Actus Tertius E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Act I. showed us Coriolanus in his nobility, Act II. in his inherent and fatal weakness. The present Act leads him on inevitably to his ruin. At the beginning of it he is the champion of Rome, and, as he and the Patricians think, her chosen Consul; at the end he is a disgraced exile. His better and his worse qualities have combined to bring about this result. If he had had that sympathy with the people which alone can make a true leader, or if he had been willing, like the rest of the Senators, to affect a sympathy which he did not feel, the crisis of his fate would have been averted. As it is, he falls, and we can scarcely pity him. The action of the Act is spread over three scenes, dealing respectively with Coriolanus's first defeat by the Tribunes, his partial recovery of his position, and his final banishment. This arrangement is dramatically effective: it holds the issue in suspense, and thus retains our interest.—Verity (Student's Sh.): The Tullus Aufidius element of the tragedy has to be kept ‘in being,’ so that the instrument of the catastrophe may be forthcoming, and forthcoming naturally, when the time comes. It is a sort of thread that runs through the play as a parallel but subsidiary interest to the Coriolanus element, and the tense irony here (ll. 17-28) is meant to keep the connection vividly before us.—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Theobald first inserted the stagedirection, placing the opening of Act III. in a street. From ‘Passe no further’ (l. 34) it comes out that the Patricians, with Coriolanus, are in the act of proceeding toward the Market place (l. 42). This was perhaps the forward part of the fore-stage, and they were at one side of the fore-stage, fronting thither, when Brutus and Sicinius from the opposite side enter to stop them. As the mutiny grows against Coriolanus he is urged ‘home to thy House’ (l. 287), and thither he goes (at l. 310), passing into the rear-stage, now imagined to be his house. Scene ii. follows in the rear-stage, where Coriolanus takes his mother's advice and says he is ‘going to the Market place’ (l. 159), and there in the fore-stage scene iii. is placed. With the call ‘Go see him out at Gates’ (iii, 171) the Act ends, all making their Exeunt together in a tumult through the central exit. [This reconstruction of the stage-business is certainly plausible, yet it is, I think, open to several objections. In the first place, account is not taken of the disposition of the stage at the close of Act II. The scene of Coriolanus's ordeal, since it requires but little space for the few actors taking part, was doubtless played on the fore-stage, the curtains being drawn between the columns, thus cutting off the middle and inner stage. Another reason for the use of this fore-stage may be found in the fact that both scenes i. and ii. of Act II. are scenes requiring the use of the full stage (the triumphal return of Coriolanus and the Senate House). At the opening of this Act the curtains between the columns are drawn aside and the full stage is made available for the crowded scene of the tumult and mutiny; when Coriolanus returns to his house it is more natural for him to make his exit by the same door through which he entered instead of through the doorway to the small inner stage. At the end of this scene the curtains between the columns are closed after the departure of all the participants, and the scene at Coriolanus's house is then played on the forestage. The use of the small inner stage for this important scene is hardly practical on account of the number of actors taking part. For scene iii, the market place again, the curtains are drawn aside and the full stage is used for the final scene of the banishment.—Ed.]
our swifter Composition W. A. Wright: That is, our making terms more speedily. See Meas. for Meas., I, ii, 2: ‘If the duke with the other dukes come not to composition with the King of Hungary, why then all the dukes fall upon the king.’
to make roade W. A. Wright: That is, to make an inroad or incursion, to invade. Compare Henry V: I, ii, 138, ‘Against the Scot, who will make road upon With all advantages.’ And 1 Samuel, xxvii. 10, ‘And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road today?’
Lord Consull Malone: Shakespeare has here, as in other places, attributed the usage of England to Rome. In his time the title lord was given to many officers of state who were not peers; thus lords of the council, lord ambassador, lord general, &c.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): In reference to Malone's rather superficial note: ‘Precisely so; the dramatist employed an expression which he knew would be instantly comprehended by the public for whom he wrote, and he wished to give the immediate impression of Coriolanus's having attained his new dignity: that dignity striven for in the last Act, assumed and recognised at the commencement of the present Act, and forfeited before the conclusion of its first scene. This is just one of the poet's touches of dramatic art; with apparent carelessness, but really nicest forethought, marking a point which, as the action progresses, is essential to be well borne in mind.’
On safegard Steevens: That is, with a convoy, a guard appointed to protect him.
for they had That is, because; for other examples of this meaning see, if needful, Abbott, § 151, or Shakespeare passim.
is retyred For examples of this use of ‘is’ with certain intransitive verbs see Abbott, § 295.
I wish . . . him there E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): This is ironical. Coriolanus does not know how soon he will go to Antium, nor what his cause to seek Aufidius will be.
pranke them in Authoritie Steevens: So in Meas. for Meas., ‘Drest in a little brief authority,’ [II, ii, 118]. pranke Johnson: That is, Plume, deck, dignify themselves.—W. A. Wright: Used contemptuously. Compare Twelfth Night, II, iv, 89, ‘But 'tis that miracle and queen of gems That nature pranks her in attracts my soul.’ ‘Ajolier, To pranke, tricke vp, set out, make fine’ (Cotgrave). The word is connected with German praugen and prunken and the Dutch pronken, appronken.—Verity (Student's Sh.): Scott makes Leicester rebuke the Usher, Master Bowyer, thus in one of the most striking chapters (xvi.) of Kenilworth: ‘Thou art a knave— an ungrateful knave; but he that hath done, can undo—thou shalt not prank thee in thy authority long.’ Kenilworth is permeated with Shakespearian words and allusions, which add greatly to its Elizabethan colouring. The Shakespearian touches are introduced so naturally as to form part of the very texture of the diction of the novel. They witness to a remarkable degree of familiarity with Shakespeare's plays. One of the most interesting of Scott's Miscellaneous Essays is on the drama. [In Quarterly Review, April, 1826.—Ed.]
Noble, and the Common Steevens: The First Folio reads ‘noble’ and ‘common.’ The Second has, commons. I have not hesitated to reform this passage on the authority of others in the play before us. Thus, ‘the nobles bended As to Jove's statue, and the commons made A shower and thunder,’ [II, i, 292.— Collier (ed. ii.) notes that his corrected Folio reads Nobles . . . Commons, but, as Steevens shows, commons is the reading of F2, and is not, therefore, a correction. —Ed.]
in broyle That is, into noisy contention; for other examples of ‘in’ for into see Abbott, § 159.
Offices For other examples wherein, metri gratia, the final syllable of the plural and possessive cases of nouns ending in ce, and the like, are frequently pronounced without the additional syllable, see Abbott, § 471.
why . . . their Teeth Warburton: The metaphor is from men's setting a bulldog or mastiff upon anyone.
of late . . . gratis Case (Arden Sh.): In I, i. Coriolanus scorns the idea of giving the people corn at their own rates, but there has been nothing about giving corn gratis so far. The occasion referred to occurred after the people had refused Marcius for Consul, and is antedated by Shakespeare.
Com. You are . . . businesse Knight: This interposition of Cominius is according to the old copy. The modern editors give the words to Coriolanus as a continuation of his dialogue with Brutus. The words are not characteristic of Coriolanus; whilst the interruption of Cominius gives spirit and variety to the scene.—Singer (ed. ii.): The old copy gives this line to Cominius, but the sequel of the dialogue clearly shows that it was uttered by Coriolanus.—Collier: The prefixes could not have been very easily mistaken by the printer, as that of Coriolanus in this part of the scene is Corio., and that of Cominius, Com. We adhere to the ancient authorities, for the later folios make no change. [In his edd. ii. and iii. Collier adopts the change in prefix, erroneously crediting Malone with the change.—Ed.]—Rolfe: At first sight the reply seems to favour Theobald's change of prefix; but, as Knight remarks, the interruption by Cominius gives spirit and variety to the scene. The ‘yours’ in the reply might be addressed to Cominius as identified with the interests of Coriolanus: the business of your party.
Not vnlike . . . to better yours Warburton: That is, likely to provide better for the commonwealth than you (whose business it is) will do. To which the reply is pertinent: ‘Why then should I be consul?’—Mason (Comments, etc., p. 252): The reply of Coriolanus, ‘Let me deserve as ill as you,’ proves, in my opinion, the propriety of the amendment proposed by Hanmer, the reading, to better you, instead of ‘yours.’—Whitelaw: That is, in every way to better your way. [To this Schmidt (Coriol.） dissents, remarking that ‘yours’ refers here to ‘business,’ not ‘way.’ That is: I am the man to better your business in every way. He compares, ‘What you do Still betters what is done.’—Wint. Tale, IV, iv, 135.]
for Tribune That is, as a Tribune, compare l. 234 below, ‘Whom you have named for consul.’ See also Schmidt (Lex.), s. v. For (3).
The People are abus'd: set on Theobald: This is pointed as if the sense were, The people are set on by the Tribunes, but I don't take that to be the poet's meaning. Cominius makes a single reflection, and then bids the train set forward, as again afterwards, ‘Well, On to th' market place.’ And so in Jul. Cæs., ‘Set on, and leave no ceremony out,’ [I, i, 11].—Rolfe: It is a question whether ‘set on’ is here instigated to this, or whether it should be separated from what precedes, and made imperative, go on. The former is favoured by l. 49 above, and the latter by l. 137 below. this paltring . . . Rome Johnson: That is, this trick of dissimulation; this shuffling: ‘And be these juggling fiends no more believed That palter with us in a double sense.’—Macbeth, [V, viii, 19].
Becomes not Rome . . . Coriolanus Steevens: I would read, ‘Becomes not Romans’; Coriolanus being accented on the first and not the second syllable in former instances.
Rub, layd falsely Johnson: ‘Falsely’ for ‘treacherously.’—Malone: The metaphor is from the bowling green.—Case (Arden Sh.): Brutus, in ll. 56-59, passes lightly over the mockery of the people and revives an old grievance. Coriolanus responds to this only and admits it. Cominius, then, in saying that he had not deserved the rub, could not consistently mean to deny the charge which constituted it and to urge that it was therefore untruly made; but he could say that this base and undeserved opposition was a mere pretext and false or untrue in that sense. This may be called hair-splitting, but it illustrates the difficulties that confront the commentator, and, after all, even the presence or absence of consistency is not a conclusive test.
I will speak't againe MacCallum (p. 508): In Plutarch, Coriolanus's unsuccessful candidature has, except as it adds to his private irritation, no immediate result; and only some time later does his banishment follow on quite another occasion. Corn had come from Sicily, and in the dearth it was proposed to distribute it gratis; but Marcius inveighed against such a course and urged that the time was opportune for the abolition of the Tribunate in a speech which, in the play, he ‘speaks again’ when his election is challenged. But the Life reports it only as delivered in the Senate; and the Tribunes, who are present, at once leave and raise a tumult, attempt to arrest him, and are resisted. The Senators, to allay the commotion, resolve to sell the corn cheap, and thus end the discontent against themselves, but the Tribunes persist in their attack on the ringleader, hoping, as we have seen, that he will prove refractory and give a handle against himself. When he does this and the death-sentence is pronounced, there is still so much feeling of fairness that a legal trial is demanded, which the Tribunes consent to grant him, and to which he consents to submit on the stipulation that he shall be charged only on the one count of aspiring to make himself king. But when the assembly is held the Tribunes break their promise and accuse him of seeking to withhold the corn and abolish the Tribunate, and of distributing the spoils of the Antiates only among his own followers. . . . So the unexpectedness of this last indictment throws him out. Now there are several things to notice in Shakespeare's very different version. The first is the tact with which he compresses a great many remotely connected incidents into one. He antedates the affair about the corn with Marcius's speech against the distribution and the Tribunate, and only brings it in as a supplementary circumstance in the prosecution. The real centre of the situation is Coriolanus's behaviour when a candidate, and round this all else is grouped; and this behaviour, it will be remembered, is altogether a fabrication on Shakespeare's part.
Meynie Schmidt (Coriolanus) retains the reading of the Folio in the form meiny, taking it in the sense of the paid retainers of a household in distinction from the ‘Nobler friends’ of the preceding line.—W. A. Wright: Shakespeare does use ‘meiny’ in King Lear, II, iv, 35, ‘They summoned up their meiny, straight took horse,’ but here it does not seem to be appropriate, and is another instance of the printer's error mentioned in the note on II, iii, 115. ‘Many’ for multitude occurs in 2 Henry IV: I, iii, 91, ‘O thou fond many,’ etc.—Verity (Student's Sh.): It has been assumed that ‘many’ in The Faerie Queene, I, xii, 9, ‘And after all the raskall many ran,’ is a misspelling of meiny and means ‘crowd, troop’; but the word may quite well be the ordinary adjective many used substantively. In fact, Spenser's phrase, ‘the raskall many,’ seems exactly parallel to ‘the mutable, rank-scented many,’ and expresses the same antidemocratic sentiment. Compare 2 Henry IV: I, iii, 91. Possibly ‘meynie’ was substituted in the Folio for many in the same way as ‘higher’ for hire, II, iii, 114. From similarity of sound and sense many and ‘meiny’ were confused a good deal by old writers.—Case (Arden Sh.), in support of the Folio reading in the sense of multitude, furnishes several examples, notably one from Day's Festivals (1615), Epistle Dedicatory (N. E. D.): ‘If we account them not more religious, then the Meyny, or Multitude are.’
Let them . . . behold themselues Johnson: Let them look in the mirror which I hold up to them, a mirror which does not flatter, and see themselves.— Whitelaw: ‘As’ = that; ‘regard this in me, that I am no flatterer, and in this, in my plain speaking, behold themselves.’
The Cockle . . . Sedition Steevens: The thought is from North's Plutarch, where it is given as follows: ‘Moreover, he said that they nourished against themselves the naughty seed and cockle of insolency and sedition, which had been sowed and scattered abroad among the people.’—Ritson: Here are three syllables too many. We might read, as in North's Plutarch, ‘The cockle of insolency and sedition.’ Cockle Beisley (p. 129): The cockle of modern botanists (Lychnis Githago) is a tall handsome plant with purplish flowers, growing mostly in cornfields, the seeds of which are black; . . . but the plant meant by Shakespeare is the Lolium temulentum, in his time called darnel, as well as cockle and cockle weed.—W. A. Wright: The two plants [‘cockle’ and darnal] are clearly distinguished by Lyte and Gerarde. The latter says (p. 926, ed. 1597): ‘Cockle is a common or hurtfull weede in our Corne, and very well known by the name of Cockle.’ And in the next page: ‘Some ignorant people haue vsed the seede heereof for the seede of Darnell, to the great danger of those who have receiued the same.’ If any further proof were needed that the two plants are quite distinct, and were known to be so in the 16th century, it would be supplied by the following passage from Latimer's Sermons (p. 72, Parker Society ed.): ‘Who is able to tell his diligent preaching, which every day, and every hour, laboureth to sow cockle and darnel?’
