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Strange times, that weep with laughing, not with weep


Flav. I beg of you to know me, good my lord,
To accept my grief, and, whilst this poor wealth lasts,
To entertain me as your steward still.

Tim. Had I a steward so true, so just, and now
So comfortable? It almost turns
My dangerous nature wild.s Let me behold
Thy face.-Surely, this man was born of woman.-

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Johnson certainly is right in reading-Pity sleeping. The following line proves it: « Alcib. on thy low grave, on faults forgiven.”

M. Mason. Pity's sleeping:] So, in Daniel's second Sonnet, 1594: “Waken her sleeping pity with your crying." Malone.

It almost turris My dangerous nature wild.) i. e. It almost turns my dangerous nature to a dangerous nature; for, by dangerous nature is meant wildness. Shakspeare wrote:

It almost turns my dangerous nature mild. i. e. It almost reconciles me again to mankind. For fear of that, he puts in a caution immediately after, that he makes an exception but for one man. To which the Oxford editor says, rectè.

Warburton. This emendation is specious, but even this may be controverted. To turn wild is to distract. An appearance so unexpected, says Timon, almost turns my savazeness to distraction. Accord. ingly he examines with nicety lest his phrenzy should deceive him:

Let me behold “ Thy face.-Surely, this man was born of woman, And to this suspected disorder of the mind be alludes:

“ Perpetual-sober gods!” Ye powers whose intellects are out of the reach of perturbation.

Fohnson. He who is so much disturbed as to have no command over his actions, and to be dangerous to all around him, is already distracted, and therefore it would be idle to talk of turning such "a dangerous nature wild:" it is wild already. Besides, the baseness and ingratitude of the world might very properly be mentioned as driving Timon into frenzy: (So, in Antoriy and Cleopatra:

“ The ingratitude of this Seleucus does

“Even make me wild.) but surely the kindness and fidélity of his Steward was more likely to soften and compose him; that is, to render his dangerous nature mild. I therefore strongly incline to Dr. Warburton's emen. dation. Malone,

Forgive my general and exceptless rashness,
Perpetual-sobere gods! I do proclaim
One honest man-mistake me not,—but one;
No more, I pray,--and he is a steward.-
How fain would I have hated all mankind,
And thou redeem'st thyself: But all, save thee,
I fell with curses.
Methinks, thou art more honest now, than wise;
For, by oppressing and betraying me,
Thou might'st have sooner got another service:
For many so arrive at second masters,
Upon their first lord's neck. But tell me true,
(For I must ever doubt, though ne'er so sure,)
Is not thy kindness subtle, covetous,
If not a usuring1 kindness; and as rich men deal giftsin
Expecting in return twenty for one?

Flav. No, my most worthy master, in whose breast
Doubt and suspect, alas, are plac'd too late :
You should have fear'd false times, when you did feast
Suspect still comes where an estate is least.
That which I show, heaven knows, is merely love,
Duty and zeal to your unmatched mind,
Care of your food and living: and, believe it,
My most honour'd lord,
For any benefit that points to me,
Either in hope, or present, I'd exchange
For this one wish, That you had power and wealth
To requite me, by making rich yourself.

Tim. Look thee, 'tis so!- Thou single honest man,

9 Perpetual-sober -] Old copy, unmetrically

You perpetual &c. Steevens. 1 If not a usuring -] If not seems to have slipt in here, by an error of the press, from the preceding line. Both the sense and : metre would be better without it: Tyrwhitt.'

I do not see any need of change. Timon asks Has not thy kind. ness some covert design? Is it not proposed with a view to gain some equivalent in return, or rather to gain a great deal more than thou offerest? Is it not at least the offspring of avarice, if not of something worse, of usury? In this there appears to me no difficulty.

Malone, My opinion most perfectly coincides with that of Mr. Týrwhitt. The sense of the line, with or without the contested words, is nearly the same; yet, by the omission of them, the metre wouldı become sufficiently regular. Steevens.

Here, take :- the gods out of my misery
Have sent thee treasure. Go, live rich, and happy :
But thus condition'd; Thou shalt build from men ;
Hate all, curse all: show charity to none;
But let the famish'd flesh slide from the bone,
Ere thou relieve the beggar: give to dogs
What thou deny'st to men; let prisons swallow them,
Debts wither them :3 Be men like blasted woods,
And may diseases lick up their false bloods!
And so, farewel, and thrive.

0, let me stay,
And comfort you, my master.

If thou hat'st Curses, stay not; fly, whilst thou 'rt bless'd and free: Ne'er see thou man,

and let me ne'er see thee.

[Exeunt severally.

ACT V ..... SCENE I.

The same. Before Tinion's Cave.

Enter Poet and Painter;4 TIMON behind, unscen. Pain. As I took note of the place, it cannot be far where he abides.

