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The Life of Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare [Craig edition]

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TIMON.
Will you indeed?

BOTH.
Doubt it not, worthy lord.

TIMON.
There's never a one of you but trusts a knave
That mightily deceives you.

BOTH.
Do we, my lord?

TIMON.
Ay, and you hear him cog, see him dissemble,
Know his gross patchery, love him, feed him,
Keep in your bosom; yet remain assur'd
That he's a made-up villain.

PAINTER.
I know not such, my lord.

POET.
Nor I.

TIMON.
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.

BOTH.
Name them, my lord; let's know them.

TIMON.
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 villians 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!

[Beats them out and then returns to his cave.]

[Enter FLAVIUS and two SENATORS.]

FLAVIUS.
It is 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.

FIRST SENATOR.
Bring us to his cave.
It is our part and promise to the Athenians
To speak with Timon.

SECOND SENATOR.
At all times alike
Men are not still the same; 'twas time and griefs
That fram'd 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.

FLAVIUS.
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.

[Enter TIMON from his cave.]

TIMON.
Thou sun that comfort'st, burn! Speak and be hang'd!
For each true word, a blister! and each false
Be as a cauterizing to the root o' the tongue,
Consuming it with speaking!

FIRST SENATOR.
Worthy Timon,--

TIMON.
Of none but such as you, and you of Timon.

FIRST SENATOR.
The senators of Athens greet thee, Timon.

TIMON.
I thank them; and would send them back the plague,
Could I but catch it for them.

FIRST SENATOR.
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.

SECOND SENATOR.
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 it 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.

TIMON.
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.

FIRST SENATOR.
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.

SECOND SENATOR.
And shakes his threat'ning sword
Against the walls of Athens.

FIRST SENATOR.
Therefore, Timon,--

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 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.

FLAVIUS.
Stay not, all's in vain.

TIMON.
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!

FIRST SENATOR.
We speak in vain.

TIMON.
But yet I love my country, and am not
One that rejoices in the common wrack,
As common bruit doth put it.

FIRST SENATOR.
That's well spoke.

TIMON.
Commend me to my loving countrymen,--

FIRST SENATOR.
These words become your lips as they pass through
them.

SECOND SENATOR.
And enter in our ears like great triumphers
In their applauding gates.

TIMON.
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.

FIRST SENATOR.
I like this well; he will return again.

TIMON.
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.

FLAVIUS.
Trouble him no further; thus you still shall find him.

TIMON.
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 gravestone 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.

[Exit TIMON into his cave.]

FIRST SENATOR.
His discontents are unremovably
Coupled to nature.

SECOND SENATOR.
Our hope in him is dead. Let us return
And strain what other means is left unto us
In our dear peril.

FIRST SENATOR.
It requires swift foot.

[Exeunt.]

Scene II. Before the walls of Athens.

[Enter two other SENATORS with a MESSENGER.]

FIRST SENATOR.
Thou hast painfully discover'd; are his files
As full as thy report?

MESSENGER.
I have spoke the least.
Besides, his expedition promises
Present approach.

SECOND SENATOR.
We stand much hazard if they bring not Timon.

MESSENGER.
I met a courier, one mine ancient friend,
Whom, though in general part we were oppos'd,
Yet our old love had a particular force,
And made us speak like friends. This man was riding
From Alcibiades to Timon's cave
With letters of entreaty, which imported
His fellowship i' the cause against your city,
In part for his sake mov'd.

[Enter the other SENATORS, from TIMON.]

FIRST SENATOR.
Here come our brothers.

THIRD SENATOR.
No talk of Timon, nothing of him expect.
The enemies' drum is heard, and fearful scouring
Doth choke the air with dust. In, and prepare.
Ours is the fall, I fear; our foes the snare.

[Exeunt.]

Scene III. The Woods. TIMON's cave, and a rude tomb seen.

[Enter a SOLDIER in the woods, seeking TIMON.]

SOLDIER.
By all description this should be the place.
Who's here? Speak, ho! No answer! What is this?
Timon is dead, who hath outstretch'd his span.
Some beast rear'd this; here does not live a man.
Dead, sure; and this his grave. What's on this tomb
I cannot read; the character I'll take with wax.
Our captain hath in every figure skill,
An ag'd interpreter, though young in days;
Before proud Athens he's set down by this,
Whose fall the mark of his ambition is.

