He was blissful, exultant. "I have the appetite of three men, the humour of six men, and good spirits enough to cheer Timon of Athens out of the blues. I am totally indifferent to the future. So much is certain no Circe has power over me any more." Miss Burns congratulated him and laughed heartily. "What happened?" she asked.
But now with music and state the banquet of smoking dishes was served up; and when the guests had a little done admiring whence the bankrupt Timon could find means to furnish so costly a feast, some doubting whether the scene which they saw was real, as scarce trusting their own eyes; at a signal given, the dishes were uncovered, and Timon's drift appeared: instead of those varieties and far-fetched dainties which they expected, that Timon's epicurean table in past times had so liberally presented, now appeared under the covers of these dishes a preparation more suitable to Timon's poverty, nothing but a little smoke and lukewarm water, fit feast for this knot of mouth-friends, whose professions were indeed smoke, and their hearts lukewarm and slippery as the water with which Timon welcomed his astonished guests, bidding them, 'Uncover, dogs, and lap'; and before they could recover their surprise, sprinkling it in their faces, that they might have enough, and throwing dishes and all after them, who now ran huddling out, lords, ladies, with their caps snatched up in haste, a splendid confusion, Timon pursuing them, still calling them what they were, 'smooth smiling parasites, destroyers under the mask of courtesy, affable wolves, meek bears, fools of fortune, feast-friends, time-flies. They, crowding out to avoid him, left the house more willingly than they had entered it; some losing their gowns and caps, and some their jewels in the hurry, all glad to escape out of the presence of such a mad lord, and from the ridicule of his mock banquet.
Unfortunately, the poor lady hankered after the flesh-pots, and endeavored to stay herself with private sips of milk, crackers, and cheese, and on one dire occasion she partook of fish at a neighbor's table. One of the children reported this sad lapse from virtue, and poor Jane was publicly reprimanded by Timon. "I only took a little bit of the tail," sobbed the penitent poetess.
William E. Gladstone was what Etonians called a "sap" in other words, a student faithful in the discharge of every duty devolving upon him at school one who studied his lessons and was prepared for his recitations in the classroom. This agreeable fact has been immortalized in a famous line in Lord Lytton's "New Timon."
Vose took care to turn so sharply to the right that they were speedily out of sight of the spot where he had parted from the fugitives. Everything was going promisingly when Wade Ruggles startled his companions by the exclamation: "Helloa! there's that dog Timon!" A hundred yards to the left rose a pile of rocks, the highest of which reached an altitude of two hundred feet or more.
Sometimes these creatures would go to work in a more direct way, and with gross and palpable artifice, which yet the credulous Timon was too blind to see, would affect to admire and praise something that Timon possessed, a bargain that he had bought, or some late purchase, which was sure to draw from this yielding and soft-hearted lord a gift of the thing commended, for no service in the world done for it but the easy expense of a little cheap and obvious flattery.
Though a man be of so churlish and unsociable a nature as to loathe and shun the company of mankind, as we are told was the case with a certain Timon at Athens, yet even he cannot refrain from seeking some one in whose hearing he may disgorge the venom of his bitter temper.
One has only to look at some of his secondary plays at Troilus and Cressida, for instance, or Timon of Athens to see at once how inveterate and malignant were the diseases to which the dramatic methods of the Elizabethans were a prey.
It was Flavius, the honest steward, whom love and zealous affection to his master had led to seek him out at his wretched dwelling, and to offer his services; and the first sight of his master, the once noble Timon, in that abject condition, naked as he was born, living in the manner of a beast among beasts, looking like his own sad ruins and a monument of decay, so affected this good servant, that he stood speechless, wrapped up in horror, and confounded.
Finally, they lost their temper like two schoolboys, and Timon said he was sorry to lose the stone which he flung at Apemantus, who left him with an evil wish. This was almost an "at home" day for Timon, for when Apemantus had departed, he was visited by some robbers. They wanted gold. "You want too much," said Timon. "Here are water, roots and berries."