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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene II.

Timon of Athens

The Same.A Hall in TIMON’S House.

Enter FLAVIUS, with many bills in his hand.

Flav.No care, no stop! so senseless of expense,

That he will neither know how to maintain it,

Nor cease his flow of riot: takes no account

How things go from him, nor resumes no care

Of what is to continue: never mind

Was to be so unwise, to be so kind.

What shall be done? He will not hear, till feel:

I must be round with him, now he comes from hunting.

Fie, fie, fie, fie!

Enter CAPHIS, and the Servants of ISIDORE and VARRO.

Caph.Good even, Varro. What!

You come for money?

Var. Serv.Is ’t not your business too?

Caph.It is: and yours too, Isidore?

Isid. Serv.It is so.

Caph.Would we were all discharg’d!

Var. Serv.I fear it.

Caph.Here comes the lord!

Enter TIMON, ALCIBIADES, and Lords, &c.

Tim.So soon as dinner’s done, we’ll forth again,

My Alcibiades. With me? what is your will?

Caph.My lord, here is a note of certain dues.

Tim.Dues! Whence are you?

Caph.Of Athens here, my lord.

Tim.Go to my steward.

Caph.Please it your lordship, he hath put me off

To the succession of new days this month:

My master is awak’d by great occasion

To call upon his own; and humbly prays you

That with your other noble parts you’ll suit

In giving him his right.

Tim.Mine honest friend,

I prithee, but repair to me next morning.

Caph.Nay, good my lord,—

Tim.Contain thyself, good friend.

Var. Serv.One Varro’s servant, my good lord,—

Isid. Serv.From Isidore;

He humbly prays your speedy payment.

Caph.If you did know, my lord, my master’s wants,—

Var. Serv.’Twas due on forfeiture, my lord, six weeks

And past.

Isid. Serv.Your steward puts me off, my lord;

And I am sent expressly to your lordship.

Tim.Give me breath.

I do beseech you, good my lords, keep on;

I’ll wait upon you instantly.[Exeunt ALCIBIADES and Lords.

[To FLAVIUS.]Come hither: pray you,

How goes the world, that I am thus encounter’d

With clamorous demands of date-broke bonds,

And the detention of long-since-due debts,

Against my honour?

Flav.Please you, gentlemen,

The time is unagreeable to this business:

Your importunacy cease till after dinner,

That I may make his lordship understand

Wherefore you are not paid.

Tim.Do so, my friends.

See them well entertained.[Exit.

Flav.Pray, draw near.[Exit.

Enter APEMANTUS and Fool.

Caph.Stay, stay; here comes the fool with Apemantus: let’s ha’ some sport with ’em.

Var. Serv.Hang him, he’ll abuse us.

Isid. Serv.A plague upon him, dog!

Var. Serv.How dost, fool?

Apem.Dost dialogue with thy shadow?

Var. Serv.I speak not to thee.

Apem.No; ’tis to thyself.[To the Fool.]Come away.

Isid. Serv.[To VAR. Serv.]There’s the fool hangs on your back already.

Apem.No, thou stand’st single; thou’rt not on him yet.

Caph.Where’s the fool now?

Apem.He last asked the question. Poor rogues, and usurers’ men! bawds between gold and want!

All Serv.What are we, Apemantus?


All Serv.Why?

Apem.That you ask me what you are, and do not know yourselves. Speak to ’em, fool.

Fool.How do you, gentlemen?

All Serv.Gramercies, good fool. How does your mistress?

Fool.She’s e’en setting on water to scald such chickens as you are. Would we could see you at Corinth!

Apem.Good! gramercy.

Enter Page.

Fool.Look you, here comes my mistress’ page.

Page.[To the Fool.]Why, how now, captain! what do you in this wise company? How dost thou, Apemantus?

Apem.Would I had a rod in my mouth, that I might answer thee profitably.

PagePrithee, Apemantus, read me the superscription of these letters: I know not which is which.

Apem.Canst not read?


Apem.There will little learning die then that day thou art hanged. This is to Lord Timon; this to Alcibiades. Go; thou wast born a bastard, and thou’lt die a bawd.

Page.Thou wast whelped a dog, and thou shalt famish a dog’s death. Answer not; I am gone.[Exit Page.

Apem.E’en so thou outrunn’st grace.—Fool, I will go with you to Lord Timon’s.

Fool.Will you leave me there?

Apem.If Timon stay at home. You three serve three usurers?

All Serv.Ay; would they served us!

Apem.So would I, as good a trick as ever hangman served thief.

Fool.Are you three usurers’ men?

All Serv.Ay, fool.

Fool.I think no usurer but has a fool to his servant: my mistress is one, and I am her fool. When men come to borrow of your masters, they approach sadly, and go away merry; but they enter my mistress’ house merrily, and go away sadly: the reason of this?

Var. Serv.I could render one.

Apem.Do it, then, that we may account thee a whoremaster and a knave; which, notwithstanding, thou shalt be no less esteemed.

Var. Serv.What is a whoremaster, fool?

Fool.A fool in good clothes, and something like thee. ’Tis a spirit: sometime ’t appears like a lord; sometime like a lawyer; sometime like a philosopher, with two stones more than ’s artificial one. He is very often like a knight; and generally in all shapes that man goes up and down in from fourscore to thirteen, this spirit walks in.

Var. Serv.Thou art not altogether a fool.

Fool.Nor thou altogether a wise man: as much foolery as I have, so much wit thou lackest.

Apem.That answer might have become Apemantus.

