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    Act 1. Scene I

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    Chapter 1
    SCENE I. Rome. A street.

    Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons
    First Citizen
    Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

    All
    Speak, speak.

    First Citizen
    You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

    All
    Resolved. resolved.

    First Citizen
    First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

    All
    We know't, we know't.

    First Citizen
    Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.
    Is't a verdict?

    All
    No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!

    Second Citizen
    One word, good citizens.

    First Citizen
    We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
    What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
    would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
    wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
    but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
    afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
    inventory to particularise their abundance; our
    sufferance 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.

    Second Citizen
    Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?

    All
    Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.

    Second Citizen
    Consider you what services he has done for his country?

    First Citizen
    Very well; and could be content to give him good
    report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

    Second Citizen
    Nay, but speak not maliciously.

    First Citizen
    I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
    it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
    content to say it was for his country he did it to
    please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
    is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

    Second Citizen
    What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
    vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

    First Citizen
    If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;
    he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.

    Shouts within

    What shouts are these? The other side o' the city
    is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!

    All
    Come, come.

    First Citizen
    Soft! who comes here?

    Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA

    Second Citizen
    Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
    the people.

    First Citizen
    He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!

    MENENIUS
    What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
    With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

    First Citizen
    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.

    MENENIUS
    Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
    Will you undo yourselves?

    First Citizen
    We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

    MENENIUS
    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 impediment. 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, and you slander
    The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
    When you curse them as enemies.

    First Citizen
    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 up and restrain
    the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
    there's all the love they bear us.

    MENENIUS
    Either you must
    Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
    Or be accused 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.

    First Citizen
    Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
    fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't please
    you, deliver.

    MENENIUS
    There was a time when all the body's members
    Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it:
    That only like a gulf it did remain
    I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
    Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
    Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
    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 answer'd--

    First Citizen
    Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

    MENENIUS
    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
    As well as speak--it tauntingly replied
    To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
    That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
    As you malign our senators for that
    They are not such as you.

    First Citizen
    Your belly's answer? What!
    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 fabric, if that they--

    MENENIUS
    What then?
    'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

    First Citizen
    Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
    Who is the sink o' the body,--

    MENENIUS
    Well, what then?

    First Citizen
    The former agents, if they did complain,
    What could the belly answer?

    MENENIUS
    I will tell you
    If you'll bestow a small--of what you have little--
    Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

    First Citizen
    Ye're long about it.

    MENENIUS
    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,
    Which 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;
    And, through the cranks 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,--

    First Citizen
    Ay, sir; well, well.

    MENENIUS
    'Though all at once cannot
    See what I do deliver out to each,
    Yet I can make my audit up, that all
    From me do back receive the flour of all,
    And leave me but the bran.' What say you to't?

    First Citizen
    It was an answer: how apply you this?

    MENENIUS
    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 o' 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?

    First Citizen
    I the great toe! why the great toe?

    MENENIUS
    For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
    Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:
    Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
    Lead'st first to win some vantage.
    But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
    Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
    The one side must have bale.

    Enter CAIUS MARCIUS

    Hail, noble Marcius!

    MARCIUS
    Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
    That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
    Make yourselves scabs?

    First Citizen
    We have ever your good word.

    MARCIUS
    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. He that trusts to you,
    Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
    Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
    Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
    Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
    To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
    And curse that justice did it.
    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?
    With every minute you do change a mind,
    And call him noble that was now your hate,
    Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,
    That in these several places of the city
    You cry against the noble senate, who,
    Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
    Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?

    MENENIUS
    For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
    The city is well stored.

    MARCIUS
    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,
    And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry
    With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
    As I could pick my lance.

    MENENIUS
    Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
    For though abundantly they lack discretion,
    Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
    What says the other troop?

    MARCIUS
    They are dissolved: hang 'em!
    They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
    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 answer'd,
    And a petition granted them, a strange one--
    To break the heart of generosity,
    And make bold power look pale--they threw their caps
    As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
    Shouting their emulation.

    MENENIUS
    What is granted them?

    MARCIUS
    Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
    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 arguing.

    MENENIUS
    This is strange.

    MARCIUS
    Go, get you home, you fragments!

    Enter a Messenger, hastily

    Messenger
    Where's Caius Marcius?

    MARCIUS
    Here: what's the matter?

    Messenger
    The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

    MARCIUS
    I am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to vent
    Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.

    Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS

    First Senator
    Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us;
    The Volsces are in arms.

    MARCIUS
    They have a leader,
    Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.
    I sin in envying his nobility,
    And were I any thing but what I am,
    I would wish me only he.

    COMINIUS
    You have fought together.

    MARCIUS
    Were half to half the world by the ears and he.
    Upon my party, I'ld revolt to make
    Only my wars with him: he is a lion
    That I am proud to hunt.

    First Senator
    Then, worthy Marcius,
    Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

    COMINIUS
    It is your former promise.

    MARCIUS
    Sir, it is;
    And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
    Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.
    What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?

    TITUS
    No, Caius Marcius;
    I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,
    Ere stay behind this business.

    MENENIUS
    O, true-bred!

    First Senator
    Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
    Our greatest friends attend us.

    TITUS
    [To COMINIUS] Lead you on.

    To MARCIUS

    Right worthy you priority.

    COMINIUS
    Noble Marcius!

    First Senator
    [To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!

    MARCIUS
    Nay, let them follow:
    The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
    To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
    Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.

    Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS

    SICINIUS
    Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?

    BRUTUS
    He has no equal.

    SICINIUS
    When we were chosen tribunes for the people,--

    BRUTUS
    Mark'd you his lip and eyes?

    SICINIUS
    Nay. but his taunts.

    BRUTUS
    Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.

    SICINIUS
    Be-mock the modest moon.

    BRUTUS
    The present wars devour him: he is grown
    Too proud to be so valiant.

    SICINIUS
    Such a nature,
    Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
    Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
    His insolence can brook to be commanded
    Under Cominius.

    BRUTUS
    Fame, at the which he aims,
    In whom already he's well graced, can not
    Better be held nor more attain'd than by
    A place below the first: for what miscarries
    Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
    To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
    Will then cry out of Marcius 'O if he
    Had borne the business!'

    SICINIUS
    Besides, if things go well,
    Opinion that so sticks on Marcius shall
    Of his demerits rob Cominius.

    BRUTUS
    Come:
    Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius.
    Though Marcius earned them not, and all his faults
    To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed
    In aught he merit not.

    SICINIUS
    Let's hence, and hear
    How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
    More than his singularity, he goes
    Upon this present action.

    BRUTUS
    Lets along.

    Exeunt
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 1
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