Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

CORIOLANUS.

LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE. THIS play, supposed to have been written in 1609, comprehends a period of five or six years. The plebeian citi.

zens of Rome, unable to pay their debts from poverty, consequent upon the long war against Tarquin and the Latins, and incensed by the supposed indifference of the senators and patricians, retired with the undisbanded troops of Valerius, to a mountain about three miles from Romne, afterwards called Mont Sacer. The city was thrown into great alarm by this defection, and Menenius, who is described as “ a very discreet person, and a great orator," was sent with other commissioners, to bring about a reconciliation. Here he related to them the fable of the belly and its members; the application of which had such an effect, that they were about to follow him home, when Sicinius and Juuius Brutus (two factious fellows) cunningly demanding a guarantee for the people, were in the end appointed their tribunes, with very extraordinary power. Ju the year following, there was a severe famine ; and Coriolanus (so called for his exploits at Corioli) with other young patricians, making excursions into the enemy's country, returned, laden with corn. Provisions also arriving from Sicily, the senate deterinined upon selling them at a cheap rate to the poor ; but Coriolanus proposed the abolition of the tribuneship, and the retention of the corn, because the people had obstinately refused to join in the expedition sent out to obtain it. The exasperated populace would instantly have thrown him from the Tarpeian rock, but were repulsed by his friends. Being arraigned at the proper tribunal, he defended himself with so much grace and energy, that the people called out for his acquittal; whereupon one of the tribunes artfully and falsely accusing him of illegally appropriating the spoils of war, he was as suddenly sentenced to banishment. In a spirit of revenge, he offered his services to the Volscians, and carried destruction to the very gates of Rome. The city was on the point of being assaulted, when his mother, accompanied by his wite and children, threw herself at his feet, and worked so much upon the feelings of nature, that he granted a peace, and withdrew his troops. On returning to Antium, by the perfidious management of Tullus, he was cut in pieces ere he had time to defend his conduct; but the Volsci disapprovedene assassiuation, buried him honourably, adorned his tomb with trophies, and the Roman women mourned for him twelve months. The poet has adhered very closely to historical facts. Mr. Pope remarks, that Shakspeare is found “to be very know. ing in the customs, rites, and manners of antiquity. lu Coriolanus and Julius Cæsar, not only the spirit, but the manners of the Romans are exactly drawn; and a still nicer distinction is shown between Roman Inauners in the time of the former and of the latter.” Many of the principal speeches are cupied frota l'lutarch's Life of Curiolanus, as translated by Sir Thomas North. There are some glaring anachronisms in this play, such as introducing our nicknames of Hobi, Dick, &c. church-yards, knells, and particularly, theatres for the exbibition of plays, which did not exist until 250 years after the death of Coriolanus. Volumnia, also, was the name of his wife, not of his mother; and the good Menenius died three or four years before his revengeful expedition against Rome.---Dr. Johnson says : The tragedy of Coriolanus is one of the most amusing of our author's performances. The old man's merriment in Menenius; the lofiy lady's dignity in Volumnia; the bridal modesty in Virgilia ; the patrician and military haughness io Coriolanus; the plebeian malignity and tribuuitian insolence io Brutus and Sicinius make a very pleasing and interesting variety; and the various revolutions of the hero's fortune fill the mind with anxious curiosity. There is, perhaps, too much bustle in the first act, and too little in the last.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.
CAIUS MARCIUS CORIOLANUS, a noble Roman. A CITIZEN of Antium.
Titus LARTIUS, Generals aguinst the Vol. Two VOLSCIAN GUARDS.
COMINIUS,

scians.

VOLUMNIA, Mother of Coriolanus.
MENENTUS AGRIPPA, Friend to Coriolanus. VIRGILIA, Wife to Coriolanus.
SICINIUS
VELUTUS, } Tribunes of the people. GENTLEWOMAN, attending Virgilia.

VALERIA, Friend to Virgilia.
,
YOUNG MARCIUS, Son to Coriolanus.
A ROMAN HERALD.

Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, TULLUS AUFIDIUS, General of the Volsciais. Ædiles, Lictors, Soldiers, ('itizens, Mesa LIEUTENANT to Aufidius.

sengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other CONSPIRATORS with Aufidius.

