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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-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 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 repetition. [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.
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 !
1 " As lean as a rake” is an old proverbial expression. There is, as Warburton observes, a miserable joke intended :-“ Let us now revenge this with forks, before we become rakes ;" a pike or pike-fork, being the ancient term for a pitchfork. The origin of the proverb is, doubtless, “ as lean as a rache or rece (pronounced rake), and signifying a greyhound.
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
neighbors, Will you undo yourselves? 1 Cit
. We cannot, sir ; we are undone already. Men. 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.
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.
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
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 Men. There was a time, when all the body's mem
bers Rebelled against the belly ; thus accused 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 labor 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 answered,
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 parts That envied his receipt; even so most fitly As you malign our senators, for that They are not such as you. 1 Cit.
Your belly's answer ; what? Men. The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye, The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
1 i. e. render it more common: "the old copies have scale't a little more;' for which Theobald judiciously proposed stale. To this Warburton objects, because to scale signifies to weigh ; so indeed it does, and many other things ; none of which, however, bear any relation to the text. Steevens, too, prefers scale, which he proves from a variety of authorities to mean scatter, disperse, spread' to make any of them, however, suit his purpose, he is obliged to give an unfaithful version of the text.”
2 Disgraces are hardships, injuries.
5 The heart was anciently esteemed the seat of the understanding. See the next note. There have been, in former editions, some inaccuracies in the appropriation of some portions of this dialogue, which Mr. Singer has judiciously rectified.
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
what then ? Should by the cormorant belly be restrained, Who is the sink o'the body, 1 Cit.
Well, what then? The former agents, if they did complain, What could the belly answer ? Men.
I will tell you; If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little) Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer,
1 Cit. You are long about it. Men.
Note me this, good friend ; Your most grave belly was deliberate, Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered: 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,
1 Cit. Ay, sir; well, well. Men.
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 ?
1 Shakspeare uses seat for throne. “I send it (says the belly) through the blood, even to the royal residence, the heart, in which the kinglycrowned understanding sits enthroned."
2 Cranks are windings ; the meandering ducts of the human body.
1 Cit. It was an answer. How apply you this ?
Men. The senators of Rome are this good belly,
Cit. I the great toe? Why the great toe?
Enter Caius Marcius. Mar. Thanks.-What's the matter, you dissensious
rogues, That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs ? 1 Cit.
We have ever your good word. Mar. 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 you, Where he should find you lions, finds you hares; Where foxes, geese. You are no surer, no,
1 Rascal and in blood, are terms of the forest, both here used equivocally. The meaning seems to be,“ Thou worthless scoundrel, though thou art in the worst plight for running of all this herd of plebeians, like a deer not in blood, thou takest the lead in this tumult in order to obtain some private advantage to thyself.” “Worst in blood ” has a secondary meaning of lowest in condition. The modern editions have, erroneously, a comma at blood, which obscures the sense.
2 Bale is evil or mischief, harm or injury.