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ball of thread. To unclew a man, is to draw out the whole mass of his fortunes.
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.
The strain of man's bred out
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. 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. WARBURTON.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 366. If our betters play at that game, &c.] The termour 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 extraordinary 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. -so 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.
Shakspeare is very fond of making use of musical terms, when he is speaking of the human body, and windpipe and notes savour strongly of a quibble. STEEVENS. Line 451. -for ever perfect.] That is, arrived at the perfection of happiness. JOHNSON. Line 454. How had you been my friends else? why have you that charitable title from thousands, did you not chiefly belong to my heart?] The meaning is probably this:-Why are you distinguished from thousands by that title of endearment, was there not a particular connection and intercourse of tenderness between you and me? JOHNSON. Line 458. I confirm you.] I fix your characters firmly in my own mind. JOHNSON.
Line 470. O joy, e'en made away ere it can be born!] Tears being the effect both of joy and grief, supplied our author with an opportunity of conceit, which he seldom fails to indulge. Timon, weeping with a kind of tender pleasure, cries out, O joy, e'en made away, destroyed, turned to tears, before it can be born, before it can be fully possessed. JOHNSON. Line 474. to make them drink,] The covert sense of Apemantus is, what thou losest, they get. JOHNSON.
-like a babe—] That is, a weeping babe. JOHNS. 481. Much!] Apemantus means to say,-That extraordinary. Much was formerly an expression of admiration.
Line 504. Like madness is the glory of this life,
As this pomp shows to a little oil, and root.] The glory of this life is very near to madness, as may be made appear from this pomp, exhibited in a place where a philosopher is feeding on oil and roots. When we see by example how few are the necessaries of life, we learn what madness there is in so much superfluity. JOHNSON.
mine own device;] The mask appears to have been designed by Timon to surprize his guests. JOHNSON. Line 523. -even at the best.] I believe the meaning is, "You have conceived the fairest of us," (to use the words of Lucullus in a subsequent scene,) you have estimated us too highly, perhaps above our deserts. MALONE.
Line 536. are following her.
Advance this jewel ;] To prefer it; toraise it to honour by wearing it. JOHNSON. Line 612. Ay, defiled land,] I,-is the old reading, which apparently depends on a very low quibble. Alcibiades is told, that his estate lies in a pitch'd field. Now pitch, as Falstaff says, doth defile. Alcibiades therefore replies, that his estate lies in defiled land. This, as it happened, was not understood, and all the editors published
—had not eyes behind;] To see the miseries that JOHNSON. -for his mind.] For nobleness of soul. JOHNS.
I defy land
JOHNSON. All to you.] i. e. ail good wishes, or all happiness STEEVENS. Line 622. Serving of becks,] Beck means a salutation made with the head. So Milton:
"Nods and becks, and wreathed smiles."
To serve a beck, is to offer a salutation.
Line 623. I doubt whether their legs &c.] He plays upon the word leg, as it signifies a limb, and a bow or act of obeisance.
---I fear me, Wilt give away thyself in paper shortly.] i. e. be ruined by his securities entered into. WARBURTON. Line 643. Thy heaven-] The pleasure of being flattered. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 10. Ask nothing, give it him, it foals me straight, And able horses:] The passage means only this: "If I give my horse to Timon, it immediately foals, and not only produces more, but able horses." STEEVENS.
Can found his state in safety.] i. e. Reason cannot find his fortune to have any safe or solid foundation. JOHNSON. ACT II. SCENE II.
Line 51. Good even, Varro:] It is observable, that this good evening is before dinner: for Timon tells Alcibiades, that they
will go forth again, as soon as dinner's done, which may prove that by dinner our author meant not the cana of ancient times, but the mid-day's repast. I do not suppose the passage corrupt: such inadvertencies neither author nor editor can escape. JOHNSON.
Line 99. Enter Apemantus and a Fool.] I suspect some scene to be lost, in which the entrance of the Fool, and the page that follows him, was prepared by some introductory dialogue, in which the audience was informed that they were the fool and page of Phrynia, Timandra, or some other courtezan, upon the knowledge of which depends the greater part of the ensuing jocu larity. JOHNSON.
Line 123. She's e'en setting on water to scald &c.] The old name for the disease got at Corinth was the brenning, and a sense of scalding is one of its first symptoms. JOHNSON.
Line 124. 'Would, we could see you at Corinth.] A cant name for a bawdy-house, I suppose, from the dissoluteness of that ancient Greek city. WARBURTON. Line 167. 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.
Line 206. Though you hear now, (too late!) yet now's a time,] 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.
Line 216. 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.
Line 228. a wasteful cock,] A wasteful cock is a cock or pipe with a turning stopple running to waste. In this sense, both the terms have their usual meaning; but I know not that cock is ever used (as Hanmer and Warburton assert) for cockloft, or wasteful for lying in waste, or that lying in waste is at all a phrase. JOHNS.
Line 243. No villainous bounty yet hath pass'd my heart; Unwisely, not ignobly, have I given.] Every reader must rejoice in this circumstance of comfort which presents itself to Timon, who, although beggar'd through want of prudence, consoles himself with reflection that his ruin was not brought on by the pursuit of guilty pleasures. STEEVENS.
Line 249. And try the argument-] The licentiousness of our author forces us often upon far-fetched expositions. Arguments may mean contents, as the arguments of a book: or evidences and proofs. JOHNSON.
Line 276. -I knew it the most general way,] General is not speedy, but compendious, the way to try many at a time. JOHNS. Line 291. intending-] is regarding, turning their notice to other things. JOHNSON. Line 292. and these hard fractions,] Flavius, by fractions, means broken hints, interrupted sentences, abrupt remarks.
Line 293. —cold-moving nods,] Cold-moving is the same as coldly-moving. So-perpetual sober gods, for perpetually sober; lazy-pacing clouds-loving-jealous-flattering sweet, &c. Such distant and uncourteous salutations are properly termed cold-moving, as proceeding from a cold and unfriendly disposition. MALONE.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Line 8. very respectively welcome, sir.] i. e. respectfully. So, in King John:
" 'Tis too respective," &c.
STEEVENS. Line 50. And we alive, that liv'd?] i. e. And we who were alive then, alive now. As much as to say, in so short a time.
Line 56. Let molten coin be thy damnation,] Perhaps the poet alludes to the punishment inflicted on M. Aquilius by Mithridates. STEEVENS. Line 59. It turns in less than two nights?] Alluding to the turning or acescence of milk. JOHNSON.
Line 65. of nature-] Flaminius considers that nutriment which Lucullus had for a length of time received at Timon's table, as constituting a great part of his animal system. STEEVENS,