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Monologues for Men


I tell you, friends, most charitable care

Have the patricians of you. For your wants,

Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well

Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them

Against the Roman state, whose course will on

The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs

Of more strong link asunder than can ever

Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,

The gods, not the patricians, make it, and

Your knees to them (not arms) must help. Alack,

You are transported by calamity

Thither where more attends you, and you slander

The helms o’ th’ state, who care for you like fathers,

When you curse them as enemies.

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.

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’ th’ midst a’ th’ body, idle and unactive,

Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing

Like labor 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 answer’d—

For, look you, I may make the belly smile

As well as speak—it tauntingly replied

To th’ 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. What then?

’Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

I will tell you;

If You’ll bestow a small (of what you have little)

Patience awhile, you’st hear the belly’s answer.

Note me this, good friend:

Your most grave belly was deliberate,

Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered:

“True is it, my incorporate friends,” quoth he,

“That I receive the general food at first

Which you do live upon; and fit it is,

Because I am the store-house and the shop

Of the whole body. But, if you do remember,

I send it through the rivers of your blood,

Even to the court, the heart, to th’ seat o’ th’ brain,

And, through the cranks and offices of man,

The strongest nerves and small inferior veins

From me receive that natural competency

Whereby they live. And though that all at once”—

You, my good friends, this says the belly, mark me.

“Though all at once cannot

See what I do deliver out to each,

Yet I can make my audit up, that all

From me do back receive the flour of all,

And leave me but the bran.” What say you to’t?

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