« PreviousContinue »
(Junius.] Good or bad ? [Menenius.] Not according to the prayers of the people ;
for they love not Marcius. [Sicinius.] Nature teaches beasts to know their friends. [Menenius.] Pray you, whom does the wolf love? [Sicirius.] The lamb. [Menenius.] Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians
would the noble Marcius : I would ask of you, tribunes,
have not in abundance ? [Junius.] He's poor in no one point, but stored with all,
especially with pride. [Menenius.] This is strange now. You blame Marcius for
being proud ? [Junius.] We do it not alone, sir. [Menenius.] I know you can do very little alone; for your
helps are many, or your actions would grow wondrous single : your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. You talk of pride! oh, that you could turn your eyes towards the napes of your necks, and take an interior survey of your good selves! oh, that you
could! [Junius.] What then, sir ? [Menenius.] Why, then you should discover a brace of as
unmeriting, proud, foolish magistrates, as any in Rome. [Sicinius.] Menenius, you are known well enough, too. [Menenius.] I am known for a humourous old patrician,
that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in it. What I think, I utter; and spend my malice in
breath. [Sicinius.] Come, sir, come; we know you well enough [Menenius.] You know neither me, yourselves, nor any
thing. When you speak best to the purpose, it is not worth wagging of your beards, and your beards deserve not so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's cushion. Yet you must be saying Marcius is proud, who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors, since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the best of them were hereditary hangmen. I will be bold to take leave of you : more of your conversation would infect my brain, and make me unfit to wish the good time of day to the noble ladies, whom I see approaching.
Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria enter: How now, my fair as noble ladies,--and the moon, were she earthly, not nobler ;--whither do you follow your
eyes so fast ?
[Volumnia.] Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius ap
proaches; for the love of Juno let us onward. [Menenius.] Ha! Marcius coming home ? [Volumnia.] Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most •
prosperous approbation. [Menenius.] Jupiter, I thank thee! Hoo! Marcius coming
home! [Volumnia.] Look, here's a letter from him ; the state hath
another; his wife another; and, I think, there's one
at home for you. [Menenius.] I will make my very house reel to-night. A
letter for me? It gives me an estate of seven years' health. Is he not wounded ? he was wont to come home wounded. Nay, lady Virgilia, look not pale:
then, he is wounded. [Virgilia.] Oh, no, no, no ! [Volumnia] But I, his mother, say he is wounded; and I
thank the gods for it. [Menenius.] Ay, lady, so do I too, if it be not too much.
Brings he victory in his pocket ?
[Volumnia.] On his brows, Menenius : he comes the third
time home with the oaken garland. [Menenius.] Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly? [Volumnia.] Titus Lartius writes,--they fought together,
but Aufidius got off. [Menenius.] And it was time for him, too, I'll warrant.
Is the senate possessed of this ? [Volumnia.] Yes, yes, yes ; the senate has letters from the
general, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the war : he hath in this action outdone his former
deeds doubly. [Menenius.] Where is he wounded? He received, in the
repulse of Tarquin, seven hurts i' the body, besides one in the neck, and wo in the thigh,—there's nine
that I know of. [Volumnia.] Nay, before this last expedition, my son had
twenty-five wounds upon him: now, he is wounded
in the shoulder and in the left arm. [Menenius.] Then it is twenty-seven ; every gash was an
enemy's grave: hark, the trumpets! hear you the trum
pets, lady? [Volumnia.] These are the ushers of Marcius : before him
He carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears :
Which being rais'd, must fall; and then men die. Shouts, mingled with the sound of the trumpets, draw nearer, and drown the accents of the speakers. The cere. monies of entering the city are fulfilled, and Caius Marcius is announced by his acquired surname Coriolanus. He comes forward with his general, Cominius, on his right hand, and Titus Lartius on his left. Reaching the spot where we suppose ourselves at this moment, he is warned that his mother is present: he leaves his companions, comes to her, and kneels :
[Coriolanus.] You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
For my good safety.
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
But see, thy wife-
Thou weep'st to see me triumph ? Had I come
[sweet, And mothers that lack sons.
Menenius advances to kim :
[Menenius.] A hundred thousand welcomes ! I could weep,
And I could laugh; I a’m light and heavy: welcome!
Be grafted to your relish. Welcome, warriors ! [Coriolanus.] Your hand, good mother; yours, my dear
Ere in our own house I do shade my head, [Virgilia ;
But with them change.of honours. [Volumnia.) Son, I've liv'd
To see inherited my very wishes,
THE PRIDE OF THE PATRICIAN ORDERS, AND THE FACTIOUS CHARACTER
OF THE PEOPLE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THEIR TRIBUNES,
The people had gained the institution of the tribuneship to counteract the consular power by seceding from the city to a little eminence about three miles from it, known afterwards by the name of the Sacred Hill. Another secession had taken place after the creation of the tribunes ; and as it happened to be in autumn, the usual seedtime in Italy, the labours of that season were interrupted, and the city was threatened with famine. The senate had exerted all its industry in guarding against this evil. After the public granaries were filled for this purpose, it became a question upon what terms, and at what price, the poorer citizens should be supplied from thence. Their pretended insolence in the mutiny, and the part which they themselves, by suspending the labours of the field, had taken in bringing on the distress with which they were menaced, were, in the deliberation of the senate, fully stated against them. The opportunity was thought to be fair, to recall the several concessions which had been extorted from the senate, and in particular to oblige the people to part with their tribunes. Caius Marcius had been the leader in proposing these measures to the disadvantage of the people, and he was supported by the younger nobility. But the greater part of the senate were willing to appease the people, who were greatly incensed at this proposal ; and it was agreed to deliver corn from the public granaries at a price below that of the most plentiful seasons. Thus were the people and their tribunes pacified for a season; but the insult they had received from Caius Marcius was not avenged ; and they only waited for a favourable opportunity to cite him before the tribunal of the people. When this opportunity came, the senate and patricians, who protected him, expected he would be acquitted by the votes collected from the centuries; an arrangement of all the orders of the commonwealth which gave a preponderance to wealth, and not to numbers. Such had been hitherto the mode of proceeding in charges against a citizen of a capital nature. But in this instance the tribunes insisted that the people should assemble in their tribes, and having prevailed in this previous question, the accused, as being already condemned by this determination relating to the form of trial, went into exile.
The tribunes, Junius nd Sicinius, are on their way to the capitol: the throng usually attendant on them is now elsewhere, in gaze on the conqueror of Corioli. We