Imatges de pÓgina

logue and epilogue were added by Ben Jonfon, or fome other perfon. MALONE.

I entirely agree in opinion with Dr. Johnson, that Ben Jonfor wrote the prologue and epilogue to this play. Shakspeare had a little before affifted him in his Sejanus; and Ben was too proud to receive affiftance without returning it. It is probable, that he drew up the directions for the parade at the chriftening, &c. which his employment at court would teach him, and Shakspeare must be ignorant of: I think, I now and then perceive his hand in the dialogue.

It appears from Stowe, that Robert Green wrote fomewhat on this fubject. FARMER.

See the first scene of this play, p. 7, n. I.


In fupport of Dr. Johnfon's opinion, it may not be amifs to quote the following lines from old Ben's prologue to his Every Man in bis


"To make a child new fwaddled, to proceed

"Man, and then shoot up, in one beard and weed
"Paft threescore years: or with three rufty fwords,
"And belp of fome few foot-and-balf-foot words,
"Fight over York and Lancaster's long wars,
"And in the tyring boufe," &c. STEEVENS.

The hiftorical dramas are now concluded, of which the two parts of Henry the Fourth, and Henry the Fifth, are among the happiest of our author's compofitions; and King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, defervedly ftand in the fecond clafs. Those whole curiofity would refer the hiftorical fcenes to their original, may confult Holinfhed, and fometimes Hall: from Holinfhed Shakspeare has often inferted whole fpeeches with no more alteration than was neceffary to the numbers of his verse. To tranfcribe them into the margin was unneceffary, because the original is eafily examined, and they are feldom lefs perfpicuous in the poet than in the hiftorian.

To play hiftories, or to exhibit a fucceffion of events by action and dialogue, was a common entertainment among our rude ancestors upon great feftivities. The parish clerks once performed at Clerkenwell a play which lasted three days, containing The Hiftory of the World.


On the fubject of every one of our author's hiftorical pieces, except this, I believe a play had been written, before he commenced a dramatick poet. See the Essay at the end of the third part of King Henry VI. MALONE.

It appears from more than one MS. in the British Museum, that the tradefmen of Chester were three days employed in the representation of their twenty-four Whitfun plays or mysteries. The like performances at Coventry must have taken up a longer time, as they are no less than forty in number. The exhibition of them began on Corpus Chrifti day, which was (according to Dugdale) one of their ancient fairs. See the Harleian MSS. No. 2013, 2124, 2125, and MS. Cort. Vefp. D. VIII. and Dugdale's Warwickshire, p. 116. STEEVENS.


Perfons Reprefented.

Caius Marcius Coriolanus, a noble Roman.
Titus Lartius,Generals against the Volscians.


Menenius Agrippa, friend to Coriolanus.
Sicinius Velutus, Tribunes of the People.
Junius Brutus,

Young Marcius, Son to Coriolanus.
A Roman Herald.

Tullus Aufidius, General of the Volfcians
Lieutenant to Aufidius.
Confpirators with Aufidius.
A Citizen of Antium.
Two Volfcian Guards.

Volumnia, Mother to Coriolanus.
Virgilia, Wife to Coriolanus.

Valeria, Friend to Virgilia.

Gentlewoman, attending Virgilia.

Roman and Volfcian Senators, Patricians, Ediles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Meffengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other Attendants.

SCENE, partly in Rome; and partly in the Territories of the Volfcians and Antiates.



Rome. A Street.

Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with ftaves, clubs, and other weapons.

1. Cit. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak. Cit. Speak, fpeak. [Several fpeaking at once. 1. Cit. You are all refolv'd rather to die, than to famish? Cit. Refolv'd, refolv'd.

1. Cit. First, you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

Cit. We know't, we know't.

1. Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?

Cit. No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away. 2. Cit. One word, good citizens.

1. Cit. We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good: What authority furfeits on, would relieve us: If they would yield us but the fuperfluity, while it were wholefome, we might guefs, they relieved us bumanely; but they think, we are too dear3: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our mifery, is as an inventory to particularife their abundance; our fufferance is a

This play I conjecture to have been written in the year 1609. See An Attempt to afcertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, Vol. I.

It comprehends a period of about four years, commencing with the feceffion to the Mens Sacer in the year of Rome 262, and ending with the death of Coriolanus, A. U. C. 266. MALONE.

The whole hiftory is exactly followed, and many of the principal fpeeches exactly copied from the life of Coriolanus in Plutarch. POPE. 2 We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good.] Good is here ufed in the mercantile fenfe. So, Touchstone in Eastward Hoe:

[ocr errors]

known good men, well monied." FARMER.

Again, in the Merchant of Venice:

[ocr errors]

"Anthonio's a good man.' MALONE.

3-but they think, we are too dear:] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth. JOHNSON.




gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know, I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

2. Cit. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?

Cit. Against him firft*; he's a very dog to the commonalty.

2. Cit. Confider you what services he has done for his country?

1. Cit. Very well; and could be content to give him good report for't, but that he pays himfelf with being proud.

2. Cit. Nay, but speak not maliciously.

1. Cit. I fay unto you, what he hath done famously, he

4 Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes:] It was Shakspeare's defign to make this fellow quibble all the way. But time, who has done greater things, has here ftified a miferable joke, which was then the fame as if it had been now wrote, Let us now revenge this with forks, ere we become rakes: for pikes then fignified the fame as forks do now, So Jewel in his own tranflation of his Apology, turns Chriftianos ad furcas condemnare, to—To condemn Chriftians to the pikes. WARBURTON.

It is plain that, in our author's time, we had the proverb, as lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obfcure. Rake now fignifies a diffolute man, a man worn out with disease and debauchery. But the fignification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rakel, in Islandick, is faid to mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the first ufe among us of the word rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthlefs to be fed. JOHNSON.

It may be fo: and yet I believe the proverb, as lean as a rake, owes its origin fimply to the thin taper form of the inftrument made use of by hay-makers. Chaucer has this fimile in his defcription of the clerk's horfe in the prologue to the Canterbury Tales, late edit. v. 288:

"As lene was his hors as is a rake."

Spenfer introduces it in the fecond book of his Faery Queen, Canto II; "His body lean and meagre as a rake.”

As thin as a whipping-poft, is another proverb of the fame kind. Stanyhurst, in his tranflation of the third book of Virgil, 1582, defcribing Achaemenides, fays:

"A meigre leane rake," &c.

This paffage feems to countenance Dr. Johnfon's fuppofition. STEEV, Cit. Against him firft, &c.] This fpeech is in the old copy, as here, given to a body of the citizens fpeaking at once. I believe, it ought to be affigned to the firft citizen. MALONE.

« AnteriorContinua »