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Whom he redeem'a from prison :: All these three
How! have they denied him? Has Ventidiuso and Luculius denied nim? And does he send to me? Three? humph!
I am dissatisfied with my former explanation ; which arose from my inattention to a sense in which our author very frequently uses the verb-to return; i. e. to reply. Thus, in King Rich. ard II:
“ Northumberland, say- thus the king returns ; Again, in Troilus and Cressida:
" Returns to chiding fortune:” i. e. replies to it. Again, in King Henry V:
The Dauphin “ Returns us--that his powers are not yet ready.” The sense of the passage before us therefore will be :- The best half of my wealth should have been the reply I would have made to Timon: I would have answered his requisition with the best half of what I am worth. Steevens. 3 And now Ventidius is wealthy too,
Whom he releem'd from prison:) This circumstance likewise occurs in the anonymous unpublished comedy of Timon:
“O yee ingrateful! have I freed yee
- these three -] The word three was inserted by Sir T. Hanmer to complete the measure; as was the exclamation o, for the same reason, in the following speech. Steevens.
5 They have all been touch'd,] That is, tried, alluding to the touchstone. Johnson. So, in King Richard III:
“O Buckingham, now do I play the touch,
“ To try, if thou be current gold, indeed.” Stecvens. 6 Has Ventidius &c.] With this mutilated and therefore rugged speech no ear accustomed to harmony can be satisfied. Sir Tho. mas Hanmer thus reforms the first part of it:
Have Lucius, and Ventidius, and Lucullus,
Denied him all? and does he send to me?
Denied him, say you! and does he send to ine?
It shows &c. But I can only point out metrical dilapidations which I profess my inability to repair. Steevena.
It shows but little love or judgment in him.
I_His friends, like physicians,
Thrive, give him over ;] Sir Thomas Hanmer reads, try'd, plausibly enough. Instead of three proposed by Mr. Pope, I should read thrice. But perhaps the old reading is the true.
Johnson. Perhaps we should read-shrivd. They give him over shriod; that is, prepared for immediate death by shrift
. Tyrwhitt. Perhaps the following passage in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, is the best comment after all:
“ Their patients.” The passage will then mean :-"His friends, like physicians, thrive by his bounty and fees, and either relinquish, and forsake him, or give his case up as desperate." To give over in The Taming of the Shrew has no reference to the irremediable condition of a patient, but simply means to leave, to forsake, to quit:
“And therefore let me be thus bold with you
“ Unles you will accompany me thither.” Steevens. 8 And I amongst the lords be thought a fool.] [Old copy-and 'mongst lords be thought a fool.) The personal pronoun was inserted by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
I have changed the position of the personal pronoun, and added the for the sake of metre, which, in too many parts of this play, is incorrigible. Steevens. 91 had such a courage -) Such an ardour, such an eager desire.
Fohnson. 1 Excellent! &c.] I suppose the former part of this speech to have been originally written in verse, as well as the latter; though the players have printed it as prose (omitting several syllables
And with their faint reply this answer join;
Serv. Excellent! Your lordship's a goodly villain. The devil knew not what he did, when he made man politick; he crossed himself by 't: and I cannot think, but, in the end, the villainies of man will set him clear.? How fairly
necessary to the metre) it cannot now be restored without such additions as no editor is at liberty to insert in the text. Steevens.
I suspect no omission whatsoever here. Malone.
2 The devil knew not what he did, when he made man politick; he crossed himself by 't: and I cannot think, but, in the end, the villainies of man will set him clear.] I cannot but think, that the negative not has intruded into this passage, and the reader will think so too, when he reads Dr. Warburton's explanation of the next words. Johnson.
will set him cleur.] Set him clear does not mean acquit him before seaven; for then the devil must be supposed to know what he did; but it signifies puzzle him, outdo him at his own weapons.
