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OPEN-HANDED, open-hearted Timon is the type and representative of a class too numerous with reference to their own happiness, and not enough so for the happiness and tranquillity of the world. Were all men Timons in disposition, we might soon see, in great part, the realization of good old Glo'ster's noble wish, that “ distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough.” Nor could any harm result from an ultra-generosity thus universal; since, though all would be willing to give even more than they could afford, yet none would be willing to take but those who actually wanted. Beings like the crazy Misanthrope before us (for crazed he is, in h'; hewildering misery), feeling themselves at the outset all goodness and transparent innocence, are absolutely unfurnished with any criterion by which they can estimate the curiously-compounded clay of ordinary mortais; they have no plummet by which they may sound the depths and shoals of human nature; no diving-bell, furnished by their own consciences, by whose aid they might descend to view the “ dirt and sea-weed” that lie so wondrously intermingled with
“ inestimable stones, unvalued jewels," at the bottom of that fearful ocean. The natural consequence is that, finding their first pure thoughts erroneous, they have no resource but to rush to the opposite extreme, and end with seeing nothing but what is base and ungenerous in the race whom they heretofore imagined to be all perfection.— The true theory appears to be, that man is naturally an imperfect being, neither all vice nor all virtue; furnished, for the most part, with a preponderating portion of good qualities, which may, under favorable circumstances, be increased to an indefinite extent: yet still, by the very law of its being, doomed to remain imperfect at the best. Those amiable enthusiasts who adopt the hypothesis that all the viler qualities of mankind are the result of vicious training, will find their conclusions no less unsound, though less pernicious, than those of the Swifts and Rochefoucaults, who would fain persuade us, in defiance both of sensation and observation - nay, in despite of their own conduct and character - that all apparent virtue is but selfishness in masquerade.
The minor characters in the present drama are all excellently adapted to bring out the one great purpose of the Poet; and we have to thank his unfailing good-nature that, in the midst of its disgust and indignation with the false friends, he has allowed the mind to repose with complacency on the tenderness and fidelity of the steward, Flavius, and the minor servants of “so noble a master" as hapless Timon.— Apemantus, the cynic, is the character second in importance to the principal, and it is delineated with equal felicity. His spontaneous misanthropy, compared with the woe-induced frenzy of the fine-natured Timon, is as the natural bitterness of the sloe to the generous grape that has been killed and withered by untimely frost; or as the sterile, branchless poplar to the noble, sheltering oak, which, in the very prime of its picturesque beauty, has been stripped and prostrated by the ruthless storm.
The story of the Misanthrope is stated, by Dr. Farmer, to be told in almost every collection of Shakspeare's time; and particularly in two books with which the Poet was intimately acquainted — Painter's “ PALACE OF PLEASURE," and North's translation of " PLUTARCH.” Malone is of opinion that the play is founded on the following passage in the “ LIFE OF ANTONY," as given in the last-named work :-“ Antonius forsook the city, and company of his friends; saying that he would lead Timon's life, because he had the like wrong offered him that was offered unto Timon; and for the unthankfulness of those he had done good unto, and whom he took to be his friends, he was angry with all men, and would trust no man.” Lucian's dialogue of “ TIMON " is generally supposed to have had some influence over the composition of the Poet, “ although " says Mr. Skottowe, “the channel through which that influence was communicated is no longer to be traced ;" — as it is not known that any translation of the dialogue existed in Shakspeare's age.
“ Timox of ATHENS” was first published in the original folio, (1623). The date of its composition can be but conjectured. Malone assigns it to the year 1610.
Servants to TIMON's Creditors.
PHRYNIA, I Mistresses to ALCIBIADES.
SCENE. Athens; and the Woods adjoining.
Timon of athens.
SCENE I. — Athens. A Hall in Timon's House. Mer. 'T is a good form. [Looking at the jewel.
Jew. And rich : here is a water, look you. Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweler, Merchant, and
Pain. You are apt, sir, in some work, some others, at several doors.
dedication Poet. Good day, sir.
To the great lord. Pain. I am glad you are well.
Poet. A thing slipped idly from me. Poet. I have pot seen you long; how goes the Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes world?
From where 't is nourished. The fire i' the flint Pain. It wears, sir, as it grows.
Shews not till it be struck : our gentle flame Poet. Ay, that's well known :
Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies Bat what particular rarity? what strange, Each bound it chafes. — What have you there? Which manifold record not matches ? - See, Pain. A picture, sir. — When comes your book Magic of bounty ! all these spirits thy power I
forth ? Hath cónjured to attend. I know the merchant. Poet. Upon my heels of my presentment, sir — Pain. I know them both; the other 's a jew- Let's see your piece. eler.
Pain. 'Tis a good piece. Mer. 0, 't is a worthy lord !
Poet. So 't is : this comes off well and excellent. Jew. Nay, that's most fixed.
Pain. Indifferent. Mer. A most incomparable man; breathed, as Poet. Admirable! How this grace it were,
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power To an untirable and continuate goodness : This eye shoots forth! how big imagination He passes.
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture Jew. I have a jewel here.
One might interpret. Mer. O, pray, let's see 't: for the lord Timon, Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life. sir ?
