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The Same. A Publick Place.
Enter LUCIUS, with Three Strangers.
Luc. Who, the lord Timon? he is my very good friend, and an honourable gentleman.
1 STRAN. We know him for no less, though we are but strangers to him. But I can tell you one thing, my lord, and which I hear from common rumours; now lord Timon's happy hours are done and past, and his estate shrinks from him.
Luc. Fye no, do not believe it; he cannot want for money.
2 STRAN. But believe you this, my lord, that, not long ago, one of his men was with the lord Lucullus, to borrow so many talents; nay, urged extremely
7 We know him for no less,] That is, we know him by report to be no less than you represent him, though we are strangers to his person.' JOHNSON.
To know, in the present, and several other instances, is used by our author for-to acknowledge. So, in Coriolanus, Act V. Sc. V.: You are to know
"That prosperously I have attempted, and
8 -to borrow so MANY talents;] Such is the reading of the old copy. The modern editors read arbitrarily-" fifty talents." So many is not an uncommon colloquial expression for an indefinite number. The Stranger might not know the exact sum.
So, Queen Elizabeth to one of her parliaments: "And for me it shall be sufficient that a marble stone declare that a queen having reigned such a time, [i. e. the time that she should have reigned, whatever time that might happen to be,] lived and died a virgin."
So, Holinshed: "The bishop commanded his servant to bring
for't, and showed what necessity belonged to't, and yet was denied.
2 STRAN. I tell you, denied, my lord.
Luc. What a strange case was that? now, before the gods, I am ashamed on't. Denied that honourable man? there was very little honour showed in't. For my own part, I must needs confess, I have received some small kindnesses from him, as money, plate, jewels, and such like trifles, nothing comparing to his; yet, had he mistook him, and sent to me, I should ne'er have denied his occasion so many talents 2.
him the book bound in white vellum, lying in his study, in such a place." We should now write in a certain place.
Again, in the Account-book, kept by Empson in the time of Henry the Seventh, and quoted by Bacon in his History of that king:
Item, Received of such a one five marks, for a pardon to be procured, and if the pardon do not pass, the money to be re-paid." "He sold so much of his estate, when he came of age," (meaning a certain portion of his estate,) is yet the phraseology of Scotland. MALONE.
yet, had he MISTOOK him, and sent to me,] We should read mislook'd him, i. e. overlooked, neglected to send to him. WARBURTON.
I rather read, " yet had he not mistook him, and sent to me." JOHNSON.
Mr. Edwards proposes to read-" yet had he missed him." Lucius has just declared that he had had fewer presents from Timon, than Lucullus had received, who therefore ought to be the first to assist him. Yet, says he, had Timon mistook him, or overlooked that circumstance, and sent to me, I should not have denied, &c. STEEVENS.
That is, had he (Timon) mistaken himself and sent to me, I would ne'er,' &c. He means to insinuate that it would have been a kind of mistake in Timon to apply to a person who had received such trifling favours from him, in preference to Lucullus, who had received much greater; but if Timon had made that mistake, he should not have denied him so many talents.
SER. See, by good hap, yonder's my lord; I have sweat to see his honour.-My honoured lord,
[TO LUCIUS. Luc. Servilius! you are kindly met, sir. Fare thee well:-Commend me to thy honourable-virtuous lord, my very exquisite friend.
SER. May it please your honour, my lord hath
Luc. Ha! what has he sent ? I am so much endeared to that lord; he's ever sending: How shall I thank him, thinkest thou? And what has he sent now?
SER. He has only sent his present occasion now, my lord; requesting your lordship to supply his instant use with so many talents3.
"Had he mistook him," means, 'had he by mistake thought him under less obligations than me, and sent to me accordingly.'
I think with Mr. Steevens that him relates to Timon, and that mistook him is a reflective verb: had he mistook himself, or been mistaken. MALONE.