Meazels W. A. Wright: In Early English misel is a leper, from the Old French mesel (Lat. misellus). The term is thence contemptuously applied to a scurvy wretch. See Wiclif, Matt. x, 8, ‘Clense the mesels,’ for ‘cleanse the lepers.’ And Promptorium Parvulorum, ‘Mysel, or mesel, or lepre, Leprosus.’ In Chaucer, Parson's Tale, ‘meselrie’ is leprosy. But by the middle of the 16th century the word ‘measles’ had acquired its modern sense. Huloet, Abcedarium, has ‘Mesiles disease, Variolæ,’ and Cotgrave gives ‘Rougeolle: f. The Mazles.’ Shakespeare uses it here with a reference also to the contemptuous sense which it had acquired when applied to persons.—Moyes (p. 26): The exact meaning of ‘meazels,’ its spelling, and its relationship to leprosy, elephantiasis, smallpox, and our present-day measles, constitute a very confused subject. The infectious nature of the disease, however, is clearly implied. According to Creighton, a word ‘meseles’ is used in the poem Piers Plowman, meaning lepers, but John of Gaddesden uses the word ‘mesles’ in his description of ‘morbilli’ (or our presentday measles). Again, ‘Ye Maysilles’ is given in Levins' Manipulus Vocabulorum as meaning ‘Variolæ’ (our present-day smallpox), and in Baret's dictionary the word measles is defined as ‘a disease with manie reddish spottes or speckles in the face and bodie, much like freckles in colour.’ It must be remembered that the confusion was one not merely of words and names, but that smallpox (variola) and measles (morbilli) were constantly confused, and their distinction was due to the Arabian physician and made known in England by John of Gaddesden. We may fairly suppose that ‘meazels’ in the text refers to our present-day measles.
Not . . . of their Infirmity E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): A reminiscence of Hebrews, iv, 15: ‘We have not an high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.’
Triton of the Minnoues Warburton and Johnson both explain, somewhat unnecessarily, that a minnow is a very small fish; and Steevens quotes in illustration the only other passage wherein the word is used by Shakespeare— Love's Labour's, I, i, 250: ‘there did I see that low-spirited swain, that base minnow of thy mirth.’—Delius: The high and mighty Tribune with his absolute shall controls the swarming mass of the people, just as a Triton controls the swarming fish of the smallest kind. Likewise there is an alliteration between Triton and Tribune. [Possibly also between ‘Triton of the minnows’ and Tribune of the many.—Ed.]— Rushton (Sh. Illustrated by Old Authors, p. 29): The contrast between Triton, the son of Amphitrite, and Neptune, and the minnows, which are very small fish, is apparent; and although it may be truly said that Triton, as a deity of the sea, would rule over the minnows with his ‘absolute’ or peremptory ‘shall,’ which Coriolanus calls ‘the horn and noise of the monster,’ yet, when it is remembered that Triton used to announce the approach of Neptune by blowing his horn, which was a large conch or sea-shell, it may be considered probable that Shakespeare plays upon the word ‘shall’ in this passage, using it in a double sense; for the words ‘shall’ and shell do not differ more from each other in sound than the words ‘sheep’ and ‘ship,’ which Speed plays upon in Two Gentlemen, I, i, 72, 73; and it may also be considered probable that Shakespeare, further on in this passage [ll. 130, 131], plays upon the word ‘shall,’ using it again in a double sense. For the reader will perceive that Coriolanus speaks of ‘such a one as he, who puts his shall against a graver bench than ever frown'd in Greece’; and Shakespeare, using the word in a double sense, may refer to the practice in ancient Greece of banishing persons considered dangerous to the state by ostracism, where the votes were given by shells, each man marking upon his shell the name of the person he would have banished. [This last suggestion is, I think, of very doubtful likelihood. See ll. 130, 131 and note by Case, supra.—Ed.]
His absolute Shall R. G. White: The recognition of the compulsory sense of ‘shall,’ and the difference of signification between that auxiliary and ‘will’ could not be more strongly marked than it is in the outbreak of the newly chosen Consul against the Tribune's use of the former instead of the latter. But upon this point there can hardly be any misunderstanding, and need be no remark. No one who is acquainted with our early literature will dispute for a moment that very long before the Elizabethan period ‘shall’ emphatically applied by a speaker to a second or third person expressed obligation, or that ‘will’ was used in the same manner, or, again, that ‘shall,’ used with regard to a coming event, had a prophetic force, and implied either the ability to bring it about, or the well assured belief that it would happen. It is the restriction of ‘shall,’ in the first person, to the expression of simple futurity, and of ‘will’ to that of ‘volition,’ which is a mark of a more modern stage of the language. True, many passages may be produced from Shakespeare's own works in which these two auxiliaries are used in exact conformity to the modern idiom; but many others occur in which the distinction, now so well established, is disregarded. [See also Abbott, § 316.]
'Twas from the Cannon Johnson: Was contrary to the established rule; it was a form of speech to which he has no right.—M. Mason (Comments, etc., p. 252): These words appear to me to imply the very reverse. Cominius means to say ‘that what Sicinius had said was according to the rule,’ alluding to the absolute veto of the Tribunes, the power of putting a stop to every proceeding; and, accordingly, Coriolanus, instead of disputing this power of the Tribunes, proceeds to argue against the power itself and to inveigh against the Patrician for having granted it.—Pye (p. 249): I am rather inclined to the last opinion if ‘canon’ is meant for rule; but it is very probable that Shakespeare (considering his little attention to this sort of propriety) might mean that the absolute shall of the Tribune came as loudly as if from the mouth of a cannon.—[Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.), without reference to the foregoing remark, characterises ‘Cannon’ here as ‘an anachronism which has lacked notice because commonly explained in the sense of canon as rule or law.’ An interpretation which, to me at least, is inconsistent with the dignified language of this scene.—Ed.]—C. &. M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): We hold with Mason's explanation, because it consists with Sicinius's speech at the commencement of the last scene of this Act, ‘When they hear me say, “It shall be so, i'the right and strength o'the Commons,” . . . insisting on the old prerogative and power,’ &c.; but the present passage affords a remarkable instance of the directly opposite sense which the word ‘from’ may give to a sentence, according to the sense in which the word is used and taken.— Rev. John Hunter: Imitated from the decalogue, in which the word ‘shall’ occurs so frequently, ‘Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter,’ Hamlet, I, ii, 131.—Schmidt (Coriolanus), in support of the interpretation given by Johnson that ‘from the canon’ here means contrary to law, quotes Hamlet, III, iii, 22, ‘For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing’; and Twelfth Night, I, v, 201, ‘But this is from my commission.’—Wright likewise follows Johnson, and to the two examples given by Schmidt adds: ‘Why birds and beasts from quality and kind,’ Jul. Cæs., I, iii, 65.—Orger (p. 62): If Cominius interrupts the speech with the words ‘'Twas from the Canon,’ they can only mean, as Mason paraphrases, ‘it was according to law.’ But such a declaration is little calculated to assuage Coriolanus's violence, and the meaning of ‘canon’ in all other places is ‘Divine Law,’ the language of the Ten Commandments. The imperious ‘shall’ Coriolanus might naturally declare belonged to a law with heavenly sanction, not to mortal voice; and the force of the term will be preserved if we continue the speech to him without interruption, ‘His absolute “shall,”—'Twas from the canon, “Shall”!’—[Johnson's, rather than Mason's, interpretation is adopted by the majority of modern editors.—Ed.] 115. O God! but most, etc.] Theobald (Sh. Restored, p. 180): After this ex clamation, methinks, 'tis very odd to continue the sentence with such a disjunctive ‘But.’ Besides, as the text now stands, there seems that contrast of terms wanting, and broken off, which appears intended in this passage by the next immediate line. As the addition of a single letter restores us this beauty, I make no doubt but the passage ought to be restor'd, ‘O good, but most unwise,’ etc.—Heath (p. 418): I am inclined to believe the ancient reading, ‘O God! but most unwise Patricians,’ etc., is genuine; only I would rather read O Gods! The particle ‘but’ is not employed here merely as a disjunctive, but as introductive of the objection or reproof which was to follow; and that double antithesis in this and the next line, which Mr Theobald thinks was intended, and admires as a beauty, appears, on the contrary, to me to be too studied to be the language of passion, which is expressed with much greater spirit by the exclamation and break in the ancient reading. That of Mr Theobald is tame and flat in comparison of it, like the formal exordium of an oration.—Steevens (Variorum, 1773): ‘O Gods!’ Thus the old copy. Succeeding editors had altered it, ‘O good.’ When the only authentic copy affords sense, why should we depart from it?—Malone, in answer to the foregoing question by Steevens anent the Folio reading, says: ‘No one can be more thoroughly convinced of the general propriety of adhering to the old copy than I am; and I trust I have given abundant proofs of my attention to it by restoring and establishing many ancient readings in every one of these plays, which had been displaced for modern innovations; and if in the passage before us the ancient copy had afforded sense I should have been very unwilling to disturb it. But it does not; for it reads, not “O Gods!” as Mr Steevens supposed, but “O God!” an adjuration surely not proper in the mouth of a heathen. Add to this that the word “but” is printed with a small initial letter in the only authentic copy; and the words “good but unwise” here appear to be the counterpart of “grave and reckless” in the subsequent line. On a reconsideration of this passage, therefore, I am confident that even my learned predecessor will approve of the emendation now adopted.’—Steevens: I have not displaced Mr Malone's reading, though it may be observed that an improper mention of the Supreme Being of the Christians will not appear decisive on this occasion to the reader who recollects that in Troilus & Cressida the Trojan Pandarus swears ‘by God's lid,’ the Greek Thersites exclaims ‘God-a-mercy’; and that in Mid. N. Dream our author has put ‘God shield us!’ into the mouth of Bottom an Athenian weaver. I lately met with a still more glaring instance of the same impropriety in another play of Shakespeare, but cannot, at this moment, ascertain it.
Giuen Hidra heere Singer (Sh. Vindicated, p. 218): Leave [the reading of Collier's MS. Corrector) is not wanted in this line. To ‘give’ is to concede, to permit, and ‘given’ stands for permitted.—Dyce (ed. i.): Mr Collier's MS. Corrector reads leave, and rightly perhaps; for in this passage there is a harshness in understanding ‘Given’ as equivalent to permitted—Leo (Coriolanus): In 2 Henry VI: IV, iv, 34, we find, ‘Sir Humphrey Stafford and his brother's death Hath given them heart and courage to proceed.’ I propose, therefore, the reading ‘Given Hydra heart,’ etc. [Dyce (ed. ii.), discarding even his half-hearted com mendation of the MS. correction, accepts the foregoing suggestion as the true reading. Wright's objection to Leo's change is, I think, well taken, that ‘what the people wanted was not courage but power to choose’; thus taking ‘Given’ in the sense of ‘allowed the choice,’ as suggested by Singer.—Ed.]—Hudson (ed. ii.): Dyce substitutes heart for ‘here’; very infelicitously as I cannot but think. For the patricians have not given the people the heart, that is, the disposition or spirit, to choose Tribunes; the people had that before; but they have granted to them the legal power or right; have given their consent to such a law. Coriolanus regards the common people everywhere as a many-headed monster, like the Hydra; and what he is now complaining of is that here, in Rome, this monster is allowed to choose a special officer who can do such and such things.
The horne, and noise Warburton: Alluding to his having called him Triton before. th'Monsters Singer (Sh. Vindicated, etc., p. 218), apparently unmindful of the fact that the change ‘Monsters’ to monster is not original with the MS. Corrector (see Text. Notes), says: ‘To change “monsters” to monster destroys the meaning; the plural refers to the many heads of the hydra; the reference is to Sicinius as the mouthpiece of the Plebs. This is evident from what Coriolanus has said just before: “You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?”’— ‘But,’ remarks Dyce (ed. i.), ‘would any writer, after applying to the people collectively the term “Hydra,” proceed in the very same sentence, to speak of the so symbolised plebs as “monsters”? Certainly not. Sicinius is “The horn and noise of the [many-headed] monster.” Earlier in the present scene we have had “for the multitude to be ingrateful were to make a monster of the multitude,” and “he himself (Coriolanus) stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude”; afterwards in IV, i. Coriolanus says, “the beast With many heads butts me away.”’— Verity (Student's Sh.): This whole passage illustrates the blending of imagery which characterises Shakespeare's later style, especially in scenes of great emotional exaltation. Here Coriolanus flouts the Tribunes as no more than the blatant mouthpieces of mob-clamour; earlier he charged them with being wirepullers, in whose hands the people are mere puppets. Truly, ‘temper makes of us all an unjust judge.’—Whitelaw: The double genitive, ‘o' the monster's,’ after the definite article used absolutely (‘the horn and noise’) can hardly be right.— W. A. Wright: The construction is the same as in Cymbeline, II, iii, 149, ‘Shrew me, If I would lose it for a revenue Of any king's in Europe.’ And Rich. II: III, iv, 70, ‘Letters came last night To a dear friend of the good duke of York's.’
in a ditch That is, into a ditch. For other examples of this use of ‘in’ for into see Abbott, § 159, or Shakespeare passim.
