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My knowing, Timon has been this lord's father,
3 Stran. Religion groans at it.
For mine own part, I never tasted Timon in my life, Nor came any of his bounties over me, To mark me for his friend; yet, I protest, For his right noble mind, illustrious virtue, And honourable carriage, Had his necessity made use of me, I would have put my wealth into donation, And the best half should have return’d to him, a
“He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish." St. Matthew, xxvi, 23. Steevens.
1 in respect of his,] i. e. considering Timon's claim for wliat he asks. Warburton.
In respect of his fortune: what Lucius denies to Timon is in proportion to what Lucius possesses, less than the usual alms given by good men to beggars. Johnson.
Does not his refer to the lip of Timon? Though Lucius him. self drink from a silver cup which was Timon's gift to him, he refuses to Timon, in return, drink from any cup. Henley. 2 I would have put my wealth into donation,
And the best half should have return'd to him,] Sir Thomas Hanmer reads:
I would have put my wealth into partition,
And the best half should have attorn'd to him, , Dr. Warburton receives attorn’d. The only difficulty is in the word return'd, which, since he had receiv'd nothing from him, cannot be used but in a very low and licentious meaning.
Johnson. Had his necessity made use of me, I would have put my fortune into a condition to be alienated, and the best half of what I had gained myself, or received from others, should have found its way to him. Ei. ther such licentious exposition must be allowed, or the passage remain in obscurity, as some readers may not choose to receive Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation.
The following lines, however, in Hamlet, Act II, sc. ii, per.
So much I love his heart: But, I perceive,
all others? He might have tried lord Lucius, or Lucullus; And now Ventidius is wealthy too,
suades me that my explanation of-put my wealth into donationis somewhat doubtful:
“ Put your dread pleasures more into command
“ Than to entreaty.” Again, in Cymbeline, Act III, sc. iv:
“ And mad'st me put into contempt the suits
“Of princely fellows,' &c. Perhaps the stranger means to say, I would have treated my wealth as a present originally received from him, and on this occasion have returned him the half of that whole for which I sup. posed myself to be indebted to his bounty. Lady Macbeth has nearly the same sentiment:
“Still to return your own." Steevens. The difficulty of this passage arises from the word return'd. Warburion proposes to read attorn'd; but that word always relates to persons, not to things. It is the tenant that attorns, not the lands. The meaning of this passage appears to be this:-" Though I never tasted of Timon's bounty, yet I have such an esteem for his virtue, that had he applied to me, I should have considered my wealth as proceeding from his donation, and have returned half of it to him again.” To put his wealth into donation, means, to put it down in account as a donation, to suppose it a donation.
M. Mason: I have no doubt that the latter very happy interpretation given. by Mr. Steevens is the true one. Though (says the speaker) I never tasted Timon's bounty in my life, I would bave supposed my whole fortune to have been a gift from him, &c. So, in the common phrase,--Put yourself [i. e. suppose yourself] in my place. The passages quoted by Mr. Steevens fully support the phraseinto donation
“ Return'd to him” necessarily includes the idea of having come from him, and therefore can not mean simply found its way, the interpretation first given by Mr. Steevens. Malone.
Whom he redeem'd from prison :3 All these three
() iny lord,
How! have they denied him? Has Ventidiuso and Lucullus denied him? And does he send to me? Three? humph
I am dissatisfied with my former explanation ; which arose from my inattention to a sense in which our author very frequent. ly uses the verb-to return; i. e. to reply. Thus, in King Richard II:
“ Northumberland, say- thus the king returns; Again, in Troilus and Cressida:
" Returns to chiding fortune :" i. e. replies to it. Again, in King Henry V : “
The Dauphin “ Returns us--that his powers are not yet ready." The sense of the passage before us therefore will be :-The best half of my wealth should have been the reply I would have made to Timon: I would have answered his requisition with the best half of what I am worth. Steevens.
3 And now Ventidius is wealthy too,
Whom he redeem'd from prison:) This circumstance likewise occurs in the anonymous unpublished comedy of Timon:
“() yee ingrateful! have I freed yee
From bonds in prison, to requite me thus,
“ To trample ore mee in my misery?” Malone. 4 these thiree - The word three was inserted by Sir . Hanmer to complete the measure; as was the exclamation , for the same reason, in the following speech. Stecvens.
