Athens. A public place.
(Lucius; First Stranger; Second Stranger; Third Stranger; Servilius)
Three strangers tell Lucius that Timon is broke, but Lucius finds it hard to believe. He professes outrage that Lucullus refused to help him. Immediately after Lucius says that he would never refuse to help Timon out, Timon’s servant Servilius approaches and asks him for a loan. Lucius pretends that he has no money available and therefore can’t help. The strangers comment on Lucius’s hypocrisy and ingratitude. (51 lines)
Enter Lucius with three Strangers.
Who, the Lord Timon? He is my very good friend, and an honorable gentleman.
We know him for no less, though we are but strangers to him. But I can tell you one thing, my lord, and which I hear from common rumors, now Lord Timon’s happy hours are done and past, and his estate shrinks from him.
Fie, no, do not believe it; he cannot want for money.
But believe you this, my lord, that not long ago one of his men was with the Lord Lucullus to borrow so many talents, nay, urg’d extremely for’t, and show’d what necessity belong’d to’t, and yet was denied.
I tell you, denied, my lord.
What a strange case was that! Now before the gods, I am asham’d on’t. Denied that honorable man? There was very little honor show’d in’t. For my own part, I must needs confess, I have receiv’d some small kindnesses from him, as money, plate, jewels, and such like trifles—nothing comparing to his—yet had he mistook him and sent to me, I should ne’er have denied his occasion so many talents.
See, by good hap, yonder’s my lord; I have sweat to see his honor. My honor’d lord—
Servilius? You are kindly met, sir. Fare thee well, commend me to thy honorable virtuous lord, my very exquisite friend.
May it please your honor, my lord hath sent—
Ha? What has he sent? I am so much endear’d to that lord: he’s ever sending. How shall I thank him, think’st thou? And what has he sent now?
H’as only sent his present occasion now, my lord; requesting your lordship to supply his instant use with so many talents.
I know his lordship is but merry with me;
He cannot want fifty—five hundred talents.
But in the mean time he wants less, my lord.
If his occasion were not virtuous,
I should not urge it half so faithfully.
Dost thou speak seriously, Servilius?
Upon my soul, ’tis true, sir.
What a wicked beast was I to disfurnish myself against such a good time, when I might ha’ shown myself honorable! How unluckily it happ’ned that I should purchase the day before for a little part, and undo a great deal of honor! Servilius, now before the gods, I am not able to do (the more beast, I say!)—I was sending to use Lord Timon myself, these gentlemen can witness; but I would not, for the wealth of Athens, I had done’t now. Commend me bountifully to his good lordship, and I hope his honor will conceive the fairest of me, because I have no power to be kind. And tell him this from me, I count it one of my greatest afflictions, say, that I cannot pleasure such an honorable gentleman. Good Servilius, will you befriend me so far as to use mine own words to him?
Yes, sir, I shall.
Calling after him.
I’ll look you out a good turn, Servilius.—
True, as you said, Timon is shrunk indeed,
And he that’s once denied will hardly speed.
Do you observe this, Hostilius?
Ay, too well.
Why, this is the world’s soul, and just of the same piece
Is every flatterer’s sport. Who can call him
His friend that dips in the same dish? For, in
My knowing, Timon has been this lord’s father,
And kept his credit with his purse;
Supported his estate, nay, Timon’s money
Has paid his men their wages. He ne’er drinks
But Timon’s silver treads upon his lip,
And yet—O, see the monstrousness of man
When he looks out in an ungrateful shape!—
He does deny him (in respect of his)
What charitable men afford to beggars.
Religion groans at it.
For mine own part,
I never tasted Timon in my life,
Nor came any of his bounties over me
To mark me for his friend; yet, I protest,
For his right noble mind, illustrious virtue,
And honorable carriage,
Had his necessity made use of me,
I would have put my wealth into donation,
And the best half should have return’d to him,
So much I love his heart. But I perceive
Men must learn now with pity to dispense,
For policy sits above conscience.