Page images

But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him,
A mile before his tent fall down, and kneel
The way into his mercy: Nay, if he coy'd *
To hear Cominius speak, I'll keep at home.
Com. He would not seem to know me.
Men. Do you hear?

Com. Yet one time he did call me by my name :
I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. Coriolanus
He would not answer to: forbade all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,,
Till he had forged himself a name i' the fire
Of burning Rome.

Men. Why, so; you have made good work:
A pair of tribunes that have rack'd† for Rome,
To make coals cheap: A noble memory! ‡

Com. I minded him, how royal 'twas to pardon
When it was less expected: He replied,
It was a bare petition of a state
To one whom they had punish'd.

Men. Very well:

Could he say less?

Com. I offer'd to awaken his regard
For his private friends: His answer to me was,
He could not stay to pick them in a pile
Of noisome, musty chaff: He said, 'twas folly,
For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt,
And still to nose the offence.

Men. For one poor grain

Or two? I am one of those; his mother, wife,
His child, and this brave fellow too, we are the grains :
You are the musty chaff; and you are smelt
Above the moon: We must be burnt for you.

Sic. Nay, pray, be patient: If you refuse your aid
In this so never-heeded help, yet do not
Upbraid us with our distress. But, sure, if you
Would be your country's pleader, your good tongue,
More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.

Men. No; I'll not meddle.
Sic. I pray you, go to him.
Men. What should I do?

Bru. Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome towards Marcius.

Men. Well, and say that Marcius

Return me, as Cominius is return'd,
Unheard; what then ?—
But as a discontented friend, grief-shot
With his unkindness? Say't be so ?

Sic. Yet your good will

Must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure
As you intended well.

Men. I'll undertake it:

I think, he'll hear me. Yet to bite his lip,

And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts me.

*Was unwilling.

† Harassed by exactions.

+ Memorial

He was not taken well; he had not dined:
The veins unfill'd, the blood is cold, and then
We pout upon the morning, are unapt
To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff'd
These pipes and these conveyances of our blood
With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore I'll watch him
Till he be dieted to my request,
And then I'll set upon him.

Bru. You know the very road into his kindness,
And cannot lose your way.

Men. Good faith, I'll prove him,

Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success.

Com. He'll never hear him.
Sic. Not?

Com. I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye
Red as 'twould burn Rome; and his injury
The jailer to his pity. I kneel'd before him;
"Twas very faintly he said, Rise; dismiss'd me
Thus, with his speechless hand: What he would do,
He sent in writing after me; what he could not,
Bound with an oath, to yield to his conditions:
So, that all hope is vain,

Unless his noble mother, and his wife;

Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him

For mercy to his country. Therefore, let's hence,
And with our fair entreaties haste them on.


SCENE II-An advanced Post of the Volcian Camp before Rome. The GUARD at their Stations.

Enter to them, MENENIUS.

1 G. Stay: Whence are you? 2 G. Stand, and go back.

Men. You guard like men; 'tis well; But, by your leave, I am an officer of state, and come

To speak with Coriolanus.

1 G. From whence?

Men. From Rome.

1 G. You may not pass, you must return: our general Will no more hear from thence.

2 G. You'll see your Rome embraced with fire before You'll speak with Coriolanus.

Men. Good my friends,

If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
My name hath touch'd your ears: it is Menenius.
i G. Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
Is not here passable.

Men. I tell thee, fellow,

Thy general is my lover: t I have been

The book of his good acts, whence men have read
His fame unparallel'd, haply, amplified

For I have ever verified my friends

(Of whom he's chief), with all the size that verity + Friend.

* Prizes.


✰ Done justice to.

Would without lasping suffer: nay, sometimes,
Like to a bowl upon a subtle* ground,

I have tumbled past the throw; and in his praise
Have, almost, stamp'd the leasing: Therefore, fellow,
I must have leave to pass.

1 G. 'Faith, Sir, if you had told as many lies in his behalf, as you have uttered words in your own, you should not pass here: no, though it were as virtuous to lie, as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.

Men. Pr'ythee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always factionary on the party of your general.

2 G. Howsoever you have been his liar (as you say, you have), I am one that, telling true under him, must say, you cannot pass. Therefore go back.

Men. Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not speak with him till after dinner.

1 G. You are a Roman, are you?

Men. I am as thy general is.

1 G. Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you, when you have pushed out your gates the very defender of them, and, in a violent popular ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to front his revenges with the easy groans of old women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or with the palsied intercession of such a decayed dotant as you seem to be? Can you think to blow out the intended fire your city is ready to flame in, with such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived; therefore, back to Rome, and prepare for your execution: you are condemned, our general has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.

