Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

To gratify his noble service, that

Hath thus stood for his country: Therefore, please you,
Most reverend and grave elders, to desire

The present consul, and last general
In our well-found successes, to report
A little of that worthy work perform'd

By Caius Marcius Coriolanus; whom

We meet here, both to thank, and to remember
With honours like himself.

1 Sen.

Speak, good Cominius.
Leave nothing out for length, and make us think
Rather our state's defective for requital,

Than we to stretch it out.8 Masters o'the people,
We do request your kindest ears; and, after,
Your loving motion toward the common body,"
To yield what passes here.


We are convented

Upon a pleasing treaty; and have hearts

Inclinable to honour and advance

The theme of our assembly.


Which the rather

We shall be bless'd to do, if he remember

A kinder value of the people, than

He hath hereto priz'd them at.


That's off, that's off;1

I would you rather had been silent: Please you

To hear Cominius speak?


Most willingly:

But yet my caution was more pertinent,

Than the rebuke you give it.

[blocks in formation]

Rather our state's defective for requital,

Than we to stretch it out.] i. e. Rather say that our means are too defective to afford an adequate reward for his services, than suppose our wishes to stretch out those means are defective.

9 Your loving motion toward the common body,] Your kind interposition with the common people.

1 That's off, that's off;] That is, that is nothing to the purpose.


He loves your people;

But tie him not to be their bedfellow.

Worthy Cominius, speak. Nay, keep your place. [CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away.

1 Sen. Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear What you have nobly done.


I had rather have my wounds to heal again,

Than hear say how I got them.


My words dis-bench'd you not.

Your honours' pardon;

Sir, I hope,

No, sir: yet oft,

I fled from words.

When blows have made me stay,
You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not: But, your people,
I love them as they weigh.


Pray now, sit down.

Cor. I had rather have one scratch my head i'the sun, When the alarum were struck, than idly sit To hear my nothings monster'd.


[Exit CORIOLANUS. Masters o'the people,

Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter, 2

(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,

[ocr errors]

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,

how can he flatter,] The reasoning of Menenius is this: How can he be expected to practise flattery to others, who abhors it so much, that he cannot hear it even when offered to himself?

3 When Tarquin made a head for Rome,] When Tarquin, who had been expelled, raised a power to recover Rome.

Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,
When with his Amazonian chin 4 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 5: 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. His pupil age
Man-enter'd thus, he waxed like a sea;

And, in the brunt of seventeen battles since,
He lurch'd all swords o'the garland.
Before and in Corioli, let me say,

For this last,

I cannot speak him home: He stopp'd the fliers;
And, by his rare example, made the coward

Turn terror into sport: as waves before +

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


no beard.

his Amazonian chini. e. his chin on which there was

5 And struck him on his knee :] 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.

6 When he might act the woman in the scene,] It has been more than once 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. But here is a great anachronism. There were no theatres at Rome for the exhibition of plays for about two hundred and fifty years after the death of Coriolanus.

7 He lurch'd all swords o'the garland.] To lurch, in Shakspeare's time, signified to win a maiden set at cards, &c. "To lurch all swords of the garland," therefore was, to gain from all other warriors the wreath of victory, with ease, and incontestable superiority. +"as weeds before". MALONE.


every motion

Was timed with dying cries.] The cries of the slaughtered regularly followed his motion, as musick and a dancer accompany each other.

The mortal gate' o'the city, which he painted
With shunless destiny, aidless came off,
And with a sudden re-enforcement 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
Re-quicken'd what in flesh was fatigate,
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 call'd
Both field and city ours, he never stood
To ease his breast with panting.


Worthy man!

1 Sen. He cannot but with measure fit the honours1 Which we devise him.


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 misery2 itself would give; rewards
His deeds with doing them; and is content.
To spend the time, to end it.

[blocks in formation]

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

9 The mortal gate - The gate that was made the scene of death.

1 He cannot but with measure fit the honours ] That is, no honour will be too great for him; he will show a mind equal to any elevation.

2 Than misery-] Misery for avarice; because a miser signifies avaricious.

+ Mr. Malone omits for.

[blocks in formation]

Let me o'erleap that custom; for I cannot

Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them,

For my wounds' sake, to give their suffrage: please you, 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 fit you to the custom; and

Take to you, as your predecessors have,
Your honour with your form. 3


It is a part

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


Mark you that?


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.

and to our noble consul

We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,

to them;
Wish we all joy and honour.

Sen. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!

[Flourish. Then exeunt Senators.

3 Your honour with your form.] Your form, may mean the form which custom prescribes to you.

4 We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,

Our purpose to them;] We entreat you, tribunes of the people, to recommend and enforce to the plebeians, what we propose to them for their approbation; namely, the appointment of Coriolanus to the consulship.

« AnteriorContinua »