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I clear'd him with five talents: Greet him from me; Bid him suppose, some good necessity
Touches his friend, which craves to be remember'd With those five talents:-that had,-[TO FLAV.] give it these fellows
To whom 'tis instant due. Ne'er speak, or think, That Timon's fortunes 'mongst his friends can sink. FLAV. I would, I could not think it'; That thought is bounty's foe;
Being free2 itself, it thinks all others so. [Exeunt.
ACT III. SCENE 1.
The Same. A Room in LUCULLUS's House.
FLAMINIUS waiting. Enter a Servant to him. SERV. I have told my lord of you, he is coming down to you.
9 Bid him suppose, some GOOD necessity
Touches his friend,] Good, as it may afford Ventidius an opportunity of exercising his bounty, and relieving his friend, in return for his former kindness :-or, some honest necessity, not the consequence of a villainous and ignoble bounty. I rather think this latter is the meaning. MALONE.
"If his occasion were not virtuous,
"I should not urge it half so faithfully."
I would, I could not THINK IT, &c.] I concur in opinion with some other editors, that the words-think it, should be omitted. Every reader will mentally insert them from the speech of Timon, though they are not expressed in that of Flavius. The laws of metre, in my judgment, should supersede the authority of the players, who appear in many instances to have taken a designed ellipsis for an error of omission, to the repeated injury of our author's versification. I would read:
"I would, I could not: That thought's bounty foe-."
Is liberal, not parsimonious.
: FLAM. I thank you, sir.
SERV. Here's my lord.
LUCUL. [Aside.] One of lord Timon's men? a gift, I warrant. Why, this hits right; I dreamt of à silver bason and ewer to-night. Flaminius, honest Flaminius; you are very respectively welcome, sir.-Fill me some wine.-[Exit Servant.] And how does that honourable complete, freehearted gentleman of Athens, thy very bountiful good lord and master ?
FLAM. His health is well, sir.
LUCUL. I am right glad that his health is well, sir: And what hast thou there under thy cloak, pretty Flaminius ?
FLAM. 'Faith, nothing but an empty box, sir; which, in my lord's behalf, I come to entreat your honour to supply; who, having great and instant occasion to use fifty talents, have sent to your lord
a silver BASON and EWER -] A bason and ewer seem to have been furniture of which much account was made in our author's time. They were usually of silver, and probably the fashion of these articles was more particularly attended to, because they were regularly exhibited to the guests before and after dinner, it being the custom to wash the hands at both those times. See vol. v. p. 466. So, in The Taming of the Shrew, vol. v. p. 429:
my house within the city
"Is richly furnished with plate and gold ;
"Basons and ewers to lave her dainty hands."
So, also, in The Returne from Parnassus: "Immerito his gifts have appeared in as many coloures, as the rayn-bowe, first to maister Amoretto in colour of the sattine suite he weares: to my lady in the similitude of a loose gowne: to my maister in the likenesse of a silver bason and ewer." MALONE.
very RESPECTIVELY welcome, sir.] i. e. respectfully. So, in King John, Act I. Sc. I. :
""Tis too respective, and too sociable." STEEVENS.
ship to furnish him; nothing doubting your present assistance therein.
LUCUL. La, la, la, la,-nothing doubting, says he? alas, good lord! a noble gentleman 'tis, if he would not keep so good a house. Many a time and often I have dined with him, and told him on't; and come again to supper to him, of purpose to have him spend less; and yet he would embrace no counsel, take no warning by my coming. Every man has his fault, and honesty is his; I have told him on't, but I could never get him from it.
Re-enter Servant, with Wine.
SERV. Please your lordship, here is the wine. LUCUL. Flaminius, I have noted thee always wise. Here's to thee.
FLAM. Your lordship speaks your pleasure.
