Page images

so did very many of us. That we did we did for
the best; and though we willingly consented
to his banishment, yet it was against our will.
Com. Ye're goodly things, you voices !
You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the


Com. O ay; what else?

But come, let's
Exeunt Citizens.

Exeunt COMINIUS and MENENIUS. Sic. Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay'd:


These are a side that would be glad to have
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.

First Cit. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let's home. I ever said we were i' the wrong when we banished him.

Even with the same austerity and garb
As he controll'd the war; but one of these,
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him, made him fear'd,
So hated, and so banish'd: but he has a merit
To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues
Lie in the interpretation of the time;
And power, unto itself most commendable,

Second Cit. So did we all.
Bru. I do not like this news.
Sic. Nor I.


Bru. Let's to the Capitol. Would half my Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair
To extol what it hath done.
Would buy this for a lie!

Pray let us go.

SCENE VII-A Camp at a small distance from

Enter AUFIDIUS and his Lieutenant.
Auf. Do they still fly to the Roman ?
Lieu. I do not know what witchcraft's in
him, but

Your soldiers use him as the grace 'fore meat,
Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;
And you are darken'd in this action, sir,
Even by your own.

One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail; Exeunt. Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.

I cannot help it now,
Unless, by using means, I lame the foot
Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,
Even to my person, than I thought he would
When first I did embrace him; yet his nature
In that's no changeling, and I must excuse
What cannot be amended.


Yet I wish, sir,
I mean for your particular, you had not
Join'd in commission with him; but either
Had borne the action of yourself, or else
To him had left it solely.

Auf. I understand thee well; and be thou


When he shall come to his account, he knows

Will be as rash in the repeal as hasty
To expel him thence. I think he'll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature.
First he was
A noble servant to them, but he could not
Carry his honours even; whether 'twas pride,
Which out of daily fortune ever taints
The happy man; whether defect of judgment,
To fail in the disposing of those chances
Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
Not to be other than one thing, not moving
From the casque to the cushion, but command-
ing peace

Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon
As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone
That which shall break his neck or hazard mine,
Whene'er we come to our account.

Lieu. Sir, I beseech you, think you he 'll carry

Auf. All places yield to him ere he sits down;
And the nobility of Rome are his :
The senators and patricians love him too :
The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people




Come, let's away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
Thou art poor'st of all; then shortly art thou


What I can urge against him. Although it Of burning Rome.



And so he thinks, and is no less apparent
To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly,
And shows good husbandry for the Volscian


SCENE I.-Rome. A public Place. Enter MENENIUS, COMINIUS, SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and Others.

Men. No, I'll not go: you hear what he hath said

Which was sometime his general; who lov'd him
In a most dear particular. He call'd me father :
But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him ;
A mile before his tent fall down, and knee

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.
Do you hear?
Com. Yet one time he did call me by my


I urg'd our old acquaintance, and the drops 10
That we have bled together. Coriolanus
He would not answer to; forbad all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forg'd himself a name o' the fire

Very well.

Could he say less?

Com. I offer'd to awaken his regard
For's 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. 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. 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: 30 You are the musty chaff, and you are smelt Above the moon. We must be burnt for you.

Sie. Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid

In this so never-needed help, yet do not
Upbraid's with our distress. But, sure, if you
Would be your country's pleader, your good

More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.

Sic. Pray you, go to him.

[blocks in formation]


Good my friends, If you have heard your general talk of Rome, And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks, 10

No; I'll not meddle. My name hath touch'd your ears: it is Menenius. First Guard. Be it so; go back the virtue of your name .

What should I do? 39 Bru. Only make trial what your love can do For Rome, towards Marcius.


Well; and say that Marcius Return me, as Cominius is return'd, Unheard; what then?

[blocks in formation]


And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts me.
He was not taken well; he had not din'd:
The veins unfill'd, our 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. Speed how it will. ledge

Of my success.



Good faith, I'll prove him, 60 I shall ere long have knowExit.

He'll never hear him.


[blocks in formation]

Is not here passable.


