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CORI O L A N U S.
ACT I, SCENE I.
Rome. A Street.
Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves,
clubs, and other weapons.
1. Cir. Before we proceed any further, hear me
speak. Cır. Speak, speak. (several speaking at once.
1. Cit. You are all resolv'd rather to die, than to famish?
Cır. Resolv'd, resolv'd.
1. Cır. First, you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
Cit. We know't, we know't.
1. Cir. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is’t a verdict ? Cır. No more talking on’t ; let it be done: away,
away. 2. Cit. One word, good citizens.
1. Cit. We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good :: What authority surfeits on, would
* 1. Cit. We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good :]
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 top dear :3 the leanness that amicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularize thèir abundance ; our sufferance is a gain to them. -Let us reyenge this with our pikes,' ere we become rakes: for the gods know, I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
Good is here used in the mercantile sense. So, Touchstone in Eaftwará Hoe :
-known good men, well monied.” FARMER. Again, in The Merchant of Venice :
“ Antonio's a good man.” MALONE. 3 but they think, we are too dear : ] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth. JOHNSON.
4 Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes :] It was Shakspeare's design to make this fellow quibble all the way. But time, who has done greater things, has here ftifled a miserable joke; which was then the same as if it had been now wrote, Let us now revenge this with forks, ere we become rakes: for pikes then fignified the same as forks do now. So Jewel in his own tranflation of his Apology, turns Chriftianos ad furcas condemnare, to-To condemn Christians to the pikes. But the Oxford editor, without knowing any thing of this, has with great fagacity found out the joke, and reads on his own authority, pitch-forks.' WARBURTON.
It is plain that, in our author's time, we bad the proverb, as lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obscure. Rake now signifies a diffolute man, a man worn out with disease and debauchery. But the signification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rækel, in Islandick, is said to mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the first use among us of the word rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthlefs to be fed.
JOHNSON It may be fo: and yet I believe the proverb, as lean as a rake, owes its origin simply to the thin taper form of the inftrument made use of by hav-makers. Chaucer has this simile in his description of the clerk's horse in the prologue to the Canterbury Tals, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. V. 288 :
“ As lene was his hors as is a rake,"
2. Cit. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
C17. Against him first;s he's a very dog to the commonalty.
2. Cur. 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. Cır. Nay, but speak not maliciously.
1. Cir. 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 fay, he is covetous.
1, Cir. If I must not, I need not be barren of
Spenser introduces it in the second book of his Faery Queen, Canto II :
“ His body lean and meagre as a rake.” As ibin as a whipping-post, is another proverb of the fame kind.
Stanyhurst, in his translation of the third book of Virgil, 1582, describing Achæmenides, says:
" A meigre leane rake,” &c. This passage, however, seems to countenance Dr. Johnson's supposition; as also does the following from Churchyard's Tragicall Discourse of the haplesje man's life, 1593:
“ And though as leane as rake in every rib.” STEEVENS. s Cit. Against him firft ; &c.] This speech is in the old play, as here, given to a body of the citizens speaking at once. I believe, it ought to be assigned to the first citizen. MALONE.
to the altitude - ] So, in King Henry VIII: “ He's traitor to the height.” STEEVENS,
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. Cır. He's one honest enough; "Would, all the rest were fo! Men. What work's, my countrymen, in hand?
Where go you With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray
you. 1. Cir. Our business 7 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 ho
neft neighbours, Will
you undo yourselves? 1. Cit. We cannot, fir, 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
7 Our business &c.] This and all the subsequent plebeian speeches in this scene are given in the old copy .to the second citizen. Bus. the dialogue at the opening of the play shews that it must have been a miitake, and that they ought to be attributed to the first citizen. The second is rather friendly to Coriolanus. Malone.
Strike at the heaven with your staves, as lift them
curse them as enemies. 1. Cir. Care for us!—True, indeed !—They ne'er car'd for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and their store-houses cramm'd 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
-cracking ten thousand curbs
“ I have made my way through more impediments
“ Than twenty times your stop.” MALONE. 9 I will venture
To scale 't a little more.] To scale is to disperse. The word is ftill used in the North. The fenfe of the old reading is, Though some of you have heard the story, I will spread it yet wider, and diffuse it among the rest.
A measure of wine spilt, is called "a fald pottle of wine" in Decker's comedy of The Honeft Whore, 1604. So, in The