If he . . . Lenity Hanmer transposes l. 125 (‘Let them have cushions by you’) to follow ‘If he have power,’ reading the latter line ‘If they,’ etc. On this change Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 89) remarks: ‘It requires no extraordinary reasoning to see that the speaker's conclusions follow right, in the present arrangement, and in their due order, which cannot be said of the old one; nor can any good reason be given why one Tribune only should be mentioned in the first member of this rhetorical period, and both in the last; a further argument in favour of both changes. Transpositions are frequent in printing; and the reader will see very signal ones pointed out to him in the course of these notes, some of which have the authority of other old copies for their rectification.—Johnson: If this man have power, let the ignorance that gave it him vail or bow down before him.—Collier's MS. Corrector for ‘Ignorance’; ‘awake’; ‘Lenity’ reads impotence; revoke; bounty. Of these changes Collier says: ‘The meaning is, that if the Tribune have power, let the impotence (not “ignorance,” which is not the proper antithesis to power) of the Senate submit to it; but if he have none, let the Senate revoke the bounty by which such a dangerous privilege had been conceded to the populace. The “lenity” of the patricians was not to be “awakened.” Coriolanus calls upon them to revoke the bounty which had caused them to relinquish a power properly belonging only to themselves. What the hero says afterwards is in entire consistency with this view of the passage: “At once pluck out the multitudinous tongue; let them not lick The sweet which is their poison,”’ [ll. 184-186].—Singer (Sh. Vindicated, etc., p. 218): This is a sweeping liberty to be taken with the old text. ‘Ignorance’ could hardly be a misprint for impotence, nor is the change requisite, for the next sentence proves that ignorance is the right word, ‘If you are learned be not as common fools’; revoke for ‘awake’ may have been, and seems a likely, substitution; but bounty for ‘lenity’ is not required; the concession of power to the plebs and the indulgence given to the Tribune was ill-judged lenity, not bounty. [See Collier: Trilogy, in Appendix, p. 589.]—Staunton: To ‘vail’ means to lower, and Coriolanus would hardly call upon his brother patricians to lower their impotence. The genuine word was far more probably signorie or signories, i. e., senatorial dignity, magistracy, sway. The emendation ‘revoke your . . . bounty’ is an emendation, however clever, of very questionable propriety; for ‘lenity’ in this place does not, perhaps, mean mildness, but lenitude, supineness. So in Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus: ‘For he (Marcius) alledged that the creditors losing their money they had lost, was not the worst thing; but that the lenity (i. e., the inaction of the people when sum moned to resist the enemy) was favoured, was a beginning of disobedience.’— Hudson, reading with Collier's MS. Corrector revoke, says: ‘It seems clear enough that awake reverses the drift of the argument. But the following clause, “if you are learn'd,” makes against impotence, as it is evidently meant to be antithetic to “your ignorance.” As to the substitution of bounty for “lenity,” it is to be observed that Coriolanus is here speaking not against the Senate's bounty in letting the people have corn gratis, but against the Senate's indulgent temper, or lenity, in letting them have Tribunes as their own special magistrates.’—[In his ed. ii. Hudson remarks: ‘I adopt Hanmer's reading as the simplest and most satisfactory way of setting both the logic and the language in order. Collier's Folio substitutes impotence for “ignorance,” and thus gets a fitting antithesis to power; but does nothing towards redressing the other difficulties of the passage. “Awake your dangerous lenity,” it seems to me, cannot be made to yield any consistent sense.’ This last statement, in view of Hudson's usual perspicacity, is somewhat surprising. The figure is a little involved, but depends upon the meaning of ‘lenity,’ which here is stretched to mean torpor, slothfulness. It is, in fact, practically the same figure as used by Buckingham in his simulated address to Richard urging him to take upon himself the royal seat; he says: ‘—the mildness of your sleepy thoughts Which here we waken to our country's good’ (III, vii, 123). In effect Coriolanus says: ‘If this officer have no power then arouse your dangerous torpor, and let what was inactive become active.’—Ed.]—Leo (Coriolanus): In All's Well, V, iii, the words, ‘Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust, Destroy our friends, and after weep their dust,’ are to be understood as follows: ‘In our displeasures we often destroy our friends, and after we weep their dust.’ In the same manner the words ‘awake your dangerous lenity’ are to be understood, ‘you must awake out of your dangerous lenity.’ Perhaps the best reading would be away instead of ‘awake,’ though with after away is wanting.— Dyce (ed. ii.): ‘Awake out of’ is not English.—Cartwright (p. 30): Read, ‘vail your arrogance; if none away,’ etc. Compare, ‘Would the nobility lay aside their ruth And let me use my sword,’ I, i, 210. And, ‘This too much lenity And harmful pity must be laid aside,’ 3 Henry VI: II, ii, 9. ‘Away’ seems preferable to ‘away with,’ as a more probable misprint, and the following passage appears to confirm the ‘Well, I must do't Away, my disposition,’ III, ii, 136. And ‘Away thy hand,’ says Hamlet; or ‘with’ may be understood as in Othello: ‘What conjuration and what mighty magic I won his daughter,’ I, iii, [90-94. This last is not wholly apposite, as Cartwright has omitted a line following ‘magic’: ‘For such proceeding I am charged withal’; the final word here is thus made to do double duty.—Ed.]—R. G. White: The Folio text is utterly without sense to me, and of which I am utterly unable to find even a plausible attempt at explanation. The text from Mr Collier's folio of 1632 requires no comment either as to its sense, its fitness to the context, or the probability of the typographical errors which it presupposes.—Case (Arden Sh.): Johnson's paraphrase gives a sufficient, if not an exact, sense for this expression, ‘vail your ignorance.’ Ignorance of consequences has betrayed the ‘good but most unwise patricians,’ and it is, therefore, more cutting to say they must stoop their ignorance than their pride, whether we take the act to signify submission or shame. The Prayer Book (Litany) uses ignorance for a fault ignorantly committed, ‘to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances.’
Plebeians Abbott (§ 492) marks but two exceptions (Henry V: Chorus, l. 27; Tit. And., I, i, 231) wherein this word is made other than a dissyllable. See I, ix, 11; V, iv, 36.
they are no lesse . . . Most pallates theirs Johnson: These lines, I think, may be made more intelligible by a very slight correction: ‘—they no less [than Senators]
When both your voices blended, the greatest taste
Must palate theirs.’
When the taste of the great, the patricians, must palate, must please, [or must try] that of the plebeians.—Steevens: The plain meaning is, ‘that senators and plebeians are equal, when the highest taste is best pleased with that which pleases the lowest,’ &c.—[W. A. Wright: I do not think this can be the meaning.]— Mason (Comments, etc., p. 253): Neither Johnson nor Steevens appear to me to have rightly conceived the meaning of this passage; nor would Johnson's amendment render it intelligible. That which I should propose, is to read the general taste, instead ‘of the greatest taste,’ and then the meaning will be thus: ‘You are Plebeians,’ says Coriolanus, ‘and they are no less, if, when both of your opinions are blended together; that is, are put upon an equal footing, the opinions of the Tribunes shall be most relished by the multitude.’ He calls the taste of the multitude the general taste, as in l. 175 he calls the ignorance of the multitude ‘the general ignorance.’ Volumnia, in scene ii, calls the people ‘our general louts.’ And Hamlet says a certain speech was ‘caviare to the general.’—Malone: I think the meaning is, the plebeians are no less than senators, when the voices of the senate and the people being blended together, the predominant taste of the compound smacks more of the populace than the senate.—Whitelaw: ‘The prevailing flavour of the whole smacks rather of their voice (their authority) than of yours.’ Judged by results (the taste it leaves in the mouth) this dualized government of compromise gives expression to the popular, rather than to the patrician, will; the tribunicial nay is stronger than the consular yea. To palate elsewhere of the person who tastes; here, of the thing, or flavour, which affects the palate. [Thus also, substantially, W. A. Wright.]—Herford (Eversley Sh.): That is, when the predominant taste is adapted to their palate.—Wordsworth (Historical Plays, i, 123): It is with reluctance that I have allowed this passage to stand in the text. There can, I suppose, be no doubt as to what the writer meant [Wordsworth accepts Wright's explanation]; but surely Horace's Quintilius would have said to such a clause, ‘Corrige, sodes,’ and would have ordered it to be returned to the anvil.—Case (Arden Sh.): In Malone's explanation ‘palates’ = savours of (of which meaning no other instance has been brought forward), and ‘theirs’ refers to ‘taste’ and not to ‘voices.’ If ‘palates’ means relishes, and ‘theirs’ refers to ‘voices,’ the sense may be, and they are no less than senators if, when they and you mix voices in coming to a decision, the taste of the majority prefers your view. In the fact that the metaphor involving taste seems to begin in ‘blended,’ there is an inducement to accept Malone's view, although in the only other instances of ‘palate,’ the verb, in Shakespeare (Ant. & Cleo., V, ii, 7; Tro. & Cress., IV, i, 59) the meanings come under those given in the N. E. D. (‘To perceive or try with the palate, to taste; to gratify the palate with, to enjoy the taste of, relish’), which does not give the sense ‘savour of’ or quote the present passage. [This, it will be noted, is substantially the interpretation of Mason; while it is doubtless grammatically correct, that of Malone is more in accord with the general drift of Coriolanus's fierce invective.—Ed.]
a grauer Bench . . . in Greece In Plutarch, Coriolanus, speaking against giving corn gratis, refers to ‘the cities of Greece, where the people had more absolute power.’ Hence probably the comparison.—Ed. 132. my Soule akes, etc.] Beeching (Falcon Sh.): Coriolanus is an aristocrat in principle. In these speeches, from l. 85, however mistimed they may be, he is expressing his serious political convictions. It may be worth noting what was actually the issue of the strife between these two ‘authorities,’ the whole Roman people with their Consuls on the one hand, and the plebeians with their tribunes on the other. The Senate, originally merely a consulting body, gradually superseded both. It is not hard to see how, when magistracies were annual, knowledge of affairs, and so responsibility, and so power, came to lie with a permanent body. And to this both patricians and plebeians were eligible by serving certain magistracies.
akes W. S. Walker (Vers., p. 118): Ache, aches (the noun substantive) are pronounced aitch, aitches. Examples are familiar. See particularly Much Ado, III, iv, 56. I believe that the verb was uniformly ake. It is at least frequently, if not always, so printed; and in some places the pronunciation is established by the metre or otherwise. [Besides the present passage Walker gives four others wherein the verb is so spelt in the Folio. See Boaden's Life of John Philip Kemble, ii, 517, for an account of the controversy caused by the actor's pronunciation of the word aches as a dissyllable, and his own justification of this.—Ed.]
when two Authorities are vp . . . th'other Warburton: The mischief and absurdity of what is called Imperium in imperio is here finely ex pressed.—Herford (Eversley Sh.): It has been remarked that there was never a constitution which looks more unworkable on paper than the Roman. But the Romans had a genius for government which prevented deadlocks.—Verity (Student's Sh.): In no nation was the ‘sense of the State’ more developed. And this sense told them what the State needed, and regulated the working of its political machinery to that end. Much the same might be said of the English and the English constitution.
take . . . by th'other Case: That is, seize the one by means of the other. The commentators [Beeching and Chambers] say destroy, but their authority to go so far is questionable. Seizure is an idea which naturally follows that of entry through a gap. Compare IV, iv, 26, post. 138. Who euer gaue that Counsell, etc.] E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Coriolanus in his excitement goes back to an old grievance. So far from wishing to conciliate, he picks up the challenge thrown down by Brutus in ll. 56, 57 above. According to Plutarch this episode of the distribution of the corn took place after Coriolanus's rejection as Consul. Shakespeare leaves us to infer that it took place at some undefined time before the action of his play begins. But he works into the present scene part of the speech against the distribution put by Plutarch in Coriolanus's mouth.
our recompence Singer (ed. ii.): We should probably read ‘their recompense.’ Southern had thus corrected it in a copy belonging to him. At any rate we must understand ‘our recompense to them.’ [Dyce likewise thus interprets the Folio reading.]
They The Globe Shakespeare here reads ‘That ne'er did service,’ etc. That this is an error of the press is, I think, shown by the fact that it is not recorded as a new reading in the second Cambridge edition. This would hardly be worth more than recording in the Text. Notes were it not that Abbott (§ 262) quotes this line as an uncommon instance of the separation of ‘that’ and its antecedent ‘They’ in l. 147.—Ed.
They would not thred the Gates Johnson: That is, pass them. We yet say to thread an alley.—Mason (Comments, etc., p. 253): A similar expression is used by Captain Carteret, in his Voyage round the World: ‘I am also of opinion that it is better to go to the North-east than to thread the Moluccas, or coast New Guinea.’ To thread, therefore, is to go through a narrow passage.—Steevens: So in King Lear, ‘—threading dark-ey'd night,’ [II, i, 121.—Schmidt (Lex.), besides the present passage and that given by Steevens, gives: ‘It is as hard to come as for a camel To thread the postern of a small needle's eye,’ Rich. II: V, v, 17; he compares also ‘unthread the rude eye of rebellion,’ King John, V, iv, 11.]
could neuer be the Natiue Warburton: ‘Native’ for natural birth.— Heath (p. 418): It is evident from the scope and drift of the whole context that the word ‘native’ cannot signify here ‘the natural birth.’ Coriolanus had enumerated several reasons why the donation of corn could not be interpreted as a recompense, given in recognition of any meritorious service done by them: ‘They ne'er did service for it, and when pressed to the war refused to stir out of the gates; when in the war their mutinies and revolts could be no arguments in their favour; their frequent and causeless accusations of the senate could not be the inducement which prevailed with that body.’ This being the sense of the context, it necessarily follows either that we must understand the word ‘native’ to denote the native cause or inducement that gave birth to the donation, which is a sense I am afraid the word will scarcely bear; or we must read motive instead of it.— Johnson: ‘Native’ is here not natural birth, but natural parent or cause of birth.—Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 90) refers the reader to his Glossary for his interpretation of this word, wherein he gives, with reference to this passage—native cause, remarking that he was led to this meaning by the word ‘unborn’ just preceding it.—Malone: So, in a kindred sense, in Henry V: ‘A many of our bodies shall no doubt Find native graves,’ [IV, iii, 96].—Mason: I cannot agree with Johnson that ‘native’ can possibly mean natural parent or cause of birth; for if the word could bear that meaning it would not be sense here, as Coriolanus is speaking not of the consequence, but the cause, of their donation. Malone's quotation from Henry V. is nothing to the purpose, as in that passage ‘native graves’ means evidently graves in their native soil.—Singer: ‘Native,’ if it be not a corruption of the text, must be put for native cause, the producer or bringer forth. Mason's proposed emendation of motive would be very plausible were it not that the poet seems to have intended a kind of antithesis between ‘cause unborn’ and native cause. [See Text. Notes.—Ed.]—Keightley (Expositor, p. 364): As I have never met with ‘native’ in the sense of origin, source, I think, and so did Mason, that the right word is motive.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘Native’ with Shakespeare signifies kin or relation; thus the passage may be paraphrased: our donation bears no relation to those complaints of the people. [Schmidt does not, however, here or in his Lexicon furnish any instances of such use of the word.—Ed.]— W. A. Wright: Though no instance is given of ‘native’ in the sense of origin or source, a Scotch or Suffolk peasant will speak of such and such a place as his ‘native.’—Beeching: Motive gives the meaning. But ‘unborn’ preceding makes it probable that ‘native’ is correct.
