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I have a jewel here."
MER. O, pray, let's fee't: For the lord Timon, fir?
JEW. If he will touch the eflimate: But, for that-
[Looking on the jewel.
JEw. And rich: here is a water, look you.
To the great lord.
A thing flipp'd idly from me.
Our poefy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence 'tis nourished: The fire i'the flint Shows not, till it be ftruck; our gentle flame
• He passes.-
I have a jewel here.] The fyllable wanting in this line, might be restored by reading:
He paffes.-Look, I have a jewel here.
touch the eflimate:] Come up to the price. Johnson.
3 When we for recompenfe &c.] We must here fuppofe the poet bufy in reading his own work; and that these three lines are the introdu&ion of the poem addressed to Timon, which he afterwards gives the painter an account of. WARBURTON.
which oozes-] The folio copy reads which uses. The modern editors have given it-which iffurs. JOHNSON. Gum and iffues were inferied by Mr. Pope; oozes by Dr. Johnfon.
The two oldest copies read:
Our poefie is as a gowne which uses.
Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there?
and, like the current, flies
Each bound it chafes.] Thus the folio reads, and rightly. In later editions-chafes. WARBURTON.
This speech of the poet is very obfcure. He seems to boast the copiousness and facility of his vein, by declaring that verfes drop from a poet as gums from odoriferous trees, and that his flame kindles itself without the violence neceffary to elicit fparkles from the flint. What follows next? that it, like a current, flies each bound it chafes. This may mean, that it expands itself notwithftanding all obftructions: but the images in the comparison are fo ill-forted, and the effect fo obfcurely expreffed, that I cannot but think fomething omitted that conne&ed the laft fentence with the former. It is well known that the players often shorten fpeeches to quicken the representation: and it may be suspected, that they fometimes performed their amputations with more hafte than judgement. JOHNSON.
Perhaps the fenfe is, that having touch'd on one fubject, it flies off in queft of another. The old copy feems to read:
Each bound it chafes.
The letters and are not always to be diftinguished from each other, especially when the types have been much worn, as in the firft folio. If chafes be the true reading, it is beft explained by the fe fequiturque fugitque" of the Roman poet. Somewhat fimilar occurs in The Tempeft:
"Do chafe the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
The obfcurity of this paffage arifes merely from the miftake of the editors, who have joined in one, what was intended by Shakfpeare as two diftin& fentences. It should be pointed thus, and
then the fenfe will be evident:
our gentle flame
Our gentle flame animates itself; it flies like a current; and every obftacle ferves but to increase its force. M. MASON.
In Julius Cæfar, we have
"The troubled Tyber chafing with her fhores,-"
in The Legend of Pierce Gaveflon, by Michael Drayton, 1594: Like as the ocean, chafing with his bounds,
"With raging billowes flies against the rocks,
And to the fhore fends forth his hideous founds," &c.
PAIN. A picture, fir. And when comes your
book forth? 3
POET. Upon the heels Let's fee your piece.
of my presentment,3 fir.
PAIN. 'Tis a good piece. POET. So 'tis: this comes off well and excellent.*
This jumble of incongruous images, feems to have been defigned, and put into the mouth of the Poetafter, that the reader might appreciate his talents: his language therefore fhould not be confidered in the abftra& HENLEY.
And when comes your book forth?] And was supplied by Sir T. Hanmer, to perfe& the measure. STEEVENS.
4 Upon the heels &c.] As foon as my book has been prefented to lord Timon. JOHNSON.
prefentment] 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 fhillings I care not for, and above, few or none will befow on thefe matters. Preface to A Woman is a Weathercock, by N. Field, 1612. STEEVENS.
It should however be remembered, that forty fhillings at that time were equal to at leaft fix, perhaps eight, pounds at this day. MALONE.
6 'Tis a good piece.}
As the metre is here defective, it is not
improbable that our author originally wrote
'Tis a good piece, indeed.
So, in The Winter's Tale:
"'Tis grace indeed. STEEVENS.
this comes off well and excellent. ] The meaning is, the figure rifes well from the canvas. C'est bien relevé. JOHNSON. What is meant by this term of applause I do not exactly know. It occurs again in The Widow, by Ben Jonfon, Fletcher, and Middleton:
"It comes off very fair yet.
Again, in A Trick to catch the old One, 1608: "Put a good tale in his ear, fo that it comes off cleanly, and there's a horfe and man for us. I warrant thee. Again, in the first part of Marston's
Autonio and Mellida:
"Fla. Faith, the fong will feem to come off hardly.
Admirable: How this grace
Speaks his own ftanding! what a mental power This eye fhoots forth! how big imagination Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the geflure One might interpret. 9
How this grace
Speaks his own ftanding!] This relates to the attitude of the figure, and means that it ftands judiciously on its own centre. not only fo, but that it has a graceful ftanding likewife. the poet in Hamlet, fpeaking of another pi&ure, says:
A flation like the herald, Mercury
"New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill."
which lines Milton feems to have had in view, where he says of Raphael:
"He lights, and to his proper shape returns.
This fentence seems to me obfcure, and, however explained, not very forcible. This grace peaks his own flanding, is only, The gracefulness of this figure shows how it ftands. I am inclined to think fomething corrupted. It would be more natural and clear thus: How this ftanding
Speaks his own graces!
How this pofture difplays its own gracefulness. conjecture further, and propofe to read:
How this grace
Speaks understanding! what a mental power
But I will indulge
The affage, to my apprehenfion at least, speaks its own meaning, which is, how the graceful attitude of this figure proclaims that it ftauds firm on its center, or gives evidence in favour of its own fixure. Grace is introduced as bearing witnefs to propriety. A fimilar expression occurs in Cymbeline, a& II. sc. iv:
"So likely to report themselves." STEEVENS.
9to the dumbness of the gefture
One might interpret.] The figure, though dumb, feems to have a capacity of fpeech. The allufion is to the puppet-shows, or motions, as they were termed in our author's time. The perfon
PAIN. It is a pretty mocking of the life. Here is a touch; Is't good?
I'll fay of it,
It tutors nature: artificial ftrife'
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.
who spoke for the puppets was called an interpreter. Hamlet, A& III. fc. v. MALONE.
Rather-one might venture to fupply words to fuch intelligible action. Such fignificant gefture ascertains the fentiments that should accompany it. STEEVENS.
artificial ftrife] Strife for action or motion.
Strife is either the conteft of art with nature:
or it is the contraft of forms or oppofition of colours. So, under the print of Noah Bridges, by Faithorne: Faithorne, with nature at a noble flrife,
"Hath paid the author a great share of life." &c.
And Ben Jonfon, on the head of Shakspeare by Droefhout:
"It was for gentle Shakspeare cut:
"With nature, to oul-doo the life." HENLEY.
That artificial frife means, as Dr. Johnfon has explained it, the conleft of art with nature, and not the contrast of forms or oppofition of colours, may appear from our author's Venus and Adonis, wher: the fame thought is more clearly expreffed:
"Look, when a painter would furpass the life,
In Drayton's Mortimeriados, printed I believe in 1596, (afterwards entitled The Baron's Wars,) there are two lines nearly refembling thefe:
Done for the laft with fuch exceeding life, "As art therein with nature were at ftrife.'