5 They have all been touchd,] That is, tried, alluding to the touchstone. Johnson. So, in King Richard III:
“O Buckingham, now do I play the touch,
“ To try, if thou be current gold, indeed." Steevens. 6 Has Ventidius &c.} With this mutilated and therefore rugged speech no ear accustomed to harmony can be satisfied. Sir Thomas Harmer thus reforms the first part of it:
Have Lucius, and Ventidius, and Lucullus,
Denied him all? and does he send to me?
Denied him, say you ? and does he send to me?
It shos &c. But I can only point out metrical dilapidations which I profess my inability to repair. Steevens.
It shows but little love or judgment in him.
7 His friends, like physicians,
Thrive, give him over ;] Sir Thomas Hanmer reads, try'd, plausibly enough. Instead of three proposed by Mr. Pope, I should read thrice. But perhaps the old reading is the true.
Fohnson. Perbaps we should read-shriv'd. They give him over shrio'd; that is, prepared for immediate death by shrift. Tyrwhitt.
Perhaps the following passage in Webster's Dutchess of Malfi, is the best comment after all :
" Their patients.” The passage will then mean:" His friends, like physicians, thrive by his bounty and fees, and either relinquish, and forsake him, or give his case up as desperate." To give over in The Taming of the Shrew has no reference to the irremediable condition of a patient, but simply means to leave, to forsake, to quit :
“ And therefore let me be thus bold with you
“Unles you will accompany me tbither.” Steerens. 8 And I amongst the lords be thought a fool.] [Old copy-and 'mongst lords be thought a fool.] The personal pronoun was inserted by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
I have changed the position of the personal pronoun, and added the for the sake of metre, which, in too many parts of this play, is incorrigible. Steevens. 9 I had such a courage --] Such an ardour, such an eager desire.
Fohnson. 1 Excellent! &c.] I suppose the former part of this speech to have been originally written in verse, as well as the latter; though the players have printed it as prose (omitting several syllables
And with their faint reply this answer join;
Serv. Excellent! Your lordship's a goodly villain. The devil knew not what he did, when he made man politick; he crossed himself by 't: and I cannot think, but, in the end, the villainies of man will set him clear.2 How fairly
necessary to the metre) it cannot now be restored without sucli additions as no editor is at liberty to insert in the text. Steevens.
I suspect no omission whatsoever here. Malone.
2 The devil knew not what he did, when he made man politick; he crossed himself by 't: and I cannot think, but, in the end, the villainics of man will set him clear.] I cannot but think, that the negative not has intruded into this passage, and the reader will think so too, when he reads Dr. Warburton's explanation of the next words. Johnson.
will set him clear. ] Set him clear does not mean acquit him before heaven; for then the devil must be supposed to know what he did; but it signifies puzzle him, outdo bim at his own weapons.
Warburton. How the devil, or any other being, should be set clear by being juzzled and outdone, the commentator has not explained. When in a crowd we would have an opening made, we say, Stand clear, that is, out of the way of danger. With some affinity to this use, though not without great harshness, to set clear, may be to set aside. But I believe the original corruption is the insertion of the negative, which was obtruded by some transcriber, who supposed crossed to mean thwarted, when it meant, exempted from evil. The use of crossing by way of protection or purification, was probably not worn out in Shakspeare's time. The sense of set clear is now easy; he has no longer the guilt of tempting man. To cross himself may mean, in a very familiar sense, to clear his score, to get out of debt, to quit his reckoning. He knew not what he did, may mean, he knew not how much good he was doing himself. There is no need of emendation. Johnson.
Perhaps Dr. Warburton's explanation is the true one. Clear is an adverb, or so used; and Dr. Johnson's Dictionary observes, that to set means, in Addison, to embarrass, to distress, to perplex.-If then the devil made men politick, he has thwarted his own interest, because the superior cunning of man will at last puzzle him, or be above the reach of his temptations. Tollet.
Johnson's explanation of this passage is nearly right; but I don't see how the insertion of the negative injures the sense, or why that should be considered as a corruption. Servilius means to say, that the devil did not foresee the advantage that would arise to bimself from thence, when he made men politick He redeemed himself by it; for men will, in the end, become so much more villainous than he is, that they will set him clear; he will appear innocent when compared to them. Johnson has rightly exVOL. XV.