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Will o'er some high-vic'd city hang his poison
In the sick air :: Let not thy sword skip one:
Pity not honour'd age for his white beard,
He's an usurer: Strike me the counterfeit matron;
It is her habit only that is honest,
Herself 's a bawd: Let not the virgin's cheek
Make soft thy trenchant sword ;6 for those milk-paps,
That through the window-bars bore at men's eyes,?


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5 Be as a planetary plague, when Fove

Will o'er some high-vic'd city hang his poison
In the sick air:] This is wonderfully sublime and picturesque.

Warburton. We meet with the same image in King Richard II:

or suppose “ Devouring pestilence hangs in our air.Malone. The same idea occurs in Chapman's version of the sixth Iliad:

and therefore hangs, I fear, “ A plague above him.” Steevens.

thy trenchant sword;] So, in Philemon Holland's translation of the ninth Book of Pliny's Natural History, 1601, p. 237: " -- they all to cut and hacke them with their trenchant teeth; See note on Macbeth, Vol. VII. Steevens.

7 That through the windowv-bars bore at men's eyes,] The virgin that shows her bosom through the lattice of her chamber,

Fohnson. Dr Johnson's explanation is almost confirmed by the following passage in Gyonbeline :

or let her beauty
Look through a casement to allure false hearts,

" And be false with them.” Shakspeare at the same time might aim a stroke at this indecency in the wantons of his own time, which is also animadverted on by several contemporary dramatists. So, in the ancient interlude of The Repentance of Marie Magdalene, 1567:

* Your garment must be worne alway,
“ That your white pappes may be seene if you may.-
“If young gentlemen may see your white skin,

It will allure them to love, and soon bring them in.
“ Both damsels and wives use many such feates.

“ I know them that will lay out their faire teates." All this is addressed to Mary Magdalen Steevens.

I do not believe any particular satire was here intended. Lady Suffolk, Lady Somerset, and many of the celebrated beauties of the time of James 1, are thuis represented in their pictures; nor were they, I imagine, thought more reprehensible than the ladies of the present day, who from the same extravagant pursuit of what is called fashion, run into an opposite extreme. Malone.

I have not hitherto met with any ancient portrait of a modest

Are not within the leaf of pity writ,
Set them down horrible traitors: Spare not the babe,
Whose dimpled smiles from fools exhaust their mercy;"
Think it a bastard, 1 whom the oracle
Hath doubtfully pronounc'd thy throat shall cut,
And mince it sans remorse: Swear against objects;
Put armour on thine ears, and on thine eyes;
Whose proof, nor yells of mothers, maids, nor babes,
Nor sight of priests in holy vestments bleeding,
Shall pierce a jot. There's gold to pay thy soldiers:
Make large confusion; and, thy fury spent,
Confounded be thyself! Speak not, be gone.
Alcib. Ilast thou gold yet? I'll take the gold thou giv'st

me, Not all thy counsel. Tim. Dost thou, or dost thou not, heaven's curse upon


English woman, in which the papille exerte were exhibited as de. scribed on the present occasion by Shakspeare; for he alludes not only to what he has called in his celebrated Song, “the bills of snow,” but to the “pinks that grow” upon their summits.

Steevens, I believe we should read nearly thus :

nor those milk-paps,
That through the widow's barb bore at men's eyes,

Are not within the leaf of pity writ. The use of the doubled negative is so common in Shakspeare, that it is unnecessary to support it by instances. The barbe, I be. lieve, was a kind of veil. Cressida, in Chaucer, who appears as a widow, is described as wearing a barbe. Troilus and Cressida, Book II, 4. 110, in which place Caxton's edition (as I learn from the Glossary) reads--wimple, which certainly signifies a veil, and was probably substituted as a synonymous word for barbe, the more antiquated reading of the manuscripts. Unbarbed is used by Shakspeare for uncovered, in Coriolanus, Act III, sc. v:

“ Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?". See also Leland's Collectanea, Vol. V, p. 317, new edit. where the ladies, mourning at the funeral of Queen Mary, are mentioned as having their barbes above their chinnes. Tyrwhitt. 8 Set them down -] Old copy, in defiance of metre

But set them down. Steevens.

exhaust their mercy;] For exhaust, Sir Thomas Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read-extort; but exhaust herc sig. nifies literally to draw forth. Fohnson.

bastard, ] An allusion to the tale of Oedipus. Johnson.

thy throat --] Old copy--the throat. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malone.




Phr. & Timan. Give us some gold, good Timon: Hast

thou more? Tim. Enough to make a whore forswear her trade, And to make whores, a bawd.3 Hold up, you sluts, Your aprons mountant: You are not oathable,Although, I know, you 'll swear, terribly swear, Into strong shudders, and to heavenly agues, The immortal gods that hear you,“—spare your oaths, I 'll trust to your conditions:5 Be whores still; And he whose pious breath seeks to convert you, Be strong in whore, allure him, burn him up; Let your close fire predominate his smoke, And be no turncoats:6 Yet may your pains, six months, Be quite contrary:? And thatch your poor thin roofs8

3 And to make whores, a bawd.] That is, enough to make a: whore leave whoring, and a bawd leave making whores. Johnson.

4 The immortal gods that hear you,] The same thought is found in Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, sc. iii:

“ Though you with swearing shake the throned gods." Again, in The Winter's Tale: “Though you would seek to unsphere the stars with oaths.”