All Serv.Aside, aside; here comes Lord Timon.

Re-enter TIMON and FLAVIUS.

Apem.Come with me, fool, come.

Fool.I do not always follow lover, elder brother and woman; sometimes the philosopher.[Exeunt APEMANTUS and Fool.

Flav.Pray you, walk near: I’ll speak with you anon.[Exeunt Servants.

Tim.You make me marvel: wherefore, ere this time,

Had you not fully laid my state before me,

That I might so have rated my expense

As I had leave of means?

Flav.You would not hear me,

At many leisures I propos’d.

Tim.Go to:

Perchance some single vantages you took,

When my indisposition put you back;

And that unaptness made your minister,

Thus to excuse yourself.

Flav.O my good lord!

At many times I brought in my accounts,

Laid them before you; you would throw them off,

And say you found them in mine honesty.

When for some trifling present you have bid me

Return so much, I have shook my head, and wept;

Yea, ’gainst the authority of manners, pray’d you

To hold your hand more close: I did endure

Not seldom, nor no slight checks, when I have

Prompted you in the ebb of your estate

And your great flow of debts. My loved lord,

Though you hear now, too late, yet now’s a time,

The greatest of your having lacks a half

To pay your present debts.

Tim.Let all my land be sold.

Flav.’Tis all engag’d, some forfeited and gone;

And what remains will hardly stop the mouth

Of present dues; the future comes apace:

What shall defend the interim? and at length

How goes our reckoning?

Tim.To Lacedæmon did my land extend.

Flav.O my good lord! the world is but a word;

Were it all yours to give it in a breath,

How quickly were it gone!

Tim.You tell me true.

Flav.If you suspect my husbandry or falsehood,

Call me before the exactest auditors,

And set me on the proof. So the gods bless me,

When all our offices have been oppress’d

With riotous feeders, when our vaults have wept

With drunken spilth of wine, when every room

Hath blaz’d with lights and bray’d with minstrelsy,

I have retir’d me to a wasteful cock,

And set mine eyes at flow.

Tim.Prithee, no more.

Flav.Heavens! have I said, the bounty of this lord!

How many prodigal bits have slaves and peasants

This night englutted! Who is not Timon’s?

What heart, head, sword, force, means, but is Lord Timon’s?

Great Timon, noble, worthy, royal Timon!

Ah! when the means are gone that buy this praise,

The breath is gone whereof this praise is made:

Feast-won, fast-lost; one cloud of winter showers,

These flies are couch’d.

Tim.Come, sermon me no further;

No villanous bounty yet hath pass’d my heart;

Unwisely, not ignobly, have I given.

Why dost thou weep? Canst thou the conscience lack,

To think I shall lack friends? Secure thy heart;

If I would broach the vessels of my love,

And try the argument of hearts by borrowing,

Men and men’s fortunes could I frankly use

As I can bid thee speak.

Flav.Assurance bless your thoughts!

Tim.And, in some sort, these wants of mine are crown’d,

That I account them blessings; for by these

Shall I try friends. You shall perceive how you

Mistake my fortunes; I am wealthy in my friends.

Within there! Flaminius! Servilius!

Enter FLAMINIUS, SERVILIUS, and other Servants.

Serv.My lord! my lord!

Tim.I will dispatch you severally: you, to Lord Lucius; to Lord Lucullus you: I hunted with his honour to-day; you, to Sempronius. Commend me to their loves; and I am proud, say, that my occasions have found time to use them toward a supply of money: let the request be fifty talents.

Flam.As you have said, my lord.

Flav.[Aside.]Lord Lucius, and Lucullus? hum!

Tim.[To another Servant.]Go you, sir, to the senators,—

Of whom, even to the state’s best health, I have

Deserv’d this hearing,—bid ’em send o’ the instant

A thousand talents to me.

Flav.I have been bold,—

For that I knew it the most general way,—

To them to use your signet and your name;

But they do shake their heads, and I am here

No richer in return.

Tim.Is ’t true? can’t be?

Flav.They answer, in a joint and corporate voice,

That now they are at fall, want treasure, cannot

Do what they would; are sorry; you are honourable;

But yet they could have wish’d; they know not;

Something hath been amiss; a noble nature

May catch a wrench; would all were well; ’tis pity;

And so, intending other serious matters,

After distasteful looks and these hard fractions,

With certain half-caps and cold-moving nods

They froze me into silence.

Tim.You gods, reward them!

Prithee, man, look cheerly. These old fellows

Have their ingratitude in them hereditary;

Their blood is cak’d, ’tis cold, it seldom flows;

’Tis lack of kindly warmth they are not kind;

And nature, as it grows again toward earth,

Is fashion’d for the journey, dull and heavy.

[To a Servant.]Go to Ventidius.—[To FLAVIUS.]Prithee, be not sad,

Thou art true and honest; ingenuously I speak,

No blame belongs to thee.—[To Servant.]Ventidius lately

Buried his father; by whose death he’s stepp’d

Into a great estate; when he was poor,

Imprison’d and in scarcity of friends,

I clear’d him with five talents; greet him from me;

Bid him suppose some good necessity

Touches his friend, which craves to be remember’d

With those five talents.[Exit Servant.][To FLAVIUS.]That had, give ’t these fellows

To whom ’tis instant due. Ne’er speak, or think

That Timon’s fortunes ’mong his friends can sink.

Flav.I would I could not think it: that thought is bounty’s foe;

Being free itself, it thinks all others so.[Exeunt.