Timon of Athens

SCENE I. Athens. A hall in Timon's house.

Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and others, at several doors
Poet
Good day, sir.
Painter
I am glad you're well.
Poet
I have not seen you long: how goes the world?
Painter
It wears, sir, as it grows.
Poet
Ay, that's well known:
But what particular rarity? what strange,
Which manifold record not matches? See,
Magic of bounty! all these spirits thy power
Hath conjured to attend. I know the merchant.
Painter
I know them both; th' other's a jeweller.
Merchant
O, 'tis a worthy lord.
Jeweller
Nay, that's most fix'd.
Merchant
A most incomparable man, breathed, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
He passes.
Jeweller: I have a jewel here--
Merchant
O, pray, let's see't: for the Lord Timon, sir?
Jeweller: If he will touch the estimate: but, for that--
Poet
[Reciting to himself] 'When we for recompense have
praised the vile,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.'
Merchant
'Tis a good form.

Looking at the jewel

Jeweller
And rich: here is a water, look ye.
Painter
You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.
Poet
A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence 'tis nourish'd: the fire i' the flint
Shows not till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself and like the current flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there?
Painter
A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
Poet
Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
Let's see your piece.
Painter
'Tis a good piece.
Poet
So 'tis: this comes off well and excellent.
Painter
Indifferent.
Poet
Admirable: how this grace
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power
This eye shoots forth! how big imagination
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.
Painter
It is a pretty mocking of the life.
Here is a touch; is't good?
Poet
I will say of it,
It tutors nature: artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.

Enter certain Senators, and pass over

Painter
How this lord is follow'd!
Poet
The senators of Athens: happy man!
Painter
Look, more!
Poet
You see this confluence, this great flood
of visitors.
I have, in this rough work, shaped out a man,
Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment: my free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax: no levell'd malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
But flies an eagle flight, bold and forth on,
Leaving no tract behind.
Painter
How shall I understand you?
Poet
I will unbolt to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
As well of glib and slippery creatures as
Of grave and austere quality, tender down
Their services to Lord Timon: his large fortune
Upon his good and gracious nature hanging
Subdues and properties to his love and tendance
All sorts of hearts; yea, from the glass-faced flatterer
To Apemantus, that few things loves better
Than to abhor himself: even he drops down
The knee before him, and returns in peace
Most rich in Timon's nod.
Painter
I saw them speak together.
Poet
Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill
Feign'd Fortune to be throned: the base o' the mount
Is rank'd with all deserts, all kind of natures,
That labour on the bosom of this sphere
To propagate their states: amongst them all,
Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady fix'd,
One do I personate of Lord Timon's frame,
Whom Fortune with her ivory hand wafts to her;
Whose present grace to present slaves and servants
Translates his rivals.
Painter
'Tis conceived to scope.
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
With one man beckon'd from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the sleepy mount
To climb his happiness, would be well express'd
In our condition.
Poet
Nay, sir, but hear me on.
All those which were his fellows but of late,
Some better than his value, on the moment
Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance,
Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
Drink the free air.
Painter
Ay, marry, what of these?
Poet
When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependants
Which labour'd after him to the mountain's top
Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.
Painter
'Tis common:
A thousand moral paintings I can show
That shall demonstrate these quick blows of Fortune's
More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well
To show Lord Timon that mean eyes have seen
The foot above the head.

Trumpets sound. Enter TIMON, addressing himself courteously to every suitor; a Messenger from VENTIDIUS talking with him; LUCILIUS and other servants following

TIMON
Imprison'd is he, say you?
Messenger
Ay, my good lord: five talents is his debt,
His means most short, his creditors most strait:
Your honourable letter he desires
To those have shut him up; which failing,
Periods his comfort.
TIMON
Noble Ventidius! Well;
I am not of that feather to shake off
My friend when he must need me. I do know him
A gentleman that well deserves a help:
Which he shall have: I'll pay the debt,
and free him.
Messenger
Your lordship ever binds him.
TIMON
Commend me to him: I will send his ransom;
And being enfranchised, bid him come to me.
'Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support him after. Fare you well.
Messenger
All happiness to your honour!

