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What's on this tomb I cannot read; the character
Before the Walls of Athens. Trumpets sound. Enter ALCIBIADES, and Forces. Alcib. Sound to this coward and lascivious town Our terrible approach.
[.A Parley sounded. Enter Senators on the Walls. Till now you have gone on, and fill’d the time With all licentious measure, making your wills The scope of justice; till now, myself, and such As slept within the shadlo:y of your power, Have wander'd with our travers'd arms, 5 and breath'd Our sufferance vainly: Now the time is flush,6 When crouching marrow, in the bearer strong, Cries, of itself, No more:7 now breathless wrong Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease;
The foregoing observations are acute in the extreme, and I have not scrupled to adopt the reading they recommend. Steevens,
-travers’d arms,] Arms across. Johnson. The same image occurs in The Tempest:
“ His arms in this sad knot. Steevens.
- the time is flush,] A bird is flush when his feathers are grown, and he can leave the nest. Flush is mature. Johnson. 7 When crouching marrow, in the bearer strong,
Cries, of itself, No more :) The marrow was supposed to be the original of strength. The image is from a camel kneeling to take up his load, who rises immediately when he finds he has as much laid on as he can bear. Warburton.
Pliny says, that the camel will not carry more than his accustomed and usual load. Holland's translation, B. VIII, c. xviii.
Reed. The image may as justly be said to be taken from a porter or coal-heaver, who when there is as much laid upon his shoulders as he can bear, will certainly cry, no more. Malone.
I wish the reader may not find himself affected in the same manner by our commentaries, and often concur in a similar ex clamation. Steevens,
And pursy insolence shall break his wind,
Noble, and young,
So did we woo
These walls of ours
Nor are they living, Who were the motives that you first went out;3
8 Above their quantity.] Their refers to rages
Warburton. Their refers to griefs. “ To give thy rages balm,” must be considered as parenthetical. The modern editors have substituted ingratitudes for ingratitude. Malone. 9 So dic que woo Transformed Timon to our city's love, By humble message, and by promis'd means; ]
Promis'd means must import the recruiting of his sunk fortunes; but this is not all The senate had wooed him with humble message, and promise of general reparation. This seems included in the slight change which I have made:
and by promis'd mends. Theobald. Dr. Warburton agrees with Mr. Theobald, but the old reading mav as well stand. Johnson.
B. proinis'l means, is my promising him a competent subsist. ence. So, in King Henry IV, P. II: "Your means are very slender, and your waste is great." Malone.
1 You have receiv’d your griefs: ] The old copy has-grief; but as the Senator in his preceding speech uses the plural, grief was probably here an error of the press. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. Malone.
2 For private faults in them.] That is, in the persons from Witom vou have received your griefs. Malone.
the motives that you first went out;] i. e. those who made
Shame, that they wanted cunning, in excess
All have not offended;
the motion for your exile. This word is as perversely employed in Troilus and Cressida:
her wanton spirits look out “ At every joint and motive of her body.” Steevens. 4 Shame, that they wanted cunning, in excess
Hath broke their hearts.] Shame in excess (i. e. extremity of shame) that they wanted cunning (i. e. that they were not wise enough not to banish you) hath broke their hearts. Theobald
I have no wish to disturb the manes of Theobald, yet think some emendation may be offered that will make the construction less harsh, and the sentence more serious. I read :
Shame that thev wanted, coming in excess,
Hath broke their hearts.
not square,] Not regular, not equitable. Johnson. 6-revenges:) Old copy-revenge. Corrected by Mr. Steevens. See the preceding speech. Malone.
-thy Athenian cradle,] Thus Ovid, Met. VIIT, 99:
- Jovis incunabula Crete.” Steevens. 8 But kill not all together.] The old copy reads-altogether. Mt. M. Mason suggested the correction I have made. Steevens.
What thou wilt,
Set but thy fool
Throw thy glove;
Then there's my glove ;
not a man
uncharged ports: ] That is, unguarded gates. Johnson. So, in King Henry IV, Part II:
“ That keep'st the ports of slumber open wide.” Steevens. Uncharged means unattacked, not unguarded. M. Mason. Mr. M. Mason is right. So, in Shakspeare's 70th Sonnet:
“ Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days,
to atone your fears With my more noble meaning, ) i. e. to reconcile them to it. So, in Cymbeline : “I was glad I did atone my countryman and you.”
Steevens. 2 Shall pass
his quarter,] Not a soldier shall quit his station, or be let loose upon you; and, if any commits violence, he shall answer it regularly to the law. Johnson.
3 But shall be remedied,] The construction is, But he shall be remedied; but Shakspeare means, that his offence shall be remedied, the word offence being included in offend in a former line. The editor of the second folio, for to, in the last line but one of this speech, substituted by, which all the subsequent editors adopted. Malone.
I profess my inability to extract any determinate sense from these words as they stand, and rather suppose the reading in the
At heaviest answer.
'Tis most nobly spoken.
Enter a Soldier. Sold. My noble general, limon is dead; Entomb'd upon the very hem o'the sea: And, on his grave-stone, this insculpture; which With wax I brought away, whose soft impression Interprets for my poor ignorance.5 Alcib. [reads] Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched
soul bereft: Seek not my name : A plague consume you wicked caitiff's
left!6 Here lie I Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate : Pass by, and curse thy fill; but pass, and stay not here
thy gait. These well express in thee thy latter spirits: Though thou abhorr’dst in us our human griefs, Scorn’dst our brain's flow, and those our droplets which
second folio to be the true one. To be remedied by, affords a glimpse of meaning: to be remedied to, is “the blanket of the dark.” Steevens.
4 Descend, and keep your words. ] Old copy-Defend. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
--for my poor ignorance. ] Poor is here used as a dissyllable, as door is in The Merchant of Venice. Malone.
caitiff's left!! This epitaph is found in Sir T. North's translation of Plutarch, with the difference of one word only, viz. wretches instead of caitiffs. Steevens
This epitaph is formed out of two distinct epitaphs which Shakspeare found in Plutarch. The first couplet is said by Plutarch to have been composed by Timon himself as his epitaph; the second to have been written by the poet Callimachus.
Perhaps the slight variation mentioned by Mr Steevens, arose from our author's having another epitaph before him, which is found in Kendal's Flowers of Epigrammes, 1577, and in Painter's Palace of Pleasure, Vol. I, Nov 28:
“ TIMON HIS EPITAPHE. “My wretched cartiffe daies expired now and past, 66 My carren corps enterred here, is graspt in ground, 5 In weltring waves of swelling seas by sourges caste; "My name if thou desire, the gods thee doe confound!"