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PAIN. A picture, sir.-When comes your book forth 3?
drop from a poet as gums from odoriferous trees, and that his flame kindles itself without the violence necessary to elicit sparkles from the flint. What follows next? that it like a current flies each bound it chafes. This may mean that it expands itself notwithstanding al obstructions: but the images in the comparison are so ill sorted and the effect so obscurely expressed, that I cannot but think something omitted that connected the last sentence with the former. It is well known that the players often shorten speeches to quicken the representation: and it may be suspected, that they sometimes performed their amputations with more haste than judgment. JOHNSON.
Perhaps the sense is, that having touched on one subject, it flies off in quest of another. The old copy seems to read
"Each bound it chases."
The letters fand are not always to be distinguished from each other, especially when the types have been much worn, as in the first folio. If chases be the true reading, it is best explained by these sequiturque fugitque-" of the Roman poet. Somewhat similar occurs in The Tempest:
"Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
The obscurity of this passage arises merely from the mistake of the editors, who have joined in one, what was intended by Shakspeare as two distinct sentences.-It should be pointed thus, and then the sense will be evident :
our gentle flame
"Provokes itself, and like the current flies;
Our gentle flame animates itself; it flies like a current; and
"The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores.-"
Again in The Legend of Pierce Gaveston, by Michael Drayton, 1594:
"Like as the ocean, chafing with his bounds,
"And to the shore sends forth his hideous sounds," &c.
This jumble of incongruous images, seems to have been designed, and put into the mouth of the Poetaster, that the reader might appreciate his talents: his language therefore should not be considered in the abstract. HENLEY.
AND when comes your book forth?] And was supplied STEEVENS. by Sir T. Hanmer, to perfect the measure.
POET. Upon the heels of my presentment 3, sir. Let's see your piece.
PAIN. 'Tis a good piece.
POET. So 'tis: this comes off well and excellent".
Admirable How this grace
Upon the heels, &c.] As soon as my book has been presented to lord Timon. JOHNSON. 5-presentment,] The patrons of Shakspeare's age do not appear to have been all Timons.
"I did determine not to have dedicated my play to any body, because forty shillings I care not for, and above, few or none will bestow on these matters." Preface to A Woman is a Weathercock, by N. Field, 1612. STEEVENS.
It should, however, be remembered, that forty shillings at that time were equal to at least six, perhaps eight, pounds at this day. MALONE.
6 'Tis a good piece.] As the metre is here defective, it is not improbable that our author originally wrote
""Tis a good piece, indeed."
So, in The Winter's Tale :
"'Tis grace indeed."
this comes OFF well and excellent.] The meaning is, the figure rises well from the canvas. C'est bien relevé. JOHNSON. What is meant by this term of applause I do not exactly know. It occurs again in The Widow, by Ben Jonson, Fletcher, and Middleton:
"It comes off very fair yet."
Again, in A Trick to Catch the Old One, 1608: "Put a good tale in his ear, so that it comes off cleanly, and there's a horse and man for us. I warrant thee.' Again, in the first part of Marston's Antonio and Mellida :
Fla. Faith, the song will seem to come off hardly.
Catz. Troth, not a whit, if you seem to come off quickly."
The same expression occurs in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II. Sc. I.: Now trust me, madam, it came hardly off;" and in Hamlet, Act III. Sc. II.: "Now this, overdone, has come tardy off." In these instances, and in those quoted by Mr. S. it seems to mean, what we now call getting through with a thing. We still say a man comes off with credit, when he acquits himself well; and such appears to be the Poet's meaning here.
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power
How this GRACE
Speaks his own STANDING!] This relates to the attitude of the figure, and means that it stands judiciously on its own centre. And not only so, but that it has a graceful standing likewise. Of which the poet in Hamlet, speaking of another picture, says: "A station, like the herald, Mercury, "New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill." which lines Milton seems to have had in view, Raphael :
where he says of
"At once on th' eastern cliff of Paradise "He lights, and to his proper shape returns. Like Maia's son he stood." WARBURTON. This sentence seems to be obscure, and, however explained, not very forcible. "This grace speaks his own standing," is only, "The gracefulness of this figure shows how it stands." I am inclined to think something corrupted. It would be more natural and clear thus:
Speaks his own graces!'
