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Men. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded; For though abundantly they lack discretion, Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you, What says the other troop?
Mar. They are dissolv'd: Hang 'em! They said, they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs;— That, hunger broke stone walls; that, dogs must eat; That, meat was made for mouths; that, the gods sent not Carn for the rich men only:-With these shreds They vented their complainings; which being answer'd, And a petition granted them, a strange one, (To break the heart of generosity,2
And make bold power look pale,) they threw their caps As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,3 Shouting their emulation.4" cxultation
What is granted them?
Mar. Five tribunes, to defend their vulgar wisdoms, Of their own choice: One 's Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I know not-'Sdeath!
So, in An Account of auntient Customes and Games, &c. MSS. Harl. 2057, fol. 10, b:
"To wrestle, play at strole-ball, [stool-ball] or to runne, "To picke the barre, or to shoot off a gun."
The word is again used in King Henry VIII, with only a slight variation in the spelling: "I'll peck you o'er the pales else." See Vol. XI, p. 352, n. 3. Malone.
the heart of generosity.] To give the final blow to the nables. Generosity is high birth. Johnson. So, in Measure for Measure:
"The generous and gravest citizens." Steevens.
hang them on the horns o' the moon,] So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
""Let me lodge Lichas on the horns o' the moon.” Steevens. 4 Shouting their emulation.] Each of them striving to shout louder than the rest. Malone.
Emulation, in the present instance, I believe, signifies faction. Shouting their emulation, may mean, expressing the triumph of their faction by shouts.
Emulation, in our author, is sometimes used in an unfavourable sense, and not to imply an honest contest for superior excellence. Thus, in King Henry VI, P. I:
the trust of England's honour
66 Keep off aloof with worthless emulation." Again, in Troilus and Cressida:
"While emulation in the army crept." i, e. faction. Steevens.
The rabble should have first"unroof'd the city, sums. Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time
Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes
This is strange. Mar. Go, get you home, you fragments! Enter a Messenger.
Mess. Where 's Caius Marcius?
Our musty superfluity:-See, our best elders.
Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS, and SICINIUS VELUTUS.
1 Sen. Marcius, 'tis true, that you have lately told us; The Volces are in arms.7
You have fought together.
Sir, it is;
And I am constant.8-Titus Lartius, thou
5 unroof'd the city,] Old copy-unroost. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
6 For insurrection's arguing.] For insurgents to debate upon.
- 'Tis true, that you have lately told us;
The Volces are in arms.] Coriolanus had been just told himself that the Volces were in arms. The meaning is, The intelligence which you gave us some little time ago of the designs of the Volces is now verified; they are in arms. Johnson.
8 constant.] i. e. immoveable in my resolution. So, in Julius Cæsar:
"But I am constant as the northern star." Steevens.
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face:
No, Caius Marcius; I'll lean upon one crutch, and fight with the other, Ere stay behind this business.
O, true bred!
1 Sen. Your company to the Capitol; where, I know, Our greatest friends attend us.
Lead you on:-
1 Sen. Hence! To your homes, be gone. [To the Citizens. Mar. Nay, let them follow: The Volces have much corn; take these rats thither, To gnaw their garners:-Worshipful mutineers, Your valour puts well forth:2 pray, follow.
[Exeunt Senators, COM. MAR. TIT. and MENEN. Citizens steal away.
Sic. Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?
Sic. When we were chosen tribunes for the peor
Bru. Mark'd you his lip, and eyes?
Nay, but his taunts. Bru. Being mov'd, he will not spare to gird3 the gods.
Right worthy you priority.] You being right worthy your pre
Mr. M. Mason would read-your priority. Steevens.
Noble Lartius!] Old copy-Martius. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. I am not sure that the emendation is necessary. Perhaps Lartius in the latter part of the preceding speech ad
dresses Marcius. Malone.
2 Your valour puts well forth:] That is, You have in this mutiny shown fair blossoms of valour. Johnson.
So, in King Henry VIII:
To-day he puts forth
"The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms," &c.
to gird-] To sneer, to gibe. So Falstaff uses the noun, when he says, every man has a gird at me. Johnson. Again, in The Taming of the Shrew:
"I thank thee for that gird, good Tranio.” Many instances of the use of this word, might be added.
Sic. Be-mock the modest moon.
Bru. The present wars devour him: he is grown Too proud to be so valiant.4
Such a nature, Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow Which he treads on at noon: But I do wonder,
To gird, as an anonymous correspondent observes to me, "in some parts of England means to push vehemently. So, when a ram pushes at any thing with his head, they say he girds at it." To gird likewise signified, to pluck or twinge. Hence probably it was metaphorically used in the sense of to taunt, or annoy by a stroke of sarcasm. Cotgrave makes gird, nip, and twinge, sy. nonymous. Malone.
4 The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.] Mr. Theobald says, This is ob scurely expressed, but that the poet's meaning must certainly be, that Marcius is so conscious of, and so elate upon the notion of his own valour, that he is eaten up with pride, &c. According to this critick then, we must conclude, that when Shakspeare had a mind to say, A man was eaten up with pride, he was so great a blunderer in expression, as to say, He was eaten up with war. But our poet wrote at another rate, and the blunder is his critrick's. The present wars devour him, is an imprecation, and should be so pointed. As much as to say, May he fall in those wars! The reason of the curse is subjoined, for (says the speaker) having so much pride with so much valour, his life, with increase of honours, is dangerous to the republic.
I am by no means convinced that Dr. Warburton's punctua tion, or explanation, is right. The sense may be, that the present wars annihilate his gentler qualities. To eat up, and consequently to devour, has this meaning. So, in The Second Part of King Henry IV, Act IV, sc. iv:
"But thou [the crown] most fine, most honour'd, most
To be eat up with pride, is still a phrase in common and vulgar use.
He is grown too proud to be so valiant, may signify, his pride is such as not to deserve the accompanyment of so much valour.
I concur with Mr. Steevens. "The present wars," Shakspeare ases to express the pride of Coriolanus grounded on his military prowess; which kind of pride Brutus says devours him. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act II, sc. iii:
He that 's proud, eats up himself."
Perhaps the meaning of the latter member of the sentence is, "he is grown too proud of being so valiant, to be endured."
His insolence can brook to be commanded
Fame, at the which he aims,--
Besides, if things go well,
Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius,
Let's hence, and hear How the despatch is made; and in what fashion, More than his singularity," he goes
Upon this present action.
5 of his demetits rob Cominius.] Merits and Demerits had anciently the same meaning. So, in Othello:
66 and my demerits
May speak," &c.
Again, in Stowe's Chronicle, Cardinal Wolsey says to his servants: " - I have not promoted, preferred, and advanced you all according to your demerits." Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Epistle to T. Vespasian, 1600: ". - his demerit had been the greater to have continued his story." Steevens.
Again, in Hall's Chronicle, Henry VI, fol. 69: "— this noble prince, for his demerits called the good duke of Gloucester, —” Malone.
More than his singularity, &c.] We will learn what he is to do, besides going himself; what are his powers, and what is his appointment. Johnson.
Perhaps the word singularity implies a sarcasm on Coriolanus, and the speaker means to say-after what fashion, beside that in which his own singularity of disposition invests him, he goes into the field. So, in Twelfth Night: "Put thyself into the trick of singularity" Steevens.