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Timon of Athens

ACT I SCENE IAthens. A hall in Timon’s House.
[ Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and others, at several doors ]
PoetGood day, sir.
PainterI am glad you’re well.
PoetI have not seen you long: how goes the world?
PainterIt wears, sir, as it grows.
PoetAy, that’s well known:5
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.
PainterI know them both; th’ other’s a jeweller.10
MerchantO, ’tis a worthy lord.
JewellerNay, that’s most fix’d.
MerchantA most incomparable man, breathed, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
He passes.15
Jeweller:I have a jewel here–
MerchantO, 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,20
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.’
Merchant‘Tis a good form.
[Looking at the jewel]
JewellerAnd rich: here is a water, look ye.
PainterYou are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication25
To the great lord.
PoetA 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 flame30
Provokes itself and like the current flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there?
PainterA picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
PoetUpon the heels of my presentment, sir.
Let’s see your piece.35
Painter‘Tis a good piece.
PoetSo ’tis: this comes off well and excellent.
PoetAdmirable: how this grace
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power40
This eye shoots forth! how big imagination
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.
PainterIt is a pretty mocking of the life.
Here is a touch; is’t good?45
PoetI will say of it,
It tutors nature: artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.
[Enter certain Senators, and pass over]
PainterHow this lord is follow’d!
PoetThe senators of Athens: happy man!50
PainterLook, more!
PoetYou 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 hug55
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,60
Leaving no tract behind.
PainterHow shall I understand you?
PoetI will unbolt to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
As well of glib and slippery creatures as65
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 flatterer70
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.
PainterI saw them speak together.75
PoetSir, 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,80
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.85
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’d90
In our condition.
PoetNay, 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,95
Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
Drink the free air.
PainterAy, marry, what of these?
PoetWhen Fortune in her shift and change of mood100
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:105
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.110
[ Trumpets sound. Enter TIMON, addressing himself courteously to every suitor; a Messenger from VENTIDIUS talking with him; LUCILIUS and other servants following ]
TIMONImprison’d is he, say you?
MessengerAy, 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,115
Periods his comfort.
TIMONNoble 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:120
Which he shall have: I’ll pay the debt,
and free him.
MessengerYour lordship ever binds him.
TIMONCommend me to him: I will send his ransom;
And being enfranchised, bid him come to me.125
‘Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support him after. Fare you well.
MessengerAll happiness to your honour!
[Enter an old Athenian]
Old AthenianLord Timon, hear me speak.
TIMONFreely, good father.130
Old AthenianThou hast a servant named Lucilius.
TIMONI have so: what of him?
Old AthenianMost noble Timon, call the man before thee.
TIMONAttends he here, or no? Lucilius!
LUCILIUSHere, at your lordship’s service.135
Old AthenianThis 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.140
TIMONWell; what further?
Old AthenianOne 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 cost145
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.
TIMONThe man is honest.150
Old AthenianTherefore he will be, Timon:
His honesty rewards him in itself;
It must not bear my daughter.
TIMONDoes she love him?
Old AthenianShe is young and apt:155
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity’s in youth.
TIMON[To LUCILIUS] Love you the maid?
LUCILIUSAy, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
Old AthenianIf in her marriage my consent be missing,160
I call the gods to witness, I will choose
Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world,
And dispossess her all.
TIMONHow shall she be endow’d,
if she be mated with an equal husband?165
Old AthenianThree talents on the present; in future, all.
TIMONThis 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,170
And make him weigh with her.
Old AthenianMost noble lord,
Pawn me to this your honour, she is his.
TIMONMy hand to thee; mine honour on my promise.
LUCILIUSHumbly I thank your lordship: never may175
The state or fortune fall into my keeping,
Which is not owed to you!
[Exeunt LUCILIUS and Old Athenian]
PoetVouchsafe my labour, and long live your lordship!
TIMONI thank you; you shall hear from me anon:
Go not away. What have you there, my friend?180
PainterA piece of painting, which I do beseech
Your lordship to accept.
TIMONPainting is welcome.
The painting is almost the natural man;
or since dishonour traffics with man’s nature,185
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.
PainterThe gods preserve ye!190
TIMONWell fare you, gentleman: give me your hand;
We must needs dine together. Sir, your jewel
Hath suffer’d under praise.
JewellerWhat, my lord! dispraise?
TIMONA more satiety of commendations.195
If I should pay you for’t as ’tis extoll’d,
It would unclew me quite.
