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Thy grave-flone daily: make thine epitaph, That death in me at others' lives may laugh. O thou fweet king-killer, and dear divorce
[Looking on the gold. 'Twixt natural fon and fire!" thou bright defiler Of Hymen's pureft bed! thou valiant Mars! Thou ever young, fresh, lov'd, and delicate wooer, Whose blufh doth thaw the confecrated fnow That lies on Dian's lap!3 thou vifible god, That folder'ft clofe impoffibilities,
And mak'ft them kifs! that fpeak'ft with every
To every purpofe! O thou touch of hearts! 4 Think, thy flave man rebels; and by thy virtue Set them into confounding odds, that beasts May have the world in empire!
'Would 'twere fo;
APEM. But not till I am dead!—I'll say, thou haft gold: Thou will be throng'd to fhortly.
3 Whose blush doth thaw the confecrated fnow
That lies on Dian's lap!] The imagery is here exquifitely
beautiful and fublime. WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton might have faid
Here is a very elegant turn given to a thought more coarfely expreffed in King Lear: yon fimpering dame,
"Whose face between her forks prefages fnow."
O thou touch of hearts!] Touch, for touchflone. So, in
King Richard III:
"O, Buckingham, now do I play the touch,
TIM. Thy back, I pr'ythee.
Live, and love thy mifery! TIM. Long live fo, and fo die!—I am quit.—
More things like men? 5-Eat,
[Exit APEMANTUS. Timon, and abhor
Enter Thieves. 6.
1. THIEF. Where fhould he have this gold? It is fome poor fragment, fome flender ort of his remainder: The mere want of gold, and the fallingfrom of his friends, drove him into this melancholy.
2. THIEF. It is nois'd, he hath a mals of treasure. 3. THIEF. Let us make the affay upon him? if he care not for't, he will fupply us eafily; If he covetously reserve it, how fhall's get it?
2. THIEF. True; for he bears it not about him, 'tis hid.
1. THIEF. Is not this he?
More things like men?] This line, in the old edition, is given to Apemantus, but it apparently belongs to Timon. Sir Thomas Hanmer has tranfpofed the foregoing dialogue according to his own mind, not unfkilfully, but with unwarrantable licence.
I believe, as the name of Apemantus was prefixed to this line, inftead of Timon, fo the name of Timon was prefixed to the preceding line by a fimilar miflake. That line feems more proper in the mouth of Apemantus; and the words-I am quit, seem to mark his exit. MALONE.
The words I am quit, in my opinion, belong to Timon, who means that he is quit or clear, has at laft god rid of Apemantus; is delivered from his company. This phrase is yet current among the vulgar. STEEVENS.
Enter Thieves.] The old copy reads,-Enter the Banditti.
2. THIEF. 'Tis his description. 3. THIEF. He; I know him. THIEVES. Save thee, Timon.. TIM. Now, thieves?
THIEVES. Soldiers, not thieves.
TIM. Both too; and women's fons.
THIEVES. We are not thieves, but men that much do want.
TIM. Your greatest want is, you want much of
you want much of meat.] Thus both the player and poetical editor have given us this paffage; quite fand-blind, as honeft Launcelot fays, to our author's meaning. If these poor thieves wanted meat, what greater want could they be curfed with, as they could not live on grafs, and berries, and water? but I dare warrant the poet wrote:
- you much want of meet.
i. e. Much of what you ought to be; much of the qualities befitting you as human creatures. THEOBALD.
Such is Mr. Theobald's emendation, in which he is followed by Dr. Warburton. Sir T. Hanmer reads:
you want much of men.
They have been all bufy without neceffity. Obferve the series of the converfation. The thieves tell him, that they are men that much do want. Here is an ambiguity between much want, and want of much. Timon takes it on the wrong fide, and tells them that their greatest want is, that, like other men, they want much of meat; then telling them where meat may be had, he asks, Want? why want? JOHNSON.
Perhaps we should read:
Your greatest want is, you want much of me. rejecting the two laft letters of the word. The fenfe will then be-your greateft want is that you expe& fupplies of me from whom you can reasonably expect nothing. Your neceffities are indeed desperate, when you apply for relief to one in my fituation. Dr. Farmer, however, with no small probability, would point the paffage as follows:
Your greatest want is, you want much. Of meat
Why fhould you want? Behold, the earth hath roots; 5
Within this mile break forth a hundred springs: The oaks bear maft, the briars fcarlet hips; The bounteous housewife, nature, on each bufh Lays her full mefs before you. Want? why want? 1. THIEF. We cannot live on grafs, on berries, water,
As beafts, and birds, and fishes.
TIM. Nor on the beafts themselves, the birds,
You must eat men.
Here's gold: Go, fuck the fubtle blood of the
Till the high fever feeth your blood to froth, And fo fcape hanging: truft not the phyfician; His antidotes are poison, and he slays
the earth hath roots; &c.]
"Vile olus, & duris hærentia morà rubetis,
Pugnantis ftomachi compofuere famem:
"Flumine vicino ftultus fitit."
I do not suppose these to be imitations, but only to be fimilar thoughts on fimilar occafions. JOHNSON.
Yet thanks I must you con,]
To con thanks is a very common expreffion among our old dramatick writers. So, in The Story of King Darius, 1565, an interlude:
Yea and well faid, I con you no thanke."
Again, in Pierce Pennileffe his Supplication to the Devil, by Nafh, 1592: "It is well done to practise my wit; but I believe our lord will con thee little thanks for it." STEEVENS.
7 In limited profeffions.] Limited, for legal. WARBURTON. Regular, orderly, profeffions. So, in Macbeth:
"For 'tis my limited fervice."
i. e. my appointed fervice, prescribed by the neceffary duty and rules of my office. MALONE,
More than you rob: take wealth and lives together;
- fince you profefs to do't,] The old copy has-proteft. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. MALONE.
9 The fea's a thief, whofe liquid furge refolves
The moon into falt tears:] The moon is fuppofed to be humid, and perhaps a fource of humidity, but cannot be refolved by the Jurges of the sea. Yet I think moon is the true reading. Here is a circulation of thievery defcribed: The fun, moon, and sea all rob, and are robbed. JOHNSON.
He fays fimply, that the fun, the moon, and the Sea, rob one another by turns, but the earth robs them all: the fea, i. e. liquid furge, by fupplying the moon with moifture, robs her in turn of the foft tears of dew which the poets always fetch from this planet. Soft for falt is an eafy change. In this fenfe Milton fpeaks of her moift continent. Paradife Loft, Book V. 1. 422. And, in Hamlet, Horatio fays:
the moist ftar
Upon whofe influence Neptune's empire ftands."
We are not to attend on fuch occafions merely to philofophical truth; we are to confider what might have been the received or vulgar notions of the time. The populace, in the days of Shakfpeare, might poffibly have confidered the waining of the moon as a gradual diffolution of it, and have attributed to this melting of the moon, the increase of the fea at the time the difappears. They might, it is true, be told, that there is a fimilar increase in the tides when the moon becomes full; but when popular notions are once eftablished, the reafons urged against them are but little attended to. It may also be obferved, that the moon, when viewed through a telescope, has a humid appearance, and feems to have drops of water fufpended from the rim of it; to which circumftance Shakspeare probably alludes in Macbeth, where Hecate fays: "Upon the corner of the moon
"There hangs a vaporous drop," &c. M. MASON.