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LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE. THIS play, supposed to have been written in 1609, comprebends a period of five or six years. The plebeian citi
zens of Rome, unable to pay their debts from poverty, consequent upon the long war against Tarquin and the Latias, and incensed by the supposed indifference of the senators and patricians, retired with the uudisbanded troops of Valerius, to a mountain about three miles from Ronne, afterwards called Mont Sacer. The city was thrown into great alarm by this defection, and Meuenius, who is described as “ a very discreet person, and a great orator," was sent with other commissioners, to bring about a reconciliation. Here he related to them the fable of the belly and its members; the application of which had such an effect, tbat they were about to follow bim home, when Sicinius and Junius Brutus (two factions fellows) cuaningly demanding a guarantee for the people, were in the end appointed their tribunes, with very extraordinary power. In the year following, there was a severe famine ; and Coriolanus (so called for his exploits at Corioli) with other young patri. cians, making excursions into the enemy's country, returned, laden with corn. Provisions also arriving from Sicily, the senate determined upon selling them at a cheap rate to the poor ; buc Coriolanus proposed the abolition of the tribunesbip, and the retention of the corn, because the people had obstinately refused in tbe expedition sent out to obtain it. The exasperated populace would instantly have thrown him from the Tarpeian rock, but were repulsed by his friends. Being arraigned at the proper tribunal, he defevded himself with so mach grace and energy, that the people called out for his acquittal; whereupon oue of the tribunes artfully and falsely accusing him of illegally appropriating the spoils of war, he was as suddenly sentenced to banishment. Io a spirit of revenge, he offered his services to the Volsciaus, and carried destruction to the very gates of Rome. The city was on the point of being assaulted, when his mother, accompanied by his wife and children, threw herself at his feet, and worked so much upon the feelings of nature, that he granted a peace, and withdrew his troops. On returning to Antium, by the perfidious management of Tullus, he was cat in pieces ere he had time to defend bis conduct : but the Volsci disapproved the assassination, buried him hoBourably, adorned his tomb with trophies, and the Roman womeu mourued for bim twelve months. The puet has adhered very closely to historical farts. Mr. Pope remarks, that Shakspeare is found “to be very knowing in the customs, rites, and manuers of antiquity. In Coriolanus and Julius Cæsar, not only the spirit, but the manners of the Romans are exactly drawo ; and a still nicer distinction is shown between Roman may. bers ia the time of the former and of the latter.” Many of the principal speeches are copied from Plutarcb's Life of Curiolanas, as translated by Sir Thomas North. There are some glaring anachronisms in this play, such as introducing our picknames of Hobs, Dick, &c. church-gards, knells, and particularly, theatres for the exhibition of plays, which did not exist until 250 years after the death of Coriolanus. Volumnia, also, was the name of bis wife, not of his mother; and the good Menenius died three or four years before his revengeful expedition against Rome.---Dr. Jobnson says: The tragedy of Coriolanus is one of the most amusing of our anthor's performances. The old man's merriment in Menenius ; the lofty lady's dignity in Volumnia; the bridal modests in Virgilia ; the patrician and military haughtiness in Coriolanus; the plebeian malignity and tribuaitian insolence in Brutus and Sicinius make a very pleasing and interesting variety; and the various revolations of the hero's fortune fill the mind with anxious curiosity. There is, perhaps, too much bustle in the first act, and too little in the last.
Generals against the Vol- Two VOLSCIAN GUARDS.
VOLUMNIA, Mother of Coriolanus.
VALERIA, Friend to Virgilia.
Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, TULLUS AUPIDIUS, General of the Volsciails. Ædiles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Mes. LIEUTENANT to Aufidius.
sengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other CONSPIRATORS with Aufidius.
SICINIUS VELUTUS, Tribunes of the people. GENTLEWOMAN, attending Virgilia.
1 Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at
our own price. Is't a verdict ? SCENE 1.-Rome.-A Street.
Cit. No more talking on't; let it be done : Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with away, away. Stares, Clubs, and other Weapons.
2 Cit. One word, good citizens.
1 Cit. We are accounted poor citizens ; the pa1 Cit. Before we proceed any further, hear me tricians, good :* What authority surfeits on, would speak.
relieve us ; If they would yield us but the suo Cit. Speak, speak. [Several speaking at once. perfluity, while it were wholesome, we might
I Cit. You are all resolved rather to die, than to guess they relieved us humanely ; but they think famish 1
we are too dear :t the leanness that afflicts us, the Cit. Resoled, resolved !
object of our misery, is as an inventory to parti. i Cit. First you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
• Rich cu. We know't, we know't.
+ Charge of keeping us more than we are worth.
euiarize their abundance ; our sufferance is a gain think to fob off our disgrace with a tale : but, to them.--Let us revenge this with our pikes, au't please you, deliver. ere we becoine rakes :* for the gods know, I speak Men. There was a time, when all the body's this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
members i Cit. Would you proceed especially against Rebell'd against the belly ; thus accus'd it :Caius Marcius ?
