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To doubt th' equivocation of the fiend,
That lies like truth : “ Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane; - and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
If this, which he avouches, does appear,
There is no flying hence, nor tarrying here.
I’gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish th' estate o' the world were now undone.
Ring the alarum bell ! — Blow, wind! come, wrack !
At least we'll die with harness on our back.
Coriolanus. I plainly, Tullus, by your looks perceive,
You disapprove my conduct.
Aufidius. I mean not to assail thee with the clamor
Of loud reproaches, and the war of words :
But, pride apart, and all that can pervert
The light of steady reason, here to make
A candid, fair proposal.
Cor. Speak, I hear thee.
Auf. I need not tell thee, that I have perform’d
My utmost promise. Thou hast been protected !
Hast had thy amplest, most ambitious wish ;
Thy wounded pride is heal’d, thy dear revenge
Completely sated : and, to crown thy fortune,
At the same time, thy peace with Rome restored.
Thou art no more a Volscian, but a Roman :
Return, return; thy duty calls upon thee
Still to protect the city thou hast saved ;
It still may be in danger from our arms:
Retire; I will take care thou may’st with safety.
Cor. With safety ? — Heavens ! and think'st thou Coriolanus
Will stoop to thee for safety ? — No! my safeguard
Is in myself, a Losom void of fear.
0, 'tis an act of cowardice and baseness,
To seize the
hands are fetter'd
By the strong chain of former obligation,
The safe, sure moment to insult me. - Gods !
Were I now free, as on that day I was,
When at Corioli I tamed thy pride,
This had not been.
Auf. Thou speak’st the truth : it had not.
Oh, for that time again ! propitious gods,
will bless me, grant it! Know, for that,
For that dear purpose, I have now proposed
Thou should’st return; I pray thee, Marcius, do it :
And we shall meet again on nobler terms.
Cor. Till I have cleared my honor in your council,
And proved before them all, to thy confusion,
The falsehood of thy charge; as soon in battle
I would before thee fly, and howl for mercy,
As quit the station they've assign’d me here.
Auf. Thou canst not hope acquittal from the Volscians.
Cor. I do :- Nay, more, expect their approbation,
Their thanks. I will obtain them such a peace
As thou durst never ask; a perfect union
Of their whole nation with imperial Rome,
In all her privileges, all her rights;
By the just gods, I will. — What wouldst thou more?
Auf. What would I more, proud Roman? This I would
Fire the cursed forest, where these Roman wolves,
Haunt and infest their nobler neighbors round them;
Extirpate from the bosom of this land
A false, perfidious people, who, beneath
The mask of freedom, are a combination
Against the liberty of human kind,-
The genuine seed of outlaws and of robbers.
Cor. The seed of gods. — 'Tis not for thee, vain boaster, -
"Tis not for such as thou, so often spared
By her victorious sword, to speak of Rome,
But with respect, and awful veneration.-
Whate'er her blots, whate'er her giddy factions,
There is more virtue in one single year
Of Roman story, than your Volscian annals
Can boast through all their creeping, dark duration.
Auf. I thank thy rage : — This full displays the traitor.
Cor. Traitor !— How now?
Auf. Ay, traitor, Marcius,
Cor. Marcius !
Auf. Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius : dost thou think
I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stolen name
Coriolanus, in Corioli ?
You lords, and heads o' the state, perfidiously
He has betray'd your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome, -
I say, your city, — to his wife and mother ;
Breaking his oath and resolution, like
A twist of rotten silk ; never admitting
Counsel o' the war; but at his nurse's tears
He whined and roar'd away your victory;
pages blush'd at him, and men of heart Look'd wondering at each other.
Cor. Hear’st thou, Mars ?
Auf. Name not the god, thou boy of tears.
Cor. Measureless liar ! thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy!
Cut me to pieces, Volscians; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me.
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
That like an eagle in a dovecot, I
Volscians in Corioli.
Alone I did it :- Boy! - But let us part;
Lest my rash hand should do a hasty deed
My cooler thought forbids.
Auf. I court
The worst thy sword can do; while thou from me
Hast nothing to expect, but sore destruction;
Quit then this hostile camp: once more I tell thee,
Thou art not here one single hour in safety.
Cor. O, that I had thee in the field,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, thy tribe,
To use my lawful sword.
It must be so Plato, thou reason'st well!
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after inmortality ?
Or, whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into nought ? Why shrinks the soul,
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis Heaven itself that points out a hereafter,
And intimates — Eternity, to man.
Eternity !- thou pleasing - dreadful thought !
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass ;
The wide, the unbounded prospect, lies before me,
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a Power above us -
And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works - He must delight in virtue ;
And that which He delights in, must be happy.
But when ? or where? This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures — this must end them. (Laying his hand
on his sword.)
Thus am I doubly arm’d. My death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
This — in a moment, brings me to an end;
But this — informs me I shall never die !
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.