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“The Tragedy of Coriolanus" appears to have been first printed in the folio of 1623. In the same year, November 8th, it was entered on the Registers of the Stationers' Company by Blount and Jaggard, the publishers of the folio, as one of the copies “not formerly entered to other men." Malone ascribes it to the year 1610; but with the exception of some peculiarities in the style, which would lead us to class it among the poet's latest plays, there is not a particle of evidence, internal or extrinsic, to assist in determining within several years the date of its production. That it was written subsequently to the publication of Camden's “ Remains ” in 1605 is probable, from the resemblance between the following version of the famous apologue of the members' rebellion against the belly, as told by that author, and the same story in the speech of Menenius, Act I. Sc. 1; for, as Malone remarks, although Shakespeare found this fable in North’s Plutarch, there are some expressions, as well as the enumeration of the functions performed by the respective instruments of the body, which he seems to have taken from Camden:
“All the members of the body conspired against the stomach, as against the swallowing gulfe of all their labours; for whereas the eies beheld, the eares heard, the handes laboured, the feete travelled, the tongue spake, and all partes performed their functions ; onely the stomache lay ydle and consumed all. Hereuppon they joyntly agreed al to forbeare their labours, and to pine away their lazie and publike enemy. One day passed over, the second followed very tedious, but the third day was so greevous to them all, that they called a common counsel. The eyes waxed dimme, the feete could not support the bodie ; the armes waxed lazie, the tongue faltered, and could not lay open the matter. Therefore they all with one accord desired the advice of the heart. There Reason layd open before them,” &c.
So, Shakespeare :
“There was a time, when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly ; thus accus'd it :-
* According to Douce, Camden derived what he has related of the fable from John of Salisbury, who wrote in the
reign of Henry the Second, and professes to have received it from Pope Hadrian IV.
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
but, if you do remember,
In the several incidents, and in some of the principal speeches of his tragedy, as may be seen from the parallel passages at the end, Shakespeare has faithfully followed “ The Life of Caius Martius Coriolanus,” in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch; a translation which was rendered from the French of Amyot, Bishop of Auxerre, and was first published in 1579, with the title,—~ The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes, compared together by that grave learned Philosopher and Historiographer Plutarke of Chæronea.”
Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, Ædiles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Servants to
Aufidius, and other Attendants.
SCENE,— Partly in Rome; and partly in the territories of the Volscians and Antiates.
1 Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA. our own price. Is 't a verdict ? CITIZENS. No more talking on't; let it be Men. What work's, my countrymen, in hand ? done : away, away!
Where go you with bats and clubs? The matter 2 Crt. One word, good citizens.
Speak, I pray you.
. 1 Cit. We are accounted poor citizens; the 1 Cit. Our business is not unknown to the patricians good.” What authority surfeits on would senate;o they have had inkling, this fortnight, what relieve us : if they would yield us but the super- we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in fluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths ; they relieved us humanely; but they think we are they shall know we have strong arms too. too dear: the leanness that afflicts us, the object MEN. Why, masters, my good friends, mine of our misery, is as an inventory to particularize
honest neighbours, their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Will
Will you undo yourselves ? Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become 1 Čit. We cannot, sir, we are undone already. rakes : for the gods know, I speak this in hunger MEN. I tell you, friends, most charitable care for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
Have the patricians of you. For your wants, 2 Cit. Would you proceed especially against Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well Caius Marcius ?
Strike at the heaven with your staves, as lift them CITIZENS. Against him first : he's a very dog Against the Roman state ; whose course will on to the commonalty.
it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs 2 Crt. Consider you what services he has done Of more strong link asunder than can ever for his country?
Appear in your impediment: for the dearth, 1 Cır. Very well; and could be content to give the gods, not the patricians, make it ; and him good report for’t, but that he pays himself Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack, with being proud.
You are transported by calamity 2 Cır. Nay, but speak not maliciously.” Thither where more attends
slander 1 Cit. I say unto you, what he hath done The helms o' the state, who care for you like famously, he did it to that end: though soft
fathers, conscienced men can be content to say it was for When you curse them as enemies. liis country, he did it to please his mother, and to 1 Cit. Care for us! - True, indeed, they be partly proud ;d which he is, even to the altitude ne'er cared for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and of his virtue.
their store-houses crammed with grain ; make edicts 2 Cit. What he cannot help in his nature, you for usury, to support usurers ;(1) repeal daily any account a vice in him. You must in no way say wholesome act established against the rich; and he is covetous.
provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up 1 Cit. If I must not, I need not be barren of and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, accusations ; he hath faults, with surplus, to tire they will; and there's all the love they bear us. in repetition. [Shouts without.] What shouts are MEN. Either you must these? The other side o' the city is risen : why Confess yourselves wondrous malicious, stay we prating here ? to the Capitol !
Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you CITIZENS. Come, come!
A pretty tale ; it may be, you have heard it ; 1 Cit. Soft! who comes here?
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture 2 Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that To stale 'tf a little more. hath always loved the people.
1 Cit. Well, I'll hear it, sir : yet you must 1 Cit. He's one honest enough; would, all the not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, rest were so !
an't please you, deliver.
d - to please his mother, and to be partly proud;] This may mean, “- partly to please his mother, and because he was proud;" but we believe the genuine text would give us, "- and to be portly proud."
@ Our business is not unknown to the senate;] This and the subsequent speeches of the civic interlocutor, are in the old copy assigned to the second Citizen. Capell originally gave them to the first Citizen (though Malone, more suo, takes credit for it), and the previous dialogue very clearly shows the necessity of the change.
“Al so lene was his hors as is a rake;" and Spenser has it in his "Faerie Queene," B. II. c. 11,
“ His body leane and meagre as a rake." Nay, but speak not maliciously.) In the old text this speech has the prefix "All” to it, as if spoken by a body of the citizens, but it unquestionably belongs to the second Citizen.
f To stale't a little more.] The folio has “To scale't," for which Theobald substituted stale'l, no doubt the genuine word. See Massinger's “ Unnatural Combat," Act IV. Sc.2,
-"I'll not stale the jest
By my relation," and Gifford's note on that passage.
Men. There was a time, when all the body's And, through the cranks and offices of man, members
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins, Rebell’d against the belly ; thus accus’d it :- From me receive that natural competency That only like a gulf it did remain
Wherehy they live : and though that all at once, l' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive, You, my good friends,—this says the belly, mark Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
me,Like labour with the rest, where the other in- 1 Cir. Ay, sir; well, well. struments
Though all at once cannot Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, See what I do deliver out to each, And, mutually participate, did minister
Yet I can make my audit up, that all Unto the appetite and affection common
From me do back receive the flour of all, Of the whole body. The belly answer'd,- And leave me but the bran.(2)— What say you 1 Cit. Well, sir, what answer made the belly ?
to't? MEN. Sir, I shall tell you.— With a kind of 1 Cit. It was an answer : how apply you this ? smile,
Men. The senators of Rome are this good Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus,
belly, For, look you, I may make the belly smile, Ι
you the mutinous members : for, examine As well as speak,-it tauntingly * replied Their counsels and their cares; digest things To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
rightly, That envied his receipt ; even so most fitly Touching the weal o' the common; you shall find, As you malign our senators for that
No public benefit which you receive, They are not such as you.
But it proceeds or comes from them to you, 1 Cit.
Your belly's answer? What ! And no way from yourselves.- What do you The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
think, The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
You, the great toe of this assembly ?Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter, 1 Cit. I the great toe! Why the great toe? With other muniments and petty helps
MEN. For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, In this our fabric, if that they
What then ?
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost : 'Fore me, this fellow speaks !—what then? what Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run," then ?
(strain'd, Lead'st first to win some vantage.1 Cit.—Should by the cormorant belly be re- But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs ; Who is the sink o' the body,–
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle ; MEN.
Well, what then ?
The one side must have bale. - b
Enter Caius MARCIUS.
Hail, noble Marcius ! 1 Cır. You're long about it.
MAR. Thanks.—What's the matter, you disMEN. Note me this, good friend ;
sentious rogues, Your most grave belly was deliberate,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered :- Make yourselves scabs ? True is it, my incorporate friends, quoth he,
We have ever your good word. That I receive the general food at first,
Mar. He that will give good words to thee will Which you do live upon ; and fit it is,
flatter Because I am the store-house and the shop
Beneath abhorring.-- What would you have, you Of the whole body : but, if you do remember,
curs, I send it through the rivers of your blood, That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights Even to the court, the heart,—to the seat o' the
you, brain ;
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
(*) Old text, taintingly.
(t) Old text, you'st. Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first, to win some vantage.] “ Rascal" and "in blood " being ancient terms of the chase, the former applicable to a deer, lean and out of condition, the latter signifying one full of vigour and dangerous to his hunters, Menenius is supposed to mean, -"thou, meagre wretch, least in beart and resolution, art prompt enough to lead when profit points VOL. III.
the way." Yet, if nothing better can be extracted from these words
Lead'st first to win some vantage."