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2 Thief. It is noised, he hath a mass of treasure.
3 Thief. 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?
2 Thief. True; for he bears it not about him, 'tis hid.
i Thief. Is not this he? Thieves. Where? 2 Thief. 'Tis his description. 3 Thief. He; I know him. Thieves. Save thee, Timon. Tim. Now, thieves ? Thieves. Soldiers, not thieves. Tim. Both too; and women's sons. Thieves. We are not thieves, but men that much
do want. Tim. Your greatest want is, you want much of
meat. Why should you want? Behold, the earth hath roots; Within this mile break forth a hundred springs: The oaks bear mast, the briars scarlet hips; The bounteous housewife, nature, on each bush Lays her full mess before you. Want? why want?
i Thief. We cannot live on grass, on berries, water, As beasts, and birds, and fishes. Tim. 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 In limited professions. Rascal thieves, Here's gold: Go, suck the subtle blood of the grape, Till the high fever seeth your blood to froth, And so 'scape hanging: trust not the physician; His antidotes are poison, and he slays
* In limited professions.] Regular, orderly, professions.
More than you rob: take wealth and lives together ;
Timon retires to his Cave. 3 Thief. He has almost charmed me from my profession, by persuading me to it.
i Thief. 'Tis in the malice of mankind, that he thus advises us; not to have us thrive in our mystery.
2 Thief. I'll believe him as an enemy, and give over my trade.
i Thief. Let us first see peace in Athens: There is no time so miserable, but a man may be true.
by a composture -] i. e. composition, compost.
Desperate want made !
Timon comes forward from his Cave.
Have you forgot me, sir? Tim. Why dost ask that? I have forgot all men; Then, if thou grant'st thou'rt man, I have forgot
The gods are witness,
• What an alteration of honour has
Desperate want made!) An alteration of honour, is an altera. tion of an honourable state to a state of disgrace.
? How rarely does it meet - ] How curiously; how happily.
Those that would mischief me, than those that do!] It is plain, that in this whole speech friends and enemies are taken only for those who profess friendship and profess enmity; for the friend is supposed not to be more kind, but more dangerous than the enemy. The sense is, Let me rather woo or caress those that would mischief, that profess to mean me mischief, than those that really do me mischief, under false professions of kindness. The Spaniards, I think, have this proverb : Defend me from my friends, and from my enemies I will defend myself. This proverb is a sufficient comment on the passage. Johnson.
Ne'er did poor steward wear a truer grief
then I love thee,
weeping! Flav. I beg of you to know me, good my lord, To accept my grief, and, whilst this poor wealth lasts, To entertain ie as your steward still.
Tim. Had I a steward so true, so just, and now So comfortable? It almost turns My dangerous nature wild. Let me behold Thy face.-Surely, this man was born of woman. Forgive my general and exceptless rashness, Perpetual-sober gods! I do proclaim One honest man,-mistake me not,-but one; No more, I pray,—and he is a steward.— 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, Thou might'st 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, If not a usuring kindness; and as rich men deal
gifts, Expecting in return twenty for one?
- It almost turns Dly dangerous nature wild.] To turn wild is to distract. An appearance so unexpected, says Timon, almost turns my savageness to distraction.
Flav. No, my most worthy master, in whose breast Doubt and suspect, alas, are plac'd too late: You should have fear'd false times, when you did
feast: 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, For any benefit that points to me, Either in hope, or present, I'd exchange For this one'wish, That you had power and wealth To reguite me, by making rich yourself.
Tim. Look thee, 'tis so !--Thou singly honest man, 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, Ere thou relieve the beggar: give to dogs What thoudeny'st to men; let prisons swallow them, Debts wither them: Be men like blasted woods, And may diseases lick up their false bloods! And so, farewell, and thrive. Flav.
O, let me stay, And comfort you, my master.
If thou hat'st Curses, stay not; fly, whilst thou'rt bless'd and free: Ne'er see thou man, and let me ne'er see thee.