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Here comes a pair of very strange beasts, which in all tongues are called fools.

      — As You Like It, Act V Scene 4

The Tragedy of Timon of Athens

Act IV

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Scene 1. Without the walls of Athens.

Scene 2. Athens. A room in Timon’s house.

Scene 3. Woods and cave, near the seashore.

---
       

Act IV, Scene 1

Without the walls of Athens.

      next scene .
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[Enter TIMON]

  • Timon. Let me look back upon thee. O thou wall, 1565
    That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth,
    And fence not Athens! Matrons, turn incontinent!
    Obedience fail in children! slaves and fools,
    Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench,
    And minister in their steads! to general filths 1570
    Convert o' the instant, green virginity,
    Do 't in your parents' eyes! bankrupts, hold fast;
    Rather than render back, out with your knives,
    And cut your trusters' throats! bound servants, steal!
    Large-handed robbers your grave masters are, 1575
    And pill by law. Maid, to thy master's bed;
    Thy mistress is o' the brothel! Son of sixteen,
    pluck the lined crutch from thy old limping sire,
    With it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear,
    Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth, 1580
    Domestic awe, night-rest, and neighbourhood,
    Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades,
    Degrees, observances, customs, and laws,
    Decline to your confounding contraries,
    And let confusion live! Plagues, incident to men, 1585
    Your potent and infectious fevers heap
    On Athens, ripe for stroke! Thou cold sciatica,
    Cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt
    As lamely as their manners. Lust and liberty
    Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth, 1590
    That 'gainst the stream of virtue they may strive,
    And drown themselves in riot! Itches, blains,
    Sow all the Athenian bosoms; and their crop
    Be general leprosy! Breath infect breath,
    at their society, as their friendship, may 1595
    merely poison! Nothing I'll bear from thee,
    But nakedness, thou detestable town!
    Take thou that too, with multiplying bans!
    Timon will to the woods; where he shall find
    The unkindest beast more kinder than mankind. 1600
    The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all—
    The Athenians both within and out that wall!
    And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow
    To the whole race of mankind, high and low! Amen.

[Exit]

---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

Athens. A room in Timon’s house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter FLAVIUS, with two or three Servants]

  • First Servant. Hear you, master steward, where's our master?
    Are we undone? cast off? nothing remaining?
  • Flavius. Alack, my fellows, what should I say to you?
    Let me be recorded by the righteous gods, 1610
    I am as poor as you.
  • First Servant. Such a house broke!
    So noble a master fall'n! All gone! and not
    One friend to take his fortune by the arm,
    And go along with him! 1615
  • Second Servant. As we do turn our backs
    From our companion thrown into his grave,
    So his familiars to his buried fortunes
    Slink all away, leave their false vows with him,
    Like empty purses pick'd; and his poor self, 1620
    A dedicated beggar to the air,
    With his disease of all-shunn'd poverty,
    Walks, like contempt, alone. More of our fellows.

[Enter other Servants]

  • Flavius. All broken implements of a ruin'd house. 1625
  • Third Servant. Yet do our hearts wear Timon's livery;
    That see I by our faces; we are fellows still,
    Serving alike in sorrow: leak'd is our bark,
    And we, poor mates, stand on the dying deck,
    Hearing the surges threat: we must all part 1630
    Into this sea of air.
  • Flavius. Good fellows all,
    The latest of my wealth I'll share amongst you.
    Wherever we shall meet, for Timon's sake,
    Let's yet be fellows; let's shake our heads, and say, 1635
    As 'twere a knell unto our master's fortunes,
    'We have seen better days.' Let each take some;
    Nay, put out all your hands. Not one word more:
    Thus part we rich in sorrow, parting poor.
    [Servants embrace, and part several ways] 1640
    O, the fierce wretchedness that glory brings us!
    Who would not wish to be from wealth exempt,
    Since riches point to misery and contempt?
    Who would be so mock'd with glory? or to live
    But in a dream of friendship? 1645
    To have his pomp and all what state compounds
    But only painted, like his varnish'd friends?
    Poor honest lord, brought low by his own heart,
    Undone by goodness! Strange, unusual blood,
    When man's worst sin is, he does too much good! 1650
    Who, then, dares to be half so kind again?
    For bounty, that makes gods, does still mar men.
    My dearest lord, bless'd, to be most accursed,
    Rich, only to be wretched, thy great fortunes
    Are made thy chief afflictions. Alas, kind lord! 1655
    He's flung in rage from this ingrateful seat
    Of monstrous friends, nor has he with him to
    Supply his life, or that which can command it.
    I'll follow and inquire him out:
    I'll ever serve his mind with my best will; 1660
    Whilst I have gold, I'll be his steward still.