That only like a gulf it did remain Cit. Against him first : he's a very dog to the l'the midst o'the body, idle and inactive, commonalty.
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing 2 Cit. Consider you what services he has done Like labour with the rest; where the other for his country?
instruments | Cit. Very well; and could be content to Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, give him good report for'i, but that he pays him. And, inutually participate,+ did minister self with being proud.
Unto the appetite and affection common 2 Cit. Nay, but speak not inaliciously. of the whole body. The belly answered,
1 Cit. I say unto you, what he hath done 1 Cit. Well, Sir, what answer made the belly ? famously, he did it to that end ; though soft-con- Men. Sir, shall tell you.-With a kind of scienc'd men can be content to say it was for his
smile, country, he did it to please bis mother, and to be which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus, partly proud ; which he is, even to the altitude (For, look you, I may make the belly smile of his virtue.
As well as speak,) it tauntingly replied 2 Cit. What he cannot help in his nature, you to the discontented members, the mutinous parts account a vice in him: You must in no way say That envied his receipt ; even so most titly. he is covetous.
As you inalign our senators, for that i Cil. If I must not, I need not be barren of They are not such as you accusations; he hath faults, with surplus, to tire 1 Cit. Your belly's answer: What! un repetition. [Shouts within.] What shouts The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye, are these? The other side o’the city is risen : Tbe counsellor heart, the arm our soldier, Why stay we praling here? to the Capitol ! Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter, Cit. Come, come.
With other muniments and petty helps 1 Cit. Soft; who comes here?
In this our fabric, if that they
Men. What then 1-
'Fore me, this fellow speaks !-what then I what 2 Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa : one that
then bath always loved the people.
i Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be re1 Cit. He's one hunesi enough ; 'Would, all
strain'd, the rest were so !
Who is the sink o'the body,Men. What work's, my countryinen, in hand! Men. Well, what then ? Where go you
1 Cit. The former agents, if they did complain, With bats and clubs 3 The matter? Speak, 1 What could the belly answer ? pray yoni.
Men. I will tell you ; i Cil. Our business is not unknown to the If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little) senate ; they have had inkling,+ this fortnight Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer. what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em i Cit. You are long about it. in deeds. They say, poor suitors have strong Men. Note ine this, good friend ; breaths; they shall know we have strong arms Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd. den. Why, masters, my good friends, inine True is it, my incorporate friends, quoth lot, honest neighbours,
That I receive the general food at first, Will you undo yourselves ?
Which you do live upon : and fit it is ; i Cit. We cannot, Sir, we are undone al. Because I am the store house, and the shop ready.
Of the whole body : Bul if you do remember, Men. I tell you, friends, most charitable care I send it through the rivers of your blood, Have the patricians of you. For your wants, Even to the court, the heart,--to the seat Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
o'the bruin ; Strike at the heaven with your staves, as lift And, through the cranks ç and offices of man, them
The strongest nerurs, und small inferior veins, Against the Roman state ; whose course will on From me receive thut natural competency The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs Whereby they live · And though that ail at of more strong link asunder, that can ever
once, Appear in your impediment: For the dearth, You, my good friends, (this says the belly, mark The gods, not the patricians, make it ; aud
me,) Your knees to them, not arus, inust help. 1 ('it. Ay, Sir; well, well. Alack !
Men. Though all at once cunnot You are transported by calamity
See what I do deliver out to each ; Thither where more attends you; and you slander Yet I can make my audit up, that all The helins o'the state, who care for you like From me do buck receive the flour of all, When you curse them as enemies. (fathers, and leave me but the bran. What say you to't ? 1 Cil. Care for us! True, indeed !
They 1 Cit. It was an answer : How apply you this ? ne'er cared for 18 yet, Siffer us to famish, and Men. The senators of Rome are this good their store houses cranimed with grain; make
belly, edicts for usury, to support usurers ; repeal daily And you the mutinous members : For examine any wholesome act established against the rich; | Their counsels and their cares ; digest things and provide inore piercing statutes daily, to rightly, chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat Touching the weal o’the common ; you shall find us not up, they will; and there's all the love No public benefit which you receive, they bear us.
But it proceeds, or comes, from them to you, Men. Either you must
And no way from yourselves.-What do you Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
think? Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you
You the great toe of this assembly? A pretty tale ; it may be, you have heard it : i Cit. I the great toe? Why the great toe? But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture Men. For that, being one o'the lowest, basest, To scale't ta little more.
poorest, I ('it. Well, I'll hear it, Sir; yet you must not
• Whereas + Participating. 1 Exuells. • Thin as rakes. 1 A hiut. Spread it.