Enter Poet and Painter
As I took note of the place, it cannot be far
where he abides.
What's to be thought of him? Does the rumour
hold for true that he's so full of gold?
Certain. Alcibiades reports it. Phrynia and
Timandra had gold of him. He likewise enriched poor
straggling soldiers with great quantity. 'Tis said he gave
unto his steward a mighty sum.
Then this breaking of his has been but a try for his
Nothing else. You shall see him a palm in
Athens again, and flourish with the highest. Therefore
'tis not amiss we tender our loves to him in this supposed
distress of his. It will show honestly in us, and is
very likely to load our purposes with what they travail
for, if it be a just and true report that goes of his having.
What have you now to present unto him?
Nothing at this time but my visitation: only I
will promise him an excellent piece.
I must serve him so too, tell him of an intent that's
coming toward him.
Good as the best. Promising is the very air
o'th' time; it opens the eyes of expectation. Performance
is ever the duller for his act; and but in the plainer
and simpler kind of people the deed of saying is quite
out of use. To promise is most courtly and fashionable.
Performance is a kind of will or testament which argues
a great sickness in his judgement that makes it.
Enter Timon from his cave
Excellent workman! Thou canst not paint
a man so bad as is thyself.
I am thinking what I shall say I have provided for
him. It must be a personating of himself; a satire against
the softness of prosperity, with a discovery of the infinite
flatteries that follow youth and opulency.
Must thou needs stand for a villain in
thine own work? Wilt thou whip thine own faults in
other men? Do so, I have gold for thee.
Nay, let's seek him.
Then do we sin against our own estate,
When we may profit meet and come too late.
When the day serves, before black-cornered night,
serve (v.) 3
provide opportunity [to], be favourable [to], favour
Find what thou wantest by free and offered light.
turn (n.) 5
[unclear meaning] turning-point; trick, game; occasion, proper time
I'll meet you at the turn. What a god's gold,
That he is worshipped in a baser temple
Than where swine feed!
'Tis thou that riggest the bark and ploughest the foam,
Settlest admired reverence in a slave.
To thee be worship; and thy saints for aye
Be crowned with plagues, that thee alone obey.
Fit I meet them.
He comes forward
Hail, worthy Timon!
Our late noble master!
Have I once lived to see two honest men?
Having often of your open bounty tasted,
Hearing you were retired, your friends fall'n off,
Whose thankless natures – O abhorred spirits! –
Not all the whips of heaven are large enough –
What, to you,
Whose star-like nobleness gave life and influence
To their whole being! I am rapt, and cannot cover
The monstrous bulk of this ingratitude
With any size of words.
Let it go naked, men may see't the better.
You that are honest, by being what you are,
Make them best seen and known.
He and myself
Have travelled in the great shower of your gifts,
And sweetly felt it.
Ay, you are honest men.
We are hither come to offer you our service.
Most honest men! Why, how shall I requite you?
Can you eat roots, and drink cold water? No?
POET and PAINTER
What we can do, we'll do, to do you service.
Y' are honest men. Y' have heard that I have gold.
I am sure you have. Speak truth; y' are honest men.
So it is said, my noble lord, but therefore
Came not my friend nor I.
Good honest men! Thou drawest a counterfeit
Best in all Athens. Th' art indeed the best;
Thou counterfeitest most lively.
So, so, my lord.
E'en so, sir, as I say. (To the Poet) And for thy fiction,
Why, thy verse swells with stuff so fine and smooth
That thou art even natural in thine art.
But, for all this, my honest-natured friends,
I must needs say you have a little fault.
Marry, 'tis not monstrous in you, neither wish I
You take much pains to mend.
POET and PAINTER
Beseech your honour
To make it known to us.
You'll take it ill.
POET and PAINTER
Most thankfully, my lord.
Will you indeed?
POET and PAINTER
Doubt it not, worthy lord.
There's never a one of you but trusts a knave
That mightily deceives you.
POET and PAINTER
Do we, my lord?
Ay, and you hear him cog, see him dissemble,
Know his gross patchery, love him, feed him,
Keep in your bosom. Yet remain assured
That he's a made-up villain.
I know none such, my lord.
Look you, I love you well; I'll give you gold,
Rid me these villains from your companies.
Hang them or stab them, drown them in a draught,
Confound them by some course, and come to me,
I'll give you gold enough.
POET and PAINTER
Name them, my lord, let's know them.
You that way, and you this – but two in company –
Each man apart, all single and alone,
Yet an arch-villain keeps him company.
(To the Painter) If, where thou art, two villains shall not be,
Come not near him. (To the Poet) If thou wouldst not reside
But where one villain is, then him abandon.
Hence, pack! There's gold. You came for gold, ye slaves.
(To the Painter) You have work for me. There's payment. Hence!
(To the Poet) You are an alchemist, make gold of that.
