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.. 'Tis most nobly spoken.
Enter a Soldier.
wretched soul bereft: Seek not my name: A plague consume you wicked
caitiffs left! 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 12. These well express in thee thy latter spirits : Though thou abhorr’dst in us our human griefs, Scorn’dst our brains flow 13, and those our droplets
which From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead Is noble Timon; of whose memory Hereafter more.-Bring me into your city,
12 This epitaph is formed out of two distinct epitaphs irr North’s Plutarch. The first couplet is there said to have beer composed by Timon himself; the second by the poet Callimachus. The epithet caitiffs was probably suggested by another epitaph, to be found in Kendal's Flowers of Epigrammes, 1577, and in the Palace of Pleasure, vol. i. Nov. 28. 13 So in Drayton's Miracles of Moses :
But he from rocks that fountains can command,
Cannot yet stay the fountains of his brain.' VOL. VIII.
And I will use the olive with my sword:
[Exeunt. 14 Stop.
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.
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. In this play the narration of Plutarch, in the Life of Coriolanus, is very exactly followed; and it has been observed that the poet shows consummate skill in knowing how to seize the true poetical point of view of the historical circumstances, without changing them in the least degree. His 'noble Roman is indeed worthy of the name, and his mob such as a Roman mob doubtless were; such as every great city has possessed from the time of the polisbed Athenians to that of modern Paris, where such scenes have been exhibited by a people collectively considered the politest on earth, as shows that the many headed multitude' have the same turbulent spirit, when there is an exciting cause, in all ages.
Shakspeare has extracted amusement from this popular humour, and with the aid of the pleasant satirical vein of Menenius has relieved the serious part of the play with some mirthful scenes, in which it is certain the people's folly is not spared.
The character of Coriolanus, as drawn by Plutarch, was happily suited to the drama, and in the hands of Shakspeare could not fail of exciting the highest interest and sympathy in the spectator. He is made of that stern unbending stuff which usually enters into the composition of a hero: accustomed to conquest and triumph, his inflexible spirit could not stoop to solicit by flattering condescension what it felt that its worthy services ought to command :
- he was
- commanding peace
As he controll’d the war.' He hated flattery; and his sovereign contempt for the people arose from having witnessed their pusillanimity; though he loved the bubble reputation, and would have grappled with fate for honour, he hated the breath of vulgar applause as 'the reek o' the rotten fens.' · He knew that his actions must command the good opinion of