Timon of Athens

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PAINTER. 'Tis conceiv'd to scope. This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks, With one man beckon'd from the rest below, Bowing his head against the steepy mount To climb his happiness, would be well express'd In our condition.

POET. Nay, sir, but hear me on. All those which were his fellows but of late, Some better than his value, on the moment Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance, Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear, Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him Drink the free air.

PAINTER. Ay, marry, what of these?

POET. When Fortune in her shift and change of mood Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependants, Which labour'd after him to the mountain's top Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down, Not one accompanying his declining foot.

PAINTER. 'Tis common: A thousand moral paintings I can show That shall demonstrate these quick blows of Fortune's More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well To show Lord Timon that mean eyes have seen The foot above the head.

[Trumpets sound. Enter LORD TIMON, addressing himself courteously to every suitor: a MESSENGER from VENTIDIUS talking with him; LUCILIUS and other servants following.]

TIMON. Imprison'd is he, say you?

MESSENGER. Ay, my good lord. Five talents is his debt, His means most short, his creditors most strait: Your honourable letter he desires To those have shut him up; which, failing, Periods his comfort.

TIMON. Noble Ventidius! Well: I am not of that feather to shake off My friend when he must need me. I do know him A gentleman that well deserves a help, Which he shall have: I'll pay the debt and free him.

MESSENGER. Your lordship ever binds him.

TIMON. Commend me to him; I will send his ransom; And being enfranchis'd, bid him come to me. 'Tis not enough to help the feeble up, But to support him after. Fare you well.

MESSENGER. All happiness to your honour.

[Exit.]

[Enter an OLD ATHENIAN.]

OLD ATHENIAN. Lord Timon, hear me speak.

TIMON. Freely, good father.

OLD ATHENIAN. Thou hast a servant nam'd Lucilius.

TIMON. I have so: what of him?

OLD ATHENIAN. Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.

TIMON. Attends he here or no? Lucilius!

LUCILIUS. Here, at your lordship's service.

OLD ATHENIAN. This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature, By night frequents my house. I am a man That from my first have been inclin'd to thrift, And my estate deserves an heir more rais'd Than one which holds a trencher.

TIMON. Well; what further?

OLD ATHENIAN. One only daughter have I, no kin else, On whom I may confer what I have got: The maid is fair, o' the youngest for a bride, And I have bred her at my dearest cost In qualities of the best. This man of thine Attempts her love: I prithee, noble lord, Join with me to forbid him her resort; Myself have spoke in vain.

TIMON. The man is honest.

OLD ATHENIAN. Therefore he will be, Timon: His honesty rewards him in itself; It must not bear my daughter.

TIMON. Does she love him?

OLD ATHENIAN. She is young and apt: Our own precedent passions do instruct us What levity's in youth.

TIMON. [To Lucilius.] Love you the maid?

LUCILIUS. Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.

OLD ATHENIAN. If in her marriage my consent be missing, I call the gods to witness, I will choose Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world, And dispossess her all.

TIMON. How shall she be endow'd, If she be mated with an equal husband?

OLD ATHENIAN. Three talents on the present; in future, all.

TIMON. This gentleman of mine hath serv'd me long: To build his fortune I will strain a little, For 'tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter: What you bestow, in him I'll counterpoise, And make him weigh with her.

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