Scene II. Verity (Student's Sh.): The primary interest of the scene lies in the clash between the wills—mother's and son's. It anticipates, and foreshadows the issue of, a yet greater struggle (V, iii.). A similar study is the scene in which Lady Macbeth overcomes Macbeth's reluctance (I, vii.). Incidentally, the scene brings out one point of difference between the characters of Volumnia and Coriolanus: her specious argument evokes no response, and she is reduced to the sheer personal appeal, edged with reproach and the hint of her own sufferings. By the close she has played on every note.—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): This scene is not based directly on Plutarch, who does not suggest any unwillingness on Coriolanus's part to defend himself. Such unwillingness is, however, dramatically consistent with Shakespeare's conception of the character.
Death on the Wheele, or at wilde Horses heeles Malone has, on this line, contributed a long note to the effect that neither of these punishments was known at Rome, following this with speculations as to how Shakespeare might have become acquainted with the latter form of death for traitors. On the question of its being known to the Romans Malone quotes from Virgil, Æneid, viii, 642-645, a reference to the death of Mettius Suffetius, and from Livy, I, ch. xxviii, where the same incident is recorded with details as to the rending apart of Mettius by horses harnessed to chariots. As Malone remarks, since Shakespeare mentions death on the wheel, which was certainly unknown to the Romans, it is highly improbable that he knew anything about the fate of Mettius; he suggests, however, that: ‘Shakespeare had probably read or heard in his youth that Balthazar Gerard, who assassinated William Prince of Orange in 1584, was torn to pieces by wild horses; as Nicholas de Salvedo had been not long before, for conspiring to take away the life of that prince.’ Malone also refers to the infliction of this same punishment upon John Chastel in 1594 for his attempt on the life of Henri IV.— Steevens: Shakespeare might have found mention of this punishment in our ancient romances. Thus, in The Sowdon of Babylone, p. 55: ‘—Thou venomouse serpente With wilde horses thou shalt be drawn to morowe And on this hille be brente.’—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare), in reference to any objection to the mention of these punishments as violating historic accuracy, say: ‘With almost as much justice might it be gravely objected that to “pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock” was never known to be done in Rome as a means of punishing by death. For poetic and dramatic purpose Shakespeare putting these words into Coriolanus's mouth has a truth of appropriateness far beyond that demanded by the accuracies of chronological fact.’—Case (Arden Sh.): It has not been observed that the expression ‘at wild horses' heels’ (notwithstanding the plural horses) would apply equally well or better to the different punishment inflicted, for example, upon Brunhault (or Brunhilda) in 613, under Clotaire II, who was put to death by being dragged at the heels of a wild horse. See Beard, The Theatre of God's Iudgements, 1597, Ch. xiii, Of Queenes that were Murderers, p. 281 (sic, really 293): ‘shee was adjudged to be tyed by the haire of her head, one arme and one foot to the taile of a wild and untamed horse, and so to bee left to his mercy to bee drawen miserably to her destruction; which was no sooner executed, but her miserable carkasse (the instrument of so many mischiefes) was with mens feet spurned, bruised, trampled, and wounded after a most strange fashion; and this was the wofull end of miserable Brunchild.’ See also ibid., xviii, p. 349: ‘some he tied to the tailes of wild horses, to be drawne ouer hedges, ditches, thornes and briers.’ Case compares, with the present line, Dekker, Olde Fortunatus, 1600: ‘Thou shalt be tortured on a wheele to death, Thou with wild horses shalt be quartered’ (ed. Pearson, I, 170). [Inasmuch as Dekker's comedy and Coriolanus are nearly contemporaneous and ‘the wheel’ and ‘wild horses’ are mentioned in both, small room is left for doubt that we have here the main source of Shakespeare's reference. Either of the quotations from Beard's volume are, to my mind, much more likely sources than any of those incidents cited by Malone, if historic reference is sought.—Ed.]
precipitation Whitelaw: That is, precipice.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): Not precipice, but rather downfall. ‘Might’ instead of may, required by sequence of tense, may be referred to other cases, and is here better to elucidate the purely hypothetical character of the expression.—W. A. Wright: Precipitousness, the space through which anything is precipitated.—Case (Arden Sh.): Not apparently as Schmidt (Lex.) explains it, ‘the throwing or being thrown headlong,’ but the precipitousness, the precipice. The whole expression means: so that no man, standing at the top, however keen-eyed, could see the bottom.
the beame of sight W. A. Wright: That is, farther than the eye could pierce. Compare Merry Wives, I, iii, 68: ‘Sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot,’ like a ray of light proceeding from a luminous body.
Enter Volumnia Collier (Notes and Emendations, etc., p. 357): A rather noticeable change is made by the old annotator in the entrance of Volumnia: in print, she is made to come in just before the Patrician's speech, ‘You do the nobler,’ standing by and saying nothing, while Coriolanus speaks of her in the third person. A manuscript emendation fixes her arrival on the scene, more naturally perhaps, at the words of Coriolanus addressed expressly to her, ‘I talk of you,’ &c. We may suppose that this arrangement represents the practice of our old stage in this respect.
You do the Nobler Badham (Criticism Applied to Sh., p. 10): What a strange jumble is here!—‘You do the nobler!’ Can any critic produce a passage from Shakespeare to justify such an expression as this? or if he could, shall we believe that the Patrician is intended to encourage him in his contumacy? If so, why does Coriolanus bring in the mention of his mother, and justify himself, as he is here made to do, by her example? And then what a gross contradiction to the general economy of the play, that Coriolanus whose respect for his mother is stronger than his ambition or his revenge,—who is to him the single object of his deepest passion, family pride,—should talk at her, and then turn round and tell her so; and a pretty character he gives of her. She, a high born, calls the plebeians by the vilest names; as if the coarseness, which political animosity barely excuses in a man, was becoming in a Roman matron. And then observe how the ingenious editors distort the plain meaning of words. ‘I muse’ is I think, but here, forsooth, it must mean I wonder. The truth is, Volumnia does not enter until the words ‘I talk of you,’ as the very words declare; for had she been on the scene that information would have been superfluous. But Volumnia's name was there, no doubt, and the nearest approximation to the original passage which we have to offer is this: ‘Yet will I still
Be thus to them.
Pat. You do the noble lady
Volumnia wrong in this.
Cor. I muse my mother
Does not approve my father, who was wont,’ &c.
