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Enter certain Senators, and pass over.
PAIN. HOW this lord's follow'd!
POET. The fenators of Athens; - Happy men!
POET. You fee this confluence, this great flood of vifitors. 4
I have, in this rough work, fhap'd out a man, Whom this beneath world5 doth embrace and hug With ampleft entertainment: My free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself
In a wide fea of wax:' no levell'd malice &
3 Happy men!] Mr. Theobald reads - happy man; and certainly the emendation is fufficiently plausible, though the old reading may well ftand. MALONE.
The text is right. The poet envies or admires the felicity of the fenators in being Timon's friends, and familiarly admitted to his table, to partake of his good cheer, and experience the effe&s of his bounty. RITSON.
this confluence, this great flood of visitors, ]
Mane falutantûm totis vomit ædibus undam. JOHNson,
this beneath world] So, in Meafure for Measure, we "This under generation;" and in King Richard II: “-the lower world."
6 Halts not particularly, ] My defign does not ftop at any single charader. JOHNSON.
7 In a wide fea of wax:] tables with an iron ftile.
Anciently they wrote upon waxen HANMER.
I once thought with Sir T. Hanmer, that this was only an al. lufion to the Roman practice of writing with a file on waxeu tablets; but it appears that the fame cuftom prevailed in England about the year 1395, and might have been heard of by Shakspeare. It seems alfo to be pointed out by implication in many of our old collegiate eftablishments. See Warton's Hiftory of English Poetry, Vol. III. p. 151. STEEVENS.
Mr. Aftle observes in his very ingenious work On the Origin and Progrefs of Writing, quarto, 1784, that the practice of writing on.
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
PAIN. How fhall I understand you?
I'll unbolt to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
To Apemantus, that few things loves better
table-books covered with wax was not entirely laid afide till the commencement of the fourteenth century. As Shakspeare, I believe, was not a very profound English antiquary, it is furely improbable that he fhould have had any knowledge of a practice which had been disused for more than two centuries before he was born. The Roman practice he might have learned from Golding's Tranf lation of the ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphofes:
"Her right hand holds the pen, her left doth hold the emptie waxe, &c. MALONE.
no levell'd malice &c.] To level is to aim, to point the fhot at a mark. Shakspeare's meaning is, my poem is not a fatire written with any particular view, or levelled at any fingle person; I fly like an eagle into the general expanfe of life, and leave not, by any private mifchief, the trace of my paffage. JOHNSON.
I'll unbolt ] I'll open, I'll explain. JOHNSON.
glib and flippery creatures, ] Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him, read natures. Slippery is smooth, unrefifting.
My heart's fubdued
"Even to the very quality of my lord. " STEEVENS,
That fhows in his lock, as by
reflection, the looks of his patron. JOHNSON.
Than to abhor himself: even he drops down The knee before him,5 and returns in peace
Moft rich in Timon's nod.
PAIN. I faw them fpeak together." POET. Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill, Feign'd Fortune to be thron'd: The bafe o'the
Is rank'd with all deferts, all kind of natures,
even he drops down &.] Either Shakspeare meant to put a falfehood into the mouth of his poet, or had not yet thoroughly planned the chara&er of Apemantus; for in the ensuing scenes, his behaviour is as cynical to Timon as to his followers.
The Poet, feeing that Apemantus paid frequent vifits to Timon, naturally concluded that he was equally courteous with his other guefts. RITSON.
I faw them speak together.] The word together, which only ferves to interrupt the measure, is, I believe, an interpolation, being occafionally omitted by our author, as unneceffary to fenfe, on fimilar occafious. Thus, in Measure for Measure: " Bring me to hear them speak; i. e. to fpeak together, to converse. Again, in another of our author's plays: "When spoke you last?" Nor is the fame phrafeology, even at this hour, out of use. STEEVENS. Cover'd with ranks of all kinds
rank'd with all deferts,]
of men. JOHNSON.
To propagate their fates:] To advance or improve their various conditions of life. JOHNSON.
9 Feign'd Fortune to be thron'd:
on this fovereign lady &c.] So, in The Tempeft :
"Now my dear lady," &c. MALONE.
'Tis conceiv'd to scope.*
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
Nay, fir, but hear me on:
Make facred even his flirrop, and through him
Ay, marry, what of these?
2-conceiv'd to fcope.] Properly imagined, appofitely, to the purpose. JOHNSON.
3 In our condition. ] Condition for art. WARBURTON."
Rain facrificial whisperings in his ears, ] The feufe is obvious, and means, in general, flattering him. The particular kind of Aattery may be colle&ed from the circumftance of its being offered up in whispers: which shows it was the calumniating those whom Timon hated or envied, or whofe vices were oppofite to his own. This offering up, to the person flattered, the murdered reputation of others, Shakspeare, with the utmost beauty of thought and expreffion, calls facrificial whip'rings, alluding to the victims offered up to idols. WARBURTON.
Whisperings attended with fuch refpe& and veneration as accompany facrifices to the gods. Such, I fuppofe, is the meaning. MALONE.
6 through him
Drink the free air. ] That is, catch his breath in affected fond. nefs. JOHNSON.
A fimilar phrase occurs in Ben Jonfon's Every Man in his Humour: By this air, the most divine tobacco I ever drank!" To drink, in both these inftances, fignifies to inhale. STEEVENS. So, in our autho'rs Venus and Adonis:
POET. When Fortune, in her shift and change of
Spurns down her late belov'd, all his dependants,
PAIN. 'Tis common:
A thousand moral paintings I can show,"
More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well,
The emendation was made by Mr. Rowe. STEEVENS.
7 A thousand moral paintings I can show, ] Shakspeare seems to intend in this dialogue to exprefs fome 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.
thefe quick blows of fortune-] [Old copy-fortune's-] This was the phrafeology of Shakspeare's time, as I have already observed in a note on King John, Vol. XI. p. 322, n. 3. The modern editors read, more elegantly, of fortune. The alteration was firft made in the fecond folio, from ignorance of Shakspeare's didion. MALONE.
Though I cannot impute such a correction to the ignorance of the person who made it, I can easily fuppofe what is here ftyled the phraseology of Shakspeare, to be only the mistake of a vulgar transcriber or printer. Had our author been conftant in his use of this mode of speech (which is not the cafe) the propriety of Mr. Malone's remark would have been readily admitted. STEEVENS.
9 mean eyes] i. e. inferior fpe&ators. So, in Wotton's Letter to Bacon, dated March the laft, 1613: "Before their majefties, and almoft as many other meaner eyes," &c. TOLLET.