"How this posture displays its own gracefulness." But I will indulge conjecture further, and propose to read: How this grace
"Speaks understanding! what a mental power
The passage, to my apprehension at least, speaks its own meaning, which is, how the graceful attitude of this figure proclaims that it stands firm on its centre, or gives evidence in favour of its own fixure. Grace is introduced as bearing witness to propriety. A similar expression occurs in Cymbeline, Act II. Sc. IV. : never saw I figures
"So likely to report themselves." STEEVENS.
How this standing
I cannot reconcile myself to Johnson's or Warburton's explanations of this passage, which are such as the words cannot possibly imply. I am rather inclined to suppose, that the figure alluded to was a representation of one of the Graces, and, as they are always supposed to be females, should read the passage thus:
How this Grace (with a capital G)
Speaks its own standing —
This slight alteration removes every difficulty, for Steevens's explanation of the latter words is clearly right; and there is surely but little difference between its and his in the trace of the letters. This amendment is strongly supported by the pronoun this,
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture One night interpret".
PAIN. It is a pretty mocking of the life. Here is a touch; Is't good?
It tutors nature: artificial strife
prefixed to the word Grace, as it proves that what the Poet pointed out, was some real object, not merely an abstract idea. M. MASON.
I'll say of it,
9- to the dumbness of the gesture
One might INTERPRET.] The figure, though dumb, seems to have a capacity of speech. The allusion is to the puppet-shows, or motions, as they were termed in our author's time. The person who spoke for the puppets was called an interpreter. See a note on Hamlet, Act III. Sc. V. MALONE.
So, in Cymbeline, p. 84:
Rather-one might venture to supply words to such intelligible action. Such significant gesture ascertains the sentiments that should accompany it. STEEVEns.
never saw I pictures
"So likely to report themselves."
See Johnson's note on that passage. Boswell. artificial STRIFE-] Strife, for action or motion. WARBURTON.
Strife is either the contest of art with nature:
or it is the contrast of forms or opposition of colours. JOHNSON.
So, under the print of Noah Bridges, by Faithorne:
Faithorne, with nature at a noble strife,
"Hath paid the author a great share of life," &c.
And Ben Jonson, on the head of Shakspeare by Droeshout: "This figure which thou here seest put,
"It was for gentle Shakspeare cut:
"With nature, to out-doo the life." HENLEY.
That artificial strife means, as Dr. Johnson has explained it, 'the contest of art with nature,' and not the contrast of forms or opposition of colours,' may appear from our author's Venus and Adonis, where the same thought is more clearly expressed :
Enter certain Senators, and pass over.
PAIN. How this lord's follow'd!
POET. The senators of Athens :-Happy men 2!
PAIN. Look, more!
POET. You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors 3.
I have, in this rough work, shap'd out a man,
"Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In Drayton's Mortimeriados, printed I believe in 1596, (afterwards entitled The Barons' Wars,) there are two lines nearly resembling these:
"Done for the last with such exceeding life,
Happy MEN!] Mr. Theobald reads-happy man; and certainly the emendation is sufficiently plausible, though the old reading may well stand. MALone,
The text is right. The Poet envies or admires the felicity of the senators in being Timon's friends, and familiarly admitted to his table, to partake of his good cheer, and experience the effects of his bounty. RITSON.
this confluence, this great flood of visitors.]
Mane salutantûm totis vomit ædibus undam. JOHNSON. this BENEATH world -] So, in Measure for Measure, we have―" This under generation; and in King Richard II. :
the lower world." STEEVENS.
5 Halts not particularly,] My design does not stop at any single character.
In a wide sea of wax:] Anciently they wrote upon waxen tables with an iron style. HANmer.
I once thought with Sir T. Hanmer, that this was only an allusion to the Roman practice of writing with a style on waxen tablets; but it appears that the same custom prevailed in England about the year 1395, and might have been heard of by Shak