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That I receive the general food at first,
9 to the seat o' the brain;] seems to me a very languid expression. I believe we should read, with the omission of a particle:
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat, the brain.
He uses seat for throne, the royal seat, which the first editors probably not apprehending, corrupted the passage. It is thus used in Richard II, Act III, sc. iv:
"Yea, distaff-women manage rusty bills
It should be observed too, that one of the Citizens had just before characterized these principal parts of the human fabrick by similar metaphors:
"The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
"The counsellor heart,
I have too great respect for even the conjectures of my respectable and very judicious friend, to suppress his note, though it appears to me erroneous. In the present instance I have not the smallest doubt, being clearly of opinion that the text is right. Brain is here used for reason or understanding. Shakspeare seems to have had Camden as well as Plutarch before him; the former of whom has told a similar story in his Remains, 1605, and has likewise made the heart the seat of the brain, or understanding: Hereupon they all agreed to pine away their lasie and publike enemy. One day passed over, the second followed very tedious, but the third day was so grievous to them, that they called a common counsel. The eyes waxed dimme, the feete could not support the body, the armes waxed lazie, the tongue faltered, and could not lay open the matter. Therefore they all with one accord desired the advice of the heart. There REASON laid open before them," &c. Remains, p. 109.
I agree, however, entirely with Mr. Tyrwhitt, in thinking that seat means here the royal seat, the throne. The seat of the brain, is put in opposition with the heart, and is descriptive of it. "I send it, (says the belly) through the blood, even to the royal residence, the heart, in which the kingly-crowned understanding
So, in King Henry V1, P. II:
"The rightful heir to England's royal seat."
In like manner in Twelfth Night, our author has erected the throne of love in the heart:
"It gives a very echo to the seat "Where love is throned." Again, in Othello:
And, through the cranks" and offices of man, ranks
Though all at once cannot
1 Cit. It was an answer: How apply you this? Men. The senators of Rome are this good belly, And you the mutinous members: For examine Their counsels, and their cares; digest things rightly, Touching the weal o' the common; you shall find, No public benefit, which you receive, But it proceeds, or comes, from them to you, And no way from yourselves.-What do you think? You, the great toe of this assembly?
1 Cit. I the great toe? Why the great toe?
Men. For that being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest, Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost: Thou rascal, that art worst in blood, to run Lead'st first, to win some vantage.2
"Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne." See also a passage in King Henry V, where seat is used in the same sense as here; Vol. IX, p. 227, n. 4. Malone.
the cranks and offices of man,] Cranks are the meandrous ducts of the human body. Steevens. Cranks are windings. So, in Venus and Adonis:
"He cranks and crosses, with a thousand doubles."
2 Thou rascal, that art worst in blood, to run. Lead'st first, to win some vantage.] I think, we may better read, by an easy change:
Thou rascal that art worst in blood, to ruin
Thou that art the meanest by birth, art the foremost to lead thy fellows to ruin, in hope of some advantage. The meaning, however, is perhaps only this, Thou that art a hound, or running dog of the lowest breed, lead'st the pack, when any thing is to be gotten. Johnson.
Worst in blood may be the true reading. In King Henry VF,
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs;
Mar. Thanks.-What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
We have ever your good word. Mar. He that will give good words to thee, will flatter Beneath abhorring.-What would you have, you curs,
"If we be English deer, be then in blood.” i. e. high spirits, in vigour.
Again, in this play of Coriolanus, Act IV, sc. v: "But when they shall see his crest up again, and the man in blood," &c. Mr. M. Mason judiciously observes that blood, in all these passages, is applied to deer, for a lean deer is called a rascal; and that "worst in blood," is least in vigour. Steevens.
Both rascal and in blood are terms of the forest. Rascal meant a lean deer, and is here used equivocally. The phrase in blood has been proved in a former note to be a phrase of the forest. See Vol. X, p. 86, n. 7.
Our author seldom is careful that his comparisons should answer on both sides. He seems to mean here, thou, worthless scoundrel, though, like a deer not in blood, thou art in the worst condition for running of all the herd of plebeians, takest the lead in this tumult, in order to obtain some private advantage to yourself. What advantage the foremost of a herd of deer could obtain, is not easy to point out, nor did Shakspeare, I believe, consider. Perhaps indeed he only uses rascal in its ordinary sense. So afterwards
"From rascals worse than they."
Dr. Johnson's interpretation appears to me inadmissible; as the term, though it is applicable both in its original and metaphorical sense to a man, cannot, I think, be applied to a dog; nor have I found any instance of the term in blood being applied to the canine species. Malone.
3 The one side must have bale.] Bale is an old Saxon word, for misery or calamity:
"For light she hated as the deadly bale."
Spenser's Fairy Queen. Mr. M. Mason observes that "bale, as well as bane, signified poison in Shakspeare's days. So, in Romeo and Juliet: "With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers."
This word was antiquated in Shakspeare's time, being marked as obsolete by Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 1616. Malone.
That like nor peace, nor war? the one affrights you,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is,
Him vile, that was your garland. What 's the matter,
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Hang 'em! They say? They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know What 's done i' the Capitol: who 's like to rise, Who thrives, and who declines: side factions, and give
4 That like nor peace, nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud.] Coriolanus does not use these two sentences consequentially, but first reproaches them with unsteadiness, then with their other occasional vices. Johnson. Your virtue is,
To make him worthy, whose offence subdues him,
And curse that justice did it.] i. e. Your virtue is to speak well of him whom his own offences have subjected to justice; and to rail at those law's by which he whom you praise was punished. Steevens.
6 What's their seeking?] Seeking is here used substantively, -The answer is, "There seeking, or suit (to use the language of the time) is for corn." Malone.
which do like to rise,
and who declines:] The words-who thrives, the metre, appear to be an evident and tasteless interpolation. They are omitted by Sir T. Hanmer. Steevens.
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong,
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,8
8 their ruth,] i. e. their pity, compassion. Fairfax and Spenser often use the word. Hence the adjective-ruthless, which is still current. Steevens.
9 I'd make a quarry
With thousands] Why a quarry? I suppose, not because he would pile them square, but because he would give them for carrion to the birds of prey. Johnson.
So, in The Miracles of Moses, by Drayton:
"And like a quarry cast them on the land."
See Vol. VII, p. 204, n. 8. Steevens.
The word quarry occurs in Macbeth, where Ross says to Macduff:
to state the manner,
"Were on the quarry of these murder'd deer
In a note on this last passage, Steevens asserts, that quarry means game pursued or killed, and supports that opinion by a passage in Massinger's Guardian: and from thence I suppose the word was used to express a heap of slaughtered persons.
In the concluding scene of Hamlet, where Fortinbras sees so many lying dead, he says:
"This quarry cries, on havock!"
and in the last scene of A Wife for a Month, Valerio, in describing his own fictitious battle with the Turks, says:
"I saw the child of honour, for he was young,
M. Mason. Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, says that " quarry among hunters signifieth the reward given to hounds after they have hunted, or the venison which is taken by hunting." This sufficiently explains the word of Coriolanus. Malone.
pick my lance.] And so the word [pitch] is still pronounced in Staffordshire, where they say-picke me such a thing, that is, pitch or throw any thing that the demander wants. Tollet.
Thus, in Froissart's Chronicle, cap. C, Ixiii, fo. lxxxii, b: "-and as he stouped downe to take up his swerde, the Frenche squyer dyd pycke his swerde at hym, and by hap strake hym through bothe the thyes." Steevens.