Exit

Enter an old Athenian

Old Athenian
Lord Timon, hear me speak.
TIMON
Freely, good father.
Old Athenian
Thou hast a servant named Lucilius.
TIMON
I have so: what of him?
Old Athenian
Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.
TIMON
Attends he here, or no? Lucilius!
LUCILIUS
Here, at your lordship's service.
Old Athenian
This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature,
By night frequents my house. I am a man
That from my first have been inclined to thrift;
And my estate deserves an heir more raised
Than one which holds a trencher.
TIMON
Well; what further?
Old Athenian
One only daughter have I, no kin else,
On whom I may confer what I have got:
The maid is fair, o' the youngest for a bride,
And I have bred her at my dearest cost
In qualities of the best. This man of thine
Attempts her love: I prithee, noble lord,
Join with me to forbid him her resort;
Myself have spoke in vain.
TIMON
The man is honest.
Old Athenian
Therefore he will be, Timon:
His honesty rewards him in itself;
It must not bear my daughter.
TIMON
Does she love him?
Old Athenian
She is young and apt:
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity's in youth.
TIMON
[To LUCILIUS] Love you the maid?
LUCILIUS
Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
Old Athenian
If in her marriage my consent be missing,
I call the gods to witness, I will choose
Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world,
And dispossess her all.
TIMON
How shall she be endow'd,
if she be mated with an equal husband?
Old Athenian
Three talents on the present; in future, all.
TIMON
This gentleman of mine hath served me long:
To build his fortune I will strain a little,
For 'tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter:
What you bestow, in him I'll counterpoise,
And make him weigh with her.
Old Athenian
Most noble lord,
Pawn me to this your honour, she is his.
TIMON
My hand to thee; mine honour on my promise.
LUCILIUS
Humbly I thank your lordship: never may
The state or fortune fall into my keeping,
Which is not owed to you!

Exeunt LUCILIUS and Old Athenian

Poet
Vouchsafe my labour, and long live your lordship!
TIMON
I thank you; you shall hear from me anon:
Go not away. What have you there, my friend?
Painter
A piece of painting, which I do beseech
Your lordship to accept.
TIMON
Painting is welcome.
The painting is almost the natural man;
or since dishonour traffics with man's nature,
He is but outside: these pencill'd figures are
Even such as they give out. I like your work;
And you shall find I like it: wait attendance
Till you hear further from me.
Painter
The gods preserve ye!
TIMON
Well fare you, gentleman: give me your hand;
We must needs dine together. Sir, your jewel
Hath suffer'd under praise.
Jeweller
What, my lord! dispraise?
TIMON
A more satiety of commendations.
If I should pay you for't as 'tis extoll'd,
It would unclew me quite.
Jeweller
My lord, 'tis rated
As those which sell would give: but you well know,
Things of like value differing in the owners
Are prized by their masters: believe't, dear lord,
You mend the jewel by the wearing it.
TIMON
Well mock'd.
Merchant
No, my good lord; he speaks the common tongue,
Which all men speak with him.
TIMON
Look, who comes here: will you be chid?

