Athens. A hall in Timon’s house.
(Poet; Painter; Jeweler; Merchant; Senators; Lord Timon; Messenger; Lucilius; Servants; Old Athenian; Apemantus; Messenger from Ventidius; Alcibiades; Lords)
A poet and a painter, waiting at Timon’s house to suck up to him, comment to each other on Timon’s generosity. They flatter each other over the mutual excellence of what they plan to offer to him. Timon walks by, followed by the Senators of Athens. The poet notes that his poem warns Timon that Fortune may turn against him some day. Timon pays out bail money for a friend, enriches one of his servants so that he can marry a rich man’s daughter, and accepts the gifts brought to him. The snarling cynic Apemantus comes in and rails at all of Timon’s suitors, believe all Athenians to be knaves and accusing the poet of being nothing but a flatterer, but Timon pays him little attention. Alcibiades arrives with a group of friends, who are all invited to join in at Timon’s feast. They all go in. Two lords, arriving late, have to deal with Apemantus before going in. (300 lines)
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweler, Merchant, at several doors.
Good day, sir.
I am glad y’ are well.
I have not seen you long, how goes the world?
It wears, sir, as it grows.
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 conjur’d to attend. I know the merchant.
I know them both; th’ other’s a jeweler.
O, ’tis a worthy lord.
Nay, that’s most fix’d.
A most incomparable man, breath’d, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness;
I have a jewel here—
O, pray let’s see’t. For the Lord Timon, sir?
If he will touch the estimate. But for that—
Reciting to himself.
“When we for recompense have prais’d the vild,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.”
Looking on the jewel.
’Tis a good form.
And rich. Here is a water, look ye.
You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.
A thing slipp’d idlely from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence ’tis nourish’d. The fire i’ th’ flint
Shows not till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself and like the current flies
Each bound it chases. What have you there?
A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
Let’s see your piece.
’Tis a good piece.
So ’tis. This comes off well and excellent.
Admirable! How this grace
Speaks his own standing! What a mental power
This eye shoots forth! How big imagination
Moves in this lip! To th’ dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.
It is a pretty mocking of the life.
Here is a touch; is’t good?
I will say of it,
It tutors nature. Artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.
Enter certain Senators and pass over.
How this lord is followed!
The senators of Athens, happy men!
You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors.
I have, in this rough work, shap’d 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.
How shall I understand you?
I will unbolt to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
As well of glib and slipp’ry 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-fac’d 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.
I saw them speak together.
Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill
Feign’d Fortune to be thron’d. The base o’ th’ mount
Is rank’d with all deserts, all kind of natures,
That labor 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.
’Tis conceiv’d to scope.
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
With one man beckon’d from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the steepy mount
To climb his happiness, would be well express’d
In our condition.
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.
Ay, marry, what of these?
When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependents
Which labor’d after him to the mountain’s top
Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.
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 Lord Timon, addressing himself courteously to every suitor, a Messenger from Ventidius talking with him; Lucilius and other Servants following.
Imprison’d is he, say you?
Ay, my good lord, five talents is his debt,
His means most short, his creditors most strait.
Your honorable letter he desires
To those have shut him up, which failing,
Periods his comfort.
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.
Your lordship ever binds him.
Commend me to him. I will send his ransom,
And being enfranchis’d, bid him come to me;
’Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support him after. Fare you well.
All happiness to your honor!
Enter an Old Athenian.
Lord Timon, hear me speak.
Freely, good father.
Thou hast a servant nam’d Lucilius.
I have so. What of him?
Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.
Attends he here, or no? Lucilius!
Here, at your lordship’s service.
This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature,
By night frequents my house. I am a man
That from my first have been inclin’d to thrift,
And my estate deserves an heir more rais’d
Than one which holds a trencher.
Well; what further?
One only daughter have I, no kin else,
On whom I may confer what I have got.
The maid is fair, a’ th’ 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.
The man is honest.
Therefore he will be, Timon.
His honesty rewards him in itself,
It must not bear my daughter.
