There is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it.

Read more at http://quotes.dictionary.com/There_is_no_man_hath_a_virtue_that#Zyr8HucJpTARHcgA.99

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about historical English - this might be on-topic at English Language & Usage – jimsug Jul 26 '14 at 23:32
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    @StoneyB No. But you've no evidence to support your assertion, as the OP has provided none. You cannot assume that the issue is lack of context, it could just as easily be the dated language used. In the same way, you're assuming that I'm forbidding language learners from having an interest in Shakespeare, where I was merely pointing out that this is off-topic, as defined by our help center. I would suggest to the OP that they add more information about what they are having trouble with. – jimsug Jul 27 '14 at 0:00
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it does not identify any particular issues or concerns regarding the text. – Esoteric Screen Name Jul 27 '14 at 1:17
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    I'm not sure Old English or Middle English should really be on-topic. I'm okay with Early Modern English, though. – snailcar Jul 27 '14 at 3:56
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    Here's my take: If someone wants to ask a question about Shakespeare, fine. However, the question should be more than "What does this mean?" and should provide research. What words has the O.P. looked up already? What parts are still not understood? Which words are particularly vexing? Also, it wouldn't hurt if the O.P. added a caveat, saying something like, "I know this isn't modern English, but I'm still very much interested in this particular phrase." Put another way, I wouldn't vote to close this question because it asks about The Bard, but I might because of how it asks about The Bard. – J.R. Jul 27 '14 at 9:54

You have to consult the context to understand what is being said here. The two hes in this sentence do not refer to the preceding no man and any man but to the topic of Alexander's speech, the very complex Greek hero Ajax:

This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their particular additions; he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant: a man into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his valour is crushed into folly, his folly sauced with discretion: there is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it ...

The part you ask about may be paraphrased:

There is no virtue, in any man, that Ajax does not have at least a hint of; and there is no vice, in any man, that Ajax is not to some extent tainted with.

  • @user8153 Sort of. The point is that Ajax has, in some degree, all qualities which anybody has. That entails, logically, that everybody has some of Ajax' qualities, too; but Alexander is not interested in that. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 27 '14 at 0:01
  • @user8153 Exactly. Today we would say Nor does any man have an attaint without... – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 27 '14 at 10:37