Enter APEMANTUS

Jeweller: We'll bear, with your lordship.
Merchant
He'll spare none.
TIMON
Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!
APEMANTUS
Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow;
When thou art Timon's dog, and these knaves honest.
TIMON
Why dost thou call them knaves? thou know'st them not.
APEMANTUS
Are they not Athenians?
TIMON
Yes.
APEMANTUS
Then I repent not.
Jeweller: You know me, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
Thou know'st I do: I call'd thee by thy name.
TIMON
Thou art proud, Apemantus.
APEMANTUS
Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.
TIMON
Whither art going?
APEMANTUS
To knock out an honest Athenian's brains.
TIMON
That's a deed thou'lt die for.
APEMANTUS
Right, if doing nothing be death by the law.
TIMON
How likest thou this picture, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
The best, for the innocence.
TIMON
Wrought he not well that painted it?
APEMANTUS
He wrought better that made the painter; and yet
he's but a filthy piece of work.
Painter
You're a dog.
APEMANTUS
Thy mother's of my generation: what's she, if I be a dog?
TIMON
Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
No; I eat not lords.
TIMON
An thou shouldst, thou 'ldst anger ladies.
APEMANTUS
O, they eat lords; so they come by great bellies.
TIMON
That's a lascivious apprehension.
APEMANTUS
So thou apprehendest it: take it for thy labour.
TIMON
How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
Not so well as plain-dealing, which will not cost a
man a doit.
TIMON
What dost thou think 'tis worth?
APEMANTUS
Not worth my thinking. How now, poet!
Poet
How now, philosopher!
APEMANTUS
Thou liest.
Poet
Art not one?
APEMANTUS
Yes.
Poet
Then I lie not.
APEMANTUS
Art not a poet?
Poet
Yes.
APEMANTUS
Then thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou
hast feigned him a worthy fellow.
Poet
That's not feigned; he is so.
APEMANTUS
Yes, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee for thy
labour: he that loves to be flattered is worthy o'
the flatterer. Heavens, that I were a lord!
TIMON
What wouldst do then, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
E'en as Apemantus does now; hate a lord with my heart.
TIMON
What, thyself?
APEMANTUS
Ay.
TIMON
Wherefore?
APEMANTUS
That I had no angry wit to be a lord.
Art not thou a merchant?
Merchant
Ay, Apemantus.
APEMANTUS
Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not!
Merchant
If traffic do it, the gods do it.
APEMANTUS
Traffic's thy god; and thy god confound thee!

Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger

TIMON
What trumpet's that?
Messenger
'Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse,
All of companionship.
TIMON
Pray, entertain them; give them guide to us.

Exeunt some Attendants

You must needs dine with me: go not you hence
Till I have thank'd you: when dinner's done,
Show me this piece. I am joyful of your sights.

Enter ALCIBIADES, with the rest

Most welcome, sir!
APEMANTUS
So, so, there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
That there should be small love 'mongst these
sweet knaves,
And all this courtesy! The strain of man's bred out
Into baboon and monkey.
ALCIBIADES
Sir, you have saved my longing, and I feed
Most hungerly on your sight.
TIMON
Right welcome, sir!
Ere we depart, we'll share a bounteous time
In different pleasures. Pray you, let us in.

Exeunt all except APEMANTUS

Enter two Lords

First Lord
What time o' day is't, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
Time to be honest.
First Lord
That time serves still.
APEMANTUS
The more accursed thou, that still omitt'st it.
Second Lord
Thou art going to Lord Timon's feast?
APEMANTUS
Ay, to see meat fill knaves and wine heat fools.
Second Lord
Fare thee well, fare thee well.
APEMANTUS
Thou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.
Second Lord
Why, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS
Shouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to
give thee none.
First Lord
Hang thyself!
APEMANTUS
No, I will do nothing at thy bidding: make thy
requests to thy friend.
Second Lord
Away, unpeaceable dog, or I'll spurn thee hence!
APEMANTUS
I will fly, like a dog, the heels o' the ass.

Exit

First Lord
He's opposite to humanity. Come, shall we in,
And taste Lord Timon's bounty? he outgoes
The very heart of kindness.
Second Lord
He pours it out; Plutus, the god of gold,
Is but his steward: no meed, but he repays
Sevenfold above itself; no gift to him,
But breeds the giver a return exceeding
All use of quittance.
First Lord
The noblest mind he carries
That ever govern'd man.
Second Lord
Long may he live in fortunes! Shall we in?
First Lord
I'll keep you company.

Exeunt

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