NOTES ON KING LEAR
'Thine Do comfort and not burn,' Lear, II. iv. 176, and 'Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn!' Timon, V. i. 134.
(4) The likeness in style and versification (so far as the purely Shakespearean parts of Timon are concerned) is surely unmistakable, but some readers may like to see an example. Lear speaks here (IV. vi. 164 ff.):
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand! And Timon speaks here (IV. iii. i. ff.):
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;
Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able 'em:
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes;
And, like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not.
O blessed breeding sun, draw from the earth
Rotten humidity; below thy sister's orb
Infect the air! Twinn'd brothers of one womb,
Whose procreation, residence, and birth,
Scarce is dividant, touch them with several fortunes,
The greater scorns the lesser: not nature,
To whom all sores lay siege, can bear great fortune,
But by contempt of nature.
Raise me this beggar, and deny't that lord:
The senator shall bear contempt hereditary,
The beggar native honour.
It is the pasture lards the rother's sides,
The want that makes him lean. Who dares, who dares,
In purity of manhood stand upright
And say 'This man's a flatterer'? if one be,
So are they all: for every grise of fortune
Is smooth'd by that below: the learned pate
Ducks to the golden fool: all is oblique;
There's nothing level in our cursed natures,
But direct villany.
The reader may wish to know whether metrical tests throw any light on the chronological position of Timon; and he will find such information as I can give in Note BB. But he will