Page images
[ocr errors]

blished against the rich; and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor. It the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear ús.

Men. Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale; it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture

t's To scale 'ta a little more.

2 Cit. Well, I 'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, 'an 't please you, deliver. Men. There was a time when all the body's mem

bers Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it :-That only like a gulf it did remain l'the midst o' the body, idle and unactive, 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

a To scale 't. It is necessary to see how Shakspere has useil this verb in other passages. In the second act Sicinius tells the citizens,

“ You have found, Scaling his present bearing with his past, i 11

That he's your fixed enemy.". Dr. Johnson explains this, “Weighing his past and present behaviour." In Measure for Measure,' when the Duke exo, plains his project to Isabella, he says, by this is "the corrupt deputy scaled. Upon this passage Johnson says,

“ To sculo the deputy may be to reach him, or it may be to strip him".. Here he differs from his interpretation of the passage in Corio. lanus.' But surely the corrupt deputy” may be scaled in the same way that the bearing of Coriolanus is scaled." ml this interpretation be good for two of the passages, why not fordi a third,--that of the text before us? Menenius will venture toc weigh, to try the value, of the “pretty tale" a little more; though they may have heard it, he will again scale it. 31 Diis? I

Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answered, -

2 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, 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 That envied his receipt; even so most fitly As you malign our senators, for that They are not such as you. 2 Cit.

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

What then ? this fellow speaks !--what then ? what then ? 2 Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd, Who is the sink o' the body, Men.

Well, what then ?
2 Cit. The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer ?

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

2 Cit. You are long about it. - Men.

Note me this, yocd friend; Your most grave belly was deliberate, Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer d. " True is' ít, 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 storehouse, and the shop or the whole body: But if you do remember, I send it through the rivers of your blood

'Fore me,

I will tell you;

Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the 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 :a And though that all at once,
You, my good friends,” (this says the belly,) mark me,-

2 Cit. Ay, sir; well, well.

“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 flour of all, And leave me but the bran." What say you to 't?

2 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 ?

2 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,

# The usual punctuation of this passage is,-
“ I send it through the rivers of your blood,

Even to the court, the heart, -to the seat o' the brain ;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,

The strongest nerves,” &c. The obvious meaning of the passage without any of this forced punctuation (the original uses no point but the comma) appears to us to be, -I send the general food through the rivers of your blood, to the court, the heart; I send it to the seat of the brain, and through the cranks and offices (obscure parts) of the whole body. By this means “ The strongest nerves, and small inferior veins,

From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live."

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. -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? 2 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 to 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, That in these several places of the city You cry against the noble senate, who, Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else Would feed on one another ?-What 's their seeking ?

Men. For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say, The city is well stor'd,

a Bale-ruin. This is the only instance in which Shakspere uses the substantive bale; though we have frequently baleful.


Hang 'em! They say! They 'll sit by the fire, and presume to know What 's done i' the Capitol : who 's like to rise, Who thrives, and who declines : side factions, and give

Conjectural marriages; making parties strong,
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there 's grain

Would the nobility lay aside their ruth, a
And let me use my sword, I 'd make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.

Men. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded ;
For though abundantly they iack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?

They are dissolved : Hang 'em! They said they were an-hungry ; sigh'd forth proverbs, That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat, That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not Corn for the rich men only :-With these shreds They vented their complainings; which being answer'd, And a petition granted them, a strange one, (To break the heart of generosity, And make bolil power look pale,) they threw their caps As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon, Shouting their emulation. Men.

What is granted them? Mar. Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms, Of their own choice: One 's Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—'Sdeath! The rabble should have first unroof'd the city, Ere so prevail'd with me; it will in time Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes For insurrection's arguing. Ruth-pity.



« PreviousContinue »