William Shakespeare: Timon of Athens, Act V
Enter Poet and Painter; Timon watching them from his cave
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.
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 true report that goes of his having.
Good as the best. Promising is the very air o' the 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 judgment that makes it.
Timon comes from his cave, behind
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.
True; When the day serves, before black-corner'd night, Find what thou want'st by free and offer'd light. Come.
I'll meet you at the turn. What a god's gold, That he is worshipp'd in a baser temple Than where swine feed! 'Tis thou that rigg'st the bark and plough'st the foam, Settlest admired reverence in a slave: To thee be worship! and thy saints for aye Be crown'd with plagues that thee alone obey! Fit I meet them.
Sir, 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.
Ye're honest men: ye've heard that I have gold; I am sure you have: speak truth; ye're honest men.
Good honest men! Thou draw'st a counterfeit Best in all Athens: thou'rt, indeed, the best; Thou counterfeit'st most lively.
E'en so, sir, as I say. 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.
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.
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.
You that way and you this, but two in company; Each man apart, all single and alone, Yet an arch-villain keeps him company. If where thou art two villains shall not be, Come not near him. If thou wouldst not reside But where one villain is, then him abandon. Hence, pack! there's gold; you came for gold, ye slaves:
You have work'd for me; there's payment for you: hence!
You are an alchemist; make gold of that. Out, rascal dogs!
Beats them out, and then 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.
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: the Athenians, By two of their most reverend senate, greet thee: Speak to them, noble Timon.
Timon comes from his cave
Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn! Speak, and be hang'd: For each true word, a blister! and each false Be as cauterizing to the root o' the tongue, Consuming it with speaking!
O, forget 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.
They confess 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 fail, restraining aid to Timon; And send forth us, to make their sorrow'd 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, Allow'd with absolute power and thy good name Live with authority: so soon we shall drive back Of Alcibiades the approaches wild, Who, like a boar too savage, doth root up His country's peace.
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 be sack fair Athens, And take our goodly aged men by the beards, Giving our holy virgins to the stain Of contumelious, beastly, mad-brain'd 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, There's not a whittle in the 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.
Why, I was writing of my epitaph; It will be seen to-morrow: 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!
But yet I love my country, and am not One that rejoices in the common wreck, As common bruit doth put it.
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 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.
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 sour 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.
Retires to his cave
Our hope in him is dead: let us return, And strain what other means is left unto us In our dear peril.