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ACT I. SCENE I.
Rome. A Street.
Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.
1. CIT. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
CIT. Speak, fpeak.
[Several Speaking at once.
1. CIT. You are all refolv'd rather to die, than to famish?
Cır. Refolv'd, refolv'd.
1. Cır. First, you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
CIT. We know't, we know't.
1. CIT. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?
CIT. No more talking on't; let it be done: away,
2. CIT. One word, good citizens.
1. CIT. We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good: What authority furfeits on, would
1. Cit. We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good :]
relieve us. If they would yield us but the fuperfluity, while it were wholefome, we might guess, they relieved us humanely; but they think, we are top dear: the leannefs that afflicts us, the object of our mifery, is as an inventory to particularize their abundance; our fufferance is a gain to them. -Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes for the gods know, I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
Good is here used in the mercantile fenfe. So, Touchstone in Eaft-ward
Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
but they think, we are too dear:] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth. JOHNSON.
4 Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes:] It was Shakspeare's defign to make this fellow quibble all the way. But time, who has done greater things, has here ftifled a miferable joke; which was then the fame as if it had been now wrote, Let us now revenge this with forks, ere we become rakes: for pikes then fignified the fame as forks do now. So Jewel in his own tranflation of his Apology, turns Chriftianos ad furcas condemnare, to-To condemn Chriflians to the pikes. But the Oxford editor, without knowing any thing of this, has with great fagacity found out the joke, and reads on his own authority, pitch-forks. WARBURTON.
It is plain that, in our author's time, we had the proverb, as lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obfcure. Rake now fignifies a diffolute man, a man worn out with difeafe and debauchery. But the fignification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rakel, in Iflandick, is faid to mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the firft ufe among us of the word rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthlefs to be fed.
It may be fo: and yet I believe the proverb, as lean as a rake, owes its origin fimply to the thin taper form of the inftrument made ufe of by hay-makers. Chaucer has this fimile in his defcription of the clerk's horfe in the prologue to the Canterbury Taks, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 288:
“As lene was his hors as is a rake.”
2. CIT. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
CIT. Against him firft;' he's a very dog to the commonalty.
2. CIT. Confider you what fervices he has done for his country?
1. CIT. Very well; and could be content to give him good report for't, but that he pays himself with being proud.
2. CIT. Nay, but speak not maliciously.
1. CIT. I fay unto you, what he hath done famoufly, he did it to that end: though foft-confcienc'd men can be content to fay, it was for his country, he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud; which he is, even to the altitude of his virtue.
2. CIT. What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in him: You must in no way fay, he is covetous.
1. CIT. If I muft not, I need not be barren of
Spenfer introduces it in the fecond book of his Faery Queen, Canto II:
"His body lean and meagre as a rake.”
As thin as a whipping-poft, is another proverb of the fame kind. Stanyhurft, in his tranflation of the third book of Virgil, 1582, defcribing Achæmenides, fays:
A meigre leane rake," &c.
This paffage, however, feems to countenance Dr. Johnson's fuppofition; as alfo does the following from Churchyard's Tragicall Difcourfe of the hapleffe man's life, 1593:
"And though as leane as rake in every rib." STEEVENS. 5 Cit. Against him firft; &c.] This fpeech is in the old play, as here, given to a body of the citizens fpeaking at once. I believe, it ought to be affigned to the firft citizen. MALONE.
to the altitude -] So, in King Henry VIII: "He's traitor to the height." STEEVENS.
accufations; he hath faults, with furplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.] What shouts are these? The other fide o'the city is rifen: Why stay we prating here? to the Capitol.
CIT. Come, come.
1. CIT. Soft; who comes here?
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA.
2. CIT. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.
1. CIT. He's one honeft enough; 'Would, all the reft were fo!
MEN. What work's, my countrymen, in hand?
With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray
1. CIT. Our bufinefs" is not unknown to the fenate; they have had inkling, this fortnight, what we intend to do, which now we'll fhow 'em in deeds. They fay, poor fuitors have strong breaths; they shall know, we have strong arms too.
MEN. Why, mafters, my good friends, mine honeft neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?
1. CIT. We cannot, fir, we are undone already. MɛN. I tell you, friends, most charitable care Have the patricians of you. For your wants, Your fuffering in this dearth, you may as well
7 Our business &c.] This and all the fubfequent plebeian speeches in this fcene are given in the old copy to the fecond citizen. But the dialogue at the opening of the play fhews that it must have. been a mistake, and that they ought to be attributed to the first citizen. The second is rather friendly to Coriolanus. MALONE.
Strike at the heaven with your ftaves, as lift them
Thither where more attends you; and you flander The helms o'the ftate, who care for you like fathers, When you curse them as enemies.
1. CIT. Care for us!-True, indeed!-They ne'er car'd for us yet. Suffer us to famifh, and their store-houses cramm'd with grain; make edicts for ufury, to fupport ufurers: 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.
MEN. Either you must
Confefs yourselves wondrous malicious,
cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more ftrong link asunder, than can ever
"I have made my way through more impediments
I will venture
To fcale 't a little more.] To fcale is to difperfe. The word is ftill used in the North. The fenfe of the old reading is, Though fome of you have heard the story, I will spread it yet wider, and diffuse it among the rest.
A measure of wine fpilt, is called-" a fcal'd pottle of wine" in Decker's comedy of The Honeft Whore, 1604. So, in The