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ACT I. SCENE I.
Rome. A Street.
Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.
1 Cit. BEFORE we proceed any further, hear me speak.
Cit. Speak, speak.
[several speaking at once.
1 Cit. You are all resolv'd rather to die, than to famish?
Cit. Resolved, resolved.
1 Cit. First, you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
Cit. We know't, we know't.
1 Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?
Cit. No more talking on't; let it be done: away,
2 Cit. One word, good citizens.
1 Cit. 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 particularize 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.
2 Cit. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
Cit. Against him first; he's a very dog to the commonalty.
2 Cit. Consider you what services he has done for his country?
1 Cit. Very well; and could be content to give him good report for't, but that he pays himself with being proud.
2 Cit. Nay, but speak not maliciously.
1 Cit. I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to that end: though soft-conscienc'd 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 to the altitude of his virtue.
2 Cit. What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in him: You must in no way say, he is covetous.
1 Cit. If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations; he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repe
tition. [Shouts within.] What shouts are these? The other side o'the city is risen: Why stay we prating here? to the Capitol.
Cit. Come, come.
1 Cit. Soft; who comes here?
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA.
2 Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.
1 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 honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?
1 Cit. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.
Appear in your impediment: For the dearth,
Thither where more attends you; and you slander
1 Cit. Care for us!-True, indeed!-They ne'er cared for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and their storehouses 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.
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;
1 Cit. 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.
Men. There was a time, when all the body's mein
Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it :
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' the midst o' the body, idle and inactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest; where the other instru
Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
Unto the appetite and affection common
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, As well as speak,) it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous part
you malign our senators, for that
They are not such as you.
Your belly's answer: What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
In this our fabrick, if that they
'Fore me, this fellow speaks!-what then? what
1 Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd, Who is the sink o' the body,—
Well, what then?
1 Cit. The former agents, if they did complain, What could the belly answer?
I will tell you;