Attendants.
SCENE : partly in Rome, and partly in the territories of the Volscians and Antiates.

Аст І.

1 Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at

our own price. Is't a verdict ? SCENE I. Rome.-A Street.

Cit. No more talking out; let it be done : Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with away, away. siaves, Clubs, and other Weapons.

2 Cit. One word, good citizens.

1 Cit. We are accounted poor citizens ; the pa1 Cit. Before we proceed any further, hear me tricians, good :* What authority surfeits on, would speak.

relieve us ; If they would yield us but the suC'it. Speak, speak. [Several speaking at once. pertluity, while it were wholesome, we might

i Cit. You are all resolved rather to die, than to guess they relieved us humanely; but they think famish?

we are too dear :t the leanness that afflicts ils, the Cit. Resoled, resolved !

object of our misery, is as an inventory to parti1 Cit. First you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

• Rich Cit. We know't, we know't.

1 + Charge of kceping us more than we are worth.

B

cularize their abundance ; our suflerance is a gain think to fob off our disgrace with a tale : but, to them.-Let us revenge this with our pikes, an't please you, deliver. ere we become rahes :' for the gods know, I speak Men. There was a time, when all the body's this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

members i Cit. Would you proceed especially against Rebell'd against the belly ; thus accus'd it :Caius Marcins ?

That only like a gult it did remain Cit. Against him first : he's a very dog to the l'the midst o'the body, idle and inactive, cominonalty.

Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing 2 Cit. Consider you what services he has done Like labour with the rest; where the other for his country?

instruments i Cit. Very well; and could be content to Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, give him good report for'i, but that he pays him. And, mutually participate,+ did minister self with being proud.

Unto the appetite and affection common 2 Cit. Nay, but speak not maliciously. Of the whole body. The belly answered,

1 Cit. I say unto yoll, what he hath done 1 Cit. Well, Sir, what answer made the belly ! famously, he did it to that end ; though soft-con- Men. Sir, I shall tell you. -With a kind of scienc'd men can be content to say it was for his

smile, country, he did it to please bis mother, and to be which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus, partly prom; which be is, even to the altitude (For, look you, I may make the belly smile of his virtue.

As well as speak,) it tauntingly replied 2 Cit. What he cannot help in his vature, you to the discontented members, the inutinous parts account a vice in him: You must in no way say That envied his receipt ; even so most litly: he is covetous.

As you malign our senators, for that 1 Cit. If I must not, I need not be harren of They are not such as you accusations; he hath faults, with surplus, to tire i Cit. Your belly's answer: What! on repetition. [Shouts within.) What shouts The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye, are these? The other side o'the city is nisell: The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier, Why stay we prating here? to the Capitol ! Our steed the leg, the longue our trumpeter, Cit. Come, come.

With other muniments and peity helps i Cit. Soft; who comes here?

In this our fabric, if that they

Ven. What then 1-
Enter MENENTUS AGRIPPA.

'Fore me, this fellow speaks !--what then ! what 2 Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa : one that

then ? bath always loved the people.

1 Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be re1 Cit. He's one honest enough ; 'Would, all

suain'd, the rest were so !

Who is the sink o'the body, Men. What work's, my countrymen, in hand ? Men. Well, what then ? Where go you

i Cit. The former agents, if they did complain, With bats and clubs? The inatter? Speak, What could the belly answer? pray you.

Men. I will tell you ; i Cit. Our business is not unknown to the If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little,) senate ; they have had inkling, this fortnight Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer. what we intend to do, which w we'll show 'em i Cit. You are long about it. in deeds. They say, poor suitors have strong Men. Note ine this, good friend ; breaths; they shall know we have strong arms Your most grave belly was deliberate, too.

Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd. Men. Why, masters, my good friends, mine True is it, my incorporate friends, quoth he, honest neighbours,

That I receive the general food at first, Will you undo yourselves ?

