author frequently uses this kind of expression. See a note on the words-" with so many talents," p. 316, n. 9. MALONE.
Not seldom, nor no slight checks; when I have
And your great flow of debts. My lov'd lord,
To pay your present debts.
TIM. Let all my land be sold2. FLAV. 'Tis all engag'd, some forfeited and gone; And what remains will hardly stop the mouth Of present dues: the future comes apace : What shall defend the interim? and at length How goes our reckoning3 ?
My DEAR-lov'd lord!] Thus the second folio. The first omits the epithet-dear, and consequently vitiates the measure. STEEVENS.
I Though you hear now, (too late!) yet now's a time,] i. e. Though it be now too late to retrieve your former fortunes, yet it is not too late to prevent by the assistance of your friends, your future miseries. Had the Oxford editor understood the sense, he would not have altered the text to,
"Though you hear me now, yet now's too late a time." WARBURTON.
I think Sir Thomas Hanmer right, and have received his emendation. JOHNSON.
The old reading is not properly explained by Dr. Warburton. Though I tell you this (says Flavius) at too late a period, perhaps, for the information to be of any service to you, yet late as it is, it is necessary that you should be acquainted with it." It is evident, that the steward had very little hope of assistance from his master's friends. RITSON.
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.
2 THE greatest of your having lacks a half To pay your present debts.
Let all my land be sold.] The redundancy of measure in this passage persuades me that it stood originally thus:
"Your greatest having lacks a half to pay
"Your present debts.
Let all my land be sold." STEEVENS.
TIM. To Lacedæmon did my land extend.
FLAV. O my good lord, the world is but a word*; Were it all yours to give it in a breath,
How quickly were it gone?
You tell me true.
FLAV. If you suspect my husbandry, or false
Call me before the exactest auditors,
And set me on the proof. So the gods bless me, When all our offices have been oppress'd
3 and at length
How GOES Our reckoning?] This Steward talks very wildly. The Lord indeed might have asked, what a Lord seldom knows: "How goes our reckoning?"
But the Steward was too well satisfied in that matter. I would read therefore:
"Hold good our reckoning?"
It is common enough, and the commentator knows it is common to propose, interrogatively, that of which neither the speaker nor the hearer has any doubt. The present reading may therefore stand. JOHNSON.
How will you be able to subsist in the time intervening between the payment of the present demands (which your whole substance will hardly satisfy) and the claim of future dues, for which you have no fund whatsoever; and finally on the settlement of all accounts in what a wretched plight will you be? MALONE.
4 O 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.
Our OFFICES] i. e. the apartments allotted to culinary purposes, the reception of domesticks, &c. Thus, in Macbeth: "Sent forth great largess to your offices."
Would Duncan have sent largess to any but servants? See vol. xi. p. 90, n. 8. It appears that what we now call offices, were anciently called houses of office. So, in Chaucer's Clerkes Tale, v. 8140, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edition :
"Houses of office stuffed with plentee
"Ther mayst thou see of deinteous vittaile." STEEVENS. I have already given my opinion upon the passage quoted from Macbeth, in its proper place. Offices are not apartments allotted to the reception of domesticks; but, as Mr. Steevens has properly explained the word, (where it occurs in Othello, vol. ix. p. 318, n. 7,) it means all rooms or places, at which refreshments are prepared, or served out." I think his explanation of riotous feeders VOL. XIII.