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Thieves, Senators, Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant; with Servants and Attendants.
SCENE, Athens; and the Woods not far from it.
From Lucian's Dialogues.
Of this Play there is no Edition known but that of the Players.
A C T I.
A Hall in Timon's Houfe.
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant, at fever al doors.
Poet. OOD day, Sir.
Pain. I am glad y'are well.
Poet. I have not feen you long. How goes the
Pain. It wears, Sir, as it
(1) But what particular rarity? what fo ftrange,
Jew. Nay, that's most fixt.
(1) But what particular rarity? &c.] Our author, it is obfervable, has made his poet in this play a knave. But that it might not reflect upon the profeffion, he has made him only a pretender to it, as appears from his having drawn him, all the way, with a falfe tafte and judgment. One infallible mark of which, is a fondness for every thing strange, furprizing and portentous; and a difregard for whatever is common, or in nature. Shakespeare therefore his with great delicacy of judgment put his poetafter upon this inquiry.
The learned commentator's note muft fhift for itfelf. I cannot but think that the paffage is at prefent in confufion. The Poet afks a queftion, and stays not for an answer, nor has his question any apparent driftor confequence. I would range the paffage thus: Poet. Ay, that's well known.
But what particular rarity ? what so firange,
That manifold record not matches ?
Poet. Magick of bounty, &e.
It may be not improperly obferved here, that as there is only one copy of this play, no help can be had from collation, and more li berty must be allowed to conjecture.
Mer. A moft incomparable man, (2) breath'd as it
To an untirable and continuate goodness.
Few. I have a jewel here. Mer. O, pray, let's fee't. For the Lord Timon, Sir?
Jew. If he will (3) touch the estimate. But for that
Poet. (4) When we for recompence have prais'd the
It ftains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly fings the good.
Mer. 'Tis a good form.
· [Looking on the jewel.
Jew. And rich. Here is a water, Look ye.
Pain. You're rapt, Sir, in fome work, fome dedication
To the great Lord.
Poet. A thing flipt idly from me.
Our Poefy is as a Gum, (5) which oozes
From whence 'tis nourished.
The fire i' th' flint
Shews not, 'till it be ftruck: our gentle flame
breath'd as it were
To breathe a
To an untirable and continuate goodness.] Breathed is enured by conftant practice; fo trained as not to be wearied. horfe, is to exercife him for the courfe.
(3) touch the estimate.] Come up to the price.
(4) When we for recompence, &c.] We muft here fuppofe the poet busy reading his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addreffed to Timon, which he afterwards WARBURTON. gives the painter an account of
(5)-which oozes-] The folio copy reads, which ules. The modern edirors have given it, which iffues. (6)—and like the current flies
Each bound it chafes.] Thus the folio reads, and rightly. In laWARBURTON. ter editions, cbafes,
This fpeech of the poet is very obfcure. He feems to boast of the copioufness and facility of his vein, by declaring that verfes drop from a poet as gums from odoriferous trees, and that his flame kindles it felf without the violence neceffary to elicite fparkles from the fint. What follows next? that it, like a current, flies each bound it chafes.
Pain. A picture, Sir. When comes your book forth Poet. (7) Upon the heels of my prefentment, Sir. Let's fee your piece.
Pain. 'Tis a good piece:
Peet. So 'tis.
(8) This comes off well and excellent:
Poet. Admirable! (9) how this
Speaks his own ftanding? What a mental power
This may mean, that it expands itself notwithstanding all obftructions: but the images in the comparison are fo il forted, and the ef fect fo obfcurely expreffed, that I cannot but think fomething omitted that connected the last fentence with the former. It is well known that the players often shorten fpeeches to quicken the representation; and it may be fufpected, that they fometimes performed their amputations with more hafte than judgment.
(7) Upon the beels, &c.] As foon as iny book has been presented to Lord Timon.
(8) This comes off well and excellent.] By this we are to underftand what the painters call the goings off of a picture, which res quires the nicest execution. WARBURTON.
The note I understand lefs than the text. The meaning is, This figure rifes well from the canvas. C'est bien relevè. (9).- bow this grace
Speaks its con ftanding?] This relates to the attitude of this fi gure; and means that it ftands judiciously on its own centre. And not only fo, but that it has a graceful ffanding likewife. Of which the poet in Hamlet, speaking of another picture, fays,
A Station like the Herault, Mercury,
New-lighted an a beav'n-kiffing bill.
which lines Milton feems to have had in view, where he says of Raphael,
At once on th' eaftern Cliff of Paradife
He lights, and to his proper shape returns.
Like Maia's fon he ftood.
This fentence feems to me obfcure, and, however explained, not very forcible. This grace Speaks bis own ftanding, is only, The gracefulness of this figure fbews bow it ftands. I am inclined to think fomething corrupted. It would be more natural and clear thus: bow this fanding
Speaks bis own graces ?
How this pofture displays its own gracefulness. But I will indulge conjecture further, and propofe to read,
bow this grace
Speaks understanding ? what a mental power
This eye fboots forth?
Moves in this lip? To th' dumbness of the gefture
One might interpret.
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life. Here is a touch. Is't good?
Poet. I'll fay of it,
It tutors Nature; (1) artificial ftrife
Enter certain Senators.
Pain. How this Lord is followed!
Poet. The Senators of Athens! happy men!
Poet. You fee (2) this confluence, this great flood of vifiters.
I have, in this rough Work, fhap'd out a Man,
But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,
artificial ftrife-] Strife for action or motion. WARE.
Sife is either the contest or act with nature.
Hic ille eft Raphael, timuit, quo jofpite, vinci
Rerum magna parens, et morienti, mori.
Or it is the contralt of forms, or oppofition of colours. (2) This confluence, this great flood of visiters,
Mane falutantum totis vomit ædibus urdam.
(3) Halts not particularly,] My design does not stop at any single character. }
(4) In a wide fea of wax :] Anciently they wrote upon waxen tablets with an iron stile.
HAN. (5) no LEVELL'o malice-] Why this epithet to malice ? which belongs to all actions whatfoever, which have their aim or level. Shakespeare wrote,
no LEVEN'D malice,
which is not only a proper epithet for the acidity of that paffion, but anfwers well to the next words infects, and, leaving no tra& behind, WARBURTON. as any thing fermenting or corrofive does.
To level is to aim, to point the fhot at a mark. Shakespeare's meaning is, my poem is not a fatire written with any particular view, or levell'd at any fingle perfon; I fly like an eagle into the general expanfe of life, and leave not, by any private mitchief, the trace of my paffage..