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Nay, that's most fix'd. Mer. A most incomparable man; breath'd, as it
Jew. I have a jewel here.
thatPoet”. When we for recompense have prais’d the
'Tis a good form.
[Looking at the Jewel. Jew. And rich: here is a water, look you. Pain. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some
dedication To the great lord. Poet.
A thing slipp'd idly from me. Our
poesy is a gum, which oozes From whence 'tis nourished: The fire i'the flint Shows not, till it be struck; our gentle flame
breath'd, as it were,
He passes.' Breath'd is exercised, inured by constant practice, so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse is to exercise him for the course: continuate for continued course.
i.e. exceeds or goes beyond common bounds. Why this passes, Master Ford.'
Merry Wives of Windsor. 4 Touch the estimate, that is, come up to the price.
5 We must here suppose the poet busy in reciting part of his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addressed to Timon. 6 The old copies read :
* Our poesie is a gowne which uses.'
Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies
there? Pain. A picture, sir.—And when comes your
book forth? 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 9 and excellent. Pain. Indifferent. Poet.
Admirable: How this grace
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life.
say It tutors nature: artificial strife 12 Lives in these touches, livelier than life.
7 It is not certain whether this word is chafes or chases in the folio. I think the former is the true reading. The poetaster means that the vein of a poet flows spontaneously, like the current of a river, and flies from each bound that chafes it in its course, as scorning all impediment, and requiring no excitement, In Julius Cæsar we have:
• The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores.' 8 i. e. as soon as my book has been presented to Timon.
9 This comes off well apparently means this is cleverly done, or this piece is well executed. The phrase is used in Measure for Measure ironically. See vol ii. p. 23, note 12.
10 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. 11 One might venture to supply words to such intelligible action. Such significant gesture ascertains the sentiments that should accompany it. So in Cymbeline, Act ii. Sc. 4:
never saw I pictures
So likely to report themselves.' 12 i. e. the contest of art with nature. This was a very common mode of expressing the excellence of a painter. Shakspeare has it again more clearly expressed in his Venus and Adonis :
• His art with nature's workmanship at strife.'
Enter certain Senators, and pass over.
of visitors 13.
: no levell’d malice
Pain. How shall I understand you?
I'll unbolt 17 to you.
To Apemantus, that few things loves better
13 · Mane salutantum totis vomit ædibus undam.'
14 So in Measure for Measure we have, · Tbis under generation ;' and in King Richard III. the lower world.
15 My design does not stop at any particular character.
16 An allusion to the Roman practice of writing with a style on tablets, covered with wax : a custom which also prevailed in England until about the close of the fourteenth century.
17 i. e. open, explain.
19 One who shows by reflection the looks of his patron. The poet was mistaken in the character of Apemantus; but seeing that he paid frequent visits to Timon, he naturally concluded that he was equally courteous with his other guests.
Than to abhor himself: even he drops down
I saw them speak together.
'Tis conceiv'd to scope 21. This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks, With one man beckon'd from the rest below, Bowing his head against the steepy mount To climb his happiness, would be well express'd In our condition 22. Poet.
Nay, sir, but hear me on: All those which were his fellows but of late (Some better than his value), on the moment Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance, Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear 23,
20 i. e. to improve or promote their conditions. See vol. ii. p. 14, pote 6.
21 i. e. extensively imagined, largely conceived.
22 i. e. in our art, in painting. Condition was used for profession, quality; façon de faire. See vol. i. p. 145, note 14.
23 Whisperings of officious servility, the incense of the worshiping parasite to the patron as a god. Gray has excellently expressed in his Elegy these sacrificial offerings to the great from the poetic tribe :
* To heap the shrine of luxury and pride
Make sacred even his stirrop, and through him
Ay, marry, what of these ? Poet. When Fortune, in her shift and change of
mood, Spurns down her late belov'd, all his dependants, Which labour'd after him to the mountain's top, Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down, Not one accompanying his declining foot.
Pain. 'Tis common : A thousand moral paintings I can show, That shall demonstrate these quick blows of fortune More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well, To show Lord Timon, that mean eyes Thę foot above the head.
25 have seen
Trumpets sound. Enter Timon, attended; the Ser
vant of Ventidius talking with him. Tim.
Imprison’d is he, say you? Ven. Serv. Ay, my good lord: five talents is his
debt; His means most short, his creditors most strait : Your honourable letter be desires To those have shut him up; which failing to him, Periods 26 his comfort. Tim.
Noble Ventidius! Well;
To drink the air,' like the haustos ætherios of Virgil, is merely a poetic phrase for draw the air, or breathe. To drink the free air,' therefore, through another,' is to breathe freely at his will only, so as to depend on him for the privilege of life; not even to breathe freely without his permission.
25 i. e. inferior spectators.
26 To period is perhaps a verb of Sbakspeare's coinage. It is used by Heywood, after him, in A Maidenhead Well Lost, 1634 :
*How easy could I period all my care.' And in The Country Girl, by T. B. 1647 :
• To period our vain grieving."