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ACT II. SCENE III. 


Rome. The Forum

Enter seven or eight citizens

 FIRST CITIZEN.

Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to
deny him.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

We may, sir, if we will.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a
power that we have no power to do; for if he show us his wounds
and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those
wounds and speak for them; so, if he tell us his noble deeds, we
must also tell him our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is
monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful were to make a
monster of the multitude; of the which we being members should
bring ourselves to be monstrous members.

 FIRST CITIZEN.

And to make us no better thought of, a little help
will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck
not to call us the many-headed multitude.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

We have been call'd so of many; not that our heads
are some brown, some black, some abram, some bald, but that our
wits are so diversely colour'd; and truly I think if all our wits
were to issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west, north,
south, and their consent of one direct way should be at once to
all the points o' th' compass.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would
fly?

 THIRD CITIZEN.

Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's
will- 'tis strongly wedg'd up in a block-head; but if it were at
liberty 'twould sure southward.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

Why that way?

 THIRD CITIZEN.

To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts
melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for
conscience' sake, to help to get thee a wife.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

YOU are never without your tricks; you may, you
may.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

Are you all resolv'd to give your voices? But that's
no matter, the greater part carries it. I say, if he would
incline to the people, there was never a worthier man.

Enter CORIOLANUS, in a gown of humility,

with MENENIUS

 

Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark his behaviour.
We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he
stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his
requests by particulars, wherein every one of us has a single
honour, in giving him our own voices with our own tongues;
therefore follow me, and I'll direct you how you shall go by him.

 ALL.

Content, content

Exeunt citizens

 MENENIUS.

O sir, you are not right; have you not known
The worthiest men have done't?

 CORIOLANUS.

What must I say?
'I pray, sir'- Plague upon't! I cannot bring
My tongue to such a pace. 'Look, sir, my wounds
I got them in my country's service, when
Some certain of your brethren roar'd and ran
From th' noise of our own drums.'

 MENENIUS.

O me, the gods!
You must not speak of that. You must desire them
To think upon you.

 CORIOLANUS.

Think upon me? Hang 'em!
I would they would forget me, like the virtues
Which our divines lose by 'em.

 MENENIUS.

You'll mar all.
I'll leave you. Pray you speak to 'em, I pray you,
In wholesome manner

Exit

Re-enter three of the citizens

 CORIOLANUS.

Bid them wash their faces
And keep their teeth clean. So, here comes a brace.
You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to't.

 CORIOLANUS.

Mine own desert.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

Your own desert?

 CORIOLANUS.

Ay, not mine own desire.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

How, not your own desire?

 CORIOLANUS.

No, sir, 'twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor
with begging.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

YOU MUST think, if we give you anything, we hope to
gain by you.

 CORIOLANUS.

Well then, I pray, your price o' th' consulship?

 FIRST CITIZEN.

The price is to ask it kindly.

 CORIOLANUS.

Kindly, sir, I pray let me ha't. I have wounds to show
you, which shall be yours in private. Your good voice, sir; what
say you?

 SECOND CITIZEN.

You shall ha' it, worthy sir.

 CORIOLANUS.

A match, sir. There's in all two worthy voices begg'd.
I have your alms. Adieu.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

But this is something odd.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

An 'twere to give again- but 'tis no matter.

Exeunt the three citizens

Re-enter two other citizens

 CORIOLANUS.

Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your
voices that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.

 FOURTH CITIZEN.

You have deserved nobly of your country, and you
have not deserved nobly.

 CORIOLANUS.

Your enigma?

 FOURTH CITIZEN.

You have been a scourge to her enemies; you have
been a rod to her friends. You have not indeed loved the common
people.

 CORIOLANUS.

You should account me the more virtuous, that I have
not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my sworn
brother, the people, to earn a dearer estimation of them;
'tis a condition they account gentle; and since the wisdom of their
choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will
practise the insinuating nod and be off to them most counterfeitly.
That is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular
man and give it bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you
I may be consul.

 FIFTH CITIZEN.

We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give
you our voices heartily.

 FOURTH CITIZEN.

You have received many wounds for your country.

 CORIOLANUS.

I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I
will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no farther.

 BOTH CITIZENS.

The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!

Exeunt citizens

 CORIOLANUS.

Most sweet voices!
Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this wolvish toge should I stand here
To beg of Hob and Dick that do appear
Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't.
What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heap'd
For truth to o'erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus. I am half through:
The one part suffered, the other will I do.

Re-enter three citizens more

 

Here come moe voices.
Your voices. For your voices I have fought;
Watch'd for your voices; for your voices bear
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
Done many things, some less, some more. Your voices?
Indeed, I would be consul.

 SIXTH CITIZEN.

He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest
man's voice.

 SEVENTH CITIZEN.

Therefore let him be consul. The gods give him
joy, and make him good friend to the people!

 ALL.

Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul!

Exeunt citizens

 CORIOLANUS.

Worthy voices!

Re-enter MENENIUS with BRUTUS and SICINIUS

 MENENIUS.

