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In pity of our aged, and our youth,
have throats to answer; for myself, There's not a whittle7 in the unruly camp, But I do prize it at my love, before The reverend’st throat in Athens. So I leave you To the protection of the prosperous gods 8, As thieves to keepers. Flav.
Stay not, all's in vain. Tim. Why, I was writing of my epitaph, It will be seen to-morrow; My long sickness Of health, and living, now begins to mend, And nothing brings me all things. Go, live still; Be Alcibiades your plague, you his, And last so long enough! 1 Sen.
We speak in vain. Tim. But yet I love my country; and am not One that rejoices in the common wreck, As common bruit 10 doth pút it. 1 Sen.
That's well spoke. Tim. Commend me to my loving countrymen,1 Sen. These words become your lips as they pass
through them. 2 Sen. And enter in our ears, like great triumphers In their applauding gates.
7 A whittle is a clasp knife. The word is still provincially in use.
8 • The prosperous gods' undoubtedly here mean the propitious or favourable gods, Dii secundi. Thus in Othello, Act i. Sc. 3:
* To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear.' In which passage the quarto of 1622 reads' a gracious ear. So in The Winter's Tale, Act ii. Sc. 3:
Sir, be prosperous In more than this deed doth require.' 9 He means “the disease of life begins to promise me a period.' 10 Report, rumour.
Commend me to them; And tell them, that, to ease them of their griefs, Their fears of hostile strokes, their aches, losses, Their
pangs of love 11, with other incident throes That nature's fragile vessel doth sustain In life's uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do
them: I'll teach them to prevent wild Alcibiades' wrath.
2 Sen. I like this well, he will return again.
Tim. I have a tree, which grows here in my close, That mine own use invites me to cut down, And shortly must I fell it; Tell my friends, Tell Athens, in the sequence of degree, From high to low throughout, that whoso please To stop affliction, let him take his haste, Come hither, ere my tree hath felt the axe, And hang himself 12 :- I pray you, do my greeting. Flav. Trouble him no further, thus you still shall
find him. Tim. Come not to me again: but say to Athens, Timon hath made his everlasting mansion Upon the beached verge of the salt flood; Whom once a day with his embossed froth 13 The turbulent surge
11 Compare this part of Timon's speech with part of the celebrated soliloquy in Hamlet.
12 This was suggested by a passage in Plutarch's Life of Antony, where it is said Timon addressed the people of Athens in similar terms from the public tribune in the market place. See also The Palace of Pleasure, vol. i. Nov. 28.
13 The first folio reads who. It was altered to which in the second folio. Malone reads whom, saying it refers to Timon, and not to his grave; as appears from The Palace of Pleasure:-*
- By his last will he ordained himselfe to be interred upon the sea shore, that the waves and surges might beate and vexe his dead carcas.'
Embossed froth is foaming, puffed or blown up froth. See vol, iii. p. 342, note 7. Among our ancestors' a boss or a bubble of water when it raineth, or the pot seetheth,' were used indifferently.
And let my grave-stone be your oracle.-
[Exit TIMON. 1 Sen. His discontents are unremoveably Coupled to nature.
2 Sen. Our hope in him is dead: let us return, And strain what other means is left unto us In our dear1+ peril. 1 Sen.
It requires swift foot. [Exeunt.
The Walls of Athens.
Enter Two Senators, and a Messenger. 1 Sen. Thou hast painfully discover'd; are his files As full as thy report? Mess.
I have spoke the least: Besides, his expedition promises Present approach. 2 Sen. We stand much hazard, if they bring not
Timon. Mess. I met a courier, one mine ancient friend : Whom, though in general part we were oppos'd, Yet our old love made a particular force, And made us speak like friends1:—this man was
riding 14 So in Twelfth Night, Act v. Sc. 1, vol. i. p. 382:
· Whom thou in terms so bloody and so dear
Hast made thy enemies.' See note on that passage. Again, in Love's Labour's Lost, vol.ii.
· Deafʼd with the clamour of their own dear groans.' 1 This passage Steevens, with great reason, considers corrupt, the awkward repetition of the verb made, and the obscurity of the whole, countenances his opinion. Might we not read :
• Yet our old love had a particular force,
From Alcibiades to Timon's cave,
Enter Senators from Timon. 1 Sen.
Here come our brothers. 3 Sen. No talk of Timon, nothing of him expect. The enemies' drum is heard, and fearful scouring Doth choke the air with dust: in and
prepare; Ours is the fall, I fear, our foes, the snare. [Exeunt.
SCENE IV. The Woods. Timon's Cave, and a Tombstone seen.
Enter a Soldier, seeking Timon. Sol. By all description this should be the place. Who's here? speak, ho!-No answer?-What is
this? Timon is dead, who hath outstretch'd his span : Some beast rear'd this 1 ; there does not live a man. Dead, sure; and this his grave.What's on this tomb I cannot read; the character I'll take with wax. Our captain hath in every figure skill; An ag'd interpreter, though young in days: Before proud Athens be's set down by this, Whose fall the mark of his ambition is. [Exit.
1 The old copy has 'Some beast read this. The emendation is Warburton's. It is evident that the soldier, when he first sees Timon's everlasting dwelling, does not know it to be a tomb. He concludes Timon must be dead, because he receives no answer. It is evident that when he utters the words some beast, &c. he has not seen the inscription. What can this be? (says the soldier) Timon is certainly dead: Some beast must have rear'd this; a man could not live in it. Yes, he is dead sure enough, and this must be his tomb; What is this writing upon it ?'
SCENE V. 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.
ms?, and breath'd Our sufferance vainly: Now the time is flush?, When crouching marrow, in the bearer strong, Cries, of itself, No more: now breathless wrong Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease; And pursy
insolence shall break his wind,
Noble and young,
So did we woo
| Travers’d arms are arms crossed. The image occurs in The Tempest :
· His arms in this sad knot.' 2 Flush is mature, ripe, or come to full perfection.
3 Their refers to griefs. • To give thy rages balm’ must be considered as parenthetical.
* i.e. by promising him a competent subsistence.