1. SCENE I. Rome. A street.
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.
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.
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.
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,--
Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
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.
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,--
'Fore me, this fellow speaks!--what then? what then?
Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' the body,--