[Ten years later Badham, in his Essay on the Text of Shakespeare (Cambridge Essays, p. 278), returns to this passage, not having, in the meantime, discovered any satisfactory explanation of the line ‘You do the nobler.’ He remarks: ‘I am very sure that Shakespeare himself would not have understood it; but, even supposing that it means something, it cannot mean anything which can suggest to Coriolanus's mind the reflection about his mother.’—Since the issuance of Badham's earlier work Collier's publication of his MS. annotator's notes had appeared, wherein was a corroboration of Badham's conjecture as to the proper placing of the entrance of Volumnia. Badham makes, however, no reference to his having been thus anticipated, but cites the MS. correction as a proof of her later entrance, and thus continues: ‘If the appearance of Volumnia did not first bring her to Coriolanus's mind, something else must have done so, as it is plainly repugnant to all dramatic propriety that such a subject should be introduced by an abrupt reminiscence. Now the only thing that could have suggested the thought of his mother must be the previous mention of her name in the speech of the Patrician. When this was corrupted, the word Volumnia remained as if it had been a stagedirection, and the rest was omitted.’ Badham's conjectural restoration of the whole passage as it must have stood before corruption is, with but slight change, similar to that given in his earlier work; instead of ‘wrong in this’ he substitutes ‘wrong herein’; and, commendably, omits any mention of Coriolanus's father in l. 11.—Ed.]—Dyce (ed. ii.): Dr Badham thinks that there is a considerable hiatus here—which I doubt. The Patrician is commending Coriolanus's obstinate determination to stand out against the plebs.
I muse Johnson: That is, I wonder, I am at a loss.—W. A. Wright: Compare Richard III: I, iii, 303, ‘I muse why she's at liberty’; where for ‘muse why’ the quartos read ‘wonder.’
further Collier and R. G. White, ed. i., are, I think, at fault in here reading farther. Farther refers to physical distance, further is the comparative of forth and refers to process of thought, as, one proceeds farther on a journey, and advances further in an argument. ‘Further’ is, therefore, here the correct word to use in connection with ‘approve.’—Ed.
Wollen Vassailes Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 92): What shall we say is the sense of the epithet ‘Woolen’? Clothed in wool does not satisfy; and the editor rather inclines to think it has some particular meaning which does not occur to him; or else, that the word is not right, and yet he does not think it is—wooden.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): The way in which ‘them’ is used here, alluding to the common people, affords a fine instance of Shakespeare's dramatic way of abruptly commencing a scene, as well as of using a pronoun in reference to an unnamed but thoroughly understood antecedent. The term ‘woolen vassals’ here shows Shakespeare's intention to convey the circumstance that the garment worn by the Plebeians was of wool; and this lends support to our interpretation of the word ‘woolvish’ as given in our note on II, iii, 115. At the same time the epithet ‘vassals’ affords confirmation to our surmise that slavish may have been the word for which the Folio printers mistakenly substituted ‘wooluish.’— Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): So the ‘rude Mechanicals’ of Mid. N. Dream (III, i, 79) are called ‘hempen home-spuns.’ The ‘woolen statute cap,’ by English law worn by commoners whose income was under 20 marks, has perhaps influenced this reference to coarse clad vassals or dependents. [All sumptuary laws were repealed in the first year of King James I. (1603); six or seven years before the date of composition of this present play.—Ed.]
When one but . . . stood vp To speake C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): When one of my rank did but stand up to speak, &c. As we interpret this sentence, the construction is transposed here; but the line so runs that it will admit of three different interpretations: first, the one we have given; second, when but a single man of my rank stands up, &c.; third, when a man but of my rank in the state stands up, &c. ‘Ordinance’ is here used in the sense of order, rank. [This is the only passage wherein Shakespeare uses the word in just this sense; elsewhere it means established rule or divine dispensation, as is shown by Schmidt (Lex.) from several examples. In his edition of this play, which appeared subsequently, Schmidt dissents at interpreting ‘ordinance’ in the sense of rank, for the very reason that it is not thus used elsewhere, and is disposed to accept the alternative meaning given by Delius, Authority, power, paraphrasing thus: Except, indeed, one who is not, as I am by my authority, ordained to speak of peace or war. ‘We should notice,’ adds Schmidt, ‘that Coriolanus speaks the words for himself and drops the ordinarily accepted modesty.’ Case notes that no other instance of ‘ordinance’ in the sense of rank appears to be known.—Ed.]
Rather say . . . I am Steevens: Sir Thomas Hanmer supplies the defect in this line [l. 19] very judiciously, in my opinion, by reading: ‘Truly the man I am.’ Truly is properly opposed to ‘False’ in the preceding line.— Badham (Text. of Sh.; Cambridge Essays, p. 278): This defectiveness of the line  would not appear, to many competent judges, a matter of suspicion. I will freely confess that the line of eight syllables occurs so often in Shakespeare that in any less corrupt text it would be ridiculous to retain the least misgiving about it; but to my ear, at least, it sounds as unrhythmically abrupt as the dramatic Alexandrine is abrupt and yet rhythmical, or as the six-syllable line is well suited to an harmonious pause; but in the passage before us, if there is any meaning, it is at least very obscurely expressed; I venture, therefore, to propose an insertion: . . . Rather say you are glad I play the man I am.
Oh sir, sir, sir Collier (Notes and Emendations, etc., p. 357): The alteration of the MS. Corrector is certainly the more proper.—T. Mommsen (Der Perkins Folio, p. 181): Either reading is acceptable, yet son is more dignified. ‘Sir’ said to a child is, now at least, somewhat trivial.—Dyce (Strictures, etc., p. 156): Here the MS. Corrector's ‘improvement’ entirely does away with one of Shakespeare's touches of nature. In the reiterated ‘sir’ Volumnia testifies her displeasure at Coriolanus. [Dyce later, in his ed. ii, repeats the foregoing objection to the change of the MS. Corrector; and records the fact that W. N. Lettsom makes the same change.—Ed.]—Keightley (Expositor, p. 366): The son, son, son! of Collier's Folio is much better. She never elsewhere says Sir to him. [See Appendix: Collier's Trilogy, p. 595.]
Let go Steevens commends the alterations of Hanmer and Ritson as proper to complete the metre, adding: ‘Too many of the short replies in this and other plays of Shakespeare are apparently mutilated.’—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): Various alterations have been proposed to supply the two additional feet in the line, which metre-mongers suppose it to require, but which we think Shakespeare's dramatic judgment and poetic taste caused him occasionally and purposely to omit. ‘Let go’ is an idiomatic use of the words (as the French employ their phrase ‘laissez donc’) to express dissent from a last spoken opinion, and to signify prohibition of further discussion.—W. A. Wright: The usual form of this expression is ‘Let it go,’ that is, let it pass, never mind. See King John, III, iii, 33, ‘I had a thing to say, but let it go.’