I tell thee, fellow,
Thy general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have

His fame unparallel'd, haply amplified ;
For I have ever verified my friends,

Of whom he's chief, with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing 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.

First Guard. 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. Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always factionary on the party of your general.

Second Guard. 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. First Guard. You are a Roman, are you! Men. I am, as thy general is.

First Guard. 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.

Second Guard. Come, my captain knows you

[blocks in formation]

Enter CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS. 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 standest 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. To CORIOLANUS. 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 upon this varlet here; this, who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.

Are servanted to others: though I owe
My revenge properly, my remission lies
In Volscian 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, for I lov'd

Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,


Gives a paper.

And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius, I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius, Was my belov'd in Rome: yet thou behold'st! Auf. You keep a constant temper.


First Guard. Now, sir, is your name Menenius? Second Guard. 'Tis a spell, you see, of much power. You know the way home again.

First Guard. Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your greatness back?

Second Guard. 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, ye 're 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!


Cor. Away!

Men. How! away!

Cor. Wife mother, child, I know not. My My wife comes foremost; then the honour'd




You must report to the Volscian lords, how plainly

First Guard. A noble fellow, I warrant him. Second Guard. The worthy fellow is our general: he's the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.


SCENE III.-The Tent of CORIOLANUS. Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and Others. Cor. We will before the walls of Rome to


Set down our host. My partner in this action,


I have borne this business.
You have respected; stopp'd your ears against
Only their ends
The general suit of Rome; never admitted
A private whisper, no, not with such friends
That thought them sure of you.
Whom with a crack'd heart I have sent to Rome,
This last old man,
Lov'd me above the measure of a father;
was to send him; for whose old love I have,
Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge
Though I show'd sourly to him, once more offer'd
The first conditions, which they did refuse,
That thought he could do more.
And cannot now accept, to grace him only
A very little
I have yielded to; fresh embassies, and suits,
Nor from the state, nor private friends, hereafter
Will I lend ear to.

Shout within.
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.

[blocks in formation]

Vir. The sorrow that delivers us thus chang'd Makes you think so.


Like a dull actor now, 40

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;

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

To shame unvulnerable, and stick i' the wars Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw, And saving those that eye thee!


Your knee, sirrah. Cor. That's my brave boy! Vol. Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself, Are suitors to you.

I beseech you, peace;
Or, if you'd ask, remember this before :
The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate

Again with Rome's mechanics: tell me not
Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not
To allay my rages and revenges with
Your colder reasons.


O! no more, no more;


[blocks in formation]

Must, as a foreign recreant, be led
With manacles thorough our streets, or else
Triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin,
And bear the palm for having bravely shed
Thy wife and children's blood. For myself, son,
I purpose not to wait on fortune till
These wars determine: if I cannot persuade thee
Rather to show a noble grace to both parts 14
Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
March to assault thy country than to tread,
Trust to 't thou shalt not, on thy mother's womb,
That brought thee to this world.
Ay, and mine,
That brought you forth this boy, to keep your


Living to time.
A' shall not tread on me :
I'll run away till I am bigger, but then I'll fight.
Cor. Not of a woman's tenderness to be,
Requires nor child nor woman's face to see. 130
I have sat too long.


Nay, go not from us thus.
If it were so, that our request did tend
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
The Volsces whom you serve, you might con-
demn us,

As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
Is, that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
May say This mercy we have show'd'; the

'This we receiv'd'; and each in either side Give the all-hail to thee, and cry 'Be bless'd For making up this peace!' Thou know'st,

[blocks in formation]

Hear nought from Rome in private. Your Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour, request?