Inich you do live upon : and fit it is ; 1 Cit. We camiot, Sir, we are undone al. Because I am the store-house, and the shop ready.

of the whole body : But if you do remember, Men. I tell you, friends, most charitable care I send it through the rivers of your blood, Have the patricians of you. For your wants, Even to the court, the heart,--to the seat Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well

o'the bruin ; Strike at the heaven with your staves, as lift And, through the cranks and oflices of man, them

The strongest nerres, and small interior veins, Against the Roman state ; whose conrse will on From me receive that natural competency The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs Ihereby they live · And though that all at of more strong link asuider, that cali ever

Ouce', Appear in your impediment : For the dearth, You, my good friends, (this says the belly, mark The gods, not the patricians, make it; and

mie,) Your knees to them, tot aruis, minst lielp. 1 Cit. Ay, Sir; well, well. Alack !

Men. Though all at once cunnot You are trauaported by calamity

See what I do deliver out to each ; Thither where more attends you; and you slander Yet I can make my audit up, that all The helins o'the state, who care for you like from me do buck receive the hour of all, When you curse them as enemies. (fathers, And leave me but the brun. What say you to't!

1 Cit. Care for us! True, indeed ! They 1 Cit. It was an answer : How apply you this ? ne'er cared for us yet. Suffer us to lamish, and Men. The senators of Rome are this good their store-houses crammed with grain; make

belly, edicts for usury, lo support usurers ; repeal daily And you the mutinous members : For examine any wholesome act established against the rich ; | Their counsels and their cares ; digest things and provide inore piercing statutes daily, to

rightly, chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat Touching the weal o'the common ; you simll find us not up, they will; and there's all the love No public benefit which you receive, they hear us.

But it proceeds, or comes, from them to you, Men. Either you must

And no way from yourselves.-What do you Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,

think? Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you

Yon the great toe of this assembly? A pretty tale; it may be, you have heard it: 1 Cit. I the great toe ? Why the great toe? But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture Men. For that, being one o'the lowest, basest, To scale't i a little more.

poorest, i fit. Well, I'll hear it, Sir ; yet you must not

. Wherea.. + Participating 1 Exatls. • Thin as rakes. H A hit. #Spread it.

6 uudiligs

of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost ; The rabble should have first unroof'd the city, 'Thou rascal, that art worse in blood to run, Ere so prevail'd with me : it will in time Lead'st first to win some vantage.

Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs ; For insurrection's arguing." Rome and her rats are at the point of battle, Men. This is strange. The one side must have bail. Hail, noble

Mar. Go, get you home, you fragments !
Marcius!

Enter a MESSENGER.
Enter CAIUS MARCIUS.

Mes. Where's Caius Marcins ? Mar. Thanks.-What's the matter, you dissen- Mar. Here: What's the matter ? tious rogues,

Mes. The news, is, Sir, the Volsces are in armis. That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,

Mur. I am glad on't ; then we shall have Make yourselves scabs ?

means to vent i Cit. We have ever your good word, Mar. He that will give good words to thee,

Our níusty superfiuity :-See, our best elders. will flatter

Enter COMINIUS, Titus LARTius, and other Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you SENATORS; JUNIUS BRUTUS and SiCINTU'S curs,

(you, VELUTUS. That like nor peace, nor war? the one affrights

1 Sen. Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately The other makes you proud. He that trusts you,

told us : Where he should find you lions, finds you bares ;

The Volsces are in arms.
Where foxes, geese: You are no surer, no,

Mar. They have a leader,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is,

Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to't.
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him, and were I anything but wbiat I am,

I sin in envying his nobility : And curse that justice did it. Who deserves

I would wish me only he.
greatness,

Com. You have fought together.
Deserves your hate : and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that

Mar. Were half to half the world by the ears, Which would increase his evil. He that depends Upou my party, I'd revolt, to make

and he
Upon your favours, swims with tins of lead,
And hews down oaks with rushes. Haug ye ! only my wars with him : he is a lion
Trust ye?

That I am proud to hunt.
With every minute yon do change a mind;

i Sen. Then, worthy Marciu.., and call him noble, that was now your liate,

Attend upon Cominins to these wars.

Com. It is your foriner promise. Him vile, that was your garlaud. What's the

Mlur. Sir, it is ; matter, That in these several places of the city

And I am constant.--Titus Lartius, thou

Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face You cry against the noble senate, who,

What, art thou still? stand'st out?
Under the gods, ktep you in awe, which else
Would feed on

Tit. No, Caius Marcius ;
one another 1-What's their

[other, I'll lean upon one crutch, and fight with the seeking? Men. For corn at their own rates ; whereof, Ere stay behind this business.

