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0! thou shalt find
A fool of thee: Depart.
Thou flatter'st misery. Apem. I flatter not; but say, thou art a caitiff. Tim. Why dost thou seek me out? Anem.
To vex thee, 5 Tim. Always a villain's office, or å fool's. Dost please thyself in 't? Anem.
What! a knave too? Apem. If thou didst put this sour-cold habit on To castigate thy pride, 'twere well: but thou Dost it enforcedly; thou ’dst courtier be again, Wert thou not beggar. Willing misery Outlives incertain pomp, is crown'd before:The one is filling still, never complete; The other, at high wish: Best state, contentles.. Hath a distracted and most wretched being, Worse than the worst, content.
5 To rex thee.) As the measure is here imperfect, we may suppose, with Sir Thomas Hanmer, our author to have written:
Only to vex thee. Steevens. 6 What! a knave too?] Timon had just called Apemantus fool, in consequence of what he had known of him by former acquaintance; but when Apemantus tells him, that he comes to vex him, Timon determines that to vex is either the office of a villain or a fool; that to vex by design is villainy, to vex without design is folly. He then properly asks Apemantus whether he takes delight in vexing, and wben he answers, yes, Timon replies,-What! aknave too? I before only knew thee to be a fool, but now I find thee likewise a knave Yohnson.
is crown'd before:) Arrives sooner at high wish; that is, at the completion of its wishes. Johnson. So, in a former scene of this play:
“ And in some sort these wants of mine are crown'd,
That I account then blessings.” Again, more appositely, in Cymbeline :
my supreme crown of grief.” Malone. 8 Worse than the worst, content.] Best states contentless have a wretched being, a being worse than that of the worst of states that are content. Johnson. VOL. XV.
Thou should'st desire to die, being miserable.
Tim. Not by his breath, that is more miserable. Thou art a slave, whom Fortune's tender arm With favour never clasp’d; but bred a dog.1 Hadst thou, like us, 2 from our first swath,3 proceeded
- by his breath, ) It means, I believe, by his counsel, by his direction. Fohnson.
By his breath, I believe, is meant his sentence. To breathe is as licentiously used by Shakspeare in the following instance from Hamlet :
“ Having ever seen, in the prenominate crimes,
“ The youth you breathe of, guilty,” &c. Steevens. By his breath means in our author's language, by his voice or *peech, and so in fact by his sentence. Shakspeare frequently uses the word in this sense. It has been twice so used in this play. See p. 383, n. 4. Malone.
but bred a dog. ) Alluding to the word Cynick, of which sect Apemantus was. Warburton.
For the etymology of Cynick, our author was not obliged to have recourse to the Greek language. The dictionaries of his time fur. nished him with it. See Cawdrey's Dictionary of hard English Words, octavo, 1604: “CYNICAL, Doggish, froward.” Again, in Bullokar's English Expositor, 1616: “ CYNICAL, Doggish, or currish. There was in Greece an old sect of philosophers so called, because they did ever sharply barke at men's vices,” &c. After all, however, I believe Shakspeare only meant, thou wert born in a low state, and used from thy infancy to hardships. Malone.
2 Hadst thou, like us,] There is in this speech a sullen haughtiness, and malignant dignity, suitable at once to the lord and the man-hater. The impatience with which he bears to have his luxury reproached by one that never had luxury within his reach, is natural and graceful.
There is in a letter, written by the Earl of Essex, just before his execution, to another nobleman, a passage somewhat resembling this, with which, I believe, every reader will be pleased, though it is so serious and solemn that it can scarcely be inserted without irreverence:
“God grant your lordship may quickly feel the comfort I now enjoy in my unfeigned conversion, but that you may never feel the torments I have suffered for my long delaying it. I had none but vleceivers to call upon me, to whom I said, if my ambition could have entered into their narrow breasts, they would not have been so humble; or if my delights had been once tasted by them, they would not have been so precise. But your lordship hath one to call upon you, that knoweth what it is you now enjoy; and what the greatest fruit and end is of all contentment that this world can afford Think, therefore, dear earl, that I have staked and buoyed all the ways of pleasure unto you, and left them as sea-marks for you to keep the channel
The sweet degrees that this brief world affords
of religious virtue. For shut your eyeš never so long, they must be open at the last, and then you must say with me, there is no peace to the ungodly." Johnson.
