Printer Friendly

ACT II. SCENE I. 


Rome. A public place

Enter MENENIUS, with the two Tribunes of the people, SICINIUS and BRUTUS

 MENENIUS.

The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.

 BRUTUS.

Good or bad?

 MENENIUS.

Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love
not Marcius.

 SICINIUS.

Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

 MENENIUS.

Pray you, who does the wolf love?

 SICINIUS.

The lamb.

 MENENIUS.

Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the
noble Marcius.

 BRUTUS.

He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.

 MENENIUS.

He's a bear indeed, that lives fike a lamb. You two are
old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.

 BOTH TRIBUNES.

Well, sir.

 MENENIUS.

In what enormity is Marcius poor in that you two have not
in abundance?

 BRUTUS.

He's poor in no one fault, but stor'd with all.

 SICINIUS.

Especially in pride.

 BRUTUS.

And topping all others in boasting.

 MENENIUS.

This is strange now. Do you two know how you are censured
here in the city- I mean of us o' th' right-hand file? Do you?

 BOTH TRIBUNES.

Why, how are we censur'd?

 MENENIUS.

Because you talk of pride now- will you not be angry?

 BOTH TRIBUNES.

Well, well, sir, well.

 MENENIUS.

Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of
occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. Give your
dispositions the reins, and be angry at your pleasures- at the
least, if you take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame
Marcius for being proud?

 BRUTUS.

We do it not alone, sir.

 MENENIUS.

I know you can do very little alone; for your helps are
many, or else your actions would grow wondrous single: your
abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. You talk of
pride. O that you could turn your eyes toward the napes of your
necks, and make but an interior survey of your good selves! O
that you could!

 BOTH TRIBUNES.

What then, sir?

 MENENIUS.

Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
proud, violent, testy magistrates-alias fools- as any in Rome.

 SICINIUS.

Menenius, you are known well enough too.

 MENENIUS.

I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that loves
a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't; said to
be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint, hasty
and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the
morning. What I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath.
Meeting two such wealsmen as you are- I cannot call you
Lycurguses- if the drink you give me touch my palate adversely, I
make a crooked face at it. I cannot say your worships have
deliver'd the matter well, when I find the ass in compound with
the major part of your syllables; and though I must be content to
bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie
deadly that tell you you have good faces. If you see this in the
map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough too?
What harm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this
character, if I be known well enough too?

 BRUTUS.

Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

 MENENIUS.

You know neither me, yourselves, nor any thing. You are
ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs; you wear out a good
wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife
and a fosset-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of
threepence to a second day of audience. When you are hearing a
matter between party and party, if you chance to be pinch'd with the
colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag
against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
dismiss the controversy bleeding, the more entangled by your
hearing. All the peace you make in their cause is calling both
the parties knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.

 BRUTUS.

Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber
for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.

 MENENIUS.

Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak
best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your
beards; and your beards deserve not so honourable a grave as to
stuff a botcher's cushion or to be entomb'd in an ass's
pack-saddle. Yet you must be saying Marcius is proud; who, in a
cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since Deucalion;
though peradventure some of the best of 'em were hereditary
hangmen. God-den to your worships. More of your conversation
would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly
plebeians. I will be bold to take my leave of you.

[BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside]

Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA

 

How now, my as fair as noble ladies- and the moon, were she
earthly, no nobler- whither do you follow your eyes so fast?

 VOLUMNIA.

Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for the
love of Juno, let's go.

 MENENIUS.

Ha! Marcius coming home?

 VOLUMNIA.

Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
approbation.

 MENENIUS.

Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
Marcius coming home!

 VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA.

Nay, 'tis true.

 VOLUMNIA.

Look, here's a letter from him; the state hath another,
his wife another; and I think there's one at home for you.

 MENENIUS.

I will make my very house reel to-night. A letter for me?

 VIRGILIA.

Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.

 MENENIUS.

A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years'
health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician. The
most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic and, to
this preservative, of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
not wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.

 VIRGILIA.

O, no, no, no.

 VOLUMNIA.

O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.

 MENENIUS.

So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings a victory in
his pocket? The wounds become him.

 VOLUMNIA.

On's brows, Menenius, he comes the third time home with
the oaken garland.

 MENENIUS.

Has he disciplin'd Aufidius soundly?

 VOLUMNIA.

Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but Aufidius
got off.

 MENENIUS.

And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that; an he
had stay'd by him, I would not have been so fidius'd for all the
chests in Corioli and the gold that's in them. Is the Senate
possess'd of this?

 VOLUMNIA.

Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes: the Senate has
letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name
of the war; he hath in this action outdone his former deeds
doubly.

 VALERIA.

In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.

 MENENIUS.

Wondrous! Ay, I warrant you, and not without his true
purchasing.

 VIRGILIA.

