Imatges de pàgina


Masters o'the people, Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter (That's thousand to one good one), when you now see, He had rather venture all his limbs for honour, Than one of his ears to hear it?—Proceed, Cominius,

Com. I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus Should not be utter'd feebly.--It is held, That valour is the chiefest virtue, and Most dignifies the haver: if it be, The man I speak of cannot in the world Be singly counterpois'd. At sixteen years, When Tarquin made a head for Rome?, he fought Beyond the mark of others : our then dictator, Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight, When with his Amazonian chin he drove The bristled lips before him: he bestrid An o'er press'd Roman, and i' the consul's view Slew three opposers: Tarquin's self he met, And struck him on his knee 10: in that day's feats, When he might act the woman in the scene", He prov'd best man i'the field, and for his meed Was brow-bound with the oak. Man-entered thus, he waxed like a sea; And, in the brunt of seventeen battles since 1o,

His pupil age


9 When Tarquin, who had been expelled, raised a power to recover Rome.

10 This does not mean that he gave Tarquin a blow on the knee, but gave him such a blow as occasioned him to fall on his knee : ' ad terram duplicato poplite Turnus.'

11 It has been before mentioned that the parts of women were, in Shakspeare's time, represented by the most smooth-faced young men to be found among the players. This is a palpable anachronism; there were no theatres at Rome for the exhibition of plays until about two hundred and fifty years after the death of Coriolanus.

12 Plutarch says, “ seventeen years of service in the wars, and many and sundry battles :' but from Coriolanus's first campaign to bis death was only a period of eight years.

[ocr errors]

14 before

He lurch'd 13 all swords o'the garland. For this last,
Before and in Corioli, let me say,
I cannot speak him home: He stopp'd the fliers;
And, by his rare example, made the coward
Turn terror into sport: as waves
A vessel under sail, so men obey’d,
And fell below his stem: his sword (death's stamp)
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose


motion Was timed 15 with dying cries : alone he enter'd

| The mortal gate 16 o’the city, which he painted With shunless destiny, aidless came off, And with a sudden reenforcement struck Corioli, like a planet: now all's his : When by and by the din of war 'gan pierce His ready sense: then straight his doubled spirit Requicken'd what in flesh was fatigate 17, And to the battle came he; where he did Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if "Twere a perpetual spoil: and, till we callid Both field and city ours,

he never stood To ease his breast with panting. Men.

Worthy man!

13 To lurch is to win or carry off easily the prize or stake at any game. It originally signified to devour greedily, from lurco, Lat. then to purloin, subtract, or withdraw any thing from another. Thus in Ben Jonson's Silent Woman:-You have lurch'd your friends of the better half of the garland. Cole, in his Latin Dictionary, 1679, basA lurch, duplex palma facilis victoria.'

14 Thus the second folio. The first folio' as weeds,' &c. which Malone pertinaciously adheres to. I think with Steevens, that a vessel stemming the waves is an image much more suitable to the prowess of Coriolanus, than that which Malone would substitute.

15 The cries of the slaughtered regularly followed his motion, as music and a dancer accompany each other.

16 The gate which was made the scene of death. 17 Wearied.

1 Sen. He cannot but with measure fit the ho


Which we devise him 18.

Our spoils he kick'd at;
And look'd upon things precious, as they were
The common muck o’the world; he covets less
Than misery 19 itself would give; rewards
His deeds with doing them; and is content
To spend the time, to end it.

He's right noble; Let him be calld for. 1 Sen.

Call Coriolanus. Off. He doth appear.

Men. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas'd
To make thee consul.

I do owe them still
My life, and services.

It then remains,
That you do speak to the people 20 .

I do beseech you,
Let me o’erleap that custom; for I cannot
Put on the


stand naked, and entreat them,


18 No bonour will be too great for him; he will show a mind equal to any elevation. 19 Misery for avarice, because a miser signifies avaricious.

20 Coriolanus (as Warburton observes) was banished A. U.C, 262. But till the time of Manlius Torquatus, A. U. C. 393, the senate chose both consuls; and then the people, assisted by the seditious temper of the tribunes, got the choice of one. Shak, speare follows Plutarch, who expressly says in the Life of Coriolanus, that ' it was the custome of Rome at that time, that such as dyd sue for any office, should for certen dayes before be in the market place, only with a poor gowne on their backes, and without any coate underneath, to praye the people to remember them at the day of election, North's Translation, p. 244, VOL. VIII.


[ocr errors]

For my wounds' sake, to give their suffrage: please

That I may pass this doing.

Sir, the people
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of ceremony.

Put them not to't:
Pray you, go


to the custom: and Take to you, as your predecessors have, Your honour with


form 21. Cor.

It is a part
That I shall blush in acting, and might well
Be taken from the people.



Cor. To brag unto them,— Thus I did, and thus;
Show them the unaking scars which I should hide,
As if I had receiv'd them for the hire
Of their breath only:-

Do not stand upon't.-
We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,

to them 22 ; and to our noble consul
Wish we all joy and honour.
Sen. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!

[Flourish. Then exeunt Senators. Bru. You see how he intends to use the people. Sic. May they perceive his intent! He will re

quire them,
As if he did contemn what he requested
Should be in them to give.

Come, we'll inform them
Of our proceedings here: on the market-place,
I know, they do attend us.

[Exeunt. 21. Your form’ is the form wbich custom prescribes to you.

22 · We recommend to you, tribunes of the people, to declare our purpose to them,' namely, the appointment of Coriolanus to the consulship.

SCENE III. The same.

The Forum.

[ocr errors]

Enter several Citizens. 1 Cit. Once', if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.

2 Cit. We may, sir, if we will.

3 Cit. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do?: for if

a he show us his wounds, and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those wounds, and speak for them; so, if he tell us bis noble deeds, we must also tell him our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is monstrous: and for the multitude to be ingrateful, were to make a monster of the multitude; of the which, we being members, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.

1 Cit. And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve: for once 3 we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the manyheaded multitude.

3 Cit. We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely coloured: and truly I think, if all our wits were to issue out of one scull, they would fly east, west, north, south; and their sent* of one direct way should be at once to all the points o’the compass.

1 i. e. once for all. See vol. ii. p. 129, note 35 ; vol. iv. p. 158, note 10.

2 Power in the first instance here means natural power, or force, and then moral power, or right. Davis has used the word with the same variety of meaning :

• Use all thy powers, that heavenly power to praise,

That gave thee power to do.' 3 Once signifies here one time, and not as soon as ever, which Malone takes to be its meaning. Rowe inserted when after

which is indeed elliptically understood. 4 Consent is accord, agreement. To suppose that their agree


« AnteriorContinua »