Warburton. How the devil, or any other being, should be set clear by being puzzled and outdone, the commentator has not explained. When in a crowd we would have an opening made, we say, Stand clear, that is, out of the way of danger. With some affinity to this use, though not without great harshness, to set clear, may be to set aside. But I believe the original corruption is the insertion of the negative, which was obtruded by some transcriber, who supposed crossed to mean thwarted, when it meant, exempted
from evil. The use of crossing by way of protection or purification, was probably not worn out in Shakspeare's time. The sense of set clear is now easy; he has no longer the guilt of tempting man. To eross himself may mean, in a very familiar sense, to clear his score, to get out of debt, to quit his reckoning. He knew not what he did, may mean, he knew not how much good he was doing himself. There is no need of emendation. Fohnson.
Perhaps Dr. Warburton's explanation is the true one. Clear is an adverb, or so used; and Dr. Johnson's Dictionary observes, that to set means, in Addison, to embarrass, to distress, to perplex.-If then the devil made men politick, he has thwarted his own interest, because the superior cunning of man will at last puzzle bim, or be above the reach of his temptations. Tollet.
Johnson's explanation of this passage is nearly right; but I don't see how the insertion of the negative injures the sense, or why that should be considered as a corruption. Servilius means to say, that the devil did not foresee the advantage that would arise to bimself from thence, when he made men politick. He redeemed himself by it; for men will, in the end, become so much more villainous than he is, that they will set him clear; he will appear innocent when compared to them. Jolinson has rightly exVOL. XV.
this lord strives to appear foul ? takes virtuous copies to be wicked; like those that, under hot ardent zeal, would set whole realms on fire.3 Of such a nature is his politick love.
plained the words, “ he crossed himself by it."-So, in Cymbeline, Posthumous says of himself
It is I
“By being worse than they." M. Mason. The meaning, I think, is this: The devil did not know what he was about, [how much his reputation for wickedness would be di. minished) when he made man crafty and interested; he thwarted himself by it; [by thus raising up rivals to contend with him in ini. quity, and at length to surpass him;] and I cannot but think that at last the enormities of mankind will rise to such a height, as to make even Satan himself, in comparison, appear (what he would least of all wish to be) spotless ani innocent.
Clear is in many other places used by our author and the contemporary writers, for innocent. So, in The Tempest:
nothing but heart's sorrow,
- This Duncan
“ So clear in his great office, -." Again, in the play before us :
Roots, ye clear gods!”
I know myself am clear « As is the new-born infant." Malone. The devil's folly in making man politick, is to appear in this, that he will, at the long run be too many for his old master, and get free of his bonds. The villainies of man are to set himself elear, not the.devil, to whom he is supposed to be in thraldom.
Ritson. Concerning this difficult passage, I claim no other merit than that of having left before the reader the notes of all the commentators. I myself am in the state of Dr. Warburton's devil,-puzzled, instead of being set clear by them. Steevens.
takes virtuous copies to be wicked; like those &c.] This is a reflection on the puritans of that time. These people were then set upon the project of new-modelling the ecclesiastical and civil government according to scripture rules and examples; which makes him say, that under zeal for the word of God, they would set whole realms on fire. So, Sempronius pretended to that warm affection and generous jealousy of friendship, that is affronted, if any other be applied to before it. At best the similitude is an aukward one; but it fitted the audience, though not the speaker.
This was my lord's best hope; now all are fled,
[Exit. SCENE IV.
The same. A Hall in Timon's House.
Enter Two Servants of VARRO, and the Servant of Lu
CIUS, meeting TITUS, HORTENSIUS, and other Servants to Timon's Creditors, waiting his coming out. Var. Serv. Well met; good-morrow, Titus and Hor
Ay, and, I think,
Phi. Good day at once.
Welcome, good brother,
Labouring for nine.
Is not my lord seen yet?
- Save the gods only:) Old copy-Save only the gods. The transposition is Sir Thomas Hanmer's. Steevens. heep his house. ] i. e. keep within doors for fear of duns.
Fohnson. So, in Measure for Measure, Act III, sc. ii : “ You will turn good husband now, Pompey; you will keep the house.” Steevens.