Imatges de pàgina

Cit. Come, come.
1 Cit. Soft; who comes here?

Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA. 2. Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.

i Cit. He's one honest enough; 'Would, all the rest were so ! Men. What work's, my countrymen, in hand ?

Where go you With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.

1 Cit. Our 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. Men. Why, masters, my good friends, mine ho

nest neighbours, Will you undo yourselves?

1 Cit. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

Men. I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your 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
Appear in your impediment3: 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;


slander The helms o'the state, who care


like fathers, When you curse them as enemies. 3 Thus in Othello :

• I have made my way through more impediments
Than twenty times your stop.'

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1 Cit. Care 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 support usurers: repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich; and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain


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
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accus'd 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
To stale't + a little more.

1 Cit. Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to fob off our disgracewith a tale: but, an't please you, deliver. Men. There was a time, when all the body's

members Rebelld against the belly; thus accus'd it:That only like a gulf it did remain l' the midst o'the body, idle and inactive,

4 • The old copies have "scale't a little more;" for which Theobald judiciously proposed stale. To this Warburton objects petulantly enough, it must be confessed, because to scale signifies to weigh; so indeed it does, and many other things; none of which, however, bear any relation to the text. Steevens too prefers scale, which he proves from a variety of authorities to mean scatter, disperse, spread:' to make any of them, however, suit his purpose, he is obliged to give an unfaithful version of the text. « Though some of you have heard the story, I will spread it yet wider, and diffuse it among the rest." There is nothing of this in Shakspeare; and indeed I cannot avoid looking upon the whole of his long note as a feeble attempt to justify a palpable error of the press, at the cost of taste and sense.'

Gifford's Massinger, vol. i. p. 204, ed. 1813. In confirmation of Mr. Gifford's opinion it may be observed that to stale is used in the same sense in Julius Cæsar, Act i. Sc. ii. :

•Were I a common laugher, or did use

To stale with ordinary oaths my love.' 3 Disgraces are hardships, injuries,



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Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest; where the other instru-

Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answered,

1 Cit. Well, sir, what answer made the belly ?

Men. Sir, 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 7, As well as speak), it tauntingly replied To the discontented members, the mutinous parts That envied his receipt; even so most fitly8 As you malign our senators, for that They are not such as you. 1 Cit.

Your belly's answer: What? Men. The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye, The counsellor heart', the arm our soldier, Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter, With other muniments and petty helps In this our fabrick, if that they1 Cit.

What then ? Men. 'Fore me, this fellow speaks !—what then?

what then ? Should by the cormorant belly be restrain’d, Who is the sink o'the body,

6 Where for whereas. ?•And so the belly, all this notwithstanding, laughed at their folly and sayed,' &c.North’s Plutarch, p. 240, ed. 1579.

. 8 i.e. exactly.

9 The heart was anciently esteemed the seat of the understanding. See the next note. There has been strange confusion in the appropriation of some parts of this dialogue in all editions, even to the last by Mr. Boswell. Not to encumber the page, I must request the reader to compare this with the former editions, and have no doubt he will approve the transposition of names which has been here made.

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1 Cit.

Well, what then?
The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?

I will tell you;
If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little),
Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer.

1 Cit. You are long about it.

Note 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,

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 10;

10 Shakspeare uses seat for throne. • I send it (says the belly) through the blood, even to the royal residence, the heart, in which the kingly crowned understanding sits enthroned. The poet, besides the relation in Plutarch, had seen a similar fable in Camden's Remaines; Camden copied it from John of Salist bury De Nugis Curialium, b. vi. c. 24. Mr. Douce, in a very carious note, has shown the high antiquity of this apologue, • which is to be found in several ancient collections of Æsopian Fables: there may be, therefore, as much reason for supposing it the invention of Æsop, as there is for making him the parent of many others. The first writer who has introduced Menenius as reciting the fable is Dionysius of Halicarnassus, book vi. Then follow. Livy, lib. ii.; Plutarch, in his life of Coriolanus; Florus, lib. i. c. 23; each of whom gives it in his own manner.' Mr. Douce observed that our English Pliny, Bartholomew Glanville, informs us from Aristotle, that the substance of the brain being cold, it is placed before the well of heat, which is the heart;

and that small veins proceed from the heart, of which is made a marvellous caul wherein the brain is wrapped. De Propr. Rer. lib. v. c. 3. The same authority tells us that in the heart is “all business and knowing.' A very curious imitation of this passage in Shakspeare has been pointed out by Mr. Douce in The Curtaine-Drawer of the World; by W. Parkes,' 1612, 4to.


And, through the cranks 11 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, -
1 Cit., Ay, sir; well, well.

Though all at once cannot.
See what I do deliver out to each ;
Yet I make

audit up,

that all
From me do back receive the flower of all,
And leave me but the bran. What say you to't?

1 Cit. It was an answer: How apply you this ?

Men. The senators of Rome are this good belly, And you

the mutinous members : For examine Their counsels, and their cares; digest things rightly, Touching the weal of 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?—

1 Cit. I the great toe? Why the great toe?
Men. For that being one o’the lowest, basest,

Of this most wise rebellion, thou goʻst foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run 12,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.--
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs;

11 Cranks are windings; the meandering ducts of the human body.

12 Rascal and in blood are terms of the forest, both here used equivocally. The meaning seems to be, thou worthless scoundrel, though thou art in the worst plight for running of all this herd of plebeians, like a deer not in blood, thou takest the lead in this tumult in order to obtain some private advantage to thyself, "Worst in blood' has a secondary meaning of lowest in condition. The modern editions have erroneously a comma at blood, which obscures the sense. VOL. VIII:



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