TIMON of Athens
VENTIDIUS, one of Timon's false friends
ALCIBIADES, an Athenian captain
APEMANTUS, a churlish philosopher
FLAVIUS, steward to Timon
servants to Timon's creditors
AN OLD ATHENIAN
mistresses to Alcibiades
in the Masque
Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Servants, Thieves, and
Athens and the neighbouring woods
ACT I. SCENE I.
Athens. TIMON'S house
Enter POET, PAINTER, JEWELLER, MERCHANT, and
MERCER, at several doors
POET. Good day, sir.
PAINTER. I am glad y'are 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 conjur'd 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; breath'd, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness.
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. When we for recompense have prais'd the vile,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.
MERCHANT. [Looking at the jewel] 'Tis a good form.
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' th' 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.
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 th' 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 followed!
POET. The senators of Athens- happy man!
PAINTER. Look, moe!
POET. 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 tax. 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 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.
PAINTER. I saw them speak together.
POET. 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 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 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.
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
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 of
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 enfranchis'd, 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