The gods grant them true!

 VOLUMNIA.

True! pow, waw.

 MENENIUS.

True! I'll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?
[To the TRIBUNES] God save your good worships! Marcius is coming
home; he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?

 VOLUMNIA.

I' th' shoulder and i' th' left arm; there will be large
cicatrices to show the people when he shall stand for his place.
He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i' th' body.

 MENENIUS.

One i' th' neck and two i' th' thigh- there's nine that I
know.

 VOLUMNIA.

He had before this last expedition twenty-five wounds
upon him.

 MENENIUS.

Now it's twenty-seven; every gash was an enemy's grave.
[A shout and flourish] Hark! the trumpets.

 VOLUMNIA.

These are the ushers of Marcius. Before him he
carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears;
Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie,
Which, being advanc'd, declines, and then men die.

A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the

GENERAL, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them,

CORIOLANUS, crown'd with an oaken garland; with

CAPTAINS and soldiers and a HERALD

 HERALD.

Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
Within Corioli gates, where he hath won,
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
In honour follows Coriolanus.
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus! [Flourish]

 ALL.

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

 CORIOLANUS.

No more of this, it does offend my heart.
Pray now, no more.

 COMINIUS.

Look, sir, your mother!

 CORIOLANUS.

O,
You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
For my prosperity! [Kneels]

 VOLUMNIA.

Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly nam'd-
What is it? Coriolanus must I can thee?
But, O, thy wife!

 CORIOLANUS.

My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.

 MENENIUS.

Now the gods crown thee!

 CORIOLANUS.

And live you yet? [To VALERIA] O my sweet lady,
pardon.

 VOLUMNIA.

I know not where to turn.
O, welcome home! And welcome, General.
And y'are welcome all.

 MENENIUS.

A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome!
A curse begin at very root on's heart
That is not glad to see thee! You are three
That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men,
We have some old crab trees here at home that will not
Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors.
We call a nettle but a nettle, and
The faults of fools but folly.

 COMINIUS.

Ever right.

 CORIOLANUS.

Menenius ever, ever.

 HERALD.

Give way there, and go on.

 CORIOLANUS.

[To his wife and mother] Your hand, and yours.
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;
From whom I have receiv'd not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.

 VOLUMNIA.

I have lived
To see inherited my very wishes,
And the buildings of my fancy; only
There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
Our Rome will cast upon thee.

 CORIOLANUS.

Know, good mother,
I had rather be their servant in my way
Than sway with them in theirs.

 COMINIUS.

On, to the Capitol.

[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before]

BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward

 BRUTUS.

All tongues speak of him and the bleared sights
Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse
Into a rapture lets her baby cry
While she chats him; the kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
Clamb'ring the walls to eye him; stalls, bulks, windows,
Are smother'd up, leads fill'd and ridges hors'd
With variable complexions, all agreeing
In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
Do press among the popular throngs and puff
To win a vulgar station; our veil'd dames
Commit the war of white and damask in
Their nicely gawded cheeks to th' wanton spoil
Of Phoebus' burning kisses. Such a pother,
As if that whatsoever god who leads him
Were slily crept into his human powers,
And gave him graceful posture.

 SICINIUS.

On the sudden
I warrant him consul.

 BRUTUS.

Then our office may
During his power go sleep.

 SICINIUS.

He cannot temp'rately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.

 BRUTUS.

In that there's comfort.

 SICINIUS.

Doubt not
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours; which
That he will give them make I as little question
As he is proud to do't.

 BRUTUS.

I heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i' th' market-place, nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To th' people, beg their stinking breaths.

 SICINIUS.

'Tis right.

 BRUTUS.

It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
And the desire of the nobles.

 SICINIUS.

I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose, and to put it
In execution.

 BRUTUS.

'Tis most like he will.

 SICINIUS.

It shall be to him then as our good wills:
A sure destruction.

 BRUTUS.

So it must fall out
To him or our authorities. For an end,
We must suggest the people in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to's power he would
Have made them mules, silenc'd their pleaders, and
Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them
In human action and capacity
Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
Than camels in their war, who have their provand
Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
For sinking under them.

 SICINIUS.

This, as you say, suggested
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall touch the people- which time shall not want,
If he be put upon't, and that's as easy
As to set dogs on sheep- will be his fire
To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze
Shall darken him for ever.

Enter A MESSENGER

 BRUTUS.

What's the matter?

 MESSENGER.

You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
That Marcius shall be consul.
I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and
The blind to hear him speak; matrons flung gloves,
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
Upon him as he pass'd; the nobles bended
As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.
I never saw the like.

 BRUTUS.

Let's to the Capitol,
And carry with us ears and eyes for th' time,
But hearts for the event.

 SICINIUS.

Have with you

Exeunt

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters