Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

CORIOLANUS.

ACT I.

SCENE I.-Rome. A Street. Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with

staves, clubs, and other weapons.

1 Citizen. BEFORI

EFORE We proceed any further, hear me speak.
Cit. Speak, speak. [Several speaking at once.
1Cit. You are all resolved rather to die,than to famish?
Cit. Resolved, resolved.

1 Cit. First you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

Cit. We know't, we know't.

1 Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict ?

Cit. No more talking on't ; let it be done : away, away. 2 Cit. One word, good citizens.

i Cit. We are accounted poor citizens ; the patricians, good :' What authority surfeits on, would relieve us; If they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess, they relieved us humanely; but they think, we are too dear :the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance isja gain to them.-Let us revenge this with our pikes, 3 ere we become rakes : for the gods know, I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

2 Cit. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius ?

[1] Good is here used in the mercantile sense. FARMER.

[2] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth JOHNS.

[3] It is.plain that, in our author's time, we had the proverb, as lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obscure. Rake now signifies a dissolute man, a man worn out with disease and debauchery.

But the signification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rekel, in Island. ick, is said mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the first nse among us of the word rake; as lean a's a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthless to be fed JOHNS-It may be so : and yet I believe the proverb, as lean as a rake, owes its original siinply to the thin taper form of the instrument made use of by hay-makers. As thin as a whipping-puoti is a nother proverb of the same kind. STEEV.

9* VOL. VI,

Cit. Against him first ; he's a very dog to the com monalty.

2 Cit. Consider you what services he has done for his country.

1 Cit. Very well; and could be content to give him good report for’t, but that he pays himself with being proud.

2 Cit. Nay, but speak not maliciously.

1 Cit. I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to that end : though soft conscienc'd men can be content to say, it was for his country, he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud ; which he is, even to the altitude of his virtue.

2 Cit. What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in him : You must in no way say, he is covetous.

1 Cit. If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations; he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.] What shouts are these? The other side o'the city is risen : Why stay we prating here? to the Capitol.

Cit. Come, come.
1 Cit. Soft ; who comes here?

Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA. 2 Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa ; one that hath always loved the people.

i Cit. He's one honest enough ; 'Would all the rest were so ! Men. What work's, my countrymen, in hand? Where

go you With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.

1 Cit. Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling, this fortnight, what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say, poor suitors liave strong breaths ; they shall know, we have strong arms too. Men. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest

neighbours, Will you undo yourselves ?

1 Cit. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.
Men. I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves, as lift them
Against the Roman state ; whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder, than can ever

Appear in your impediment: For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it ; and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attend you ; and you slander
The helms o'the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.

1 Cit. Care for us !— True, indeed !-- They ne'er cared for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain ; make edicts for usury, to support usurers : repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich ; and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor.

If the wars eat us not up, they will ; and there's all the love they bear us.

Men. Either you must
Confess yourselves wond'rous malicious,
Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale ; it inay be, you have heard it ;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will. venture
To scale 't a little more.*

1 Cit. Well, I'll hear it, sir : yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale :5 but, an't please you, deliver.

Men. There was a time, when all the body's members Rebell'd against the belly ; thus accus'd it :That only like a gulf it did remain I'the midst o'the body, idle and inactive, Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing, Like labour with the rest ; where the other instruments Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, And, mutually participate, did minister Unto the appetite and affection common Of the whole body. The belly answered,

1 Cit. Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

Men. Sir, I shall tell you.-With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, 7 but even thus,
(For, look you, I may make the belly smile,
As well as speak,) it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts

[4] To scale is to disperse. The word is still used in the North, where they say scale the corn, i. e. scatter it : scale the muck well, i. e. spread the dung well. STEEV

(5) Disgraces are hardships, injuries. JOHNS.
16] Where for whereas. JOHNS.
17] With a smile not indicating pleasure, but contempt.

JOHNS.

[ocr errors]

That envied his receipt ; even so most fiily
As you malign our senators, for that
They are not such as you. 8

2 Cit. Your belly's answer : What !
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, 9 the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they-

Men. What then ? -
'Fore me, this fellow speaks !- what then? what then

1 Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd, Who is the sink o'the body,

Men. Well, what then?

1 Cit. The former agents, if they did complain, What could the belly answer?

Men. I will tell you ;
If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little,)
Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer.

1 Cit. You are long about it.

Men. Note me this, good friend ;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd.
True is it, my incorporate friends, quoth he,
That I receive the general food at first,
Which you do live upon : and fit it is ;
Because I am the store-house, and the shop
Of the whole body : But if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, -to the seat o'thc brain ;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,'
The strongest nerves, and small inferior veins,
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live : And though that all at once,
You, my good friends, (this says the belly,) mark me,-

Cit. Ay, sir ; well, well.

Men. Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each ;
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flower of all,
And leave me but the bran. What say you to't ?

[8] I suppose we should read-They are not as you. So, in St. Luke, xviii. 11. Goil, i thank thee, I am not as this publican.” The pronoun-such, only disorders the measure. STEEV.

[9] The heart was anciently esteemed the seat of prudence. Homo cordatus is a prudent man. JOHNS. [i] Cranks are the meandrous ducts of the human body, STEEV.

[merged small][ocr errors]

1 Cit. It was an answer : How apply you this?

Men. The senators of Rome are this good belly, And you the mutinous members : For examine Their counsels, and their cares; digest things rightly, Touching the weal o'the common; you shall find, No public benefit which you receive, But it proceeds, or comes, from them to you, And no way from yourselves.-What do you think? You, the great toe of this assembly ?

Cit. I the great toe? Why the great toe ?

Men. For that, being one o’the lowest, basest, poorest, Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost : Thou rascal, that art worst in blood, to run Lead'st first to win some 'vantage. But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs ; Rome and her rats are at the point of battle, The one side must have bale.3_Hail, noble Marcius !

Enter CaiuS MARCIUS. Mar. Thanks.-What's the matter, you dissentious

rogues, That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs ?

1 Cit. We have ever your good word.

Mar. He that will give good words to thee, will flatter Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, That like nor peace, nor war! the one affrights you, The other makes you proud. He that trusts you, Where he should find you lions, finds you hares ; Where foxes, geese : You are no surer, no, Than is the coal of fire upon the ice, Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is, To make him worthy, whose offence subdues him, And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness, Deserves your hate : and your affections are A sick man's appetite, who desires most that Which would increase his evil. He that depends Upon your favours, swims with fins of lead, And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye? With every minute you do change a mind; And call him noble, that was now your hate, Him vile, that was your garland. What's the matter, [2] Both rascal and in blood are terms of the forest. [3] Bale, as well as bane, signified poison in Shakspeare's days. STEEV. [4] That is, Your virtue is to speak well of him whom his own offences have subjected to justice ; and to rail at those laws by which he whom you praise was punished. STEEV.

MAL.

« AnteriorContinuar »