[Exit]

---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 3

Woods and cave, near the seashore.

       
---

[Enter TIMON, from the cave]

  • Timon. O blessed breeding sun, draw from the earth
    Rotten humidity; below thy sister's orb 1665
    Infect the air! Twinn'd brothers of one womb,
    Whose procreation, residence, and birth,
    Scarce is dividant, touch them with several fortunes;
    The greater scorns the lesser: not nature,
    To whom all sores lay siege, can bear great fortune, 1670
    But by contempt of nature.
    Raise me this beggar, and deny 't that lord;
    The senator shall bear contempt hereditary,
    The beggar native honour.
    It is the pasture lards the rother's sides, 1675
    The want that makes him lean. Who dares, who dares,
    In purity of manhood stand upright,
    And say 'This man's a flatterer?' if one be,
    So are they all; for every grise of fortune
    Is smooth'd by that below: the learned pate 1680
    Ducks to the golden fool: all is oblique;
    There's nothing level in our cursed natures,
    But direct villany. Therefore, be abhorr'd
    All feasts, societies, and throngs of men!
    His semblable, yea, himself, Timon disdains: 1685
    Destruction fang mankind! Earth, yield me roots!
    [Digging]
    Who seeks for better of thee, sauce his palate
    With thy most operant poison! What is here?
    Gold? yellow, glittering, precious gold? No, gods, 1690
    I am no idle votarist: roots, you clear heavens!
    Thus much of this will make black white, foul fair,
    Wrong right, base noble, old young, coward valiant.
    Ha, you gods! why this? what this, you gods? Why, this
    Will lug your priests and servants from your sides, 1695
    Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads:
    This yellow slave
    Will knit and break religions, bless the accursed,
    Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves
    And give them title, knee and approbation 1700
    With senators on the bench: this is it
    That makes the wappen'd widow wed again;
    She, whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores
    Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spices
    To the April day again. Come, damned earth, 1705
    Thou common whore of mankind, that put'st odds
    Among the route of nations, I will make thee
    Do thy right nature.
    [March afar off]
    Ha! a drum? Thou'rt quick, 1710
    But yet I'll bury thee: thou'lt go, strong thief,
    When gouty keepers of thee cannot stand.
    Nay, stay thou out for earnest.
    [Keeping some gold]
    [Enter ALCIBIADES, with drum and fife, in] 1715
    warlike manner; PHRYNIA and TIMANDRA]
  • Timon. A beast, as thou art. The canker gnaw thy heart,
    For showing me again the eyes of man!
  • Alcibiades. What is thy name? Is man so hateful to thee, 1720
    That art thyself a man?
  • Timon. I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind.
    For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog,
    That I might love thee something.
  • Alcibiades. I know thee well; 1725
    But in thy fortunes am unlearn'd and strange.
  • Timon. I know thee too; and more than that I know thee,
    I not desire to know. Follow thy drum;
    With man's blood paint the ground, gules, gules:
    Religious canons, civil laws are cruel; 1730
    Then what should war be? This fell whore of thine
    Hath in her more destruction than thy sword,
    For all her cherubim look.
  • Timon. I will not kiss thee; then the rot returns 1735
    To thine own lips again.
  • Alcibiades. How came the noble Timon to this change?
  • Timon. As the moon does, by wanting light to give:
    But then renew I could not, like the moon;
    There were no suns to borrow of. 1740
  • Alcibiades. Noble Timon,
    What friendship may I do thee?
  • Timon. None, but to
    Maintain my opinion.
  • Timon. Promise me friendship, but perform none: if thou
    wilt not promise, the gods plague thee, for thou art
    a man! if thou dost perform, confound thee, for
    thou art a man!
  • Alcibiades. I have heard in some sort of thy miseries. 1750
  • Timon. Thou saw'st them, when I had prosperity.
  • Alcibiades. I see them now; then was a blessed time.
  • Timon. As thine is now, held with a brace of harlots.
  • Timandra. Is this the Athenian minion, whom the world
    Voiced so regardfully? 1755
  • Timon. Art thou Timandra?
  • Timon. Be a whore still: they love thee not that use thee;
    Give them diseases, leaving with thee their lust.
    Make use of thy salt hours: season the slaves 1760
    For tubs and baths; bring down rose-cheeked youth
    To the tub-fast and the diet.
  • Alcibiades. Pardon him, sweet Timandra; for his wits
    Are drown'd and lost in his calamities. 1765
    I have but little gold of late, brave Timon,
    The want whereof doth daily make revolt
    In my penurious band: I have heard, and grieved,
