Enter Coriolanus with Patricians
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enter Menenius and Senators
There's no remedy; Unless, by not so doing, our good city Cleave in the midst, and perish.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Noble lady! Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so, Not what is dangerous present, but the loss Of what is past.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The word is 'mildly.' Pray you, let us go: Let them accuse me by invention, I Will answer in mine honour.