- from men;] Away from human habitations. Fohnsora. 3 Debts wither them:] Old copy:

Debts wither them to nothing:I have omitted the redundant words, not only for the sake of me.. tre, but because they are worthless. Our author has the same phrase in Antony and Cleopatra:

Age cannot wither her, -.” Steevens. 4 Enter Poet and Painter;] The Poet and the Painter were with -in view when Apemantus parted from Timon, and might then have seen Timon, since Apemantus, standing by him could see them :But the scenes of the Thieves and Steward have passed before their arrival, and yet passed, as the drama is now conducted, within their view. It might be suspected, that some scenes. are transposed, for all these difficulties would be removed by introducing the Poet and Painter first, and the thieves in this place.. Yet I am afraid the scenes must keep their present order, for the Painter alludes to the Thieves when he says, he likewise enriched poor straggling soldiers with great quantity. This impropriety is now heightened by placing the Thieves in one Act, and ihe Poet and.

Poet. What's to be thought of him? Does the ru. mour hold for true, that he is so full of gold?

Pain. Certain : Alcibiades reports it; Phrynia and Timandra had gold of him : he likewise enriched poor straggling soldiers with great quantity: 'Tis said, he gave unto his steward a mighty sum.

Poet. Then this breaking of his has been but a try for his friends.

Pain. Nothing else : you shall see him a palm in Athens again, and flourishs with the highest. Therefore, 'tis not amiss, we tender our loves to him, in this

Painter in another: but it must be remembered, that in the ori. ginal edition this play it not divided into separate Acts, so that the present distribution is arbitrary, and may be changed if any convenience can be gained, or impropriety obviated by alteration.

Fohnson. In the immediately preceding scene, Flavius, Timon's steward, has a conference with his master, and receives gold from him. Between this and the present scene, a single minute cannot be supposed to pass; and yet the Painter tells his companion :-"Tis said he gave his steward a mighty sum. Where was it said? Why in Athens, whence, it must therefore seem, they are but newly come. Here then should be fixed the commencement of the fifth Act, in order to allow time for Flavius to return to the city, and for rumour to publish his adventure with Timon. But how are we in this case to account for Apemantus's announcing the ap. proach of the Poet and Painter in the last scene of the preceding Act, and before the Thieves appear? It is possible, that when this play was abridged for representation, all between this passage, and the entrance of the Poet and Painter, may have been omitted by the players, and these words put into the mouth of Apemantus to introduce them; and that when it was published at large, the interpolation was unnoticed. Or, if we allow the Poet and Painter to see Apemantus, it may be conjectured that they did not think his presence necessary at their interview with Timon, and had therefore returned back into the city. Ritson.

I am afraid, many of the difficulties which the commentators on our author have employed their abilities to remove, arise from the negligence of Shakspeare himself, who appears to have been less attentive to the connection of his scenes, than a less hasty writer may be supposed to have been. On the present occasion I have changed the beginning of the Act. It is but justice to observe, that the same regulation has already been adopted by Mr. Capell. Reed.

5a palm – and flourish &c.] This allusion is scriptural, and occurs in Psalm xcii. 11: “The righteous shall fourish like 2. palix-tree.” Steegens.

supposed distress of his: it will show honestly in us; and is very likely to load our purposes with what they travel for, if it be a just and true report that goes of his having

Poet. What have you now to present unto him?

Pain. Nothing at this time but my visitation : only I will promise him an excellent piece.

Poet. I must serve him so too; tell him of an intent that's coming toward him.

Pain. Good as the best. Promising is the very air o'the time: it opens the eyes of expectation: performance is ever the duller for his act; and, but in the plainer and simpler kind of people, the deed of saying is quite out of use. To promise is most courtly and fashionable: performance is a kind of will, or testament, which argues a great sickness in his judgment that makes it.

Tim. Excellent workman! Thou canst not paint a man so bad as is thyself.

Poet. I am thinking, what I shall say I have provided for him: It must be a personating of himself: a satire against the softness of prosperity; with a discovery of the infinite flatteries, that follow youth and opulency.

Tim. Must thou needs stand for a villain in thine own work? Wilt thou whip thine own faults in other men? Do so, I have gold for thee.

Poet. Nay, let's seek him:
Then do we sin aguinst our own estate,
When we may profit meet, and come too late.

Pain. True;

the deed of saying is quite out of use.] The doing of that which we have said we would do, the accomplishment and performance of our promise, is, except among the lower classes of mankind, quite out of use. So, in King Lear :

- In my true heart “ I find she names my very deed of love." Again, more appositely, in Hamlet:

As he, in his peculiar act and force,

May give his saying deed." Mr. Pope rejected the words-of saying, and the four following editors adopted his licentious regulation. Malone.

I claim the merit of having restored the old reading. Steevens.

? It must be a personating of himself:] Personating, for representing simply. For the subject of this projected satire was Ti. mon's case, not his person. Warburton.

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