    How cursed Athens, mindless of thy worth,
    Forgetting thy great deeds, when neighbour states, 1770
    But for thy sword and fortune, trod upon them,—
  • Timon. I prithee, beat thy drum, and get thee gone.
  • Alcibiades. I am thy friend, and pity thee, dear Timon.
  • Timon. How dost thou pity him whom thou dost trouble?
    I had rather be alone. 1775
  • Alcibiades. Why, fare thee well:
    Here is some gold for thee.
  • Timon. Keep it, I cannot eat it.
  • Alcibiades. When I have laid proud Athens on a heap,—
  • Timon. Warr'st thou 'gainst Athens? 1780
  • Timon. The gods confound them all in thy conquest;
    And thee after, when thou hast conquer'd!
  • Timon. That, by killing of villains, 1785
    Thou wast born to conquer my country.
    Put up thy gold: go on,—here's gold,—go on;
    Be as a planetary plague, when Jove
    Will o'er some high-viced city hang his poison
    In the sick air: let not thy sword skip one: 1790
    Pity not honour'd age for his white beard;
    He is an usurer: strike me the counterfeit matron;
    It is her habit only that is honest,
    Herself's a bawd: let not the virgin's cheek
    Make soft thy trenchant sword; for those milk-paps, 1795
    That through the window-bars bore at men's eyes,
    Are not within the leaf of pity writ,
    But set them down horrible traitors: spare not the babe,
    Whose dimpled smiles from fools exhaust their mercy;
    Think it a bastard, whom the oracle 1800
    Hath doubtfully pronounced thy throat shall cut,
    And mince it sans remorse: swear against objects;
    Put armour on thine ears and on thine eyes;
    Whose proof, nor yells of mothers, maids, nor babes,
    Nor sight of priests in holy vestments bleeding, 1805
    Shall pierce a jot. There's gold to pay soldiers:
    Make large confusion; and, thy fury spent,
    Confounded be thyself! Speak not, be gone.
  • Alcibiades. Hast thou gold yet? I'll take the gold thou
    givest me, 1810
    Not all thy counsel.
  • Timon. Dost thou, or dost thou not, heaven's curse
    upon thee!
  • Phrynia. [with Timandra] Give us some gold, good Timon: hast thou more?
  • Timon. Enough to make a whore forswear her trade, 1815
    And to make whores, a bawd. Hold up, you sluts,
    Your aprons mountant: you are not oathable,
    Although, I know, you 'll swear, terribly swear
    Into strong shudders and to heavenly agues
    The immortal gods that hear you,—spare your oaths, 1820
    I'll trust to your conditions: be whores still;
    And he whose pious breath seeks to convert you,
    Be strong in whore, allure him, burn him up;
    Let your close fire predominate his smoke,
    And be no turncoats: yet may your pains, six months, 1825
    Be quite contrary: and thatch your poor thin roofs
    With burthens of the dead;—some that were hang'd,
    No matter:—wear them, betray with them: whore still;
    Paint till a horse may mire upon your face,
    A pox of wrinkles! 1830
  • Phrynia. [with Timandra] Well, more gold: what then?
    Believe't, that we'll do any thing for gold.
  • Timon. Consumptions sow
    In hollow bones of man; strike their sharp shins,
    And mar men's spurring. Crack the lawyer's voice,
    That he may never more false title plead, 1835
    Nor sound his quillets shrilly: hoar the flamen,
    That scolds against the quality of flesh,
    And not believes himself: down with the nose,
    Down with it flat; take the bridge quite away
    Of him that, his particular to foresee, 1840
    Smells from the general weal: make curl'd-pate
    ruffians bald;
    And let the unscarr'd braggarts of the war
    Derive some pain from you: plague all;
    That your activity may defeat and quell 1845
    The source of all erection. There's more gold:
    Do you damn others, and let this damn you,
    And ditches grave you all!
  • Phrynia. [with Timandra] More counsel with more money, bounteous Timon.
  • Timon. More whore, more mischief first; I have given you earnest. 1850
  • Alcibiades. Strike up the drum towards Athens! Farewell, Timon:
    If I thrive well, I'll visit thee again.
  • Timon. If I hope well, I'll never see thee more.
  • Timon. Yes, thou spokest well of me. 1855
  • Timon. Men daily find it. Get thee away, and take
    Thy beagles with thee.
  • Alcibiades. We but offend him. Strike!
    [Drum beats. Exeunt ALCIBIADES, PHRYNIA,] 1860
    and TIMANDRA]
  • Timon. That nature, being sick of man's unkindness,
    Should yet be hungry! Common mother, thou,
    [Digging]
    Whose womb unmeasurable, and infinite breast, 1865
    Teems, and feeds all; whose self-same mettle,
    Whereof thy proud child, arrogant man, is puff'd,
    Engenders the black toad and adder blue,
    The gilded newt and eyeless venom'd worm,
    With all the abhorred births below crisp heaven 1870
    Whereon Hyperion's quickening fire doth shine;
    Yield him, who all thy human sons doth hate,
