Document:  All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > Coriolanus > Act II, scene I

Jump to: the first appearance of cause_between_an_orange_wife_and_a_fosset-seller;




	[Enter MENENIUS with the two Tribunes of the people,
	SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]

MENENIUS: The augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.

BRUTUS: Good or bad?

MENENIUS: Not according to the prayer of the people, for they
	love not Marcius.

SICINIUS: Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

MENENIUS: Pray you, who does the wolf love?

SICINIUS: The lamb.

MENENIUS: Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the
	noble Marcius.

BRUTUS: He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.

MENENIUS: He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two
	are old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.

Both: Well, sir.

MENENIUS: In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two
	have not in abundance?

BRUTUS: He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.

SICINIUS: Especially in pride.

BRUTUS: And topping all others in boasting.

MENENIUS: This is strange now: do you two know how you are
	censured here in the city, I mean of us o' the
	right-hand file? do you?

Both: Why, how are we censured?

MENENIUS: Because you talk of pride now,--will you not be angry?

Both: Well, well, sir, well.

MENENIUS: Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of
	occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience:
	give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at
	your pleasures; at the least if you take it as a
	pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for
	being proud?

BRUTUS: We do it not alone, sir.

MENENIUS: I know you can do very little alone; for your helps
	are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous
	single: your abilities are too infant-like for
	doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you
	could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks,
	and make but an interior survey of your good selves!
	O that you could!

BRUTUS: What then, sir?

MENENIUS: Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
	proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as
	any in Rome.

SICINIUS: Menenius, you are known well enough too.

MENENIUS: I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
	loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
	Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in
	favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
	upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
	with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
	of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my
	malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
	you are--I cannot call you Lycurguses--if the drink
	you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a
	crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have
	delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in
	compound with the major part of your syllables: and
	though I must be content to bear with those that say
	you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that
	tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
	the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
	well enough too? what barm can your bisson
	conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
	known well enough too?

BRUTUS: Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

MENENIUS: You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You
	are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you
	wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
	cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller;
	and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a
	second day of audience. When you are hearing a
	matter between party and party, if you chance to be
	pinched with the colic, you make faces like
	mummers; set up the bloody flag against all
	patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
	dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled
	by your hearing: all the peace you make in their
	cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are
	a pair of strange ones.

BRUTUS: Come, come, you are well understood to be a
	perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
	bencher in the Capitol.

MENENIUS: Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
	encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When
	you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the
	wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not
	so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's
	cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack-
	saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud;
	who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors
	since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the
	best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to
	your worships: more of your conversation would
	infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly
	plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.

	[BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside]

	[Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA]

	How now, my as fair as noble ladies,--and the moon,
	were she earthly, no nobler,--whither do you follow
	your eyes so fast?

VOLUMNIA: Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for
	the love of Juno, let's go.

MENENIUS: Ha! Marcius coming home!

VOLUMNIA: Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous
	approbation.

MENENIUS: Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
	Marcius coming home!


VOLUMNIA: |
	|  Nay,'tis true.
VIRGILIA: |


VOLUMNIA: Look, here's a letter from him: the state hath
	another, his wife another; and, I think, there's one
	at home for you.

MENENIUS: I will make my very house reel tonight: a letter for
	me!

VIRGILIA: Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.

MENENIUS: A letter for me! it gives me an estate of seven
	years' health; in which time I will make a lip at
	the physician: the most sovereign prescription in
	Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative,
	of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
	not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.

VIRGILIA: O, no, no, no.

VOLUMNIA: O, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.

MENENIUS: So do I too, if it be not too much: brings a'
	victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.

VOLUMNIA: On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home
	with the oaken garland.

MENENIUS: Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?

VOLUMNIA: Titus Lartius writes, they fought together, but
	Aufidius got off.

MENENIUS: And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that:
	an he had stayed by him, I would not have been so
	fidiused for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold
	that's in them. Is the senate possessed of this?

VOLUMNIA: Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes; the senate
	has letters from the general, wherein he gives my
	son the whole name of the war: he hath in this
	action outdone his former deeds doubly

VALERIA: In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.

MENENIUS: Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his
	true purchasing.

VIRGILIA: The gods grant them true!

VOLUMNIA: True! pow, wow.

MENENIUS: True! I'll be sworn they are true.
	Where is he wounded?

	[To the Tribunes]

	God save your good worships! Marcius is coming
	home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?

VOLUMNIA: I' the shoulder and i' the left arm there will be
	large cicatrices to show the people, when he shall
	stand for his place. He received in the repulse of
	Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.