The things Theobald: A few letters replaced, that by some carelessness dropped out, restore us the poet's genuine reading, ‘The thwartings of,’ etc.—Capell: A most certain correction.—Malone: Mr Theobald only improved on Mr Rowe's correction. [See Text. Notes.]—Collier: It would be difficult to find a better word [than thwartings], considering either the sense or the probability that the compositor misread the manuscript from which he printed.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘The things,’ that is, the Plebeians (compare II, ii, 117; III, i, 212; III, ii, 12). They would have been less of your disposition, had you but shown yourself less like yourself, and like the man you played, if, etc. This is intelligible, and yet editors have conjectured about the passage, and almost unanimously adopted Theobald's correction. The plural ‘dispositions’ is favorable (if not quite conclusive) for the Folio reading, besides the fact that ‘them’ and ‘they’ according to the new reading have no expressed connection. Furthermore, the tone of the speech, which through the remark that the despised Plebeians, the things, could equally extol their manhood, retains its pointed character.—[Leo (Jahrbuch, xv, 1880, p. 52), in a review of Schmidt's edition of this play, singles out the foregoing note for special notice. He refuses to accept the three passages cited by Schmidt as proof that the word ‘things’ is necessarily used by Shakespeare in a technical sense for the Plebeians. These passages are: ‘a thing of blood,’ where Cominius thus speaks of Coriolanus; ‘hence rotten thing,’ where Coriolanus thus addresses Sicinius; and ‘woolen vassals, things created,’ etc. In these two latter examples Leo points out that ‘things’ is not a contemptuous epithet, so much as a term equivalent to creature. Leo, in fact, does not agree to any one of Schmidt's arguments in favor of the intelligibility of the Folio reading. As this is, however, but an interpretation of another's interpretation and not an elucidation of Shakespeare's text I have refrained from a more detailed transcribing of Leo's remarks. He concludes with a question for consideration as to whether with the word thwartings the adjective ‘lesser’ is not the more appropriate, while with ‘things’ less must be inserted as an emphatic adverb. An emendation which was also proposed by an Anonymous commentator ap. Cam.—Ed.]—W. A. Wright: Perhaps, having regard to what follows, we might read, ‘The things that cross.’ dispositions That is, mood, caprice. Compare Lear, I, iv, 242: ‘—put away These dispositions that of late transform you.’
them . . . they C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): The introduction of ‘them’ here, which in strict grammatical construction refers to thwartings, but which really and in Shakespearian construction refers to the Plebeians, admirably serves to maintain the characteristic effect of the dialogue, both mother and son alluding to the unmentioned but perfectly comprehended theme of their wrathful antipathy by the same pronoun. See l. 2 above.
Ere they lack'd Bailey (ii, 371): Theobald, by substituting thwartings for ‘things,’ restored both significance and rhythm to l. 26; but, strange to say, he took no notice of the equally obvious defect in this line, expressing a sense exactly the reverse of that which the context requires. The genuine reading is doubtless ‘when they lack'd,’ etc. It is probable that when was first perverted into where, and the latter, not suiting the sense, was abbreviated to ‘ere,’ or shrank perhaps to the same dimensions from being misheard.—Verity (Student's Sh.): That is, before they lost the power, while they still had it in their power (by refusing to assent to his nomination to the Consulship). With verbs signifying a negative idea, e. g., ‘lack,’ ‘want,’ there is often some ambiguity of expression due to the general tendency to duplicate the negative. A striking instance is Macbeth, III, vi, 8: ‘Who cannot want the thought? = Who can want (i. e., ‘lack’) the thought?’ [An interpretation more rational than Bailey's, since it does not involve a change of the text.—Ed.]
Volum. I, and burne too Dyce (ed. ii.): The Cambridge Editors (Globe Shakespeare) give this speech to ‘A Patrician.’ I can only say that whoever recollects Mrs Siddons in this scene will, I am sure, allow that the words ‘Ay, and burn too’ seemed to come quite naturally from the lips of Volumnia as a sudden spirt of contempt for that rabble whom, however, she saw the necessity of her son's endeavoring to conciliate.—W. A. Wright: In the Folios this speech is given to Volumnia, but as it seems strange in the mouth of one who is counselling moderation, the editors of the Globe edition gave it to ‘A Patrician.’ Dyce says that no one who had heard it spoken by Mrs Siddons could doubt its appropriateness, but surely it ought to be ‘Aside.’—Page: Perhaps this is said sarcastically: Yes, but what if they take to rioting and burning. Compare Jul. Cæs., III, ii, 208: ‘Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire!’ Though, of course, it may simply be expressive of her hearty wish that they may be burned as well as hanged.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): The Globe editors transfer this to ‘A Patrician,’ but we may take it as an outburst of Volumnia's inmost personal feeling, and hardly inconsistent with the policy she is urging.—Herford (Eversley Sh.): The Folios give this speech to Volumnia, but modern editors, arguing that she is advising patience, take it from her. Yet her point of view is quite clear. She despises and hates the plebeians as much as Coriolanus can, but she would choose her own time to show her wrath. Compare ll. 37, 38, and 79-81. Compare also Menenius in III, i, 322.—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Volumnia says this with a skill peculiar to her creator, the Poet. She does not contrary her son by mollifying him. She is as completely of his opinion as to unworthiness as he can be, she virtually thus reminds him. She makes her point of policy the clearer and the more effective with him by agreeing with him here. Menenius is not so wise and not so effective as Volumnia. [Wright would make this an Aside.] This, of course, would make it useless as a challenge of her son's attention to her on just the point she raises and no other. The part Volumnia plays in this scene is all Shakespeare's.—Gordon: I think, with Aldis Wright, that this should be an Aside.— Case (Arden Sh.): It is clear that the strange feeling of scorn which the noble Coriolanus nourished for the commons of Rome had been sucked in with his very milk. In North's Plutarch we get nothing of this side of the character of Volumnia. See also ll. 37 to 40 below, and what follows.
