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    Act 3. Scene II

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    Chapter 15
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    SCENE II. A room in CORIOLANUS'S house.

    Enter CORIOLANUS with Patricians
    CORIOLANUS
    Let them puff all about mine ears, present me
    Death on the wheel or at wild horses' heels,
    Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,
    That the precipitation might down stretch
    Below the beam of sight, yet will I still
    Be thus to them.

    A Patrician
    You do the nobler.

    CORIOLANUS
    I muse my mother
    Does not approve me further, who was wont
    To call them woollen vassals, things created
    To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads
    In congregations, to yawn, be still and wonder,
    When one but of my ordinance stood up
    To speak of peace or war.

    Enter VOLUMNIA

    I talk of you:
    Why did you wish me milder? would you have me
    False to my nature? Rather say I play
    The man I am.

    VOLUMNIA
    O, sir, sir, sir,
    I would have had you put your power well on,
    Before you had worn it out.

    CORIOLANUS
    Let go.

    VOLUMNIA
    You might have been enough the man you are,
    With striving less to be so; lesser had been
    The thwartings of your dispositions, if
    You had not show'd them how ye were disposed
    Ere they lack'd power to cross you.

    CORIOLANUS
    Let them hang.

    A Patrician
    Ay, and burn too.

    Enter MENENIUS and Senators

    MENENIUS
    Come, come, you have been too rough, something
    too rough;
    You must return and mend it.

    First Senator
    There's no remedy;
    Unless, by not so doing, our good city
    Cleave in the midst, and perish.

    VOLUMNIA
    Pray, be counsell'd:
    I have a heart as little apt as yours,
    But yet a brain that leads my use of anger
    To better vantage.

    MENENIUS
    Well said, noble woman?
    Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that
    The violent fit o' the time craves it as physic
    For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,
    Which I can scarcely bear.

    CORIOLANUS
    What must I do?

    MENENIUS
    Return to the tribunes.

    CORIOLANUS
    Well, what then? what then?

    MENENIUS
    Repent what you have spoke.

    CORIOLANUS
    For them! I cannot do it to the gods;
    Must I then do't to them?

    VOLUMNIA
    You are too absolute;
    Though therein you can never be too noble,
    But when extremities speak. I have heard you say,
    Honour and policy, like unsever'd friends,
    I' the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me,
    In peace what each of them by the other lose,
    That they combine not there.

    CORIOLANUS
    Tush, tush!

    MENENIUS
    A good demand.

    VOLUMNIA
    If it be honour in your wars to seem
    The same you are not, which, for your best ends,
    You adopt your policy, how is it less or worse,
    That it shall hold companionship in peace
    With honour, as in war, since that to both
    It stands in like request?

    CORIOLANUS
    Why force you this?

    VOLUMNIA
    Because that now it lies you on to speak
    To the people; not by your own instruction,
    Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,
    But with such words that are but rooted in
    Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
    Of no allowance to your bosom's truth.
    Now, this no more dishonours you at all
    Than to take in a town with gentle words,
    Which else would put you to your fortune and
    The hazard of much blood.
    I would dissemble with my nature where
    My fortunes and my friends at stake required
    I should do so in honour: I am in this,
    Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
    And you will rather show our general louts
    How you can frown than spend a fawn upon 'em,
    For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard
    Of what that want might ruin.

    MENENIUS
    Noble lady!
    Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so,
    Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
    Of what is past.

    VOLUMNIA
    I prithee now, my son,
    Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand;
    And thus far having stretch'd it--here be with them--
    Thy knee bussing the stones--for in such business
    Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
    More learned than the ears--waving thy head,
    Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,
    Now humble as the ripest mulberry
    That will not hold the handling: or say to them,
    Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils
    Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,
    Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,
    In asking their good loves, but thou wilt frame
    Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
    As thou hast power and person.

    MENENIUS
    This but done,
    Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;
    For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free
    As words to little purpose.

    VOLUMNIA
    Prithee now,
    Go, and be ruled: although I know thou hadst rather
    Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
    Than flatter him in a bower. Here is Cominius.

    Enter COMINIUS

    COMINIUS
    I have been i' the market-place; and, sir,'tis fit
    You make strong party, or defend yourself
    By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.

    MENENIUS
    Only fair speech.

    COMINIUS
    I think 'twill serve, if he
    Can thereto frame his spirit.

    VOLUMNIA
    He must, and will
    Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.

    CORIOLANUS
    Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?
    Must I with base tongue give my noble heart
    A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do't:
    Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,
    This mould of Marcius, they to dust should grind it
    And throw't against the wind. To the market-place!
    You have put me now to such a part which never
    I shall discharge to the life.

    COMINIUS
    Come, come, we'll prompt you.

    VOLUMNIA
    I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said
    My praises made thee first a soldier, so,
    To have my praise for this, perform a part
    Thou hast not done before.

    CORIOLANUS
    Well, I must do't:
    Away, my disposition, and possess me
    Some harlot's spirit! my throat of war be turn'd,
    Which quired with my drum, into a pipe
    Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice
    That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves
    Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys' tears take up
    The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue
    Make motion through my lips, and my arm'd knees,
    Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his
    That hath received an alms! I will not do't,
    Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth
    And by my body's action teach my mind
    A most inherent baseness.

    VOLUMNIA
    At thy choice, then:
    To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour
    Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let
    Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
    Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death
    With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list
    Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me,
    But owe thy pride thyself.

    CORIOLANUS
    Pray, be content:
    Mother, I am going to the market-place;
    Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves,
    Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved
    Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going:
    Commend me to my wife. I'll return consul;
    Or never trust to what my tongue can do
    I' the way of flattery further.

    VOLUMNIA
    Do your will.

    Exit

    COMINIUS
    Away! the tribunes do attend you: arm yourself
    To answer mildly; for they are prepared
    With accusations, as I hear, more strong
    Than are upon you yet.

    CORIOLANUS
    The word is 'mildly.' Pray you, let us go:
    Let them accuse me by invention, I
    Will answer in mine honour.

    MENENIUS
    Ay, but mildly.

    CORIOLANUS
    Well, mildly be it then. Mildly!

    Exeunt
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