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The Walls of Athens.
Enter two Senators, and a Meffenger.
1. SEN. Thou haft painfully discover'd; are his
As full as thy report?
I have spoke the leaft: Befides, his expedition promises
2. SEN. We ftand much hazard, if they bring not Timon.
I met a courier, one mine ancient friend; 9
Whom, though in general part we were oppos'd, Yet our old love made a particular force,
Dear, in Shakspeare's language, is dire, dreadful. So, in Hamlet: "Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven." MALONE. Dear may, in the prefent inftance, fignify immediate, or imminent. It is an enforcing epithet with not always a diftin& meaning. To enumerate each of the feemingly various fenfes in which it may be fuppofed to have been used by our author, would at once fatigue the reader and myself.
In the following fituations, however, it cannot fignify either dire or dreadful:
confort with me in loud and dear petition."
Some dear cause
Troilus and Creffida.
"Will in concealment wrap me up a while." King Lear.
a courier,] The players read—a currier. STEEVENS. 9 --one mine ancient friend ;] Mr. Upton would read—once mine ancient friend. STEEVENS.
And made us fpeak like friends: this man was
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 duft: In, and prepare; Ours is the fall, I fear, our foes the fuare. [Exeunt.
The Woods. Timon's Cave, and a tomb-flone feen.
Enter a Soldier, Seeking Timon.
SOL. By all defcription this fhould be the place. Who's here? fpeak, ho!-No anfwer?-What is
hurried away by
Whom, though in general part we were oppos'd, Yet our old love made a particular force, And made us fpeak like friends :] Our author, Arong conceptions, and little attentive to minute accuracy, takes great liberties in the conftruction of fentences. Whom, though we were on oppolite fides in the publick cause, yet the force of our old affection wrought fo much upon, as to make him fpeak to me as a friend. See p. 380, n. 6. MALONE.
Here he means,
I am fully convinced that this and many other paffages of our author to which fimilar remarks are annexed, have been irretrievably, corrupted by transcribers or printers, and would not have proceeded, in their prefent ftate, from the pen of Shakfpeare; for what we cannot underftand in the clofet, muft have been wholly ufelefs on the ftage. The aukward repetition of the verb-made, very strongly countenances my prefent observation. STEEVENS.
Timon is dead, who hath out-ftretch'd his fpan : Some beast rear'd this; there does not live a man.3
3 Some beaft rear'd this; there does not live a man.] [Old copyread this.] Some beaft read what? The foldier had yet only seen the rude pile of earth heap'd up for Timon's grave, and not the infcription upon it. We should read:
Some beat rear'd this;——
The foldier feeking, by order, for Timon, fees fuch an irregular mole, as he concludes muft have been the workmanship of fome beat inhabiting the woods; and fuch a cavity as muft either have been so over-arched, or happened by the casual falling in of the ground. WARBURTON.
"The foldier (fays Theobald) had yet only feen the rude pile of earth heap'd up for Timon's grave, and not the infcription upon it." In fupport of his emendation, which was fuggefted to him by Dr. Warburton, be quotes thefe lines from Fletcher's Cupid's Revenge:
"Here is no food, nor beds; nor any house
"Built by a better archite& than beasts.", MALONE. Notwithstanding this remark, I believe the old reading to be the right. The foldier had only feen the rude heap of earth. He had evidently feen fomething that told him Timon was dead; and what could tell that but his tomb? The tomb he fees, and the infcription upon it, which not being able to read, and finding none to read it for him, be exclaims peevishly, fome beaft read this, for it must be read, and in this place it cannot be read by man.
There is fomething elaborately unfkilful in the contrivance of fending a foldier, who cannot read, to take the epitaph in wax, only that it may clole the play by being read with more folemnity in the laft fcene. JOHNSON.
It is evident, that the foldier, when he firft fees the heap of earth, does not know it to be a tomb. He concludes Timon muft be dead, because he receives no answer. It is likewife evident, that' when he utters the words fome beast, &c. he has not seen the infcription. And Dr. Warburton's emendation is therefore, not only just and happy, but abfolutely neceffary. What can this heap of earth be? fays the foldier; Timon is certainly dead: Some beast must have ereded this, for here does noi live a man to do it. Yes, he is dead, fure enough, and this mult be his grave. What is this writing upon it?:
I am now convinced that the emendation made by Mr. Theo. bald is right, and that it ought to be admitted into the text: Some beaft rear'd this. Our poet certainly would not make the foldier call on a beast to read the infcription, before he had informed,
Dead, fure; 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 the Walls of Athens.
Trumpets found. Enter ALCIBIADES, and Forces. ALCIB. Sound to this coward and lafcivious town
Our terrible approach.
[A parley founded:
Enter Senators on the Walls.
Till now you have gone on, and fill'd the time
the audience that he could not read it himfelf; which he does after
Befides; from the time he afks, "What is this?" [i. e. what is this cave, tomb, &c. not what is this infcription?] to the words, "What's on this tomb," the obfervation evidently relates to Timon himself, and his grave; whereas, by the erroneous reading of the old copy, "Some beast read this," the soldier is first made to call on a beaft to read the infcription, without affigning any reafon for fo extraordinary a requifition; then to talk of Timon's death and of his grave; and at laft, to inform the audience that he cannot read the infcription. Let me add, that a beaft being as unable to read as the foldier, it would be abfurd to call on one for affiftance; whilft on the other hand, if a den or cave, or any rude Heap of earth refembling a tomb, be found where there does not live a man, it is manifeft that it muft have been formed by a beaft. A paffage in King Lear also adds fupport to the emendation:
this hard house,
More hard than are the ftones whereof 'tis rais'd."
With all licentious measure, making your wills
Our fufferance vainly: Now the time is flush,
Noble, and young,
When thy first griefs were but a mere conceit,
Ere thou hadft power, or we had cause of fear,
The foregoing obfervations are acute in the extreme, and I have not fcrupled to adopt the reading they recommend.
3 - travers'd arms,] Arms across. JOHNSON.
The fame image occurs in The Tempeft:
"His arms in this fad knot." STEEvens.
the time is flush,] A bird is flush when his feathers are grown, and he can leave the neft. Flush is mature. JOHNSON.
When crouching marrow, in the bearer ftrong,
Cries, of itself, No more:] The marrow was supposed to be the original of ftrength. The image is from a camel kneeling to take up his load, who rifes immediately when he finds he has as much laid on as he can bear. WARBURTON.
Pliny fays, that the camel will not carry more than his accuftomed and ufual load. Holland's translation, B. VIII. c. xviii.
The image may as juftly be faid to be taken from a porter or coal-beaver, who when there is as much laid upon his thoulders as he can bear, will certainly cry, no more. MALONE.
I wish the reader may not find himself affe&ed in the fame manner by our commentaries, and often concur in a fimilar exclamation. STEEVENS.
• Above their quantity.] Their refers to rages.