There's no remedy . . . and perish W. A. Wright: That is, there's no help for it; it cannot be helped. Compare Meas. for Meas., II, i, 295: ‘It grieves me for the death of Claudio; But there's no remedy.’ We should have ‘Lest’ [in place of ‘Unless’]. The construction is loose, and perhaps Shakespeare meant to say: ‘Unless you would have our good city cleave in the midst,’ &c., or ‘Unless our good city is to cleave,’ &c.—Deighton: There's no way out of it; you must eat humble pie, unless, by your not doing so, you are content that our city should go to wrack and ruin. I owe this explanation to Mr W. J. Craig. [Case does not, however, include this among Craig's notes on this play in the Arden Shakespeare.—Ed.] 38. I haue a heart as little apt as yours, etc.] Collier (Notes and Emendations, etc., p. 357): To what was Volumnia's heart ‘as little apt’ as that of Coriolanus? The insertion of a missing line (the absence of which has not hitherto been suspected) enables us to give the answer: ‘I have a heart as little apt as yours To brook control without the use of anger.’ The line in Italics is written in a blank space, and a mark made to where it ought to come in. The compositor was, doubtless, misled by the recurrence of the same words at the ends of the two lines, and carelessly omitted the first. From whence, if not from some independent authority, whether heard or read, was this addition to the text derived?—Singer (Sh. Vindicated, etc., p. 220): This interpolation [by the MS. Corrector] is absurd; if a line is missing it must have been something very different. It seems probable that the word ‘apt’ has been misprinted for soft, and we may then read, without the superfluous and tautologous line interpolated, ‘I have a heart as little soft as yours, But yet a brain,’ etc. The poet's use of the word elsewhere countenances this conjecture. Thus Baret: ‘To become or wax soft, to appease itselfe, and become gentle; to wax effeminate.’—Anon. (Blackwood's Maga., Sep., 1853, p. 323): Here the old corrector is again at his forging tricks upon a large scale. The interpolated line is very unlike the diction of Shakespeare, and is not at all called for. ‘Apt’ here means pliant, accommodating. ‘I have a heart as stubborn and unaccommodating as your own; but yet,’ &c. Mr Singer proposes soft for ‘apt’; but this seems unnecessary. [‘Seems,’ nay it is; I know not ‘seems.’—Ed.]— Staunton: Mr Collier's annotator here indulges in one of his most daring flights— the intercalation of a whole line!—rendering the passage thus, ‘To brook reproof without the use of anger.’ This interpolation (which, by the way, has been corrupted or corrected since its publication in Mr Collier's Notes and Emendations, and in his Mono-volume Shakespeare, where it reads, ‘brook control’) we hold to be quite superfluous, and, if even a lacuna were manifest, to be altogether inadmissible. For admitting, which we are not guilty of, the antiquity claimed by Mr Collier for the marginal annotations of his copy of the Second Folio, we agree with Mr R. G. White (Shakespeare's Scholar, p. 76) that ‘the interpolation of an entire line by one man in 1662 is as little justifiable as the entire interpolation of an entire scene by another man in 1762 or 1853.’ That there is a difficulty in the construction of the speech as it stands in the ancient text nobody can deny. But it is surely one susceptible of a solution less perilous and arbitrary than the insertion of a new line. Our own impression, long before the Perkins Folio came to light, was that the transcriber or compositor had slightly erred in the words ‘as little,’ and that the poet probably wrote, of mettle, i. e., of temper, &c.—‘I have a heart of mettle apt as yours,’ which naturally enough led to ‘But yet a brain,’ &c.—[The reading ‘reproof’ instead of ‘control’ in the interpolated line, to which Staunton calls attention, appears in the text of Collier's ed. ii.; it is, I think, due to inadvertence on Collier's part, as it is not thus printed in his subsequent lists; and in the text of his ed. iii, 1878, the error—if such it be—is corrected without remark. See also Appendix: Collier's Trilogy, where reference is made to this interpolation, p. 595.—Ed.]—Leo (Coriolanus): I prefer another reading [to either Singer's or to Collier's MS. interpolation], and propose, therefore, ‘I have a heart as lightly rapt as yours,’ etc. Many instances of this use of the word lightly are to be found in Johnson Richardson (R. of Brunne, Chaucer, Gower, Holland, Plinie), and Coleridge's Glossarial Index (R. of Gloucester), and even in this play we find it, IV, i, 34; as to rapt see Johnson Richardson (rapt: borne, carried away, transported; and hence (met.) rapt, rapture, transport, trance, ecstasy, etc.), and IV, v, 119 below, where the heart is rapt in joy; but it might as easily be rapt in anger. But without the violence of interpolating a line for which no evidence can be brought due significance may be given to the passage by substituting a single word. Let ‘apt’ be replaced by ‘cool’ or calm or tame. The proposed substitution would, at all events, effect the requisite antithesis between the fiery heart and the cool head.—Keightley (Expositor, p. 366): There is, I think, either an aposiopesis at the end of this line, or a line is lost, as Volumnia is speaking quite calmly; or, to stoop, to yield, or something of that sort is omitted.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘Apt’ is here impressible, and then in the ethical sense, pliant, accommodating. In Venus and Adonis, ‘His tenderer cheek receives her soft hand's print As apt as new-fall'n snow takes any dint,’ [l. 354]. In Timon, ‘She is young and apt,’ [I, i, 132]. The numerous attempts by editors at emendation here bear witness to their lack of knowledge of the language of Shakespeare. [The presumptuousness of the concluding sentence is somewhat mitigated by the valid claim to a wide knowledge of Shakespearian language resulting from Schmidt's compilation of the Shakespeare Lexicon. This does not, however, seem to have been a sufficient justification, since his own countryman, Leo (Jahrbuch, xv, p. 53), thinks it necessary that he ‘take a lance in defence of the Editors,’ remarking that their lack of knowledge of the language of Shakespeare should be shown by definite examples, without which such a charge is either unjust or at least unsupported. Leo objects to Schmidt's examples in illustration of ‘apt’ in the sense impressible, because in that from Ven. & Ad. the word is there used ‘adverbially and thus stands in grammatical relation to what precedes and follows.’ The example from Timon is unfortunately chosen since the sentence is uncompleted, and therefore might raise the question with many editors as to whether a part of the passage had been lost. Suppose the rest of the sentence had been, for example, ‘She is young and apt to yield to new impressions?’ How then?—Leo, for his part, thinks the only rational explanation of the passage to be that ‘the words “that leads my use of anger To better vantage” depend equally upon “heart” and “brain,” and if this indeed is not verbally correct, I am led to think,’ he continues, ‘that we have here one of those cases where it is necessary to call upon the language of Shakespeare, and especially that peculiarly characteristic rapidity of thought which caused him to make verbal leaps, which so irritate the scrupulosity of grammarians. His thought may have been as follows: “I have a heart as little apt as yours to lead, etc., but yet a brain that leads my use of anger to better vantage.” And that he has clothed this in a verbal unprecise form. Such an interpretation is quite allowable to almost any editor, even the possibility of another emendation, and so I do not in the least regret that in my edition of Coriolanus I proposed the reading lightly rapt, and that I there supported it with examples.’ This must, indeed, have caused Schmidt to smile grimly at the wincing of at least one galled jade, smarting under the accusation of a lack of acquaintance with the language of Shakespeare.—Ed.]—W. A. Wright: That is, as little capable of being taught by others, as little susceptible. Compare Jul. Cæs., V, iii, 68: ‘O hateful error, melancholy's child, Why dost thou show to the apt thoughts of men The things that are not.’ [Wright considers that the line in the Perkins Folio is unnecessarily inserted.]—Hudson (ed. ii.), on the ground that it ‘seems hardly possible to gather any fitting sense’ from the folio text, adopts a reading, partly his own and partly due to P. A. Daniel, which he credits, however, wholly to Daniel [see Text. Notes]. This hybrid reading, tickle-apt, Hudson thus explains: ‘As dangerous to meddle with; as sensitive; as apt to explode if stirred, or to fire up if touched with provocation. The Poet has tickle repeatedly in a kindred sense.’ In illustration of this very term Hudson quotes ‘follow all his [water's] sways And tickle-aptness to exceed his bounds.’—Chapman, Byron's Conspiracy, [II, i, p. 212, ed. Pearson]. Daniel neither explains nor illustrates by example his compound.—Ed.—Bailey (i, 167): The MS. interpolation undoubtedly restores sense to the prior line, but there is no external evidence for it; there are no grounds for admitting it in preference to a score of other amendments; and it does not commend itself to our acceptance by any peculiar felicity. Far from being happy, the new line is indeed intrinsically feeble, while it causes an awkward repetition of the phrase ‘use of anger,’ and, if I mistake not, involves the necessity of putting a different construction on the repeated phrase in each line,— confounds, in fact, two different meanings. In the interpolated line the use of anger can mean only actual anger; in the next line it means proneness to anger— the custom or habit of growing angry. [As another mode of dealing with the Folio text Bailey suggests the reading, ‘I have a heart to kindle apt as yours.’ ‘The transition,’ he concludes, ‘is not easy to imagine, and the suggested reading consequently is not entitled to more than to be held in doubt with the rest of the conjectures I have cited.’—Ed.]—Kinnear (p. 319): The Folio has ‘as little apt’—probably the last part of stoops in a mutilated MS. corrupted into ‘apt.’ The ‘well said’ of Menenius, who repeats the most important word ‘stoop,’ applying it to Marcius, indicates that it is the true reading. Their whole aim was to induce Marcius to stoop. Volumnia says, ‘correcting thy stout heart Now humble as the ripest mulberry.’ A brain that leads suggests that a verb is required with ‘heart.’ All the compared editions retain ‘apt,’ but this word is never used by Shakespeare in a sense appropriate here. [Had Kinnear but consulted a Concordance or Schmidt's Lexicon he would, I am sure, have seen fit to modify this last assertion. See following note.—Ed.]—Case (Arden Sh.): Desdemona, according to Iago (Othello, II, iii, 326), ‘is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition, she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she is requested.’ Volumnia has as little apt a disposition (heart) as Coriolanus. The use of apt is essentially the same in both plays, and the context in Coriolanus makes its meaning as plain within certain limits as if Volumnia had proceeded to define it extensively. We may take it as impressible, or flexible (‘as little apt’ = inflexible), or compliant, or docile, or (with closer reference to the context demanded), ready, willing (to return and mend a roughness, or eat humble pie). Shakespeare uses the word many times for receptive, teachable, prone, either alone (Hamlet, I, v, 31, ‘I find thee apt; And duller shouldst thou be,’ etc.) or with extension (Lear, II, iv, 309, ‘And what they incense him to, being apt To have his ear abused,’ etc.). No commentator has objected to the word in Othello, but the text has been tampered with here. Mr Craig seems to have felt a difficulty in interpreting ‘apt,’ and believing that ‘anger,’ l. 39, pointed to Staunton's mettle, intended to suggest ‘to mettle apt as yours,’ i. e., as prone to anger as yours. [This last refers to the notes prepared by W. J. Craig for the edition of this play in the Arden Sh., and left unfinished by his untimely death. Case undertook the task of arranging and completing the work. It is noteworthy, I think, that up to the time of the unnecessary interpolation by the MS. Corrector neither editors nor commentators had been conscious of any corruption or difficulty in this passage. The meaning of the word ‘apt’ was perfectly understood apparently. It is not included in the Glossaries of either Hanmer or Capell. Neither Collier nor Singer suggest a change; but with the appearance of the MS. interpolation the whole pack is at once in full cry. Singer is the one who, unconsciously perhaps, metaphorically drew a herring across the trail and started them all on a false scent, hunting a substitute for the word ‘apt,’ a word which Shakespeare uses in many other places, and which, as Case says, has not been elsewhere suspected. The latter's excellent note is a fitting finish to the discussion.—Ed.]
stoope to'th'heart Theobald: But how did Coriolanus stoop to his heart? He rather, as we vulgarly express it, made his proud heart stoop to the necessity of the times. I am persuaded my emendation [herd] gives the true reading. So before in this play, ‘Are these your herd?’ [III, i, 45]. So in Jul. Cæs., ‘—when he perceived the common herd was glad he refus'd the crown,’ &c., [I, ii, 264.—W. A. Wright notes that this reading was suggested to Theobald by Warburton, but in a letter to Warburton, dated 1729, Theobald gives this emendation as his own. Warburbon in his ed. 1747 terms the Folio reading ‘nonsense,’ remarking that it should be herd, without any mention of Theobald's change.—Ed.] —Malone: Mr Theobald's conjecture is confirmed by a passage in which Coriolanus thus describes the people, ‘You shames of Rome. You herd of—’ [I, v, 49]. Herd was anciently spelt heard. Hence ‘heart’ crept into the old copy. [For this spelling see line quoted by Theobald, and also the above.—Ed.]—Collier (ed. ii.): The MS. Corrector gives us a better change [than Theobald's] in reference to the required submission of Coriolanus, viz., ‘stoop o' the heart,’ which only supposes the misprint of the preposition to, ‘o'’ or of by the early printer; to ‘stoop o' the heart’ is a very strong and intelligible expression. The hero had been called upon to make his heart stoop to the demands of the populace.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): None of the modern editors, who follow Theobald's change, have been regardful of the fact that Menenius, in his own way, wishes to make a comment on Volumnia's words and here refers to ‘heart’ in l. 38, ‘Before he should so humble himself, that it goes to his heart, to his soul.’ Compare ‘It angered him to the heart,’ 2 Henry IV: II, iv, 9; ‘He lies to the heart,’ Othello, V, ii, 156.