Steevens. 5 I'll trust to your conditions:] You need not swear to continue: whores, I will trust to your inclinations. Johnson..

See Vol. IX, p. 374, n. 9. Malone.

Timon, I believe, does not mean their dispositions but their vocations, and accordingly conjures them to be whores still.

M. Masona 6 And be no turncoats: ] By an old statute, those women who lived in a state of prostitution, were, among other articles concerning their dress, enjoined to wear their garments, with the wrong-side outward, on pain of forfeiting them. Perhaps there is in this pas. sage a reference to it. Henley.

I do not perceive how this explanation of-turncoat, will accord with Timon's train of reasoning; yet the antiquary may perhaps derive satisfaction from that which affords no assistance to the commentator.

Steevens. ? Yet may your pains, six months,

Be quite contrary :) This is obscure, partly from the ambiguity of the word pains, and partly from the generality of the expression. The meaning is this: he had said before, follow constantly your trade of debauchery: that is (says he) for six months in the year. Let the other six be employed in quite contrary pains and labour, namely, in the severe discipline necessary for the repair of those disorders that your debaucheries occasion, in order to fit you anew to the trade; and thus let the whole year be spent in.

With burdens of the dead ;-some that were hang'd,

these different occupations. On this account he goes on, and says, Make false hair, &c. Warburton.

The explanation is ingenious, but I think it very remote, and would willingly bring the author and his readers to meet on ea. sier terms. We may read:

Yet may your pains six months

Be quite contraried: -. Timon is wishing ill to mankind, but is afraid lest the whores should imagine that he wishes well to them; to obviate which he lets them know, that he imprecates upon them influence enough to plague others, and disappointments enough to plague themselves. He wishes that they may do all possible mischief, and yet take pains six months of the year in vain.

In this sense there is a connection of this line with the next. Finding your pains contraried, try new expedients, thatch your thin roofs, and paint.

To contrary is an old verb. Latimer relates, that when he went to court, he was advised not to contrary the King. Johnson.

If Dr. Johnson's explanation be right, which I do not believe, the present words appear to me to admit it, as well as the reading he would introduce. Such unnecessary deviations from the text should ever be avoided. Dr. Warburton's is a very natural interpreiation, which cannot often be said of the expositions of that commentator. The words that follow fully support it: “ And thatch your poor thin roofs," &c. i.e. after you have lost the greater part of your hair by disease, and the medicines that for six months you have been obliged to take, then procure an artifi. cial covering, &c. Malone.

I believe this means, -Yet for half the year at least, may you suffer such punishment as is inflicted on harlots in houses of correction. Steevens.

These words should be inclosed in a parenthesis. Johnson wishes to connect them with the following sentences, but that cannot be, as they contain an imprecation, and the following lines contain an instruction. Timon is giving instructions to those women; but, in the middle of his instructions, his misanthropy breaks forth in an imprecation against them. I have no objection to the reading of contraried, instead of contrary, but it does not seem to be necessary. M. Mason.

-thatch your poor thin roofs &c. ] About the year 1595, when the fashion became general in England of wearing a greater quantity of hair than was ever the produce of a single head, it was dangerous for any child to wander, as nothing was more common than for women to entice such as had fine locks into private places, and there to cut them off. I have this information from Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, which I have often quoted on the article of dress. To this fashion the writers of Sbakspeare's age do not appear to have been reconciled. So, in A Mad World my Masters,


No matter :-wear them, betray with them: whore still;
Paint till a horse

upon your

face: A pox of wrinkles !

Phr. & Timan. Well, more gold;- What then?
Believe 't, that we 'll do any thing for gold.

Tim. Consumptions sow
In hollow bones of man; strike their sharp shins,
And mar men's spurring.. Crack the lawyer's voice,
That he may never more false title plead,
Nor sound his quillets shrilly :: hoar the flamen,

1608: "6

to wear perriwigs made of another's hair, is not this against kind?” Again, in Drayton's Mooncalf:

“ And with large sums they stick not to procure
Hair from the dead, yea, and the most unclean;

“To help their pride they nothing will disdain.” Again, in Shakspeare's 68th Sonnet:

“ Before the golden tresses of the dead,
“ The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,
“ To live a second life on second head,

“Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay." Again, in Churchyard's Tragicall Discours of a dolorous Gentlewoman, 1593:

“The perwickes fine must curle wher haire doth lack

“The swelling grace that fils the empty sacke." Warner, in his Albion's England, 1602, Book IX, ch. xlvii, is likewise very severe on this fashion. Stowe informs us, that “women's periwigs were first brought into England about the time of the massacre of Paris.” Steevens.

- men's spurring.) Sir Thomas Hanmer reads-sparring, properly enough, if there be any ancient example of the word.

Fohnson. Spurring is certainly right. The disease that enfeebled their shins would have this effect. Steevens.

i Nor sound his quillets shrilly:) Quillets are subtilties. So, in Law Tricks, &c. 1608: “- a quillet well applied !" Steevens.

Cole, in his Latin Dictionary, 1679, renders quillet, res frivola recula. Malone.

-hoar the flamen,) Mr. Upton would read-hoarse, i. e. make hoarse; for to be hoary claims reverence. “ Add to this (says he) that hoarse is here most proper, as opposed to scolds. It may, however, mean, Give the flamen the hoary leprosy.” So, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623:

-shew like leprosy, “ The whiter the fouler." And before, in this play:

“ Make the hoar leprosy ador'd.” Steevene.


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