Imagens das páginas

Bass. Antonio, I am married to a wife,
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteemed above thy life.
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all

Here to this devil, to deliver you.” When all has turned out happily, the three journey together to Belmont. On her threshold Portia meets them, saying, “You are welcome home, my lord.”

Bass. I thank you, madam : give welcome to my friend. This is the man, this is Antonio, To whom I am so infinitely bound.

Por. You should in all sense be much bound to him, For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.

" Ant. No more than I am well acquitted of.

Por. Sir, you are very welcome to our house : It must appear in other ways than words,

Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy." The friendship of Cassius and Brutus is very famous, and equally admired in the closet and on the stage.

Cass. Brutus, I do observe you now of late :
I have not from your eyes that gentleness,
And show of love, as I was wont to have :
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
friend that loves you.

Be not deceived: if I have veiled my look,
I turn the trouble of my countenance
Merely upon myself. Vexed I am
Of late, with passions of some difference:
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved
Nor construe any further my neglect,
Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war,
Forgets the shows of love to other men.

" Bru.

Cass. Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?

Bru. No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself
But by reflection by some other things

Cass. 'Tis just. ... Therefore prepare to hear.
And be not jealous of me, gentle Brutus :
Were I a ommon laugher, or did use
To stale with ordinary oaths my love
To every new protester; if you know
That I do fawn on men, and hug them hard,


And after scandal them; or if you know
That I profess myself in banqueting

To all the rout, then hold me dangerous.” This whole interview, in the second scene of the first act, is superb in genius and eloquence. Though it has not been so popular, it is not a whit inferior in merit to the celebrated tent-scene, where the friends quarrel.

Of this latter scene the conclusion can never fail to move even the most ordinary reader.

Cass. Brutus bath rived my heart :
A friend should bear his friend's infirmities,
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.
" Bru. I do not, till you practise them on me.
Cass. You love me not.

I do not like your faults.
Cass. A friendly eye could never see such faults.

Bru. A flatterer's would not, though they do appear
As huge as high Olympus.

Cass. Come Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius,
For Cassius is aweary of the world :
Hated by one he loves ; braved by his brother;
Checked like a bondman; all his faults observed,
Set in a note-book, learned, and conned by rote,
To cast into my teeth. O, I could weep
My spirit from mine eyes !-- There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart
Dearer than Plutus' mine, richer than gold :
If that thou be'st a Roman, take it forth ;
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart :
Strike as thou didst at Cæsar; for, I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lov’dst him better
Than ever thou lov'dst Cassius.

Sheathe your dagger;
Be angry when you will, it shall have scope;
Do what you will, dishonor shall be humor.
O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
That carries anger as the flint bears fire;
Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark,
And straight is cold again.

Hath Cassius lived
To be but mirth and laughter to his Brutus,
When grief, and blood ill-tempered, vexeth him ?

Bru. When I spoke that, I was ill-tempered too.
Cass. Do you confess so much? Give me your hand.
Bru. And my heart too."

Before the fatal battle they talk over the issue.

Cass. If we do lose this battle, then is this
The very last time we shall speak together :
What are you, then, determined to do?

Bru. Think not that Brutus will go bound to Rome:
He bears too great a mind. But this same day
Must end that work the ides of March begun :
And whether we shall meet again, I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take.
Forever, and forever, farewell, Cassius !
If we do meet again, why we shall smile ;
If not, why then this parting was well made.

Cass. Forever, and forever, farewell, Brutus !
If we do meet again, we 'll smile indeed :

If not, 't is true this parting was well made.” In the midst of the battle, Brutus, coming upon the dead body of his friend, cries :

“ The last of all the Romans, fare thee well!
It is impossible that ever Rome
Should breed thy fellow. Friends, I owe more tears
To this dead man than you shall see me pay.

I shall find time, Cassius, I shall find time.” The friendship of Antony for Cæsar, and of Cæsar for Brutus also, are depicted in this play with an affecting truthfulness of tone and grandeur of rhetoric unparalleled by any other author.

“ 0, pardon me, thou piece of bleeding earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers !
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man

That ever lived in the tide of times."
“O mighty Cæsar! Dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure ?”

“ Bear with me :
My heart is in the coffin there with Cæsar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.”
You all do know this mantle: I remember
The first time ever Cæsar put it

on; 'T was on a summer's evening, in his tent, That day he overcame the Nervii. Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through ; See what a rent the envious Casca made!

Through this, the well-beloved Brutus stabbed;
And, as he plucked his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Cæsar followed it,
As rushing out of doors to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knocked, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar's angel :
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Cæsar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statua,

Which all the while ran blood, great Cæsar fell." “ Timon of Athens” is, in the form of drama, a dissertation on false friendship. It is a terrible reading of human nature, a dire leaf out of life, an appalling revelation of a certain style and phase of character and experience. Never before or since has so tremendous a sermon been preached on flattery, ingratitude, the poisoning of a generous soul into misanthropy. In it is

Shaped out a man
Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug

With amplest entertainment." Crowned is he with youth and grace, state and wealth : servants, rivals, aspirants, all

“ 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." Judging them from himself, the noble-hearted Timon deems all his parasites sincere lovers of his person and devoted courtiers of virtue; and he heaps gifts and favors on them with unstinting hand. When one of them assures him that they wish nothing so much as that he would once use their hearts that they might approve their zeal, he thus eloquently replies:

“O, no doubt, my good friends, but the gods themselves have provided that I shall have much help from you. How had you been my friends else? Why have you that charitable title from thousands, did you not chiefly belong to my heart? I have told more of you to my

[ocr errors]

self, than you can with modesty speak in your own behalf. O, you gods, think I, what need we have any friends, if we should never have Deed of them ? They were the most needless creatures living, and would most resemble sweet instruments hung up in cases, that keep their sounds to themselves. I have often wished myself poorer that I might come nearer to you. We are born to do benefits ; and what better or properer can we call our own, than the riches of our friends ?”

An opportunity is soon afforded to test their sincerity, for his estate is lavished away, and his creditors clamor at his gates. When his faithful steward weeps at his master's ruin, the confiding Timon exclaims :

“ 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.” He sends out his servants to his most intimate comrades, whom he has loaded with a thousand benefits. They all evade his requests. The variety of their lying excuses illustrates their common treachery. The messengers return emptyhanded. The amazed Timon learns that, under the touchstone of his want, all his friends have proved base metal. Disgust, rage, and despair contend in his breast. His credulous prodigality, which was a weakness, though a kindly one, not based on discriminating principle, but on careless sympathy, leaves him exposed to the opposite extreme. He now loathes and hates as abundantly as he trusted and loved before. In his disaster and desertion, to his cynical view, all mankind present hearts of iron full of treason and malice; as in his prosperity, to his complacent gaze, they brought pure and lofty hearts full of disinterested friendship. He breaks into curses on these cap-and-knee slaves, time's flies, trencherfriends, mouth-lovers. Strangers, looking on Timon's ruin, and the heartless infamy of the parasites, feelingly express their pity for him and their scorn for them :

“Why, this
Is the world's soul; and just of the same piece
Is every flatterer's spirit. Who can call him
His friend, that dips in the same dish ? ”

« AnteriorContinuar »