For them . . . to the Gods Theobald (Letter to Warburton, 12 Feb., 1729; Nichols, Illustrations of Literature, ii, 486): Coriolanus is nowhere else in the least irreligious, or speaks with a disrespect to the heavenly powers. I cannot think then that he would say here he cannot repent even for the Gods; besides, the expression is very exceptionable. I have suspected, 'Fore them? I can but do it 'fore the Gods, &c. [Theobald did not repeat this in either edition; it may, therefore, be considered withdrawn.—Ed.]—Schmidt (Coriolanus): What the modern editors imagine when collectedly they place either an exclamation or interrogation point after ‘For them’ they have left unexplained. ‘For them’ simply means, as for them. ‘I cannot repent before the gods of my actions concerning the people, and must I do it to them themselves?’ For them For the use of this preposition with ‘repent,’ compare, ‘—For this same lord, I do repent’; also, ‘I never did repent for doing good,’ Mer. of Ven., III, iv, 10.—Ed.
You are . . . speake Malone: Except in cases of urgent necessity, when your resolute and noble spirit, however commendable at other times, ought to yield to the occasion.
But when extremities speake Delius: Volumnia leaves her sentence unfinished, the conclusion of which must be, You must accommodate yourself accordingly. The editors place a period after ‘speak’ and connect the sentence with what has preceded it: Though therein you can never be too noble, except when necessity prompts—which gives a very dull meaning to the passage.
Policy Case (Arden Sh.): That is, prudent, or dexterous, or crafty management, or stratagem. Compare 1 Henry VI: III, ii, 2, ‘the gates of Rouen, Through which our policy must make a breach.’ vnseuer'd W. A. Wright: That is, inseparable. So ‘unvalued’ for invaluable in Richard III: I, iv, 27, ‘Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels.’
In Peace . . . not there W. A. Wright: Compare Crabbe, Tales of the Hall, iv, 71, 72: ‘Sounds too delight us,—Each discordant tone
Thus mingled please, that fail to please alone.’
each . . . loose For other examples wherein ‘each’ is used for both, and with a plural verb, see Abbott, § 12.
If it be Honor . . . request Case: Volumnia is neither concise nor lucid here, but she says in effect: If your use of false appearances to serve your purpose in war is reconcilable with honour, what makes it less so in peace, when it is just as necessary?
your policy Whitelaw: That is, as your policy. ‘It,’ the policy of seeming other than you are.—Schmidt (Coriolanus) objects to this latter interpretation, since the question is not concerned with the quantity of craft, but rather with the compatibility with honour.
since that For other examples of ‘that’ as a conjunctional affix see Abbott, § 287.
force Johnson: That is, Why urge you.—Malone: So in Henry VIII: ‘If you will now unite in your complaints, And force them with a constancy,’ [III, ii, 2].
Because, that . . . Syllables Ritson (Cursory Criticism, etc., p. 80) offers the following arrangement of these lines as being more harmonious than that given by Malone: ‘Because
That now it lies you on to speak to th' people,
Not by your own instruction, nor by th' matter
Which your heart prompts you to, but with such words
That are but roted in your tongue, but bastards,
Of no allowance to your bosom's truth.’
[It is, I think, unnecessary to transcribe the coarse abuse of Malone with which this re-arrangement is accompanied.—Ed.]—Bayfield (p. 198): Line 73 can be scanned if we make ‘heart’ a monosyllabic foot, but it has no rhythm and is not such a line as Shakespeare would have written. I venture to suggest the following arrangement. There can be no omission of own before ‘heart,’ as Badham suggests [see Text. Notes]; the antithesis is between his heart and his tongue: ‘Because that now it lies you on to speak
To the people; not by your own instruction, nor
By the | matter | which your | heart | prompts you, but | with
Such words that are but rooted in your tongue,
Though but | bastards and | sylla | bles of | no al | lowance
To your | bosom's truth.’
The play itself, to go no further, affords abundant parallels to the enjambement at ll. 71 and 72.—Stapfer (p. 452): This whole passage recalls the famous line in Hippolytus, for which Aristophanes so severely blamed Euripides as for a maxim of more than doubtful morality, ‘My mouth has sworn, but not my heart,’ [l. 612. Verity also compares this passage to the ‘Euripidean formula,’ though he gives a slightly different rendering of the Greek line: ‘The tongue hath sworn but the mind is unpledged.’—Ed.]
it lyes you on R. G. White, whose text reads ‘on you,’ remarks that for this obvious transposition he is responsible; the Text. Notes will show, however, that even so careful an editor as White at times failed to examine all the texts of his predecessors.—Ed.
by . . . by' That is, like, according to; for other examples of this use see Abbott, § 145. 71, 72. such words That are, etc.] Compare, for this construction, ‘I cannot but remember such things were That were most precious to me,’ Macbeth, IV, iii, 222.
Which your heart prompts you Malone: Perhaps the meaning is, which your heart prompts you to. We have many such elliptical expressions in these plays. So in Jul. Cæs., ‘Thy honourable metal may be wrought From that it is dispos'd [to],’ I, ii, 313. But I rather believe that our author has adopted the language of the theatre, and that the meaning is, which your heart suggests to you; which your heart furnishes you with, as a prompter furnishes the player with the words that have escaped his memory. So afterwards, ‘Come, come, we'll prompt you.’ The editor of the Second Folio, who was entirely unacquainted with our author's peculiarities, reads, ‘prompts you to,’ and so all the subsequent copies read.—Steevens: I am content to follow the Second Folio; though perhaps we ought to read, ‘which your heart prompts in you.’ So in A Sermon Preached at St. Paul's Crosse, &c., 1589, ‘—for often meditation prompteth in us goode thoughtes, begettyng therein goode workes,’ &c. Without some additional syllable the verse is defective.—Dyce: We can scarcely doubt that the earlier part of this speech has suffered from the transcriber or the printer; with the present text, whatever arrangement of the lines be adopted, the verse halts miserably.—Whitelaw: The 2nd Folio has ‘prompts you to,’ making ‘heart’ much less emphatic. Steevens is wrong in saying that the verse wants the additional syllable. With it, ‘matter’ is virtually one syllable; without it, two. For the apparently trochaic ending we have, in reality, by laying a strong emphasis on heart, two unaccented syllables. Compare 2 Henry IV: I, i, 87, ‘Yet speak, Morton.’