- first swath,) From infancy. Swath is the dress of a newborn child. Johnson. So, in Heywood's Golden Age, 1611 :
“No more their cradles shall be made their tombs,
“ Nor their soft swaths become their winding-sheets." Again, in Chapman's translation of Homer's Hymin 10 Apollo :
swaddled with sincere “ And spotless swath-bands;
Steevens. * The sweet degrees -] Thus the folio. The modern editors have, without authority, read-Through &c. but this neglect of the preposition was common to many other writers of the age of Shakspeare. Steevens.
5 To such as may the passive drugs of it -] Though the modern editors agree in this reading, it appears to me corrupt. The epi. thet passive is seldom applied, except in a metaphorical sense, to inanimate objects; and I cannot well conceive what Timon can mean by the passive drugs of the world, unless be means every thing that the world affords.
But in the first folio the words are not "passive drugs," but "passive drugges." This leads us to the true reading-drudges, which improve the sense, and is nearer to the old reading in the trace of the letters,
Dr. Johnson says in his Dictionary, that a drug means a drudge, and cites this passage as an instance of it. But he is surely mistaken; and I think it is better to consider the passage as errone. ous, than to acknowledge, on such slight authority, that a drug signifies a drudge. M. Mason.
- command,] Old copy-command'st. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
- precepts of respect,] Of obedience to laws. Johnson. Respect, I believe, means the qu'en dira't on? the regard of Athens, that strongest restraint on licentiousness: the icy precepts, i. e. that cool hot blood; what Mr. Burke, in his admirable Reflections on the Revolution in France, has emphatically styled “one of the greatest controuling powers on earth, the sense of fame and estimation." Steevens.
Timon cannot mean by the word respect, obedience to the laws, as Johnson supposes; for a poor man is more likely to be im.
The sugar'd game before thee. But myself,
pressed with a reverence for the laws, than one in a station of nobility and affluence. Respect may possibly mean, as Steevens supposes, a regard to the opinion of the world: but I think it has a more enlarged signification, and implies a consideration of consequences, whatever they may be. In this sense it is used by TIamlet:
There 's the respect “ That makes calamity of so long life.” M. Mason. “ The icy precepts of respece" mean the cold admonitions of cautious prudence, that deliberately weighs the consequences of every action. So, in Troilus and Cressida :
Reason and respect
But myself,] The connection here requires some atten. tion. But is here used to denote opposition; but what imme. diately precedes is not opposed to that which follows. The adver. sative particle refers to the two first lines:
Thou art a slave, whom fortune's tender arm
than I could frame employment;] i. e. frame employment fur. Shakspeare frequently writes thus. Malone.
that poor rag,) If we readpoor rogue, it will correspond rather better to what follows. Fohnson.
In King Richard III, Margaret calls Gloster rag of honour; in the same play, tbe overweening rags of France are mentioned ; and John Florio speaks of a “tara-rag player." Steevens. We now use the word ragamuffin in the same sense.
M. Mason. The term is yet used. The lowest of the people are yet deno.
Must be thy subject; who, in spite, put stuff
Art thou proud yet?
1, that I was No prodigal.
Tim. I, that I am one now;
[Eating a Root. Apem.
Here; I will mend thy feast.
[Offering him something Tim. First mend my company, 3 take away thyself.4 Apem. So I shall mend mine own, by the lack of thine.
minated-Tag, rag, &c. So, in Fulius Cæsar : “ – if the tag-rag people did not clap him and hiss him, I am no true man.”
Malone. 2 Thou hadst been a knave, and flatterer.] Dryden has quoted two verses of Virgil to show how well he could have written satires. Shakspeare has here given a specimen of the same power by a line bitter beyond all bitterness, in which Timon tells' Apemantus, that he had not virtue enough for the vices which he condemns.
Dr. Warburton explains worst by lowest, which somewhat weak-ens the sense, and yet leaves it sufficiently vigorous.
I have heard Mr. Burke commend the subtilty of discrimination with which Shakspeare distinguishes the present character of Timon from that of Apemantus, whom to vulgar eyes he would now resemble. Fohnson.
Knade is here to be understood of a man who endeavours to recommend himself by a hypocritical appearance of attention, and superfluity of fawning officiousness; such a one as is called in King Lear, a sinical superserviceable rogue:- If he had had virtue enough to attain the profitable vices, he would have been profitably vicious
Steevens. 3 First mend my company, ] The old copy reads-mend thy come pany. The correction was made by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
take away thyself.] This thought seems to have been adopted from Plutarch's Life of Antony. It stands thus in Sir Thomas North's translation: “ Apemantus said unto the other,, O, here is a trimme banket, Timon. Timon aunswered againe, , yea, said he, so thou wert not here." Steevens.