this Bosome-multiplied Malone: This multitudinous bosom; the bosom of that many-headed monster, the people.—Collier (Notes & Emendations, etc., p. 356): ‘Bosom multiplied,’ a misprint most evident now it is pointed out [see Text. Notes], has always been retained in the text. It can never be reprinted; and is it too much to infer that the old corrector had somewhere seen or heard the above passage, and others, represented with undoubted improvement? In II, i, 59 we have had bisson printed ‘beesome,’ and here it is printed ‘bosome’; it is very clear that the compositor did not understand the meaning of the word, which then, perhaps, was becoming somewhat obsolete; this consideration can, however, afford him no excuse for converting multitude into ‘multiplied.’—Singer, in Notes & Queries, 8 May, 1852, p. 436, commenting upon the MS. emendations in Collier's Folio, says of the change in this passage: ‘Who can doubt that “Bosome multiplied” should be bisson multitude? A glance at the passages as they stand in the old print of the First Folio would convince the most sceptical.’—J. O. Halliwell (later Halliwell-Phillipps), in the same journal for 22 May, same year, deprecates the adoption into the text of MS. corrections when the source of these is unknown; among the many communicated in Collier's first announcement of his discovery ‘there was,’ says Halliwell, ‘scarcely a single example which indicated it was derived from an authentic source, but many, on the other hand, which could be well believed to be mere guess-work; and it was rather alarming to see the readiness with which they were received, threatening the loss of Shakespeare's genuine text. A ray of light, however, at length appears in the new reading in Coriolanus [the present passage]. This, more than any other, gives hopes of important results; and it does more than this, it opens a reasonable expectation that the MS. Corrector had, in some cases, recollection of the passages as they were delivered in representation. Once establish a probability of this, and although many of the corrections must still be looked upon as conjectural, the volume will be of high value. The correction “bisson multitude” seems to me to be clearly one of those alterations that no conjectural ingenuity could have suggested. The volume has evidently been used for stage purposes; and it may be taken as almost beyond a doubt that that particular correction was made on authority.’—A. E. Brae (Notes & Queries, 10 July, 1852, p. 26): I cannot perceive anything in the proposed alteration [bisson multitude] to exalt it above the common herd of conjectural guesses; on the contrary, with the example of ‘bisson conspectuities’ in the same play, nothing appears more obvious than the extension of the same correction to any other suspected place to which it might seem applicable. Dealing with it, therefore, merely as conjectural, I reject it: (1) Because the apologue of ‘the belly and the members,’ in the first scene, gives its tone to the prevailing metaphor throughout the whole play. Hence the frequent recurrence of such images as ‘the many-headed multitude,’ ‘the beast with many heads,’ ‘the horn and noise of the monster,’ ‘the tongues of the common mouth,’ &c.; and hence the strong probability that in any given place the same metaphor will prevail. (2) Because in Coriolanus there are three several expressions having a remarkable resemblance in common, viz., ‘multiplying spawn,’ ‘multitudinous tongue,’ ‘bosom multiplied,’ and the concurrence of these three is strongly presumptive of the authenticity of any one of them. (3) Because in the speech wherein ‘bosom multiplied’ occurs—the matter in discussion being the policy of having given corn to the people gratis—when Coriolanus exclaims, ‘Whoever gave that counsel, nourished disobedience, fed the ruin of the state’; these two words, of themselves, seem intended to be metaphorical to the subject; but when he goes on to enquire, ‘how shall this bosom multiplied digest the senate's courtesy,’ it becomes manifest that ‘digest’ continues the metaphor which ‘nourished’ and ‘fed’ had begun, and if, in addition, it can be shown that ‘bosom’ was commonly used as the seat of digestion, then the inference appears to be irresistible that ‘bosom multiplied’ is a phrase expressly introduced to complete the metaphor. Now, that bosom was so used, and by Shakespeare, is easily proved. Here is one example from 2 Henry IV: ‘Thou beastly feeder . . . disgorge thy glutton bosom,’ I, iii, 98. But I shall go still further: I assert that Shakespeare has nowhere used digest in the purely mental sense; that is, without some reference real or figurative, to the animal function of the stomach. . . . (4) Because, since digest is thus invariably used by Shakespeare, ‘bosom multiplied,’ having close relation with that function, is in strict analogy with the prevailing metaphor of the play; while, on the other hand, bisson multitude has no relation with it at all; and therefore, had the latter been the genuine expression, it would have been associated not with ‘digest,’ but with some verb bearing more reference to the function of sight than to that of deglutition or concoction. (5) Because I cannot perceive why there should be any greater difficulty in the metaphorical allusion to the bosom multiplied digesting the senate's courtesy than to the multitudinous tongue licking the sweet which is their poison. There is, in fact, such a close metaphorical allusion between the two expressions that one can scarcely be doubted as long as the other is received as genuine.—Singer (Notes & Queries, July 24, 1852, p. 85) regrets that this ‘very elaborate and ingenious argument’ has failed to convince him. ‘I still think,’ he continues, ‘that had Mr Collier's second folio only afforded this one very happy correction, it would have done good service to the text of a play in which the printer's errors are numer ous. To the argument of your excellent correspondent, it seems to me, one fatal objection offers itself: the context requires a plural noun to be in accord with “they” and “their,” and therefore “this bosome multiplied” cannot be right; for dare we say the poet was wrong? Think of the greatest master of language the world ever saw writing “this bosome multiplied. . . . What's like to be their words: ‘We did request it,’” &c. I submit that we may confidently read the passage thus: “How shall this bisson-multitude digest The Senate's courtesy? Let deeds express What's like to be their words,” &c.’—A. E. Brae (Notes & Queries, August 14, 1852, p. 154): I can scarcely believe it possible that Mr Singer could have overlooked the parallel metaphor to which I directed attention in the fifth clause of my original argument; and yet in that metaphor the very same peculiarity of expression (which Mr Singer is pleased to call error) is much more prominent, viz.: ‘At once pluck out The multitudinous tongue, let them not lick The sweet which is their poison.’ This passage is, I presume, of undoubted genuineness; and yet in it them and their are in much closer apparent connection with the singular noun than in the clause objected to; consequently, with such a palpable example within a few lines of a repetition of the very difficulty he was animadverting upon, I cannot conceive how Mr Singer could indulge in the vein he has respecting it. But the truth is that no real difficulty exists at all; because it is quite plain that the dominant antecedent throughout the whole speech to such words as they, them, their, &c., is ‘the people’ in this question of Brutus which occurs a few lines previously: ‘Why shall the people give One that speaks thus their voice?’— [To this Singer made no reply; what was there to be said? Collier's volume with a large number of the MS. corrections appeared in the following year; and Singer in the same year produced his ‘Shakespeare Vindicated,’ wherein, p. 218, he again returns to this particular passage, remarking: ‘Of the substitution bisson multitude for “bosome multiplied” I have elsewhere (Notes & Queries) spoken with unqualified approbation, and still think it an undoubted and acute rectification of an evident misprint. Little did I then anticipate the extensive mischief with which we are now threatened. Yet this evident emendation has met with one strenuous dissentient voice which we may still hope to see raised in opposition to the flagrant misapprehensions of the language of the poet with which Mr Collier's volume abounds.’—Ed.]—Anon. (Blackwood's Maga., Sep., 1853, p. 322): There is, it seems, an old word bisson signifying blind; and therefore we see no good reason (although such may exist) against accepting, as entitled to textual advancement, the old corrector's substitution of bisson multitude for ‘bosome multiplied.’ The latter, however, is defended, as we learn from Mr Singer, ‘by one strenuous dissentient voice.’ Why did he not tell us by whom and where? [Singer's reference is, of course, to A. E. Brae in Notes & Queries, see ante.—Ed.]— Staunton: Notwithstanding what has been said, and much more might be said, in support of the old reading as meaning many-stomached, we accept this emendation of Mr Collier's annotator as an almost certain restoration of the poet's text.— R. G. White: The Folio has the extravagant misprint ‘Bosome-multiplied’ which yet remained uncorrected till the discovery of Mr Collier's folio, and which— so stolidly tenacious is hide-bound conservatism of its mumpsimus—has since then found defenders. ‘Bisson’ means blinded.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): From the mode in which Shakespeare elsewhere uses the word ‘bosom’ for stomach, and from the context of the word ‘digest’ in the present pas sage—also from the mode in which he uses ‘multiplying’ for multifarious (Macbeth, I, ii, 11)—we believe here ‘bosom multiplied’ is meant to express ‘general stomach.’ [In corroboration reference is also made to the passage in 2 Henry IV: I, ii, where occur the words ‘disgorge,’ ‘glutton bosom,’ etc., reference to which has already been made by Brae.—Ed.]—Keightley (Expositor, p. 364): I do not think that the text is, in any place in these plays, more certainly correct than it is here; yet some late editors adopt without hesitation bisson multitude, the reading of Collier's Folio. By ‘bosom-multiplied’ the poet means the union or complex of the bosoms, i. e., the hearts, affections, of the people. In his next speech Coriolanus uses in a similar manner ‘multitudinous tongue’; and in II, ii, we meet ‘multiplying spawn.’ In Lear (V, iii, 48) we have ‘the common bosom’; and in our poet's Lover's Complaint, ‘That he did in the general bosom reign.’—W. A. Wright: Although bisson multitude was adopted in the Globe and Cambridge editions, I think it better not to disturb the old text, which has some justification. With [‘bosom multiplied,’ meaning bosom of the people,] may be compared Lear, V, iii, 49. And still better, as preserving the figure made use of here, to which the word ‘digest’ points, 2 Henry IV: I, iii, 91-100. See also Macbeth, V, iii, 44: ‘Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart.’—Beeching (Falcon Sh.), in defence of the Folio reading, and in reference to the passage from 2 Henry IV: I, iii, remarks that ‘if a bosom could disgorge, it could digest.’— Perring (p. 298): The critics convert ‘this bosom multiplied’—by what process I know not—to ‘this bissom multitude!’ The latter being the harsher expression, is thought perhaps to accord better with Coriolanus's temper. As a matter of fact, however, for this particular passage the other phrase bears off the palm. It is not the blindness of the multitude which is here glanced at, but the dangerous knowledge bosomed up by them and sure in time to be thoroughly digested, that they had wrung gratuities and concessions from a reluctant oligarchy. Multiply the bosom, and you augment the danger. Bissom multitude is just the phrase that an unwary critic would catch at; and how triumphantly might he point to ‘bissom conspectuities’ in another part of the play! But ‘bosom multiplied’ is the phrase for the place, original, unique, and strikingly apposite, bearing the stamp of discerning judgment and originating genius. It may be matched with the ‘multitudinous tongue’ which occurs a little further down; only there speech, here thought, is the dominant idea. By all means read, therefore, ‘How shall this bosom multiplied digest The Senate's courtesy.’—G. S. Gordon: There is no reason to change ‘bosom multiplied’ to bisson multitude. It is a poor argument for bisson (purblind) that it has already occurred in II, i, 59. And we do not digest with our eyes. But can a bosom digest? No; but it is the bosom which first feels the load of repletion and indigestion. Had Shakespeare's idea been simply digestion he would have used belly. It is because the courtesy-crammed multitude cannot digest, can indeed do nothing more than gorge what the senate gives it, that he uses ‘bosom.’ This is confirmed by the only other passages in Shakespeare where ‘bosom’ occurs in this connexion. They are 2 Henry IV: I, iii, 95-98, and Macbeth, V, iii, 44. In both of these passages, as in ours, the bosom suffers from repletion, and is the seat not of digestion, but of indigestion. The first is a striking parallel in more than language; that ‘beastly feeder,’ the insatiate multitude, is precisely the subject of Coriolanus's thoughts. The second is a description of ordinary dyspepsia. Editors have been accustomed to defend ‘bosom’ in our passage by saying that a bosom which disgorges (as in 2 Henry IV.) must be able to digest. This is smart and lawyer-like, nothing more.—Case (Arden Sh.) retains the reading of the Folio, accepting Malone's interpretation and quoting in support of the text Lear, V, iii, 49, and l. 185 below, and in conclusion says: ‘But though some editors read “bisson multitude,” such a violent change is out of the question in view of the sense yielded by the old reading and the support it receives from the above references, and the many uses of “bosom” by Shakespeare.’ On the meaning of ‘digest,’ as here used, Case remarks: ‘That is, interpret, understand. Beeching's argument is fallacious, for, in reality, there is no if about it; rejected food must pass through the breast, which can, therefore, disgorge, but not digest. Figuratively, however, the bosom, i. e., the heart or mind, can digest in the sense of thinking out, reaching understanding by a slow process resembling digestion, and “understand” is the ultimate sense required here. The same would follow from G. S. Gordon's different reasoning. . . . But it may be doubted whether Shakespeare distinguished as carefully as the commentator.’
Call . . . in time See Text. Notes for expedients to render this line metrically correct; Abbott (§ 508) quotes this as an example where a slight pause (here between ‘Feares’ and ‘which’) may take the place of the missing syllable.—Ed.
The Crowes . . . enough Pope's rearrangement of the preceding lines to render them metrically correct leaves these two half lines still deficient by two syllables. Steevens, to supply these, suggests the repetition of the word ‘enough,’ unaware apparently that he is anticipated by Hanmer, whose text thus reads.—Dyce (ed. ii.) in reference to these changes says: ‘The passage, as in the Folio, most probably was the author's arrangement of these lines, though the Folio, by mistake, has omitted something in l. 164. It is better, however, if the metre must halt, that it should halt at the conclusion of the passage.’—Ed. 169-190. No, take more, etc.] Goldwin Smith (p. 43): This whole passage against democracy is, in the mouth of Coriolanus, dramatic, but it is also emphatic. It should be remembered that revolution in its most terrible form, that of the risings of the Anabaptists on the continent, had not been very long laid in its grave. [The last insurrection of the Anabaptists was put down in 1535; nearly thirty years before the birth of Shakespeare, and at least seventy-five before the date of the present play.—Ed.]