Men. Oh! true bred ! they say, The city is well stor’d.

1 Sen. Your company to the Capitol ; wliere

I know,
Mar. Hang 'em! They say ?

Our greatest friends attend us.
They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know
What's done i'the Capitol : who's like to rise,

Tit. Lead you on :
Who thrives, and who declines : side factions, follow, Cominius; we must follow you ;
and give out

Right worthy you priority.

Com. Noble Lartius!
Conjectural marriages ; making parties strong,
And feebling such as stand not in their liking,

1 Sen. Hence! To your liomes, be gone. Below their cobbled shoes. They say, there's

[To the CITIZENS. grain enough?

Mar. Nay, let then follow : Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,

The Volsces have much corn; take these rats And let me use my sword, I'd inake a quarry I

thither, With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as inigh To gnaw their garners: Worshipful mutineers, As I could pický my lance.

Your valour puts + well forth: pray follow. Men. Nay, these are almost thoroughly per.

(Exeunt SENATORS, COM. Mar. Tit. and suaded :

MENEN. Citizens steal away. For though abundantly they lack discre:ion, Sic. Was ever man so proud as is this MarYet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech

cius ? What says the other troop ?

(you, Bru. He has no equal. Mar. They are dissolved : Hang 'em !

Sic. When we were chosen tribunes for the They said they were an hungry : sigh'd forth

people, proverbs-

(eat ;

Bru. Mark'd you his lip, and eyes ? That hunger broke stone walls ; that dogs inust Sic. Nay, but his taunts. That meat was made for mouths ; that the gods Bru. Being inov'd, he will not spare to gird 1 serit not

the gods. Corn for the rich men only :-With these shreds Sic. Be-inock the modest moon. They vented their complainings; which, being Bru. The present wars devour bim : he is answer'd, Too proud to be so valiant.

(growa And a petition granted them, a strange one,

Sic. Such a nature (To break the heart of generosity,

Tickled with good success, disdains the shadows And make bold power look pale) they threw their which he treads on at noon : But I do wonder caps

His insolence can brook to be commanded
As they would hang them on the horns o'the Under Cominius.
Shouting their emulation.|

(moon Bru. Fame, at the which he aims,Men. What is granted them ?

In whom already he is well grac'd-cannot Mar. Five tribunes to defend their vulgar Better be held, nor more attain'd, than by wisdoms,

A place below the first : for what miscarries of their own choice : One's Junine Brutus, Shall be the general's fault, though he perform Sicinius Velutiis, and I know not~'Sdeath! To the utmost of a man; and giddy censure • Damage. + Compassion, i Ileap of dead. Pitch, • For insurgents to debate upon. + Shows itself Factiva.

* Gibe.

visit yoll.

him ;

will then cry out of Marcius, Oh! if he

bodied, and the only son of my womb: when llad borne the business !

youth with comeliness pluck'd all gaze his way; Sic. Besides, if things go well,

When, for a day of kings' eütreaties, a mother Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall

should not sell him an hour from her beholding; of his demerits ® rob Cominius.

1,-considering how honour would become such Bru. Come :

a person ; that it was no better than picture-like Hali all Cominius' honours are to Marcius, to bang by the wall, if renowii made it not stir,Though Marcius earu'd then not; and all his was pleased to let biin seek danger where he was faults

like to tiud faine. To a cruel war I sent him ; To Marcius shall be honours, though, indeed, froin whence he returned, his brows bound with In aught he merit not.

oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more Sic. Let's hence, and hear

in joy at first hearing he was a man-child, than How the dispatch is made ; and in what fashion, now in tirst seeing he had proved himself a More than in singularity,t he goes

nian. Upon his present actions

Vir. But bad he died in the business, madam, Bru. Let's along.

(Exeunt. how then ?

Vol. Then his good report should have been SCENE 11.-Corioli.--The Senate-House. my son: I therein would have found issue.

Hear me profess sincerely : Had I a dozen sons, Enter Tullus AUFidius, and certain SENA- each in ny love alike, and none less dear than TORS.

thine and niy good Marcius, I bad rather had 1 Sen. So, your opinion is, Aufidius,

eleven die nobly for their country, than one That they of Rome are enter'd in our counsels, voluptuously surfeit out of action. And know how we proceed.