    From forth thy plenteous bosom, one poor root!
    Ensear thy fertile and conceptious womb,
    Let it no more bring out ingrateful man! 1875
    Go great with tigers, dragons, wolves, and bears;
    Teem with new monsters, whom thy upward face
    Hath to the marbled mansion all above
    Never presented!—O, a root,—dear thanks!—
    Dry up thy marrows, vines, and plough-torn leas; 1880
    Whereof ungrateful man, with liquorish draughts
    And morsels unctuous, greases his pure mind,
    That from it all consideration slips!
    [Enter APEMANTUS]
    More man? plague, plague! 1885
  • Apemantus. I was directed hither: men report
    Thou dost affect my manners, and dost use them.
  • Timon. 'Tis, then, because thou dost not keep a dog,
    Whom I would imitate: consumption catch thee!
  • Apemantus. This is in thee a nature but infected; 1890
    A poor unmanly melancholy sprung
    From change of fortune. Why this spade? this place?
    This slave-like habit? and these looks of care?
    Thy flatterers yet wear silk, drink wine, lie soft;
    Hug their diseased perfumes, and have forgot 1895
    That ever Timon was. Shame not these woods,
    By putting on the cunning of a carper.
    Be thou a flatterer now, and seek to thrive
    By that which has undone thee: hinge thy knee,
    And let his very breath, whom thou'lt observe, 1900
    Blow off thy cap; praise his most vicious strain,
    And call it excellent: thou wast told thus;
    Thou gavest thine ears like tapsters that bid welcome
    To knaves and all approachers: 'tis most just
    That thou turn rascal; hadst thou wealth again, 1905
    Rascals should have 't. Do not assume my likeness.
  • Timon. Were I like thee, I'ld throw away myself.
  • Apemantus. Thou hast cast away thyself, being like thyself;
    A madman so long, now a fool. What, think'st
    That the bleak air, thy boisterous chamberlain, 1910
    Will put thy shirt on warm? will these moss'd trees,
    That have outlived the eagle, page thy heels,
    And skip where thou point'st out? will the
    cold brook,
    Candied with ice, caudle thy morning taste, 1915
    To cure thy o'er-night's surfeit? Call the creatures
    Whose naked natures live in an the spite
    Of wreakful heaven, whose bare unhoused trunks,
    To the conflicting elements exposed,
    Answer mere nature; bid them flatter thee; 1920
    O, thou shalt find—
  • Timon. A fool of thee: depart.
  • Apemantus. I love thee better now than e'er I did.
  • Timon. I hate thee worse.
  • Timon. Thou flatter'st misery.
  • Apemantus. I flatter not; but say thou art a caitiff.
  • Timon. Why dost thou seek me out?
  • Timon. Always a villain's office or a fool's. 1930
    Dost please thyself in't?
  • Timon. What! a knave too?
  • Apemantus. If thou didst put this sour-cold habit on
    To castigate thy pride, 'twere well: but thou 1935
    Dost it enforcedly; thou'ldst courtier be again,
    Wert thou not beggar. Willing misery
    Outlives encertain pomp, is crown'd before:
    The one is filling still, never complete;
    The other, at high wish: best state, contentless, 1940
    Hath a distracted and most wretched being,
    Worse than the worst, content.
    Thou shouldst desire to die, being miserable.
  • Timon. Not by his breath that is more miserable.
    Thou art a slave, whom Fortune's tender arm 1945
    With favour never clasp'd; but bred a dog.
    Hadst thou, like us from our first swath, proceeded
    The sweet degrees that this brief world affords
    To such as may the passive drugs of it
    Freely command, thou wouldst have plunged thyself 1950
    In general riot; melted down thy youth
    In different beds of lust; and never learn'd
    The icy precepts of respect, but follow'd
    The sugar'd game before thee. But myself,
    Who had the world as my confectionary, 1955
    The mouths, the tongues, the eyes and hearts of men
    At duty, more than I could frame employment,
    That numberless upon me stuck as leaves
    Do on the oak, hive with one winter's brush
    Fell from their boughs and left me open, bare 1960
    For every storm that blows: I, to bear this,
    That never knew but better, is some burden:
    Thy nature did commence in sufferance, time
    Hath made thee hard in't. Why shouldst thou hate men?
    They never flatter'd thee: what hast thou given? 1965
    If thou wilt curse, thy father, that poor rag,
    Must be thy subject, who in spite put stuff
    To some she beggar and compounded thee
    Poor rogue hereditary. Hence, be gone!
    If thou hadst not been born the worst of men, 1970
    Thou hadst been a knave and flatterer.
  • Timon. Ay, that I am not thee.
  • Timon. I, that I am one now:
    Were all the wealth I have shut up in thee,
    I'ld give thee leave to hang it. Get thee gone.
    That the whole life of Athens were in this!
    Thus would I eat it. 1980