No . . . sworne by, both . . . withall Warburton: The false pointing hath made this unintelligible. It should be read and pointed thus: ‘No take more;
What may be sworn by. Both divine and human
Seal what I end withal!’
i. e., No, I will still proceed, and the truth of what I shall say may be sworn to. And may both divine and human powers (i. e., the Gods of Rome and Senate) confirm and support my conclusion.—Heath (p. 419): I would gladly be informed how sworn by came to signify sworn to. Mr Warburton complains that the common reading as pointed in the former editions ‘is unintelligible.’ If it is so, it can be only so to those who are ignorant that the Romans commonly swore by what was Human as well as by what was Divine: by their own head; by the head of others, of their parents, of their children; by their eyes; by the dead bones and ashes of their parents; by the conscious knowledge of their own minds, &c. See Brisson. de Formulis, pp. 808-817. The sense is, No, let me add this further; and may everything Divine and Human which can give force to an oath bear witness to the truth of what I shall conclude with.—Mason (Comments, &c., p. 254): Warburton's explanation is not admissible; the What may be sworn by cannot possibly mean What may be sworn to; and, according to his manner of pointing, the words divine and human have no substantive to which they can refer; but according to the present pointing Coriolanus invokes everything in heaven and on earth, of reverence sufficient to be sworn by, to confirm what he says. So in Fletcher's Coxcomb, Antonio says to Mercury: ‘By this light I cannot; By all that may be sworn by,’ [I, i; ed. Dyce, iii, p. 125.—Ed.].
without all reason That is, without any reason. Abbott (§ 12) gives other examples of this use of ‘all’ for any: ‘“Without all reason,” Ascham 48. (Comp. in Latin “sine omni,” &c.), Heb., vii, 7: Wickliffe, “withouten ony agenseiynge”; Rheims, Geneva, and A. V., “without all contradiction.” This construction, which is common in Ascham and Andrewes, is probably a Latinism in those authors.’—Case: That is, beyond all reason. Compare Macbeth, III, ii, 11, ‘Things without all remedy should be without regard.’
yea and no W. A. Wright: According to Sir Thomas More's rule, yea and nay go together, and yes and no; the former being answers to questions framed in the affirmative, and the latter to those framed in the negative. But this was a rule not strictly observed, and Shakespeare neglected it both here and elsewhere. Compare Lucrece, 1340, ‘Receives the scroll without or yea or no.’ And Merry Wives, I, i, 88, ‘By yea and no I do.’
vnstable Slightnesse Whitelaw: That is, feeble vacillation.—Schmidt (Coriolanus) dissents to this, saying that ‘slightness’ here rather means, ‘A bearing which earns for one the adjective slight. Nothingness, an attitude of mind that means nothing, and for which nothing has meaning, so that it is unstable, without hold on anything.’ [See Badham, Note on 177, 178—Ed.] Purpose . . . to purpose Warburton: This is so like Polonius's eloquence, and so much unlike the rest of Coriolanus's language, that I am apt to think it spurious.—Heath (p. 420): ‘Purpose so barr'd’ is only the same thing, recapitulated in three words, which had been before expressed more at large in ll. 173-175. Wherever this is done, Coriolanus concludes, nothing is done to purpose. If Mr Warburton had given himself the leisure to understand this, I suppose he would scarce have disgraced this passage, notwithstanding a play on the words not unusual to Shakespeare, by comparing it to Polonius his eloquence, or rejected it as spurious.—Badham (p. 7): The sense and metre in this passage alike indicate that it is corrupt; for to what does senatorial wisdom have recourse when its wiser purposes are barred their execution by popular ignorance? not slightness—though slightness will certainly be the quality of whatever fabric they rear, but sleights, i. e., shifts, tricks, expedients. [Read therefore] ‘To unstable sleights; purpose so barred, it follows,’ etc.—Verity (Student's Sh.): That is, where a deliberate and continuous course is precluded there can be no successful policy; all is from hand to mouth and unsatisfactory. There is, I think, a personal note in this passage which suggests that it expresses Shakespeare's own indictment of democracy. Want of continuity of policy has ever been the characteristic weakness of popular government.
That loue . . . change on't Warburton: That is, Who are so wedded to accustomed forms in the administration that, in your care for the preservation of those, you overlook the danger the constitution incurs by strictly adhering to them. This the speaker, in vindication of his conduct, artfully represents to be his case; yet this pertinent observation the Oxford Editor [Hanmer], with one happy dash of his pen, in amending ‘doubt’ to do, entirely abolishes.— Heath (p. 420): That is, You whose love for the fundamental part of the state (or, which in the language and sentiments of Coriolanus amounts to the same thing, the supreme authority of the Senate) is not overpowered by your apprehensions, that the steps necessary to support it may possibly hazard the change of it. That this is the sense of the passage is evident from what immediately precedes and follows it (l. 179 and ll. 181-184). All which lines express the very same sentiment under various illustrations. Instead of this, Mr Warburton hath given us a sense which the words do by no means express, and which counteracts the very scope and intention of the speaker; a sense which insinuates that it is more prudent to yield in points of form than hazard the safety of the constitution. Whereas the advice of Coriolanus is, That it is better to put the whole to the hazard at once than to temporize, while the authority of the Senate is thus gradually subverted.—Johnson: To ‘doubt’ is to fear. The meaning is: ‘You whose zeal predominates over your terrors; you who do not fear so much the danger of violent measures, as wish the good to which they are necessary, the preservation of the original constitution of our government.’—Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 90): That is, stand in fear of the consequences attending a change of it, have doubts about them. ‘The fundamental part of state’ is, in the speaker's estimation, that government which subsisted before the people had any great share in it, and especially before the institution of tribunes; whom he would have them set aside and fear no consequences, reverting to a rule by themselves; assigning for cause of his advice their present dishonourable dependence, which hinder'd them from doing anything rightly, or the state any service, while the tribunes had a veto in everything. This short gloss conveys a true idea of the tendency of all this long speech, some part of which is wrapped up in a purposed obscurity, the speaker being more set on fire; in his next he is more open.—Case takes objection to the first part of Johnson's paraphrase on the ground that ‘zeal is not discretion.’ He thus interprets: ‘You that will show less fear than prudence (or foresight), or that will rather be prudent (or foreseeing) than afraid.’ And continues: ‘“Violent measures,” as advocated in lines 183 et seq., may affect “the state,” as Coriolanus wishes, by their success, or “the fundamental part of state,” as he does not wish, by their failure. In the one case, change is the action of the senators (and = changing) and “on't” refers to “state” only; in the other, change is the result of the failure of that action and “on't” refers to “the fundamental part of state.” The two senses (which, after all, are involved in Johnson's expression, “the danger of violent measures”) could be put in this way: (a) You that fear not to change the constitution in order to preserve its foundations; (b) You that so love the fundamental part of state that you will risk it to make it sure. The fundamental part of the state is affected in Coriolanus's eyes already, but there is room for greater loss, so that this cannot be urged against (b), which has also a correspondence with the alternatives that follow in ll. 181-183.’—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): ‘Whose love for what is really and originally the State outweighs any fear of the revolution that might follow making the change’; i. e., abolishing the tribunate.
To iumpe a Body Steevens: To ‘jump’ anciently signified to jolt, to give a rude concussion to anything. ‘To jump a body’ may, therefore, mean ‘to put it into a violent agitation or commotion.’ Thus Lucretius, III, 452— quassatum est corpus. [This assertion by Steevens, without any example to support it, is not borne out by fact. The N. E. D. does not give any such transitive meaning to the verb jump; his quotation from Lucretius is nothing to the purpose; quassatum is used tropically for enfeebled, weakened.—Ed.] So in Phil. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, bk xxv, ch. v, p. 219, ‘If we looke for good successe in our cure by ministring ellebore, &c., for certainly it putteth the patient to a jumpe or great hazard.’—Malone: From this passage in Pliny it should seem that ‘to jump a body’ meant to risk a body; and such an explication seems to me to be supported by the context in the passage before us. So in Macbeth, We'd jump the life to come,’ [I, vii, 7]. Again in Ant. & Cleo., ‘—our fortune Lies upon this jump,’ III, viii, 6. [Also Cymbeline, ‘or jump the after enquiry on your own peril,’ V, iv, 188.]—Singer (Notes & Queries, 24 July, 1852, p. 85): I read (meo periculo), ‘To impe a body,’ i. e., restore or increase its power. This term from falconry was familiar to the poet.—[In his Shakespeare Vindicated (published a year later) Singer repeats this emendation, remarking of the word ‘jump’ that ‘all attempts to give it a reasonable meaning have failed’ and ‘nothing can be made of it.’ In illustration of Shakespeare's use of the word imp as a term of falconry, used metaphorically, Singer quotes, ‘Impe out our country's broken wing,’ Richard II: II, i, 292, and thus concludes: ‘The word originally signified to insert, and, in falconry, to insert a feather into an injured or deficient wing of a hawk; but its general meaning is to mend by artificial means; this is the sense required here—to patch up.’ Thus, in The Pilgrim, Beaumont and Fletcher, I, i, ‘None of your pieced companions, pined gallants That fly to flitters, with every flaw of weather; None of your imped bravadoes.’—Singer's statement, that the general meaning of imp ‘is to mend by artificial means’ and hence ‘to patch up,’ is only partly correct. The original meaning is to engraft, from the Greek emphenein, to implant; Shakespeare was undoubtedly familiar with the term in falconry, and certainly understood it sufficiently to preclude his using it in connection with a dose of physic. Medicine is not used to patch up a sickened body; but may often be used, as Malone says, even at the risk, or hazard, of a cure. The Anonymous writer in Blackwood's Magazine (Sep., 1853, p. 322), who reviews Collier's MS. Corrections, turns aside for a moment to speak with special commendation of this emendation by Singer; but, misled by him, also asserts that ‘there is an old word imp, which signifies to patch,’ and, since no sense can be made of the words ‘to jump a body,’ imp ‘is the word which ought to stand in the text.’—Ed.]—Dyce (ed. i.): Malone's explanation of this rank corruption has, I am sorry to see, misled Dr Richardson to cite the passage in his Dictionary under ‘Jump.’ Mr Singer would read ‘To imp.’ But I have no doubt that vamp (Pope's emendation) was Shakespeare's word; ‘vamp,’ in fact, comes nearer to the ductus literarum of the old lection than does imp; ‘va’ was more likely to have been mistaken for ‘in’ than ‘i’ for ‘in.’ The proneness of printers to blunder in words beginning with v is very remarkable.—Ibid. (ed. ii.): In my former edition I read with Pope ‘To vamp,’ but I now prefer the conjectural emendation of Mr Singer. So Fuller speaks of persons who ‘impe their credit with stollen feathers,’ Worthies, vol. ii, p. 567, ed. 1811.—Staunton: We have not presumed to change the ancient text, but have little doubt that ‘To jump’ is a misprint, and the true lection, ‘To purge a body,’ etc. Thus in Macbeth, V, ii, 27, ‘Meet we the medicine of the sickly weal And with him pour we in our country's purge.’ Again, in the same play, V, iii, 51, ‘—my land, find her disease and purge it to a sound and pristine health.’—R. G. White: ‘Jump’ was quite surely used of old substantively in the sense of risk, venture; but this use of it as a verb, transitively, is so singular in itself, and so infelicitous in the present passage, that I more than suspect corruption. Yet I cannot accept either Mr Singer's ‘To imp a body,’ or Mr Dyce's ‘To vamp a body,’ or suggest a better myself. [Had White but consulted the Variorum of 1821 he would there have seen that ‘jump’ used as a verb transitively was not as singular as he thought; also that vamp is not Dyce's emendation, but due to an earlier editor.—Ed.]—Hudson (ed. i.) quotes the passages given by Steevens and Malone in support of the Folio text meaning to risk or hazard. He admits that he was at first inclined to adopt Singer's emendation, and of that editor's remark that nothing can be made of the original reading Hudson says: ‘Mr Singer is entitled to more respect than he sometimes shows towards others who are not less worthy of it than himself. As explained and confirmed by our quotations, to jump a body is just the very thing that would needs be done by using dangerous physic; nor is anything more natural or more common than to use such physic in cases where the patient is “sure of death without it.” In other words, the sense of risk agrees much better with the context here than that of mend.’—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): The original word ‘jump’ is used elsewhere by Shakespeare to express the precise meaning demanded here— ‘risk,’ ‘hazard,’ ‘jeopardise.’ [The passages from Macbeth, Ant. & Cleo., Cymbeline, and Holland's Pliny are given.] The argument throughout the passage, as well as the sentence in immediate juxtaposition, require that the original word, signifying ‘risk,’ should be retained, and not altered to one that means ‘patch up by attempted cure.’—Bailey (i, 164): If we discard ‘jump’ we want a word in its place which will help to express this, and not differ from it too much in point of sound. Of all the terms I can think of, tempt is the one that accomplishes the desired end the best: ‘To tempt a body,’ i. e., to try a body, to make an experiment upon it. So Henry VIII: I, ii, we have ‘I am much too venturous In tempt of your patience,’ [l. 55].—Leo (Coriolanus): Neither ‘vamp’ nor ‘imp’ express what Coriolanus means; he will treat the body with a dangerous physic, and hopes to ‘cure,’ not to ‘vamp’ it, and since the treatment is dangerous, he jumps, i. e., he risks the body.—W. A. Wright: That is, to run the risk of applying a dangerous remedy to a body. There is no actually parallel instance in Shakespeare of ‘jump’ in this sense, but the following may be compared: Macbeth, I, vii, 7, and Cymbeline, V, iv, 188. The difference is, of course, that in these cases the object of the verb is not that which is put in peril. [Wright quotes the passage from Holland's Pliny as ‘very much to the purpose, but credits it to Malone; as regards Pope's and Singer's changes Wright says: ‘The figure requires some word which expresses the application to a sick body of some desperate remedy, which will either kill or cure, and not one which denotes the vamping or patching it like an old boot, or the imping or repairing it like the broken wing of a hawk.’]—Kinnear (p. 315) accepts Staunton's emendation, purge, characterising the word ‘iumpe’ as ‘an evident misprint.’ ‘Shakespeare,’ he adds, ‘never employs “jump” in a sense applicable here; nor has any appropriate use of the word been cited from other writers. Malone gave it the meaning here to risk, but that is not the sense the passage requires. In Hamlet, IV, iii, 10, “Diseases desperate grown By desperate appliances are relieved, Or not at all.” The risk is expressed in “a dangerous physic”—the action of the desperate appliance is “to purge (not to risk) a body that's sure of death without it.”’—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): That is, ‘apply a violent stimulus that may galvanize it back into life.’ [See note by Steevens ante, and comment thereon.—Ed.]—Verity (Student's Sh.) quotes in illustration the passage from Hamlet, IV, iii, 9-11, given by Kinnear, and, from the notes on the same, a passage from Lyly's Euphues: ‘But I feare me wher so straunge a sicknesse is to be recured of so vnskilfull a Phisition, that either thou wilt be too bold to practise, or my body too weake to purge. But seeing a desperate disease is to be committed to a desperate Doctor, I will follow thy counsel, and become thy cure,’—ed. Arber, p. 67. ‘The expression,’ says Verity, ‘was probably proverbial. Cunliffe quotes a similar sentiment in Seneca's Agamemnon, 153-155.’ [The phrase ‘Desperate ills require desperate remedies’ is given in Bohn's Polyglot of Foreign Proverbs, p. 7, as from the French: Aux grands maux les grands remèdes. The passage in Seneca's Agamemnon is thus translated by Studley, 1581: ‘There is no man who at the first, extremity will trye’ (Seneca: His Tenne Tragedies, p. 144). This does not, however, seem at all a parallelism.] Verity thus concludes: ‘The changes made by the old editors—vamp and imp— may seem strange in the light of what we know as to this Elizabethan use of jump; but we must remember that their sources of information on such points of language were infinitesimal compared with those at our disposal. And ignorance is the parent of most emendations; more especially ignorance of an author's own language and of contemporary usage and idiom.’—Deighton: That is, ready to run a risk by administering a dangerous medicine, etc. This seems to be the only meaning if ‘jump’ is genuine, and that word is in a measure supported by a passage which Steevens quotes from Holland's Pliny. [The quotation here given.] Though the word imp [Singer's conjecture] is used figuratively in Richard II: II, i, 292, its connection with a desperate remedy would be a very strange one. Staunton's conjecture had occurred to myself, but it is difficult to believe that any transcriber or compositor could be wrong-headed enough to substitute so uncommon and difficult a word as ‘jump’ for one so plain and common as purge.— Bucknill (Medical Knowledge, etc., p. 208): The violent Tribune's retort to Menenius' exhortation to temperance, when he wishes to execute mob-law upon the hero, conveys the same medical maxim as that referred to in Much Ado, ‘For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure,’ [IV, i, 254]. Brutus puts the same maxim in an inverted form, both the one and the other, however, being evidently founded upon the maxim of Hippocrates, that extreme diseases need extreme remedies, [Sixth Aphorism, sec. 2. See Much Adoe About Nothing, this ed., p. 219, for discussion of this doctrine.—Ed.]