Enter a GENTLEWOMAN. Auf. Is it not yours? What ever hath been thought on in this state, Gent. Madam, the lady Valeria is come to That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome Had circumvention ! I 'Tis not four days gone,

Vir. 'Beseech you, give me leave to retire Since I heard thence these are the words : 1

myself. think

Vol. Iudeed, you shall not. I have the letter here ; yes, here it is- (Rrads.

Methinks, I hear hither your husband's drum ; They have press'd a power, but it is not See bim pluck Autidius down by the hair ; knoun

As children from a bear the Volsces shunning Whether for east or west : The dearth is great ; The people mutinous : and it is rumour'd,

Methinks, I see him stamp thus, and call thus,Comínius, Marcius your old enemy,

Come on, you couards, you ucre got in fear, (Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,) Though you were born in Rome : His bloody And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,

brow These three lead on this preparation

With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes, Whither 'lis bent: most likely, 'lis for you :

Like to a harvest-inan, that's task'd to mow Consider of it.

Or all, or lose his hire. 1 Sen. Our army's in the field :

Vir. His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood ! We never yet nade doubt but Rome was ready Vol. Away, you fool! it more becomes a mall, To answer us.

Than gilt bis trophy : The breasts of Hecuba, Auf. Nor did you think it folly,

When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier To keep your great pretences veil'd, till when Than Hector's forehead, when it spit forth blood They needs must shew themselves ; which in the At Grecian swords' contending.-Tell Valeria hatching,

We are fit to bid her welcome. (Erit GENT. It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery, Vir. Heavens bless my lord irom fell Aufidins ! We shall be shorten' in our aim, which was,

Vol. He'll beat Aulidius' bead below his kuce, To take in $ many towns, ere, almost, Rome And tread upon his neck. Should know we were afoot.

Re-enter GENTLEWOMAN, with VALERIA and 2 Sen. Noble Autidius,

her USHER. Take your commission ; hie yor to your bands : Let us alone to guard Corioli :

Val. My ladies both, good day to you. If they set down before us, for the remove

Vol. Sweet madain,Bring up your army; but, I think, you'll find

Vir. I am glad to see your ladyship. They have not prepar'd for us.

Val. How do you both ? you are manifest Auf. Oh! doubt not that:

house-keepers. What, are you sewing here! I speak from certainties. Nay, more

A tine spot, in good faith.-How does your little Some parcels of their powers are forth already,

son ? And only hitherward. I leave your honours.

Vir. I thank your ladyship ; well, good madam. If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,

Vol. He had rather see the swords, and bear 'Tis sworn between us, we shall never strike

a drum, tban look upon bis school-master. Till one can do no more.

Val. O' my word, the father's son : l'll swear, All. The gods assist you !

'tis a very pretty boy. 0' my troth, I looked Auf. And keep your honours safe!

upon him o'Wednesday half an hour together : 1 Sen. Farewell.

he has such a contirmed coutenance. I saw 2 Sen. Farewell.

him run after a gilded butterfly ; and when he All. Farewell.

Exeunt. caught it, he let it go again ; and after it again ;

and over and over he comes, and up again ; SCENE 111.- Rome.-An Apartment in catched it again : or whether his fall enraged MARCIUS' House

him, or how 'twas, he did so set his tecih,

and tear it : Oh! I warrant bow he manamockedt Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA: They sit it! down on tuo low stools, and sew.

Vol. One of his father's moods. Vol. I pray you, daughter, sing; or express Val. Indeed la, 'tis a noble child. yourself in a inore coinfortable sort: If my son Vir. A crack, $ madam. were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in l'al. Come, lay aside your stichery; I must that absence wherein he won honour, than in have you play the idle huswife with me this af. the embracements of his bed, where he would ternoon. show most love. When yet he was but tender. Vir. No, good madam ; I will not out of doors.

• Demnerits and merits had anciently the same mean. • Attracted universal attention, + The most hon ing. + Let us also learn what are his powers, &c. ourable crowd of all.given to him who saved the life of luformation of it. To subdue.

a citizen. Tore it. 6 Bey.

« PreviousContinue »