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First CitizenBefore we proceed any further, hear me speak.
First CitizenYou are all resolved rather to die than to famish?
First CitizenAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 5First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
AllWe know't, we know't.
First CitizenLet us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.
Is't a verdict?
AllNo more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!
Second CitizenAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 10One word, good citizens.
First CitizenWe are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 15but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularise their abundance; our
sufferance is a gain to them Let us revenge this with
our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 20speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
Second CitizenWould you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
AllAgainst him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.
Second CitizenConsider you what services he has done for his country?
First CitizenVery well; and could be content to give him good
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 25report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.
Second CitizenNay, but speak not maliciously.
First CitizenI say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
content to say it was for his country he did it to
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 30please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
is, even till the altitude of his virtue.
Second CitizenWhat he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.
First CitizenIf I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 35he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.
What shouts are these? The other side o' the city
is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!
First CitizenSoft! who comes here?
Second CitizenAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 40Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
First CitizenHe's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!
MENENIUSWhat work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.
First CitizenAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 45Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,
which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor
suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we
have strong arms too.
MENENIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 50Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?
First CitizenWe cannot, sir, we are undone already.
MENENIUSI tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 55Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state, whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 60Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 65The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.
First CitizenCare for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 70support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there's all the love they bear us.
MENENIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 75Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 80To stale 't a little more.
First CitizenWell, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't please
MENENIUSThere was a time when all the body's members
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 85Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 90Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd —
First CitizenWell, sir, what answer made the belly?
MENENIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 95Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus —
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak — it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 100That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.
First CitizenYour belly's answer? What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 105The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter.
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they —
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 110'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?
First CitizenShould by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' the body, —
MENENIUSWell, what then?
First CitizenThe former agents, if they did complain,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 115What could the belly answer?
MENENIUSI will tell you
If you'll bestow a small — of what you have little —
Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.
First CitizenYe're long about it.
MENENIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 120Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd:
'True is it, my incorporate friends,' quoth he,
'That I receive the general food at first,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 125Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain;
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 130And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends,' — this says the belly, mark me, —
First CitizenAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 135Ay, sir; well, well.
MENENIUS'Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 140And leave me but the bran.' What say you to't?
First CitizenIt was an answer: how apply you this?
MENENIUSThe senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 145Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?
First CitizenAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 150I the great toe! why the great toe?
MENENIUSFor that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 155But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.
Hail, noble Marcius!
MARCIUSThanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 160That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
First CitizenWe have ever your good word.
MARCIUSHe that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 165That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 170Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
And curse that justice did it.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 175A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 180And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 185Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?
MENENIUSFor corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.
MARCIUSHang 'em! They say!
They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 190What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions
and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 195Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 200As I could pick my lance.
MENENIUSNay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?
MARCIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 205They are dissolved: hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 210They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,
And a petition granted them, a strange one —
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale — they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 215Shouting their emulation.
MENENIUSWhat is granted them?
MARCIUSFive tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not — 'Sdeath!
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 220The rabble should have first unroof'd the city,
Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection's arguing.
MENENIUSThis is strange.
MARCIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 225Go, get you home, you fragments!
MessengerWhere's Caius Marcius?
MARCIUSHere: what's the matter?
MessengerThe news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
MARCIUSI am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to vent
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 230Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.
First SenatorMarcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us;
The Volsces are in arms.
MARCIUSThey have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 235I sin in envying his nobility,
And were I any thing but what I am,
I would wish me only he.
COMINIUSYou have fought together.
MARCIUSWere half to half the world by the ears and he.
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 240Upon my party, I'ld revolt to make
Only my wars with him: he is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.
First SenatorThen, worthy Marcius,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
COMINIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 245It is your former promise.
MARCIUSSir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.
What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?
TITUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 250No, Caius Marcius;
I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,
Ere stay behind this business.
First SenatorYour company to the Capitol; where, I know,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 255Our greatest friends attend us.
TITUS Lead you on.
Follow Cominius; we must follow you;
Right worthy you priority.
First SenatorAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 260 Hence to your homes; be gone!
MARCIUSNay, let them follow:
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.
SICINIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 265Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?
BRUTUSHe has no equal.
SICINIUSWhen we were chosen tribunes for the people, —
BRUTUSMark'd you his lip and eyes?
SICINIUSNay. but his taunts.
BRUTUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 270Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.
SICINIUSBe-mock the modest moon.
BRUTUSThe present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.
SICINIUSSuch a nature,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 275Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
His insolence can brook to be commanded
BRUTUSFame, at the which he aims,
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 280In whom already he's well graced, can not
Better be held nor more attain'd than by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 285Will then cry out of Marcius 'O if he
Had borne the business!'
SICINIUSBesides, if things go well,
Opinion that so sticks on Marcius shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.
BRUTUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 290Come:
Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius.
Though Marcius earned them not, and all his faults
To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.
SICINIUSAct 1 Sc 1 Ln 295Let's hence, and hear
How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.