The Multitudinous Tongue Gordon: Coriolanus's mind is obsessed by this image. He sees the people always as a monster of multitude, with its many heads, its ‘bosom multiplied,’ and its ‘multitudinous tongue.’
The sweet which is their poyson Steevens: So in Meas. for Meas., ‘Like rats that ravin up their proper bane,’ [I, ii, 133].
Mangles true iudgement Johnson: ‘Judgment’ is the faculty by which right is distinguished from wrong.
Integrity . . . becom't Johnson: ‘Integrity’ is in this place soundness, uniformity, consistency, in the same sense as Dr Warburton often uses it when he mentions the integrity of a metaphor. To ‘become’ is to suit, to befit.
For th'ill That is, because of, on account of. For other examples see Abbott, § 150.
Has . . . Ha's Schmidt: This otherwise common omission of the pronoun has here something peculiarly characteristic of the speakers. For other examples of this omission of the nominative with ‘has,’ ‘is,’ etc., see Abbott, § 400.
despight Walker (Crit., i, 194) suggests that this ancient spelling should be here retained, as the words despite and despight ‘assumed different meanings, despight being used for contempt, despectus.’ [Murray (N. E. D.) does not, however, make this distinction, remarking that the 16th century spelling despight was due to confusion with the words sight, right, etc., and recording despite or despight, in the sense of contempt, scorn, as obsolete or archaic, except in the phrases in despite of, in despite.—Ed.]
these bald Tribunes W. A. Wright: ‘Bald’ is evidently used in the same contemptuous sense as in Cotgrave: ‘Chauve d'esprit. Bauld-spirited: that hath as little wit in, as he hath haire on his head.’—Kinnear (p. 317): Read bold for ‘bald,’ an easy misprint. The sense not only of this passage, but of a great portion of the play, requires the correction; for the boldness of the Tribunes causes the banishment of Marcius and the subsequent events. But for the boldness of the Tribunes this play would not have been written. Compare lines 31, 112, 172, 173 ante. [In the Text. Notes of the Cambridge ed. ii. the reading bold for ‘bald’ is assigned to ‘Chalmers.’ I regret that a search through the voluminous works of George Chalmers, 1797 to 1815, and the reissue of Steevens's ed. 1793 under the editorship of Alexander Chalmers, has failed to verify this. All other readings proposed by Kinnear are recorded in this second Cambride ed.; it would seem, therefore, that, in this case, the Editors regarded the reading by Chalmers as anticipating that by Kinnear.—Ed.]—Verity (Student's Sh.): That is, witless. The literal meaning bare leads easily to the figurative idea destitute of force, meagre, paltry, and so destitute of sense. Similarly, Shakespeare often has barren = barren of wits, empty-headed, stupid; cf. Richard II: I, iii, 168, ‘dull, unfeeling, barren ignorance.’ Or does ‘bald’ imply ‘in their dotage’?—Gordon: The jest of youth at middle age. It is difficult to be at once bald and majestic, as Julius Cæsar found. Ordinarily Shakespeare takes the other side, and suggests, according to the proverb, that bushy headed people have more hair than wits. This is a touch of nature. He was prematurely bald himself.—Case (Arden Sh.): With more respect Cominius calls Sicinius ‘Ag'd sir’ in l. 212 below, but possibly ‘bald’ is more than a mere taunt of youth against age on the part of Coriolanus, and figuratively implies contemptible or bald-witted. The figurative use of ‘bald’ was as common then as now: Comedy of Errors, II, ii, 110, ‘I knew 'twould be a bald conclusion’; 1 Henry IV: I, iii, 65, ‘This bald unjointed chat of his.’ References to the use of barren by Shakespeare and others (as in Mid. N. Dream, III, ii, 13, ‘The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort’) do not seem much to the point, as there is no difficulty in the application of an adjective meaning unproductive or sterile, and very little metaphor.
what's not meet W. A. Wright: We should have expected ‘not what's meet,’ but the sense is clear without change: ‘when that which is not suitable, but which is unavoidable, was law.’
Let what . . . be meet Malone: Let it be said by you that what is meet to be done, must be meet, i. e., shall be done, and put an end at once to the tribunition power, which was established, when irresistible violence, not a regard to propriety, directed the legislature. [For other examples of this confusion of two constructions see Abbott, § 411.]
an Ædile ‘The two Plebeian Ædiles were appointed B. C. 494 at the same time with the Tribuneship of the Plebs, as servants of the Tribunes, and at first probably nominated by them till 471, when, like them and under their presidency, they began to be elected by the whole body of the Plebs. They took their name from the temple (ædes) of the plebeian goddess Ceres, in which their official archives were kept. Besides the custody of the plebi-scita, and afterwards of the senatusconsulta, it was their duty to make arrests at the bidding of the Tribunes; to carry out the death-sentences which they passed, by hurling the criminal down from the Tarpeian rock; to look after the importation of corn; to watch the traffic in the markets; and to organise and superintend the Plebeian and Roman Games. Like the Tribunes, they could only be chosen from the body of the Plebs, and wore no badge of office, not so much as the toga prætexta, even after they became an authority independent of the Tribunes.’—Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, Seyffert (ed. Nettleship and Sandys).
Attach . . . Innouator W. A. Wright: That is, arrest. Compare 2 Henry IV: IV, ii, 109, ‘Of capital treason I attach you both.’ In Shakespeare ‘innovation’ is not only change, but change for the worse.
old Goat Case (Arden Sh.): Coriolanus, resenting the touch of Sicinius, probably means to imply that he smells offensively. So just below he calls him ‘rotten thing.’ [Is it not more likely that the long gray beard of Sicinius suggests a characteristic feature of the goat? Menenius, II, i, 80, refers derisively to the wagging of the beards of the two Tribunes.—Ed.]
Wee'l Surety him. Ag'd sir, hands off Abbott (§ 484): Monosyllables containing diphthongs and long vowels, since they naturally allow the voice to rest upon them, are often so emphasized as to dispense with an unaccented syllable. [In the present instance Abbott suggests that the emphasis falls on ‘We,’ and ‘Ag'd’ is to be pronounced as a dissyllable, Aged, thus the metre is made regular; but are not these two short lines by their very irregularity highly expressive of the vehemence and haste of the dialogue? See Text. Notes, l. 212, for Hanmer's and Capell's attempts to regulate the metre here. Dyce (ed. ii.) queries as to whether ‘surety’ is a trisyllable for the same purpose.—Ed.] 213, 214. Hence rotten thing, etc.] Steevens: So in King John, ‘Here's a stay That shakes the rotten carcase of old death Out of his rags!’ [II, i, 55-57].
2 Sen. Weapons . . . All. Peace . . . peace Cambridge Edd. (Note VII.): All editors follow the Folios in assigning the words ‘Weapons, weapons, weapons!’ to the Second Senator, and all, except Capell, continue the words ‘Tribunes . . . citizens!’ to the same speaker. Capell assigned them to the First Senator. But surely the words are intended to express the tumultuous cries of the partisans on both sides, who are bustling about Coriolanus. The following words, ‘Peace, peace, peace,’ . . . attributed to All in the Folios, are spoken by some of the elder Senators endeavoring to calm the tumult. Compare also Act V, sc. vi, 144-145. [In order to indicate the tumultuous cries of the crowd each of the words between commas and colons in lines 224, 225 are printed by the Cam. Edd. within quotation marks.—Ed.] 224. Tribunes, Patricians, etc.] Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 90): The parties upon this scene, besides those who have particular names, are a large body of the Senate, consisting of old and young members, some Patricians, and a rabble of Citizens; of these, the Patricians and the younger senators side with Coriolanus, while the old ones endeavor to moderate; the sentiments of the latter are given to 1. S., i. e., first Senators; of the former, to 2. S. Agreeable to this idea, upon the Citizens bawling out ‘Down with him,’ the Poet makes his young Senators call for ‘weapons,’ but could not possibly make the same persons, and in the same breath, utter things so discordant as this call and the exclamations that follow. Here was, therefore, an error; and those exclamations are now restored to their proper owners [see Text. Notes], the old and grave Senators; whose assistants in pacifying are Menenius and Cominius.
Confusions neere . . . Coriolanus, patience Tyrwhitt: I would read, ‘Speak to the people.—Coriolanus, patience:—’—Mason (Comments, etc., p. 254): Tyrwhitt proposes an amendment to this passage, but nothing is necessary except to point it properly: ‘Confusion's near,—I cannot. Speak you, tribunes,
To the people.’
He desires the tribunes to speak to the people because he was not able; and at the end of the speech repeats the same request to Sicinius in particular.—Malone: I see no need of any alteration. [Rann is Mason's sole follower in this arrangement.—Ed.]—Delius: Editors connect ‘tribunes to the people,’ although ‘to the people’ would be better connected with ‘Speak’ (l. 229), separated therefrom by the parenthesis ‘Coriolanus, patience.’ The Tribunes should ask silence of the people, since Menenius knows not how to obtain a hearing for himself, as in an earlier case (cf. I, i.).—Verity (Student's Sh.): ‘You,’ i. e., do you speak (Menenius himself being unable). Some would read ‘You, tribunes, Speak to the people!’ But abruptness seems more suitable to the context.—Perring (p. 299): Menenius, who all along endeavors to maintain amicable relations with the commons, and to act as a sort of peacemaker between the two rival factions, would surely not, when the populace were all afire, deliberately blow the flames and insence the Tribunes by crying out insultingly ‘You, tribunes to the people!’ Rather does he do his utmost to check the conflagration and prevent the flames from spreading, appealing to each one of the opposing parties in turn; admonishing first the Tribunes, then Coriolanus; exhorting them to speak to, to restrain, pacify the people; exhorting him to have patience. Such being the case, the passage should be stopped thus: ‘Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes,
To the people. Coriolanus, patience!
Speak, good Sicinius.’
To have upbraided the popular magistrates at such a critical juncture would have been as impolitic as it would have been alien to the part which Menenius assumed. But perhaps I shall be told that the interpretation which I have given is the interpretation contemplated, stops notwithstanding.
at point to lose W. A. Wright: That is, on the point of losing. See V, iv, 67, and Cymbeline, III, i, 30, ‘The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point . . . to master Cæsar's sword.’
Martius . . . Martius Abbott (§§ 475, 476): A word repeated twice in a verse often receives two accents the first time, and one accent the second, when it is less emphatic the second time than the first. Or the word may occupy the whole of a foot the first time, and only part of a foot the second. On the other hand, when the word increases in emphasis, the converse takes place. Even at the end of the verse Marcius has but one accent as a rule. But here it is unusually emphasized.
What is the Citie, but the People? Rushton (Sh's Legal Maxims, ed. ii, p. 53): In this passage Shakespeare probably refers to the maxim: Civitas et urbs in hoc differunt, quod incolæ dicuntur civitas, urbs vero complectitur ædificia (Mirror, cap. 2, sect. 18, Brit. fol. 87, Co. Litt. 109 b). A city and a town differ in this, that the inhabitants are called the city, but the town comprises the buildings.
And so are like to doe Leo (Coriolanus, p. 123): Menenius speaks this to himself. Since there is the question who will prevail, Coriolanus or the Tribunes, Menenius fears the latter: ‘I fear you will remain in your place, and Coriolanus will lose his new-won consulship.’ [Leo is perhaps right; but at the same time it is to be remembered that Menenius is acting the part of conciliator, and by this remark he means to assure the Tribunes that there is no danger of their losing their offices under the Consulship of Coriolanus.—Ed.] 245. Com. That is the way, etc.] Knight: We give this speech, as in the original, to the calm and reverend Cominius. Coriolanus is standing apart, in proud and sullen rage; and yet the modern editors put these four lines in his mouth, as if it was any part of his character to argue with the people about the prudence of their conduct. The editors continue this change in the persons to whom the speeches are assigned, without the slightest regard, as it appears to us, to the exquisite characterisation of the poet. Amidst all this tumult the first words which Coriolanus utters, according to the original copy, are, ‘No, I'll die here.’ He again continues silent; but the modern editors must have him talking; and so they put in his mouth the calculating sentence, ‘We have as many friends as enemies,’ and the equally characteristic talking of Menenius, ‘I would they were barbarians.’ We have left all these passages precisely as they are in the original.— Staunton: It is usual, though in opposition to the old copies, to assign this speech to Coriolanus on account of what Sicinius says immediately after it, ‘This deserves death.’ But the speech is not at all characteristic of Coriolanus; and the observation of the Tribune refers to what he had previously spoken, ‘Marcius would have all from you.’ [The Cowden Clarkes, following the Folio reading, give substantially the same reason as has Staunton for retaining this speech as in the original text.—Dyce (ed. ii.), after quoting Staunton's note, adds: ‘Staunton is, in my opinion, mistaken.’—Ed.]—Singer (ed. ii.): In the old copies this speech is given to Cominius, but it evidently belongs to Coriolanus, as the rejoinder of the Tribunes as well as the tenor of speech itself shows.—Rev. John Hunter: The speech is not in keeping with the proud sullenness of Coriolanus; and the following words of Sicinius refer to his previous accusation. [Thus also Rolfe.—Ed.]
which yet distinctly raunges W. A. Wright: That is, which has as yet a clearly recognised position, occupies a prominent rank. distinctly That is, separately. Abbott compares: ‘—on the topmast, The yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly, Then meet and join,’ Tempest, I, ii, 199. Compare also, ‘The Centurions and their charges distinctly billetted already in th' entertainment,’ IV, iii, 40, post.—Ed.
This deserues Death Schmidt (Coriolanus): This refers to the speech of Coriolanus, since Sicinius has not heard the whispered colloquy of the other.— Rolfe: This does not necessarily refer to what has just been said by Cominius, though it has been made an argument for transferring that speech to Coriolanus. Even if it were a comment on the preceding speech, it would not justify our taking that away from Cominius.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Not Cominius's remonstrance, but Coriolanus's attack on the people's liberties. The Tribunes disregard Cominius and the other Senators, and address the gathering throng. It is unnecessary to give the preceding speech to Coriolanus, who is quite beyond reasoning with the Tribunes.
Beare him toth' Rock Tarpeian ‘Whereupon Sicinius, the cruellest and stoutest of the Tribunes, after he had whispered a little with his companions, did openly pronounce, in the face of all the people, Martius as condemned by the Tribunes to die. Then presently he commanded the Ædiles to apprehend him, and carry him straight to the rock Tarpeian, and to cast him headlong down the same.’—Plutarch, Coriolanus.—See also Note on Ædiles, l. 205.