but roated in your Tongue Boswell: Perhaps we should read rooted. [Dyce (Remarks, p. 161) makes the same conjecture, apparently as unaware as Boswell that he had been therein anticipated [see Text. Notes], and later adopts this reading in his text.—Collier (ed. ii.): Dyce proposes an emendation here, which seems to show that he did not understand the drift of the passage: he wishes ‘roted’ to be printed rooted, but the words were to be said by rote by the tongue, and not to be rooted in it. Besides, Dyce's proposal is not novel, since Boswell formerly hinted at rooted, but did not venture to print it. [Naturally he did not; he was printing Malone's text, not Shakespeare's.—Ed.]—Dyce (Strictures on Collier's Shakespeare, p. 157): The whole of this passage is very obscure because corrupted. As I cannot believe with Mr Collier that ‘words roted in your tongue’ could mean ‘words said by rote by the tongue,’ I continue to think that here ‘roated’ should be ‘rooted.’ (Richardson, in his Dictionary, quoting the passage sub ‘Rote,’ observes, ‘Roated in Shakespeare is, perhaps, rooted, fixed, infixed, impressed,—no deeper than your tongue.’）—[In his ed. Dyce adds to this quotation from Richardson, ‘That it is so I make no question.’—Ed.]—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): Out of the four passages where ‘rote’ occurs in Shakespeare's plays, the Folio twice spells it, as here, ‘roate.’ We are thus particular in stating this point, because Johnson and others change ‘roted’ to rooted here. ‘Such words that are but roted in your tongue’ appears to us to mean ‘Such words as are but retained by rote in your tongue’; mere words acquired by rote and held ready for conventional utterance. Shakespeare uses the expression ‘by rote’ to convey the idea of ‘without real meaning,’ as well as ‘by a routine process of memory,’ in the passage, ‘Oh she knows well Thy love did read by rote and could not spell,’ Rom. & Jul., II, iii, 88; and Bacon (in the Essay on Atheism) employs it in this comprehensive sense when observing, ‘He rather saith it by rote himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it.’ We think that to throw out a word like ‘roted’ merely because there has been no instance of its use prior to Shakespeare's is to reject the advantage afforded by having such a genius to create expressive words for the language.—Case (Arden Sh.): Rooted gets rid of any difficulty about the preposition, and gives the sense that the words suggested go no deeper than the tongue. Reading ‘roted’ we must interpret memorized, learnt by rote, and (recollecting also the freer use of prepositions in Shakespeare's time) explain ‘in’ as due to preoccupation with place, the thought of words which are in or on the tongue with nothing to prompt them in the heart. Roat is used = to repeat or sing (Skeat and Mayhew's Tudor and Stuart Glossary) by Drayton, e. g., The Muses Elizium, Nymphal vi. (Melanthus, 8): ‘I to my Bottle straight, and soundly baste my Throat
Which done, some Country Song or Roundelay I roate
Though but Bastards, and Syllables Staunton: In this speech we follow the arrangement of the old copies, which, though imperfect, is infinitely preferable to that adopted by all the modern editions. The verse before us is evidently corrupt; ‘but’ seems to have crept in from the preceding line, and some word to have been lost; we may be permitted to guess that it originally ran, ‘Thought's bastards, and persuading syllables,’ or ‘Thought's bastards, and glib syllables.’— Bailey (ii, 56): Instead of the unmetrical jargon of the received text, read: ‘But with such words that are but rooted in
Your tongue, thought's bastards, airy syllables,
Of no allowance to your bosom's truth.’
Here we have a clause full of significance and perfect in metre. No difficulty can be experienced in accounting for thought's being perverted into though but, or for airy being turned into and. If I had entertained any doubt of this emendation it would have been dissipated by a passage in A Lover's Complaint: ‘Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art,
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart,’ [ll. 173-175].
Here is precisely the same train of ideas brought in this case to characterise the seducer of female innocence, but in the other to recommend hypocritical subservience to the humours of the people. [Reference to the Text. Notes will show that both Staunton and Bailey were anticipated by Badham in the reading thought's for ‘though but.’ Staunton's examination of the work of his predecessors was confined mainly to that of the editors themselves; the same may be said of Bailey, and thus Badham's reading, which occurs in his Essay on the Text of Shakespeare, escaped them. Staunton is, I think, less blameworthy than Bailey for this oversight. Bailey's work is entitled The Received Text of Shakespeare, and he should at least have examined other works on the same subject.—Ed.]
Of no allowance Theobald (Letter to Warburton, Feb. 12, 1729; Nichols: Illustrations of Literature, ii, 486): Dr Thirlby says forte alliance. But I think the other may do very well. Syllables not allowed by your heart to be true.— Johnson: I read, ‘of no alliance’; therefore bastards. Yet ‘allowance’ may well enough stand as meaning legal right, established rank, or settled authority.—Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 22): ‘Though’ and ‘and’ [l. 73] seem to be compositors' blunders occasion'd no one knows how; ‘bastards’ and the word that is quoted [alliance] second thoughts of the author, instead of ‘allowance’ and ‘syllables’; but the last not being eras'd, and the other not alter'd, the gentlemen, at whose mercy it was his fortune to lye, gave us what we have seen. [See Text. Notes, ll. 72, 73, for Capell's own reading. Johnson's edition and Capell's are so nearly synchronous that it is hardly likely that Johnson was aware of any of Capell's readings until some time after his own were published; and, of course, neither Johnson nor Capell knew of Thirlby's suggestion. Capell's Notes did not, however, appear until 1779, and for that reason Johnson's note is here given priority.—Ed.]—Steevens: ‘Allowance’ is certainly right. So in Othello, ‘his pilot Of very expert and approv'd allowance,’ II, i, 48. Dr Johnson's amendment is, however, countenanced by an expression in the Tam. of Shrew, where Petruchio's stirrups are said to be ‘of no kindred,’ [III, ii, 50].—Malone: I at first was pleased with Dr Johnson's emendation, because ‘of no allowance, i. e., approbation to your bosom's truth,’ appeared to me unintelligible. But ‘allowance’ has no connection with the subsequent words, ‘to your bosom's truth. The construction is, though but bastards to your bosom's truth, not the lawful issue of your heart. The words, ‘and syllables of no allowance,’ are put in opposition with ‘bastards,’ and are, as it were, parenthetical.