[Eating a root]

[Offering him a root]

  • Timon. First mend my company, take away thyself.
  • Apemantus. So I shall mend mine own, by the lack of thine. 1985
  • Timon. 'Tis not well mended so, it is but botch'd;
    if not, I would it were.
  • Apemantus. What wouldst thou have to Athens?
  • Timon. Thee thither in a whirlwind. If thou wilt,
    Tell them there I have gold; look, so I have. 1990
  • Timon. The best and truest;
    For here it sleeps, and does no hired harm.
  • Timon. Under that's above me. 1995
    Where feed'st thou o' days, Apemantus?
  • Apemantus. Where my stomach finds meat; or, rather, where I eat
    it.
  • Timon. Would poison were obedient and knew my mind!
  • Timon. To sauce thy dishes.
  • Apemantus. The middle of humanity thou never knewest, but the
    extremity of both ends: when thou wast in thy gilt
    and thy perfume, they mocked thee for too much
    curiosity; in thy rags thou knowest none, but art 2005
    despised for the contrary. There's a medlar for
    thee, eat it.
  • Timon. On what I hate I feed not.
  • Timon. Ay, though it look like thee. 2010
  • Apemantus. An thou hadst hated meddlers sooner, thou shouldst
    have loved thyself better now. What man didst thou
    ever know unthrift that was beloved after his means?
  • Timon. Who, without those means thou talkest of, didst thou
    ever know beloved? 2015
  • Timon. I understand thee; thou hadst some means to keep a
    dog.
  • Apemantus. What things in the world canst thou nearest compare
    to thy flatterers? 2020
  • Timon. Women nearest; but men, men are the things
    themselves. What wouldst thou do with the world,
    Apemantus, if it lay in thy power?
  • Apemantus. Give it the beasts, to be rid of the men.
  • Timon. Wouldst thou have thyself fall in the confusion of 2025
    men, and remain a beast with the beasts?
  • Timon. A beastly ambition, which the gods grant thee t'
    attain to! If thou wert the lion, the fox would
    beguile thee; if thou wert the lamb, the fox would 2030
    eat three: if thou wert the fox, the lion would
    suspect thee, when peradventure thou wert accused by
    the ass: if thou wert the ass, thy dulness would
    torment thee, and still thou livedst but as a
    breakfast to the wolf: if thou wert the wolf, thy 2035
    greediness would afflict thee, and oft thou shouldst
    hazard thy life for thy dinner: wert thou the
    unicorn, pride and wrath would confound thee and
    make thine own self the conquest of thy fury: wert
    thou a bear, thou wouldst be killed by the horse: 2040
    wert thou a horse, thou wouldst be seized by the
    leopard: wert thou a leopard, thou wert german to
    the lion and the spots of thy kindred were jurors on
    thy life: all thy safety were remotion and thy
    defence absence. What beast couldst thou be, that 2045
    were not subject to a beast? and what a beast art
    thou already, that seest not thy loss in
    transformation!
  • Apemantus. If thou couldst please me with speaking to me, thou
    mightst have hit upon it here: the commonwealth of 2050
    Athens is become a forest of beasts.
  • Timon. How has the ass broke the wall, that thou art out of the city?
  • Apemantus. Yonder comes a poet and a painter: the plague of
    company light upon thee! I will fear to catch it
    and give way: when I know not what else to do, I'll 2055
    see thee again.
  • Timon. When there is nothing living but thee, thou shalt be
    welcome. I had rather be a beggar's dog than Apemantus.
  • Apemantus. Thou art the cap of all the fools alive.
  • Timon. Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon! 2060
  • Apemantus. A plague on thee! thou art too bad to curse.
  • Timon. All villains that do stand by thee are pure.
  • Apemantus. There is no leprosy but what thou speak'st.
  • Timon. If I name thee.
    I'll beat thee, but I should infect my hands. 2065
  • Apemantus. I would my tongue could rot them off!
  • Timon. Away, thou issue of a mangy dog!
    Choler does kill me that thou art alive;
    I swound to see thee.
  • Timon. Away,
    Thou tedious rogue! I am sorry I shall lose
    A stone by thee.