2 - denied his occasion so MANY talents.] i. e. a certain number of talents, such a number as he might happen to want. This passage, as well as a former, (see n. 8, p. 316,) shows that the text below is not corrupt. MALONE.
with so MANY talents.] Such again is the reading with which the old copy supplies us. Probably the exact number of talents wanted was not expressly set down by Shakspeare. If this was the case, the player who represented the character, spoke of the first number that was uppermost in his mind; and the printer, who copied from the playhouse books, put down an indefinite for the definite sum which remained unspecified. The modern editors read again in this instance, fifty talents. Perhaps the Servant brought a note with him which he tendered to Lucullus. STEEVENS.
There is, I am confident, no error. I have met with this kind of phraseology in many books of Shakspeare's age. In Julius
Luc. I know, his lordship is but merry with me; He cannot want fifty-five hundred talents. SER. But in the mean time he wants less, my lord.
If his occasion were not virtuous",
I should not urge it half so faithfully.
Luc. What a wicked beast was I, to disfurnish myself against such a good time, when I might have shown myself honourable! how unluckily it happened, that I should purchase the day before for a little part, and undo a great deal of honour"!
Cæsar, we have the phrase used here. Lucilius says to his adversary: "There is so much, that thou will kill me straight." MALONE. Virtuous, for strong,
4 If his occasion were not VIRTUOUS,] forcible, pressing. WARBURTON.
The meaning may more naturally be- If he did not want it for a good use.'
Dr. Johnson's explication is certainly right.-We had before: "Some good necessity touches his friend." MALONE.
half so FAITHFULLY.] Faithfully, for fervently. Therefore, without more ado, the Oxford editor alters the text to fervently. But he might have seen, that Shakspeare used faithfully for fervently, as in the former part of the sentence he had used virtuous for forcible. WARBURTON.
Zeal or fervour usually attending fidelity. MALOne.
6 That I should purchase the day before for a little PART, and undo a great deal of honour?] Though there is a seeming plausible antithesis in the terms, I am very well assured they are corrupt at the bottom. For a little part of what? Honour is the only substantive that follows in the sentence. How much is the antithesis improved by the sense which my emendation gives? "That I should purchase for a little dirt, and undo a great deal of honour!" THEOBALD.
This emendation is received, like all others, by Sir Thomas Hanmer, but neglected by Dr. Warburton. I think Theobald right in suspecting a corruption; nor is his emendation injudicious, though perhaps we may better read, "purchase the day before for a little park." JOHNSON.
I am satisfied with the old reading, which is sufficiently in our 5
Servilius, now before the gods, I am not able to do't; the more beast, I say.—I was sending to use lord Timon myself, these gentlemen can witness; but I would not, for the wealth of Athens, I had done it now. Commend me bountifully to his good lordship; and I hope, his honour will conceive the fairest of me, because I have no power to be kind : -And tell him this from me, I count it one of my greatest afflictions, say, that I cannot pleasure such an honourable gentleman. Good Servilius, will you befriend me so far, as to use mine own words to him?
SER. Yes, sir, I shall.
Luc. I will look you out a good turn, Servilius.[Exit SERVILIUS. True, as you said, Timon is shrunk, indeed; And he, that's once denied, will hardly speed. Exit LUCIUS. 1 STRAN. Do you observe this, Hostilius'?
author's manner. By purchasing what brought me but little honour, I have lost the more honourable opportunity of supplying the wants of my friend.' Dr. Farmer, however, suspects a quibble between honour in its common acceptation, and honour (i. e. the lordship of a place,) in a legal sense. See Jacob's Dictionary. STEEVENS.
I am neither satisfied with the amendments proposed, or with Steevens's explanation of the present reading; and have little doubt but we should read "purchase for a little port," instead of part, and the meaning will be-" How unlucky was I to have purchased but the day before, out of a little vanity, and by that means disabled myself from doing an honourable action." Port means show, or magnificence. M. MASON.
I believe Dr. Johnson's reading is the true one. 1 once suspected the phrase "purchase for;" but a more attentive examination of our author's works and those of his contemporaries, has shown me the folly of suspecting corruptions in the text, merely because it exhibits a different phraseology from that used at this day. MALONE.
Do you observe this, Hostilius?] I am willing to believe, for the sake of metre, that our author wrote:
"Observe you this, Hostilius?
Ay, too well." STEEVENS.