MENENIUS: One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,--there's
	nine that I know.

VOLUMNIA: He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
	wounds upon him.

MENENIUS: Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.

	[A shout and flourish]

	Hark! the trumpets.

VOLUMNIA: These are the ushers of Marcius: before him he
	carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:
	Death, that dark spirit, in 's nervy arm doth lie;
	Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.

	[A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the
	general, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS,
	crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and
	Soldiers, and a Herald]

Herald: Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
	Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,
	With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
	In honour follows Coriolanus.
	Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

	[Flourish]

All: Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

CORIOLANUS: No more of this; it does offend my heart:
	Pray now, no more.

COMINIUS:                   Look, sir, your mother!

CORIOLANUS: O,
	You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
	For my prosperity!

	[Kneels]

VOLUMNIA:                   Nay, my good soldier, up;
	My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
	By deed-achieving honour newly named,--
	What is it?--Coriolanus must I call thee?--
	But O, thy wife!

CORIOLANUS:                   My gracious silence, hail!
	Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
	That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,
	Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
	And mothers that lack sons.

MENENIUS: Now, the gods crown thee!

CORIOLANUS: And live you yet?

	[To VALERIA]
	O my sweet lady, pardon.

VOLUMNIA: I know not where to turn: O, welcome home:
	And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.

MENENIUS: A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
	And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome.
	A curse begin at very root on's heart,
	That is not glad to see thee! You are three
	That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men,
	We have some old crab-trees here
	at home that will not
	Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors:
	We call a nettle but a nettle and
	The faults of fools but folly.

COMINIUS: Ever right.

CORIOLANUS: Menenius ever, ever.

Herald: Give way there, and go on!

CORIOLANUS: [To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA]  Your hand, and yours:
	Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
	The good patricians must be visited;
	From whom I have received not only greetings,
	But with them change of honours.

VOLUMNIA: I have lived
	To see inherited my very wishes
	And the buildings of my fancy: only
	There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
	Our Rome will cast upon thee.

CORIOLANUS: Know, good mother,
	I had rather be their servant in my way,
	Than sway with them in theirs.

COMINIUS: On, to the Capitol!

	[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before.
	BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward]

BRUTUS: All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights
	Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse
	Into a rapture lets her baby cry
	While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins
	Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
	Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,
	Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed
	With variable complexions, all agreeing
	In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens
	Do press among the popular throngs and puff
	To win a vulgar station: or veil'd dames
	Commit the war of white and damask in
	Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil
	Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother
	As if that whatsoever god who leads him
	Were slily crept into his human powers
	And gave him graceful posture.

SICINIUS: On the sudden,
	I warrant him consul.

BRUTUS: Then our office may,
	During his power, go sleep.

SICINIUS: He cannot temperately transport his honours
	From where he should begin and end, but will
	Lose those he hath won.

BRUTUS: In that there's comfort.

SICINIUS: Doubt not
	The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
	Upon their ancient malice will forget
	With the least cause these his new honours, which
	That he will give them make I as little question
	As he is proud to do't.

BRUTUS: I heard him swear,
	Were he to stand for consul, never would he
	Appear i' the market-place nor on him put
	The napless vesture of humility;
	Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
	To the people, beg their stinking breaths.

SICINIUS: 'Tis right.

BRUTUS: It was his word: O, he would miss it rather
	Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
	And the desire of the nobles.

SICINIUS: I wish no better
	Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
	In execution.

BRUTUS: 'Tis most like he will.

SICINIUS: It shall be to him then as our good wills,
	A sure destruction.

BRUTUS: So it must fall out
	To him or our authorities. For an end,
	We must suggest the people in what hatred
	He still hath held them; that to's power he would
	Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and
	Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them,
	In human action and capacity,
	Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
	Than camels in the war, who have their provand
	Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
	For sinking under them.

SICINIUS: This, as you say, suggested
	At some time when his soaring insolence
	Shall touch the people--which time shall not want,
	If he be put upon 't; and that's as easy
	As to set dogs on sheep--will be his fire
	To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze
	Shall darken him for ever.

	[Enter a Messenger]

BRUTUS: What's the matter?

Messenger: You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
	That Marcius shall be consul:
	I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and
	The blind to bear him speak: matrons flung gloves,
	Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
	Upon him as he pass'd: the nobles bended,
	As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
	A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts:
	I never saw the like.

BRUTUS: Let's to the Capitol;
	And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,
	But hearts for the event.

SICINIUS: Have with you.

	[Exeunt]




	CORIOLANUS






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