[Throws a stone at him]

  • Timon. Rogue, rogue, rogue!
    I am sick of this false world, and will love nought
    But even the mere necessities upon 't. 2080
    Then, Timon, presently prepare thy grave;
    Lie where the light foam the sea may beat
    Thy grave-stone daily: make thine epitaph,
    That death in me at others' lives may laugh.
    [To the gold] 2085
    O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
    'Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
    Of Hymen's purest bed! thou valiant Mars!
    Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer,
    Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow 2090
    That lies on Dian's lap! thou visible god,
    That solder'st close impossibilities,
    And makest them kiss! that speak'st with
    every tongue,
    To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts! 2095
    Think, thy slave man rebels, and by thy virtue
    Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
    May have the world in empire!
  • Apemantus. Would 'twere so!
    But not till I am dead. I'll say thou'st gold: 2100
    Thou wilt be throng'd to shortly.
  • Timon. Thy back, I prithee.
  • Timon. Long live so, and so die.
    [Exit APEMANTUS]
    I am quit.
    Moe things like men! Eat, Timon, and abhor them.

[Enter Banditti]

  • First Bandit. Where should he have this gold? It is some poor
    fragment, some slender sort of his remainder: the
    mere want of gold, and the falling-from of his
    friends, drove him into this melancholy.
  • Third Bandit. Let us make the assay upon him: if he care not
    for't, he will supply us easily; if he covetously
    reserve it, how shall's get it?
  • Timon. Now, thieves? 2125
  • Timon. Both too; and women's sons.
  • Banditti. We are not thieves, but men that much do want.
  • Timon. Your greatest want is, you want much of meat.
    Why should you want? Behold, the earth hath roots; 2130
    Within this mile break forth a hundred springs;
    The oaks bear mast, the briers scarlet hips;
    The bounteous housewife, nature, on each bush
    Lays her full mess before you. Want! why want?
  • First Bandit. We cannot live on grass, on berries, water, 2135
    As beasts and birds and fishes.
  • Timon. Nor on the beasts themselves, the birds, and fishes;
    You must eat men. Yet thanks I must you con
    That you are thieves profess'd, that you work not
    In holier shapes: for there is boundless theft 2140
    In limited professions. Rascal thieves,
    Here's gold. Go, suck the subtle blood o' the grape,
    Till the high fever seethe your blood to froth,
    And so 'scape hanging: trust not the physician;
    His antidotes are poison, and he slays 2145
    Moe than you rob: take wealth and lives together;
    Do villany, do, since you protest to do't,
    Like workmen. I'll example you with thievery.
    The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
    Robs the vast sea: the moon's an arrant thief, 2150
    And her pale fire she snatches from the sun:
    The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves
    The moon into salt tears: the earth's a thief,
    That feeds and breeds by a composture stolen
    From general excrement: each thing's a thief: 2155
    The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
    Have uncheque'd theft. Love not yourselves: away,
    Rob one another. There's more gold. Cut throats:
    All that you meet are thieves: to Athens go,
    Break open shops; nothing can you steal, 2160
    But thieves do lose it: steal no less for this
    I give you; and gold confound you howsoe'er! Amen.
  • Third Bandit. Has almost charmed me from my profession, by
    persuading me to it.
  • First Bandit. 'Tis in the malice of mankind that he thus advises 2165
    us; not to have us thrive in our mystery.
  • Second Bandit. I'll believe him as an enemy, and give over my trade.
  • First Bandit. Let us first see peace in Athens: there is no time
    so miserable but a man may be true.

