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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 very time my 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,
If you 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;
That 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. Boy ! -
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
That like an eagle in a dovecot, I
Flutter'd your 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 immortality ?
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.