Yeeld Martius, yeeld For this repetition compare l. 234 and note thereon.
one word . . . a word For other examples wherein ‘a’ is used for ‘one’ see Abbott, § 81.
prudent helpes . . . poysonous Johnson's proposed change of poisons for ‘poisonous’ seems not only unnecessary, but destroys the antithesis to the adjective ‘prudent.’ The argument of Brutus is a repetition of the axiom, Violent diseases require violent remedies; temperate proceedings in such cases, while they may seem wise, are actually dangerous.—Ed.
Helpe Martius, helpe This punctuation of the Folio should here, I think, be retained; this is not an appeal to Martius for help, but a call to the nobility to aid Martius. The words which follow, ‘helpe him,’ seem to corroborate this. See Text. Notes.—Ed.
our House Walker (Crit., ii, ch. xlvi, p. 7) gives numerous examples from the Folio wherein your is misprinted for our; here the reverse has taken place.— Schmidt, in defense of the Folio reading, remarks that: It is not unthinkable that Shakespeare had before him the idea of Menenius and Coriolanus as house companions and next door neighbors.—Ed. 284. Com. Stand fast, etc.] Warburton: This speech certainly should be given to Coriolanus; for all his friends persuade him to retire. So, Cominius presently after, ‘Come, sir, along with us.’—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Warburton rightly, I think, transferred this speech to Coriolanus. In all the rest of this dialogue after the fight, Cominius does his best to get Coriolanus home.
Leaue vs . . . vpon vs Abbott (§ 500): Apparent Alexandrines are often couplets of two verses of three accents each. They are often thus printed as two separate short verses in the Folio.
Mene. I would they were . . . Be gone Tyrwhitt: The beginning of this speech (attributed in the Folio to Menenius) I am persuaded should be given to Coriolanus. The latter part only belongs to Menenius, ‘Begone, put not your worthy rage,’ etc. [In the Variorum of 1773 this note is misplaced; it there follows Warburton's note on l. 284, to which it manifestly cannot refer.—Ed.]— M. Mason (Comments, etc., p. 255): The word ‘Begone’ certainly belongs to Menenius, who was very anxious to get Coriolanus away. In l. 281 he says, ‘—be gone, away.’ And in l. 306, ‘Pray you be gone.’ [See also l. 290, ‘be gone, 'beseech you.’—Ed.]—Badham (Text of Sh.; Cambridge Essays, p. 277): In Coriolanus, Act III, the second (sic) scene is one of the most corrupt in Shakespeare, where, by the consent of modern editors, Menenius, the peacemaker, is made to call his countrymen barbarians, and after abusing them, to tell Coriolanus, who has been perfectly silent, ‘not to put his worthy rage into his tongue,’ to offer to fight the Tribunes (which clearly belongs, as well as what follows, to Cominius), and, in pleading for his friend, to admit that he is a mortified limb indeed, but one that should be left on the body out of regard for its previous service.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): The giving of l. 291 to Coriolanus as in the Folio is plainly an error; but that is not sufficient reason for modern editors to give ll. 292-294 to Coriolanus instead of Menenius as in the Folio. There the speech of Menenius continues down to ‘another,’ l. 296, but evidently with the words ‘Begone,’ etc., another interlocutor is introduced, who can be no other than Cominius. The admonition thus appropriately applies to Menenius, who is heatedly advising, while it comes too late to Coriolanus.—W. A. Wright: Line 295 (‘—put not your worthy rage into your tongue’) implies that Coriolanus has just spoken, and justifies the arrangement of the speeches proposed by Tyrwhitt.
calued i'th' . . . Capitoll Was there perhaps lingering in Shakespeare's memory a faint echo of his line in Hamlet, ‘It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there’? III, ii, 110.—Ed.
One time will owe another Johnson: I know not whether ‘owe’ in this place means to possess by right or to be indebted. Either sense may be admitted. One time, in which the people are seditious, will give us power in some other time; or, this time of the people's predominance will run them in debt; that is, will lay them open to the law, and expose them hereafter to more servile subjection.— Heath (p. 421): The sense is, If we give way now, our present moderation will entitle us to expect a more favourable opportunity, when we may be able to set everything right again.—M. Mason (Comments, etc., p. 255): I believe Menenius means, ‘This time will owe us one more fortunate.’ It is a common expression to say, ‘This day is yours, the next will be mine.’—Malone: The meaning seems to be, ‘One time will compensate for another. Our time of triumph will come hereafter; time will be in our debt, will owe us a good turn, for our present disgrace. Let us trust to futurity.’—Singer: I think Menenius means to say, ‘Another time will offer when you may be quits with them.’ There is a common proverbial phrase, ‘One good turn deserves another.’—W. A. Wright: One time of misfortune will owe us another of retribution. The people have it all their own way now; our time will come.—Whitelaw: Our time will come. ‘Non si male nunc, et olim Sic erit.’ Today's reverse will give us a claim to another day of better fortune.—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): Yielding today will owe us victory tomorrow. —Verity (Student's Sh.): I take the meaning to be, ‘What you say now will have to be accounted for later’; Menenius being afraid that Coriolanus may say something, in his present anger, which will compromise his position beyond redress.—Case (Arden Sh.): Your turn will come, Fortune will owe you a good turn for a bad one.
fortie of them Verity (Student's Sh.): Elizabethans often use forty to imply an indefinitely large number. Cf. Merry Wives, I, i, 205, ‘I had rather than forty shillings I had my Book of Songs and Sonnets here’; and Sonnet ii, ‘When forty winters shall besiege thy brow.’ Other numbers, e. g., 3 and 13, have become significant through some ancient belief or historical event; and perhaps 40 gained some mysterious import through the Scripture. Thus the wanderings of the Israelites lasted forty years, the fast of our Lord forty days. [The flood also forty days. See Deuteronomy, xxv, 3, where the number of stripes to be given the culprit is strictly limited to forty.—Ed.] 298. Mene. I could, etc.] Dyce (ed. ii.): The Cambridge Editors (Globe Shakespeare) make this the commencement of the next speech. But may we not suppose that old Menenius is here speaking rather of what he would like to be able to do than of what he really believes he can do?—Schmidt (Coriolanus), so far from commending the assignment of this to Cominius, remarks upon it as highly characteristic of Menenius.
take vp W. A. Wright: That is, encounter, cope with. Compare 2 Henry IV: I, iii, 74: ‘—one power against the French, And one against Glendower; perforce a third Must take up us.’
oddes beyond Arithmetick Case (Arden Sh.): That is, incalculable odds. Compare Massinger, Roman Actor, I, iii: ‘Or when a covetous man's expressed, whose wealth Arithmetic cannot number’ (ed. Gifford-Cunningham, 198b).
the Tagge Johnson: The lowest and most despicable of the populace are still denominated by those a little above them, Tag, rag, and bobtail.—W. A. Wright: Compare Jul. Cæs., I, ii, 260, ‘If the tag-rag people did not clap and hiss him.’ In Cotgrave we find, ‘En bloc & en tasche. One with another, tag and rag, all together.’ Again in Holland's Livy, p. 7, ‘A rable and confused medley of all sorts, tag and rag, bond and free, one with another.’
whether For the sake of the metre ‘whether’ is here to be pronounced as though written where, as it frequently is in the Folio. See Abbott, § 466.
His nature . . . of Death Verity (Student's Sh.): A striking estimate of Coriolanus's character; the estimate of his best friend and a keen judge.
Or Ioue . . . his Mouth Badham (Criticism Applied to Sh., p. 11): Read, ‘Or Jove for's thunder; 's heart is in his mouth.’ [See Text. Notes, this line, where it will be seen that Keightley has adopted a conjecture made by him in his Expositor; he is, however, therein anticipated, as Badham's Essay appeared twenty years before.—Ed.]
What his Brest . . . must vent Schmidt (Coriolanus): Compare Much Ado, ‘What his heart thinks his tongue speaks,’ [III, ii, 14]; with a metaphor which recalls Psalm lxiv, ‘Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.’ Compare also the saying, ‘What the heart thinketh, the tongue speaketh.’
does forget Abbott (§ 399): Where there can be no doubt what is the nominative, it is sometimes omitted. [Abbott does not quote the present line, but gives several examples of this ellipsis.—Ed.]
What the vengeance Craigie (N. E. D., s. v. 3.): Used to strengthen interrogations. [The present line quoted; also, 1620, Frier Rush, 28: ‘His wife . . . said vnto him, what a vengeance needest thou to take a servant?’] 324. this Viper Verity (Student's Sh.): Referring, perhaps, to the classical legends of ravaging monsters like the Lernean Hydra. I suspect, however, that the allusion is to the old belief about the young vipers and their unnatural behaviour. Compare Lyly, Midas, III, i, ‘—like vipers that gnaw the bowels of which they were born’ (ed. Bond, iii, 130). Bond refers to Pliny, Nat. Hist., x, 82; and quotes Sir Thomas Browne's Vulgar Errors, III, 16, ‘That young vipers force their way through the bowels of their dam . . . is a very ancient tradition . . . affirmed by Herodotus, Nicander, Pliny, Plutarch.’ One of the characteristics of Euphuism was a mighty parade of unnatural natural history, hence it is not surprising to find more than one reference in Euphues to this popular superstitition; compare the Epistle Dedicatory, ‘lest . . . I should with the viper lose my blood with mine own blood’ (ed. Bond ii, 5), and Euphues, p. 177. See Absalom and Achitophel, 1012-15. To Sicinius, Coriolanus is a viper, in seeking to prey upon the city that bore and reared him. This interpretation seems to me favoured by ‘viperous traitor,’ l. 353 below. The unnatural young viper, but not Lernean Hydra, might be so described. [Case also interprets ‘viper’ in the sense of unnatural offspring; yet, in spite of Verity's excellent note, I am inclined to think that here Shakespeare uses ‘viper’ as the symbol of treachery or a traitor—the words ‘viperous traitor’ seem to point to this.—Craigie (N. E. D., s. v. Viper, 3. b.): In allusion to the fable of the viper reared or revived in a person's bosom. One who betrays or is false to those who have supported or nourished him; a false or treacherous person. 1596. Edward III: I, i, 105, ‘Degenerate Traytor, viper to the place Where thou was fostered in thine infancy.’ Under section 2. A venomous, malignant, or spiteful person, a villain or scoundrel, Craigie quotes the present line.—Ed.]
he hath resisted Law . . . further Triall Rushton (Sh's Legal Maxims, ed. ii, p. 58): Merito beneficium legis amittit, qui legem ipsam subvertere intendit (2 Inst. 53). According to Sicinius, Coriolanus had resisted law and therefore lost the benefit of the law.—E. J. White (p. 410): Sicinius declares that one who has scorned the forms of law should be dealt with in a summary manner as an outlaw, and in this instance that Coriolanus was entitled only to a trial by the Comitia, or the vote of the people, whose power he had spurned. This verse shows the Poet's respect for law, in the abstract, as the medium through which the rights of the citizens are enjoyed. ‘He hath resisted law’ as presented here is a serious charge, and one that the speaker believes entitles the party guilty of such offence to no legal protection. Like poor Shylock's plea, when he ‘stands for law,’ this illustrates the deep insight into the world of law, as the only correct medium through which the proper ideals of equality and justice can be attained, and shows the lawyer's respect for the law in the abstract that ought to be understood by all citizens.
and we their hands That is, The Tribunes are the mouths of the people, and we, the people, are the hands of the Tribunes.—Ed.
He shall sure ont Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 91): Meaning out of the house (either his own or some other) where they supposed he had taken shelter [see Text. Notes]. The four later moderns [Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton] give us: He shall be sure on't, without any authority for be, or, in fact, any for on't; for the ‘ont’ of the First Folio is a printer's mistake, a (u) inverted; nor would the rabble have expressed themselves so if they had intended to say, He shall certainly know it.—Malone: The meaning of these words is not very obvious. Perhaps they mean, He shall, that's sure. I am inclined to think that the same error has happened here and in a passage in Ant. & Cleo., and that in both places ‘sure’ is printed instead of sore. [See Ant. & Cleo., II, v, 133, this ed.—Ed.] He shall suffer for it, he shall rue the vengeance of the people. The editor of the Second Folio reads, He shall sure out; and u and n being often confounded, the emendation might be admitted, but there is not here any question of the expulsion of Coriolanus. What is now proposed is to throw him down the Tarpeian rock. It is absurd, therefore, that the rabble should, by way of confirmation of what their leader Sicinius had said, propose a punishment he has not so much as mentioned, and which, when he does afterwards mention it, he disapproves of—‘to eject him hence Were but one danger.’ I have, therefore, left the old copy undisturbed. [This note, which appears first in Malone's ed. 1790, is not included among the notes on this passage in the Variorum of 1821.—Ed.]—Steevens: Perhaps our author wrote, with reference to the foregoing speech, ‘He shall, be sure on't,’ i. e., be assured that he shall be taught the respect due to both the Tribunes and the people. [Rather an unfortunate betrayal of the fact that Steevens had not examined the texts of some of his predecessors (see Text. Notes); and doubly unfortunate inasmuch as this note evidently misled Dr W. A. Wright, who, in the Clarendon Ed., credits this reading to Steevens.—Ed.]
cry hauocke Steevens: That is, Do not give the signal for unlimited slaughter, &c.—Tyrwhitt: ‘To cry havoc’ seems to have been the signal for general slaughter, and is expressly forbid in Les Ordinances des Battailles, 9 R. ii, art. 10: ‘Item, que nul soit si hardy de crier havok sur peine d'avoir la test coupe.’ So in King John, ‘Cry havoc, Kings,’ [II, i, 357]; and in Jul Cæs., ‘Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war,’ [III, i, 273].—Todd: Again, ‘For them that crye hauoke. Also that noo man be so hardy to cry hauoke, vpon payne of hym that so is founde begynher, to die therefore, and the remenaunt to be emprysoned, and theyr bodyes to be punysshed at the Kynges wyll,’ Certayne Statutes and Ordenaunces of Warre made, &c., by Henry VIII. bl. l. 4to emprynted by R. Pynson, 1513. [See also note on the passage in Jul. Cæs. which Tyrwhitt quotes, III, i, 303, this edition.—Ed.]
turne you to no . . . harme Murray (N. E. D., s. v. Turn. 43 intr. with to): †b. To Turn (a person) to (something). To result in or bring about for the person; to put him to (trouble, etc.), to be for his (advantage, etc.). Obs. [The present line quoted; also] 3 Henry VI: V, v, 16, ‘All the trouble thou hast turned me to.’ Temp., I, ii, 64, ‘O my heart bleeds to think o' the teen that I have turned you to.’ [Wright in illustration of the present line quotes As You Like It, IV, iii, 23, ‘Come, come, you are a fool And turn'd into the extremity of love’; but Murray makes a distinction between the use of this verb with into, under 42: ‘To make the subject of (praise, mockery, etc.); now chiefly in phrase to turn (a thing) into ridicule,’ and quotes in illustration, Twelfth Night, II, v, 223, ‘It cannot but turn him into a notable contempt.’—Schmidt (Lex., s. v. Turn, vb (g)) gives many other examples of Shakespeare's uses of the word in the sense, put to, bring about, tc.—Ed.]