Here is a touch : is 't good ? Jew. If he will touch the estimate : but, for Poet. I'll say of it. that
It tutors nature : artificial strife
Live in these touches, livelier than life.
Enter certain Senators, and pass over.
Pain. How this lord is followed ! Which aptly sings the good.”
Poet. The senators of Athens :— happy men!
Pain. Look; more!
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him Poet. You see this confluence, this great flood Drink the free air. of visitors.
Pain. Ay, marry, what of these? I have, in this rough work, shaped out a man, I Poet. When Fortune, in her shift and change Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug
of mood, With amplest entertainment: my free drift Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependents, Halts not particularly, but moves itself
Which labored after him to the mountain's top,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.
A thousand moral paintings I can shew,
tune You see how all conditions, how all minds More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well (As well of glib and slippery creatures, as To shew lord Timon that mean eyes have seen Of grave and austere quality), tender down The foot above the head. Their services to lord Timon; his large fortune,
| Trumpet sounds. Enter Timon, attended; the Upon his good and gracious nature hanging, Subdues and properties to his love and tendance
Servant of VENTIDIUS talking with him. All sorts of hearts; yea, from the glass-faced flat Tim. Imprisoned is he, say you ? terer
Ven. Serv. Ay, my good lord : five talents is To Apemantus, that few things loves better
his debt; Than to abhor himself; even he drops down His means most short, his creditors most strait : The knee before him, and returns in peace | Your honorable letter he desires Most rich in Timon's nod.
To those have shut him up; which failing to him, Pain. I saw them speak together. Periods his comfort.
Poet. Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill Tim. Noble Ventidius! Well; Feigned Fortune to be throned: the base o'the I am not of that feather to shake off mount
My friend when he must need me. I do know Is ranked with all deserts, all kind of natures, I him That labor on the bosom of this sphere
A gentleman that well deserves a help, To propagate their states : amongst them all, Which he shall have: I'll pay the debt, and free Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady fixed,
him. One do I personate of lord Timon's frame,
Ven. Serv. Your lordship ever binds him. Whom Fortune with her ivory hand wafts to her; Tim. Commend me to him: I will send his Whose present grace to present slaves and servants
ransom; Translates his rivals.
And, being enfranchised, bid him come to me: Pain. 'Tis conceived to scope. 'Tis not enough to help the feeble up, This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks, But to support him after. — Fare you well. With one man beckoned from the rest below, Ven. Serv. All happiness to your honor! [Exit. Bowing his head against the steepy mount To climb his happiness, would be well expressed
Enter an Old Athenian. In our condition.
Old Ath. Lord Timon, hear me speak. Poet. Nay, sir, but hear me on:
Tim. Freely, good father. All those which were his fellows but of late Old Ath. Thou hast a servant named Lucilius. (Some better than his value), on the moment Tim. I have so: what of him? Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance, Old Ath. Most noble Timon, call the man beRain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
Tim. Attends he here, or no? - Lucilius! Luc. Humbly I thank your lordship: never
may Enter LUCILIUS.
That state or fortune fall into my keeping Luc. Here, at your lordship’s service.
Which is not owed to you ! Old Ath. This fellow here, lord Timon, this thy
[Exeunt LUCILIUS and Old Athenian. creature,
Poet. Vouchsafe my labor, and long live your By night frequents my house. I am a man
lordship! That from my first have been inclined to thrift; | Tim. I thank you; you shall hear from me And my estate deserves an heir more raised
anon : Than one which holds a trencher.
Go not away. — What have you there, my friend? Tim. Well; what further ?
Pain. A piece of painting, which I do beseech
Tim. Painting is welcome.
For since dishonor traffics with man's nature,
And you shall find I like it: wait attendance Myself haye spoke in vain.
Till you hear further from me. Tin. The man is honest.
Pain. The gods preserve you ! Old Ath. Therefore he will be, Timon :
Tim. Well fare you, gentlemen : give me your His honesty rewards him in itself,
hand; It must not bear my daughter.
We must needs dine together. — Sir, your jewel Tim. Does she love him?
Hath suffered under praise. Old Ath. She is young and apt:
Jew. What, my lord ? dispraise ? Our own precédent passions do instruct us
Tim. A mere satiety of commendations. What levity's in youth.
If I should pay you for’t as 't is extolled, Tim. [To LUCILIUS]. Love you the maid ? It would unclew me quite. Luc. Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it. / Jew. My lord, 't is rated Old Ath. If in her marriage my consent be As those which sell would give: but you well missing,
know, I call the gods to witness, I will choose
Things of like value, differing in the owners, Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world, Are prized by their masters : believe’t, dear lord, And dispossess her all.
You mend the jewel by the wearing it. Tim. How shall she be endowed,
Tim. Well mocked. If she be mated with an equal husband ?
Mer. No, my good lord; he speaks the common Old Ath. Three talents, on the present; in fu
tongue, ture, all.
Which all men speak with him. Tim. This gentleman of mine hath served me Tim. Look who comes here. Will you be chid ? long;
Tim. Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus. Old Ath. Most noble lord,
Apem. Till I be gentle, stay for thy good morPawn me to this your honor, she is his.
row; Tim. My hand to thee; mine honor on my When thou art Timon's dog, and these knaves promise.