Men. Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would use me with estimation.

2 G. Come, my captain knows you not.

Men. I mean, thy general.

1 G. My general cares not for you. Back, I say, go, lest I let forth your half pint of blood;-back,-that's the utmost of your having:-back.

Men. Nay, but fellow, fellow,


Cor. What's the matter?

Men. Now, you companion, + I'll say an errand for you; you shall know now that I am in estimation; you shall perceive that a Jack guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus: guess, but by my entertainment with him, if thou stand'st not i' the state of hanging, or of some death more long in spectatorship, and crueller in suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for what's to come upon thee.-The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than thy old father Menenius does! O, my son! my son! thou art preparing fire for us; look thee, here's water to quench it. I was hardly moved to come to thee; but being assured, none but myself could move thee, I have been blown out of your gates with sighs; and conjure thee to pardon Rome, and thy petitionary countrymen. The good gods assuage thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it

* Deceitful.

1 Fellows.

t Jack in office.

upon this varlet here; this, who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.

Cor. Away!

Men. How! away?

Cor. Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
Are servanted to others: Though I owe
My revenge properly,* my remission lies

In Volcian breasts. That we have been familiar
Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather
Than pity note how much.-Therefore be gone.
Mine ears against your suits are stronger, than
Your gates against my force. Yet, fort I loved thee,
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,
And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my beloved in Rome: yet thou behold'st-

Auf. You keep a constant temper. [Exeunt COR. and AUFID. 1 G. Now, Sir, is your name Menenius ?

2 G. "Tis a spell, you see, of much power: You know the way home again.

1 G. Do you hear how we are shent‡ for keeping your greatness back?

2 G. What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?

Men. I neither care for the world, nor your general: for such things as you, I can scarce think there's any, you are so slight. He that hath a will to die by himself,§ fears it not from another. Let your general do his worst. For you, be that you are, long; and your misery increase with your age! I say to you, as I was said to, Away! [Exit.

[Gives a letter.

1 G. A noble fellow, I warrant him.

2 G. The worthy fellow is our general: He is the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.



Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others.

Cor. We will before the walls of Rome to-morrow
Set down our host.-My partner in this action,
You must report to the Volcian lords, how plainly ||
I have borne this business.

Auf. Only their ends

You have respected; stopp'd your ears against
The general suit of Rome; never admitted
A private whisper, no, not with such friends
That thought them sure of you.

Cor. This last old man,

Whom with a crack'd heart I have sent to Rome,
Loved me above the measure of a father;
Nay, godded me, indeed. Their latest refuge
Was to send him: for whose old love, I have
(Though I show'd sourly to him) once more offer'd
The first conditions, which they did refuse,
And cannot now accept, to grace him only,
That thought he could do more; a very little

* My revenge is my own; pardon is with the Volcians.
* Reprimanded.
By his own hands.

+ Because.

I Openly.

I have yielded too: Fresh embassies, and suits,
Nor from the state, nor private friends, hereafter
Will I lend ear to.-Ha! what shout is this?
Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow

In the same time 'tis made? I will not.

Enter in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, leading young
MARCIUS, VALERIA, and Attendants.
My wife comes foremost; then the honour'd mould
Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand
The grandchild to her blood. But, out, affection!
All bond and privilege of nature, break!
Let it be virtuous, to be obstinate.-

What is that curt'sy worth? or those doves' eyes,
Which can make gods forsworn ?—I melt, and am not
Of stronger earth than others.-My mother bows;
As if Olympus to a molehill should
In supplication nod: and my young boy
Hath an aspect of intercession, which
Great nature cries, Deny not,-Let the Volces
Plough Rome, and harrow Italy; I'll never
Be such a gosling to obey instinct; but stand,
As if a man were author of himself,

And knew no other kin.

Vir. My lord and husband!

Cor. These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome. Vir. The sorrow, that delivers us thus changed, Makes you think so.

Cor. Like a dull actor now,

I have forgot my part, and I am out,
Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say,
For that, Forgive our Romans.-O, a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
Now by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip
Hath virgin'd it e'er since.-You gods! I prate,
And the most noble mother of the world
Leave unsaluted: Sink, my knee, i' the earth;
Of thy deep duty more impression show
Than that of common sons.

Vol. O, stand up bless'd!

Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,
I kneel before thee; and unproperly
Show duty, as mistaken all the while
Between the child and parent.

Cor. What is this?

[Shout within.

Your knees to me? to your corrected son?
Then let the pebbles on the hungry* beach
Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds
Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun;
Murd'ring impossibility, to make
What cannot be, slight work.

Vol. Thou art my warrior;

I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?

* Barren.



« PreviousContinue »