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Which manifold record not matches? See, Magick of bounty! all these spirits thy power Hath conjur❜d to attend. I know the merchant. PAIN. I know them both; t' other's a jeweller. MER. O, 'tis a worthy lord!
Nay, that's most fix'd. MER. A most incomparable man; breath'd, as it
To an untirable and continuate goodness":
Johnson supposes that there is some error in this passage, because the Poet asks a question, and stays not for an answer; and therefore suggests a new arrangement of it. But there is nothing more common in real life than questions asked in that manner. And with respect to his proposed arrangement, I can by no means approve of it; for as the Poet and the Painter are going to pay their court to Timon, it would be strange if the latter should point out to the former, as a particular rarity, which manifold record could not match, a merchant and a jeweller, who came there on the same errand. M. MASON.
The Poet is led by what the Painter has said, to ask whether any thing very strange and unparalleled had lately happened, without any expectation that any such had happened;—and is prevented from waiting for an answer by observing so many conjured by Timon's bounty to attend. See, Magick of bounty!"
&c. This surely is very natural. MALONE.
S BREATH'D, as it were,
To an untirable and CONTINUATE goodness:] Breathed is inured by constant practice; so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse, is to exercise him for the course.
So in Hamlet:
"It is the breathing time of day with me." STEevens. continuate This word is used by many ancient English writers. Thus, by Chapman, in his version of the fourth book of the Odyssey:
"Her handmaids join'd in a continuate yell."
Again, in the tenth book:
"With one continuate rock :-." STEEVENS.
He PASSES.] i. e. exceeds, goes beyond common bounds. So in The Merry Wives of Windsor:
"Why this passes, master Ford." STEEVENS.
MER. O, pray, let's see't: For the lord Timon,
JEW. If he will touch the estimate: But, for that-
POET. When we for recompense have prais'd the
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.
'Tis a good form.
JEW. And rich: here is a water, look you. PAIN. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.
A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes1
From whence 'tis nourished: The fire i' the flint Shows not, till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies
Each bound it chafes 2.
7 He passes.
I have a jewel here.]
What have you there?
The syllable wanting in this line
might be restored by reading
"He passes.-Look, I have a jewel here." STEEVENS. touch the estimate:] Come up to the price. JOHNSON. 9 When we for recompense, &c.] We must here suppose the poet busy in reading in his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addressed to Timon, which he afterwards gives the Painter an account of. WARBurton.
'-which OOZES] The folio copy reads-which uses. The modern editors have given it—which issues. JOHNSON.
Gum and issues were inserted by Mr. Pope; oozes by Dr. John
The two oldest copies read
"Our poesie is as a gowne which uses."
and like a current, flies
Each bound it CHAFES.] Thus the folio reads, and rightly. In later editions-chases.
This speech of the Poet is very obscure. He seems to boast the copiousness and facility of his vein, by declaring that verses
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 the" se sequiturque fugitque" of the Roman poet. Somewhat similar occurs in The Tempest:
"Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
"When he pursues." STEEVENS.
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 :
"Provokes itself, and like the current flies;
"Each bound it chafes."
Our gentle flame animates itself; it flies like a current; and obstacle serves but to increase its force. M. MASON. In Julius Cæsar we have
"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, "With raging billowes flies against the rocks,
"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 by Sir T. Hanmer, to perfect the measure. STEEVENS.
POET. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir. Let's see your piece.
PAIN. 'Tis a good piece.
POET. So 'tis: this comes off well and excel
Admirable: How this grace
4 Upon the heels, &c.] As soon as my book has been presented to lord Timon.
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 :
66 9 Tis grace indeed."
7-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." STEEVENS.
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 This eye shoots forth! how big imagination
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, where he says of Raphael:
"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.
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,