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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


PAIN. It wears, sir, as it grows.


Ay, that's well known:

But what particular rarity ? what strange,

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Jeweller, Merchant,] In the old copy: Enter &c. Merchant and Mercer, &c,


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. STEEVENS.

* But what particular rarity? &c.] I cannot but think that this passage is at present in confusion. 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 thus:

Which manifold record not matches? See, Magick of bounty! all these spirits thy power Hath conjur'd to attend. I know the merchant. PAIN. I know them both; t'other's a jeweller. MER. O, 'tis a worthy lord!


Nay, that's most fix'd,

MER. A most incomparable man; breath'd, as it


To an untirable and continuate goodness;5

Poet. Ay, that's well known.

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

Pain. See!

Poet. Magick of bounty! &c.

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

Johnson supposes that there is some error in this passage, because the Poet asks a question, and stays not for an answer; and therefore suggests a new arrangement of it. But there is nothing more common in real life than questions asked in that manner. And with respect to his proposed arrangement, I can by no means approve of it; for as the Poet and the Painter are going to pay their court to Timon, it would be strange if the latter should point out to the former, as a particular rarity, which manifold record could not match, a merchant and a jeweller, who came there on the same errand. M. MASON.

The Poet is led by what the Painter has said, to ask whether any thing very strange and unparalleled had lately happened, without any expectation that any such had happened;--and is prevented from waiting for an answer by observing so many conjured by Timon's bounty to attend. "See, Magick of bounty!" &c. This surely is very natural. MALONE.


breath'd, as it were,

To an untirable and continuate goodness:] Breathed is inured by constant practice; so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse, is to exercise him for the course.

So, in Hamlet:

"It is the breathing time of day with me."



He passes.6


I have a jewel here."

MER. O, pray, let's see't: For the lord Timon,



JEW. If he will touch the estimate: But, for


POET. When we for recompense have prais❜d the


It stains the glory in that happy verse

Which aptly sings the good.


'Tis a good form. [Looking at the Jewel.

JEW. And rich: here is a water, look you.

PAIN. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication

To the great lord.

continuate-] This word is used by many ancient English writers. Thus, by Chapman, in his version of the fourth Book of the Odyssey:

"Her handmaids join'd in a continuate yell."

Again, in the tenth Book:

environ'd round

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"With one continuate rock :-.' STEEVENS.

* He passes.] i. e, exceeds, goes beyond common bounds. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

7 He

"Why this passes, master Ford."


I have a jewel here.] The syllable wanting in this line, might be restored by reading

He passes.-Look, I have a jewel here. STEEVENS. 3 touch the estimate:] Come up to the price.


suppose the

9 When we for recompense &c.] We must here Poet busy in reading in his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addressed to Timon, which he afterwards gives the Painter an account of. Warburton.


A thing slipp'd idly from me. Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes1 From whence 'tis nourished: The fire i'the flint Shows not, till it be struck; our gentle flame Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies Each bound it chafes. What have you there?


·which oozes-] The folio copy reads-which uses. The modern editors have given it--which issues. JOHNSON. Gum and issues were inserted by Mr. Pope; oozes by Dr. Johnson. MALONE.


The two oldest copies read

Our poesie is as a gowne which uses.
-and, like a current, flies


Each bound it chafes.] Thus the folio reads, and rightly. In later editions-chases.


This speech of the Poet is very obscure. He seems to boast the copiousness and facility of his vein, by declaring that verses drop from a poet as gums from odoriferous trees, and that his flame kindles itself without the violence necessary to elicit sparkles from the flint. What follows next? that it, like a current, flies each bound it chafes. This may mean, that it expands itself notwithstanding all obstructions; but the images in the comparison are so ill sorted, and the effect so obscurely expressed, that I cannot but think something omitted that connected the last sentence with the former. It is well known that the players often shorten speeches to quicken the representation: and it may be suspected, that they sometimes performed their amputations with more haste than judgment. JOHNSON.

Perhaps the sense is, that having touched on one subject, it flies off in quest of another. The old copy seems to read—

Each bound it chases.

The letters fand are not always to be distinguished from each other, especially when the types have been much worn, as in the first folio. If chases be the true reading, it is best explained by the "-se sequiturque fugitque" of the Roman poet. Somewhat similar occurs in The Tempest:

"Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
"When he pursues. STEEVENS.

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The obscurity of this passage arises merely from the mistake of the editors, who have joined in one, what was intended by

PAIN. A picture, sir. And when comes your book forth?3

POET. Upon the heels of my presentment,5 sir. Let's see your piece.


'Tis a good piece.

Shakspeare as two distinct sentences. It should be pointed thus, and then the sense will be evident:

-our gentle flame

Provokes itself, and like the current flies;
Each bound it chafes.

Our gentle flame animates itself; it flies like a current; and every obstacle serves but to increase its force. M. MASON.

In Julius Cæsar we have

"The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,-."

Again, in The Legend of Pierce Gaveston, by Michael Drayton, 1594:

"Like as the ocean, chafing with his bounds,
"With raging billowes flies against the rocks,

"And to the shore sends forth his hideous sounds," &c.

This jumble of incongruous images, seems to have been designed, and put into the mouth of the Poetaster, that the reader might appreciate his talents: his language therefore should not be considered in the abstract. HENLEY.

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And when comes your book forth?] And was supplied by Sir T. Hanmer, to perfect the measure. STEEVENS.


Upon the heels &c.] As soon as my book has been presented to lord Timon. JOHNSON.


-presentment,] The patrons of Shakspeare's age do not appear to have been all Timons.

"I did determine not to have dedicated my play to any body, because forty shillings I care not for, and above, few or none will bestow on these matters." Preface to A Woman is a Weathercock, by N. Field, 1612. STEEVENS.

It should, however, be remembered, that forty shillings at that time were equal to at least six, perhaps eight, pounds at this day. MALONE.



'Tis a good piece.] As the metre is here defective, it is not improbable that our author originally wrote

'Tis a good piece, indeed.

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