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because he despised the common people, not on account of their poverty, but considering them arrogant, insolent, and timeserving. His great soul revolted at the thoughts of petitioning the very
beings whom he had so often spurned from him, and who he well knew in their hearts did not love him.
Rome of late had suffered much : an unfruitful harvest had overspread the land with famine, and war had so impoverished the lower orders of the people, that they had scarcely the means of purchase, even had grain been brought to market. Many dissentions also of late bad arisen between the patricians and the citizens; and Marcius having invariably taken part with the nobles against the Plebeians, he had therefore rendered himself obnoxious to them, whilst his haughty and unbending spirit had moreover induced him to treat them with a degree of coutempt, at which they revolted. Hence they feared, yet hated him; and though compelled to admire, they could not esteem him. Marcius argued and felt like a soldier ; but did not reason or think like a philosopher. He did not consider the difference in human nature. He did not reflect, that as ignorance is incapable of judging with accuracy, so its weakness ought to be considered, and rather be conciliated with mildnessthan be driven to obstinacy by sternness.
But Marcius was no philosopher. Born with power, he thought he had a right to command-Gifted with genius, he considered obedience the tribute due to his superiority–Hence the services he had rendered to his country raising him still even beyond his high rank and station, his mind was unbending, and his pride intolerable.
Depending therefore alone upon the love of the people, he might have had some cause of apprehension ; but as vulgar minds are ever unstable, or rather may we not say—as the lowly minded are ever ready to offer their tribute at the shrine of greatness-unless driven thence by unkindnessthe former pride and haughty demeanour of Caius Marcius were forgot, in gratitude for the achievements of the great Coriolanus ; and they were ready to give him their voices, for the consulship. Had self command been a part of his education, Coriolanus might by a little sacrifice of his pride, and by urbanity of manner—have secured the love as well as admiration of his fellow citizens ; but the garb of his humility was ill suited to the haughtiness of his deportment, and when he took his stand in the market place, and was, according to the custom,
questioned by the citizens, who passed, what brought him there-he proudly replied,
“ Mine own desert ! !” .“ Your own desert!” replied the men in surprise.
Aye-not mine own desire-Believe me, sirs, 'twas never my desire, to trouble the poor with
He then told them he had wounds to show them, but when they advanced to look, he grasped his mantle close round him, saying they should“ be theirs in private." When they gave their votes,
instead of thanking them he waved them from him, imperiously, saying, he had their alms, and needed no further with them. In a similar manner he answered all ; so that their voices were hardly given ere they repented having bestowed them; while Coriolanus who continued his canvass with sullen reluctance, became by degrees like a chafed lion, exclaiming,
Beiter it is to die, better to starve,
rather than fool it so
He however obtained their suffrages; and having stood the limited time, was relieved from his pairful situation; joyfully repairing to the senate house, hoping all was now complete and no further degradation requisite.
But he was little aware of the enmity which was working against him. Sicinius Velutus, and Junius Brutus, the tribunes, who envied and' hated the fame and prosperity of Coriolanus, used their utmost power to thwart his purposes-By artifice, by servility, flattery and meanness, at which his noble spirit would have revolted, they had gained such entire influence over the people, that their opinions and judgment were looked rip to with confidence, and they were considered as firm and faithful friends of the plebeians. They found it therefore no very difficult matter to irritate the minds of the citizens—who, upon reflection, felt themselves mocked at, by the manner in which Coriolanus had asked their voices. Already mortified, --Sicinius and Brutus easily incensed, and by dark insinuations, excited them to rebel, urging them to go in a body to the senate house--and retract their
word. But in order to shield themselves from all suspicions, the artful tribunes told the citizens to assert, that it was in obedience to them their voices had been given, and now of their own desires they had retracted.
Just as Coriolanus was quitting the senate house, he was intercepted by the two tribunes, who informed him it was not safe to pass ! The citizens were incensed, they said ; and complained of his having mocked them ; wherefore they now refused to acknowledge him as consul. All was instantly one scene of confusion. Coriolanus, who had, with difficulty, restrained his pride within any degree of control, now burst forth like flaming Etna. His generals, the good old Menenius, and many of his devoted friends, pleaded in vain. He was not to be appeased. He set the tribunes and the people at defiance ; till the enraged multitude who had by degrees assembled, insisted on his being thrown down the Tarpeian rock. He then drew his sword, rushed amongst them, and cutting his way through, escaped to his own house, followed by Menenius, the generals, and several of the senators.
His fiery eye and enraged countenance alarmed his mother, who too soon learned the cause of his displeasure, and reproved him. He heard her reproof with impatience
Let them pull all about mine ears; present me
Volumnia was displeased ; she resented his pride and want of prudence, and excited his rage still further : but fearful of inflaming him beyond control
she urged h'm more calmly. Menenius assailed him too; and at lengti with very great difficulty
prevailed upon him to smooth his ruffled spirit, and return once more to the market place.—It was still much against his will; yet such was his veneration, his idolatry for his mother, that he could not bear to
see her offended or disturbed. He therefore to her made this sacrifice of his feelings ; declaring at the same time, that were it only himself, they should crush him to dust, and scatter it against the wind, ere ne would bow to popular outcry.
During this space of time, the envious, and malignant tribunes were busily employed corrupting the minds of the people ; and well versed in what they should do, prepared to chafe the foaming lion, till he should be stunned by his own roaring. They succeeded but too effectually. Coriolanus had es. erted his utmost strength; he had subdued himself, and was prepared to speak and answer mildly : but this was not the mood in which the tribunes wished him to remain. Sicinius,-the orator of the people, soon succeeded in ruffling the assumed serenity of Coriolanus. Presuming upon his authority, with cool deliberate insolence, he accused him of being