Coriolanus

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FIRST CITIZEN. 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.

MENENIUS. 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; 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 accus'd 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 th' 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,--

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 Is 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. You are 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 storehouse 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?

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