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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene I.

Timon of Athens

Without the Walls of Athens

Enter TIMON.

Tim.Let me look back upon thee. O thou wall,

That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth.

And fence not Athens! Matrons, turn incontinent!

Obedience fail in children! slaves and fools,

Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench,

And minister in their steads! To general filths

Convert, o’ the instant, green virginity!

Do ’t in your parents’ eyes! Bankrupts, hold fast;

Rather than render back, out with your knives,

And cut your trusters’ throats! Bound servants, steal!—

Large-handed robbers your grave masters are,—

And pill by law. Maid, to thy master’s bed;

Thy mistress is o’ the brothel! Son of sixteen,

Pluck the lin’d crutch from thy old limping sire,

With it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear,

Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth,

Domestic awe, night-rest and neighbourhood,

Instruction, manners, mysteries and trades,

Degrees, observances, customs and laws,

Decline to your confounding contraries,

And let confusion live! Plagues incident to men,

Your potent and infectious fevers heap

On Athens, ripe for stroke! Thou cold sciatica,

Cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt

As lamely as their manners! Lust and liberty

Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth,

That ’gainst the stream of virtue they may strive,

And drown themselves in riot! Itches, blains,

Sow all the Athenian bosoms, and their crop

Be general leprosy! Breath infect breath,

That their society, as their friendship, may

Be merely poison! Nothing I’ll bear from thee

But nakedness, thou detestable town!

Take thou that too, with multiplying bans!

Timon will to the woods; where he shall find

The unkindest beast more kinder than mankind.

The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all—

The Athenians both within and out that wall!

And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow

To the whole race of mankind, high and low!