[Exeunt Banditti]

[Enter FLAVIUS]

  • Flavius. O you gods!
    Is yond despised and ruinous man my lord?
    Full of decay and failing? O monument
    And wonder of good deeds evilly bestow'd! 2175
    What an alteration of honour
    Has desperate want made!
    What viler thing upon the earth than friends
    Who can bring noblest minds to basest ends!
    How rarely does it meet with this time's guise, 2180
    When man was wish'd to love his enemies!
    Grant I may ever love, and rather woo
    Those that would mischief me than those that do!
    Has caught me in his eye: I will present
    My honest grief unto him; and, as my lord, 2185
    Still serve him with my life. My dearest master!
  • Timon. Away! what art thou?
  • Timon. Why dost ask that? I have forgot all men;
    Then, if thou grant'st thou'rt a man, I have forgot thee. 2190
  • Flavius. An honest poor servant of yours.
  • Timon. Then I know thee not:
    I never had honest man about me, I; all
    I kept were knaves, to serve in meat to villains.
  • Flavius. The gods are witness, 2195
    Ne'er did poor steward wear a truer grief
    For his undone lord than mine eyes for you.
  • Timon. What, dost thou weep? Come nearer. Then I
    love thee,
    Because thou art a woman, and disclaim'st 2200
    Flinty mankind; whose eyes do never give
    But thorough lust and laughter. Pity's sleeping:
    Strange times, that weep with laughing, not with weeping!
  • Flavius. I beg of you to know me, good my lord,
    To accept my grief and whilst this poor wealth lasts 2205
    To entertain me as your steward still.
  • Timon. Had I a steward
    So true, so just, and now so comfortable?
    It almost turns my dangerous nature mild.
    Let me behold thy face. Surely, this man 2210
    Was born of woman.
    Forgive my general and exceptless rashness,
    You perpetual-sober gods! I do proclaim
    One honest man—mistake me not—but one;
    No more, I pray,—and he's a steward. 2215
    How fain would I have hated all mankind!
    And thou redeem'st thyself: but all, save thee,
    I fell with curses.
    Methinks thou art more honest now than wise;
    For, by oppressing and betraying me, 2220
    Thou mightst have sooner got another service:
    For many so arrive at second masters,
    Upon their first lord's neck. But tell me true—
    For I must ever doubt, though ne'er so sure—
    Is not thy kindness subtle, covetous, 2225
    If not a usuring kindness, and, as rich men deal gifts,
    Expecting in return twenty for one?
  • Flavius. No, my most worthy master; in whose breast
    Doubt and suspect, alas, are placed too late:
    You should have fear'd false times when you did feast: 2230
    Suspect still comes where an estate is least.
    That which I show, heaven knows, is merely love,
    Duty and zeal to your unmatched mind,
    Care of your food and living; and, believe it,
    My most honour'd lord, 2235
    For any benefit that points to me,
    Either in hope or present, I'ld exchange
    For this one wish, that you had power and wealth
    To requite me, by making rich yourself.
  • Timon. Look thee, 'tis so! Thou singly honest man, 2240
    Here, take: the gods out of my misery
    Have sent thee treasure. Go, live rich and happy;
    But thus condition'd: thou shalt build from men;
    Hate all, curse all, show charity to none,
    But let the famish'd flesh slide from the bone, 2245
    Ere thou relieve the beggar; give to dogs
    What thou deny'st to men; let prisons swallow 'em,
    Debts wither 'em to nothing; be men like
    blasted woods,
    And may diseases lick up their false bloods! 2250
    And so farewell and thrive.
  • Flavius. O, let me stay,
    And comfort you, my master.
  • Timon. If thou hatest curses,
    Stay not; fly, whilst thou art blest and free: 2255
    Ne'er see thou man, and let me ne'er see thee.

[Exit FLAVIUS. TIMON retires to his cave]

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