LUCUL. I have observed thee always for a towardly prompt spirit,-give thee thy due, and one that knows what belongs to reason: and canst use the time well, if the time use thee well: good parts in thee.-Get you gone, sirrah.—[To the Servant, who goes out.]-Draw nearer, honest Flaminius. Thy lord's a bountiful gentleman: but thou art wise; and thou knowest well enough, although thou comest to me, that this is no time to lend money; especially upon bare friendship, without security. Here's three solidares for thee; good boy, wink at me, and say, thou saw'st me not. Fare thee well. FLAM. Is't possible, the world should so much differ;
5 Every man has his fault, and HONESTY is his ;] Honesty does not here mean probity, but liberality. M. MASON.
three SOLIDARES] I believe this coin is from the min
of the poet.
And we alive, that liv'd'? Fly, damned baseness, To him that worships thee.
[Throwing the money away. LUCUL. Ha! Now I see, thou art a fool, and fit
for thy master.
FLAM. May these add to the number that may scald thee!
Let molten coin be thy damnation
Thou disease of a friend, and not himself!
Has friendship such a faint and milky heart,
7 And we alive, that liv'd?] i. e. And we who were alive then, alive now. As much as to say, in so short a time.
8 Let molten coin be thy damnation,] Perhaps the poet alludes to the punishment inflicted on M. Aquilius by Mithridates. In The Shepherd's Calendar, however, Lazarus declares himself to have seen in hell"a great number of wide cauldrons and kettles, full of boyling lead and oyle, with other hot metals molten, in the which were plunged and dipped the covetous men and women, for to fulfill and replenish them of their insatiate covetise."
Again, in an ancient bl. 1. ballad, entitled, The Dead Man's Song:
"And ladles full of melted gold
"Were poured downe their throotes."
Mr. M. Mason thinks that Flaminius more "probably alludes to the story of Marcus Crassus and the Parthians, who are said to have poured molten gold down his throat, as a reproach and punishment for his avarice." STEEVENS.
9 Thou DISEASE of a friend,] So, in King Lear:
"Or rather, a disease," &c.
1 It TURNS in less than two nights ?]
or acescence of milk. JOHNSON.
Alluding to the turning
2 passion!] i. e. suffering. So, in Macbeth:
"You shall offend him, and extend his passion."
i. e. prolong his suffering. STEEvens.
3 Unto his HONOUR,] Thus the old copy. What Flaminius seems to mean is,―This slave (to the honour of his character)
Why should it thrive, and turn to nutriment,
O, may diseases only work upon't!
And, when he is sick to death, let not that part of nature 5
Which my lord paid for, be of any power
To expel sickness, but prolong his hour! [Exit.
has, &c. The modern editors read-Unto this hour, which may be right. STEEVENS.
I should have no doubt in preferring the modern reading, "unto this hour," as it is by far the stronger expression, so probably the right one. M. MASON.
Mr. Ritson is of the same opinion.
to death,] If these words, which derange the metre, were omitted, would the sentiment of Flaminius be impaired?
5 of NATURE -] So the common copies. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads-nurture. JOHNSON.
Of nature is surely the most expressive reading. Flaminius considers that nutriment which Lucullus had for a length of time received at Timon's table, as constituting a great part of his animal system. STEEVENS.
6 HIS hour!] i. e. the hour of sickness. His for its.
His in almost every scene of these plays is used for its, but here, I think, his hour" relates to Lucullus, and means his life. If my notion be well founded, we must understand that the Steward wishes that the life of Lucullus may be prolonged only for the purpose of his being miserable; that sickness may "play the torturer by small and small," and "have him nine whole years in killing."-" Live loath'd and long!" says Timon in a subsequent scene; and again :
"Decline to your confounding contraries,
"And yet confusion live!”
This indeed is nearly the meaning, if, with Mr. Steevens, we understand" his hour" to mean "the hour of sickness : " and it must be owned that a line in Hamlet adds support to the interpretation :
"This physick but prolongs thy sickly days." MALONE. Mr. Malone's interpretation may receive further support from a passage in Coriolanus, where Menenius says to the Roman Sentinel "Be that you are, long; and your misery increase with your age." STEEVENS.