You have stood your limitation, and the tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice. Remains
That, in th' official marks invested, you
Anon do meet the Senate.

 CORIOLANUS.

Is this done?

 SICINIUS.

The custom of request you have discharg'd.
The people do admit you, and are summon'd
To meet anon, upon your approbation.

 CORIOLANUS.

Where? At the Senate House?

 SICINIUS.

There, Coriolanus.

 CORIOLANUS.

May I change these garments?

 SICINIUS.

You may, sir.

 CORIOLANUS.

That I'll straight do, and, knowing myself again,
Repair to th' Senate House.

 MENENIUS.

I'll keep you company. Will you along?

 BRUTUS.

We stay here for the people.

 SICINIUS.

Fare you well.

Exeunt CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS

 

He has it now; and by his looks methinks
'Tis warm at's heart.

 BRUTUS.

With a proud heart he wore
His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

Re-enter citizens

 SICINIUS.

How now, my masters! Have you chose this man?

 FIRST CITIZEN.

He has our voices, sir.

 BRUTUS.

We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
He mock'd us when he begg'd our voices.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

Certainly;
He flouted us downright.

 FIRST CITIZEN.

No, 'tis his kind of speech- he did not mock us.

 SECOND CITIZEN.

Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
He us'd us scornfully. He should have show'd us
His marks of merit, wounds receiv'd for's country.

 SICINIUS.

Why, so he did, I am sure.

 ALL.

No, no; no man saw 'em.

 THIRD CITIZEN.

He said he had wounds which he could show in
private,
And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
'I would be consul,' says he; 'aged custom
But by your voices will not so permit me;
Your voices therefore.' When we granted that,
Here was 'I thank you for your voices. Thank you,
Your most sweet voices. Now you have left your voices,
I have no further with you.' Was not this mockery?

 SICINIUS.

Why either were you ignorant to see't,
Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
To yield your voices?

 BRUTUS.

Could you not have told him-
As you were lesson'd- when he had no power
But was a petty servant to the state,
He was your enemy; ever spake against
Your liberties and the charters that you bear
I' th' body of the weal; and now, arriving
A place of potency and sway o' th' state,
If he should still malignantly remain
Fast foe to th' plebeii, your voices might
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said
That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
Would think upon you for your voices, and
Translate his malice towards you into love,
Standing your friendly lord.

 SICINIUS.

Thus to have said,
As you were fore-advis'd, had touch'd his spirit
And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd
Either his gracious promise, which you might,
As cause had call'd you up, have held him to;
Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature,
Which easily endures not article
Tying him to aught. So, putting him to rage,
You should have ta'en th' advantage of his choler
And pass'd him unelected.

 BRUTUS.

Did you perceive
He did solicit you in free contempt
When he did need your loves; and do you think
That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies
No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
Against the rectorship of judgment?

 SICINIUS.

Have you
Ere now denied the asker, and now again,
Of him that did not ask but mock, bestow
Your su'd-for tongues?

 THIRD CITIZEN.

He's not confirm'd: we may deny him yet.

 SECOND CITIZENS.

And will deny him;
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.

 FIRST CITIZEN.

I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece
'em.

 BRUTUS.

Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends
They have chose a consul that will from them take
Their liberties, make them of no more voice
Than dogs, that are as often beat for barking
As therefore kept to do so.

 SICINIUS.

Let them assemble;
And, on a safer judgment, all revoke
Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not
With what contempt he wore the humble weed;
How in his suit he scorn'd you; but your loves,
Thinking upon his services, took from you
Th' apprehension of his present portance,
Which, most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
After the inveterate hate he bears you.

 BRUTUS.

Lay
A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labour'd,
No impediment between, but that you must
Cast your election on him.

 SICINIUS.

Say you chose him
More after our commandment than as guided
By your own true affections; and that your minds,
Pre-occupied with what you rather must do
Than what you should, made you against the grain
To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.

 BRUTUS.

Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,
How youngly he began to serve his country,
How long continued; and what stock he springs of-
The noble house o' th' Marcians; from whence came
That Ancus Marcius, Numa's daughter's son,
Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
That our best water brought by conduits hither;
And Censorinus, nobly named so,
Twice being by the people chosen censor,
Was his great ancestor.

 SICINIUS.

One thus descended,
That hath beside well in his person wrought
To be set high in place, we did commend
To your remembrances; but you have found,
Scaling his present bearing with his past,
That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke
Your sudden approbation.

 BRUTUS.

Say you ne'er had done't-
Harp on that still- but by our putting on;
And presently, when you have drawn your number,
Repair to th' Capitol.

 CITIZENS.

will will so; almost all
Repent in their election

Exeunt plebeians

 BRUTUS.

Let them go on;
This mutiny were better put in hazard
Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
With their refusal, both observe and answer
The vantage of his anger.

 SICINIUS.

To th' Capitol, come.
We will be there before the stream o' th' people;
And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
Which we have goaded onward

Exeunt

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