Does she love him?
She is young and apt.
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity’s in youth.
Love you the maid?
Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
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.
How shall she be endowed,
If she be mated with an equal husband?
Three talents on the present; in future, all.
This gentleman of mine hath serv’d 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.
Most noble lord,
Pawn me to this your honor, she is his.
My hand to thee, mine honor on my promise.
Humbly I thank your lordship. Never may
That state or fortune fall into my keeping,
Which is not owed to you!
Exit with Old Athenian.
Vouchsafe my labor, and long live your lordship!
I thank you, you shall hear from me anon.
Go not away. What have you there, my friend?
A piece of painting, which I do beseech
Your lordship to accept.
Painting is welcome.
The painting is almost the natural man;
For since dishonor 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.
The gods preserve ye!
Well fare you, gentleman; give me your hand,
We must needs dine together.—Sir, your jewel
Hath suffered under praise.
What, my lord, dispraise?
A mere satiety of commendations;
If I should pay you for’t as ’tis extoll’d,
It would unclew me quite.
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.
No, my good lord, he speaks the common tongue
Which all men speak with him.
Look who comes here; will you be chid?
We’ll bear, with your lordship.
He’ll spare none.
Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!
Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow—
When thou art Timon’s dog, and these knaves honest.
Why dost thou call them knaves? Thou know’st them not.
Are they not Athenians?
Then I repent not.
You know me, Apemantus?
Thou know’st I do, I call’d thee by thy name.
Thou art proud, Apemantus.
Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.
Whither art going?
To knock out an honest Athenian’s brains.
That’s a deed thou’t die for.
Right, if doing nothing be death by th’ law.
How lik’st thou this picture, Apemantus?
The best, for the innocence.
Wrought he not well that painted it?
He wrought better that made the painter, and yet he’s but a filthy piece of work.
Y’ are a dog.
Thy mother’s of my generation; what’s she, if I be a dog?
Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?
No; I eat not lords.
And thou shouldst, thou’dst anger ladies.
O, they eat lords; so they come by great bellies.
That’s a lascivious apprehension.
So thou apprehend’st it, take it for thy labor.
How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
Not so well as plain-dealing, which will not cast a man a doit.
What dost thou think ’tis worth?
Not worth my thinking. How now, poet?
How now, philosopher?
Art not one?
Then I lie not.
Art not a poet?
Then thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou hast feign’d him a worthy fellow.
That’s not feign’d, he is so.
Yes, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee for thy labor. He that loves to be flatter’d is worthy o’ th’ flatterer. Heavens, that I were a lord!
What wouldst do then, Apemantus?
E’en as Apemantus does now: hate a lord with my heart.
That I had no angry wit to be a lord. Art not thou a merchant?
Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not!
If traffic do it, the gods do it.
Traffic’s thy god, and thy god confound thee!
Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger.
What trumpet’s that?
’Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse,
All of companionship.
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!
So, so; there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
That there should be small love amongest these sweet knaves,
And all this courtesy! The strain of man’s bred out
Into baboon and monkey.
Sir, you have sav’d my longing, and I feed
Most hungerly on your sight.
Right welcome, sir!
Ere we depart, we’ll share a bounteous time
In different pleasures. Pray you let us in.
Exeunt all but Apemantus.
Enter two Lords.
What time a’ day is’t, Apemantus?
Time to be honest.
That time serves still.
The most accursed thou, that still omit’st it.
Thou art going to Lord Timon’s feast?
Ay, to see meat fill knaves, and wine heat fools.
Fare thee well, fare thee well.
Thou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.
Shouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to give thee none.
No, I will do nothing at thy bidding; make thy requests to thy friend.
Away, unpeaceable dog, or I’ll spurn thee hence!
I will fly, like a dog, the heels a’ th’ ass.
He’s opposite to humanity. Come, shall we in
And taste Lord Timon’s bounty? He outgoes
The very heart of kindness.
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.
The noblest mind he carries
That ever govern’d man.
Long may he live in fortunes! Shall we in?
I’ll keep you company.