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Shame, that they wanted cunning, in excess
Which nature loaths,) take thou the destin'd tenth;
Let die the spotted.
All have not offended;
For those that were, it is not square,5 to take,
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.
A 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 they wanted, coming in excess,
Hath broke their hearts.
Shame which they had so long wanted, at last coming in its utmost excess Johnson
I think that Theobald has, on this occasion, the advantage of Johnson. When the old reading is clear and intelligible, we should not have recourse to correction.-Cunning was not, in Shakspeare's time, confined to a bad sense, but was used to express knowledge or understanding M. Mason.
5 — not square,] Not regular, not equitable. Johnson.
revenges:] Old copy-revenge. Corrected by Mr. Steevens. See the preceding speech. Malone.
thy Athenian cradle,] Thus Ovid, Met. VIII, 99:
8 But kill not all together.] The old copy reads-altogether. Mr. M. Mason suggested the correction I have made. Steevens.
What thou wilt,
Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile,
Than hew to 't with thy sword.
Set but thy foot
Against our rampir'd gates, and they shall ope;
To say, thou 'It enter friendly.
Throw thy glove,
any token of thine honour else, That thou wilt use the wars as thy redress, And not as our confusion, all thy powers Shall make their harbour in our town, till we Have seal'd thy full desire.
Alcib. Then there's my glove; Descend, and open your uncharged ports: Those enemies of Timon's, and mine own, Whom you yourselves shall set out for reproof, Fall, and no more: and,-to atone your fears With my more noble meaning,1-not a man Shall pass his quarter, or offend the stream Of regular justice in your city's bounds, But shall be remedied,3 to your publick laws
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, "Either not assail'd, or victor, being charg'd." Malone. 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."
2- not a man
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
'Tis most nobly spoken.
At heaviest answer.
Alcib. Descend, and keep your words.4
The Senators descend, and open the Gates.
Sold. My noble general, Timon is dead;
Alcib. [reads] Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:
Seek not my name: A plague consume you wicked caitiffs
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.
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.
caitiffs 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 caitiffe daies expired now and past, My carren corps enterred here, is graspt in ground, "In weltring waves of swelling seas by sourges caste; "My name if thou desire, the gods thee doe confound!"
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
Hereafter more.-Bring me into your city,
Make war breed peace; make peace stint war;9 make each
7 — our brain's flow,] Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton read,-brine's flow. Our brains flow is our tears; but we may read, our brine's flow, our salt tears. Either will serve.
Johnson. Our brain's flow is right. So, in Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606: "I shed not the tears of my brain."
Again, in The Miracles of Moses, by Drayton:
"But he from rocks that fountains can command,
"Cannot yet stay the fountains of his brain." Steevens.
8 on faults forgiven ] Alcibiades's whole speech is in breaks, betwixt his reflections on Timon's death, and his addresses to the Athenian Senators: and as soon as he has commented on the place of Timon's grave, he bids the Senate set forward; tells 'em, he has forgiven their faults; and promises to use them with mercy. Theobald.
I suspect that we ought to read:
One fault's forgiven.—Dead
Is noble Timon; &c.
One fault (viz. the ingratitude of the Athenians to Timon) is forgiven, i. e. exempted from punishment by the death of the injured person. Tyrwhitt.
The old reading and punctuation appear to me sufficiently intelligible. Mr. Theobald asks, " why should Neptune weep over Timon's faults, or indeed what fault had he committed?" The faults that Timon committed, were, 1. that boundless prodigality which his Steward so forcibly describes and laments; and 2. his becoming a Misanthrope, and abjuring the society of all men for the crimes of a few.-Theobald supposes that Alcibiades bids the Senate set forward, assuring them at the same time that he forgives the wrongs they have done him. On:-Faults forgiven. But how unlikely is it, that he should desert the subject immediately before him, and enter upon another quite different subject, in these three words; and then return to Timon again? to say nothing of the strangeness of the phrase-faults forgiven, for "faults are forgiven." Malone.
―stint war;] i. e. stop it. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen:
'gan the cunning thief
"Persuade us die, to stint all further strife." Steevens.
Prescribe to other, as each other's leech.'—
leech.]i. e. physician. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen: "Her words prevail'd, and then the learned leech "His cunning hand 'gan to his wounds to lay
2 The play of Timon is a domestick tragedy, and therefore strongly fastens on the attention of the reader. In the plan there is not much art, but the incidents are natural, and the characters various and exact. The catastrophe affords a very powerful warning against that ostentatious liberality, which scatters bounty, but confers no benefits, and buys flattery, but not friendship.
In this tragedy, are many passages perplexed, obscure, and probably corrupt, which I have endeavoured to rectify, or explain with due diligence; but having only one copy, cannot promise myself that my endeavours shall be much applauded.
This play was altered by Shadwell, and brought upon the stage in 1678. In the modest title-page he calls it Timon of Athens, or the Man-hater, as it is acted at the Duke's Theatre, made into a Play. Steevens.
END OF VOL. XV.