Out, rascal dogs!
He beats them off the stage, and retires to his cave
Enter Flavius and two Senators
It is in vain that you would speak with Timon;
For he is set so only to himself
That nothing but himself which looks like man
Is friendly with him.
Bring us to his cave.
It is our part and promise to th' Athenians
To speak with Timon.
At all times alike
Men are not still the same. 'Twas time and griefs
That framed him thus. Time, with his fairer hand,
Offering the fortunes of his former days,
The former man may make him. Bring us to him,
And chance it as it may.
Here is his cave.
Peace and content be here! Lord Timon, Timon,
Look out, and speak to friends. Th' Athenians
By two of their most reverend Senate greet thee.
Speak to them, noble Timon.
Enter Timon out of his cave
Thou sun, that comforts, burn! Speak and be hanged.
For each true word a blister, and each false
Be as a cantherizing to the root o'th' tongue,
Consuming it with speaking!
Worthy Timon –
Of none but such as you, and you of Timon.
The senators of Athens greet thee, Timon.
I thank them, and would send them back the plague,
Could I but catch it for them.
What we are sorry for ourselves in thee.
The senators with one consent of love
Entreat thee back to Athens, who have thought
On special dignities, which vacant lie
For thy best use and wearing.
Toward thee forgetfulness too general-gross;
Which now the public body, which doth seldom
Play the recanter, feeling in itself
A lack of Timon's aid, hath sense withal
Of its own fault, restraining aid to Timon,
And send forth us to make their sorrowed render,
Together with a recompense more fruitful
Than their offence can weigh down by the dram –
Ay, even such heaps and sums of love and wealth
As shall to thee blot out what wrongs were theirs,
And write in thee the figures of their love,
Ever to read them thine.
You witch me in it,
Surprise me to the very brink of tears.
Lend me a fool's heart and a woman's eyes,
And I'll beweep these comforts, worthy senators.
Therefore so please thee to return with us,
And of our Athens, thine and ours, to take
The captainship, thou shalt be met with thanks,
Allowed with absolute power, and thy good name
Live with authority. So soon we shall drive back
Of Alcibiades th' approaches wild,
Who like a boar too savage doth root up
His country's peace.
And shakes his threat'ning sword
Against the walls of Athens.
Therefore, Timon –
Well, sir, I will – therefore I will, sir, thus:
If Alcibiades kill my countrymen,
Let Alcibiades know this of Timon,
That Timon cares not. But if he sack fair Athens,
And take our goodly aged men by th' beards,
Giving our holy virgins to the stain
Of contumelious, beastly, mad-brained war,
Then let him know – and tell him Timon speaks it
In pity of our aged and our youth –
I cannot choose but tell him that I care not,
And let him take't at worst. For their knives care not,
While you have throats to answer. For myself,
answer (v.) 4
suffer the consequences [for], be accountable [for]
There's not a whittle in th' unruly camp
But I do prize it at my love before
The reverend'st throat in Athens. So I leave you
To the protection of the prosperous gods
As thieves to keepers.
Stay not, all's in vain.
Why, I was writing of my epitaph;
It will be seen tomorrow. My long sickness
Of health and living now begins to mend,
And nothing brings me all things. Go, live still;
Be Alcibiades your plague, you his,
And last so long enough.
We speak in vain.
But yet I love my country, and am not
One that rejoices in the common wrack,
As common bruit doth put it.
That's well spoke.
Commend me to my loving countrymen –
These words become your lips as they pass through them.
And enter in our ears like great triumphers
victor, conqueror, general [given a Roman procession of welcome]
In their applauding gates.
Commend me to them,
And tell them that to ease them of their griefs,
Their fears of hostile strokes, their aches, losses,
Their pangs of love, with other incident throes
That nature's fragile vessel doth sustain
In life's uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do them –
I'll teach them to prevent wild Alcibiades' wrath.
I like this well. He will return again.
I have a tree, which grows here in my close,
That mine own use invites me to cut down,
And shortly must I fell it. Tell my friends,
Tell Athens, in the sequence of degree
From high to low throughout, that whoso please
To stop affliction, let him take his haste,
Come hither ere my tree hath felt the axe,
And hang himself. I pray you do my greeting.
Trouble him no further; thus you still shall find him.
Come not to me again, but say to Athens,
Timon hath made his everlasting mansion
Upon the beached verge of the salt flood,
Who once a day with his embossed froth
The turbulent surge shall cover. Thither come,
And let my grave-stone be your oracle.
Lips, let four words go by, and language end:
What is amiss, plague and infection mend!
Graves only be men's works, and death their gain!
Sun, hide thy beams. Timon hath done his reign.
His discontents are unremovably
Coupled to nature.
Our hope in him is dead. Let us return,
And strain what other means is left unto us
In our dear peril.
It requires swift foot.