JewellerMy lord, ’tis rated
As those which sell would give: but you well know,
Things of like value differing in the owners200
Are prized by their masters: believe’t, dear lord,
You mend the jewel by the wearing it.
TIMONWell mock’d.
MerchantNo, my good lord; he speaks the common tongue,
Which all men speak with him.205
TIMONLook, who comes here: will you be chid?
JewellerWe’ll bear, with your lordship.
MerchantHe’ll spare none.
TIMONGood morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!
APEMANTUSTill I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow;210
When thou art Timon’s dog, and these knaves honest.
TIMONWhy dost thou call them knaves? thou know’st them not.
APEMANTUSAre they not Athenians?
APEMANTUSThen I repent not.215
JewellerYou know me, Apemantus?
APEMANTUSThou know’st I do: I call’d thee by thy name.
TIMONThou art proud, Apemantus.
APEMANTUSOf nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.
TIMONWhither art going?220
APEMANTUSTo knock out an honest Athenian’s brains.
TIMONThat’s a deed thou’lt die for.
APEMANTUSRight, if doing nothing be death by the law.
TIMONHow likest thou this picture, Apemantus?
APEMANTUSThe best, for the innocence.225
TIMONWrought he not well that painted it?
APEMANTUSHe wrought better that made the painter; and yet
he’s but a filthy piece of work.
PainterYou’re a dog.
APEMANTUSThy mother’s of my generation: what’s she, if I be a dog?230
TIMONWilt dine with me, Apemantus?
APEMANTUSNo; I eat not lords.
TIMONAn thou shouldst, thou ‘ldst anger ladies.
APEMANTUSO, they eat lords; so they come by great bellies.
TIMONThat’s a lascivious apprehension.235
APEMANTUSSo thou apprehendest it: take it for thy labour.
TIMONHow dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
APEMANTUSNot so well as plain-dealing, which will not cost a
man a doit.
TIMONWhat dost thou think ’tis worth?240
APEMANTUSNot worth my thinking. How now, poet!
PoetHow now, philosopher!
APEMANTUSThou liest.
PoetArt not one?
PoetThen I lie not.
APEMANTUSArt not a poet?
APEMANTUSThen thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou
hast feigned him a worthy fellow.250
PoetThat’s not feigned; he is so.
APEMANTUSYes, 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!
TIMONWhat wouldst do then, Apemantus?255
APEMANTUSE’en as Apemantus does now; hate a lord with my heart.
TIMONWhat, thyself?
APEMANTUSThat I had no angry wit to be a lord.260
Art not thou a merchant?
MerchantAy, Apemantus.
APEMANTUSTraffic confound thee, if the gods will not!
MerchantIf traffic do it, the gods do it.
APEMANTUSTraffic’s thy god; and thy god confound thee!265
[Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger]
TIMONWhat trumpet’s that?
Messenger‘Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse,
All of companionship.
TIMONPray, entertain them; give them guide to us.
[Exeunt some Attendants]
You must needs dine with me: go not you hence270
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!
APEMANTUSSo, so, there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!275
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.
ALCIBIADESSir, you have saved my longing, and I feed280
Most hungerly on your sight.
TIMONRight 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 LordWhat time o’ day is’t, Apemantus?285
APEMANTUSTime to be honest.
First LordThat time serves still.
APEMANTUSThe more accursed thou, that still omitt’st it.
Second LordThou art going to Lord Timon’s feast?
APEMANTUSAy, to see meat fill knaves and wine heat fools.290
Second LordFare thee well, fare thee well.
APEMANTUSThou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.
Second LordWhy, Apemantus?
APEMANTUSShouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to
give thee none.295
First LordHang thyself!
APEMANTUSNo, I will do nothing at thy bidding: make thy
requests to thy friend.
Second LordAway, unpeaceable dog, or I’ll spurn thee hence!
APEMANTUSI will fly, like a dog, the heels o’ the ass.300
First LordHe’s opposite to humanity. Come, shall we in,
And taste Lord Timon’s bounty? he outgoes
The very heart of kindness.
Second LordHe pours it out; Plutus, the god of gold,
Is but his steward: no meed, but he repays305
Sevenfold above itself; no gift to him,
But breeds the giver a return exceeding
All use of quittance.
First LordThe noblest mind he carries
That ever govern’d man.310
Second LordLong may he live in fortunes! Shall we in?
First LordI’ll keep you company.