[Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA; they sit down on two low stools and sew.]
I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more
comfortable sort; if my son were my husband, I should freelier
rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the
embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet
he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when youth
with comeliness pluck'd all gaze his way; when, for a day of
kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from her
beholding; I,--considering how honour would become such a person;
that it was no better than picture-like to hang by th' wall if
renown made it not stir;--was pleased to let him seek danger
where he was to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence
he returned his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I
sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than
now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.
But had he died in the business, madam? how then?
Then his good report should have been my son; I therein
would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely,--had I a dozen
sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my
good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country
than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.
Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
Indeed you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum;
See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair;
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:
Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:--
'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear
Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow
With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvest-man that's tasked to mow
Or all, or lose his hire.
Away, you fool! It more becomes a man
Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, looked not lovelier
Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian swords contending.--Tell Valeria
We are fit to bid her welcome.
He had rather see the swords and hear a drum than look upon his
O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear 'tis a very pretty boy.
O' my troth, I looked upon him o' Wednesday, half an hour
together: has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a
gilded butterfly; and when he caught it he let it go again; and
after it again; and over and over he comes, and up again; catched
it again; or whether his fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did
so set his teeth and tear it; O, I warrant, how he mammocked it!
'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.
You would be another Penelope; yet they say all the yarn she spun
in Ulysses' absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come; I
would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you might
leave pricking it for pity.--Come, you shall go with us.
No, good madam, pardon me; indeed I will not forth.
In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you excellent news
of your husband.
In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it
is:--the Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the
general is gone, with one part of our Roman power: your lord and
Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they
nothing doubt prevailing, and to make it brief wars. This is
true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.
Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in everything
Let her alone, lady; as she is now, she will but disease our
In troth, I think she would.--Fare you well, then.--Come,
good sweet lady.--Pr'ythee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o'
door and go along with us.
No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much mirth.