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“ Bass. Antonio, I am married to a wife,
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 :
“ Cass. Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?
“ Bru. No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself
“ Cass. 'Tis just. ... Therefore prepare to hear.
And after scandal them; or if you know
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 :
I do not like your faults.
“ Bru. A flatterer's would not, though they do appear
“ Cass. Come Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Sheathe your dagger;
Hath Cassius lived
“ Bru. When I spoke that, I was ill-tempered too.
Before the fatal battle they talk over the issue.
“ Cass. If we do lose this battle, then is this
“ Bru. Think not that Brutus will go bound to Rome:
“ Cass. Forever, and forever, farewell, Brutus !
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!
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 ever lived in the tide of times."
“ Bear with me :
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;
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
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,
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
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
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 :