[Exit.]

Scene IV. Before the walls of Athens

[Trumpets sound. Enter ALCIBIADES with his powers.]

ALCIBIADES.
Sound to this coward and lascivious town
Our terrible approach.

[A parley sounded. The SENATORS appear upon the walls.]

Till now you have gone on and fill'd the time
With all licentious measure, making your wills
The scope of justice; till now, myself, and such
As slept within the shadow of your power,
Have wander'd with our travers'd arms, and breath'd
Our sufferance vainly. Now the time is flush,
When crouching marrow, in the bearer strong,
Cries of itself, 'No more!' Now breathless wrong
Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease,
And pursy insolence shall break his wind
With fear and horrid flight.

FIRST SENATOR.
Noble and young,
When thy first griefs were but a mere conceit,
Ere thou hadst power or we had cause of fear,
We sent to thee, to give thy rages balm,
To wipe out our ingratitude with loves
Above their quantity.

SECOND SENATOR.
So did we woo
Transformed Timon to our city's love
By humble message and by promis'd means.
We were not all unkind, nor all deserve
The common stroke of war.

FIRST SENATOR.
These walls of ours
Were not erected by their hands from whom
You have receiv'd your griefs; nor are they such
That these great towers, trophies, and schools, should fall
For private faults in them.

SECOND SENATOR.
Nor are they living
Who were the motives that you first went out;
Shame, that they wanted cunning, in excess
Hath broke their hearts. March, noble lord,
Into our city with thy banners spread.
By decimation and a tithed death,--
If thy revenges hunger for that food
Which nature loathes,-take thou the destin'd tenth,
And by the hazard of the spotted die
Let die the spotted.

FIRST SENATOR.
All have not offended;
For those that were, it is not square to take,
On those that are, revenge: crimes, like lands,
Are not inherited. Then, dear countryman,
Bring in thy ranks, but leave without thy rage;
Spare thy Athenian cradle, and those kin
Which, in the bluster of thy wrath, must fall
With those that have offended. Like a shepherd
Approach the fold and cull th' infected forth,
But kill not all together.

SECOND SENATOR.
What thou wilt,
Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile
Than hew to 't with thy sword.

FIRST SENATOR.
Set but thy foot
Against our rampir'd gates and they shall ope,
So thou wilt send thy gentle heart before
To say thou'lt enter friendly.

SECOND SENATOR.
Throw thy glove,
Or any token of thine honour else,
That thou wilt use the wars as thy redress
And not as our confusion, all thy powers
Shall make their harbour in our town till we
Have seal'd thy full desire.

ALCIBIADES.
Then there's my glove;
Descend, and open your uncharged ports.
Those enemies of Timon's and mine own,
Whom you yourselves shall set out for reproof,
Fall, and no more. And, to atone your fears
With my more noble meaning, not a man
Shall pass his quarter or offend the stream
Of regular justice in your city's bounds,
But shall be render'd to your public laws
At heaviest answer.

BOTH.
'Tis most nobly spoken.

ALCIBIADES.
Descend, and keep your words.

[The SENATORS descend and open the gates.]

[Enter a SOLDIER.]

SOLDIER.
My noble General, Timon is dead;
Entomb'd upon the very hem o' the sea;
And on his gravestone this insculpture, which
With wax I brought away, whose soft impression
Interprets for my poor ignorance.

[ALCIBIADES reads the Epitaph.]

'Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft;
Seek not my name. A plague consume you wicked caitiffs left!
Here lie I, Timon, who alive all living men did hate.
Pass by, and curse thy fill; but pass, and stay not here thy
gait.'
These well express in thee thy latter spirits.
Though thou abhorr'dst in us our human griefs,
Scorn'dst our brain's flow, and those our droplets which
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead
Is noble Timon, of whose memory
Hereafter more. Bring me into your city,
And I will use the olive with my sword;
Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each
Prescribe to other,as each other's leech.
Let our drums strike.

[Exeunt.]

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