peremptory Wright: That is, firmly determined. Compare King John, II, i, 454, ‘No, not Death himself In mortal fury half so peremptory, As we to keep this city.’
to eiect him . . . one danger . . . death Theobald (Letter to Warburton, Feb. 12, 1729, in Nichols, Illustrations, etc., ii, p. 485): Were is the verb both to danger and death; which wards, as you conjecture, will not be. I had corrected it, dear Sir, a long while since, in this manner: ‘To eject him hence, Were but our danger, etc., i. e., to banish him will be hazardous to us; to let him remain at home, our certain destruction; therefore he must die tonight.’ [This is, I believe, the only record of Warburton's conjecture wards for ‘were’ in l. 354; he did not repeat it in his own edition, and Theobald, whose note in his own edition four years later is substantially as above, did not refer to this conjecture.—Ed.]— Heath (p. 421): I can see no reason for altering the common reading, ‘Were but one danger’; that is, as I apprehend, the danger from the enemy, if they deprive themselves of so able a champion. Mr Theobald objects, that hereby the climax, which seems evidently designed, is destroyed. I can see no climax even in his emendation, but an antithesis only, which is equally preserved in both readings.— Keightly (Expositor, p. 366): I read our for ‘one’ as Theobald proposed. In Ant. & Cleo. (I, iv, 3) we have ‘One great competitor,’ where the sense demands our; and in Sonnet xcix, ‘Our blushing shame,’ where editors, as sense requires, read One.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): It appears to us that the sentence means: ‘To banish him from hence were but to encounter one danger; and to allow him to remain in Rome would be to encounter another—the certain destruction of our offices as tribunes.’ We think the word another is ellipitically understood after ‘here,’ as thus: ‘To eject him hence were but one danger; and to keep him here, another—our certain death.’—Schmidt (Coriolanus): That is, one unbroken, complete danger. Compare Macbeth, ‘Making the green, one red,’ II, ii, 63; also 2 Henry IV: I, i, 157, ‘But let one spirit of the first-born Cain Reign in all bosoms.’ See also IV, vi, 172 supra.—W. A. Wright: If this be the true reading, it must mean one all-pervading constant source of danger.—Rolfe: If this be what Shakespeare wrote, we must accept the Cowden Clarkes' explanation. Perhaps it would be better to read (with Theobald) ‘our danger.’ The Cambridge Edd. conjecture ‘moe danger’; but moe (as one of these editors has himself elsewhere noted) is used only with a plural or a collective noun.—T. Page: That is, Would be nothing but one all-absorbing cause of danger. Compare Macbeth, II, ii, 63. Theobald's conjecture of our for ‘one’ is highly probable.—[The majority of commentators are in favor of the interpretation of ‘one’ here in the sense constant, perpetual, though just how the expulsion of Coriolanus would be a continual danger is not made evident. This interpretation, moreover, renders the rest of Sicinius's remarks meaningless, or without the needed antithesis. I am therefore inclined to think the explanation by the Cowden Clarkes is the more rational: To expel this traitor is only one danger; to let him remain is a double danger—our destruction. The one danger being, as Heath interprets, the loss of such a champion. The adversitive ‘but’ is also against the meaning constant. Sicinius would hardly say, The expulsion of this traitor is only a continuous danger, as an antithesis to the destruction of the Tribunate. One is almost as bad as the other. I agree with Heath; Theobald's emendation is quite unneccessary.—Ed.] eiect This is the only passage wherein this word appears in Shakespeare.—Ed.
deserued Malone: ‘Deserved’ for deserving. So delighted for delighting, in Othello, ‘If virtue no delighted beauty lack,’ [I, iii, 290].—W. A. Wright: So ‘dishonoured’ for ‘dishonourable,’ III, i, 75, above.—Whitelaw: Her children that have deserved well. Not to be compared with delighted for ‘delightful,’ dowered with delight (Othello, I, iii, 290), and dishonour'd for dishonourable, above, l. 75; both of them participles derived from the substantive.
Ioues owne Booke Schmidt: In Jupiter's Journal, where he (after the custom of Shakespeare's contemporaries) records his notes; compare V, ii, 18, 19. How widespread in Shakespeare's time was this custom of entering notes on persons and events in a memorandum-book is most plainly shown in Hamlet, where the prince, after the account of his father's murder, makes all haste to take out his ‘tables’ in order to register the event.—W. A. Wright: Shakespeare probably had in his mind ‘the book of remembrance’ of Malachi, iii, 16, or the book in Exodus, xxxii, 32, from which Moses desired that his name might be blotted out if his request were not granted.—Gordon: This probably means the rolls and registers of the Capitol, which was Jove's temple. Compare Jul. Cæs., III, i, 39-41: ‘The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol; the glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death.’ [See Julius Cæsar, this ed. Note on III, ii, 39, 40.—Ed.]—Deighton: That is, is recorded in heaven; probably an allusion to the book of life in Revelations, xx, 12, 15; compare Richard II: I, iii, 202, ‘if ever I were traitor, My name be blotted from the book of life!’ 372. cleane kamme] Murray (N. E. D., s. v. Cam, adj. and adv.): In English probably from Welsh [cam, crooked, bent, bowed, awry, wrong, false], and no doubt in oral use long before the 16th cent., when first found in literature; the derived form, cammed, is in the Promptorium. B. adj. Away from the straight line, awry, askew. Clean cam (kam), ‘crooked, athwart, awry, cross from the purpose’ (J.). Cotgrave, s. v. Contrefoil, The wrong way, cleane contrarie, quite kamme. [The present line also quoted. Steevens remarks that ‘Vulgar pronunciation has converted “clean kam” into kim kam’; but, as Wright notes, ‘“clean” is used in the sense quite, entirely, as in Jul Cæs., “Clean from the purpose of the things themselves,” I, iii, 35,’ and that ‘kim kam is merely an instance of a reduplicated word such as “ding dong,” “hodge podge,” “helter skelter,” and so on.’—Ed.]
Meerely That is, completely, entirely. So in Hamlet, ‘Things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely,’ I, ii, 136.
The seruice of the foote . . . before it was Warburton: Nothing can be more evident than that this could never be said by Coriolanus's apologist, and that it was said by one of the Tribunes; I have therefore given it to Sicinius.—Theobald (Letter to Warburton, Feb. 12, 1729, Nichols, Illustrations, etc., ii, 486): Menenius, I am convinced, did not mean to make any such assertion, but rather to declare on the negative side of it. I read this, ‘is't not then respected for what before it was?’ [Theobald does not, however, adopt this reading in either edition; this, it will be seen, partly anticipates Steevens's reading in Var. 78; see Text. Notes, l. 377.—Ed.]—Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 91): This, at first blush, appears no proper speech for Menenius; and accordingly the two latter editors have proceeded to take it away from him, and give it to Sicinius; not reflecting that this seemingly opposite topic with which he sets out might be so winded about by Menenius that the argument might turn out for his purpose, was he suffer'd to finish it; the topic is the same he had us'd in the speech before this, ll. 363, 364; and his intention seems to have been to enforce it again in this, and set it in a different light, and in one that was stronger. [W. A. Wright gives substantially the same reason for rejecting Warburton's change of speakers as that by Capell. That this speech belongs to one on the side of Coriolanus is shown by the next words of Brutus, ‘We'll hear no more,’ etc., which would hardly be addressed to his fellow Tribune.—Ed.]—Malone: You allege, says Menenius, that being diseased he must be cut away. According then to your argument the foot, being once gangrened, is not to be respected for what it was before it was gangrened.—‘Is this just?’ Menenius would have added, if the Tribune had not interrupted him; and indeed, without any such addition, from his state of the argument these words are understood.—Lettsom (ap. Dyce, ii.): This speech is part of the preceding one of Brutus. The next speech (‘We'll hear no more,’ &c.) I should say belongs to Sicinius.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): Warburton assigned this speech to Sicinius, but it is a following up of Menenius's previous speech and argument. By adopting Steevens's interrogation point placed at its conclusion the consecution is not only rendered obvious, but the same interrogatory form is kept up as in the line, ‘What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?’—Hudson (ed. ii.): Here Menenius is probably to be understood as urging the logical consequences of the Tribune's position by way of refuting it . . . I can hardly think the Poet would have put into the mouth of either Tribune an argument so palpably unjust.—Verity (Student's Sh.): Grammatically the verb ‘is’ has no subject, for the sense prevents ‘service’ being so taken, but it is easily supplied from ‘foot’ in l. 375. The simplest change is Theobald's proposal, viz., to read is't and treat the remark as a sarcastic question. The speakers are, however, all somewhat stirred, and a touch of verbal irregularity seems to fit the context.—Case (Arden Sh.): Ellipse confuses the grammar and the precise sense, but whether it is the foot or the service of the foot that is no longer regarded when the disease of the one terminates the other, signifies little. Either [Warburton's or Lettson's] change is possible, for Brutus in effect says: when he loved his country it honoured him, not now; and he or Sicinius would continue: when the foot serves it is regarded, not when mortification has set in, inferring that it must then be cut away, as Sicinius said in l. 362. In Menenius's mouth the speech is bitterly ironical and recurs to l. 363, but there is this inconsistency in the metaphor, that ‘a limb that has but a disease; Mortal to cut it off,’ is now a limb that has a disease; mortal not to cut it off. The seruice of the foote J. C. Collins (Studies in Sh., p. 51), for the similarity of the expression alone, compares Sophocles, Electra: ἥδιστον δ᾽ ἔχων ροδῶν ὑρηπέτημα—1357, 58 (thou that hast the most welcome service of the feet!). Collins, by a slight oversight, gives the reference as ll. 1349-50; in both Franklin's and Brunck's editions it is as above. The works of Sophocles are not included in Miss Henrietta Palmer's List of English Editions and translations of Greek and Latin Classics printed before 1641.—Ed.
further. . . . One word more Abbott (§ 478): Er Final seems to have been sometimes pronounced with a kind of ‘burr’ which produced the effect of an additional syllable. Ibid. (§ 485): Monosyllables containing a vowel followed by r are often prolonged. [Besides the present line, under the vowel o, Abbott quotes, ‘Make the | prize light. | One wór | d more, | I charge thee,’
Tempest, I, ii, 452; and
‘Ham. One wór | d more, | good lady. |
Queen. What shall | I do?’]
Proceed by Processe E. J. White (p. 411): This is lawyer-like advice, to enjoy only the rights which the law guarantees through the remedial procedure of the courts, which crystallized into fundamental or organic law, in this country, by our provision that no one should be denied his rights except upon ‘due process of law.’ ‘Process’ is a word used to convey the means of compelling a defendant to appear in court after suing out the original writ in a civil suit, or after indictment found in a criminal case.
If it were so? Badham (Sh. Criticism, p. 11) adds the line ‘And he would prove obedient’ after ‘so?’ ‘as necessary both for the sense and the metre.’ Ten years later, in his essay on The Text of Shakespeare, Badham amplified on this, saying (p. 278): ‘I have not the least doubt that Brutus's speech has been mutilated; for Sicinius's remark is applicable to nothing that precedes, nor are the words “If it were so” grammatically correct, supposing “if” referred to Menenius's fear of civil war; for in that case we should require It is be so. I believe that Shakespeare gave proof in this case of his dramatic skill by making the yielding of Brutus preparatory to that of Sicinius, and that the missing words were to the following effect.’ [Badham then repeats the line as given in his former work, without referring to his previous conjecture.—Ed.]
smot Abbott (§ 343): Owing to the tendency to drop the inflection en, the Elizabethan authors frequently used the curtailed forms of past participles which are common in Early English: ‘I have forgot, writ, chid,’ &c. ‘How now, my masters, have you chose this man,’ II, iii, 162, supra.
a could Bayfield (p. 198): Here and in V, iii, 137 are the only two places where the vulgarism a for he occurs in the verse. In the prose the one instance falls by bad luck to Menenius; the rabble, in spite of their many chances, never use it.
bring him in peace Malone: The words ‘in peace’ were probably in the MS. placed at the beginning of the next line, and caught by the transcriber's eye glancing on the line below. [See Text. Notes.]—Collier (ed. i.): Pope left out ‘in peace’ because the same words occur just below; but Menenius may be reasonably supposed to repeat them, by way of emphasis, and to show the Tribunes in what condition of mind he will undertake to bring Coriolanus.—Ibid. (ed. ii.): We think Pope was right; it was probably a printer's error.—Badham (Text of Sh., p. 274): The absurd repetition in lines 396 and 398 is well worth attention, as showing those faults which transposition alone remedies. The most natural, I should almost say, the only way of accounting for such a blunder is to suppose that the person who dictated the passage to a transcriber, having reached the end of one line, skipt the next, and proceeded with the third, and then, upon discovering his mistake, went back to the omitted line, and continued to dictate without ordering an erasure. Afterwards it would often happen that when the redundancy was discovered by a careless or unlearned person the erasure would be made in the wrong place. It is to this cause of transcribing from dictation that we must also attribute the endless confusions of metre by the ignorant divisions of the lines, which some of our modern editors have so religiously restored. Anyone who makes such a remark must prepare himself for the taunt that he counts the verses upon his fingers. As Shakespeare wrote in numbers, and as numbers are intended to be counted, it certainly seems wiser, in case of a deficient ear, to count upon our fingers than not to count at all. I am very far from approving of Sir Thomas Hanmer's or Steevens's practice, of making emendations to suit the metre; but there is surely a wise middle course to be observed between retaining what amends itself, or defending what is incurable, and attempting to reproduce that of which there are no vestiges to guide us. [My own complete agreement with the concluding portion of the foregoing—expressed so succinctly and admirably—must be my excuse for inserting here remarks of a character more general than the present particular instance may warrant.—Ed.]
Noble Tribunes Gordon: Such flattery from a senator was scarce. It quite melts Sicinius. But he pretends not to have seen it, and, therefore, addresses his reply to Menenius. Some acknowledgment, however, was due, so he returns the epithet, ‘Noble Menenius.’
humane W. A. Wright: ‘Humane’ has the accent on the first syllable, as in Macbeth, III, iv, 76, ‘Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal.’ [Case notes that this word is always so accented in Shakespeare. See, if needful, Abbott, § 492.—Ed.] the other course . . . to bloody Compare Jul. Cæs., II, i, 162, ‘Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius.’
In our first way Abbott (§ 480) remarks that metrically ‘our’ is here a dissyllable, and ‘first’ requires emphasis.