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Rome and her rats are at the point of battle,
Enter CAIUS MARCIUS. Mar. Thanks.— What's the matter, you dissen
That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
We have ever your good word. Mar. He that will give good words to thee, will
flatter Beneath abhorring.–What would you have, you
curs, That like nor peace, nor war? the one affrights you, The other makes you proud 14. He that trusts you, Where he should find
you lions, finds
hares; Where foxes, geese: You are no surer, no, Than is the coal of fire
the ice, Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is, To make him worthy, whose offence subdues him, And curse that justice did it 15. Who deserves
greatness, Deserves your hate: and your
affections are A 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? 13 Bale is evil or mischief, harm or injury. The word is pure Saxon, and was becoming obsolete in Shakspeare's time. 14 That like nor peace, nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud.' Coriolanus does not use these two sentences consequentially; bat first reproaches them with unsteadiness, then with their other occasional vices.
15 · Your virtue is to speak well of him whom his own offences have subjected to justice; and to rail at those laws by which he whom you praise was punished.'
With every minute you do change a mind;
Hang 'em! They say ? They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know What'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, Below their cobbled shoes. They say, there's grain
enough? Would the nobility lay aside their ruth 16, And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry 17 With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high As I could pick 18 my lance. Men. Nay, these are almost thoroughly per
suaded; For though abundantly they lack discretion, Yet are they passing cowardly. But I beseech
the other troop?
16 i. e. pity, compassion.
17 Quarry or querre signified slaughtered game of any kind, which was so denominated from being deposited in a square enclosed space in royal hunting. See note on Macbeth, vol. iv.
18 Pick, peck, or picke, i. e. pitch; still in provincial use. The fact is, that, in ancient language, to pick was used for to cast, throw, or hurl: to pitch was to set or fix any thing in a particular spot.
They are dissolved: Hang 'em! They said, they were an hungry; sigh’d forth pro
verbs; 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 They vented their complainings; which being an
swer'd, And a petition granted them, a strange one (To break the heart of generosity 19, And make bold power look pale), they threw their
caps As they would hang them on the horns o’ the moon, Shouting their emulation 20. Men.
What is granted them? Mar. Five tribunes to defend their vulgarwisdoms, Of their own choice: One's Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—'Sdeath! The 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 arguingl. Meni
This is strange. Mar. Go, get you home, you fragments!
Enter a Messenger. Mess. Where's Caius Marcius ? Mar.
Here: What's the matter? Mess. The news is, sir, the Volces are in arms. 19 Generosity, in the sense of its Latin original, for nobleness, high birth. Thus in Measure for Measure :
. The generous and gravest citizens.' See vol. ii. p. 92, note 4.
20 Emulation is factious contention. See Troilus and Cressida, Act ii. Sc. 2, note 25.
21 For insurgents to debate upon.
Mar. I am glad on't; then we shall have means
to vent Our musty superfluity :-See, our best elders. Enter COMINIUS, Titus LARTIUS, and other Se
nators; JUNIUS BRUTUS, and SICINIUS VELUTUS. 1 Sen. Marcius, 'tis true, that you have lately
The Volces are in arms.
They have a leader,
You have fought together. Mar. Were half to half the world by the ears,
and he Upon my party, I'd revolt, to make Only my wars with him: he is a lion That I am proud to hunt. 1 Sen.
Then, worthy Marcius, Attend
Cominius to these wars.
Sir, it is ;
No, Caius Marcius :
0, true bred! 1 Sen. Your company to the Capitol; where I know, Our greatest friends attend us. 22 i.e. immoveable in my resolution. So in Julius Cæsar :But I am constant as the northern star.'
Lead you on :
Noble Lartius 24 ! 1 Sen. Hence! To your homes, be gone.
To the Citizens. Mar.
Nay, let them follow: The Volces have much corn; take these rats thither, To gnaw their garners:-Worshipful mutineers, Your valour puts 25 well forth: pray, follow.
[Exeunt Senators, Com. MAR. Tit. and MENEN. Citizens steal
away. Sic. Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius? Bru. He has no equal. Sic. When we were chosen tribunes for the
people, Bru. Mark'd
you his lip, and eyes ? Sic.
Nay, but his taunts. Bru. Being mov’d, he will not spare to gird 26 the
Bru. The present wars devour him: he is grown Too proud to be so valiant 27.
23 You being right worthy of precedence. 24 The old copy haş Marcius.
25 That is, You have in this mutiny shown fair blossoms of valour. So in King Henry VIII.:
To day he puts forth The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms,' &c. 20 A gird is a cut, a sarcasm, or stroke of satire. See King Henry IV. Part II. Act i. Sc. 2, p. 262.
27 The present wars' Shakspeare uses to express the pride of Coriolanus, grounded on his military prowess; which kind of pride, Brutus says, devours him. In Troilus and Cressida, Act ii. Sc. 3, we have :
He that's proud eats up himself.' Perhaps the meaning of the latter member of the sentence is, • He is grown too proud of being so valiant to be endured. It is still a common expression to say, ' eat up with pride.'