Vol. Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment

And state of bodies would bewray what life
We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
How more unfortunate than all living women
Are we come hither: since that thy sight, which

Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,

Constrains them weep, and shake with fear and

[blocks in formation]

Making the mother, wife, and child, to see
The son, the husband, and the father, tearing
His country's bowels out. And to poor we
Thine enmity's most capital: thou barr'st us
Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
That all but we enjoy; for how can we,
Alas! how can we for our country pray,
Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
Whereto we are bound? Alack! or we must lose
The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
Our comfort in the country. We must find 11
An evident calamity, though we had

Our wish, which side should win; for either thou

To imitate the graces of the gods;


[blocks in formation]

life Show'd thy dear mother any courtesy ; When she, poor hen! fond of no second brood, Has cluck'd thee to the wars, and safely home, Loaden with honour. Say my request 's unjust, And spurn me back; but if it be not so, Thou art not honest and the gods will plague thee,

That thou restrain'st from me the duty which

To a mother's part belongs. He turns away:
Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.
To his surname Coriolanus 'longs more pride 170
Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;

This is the last: so we will home to Rome,
And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold's.
This boy, that cannot tell what he would have,
But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,
Does reason our petition with more strength
Than thou hast to deny 't. Come, let us go.
This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;
His wife is in Corioli, and his child
Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:
I am hush'd until our city be a-fire,
And then I'll speak a little.


He holds VOLUMNIA by the hand, silent.
O mother, mother!
What have you done? Behold! the heavens do

The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
They laugh at. O my mother! mother! O!
You have won a happy victory to Rome;
But, for your son, be it, O! believe it,
Most dangerously you have with him prevail'd,
If not most mortal to him. But let it come.
Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
I'll frame convenient peace. Now, good



Were you in my stead, would you have heard
A mother less, or granted less, Aufidius?

Auf. I was mov'd withal.
I dare be sworn you were :
And, sir, it is no little thing to make
Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,|
What peace you'll make, advise me: for my

I'll not to Rome, I'll back with you; and pray

you, Stand to me in this cause. O mother! wife! Auf. Aside. I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honour At difference in thee: out of that I'll work Myself a former fortune.


The Ladies make signs to CORIOLANUS. Cor. To VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, etc. Ay, by and by;

But we will drink together; and you shall bear
A better witness back than words, which we,
On like conditions, will have counter-seal'd.
Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
To have a temple built you: all the swords
In Italy, and her confederate arms,
Could not have made this peace.

SCENE IV.-Rome. A public Place.


a butterfly; yet your butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown from man to dragon: he has wings; he's more than a creeping thing.

Sic. He loved his mother dearly.

Men. So did he me; and he no more remembers his mother now than an eight-year-old horse. The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes: when he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. He sits in his state, as a thing made for Alexander. What he bids be done is finished with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity and a heaven to throne in.

Sic. Yes, mercy, if you report him truly. Men. I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his mother shall bring from him: there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger; that shall our poor city find: and all this is long of you.


Sic. The gods be good unto us!
Men. No, in

uch a case the gods will not be good unto us. When we banished him, we respected not them; and, he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.


Ne'er through an arch so hurried the blown tide, As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets and hautboys sounded, and drums
beaten, all together. Shouting also within.
Exeunt. The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,
Tabors, and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. Hark you! A shout within.

This is good news:
I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia
Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,

Sic. Why, what of that?

Men. If it be possible for you to displace it with your little finger, there is some hope the ladies of Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with him. But I say there is no hope in 't. Our throats are sentenced and stay upon

Enter a Messenger.

Mess. Sir, if you'd save your life, fly to your house:

The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune,
And hale him up and down; all swearing, if
The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,
They 'll give him death by inches.

Enter another Messenger.
What's the news?
Mess. Good news, good news! the ladies have


The Volscians are dislodg'd, and Marcius gone.
A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.
Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?
Mess. As certain as I know the sun is fire:
Where have you lurk'd that you make doubt
of it?

Men. See you yond coign o' the Capitol, yond A city full; of tribunes, such as you, corner-stone?


Sic. Is't possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a man?


Men. There is differency between a grub and


A sea and land full. You have pray'd well to-day: This morning ten thousand of your throats 60 I'd not have given a doit. Hark! how they joy. Music still, with shouts. you for your tidings;

Sic. First, the gods bless

Accept my thankfulness.

Sir, we have all thanks.

Great cause to give great
They are near the city?
Mess. Almost at point to enter.

« PreviousContinue »