Page images
PDF
EPUB

them; and there be many that they have loved they know not wherefore: so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground: Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him, manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition; and, out of his noble carelessness, let's them plainly see't.

i Off. If he did not care whether he had their love, or no, he waved* indifferently 'twixt doing them neither good, nor harm; but he seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him; and leaves nothing undone, that may fully discover him their opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice and displeasure of the people, is as bad as that which he dislikes, to flatter them for their love.

2 Off. He hath deserved worthily of his country: And his ascent is not by such easy degrees as those, who, having been supple and courteous to the people, bonnetted,” without any further deed to heave them at all into their estimation and report: but he hath so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.

i Off. No more of him; he is a worthy man: Make way, they are coming.

- he waved ] That is, he would have waved indifferently.

their opposite.] That is, their adversary.
- as those,] That is, as the ascent of those.

- supple and courteous to the people, bonnetted, &c.] Bonnetter, Fr. is to pull off one's cap. So, in the academick style, to cap a fellow, is to take off the cap to him.

[ocr errors]

A Sennet. Enter, with Lictors before them, COMINIUS the Consul, MeneniUS, CORIOLANUS, many other Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.

Men. Having determin’d of the Volces, and
To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
As the main point of this our after-meeting,
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 perforin'd :
By Caius Marcius Coriolanus; whom
We meet here, both to thank, and to remember
With honours like himself.
i 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. 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.

Sic.

8 and make us think, .
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 cominon body,] Your kind interposition with the common people,

Bru.

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.
Men.

That's off, that's off;'
I would you rather had been silent: Please you
To hear Cominius speak?
Bru.

Most willingly:
But yet my caution was more pertinent,
Than the rebuke you give it.
Men.

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. Cor.

Your honours' pardon;
I had rather have my wounds to heal again,
Than hear say how I got them.
Bru.

Sir, I hope,
My words dis-bench'd
Cor.

No, sir: yet oft, When blows have made me stay, I fled from words. You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not: But, your

people, I love them as they weigh. Men.

Pray now, sit down. Cor. I had rather have one scratch my head i'

you not.

the sun,

When the alarum were struck, than idly sit
To hear my nothings monster'd.

[Exit CORIOLANUS. Men.

Masters o'the people, Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter,

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

how can he flatter,] The reasoning of Menenius is this:

(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 bear it?-Proceed, Comi

nius. 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 chino 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:' 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;

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?

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

- his Amazonian chin ) i. e. his chin on which there was no beard.

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.

o 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.

And, in the brunt of seventeen battles since,
He lurch'd 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 before
A vessel under sail, su 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 :8 alone he enter'd
The mortal gate o'the city, which he painted
With shunless destiny, aidless came off,
And with a sudden reinforcement 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.
Men.

Worthy man! 1 Sen. He cannot but with measure fit the ho

nours

? 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.

- every motion Was tim'd with dying cries.] The cries of the slaughtered regularly followed his motion, as musick and a dancer accompany each other,

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

· He cannot but with measure fit the honours —] That is, no

« PreviousContinue »