—Mason (Comments, etc., p. 255): The word alliance differs so little from ‘allowance,’ it makes the meaning of the sentence so clear, and corresponds so well with the word ‘bastards,’ in the line preceding, that I should not hesitate in adopting this amendment of Johnson's. Steevens very roundly asserts that ‘allowance’ is the right reading, but he offers nothing in support of that assertion except a line from Othello, which is nothing to the purpose. ‘A pilot of very expert and approved allowance’ means only a pilot, acknowledged and approved to be an expert one; and I don't see how the word ‘allowance,’ in this sense, will apply to the present passage. There can be no doubt that ‘allowance’ was used in Shakespeare's time in the sense of approbation. So Lear says, ‘O Heavens! If you do love old men, if your sweet sway Allow obedience,’ [II, iv, 194]. And Johnson, I believe, is right in asserting that it means legal right, established rank, or settled authority; but none of these words would make sense of the present passage if substituted in the place of ‘allowance’ unless we alter it by reading ‘from your bosom's truth’ instead of to; and if the passage is to be amended, the most natural amendment is to read alliance.— W. A. Wright: Though they (the syllables) are not acknowledged as the legitimate issue or genuine expression of your inmost thoughts. For ‘allowance’ in the sense of acknowledgment, recognition, which keeps up the figure suggested by ‘bastards,’ compare Tro. & Cress., II, iii, 146, ‘A stirring dwarf we do allowance give Before a sleeping giant.’—Hudson (ed. ii.): ‘Allowance’ is here used in the old sense to allow, that is, to justify or approve, as in Psalm xi. of the Psalter, ‘The Lord alloweth the righteous.’ Also in many other places of the English Bible. Shakespeare has ‘allowance’ repeatedly in the same sense; as in Lear, I, iv, 228, ‘that You protect this course and put it on By your allowance.’ The best explanation of the passage in the text that I have met with is furnished me by Mr Joseph Crosby: ‘Truth sits enthroned on your bosom, to sanction your thoughts and language; but in the present case your words will be but illegitimate offspring, not born of your heart, having no approval or justification from that truth, but merely roted in your tongue—spoken, as a parrot or child talks, by rote.’ A verse from Psalm cxxxix. is not irrelevant here, ‘There is not a word in my tongue, but Thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether.’ I was once led to favour alliance, but am now thoroughly satisfied that ‘allowance’ is right.—Verity (Student's Sh.): That is, utterly disavowed by the real feelings in your heart.— E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Not allowed as true in your secret heart.—Case (Arden Sh.): That is, of no acceptance to your heart's truth, i. e., to your real feelings. ‘Allowance’ is used with various shades of meaning by Shakespeare, such as acknowledgment, approbation, etc., but acceptance (as in Isaiah, lx, 7, ‘they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar’) best accounts for the use of the preposition ‘to,’ in which a difficulty is sometimes found.
to take in Malone: That is, subdue or destroy. Compare I, ii, 29 ante.
in Honor Case (Arden Sh.): The interpretation occasionally found (‘as far as I could without sacrificing my honour’) is less appropriate to the context than the obvious one. It could hardly have been suggested if the text had read, ‘I should in honour do so,’ and Volumnia has already said that dissembling does not dishonour. I am in this Your Wife . . . the Nobles Warburton: Volumnia is persuading Coriolanus that he ought to flatter the people, as the general fortune was at stake; and says, that in this advice, she speaks as his wife, as his son; as the senate and body of the patricians, who were in some measure link'd to his conduct.—Johnson: I rather think the meaning is, ‘I am in their condition, I am at stake, together with your wife, your son.’—M. Mason (Comments, etc., p. 256): ‘I am in this’ means I am in this predicament.—Malone: I think the meaning is, In this advice, in exhorting you to act thus, I speak not only as your mother, but as your wife, your son, &c., all of whom are at stake.—W. A. Wright: I am involved in this, I am of those whose lives and fortunes are at stake.— E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Some explain, ‘I speak for’; but the point is rather, ‘I am at stake in this; so are your wife and the rest, for we are in danger of losing you.’—Case (Arden Sh.): Probably everyone at first reading understands as Malone, for it is natural to read putting stress on ‘this.’ But if ‘I is stressed Johnson's interpretation, and of a successive naming of the friends at stake, at once appears.
you may salue so That is, remedy; compare, ‘I do beseech your majesty may salve The long-grown wounds of my intemperance,’ 1 Henry IV: III, ii, 155.
Not what is dangerous Johnson: In this place ‘not’ seems to signify not only. [Abbott (§ 54) quotes the present passage and also III, iii, 121, 122 below as the only two examples wherein ‘not’ is used in this particular sense.]
this Bonnet in thy hand Malone: Surely our author wrote, ‘thy bonnet in thy hand’; for I cannot suppose that he intended that Volumnia should either touch or take off the bonnet which he has given to Coriolanus.—Steevens: When Volumnia says ‘this bonnet,’ she may be supposed to point at it, without any attempt to touch or take it off. 93. (here be with them）] Walker (Crit., i, 228): I suspect something is lost: ‘———— thy knee
Bussing the stones, (for in such business)
Action is eloquence,’ &c.—
Staunton: That is, adopt this action. So in Brome's comedy, A Jovial Crew, II, i, Spring-love, describing his having solicited alms as a cripple, says, ‘For here I was with him.’ (Halts.—Bailey (ii, 58): This phrase appears to be without appropriate meaning, and I would alter it to ‘here beseech them,’ without any parenthesis.—Orger (p. 63): ‘Here be with them’ is, I suppose, unintelligible and can derive no explanation from the following words, ‘thy knee bussing the stones,’ which clearly refer to the ‘courtesy’ he should make the people at the same time that he held his bonnet low. It may readily be corrected to ‘bewitch them’ in accordance with II, iii, 105, ‘I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man,’ in which case ‘here’ must be changed to there, i. e., when he is before the people. Possibly a line may have dropped out, which might be supplied from the parallel passage in Richard II: I, iv, 26: ‘there bewitch them
With humble and familiar courtesy
Thy knee bussing,’ etc.,
but sense is made even without the supplemental line by the change proposed: ‘there bewitch them
Thy knee bussing the stones.’—
Beeching (Falcon Sh.): That is, ‘get hold of them.’ To ‘be with’ a person means to ‘come to’ them, ‘come at’ them, in various senses. The nearest parallel to the text is Winter's Tale, I, ii, 217, ‘They're here with me already, whispering, rounding.’ Compare IV, iii, 128, ‘I'll be with you at your sheep-shearing too’ (by which Autolycus means ‘pick your pockets’). See also Rom. & Jul., II, iv, 78, ‘Was I with you there for the goose?’ (i. e., ‘did my repartee strike home?’).— Verity (Student's Sh.): That is, humour them thus much!—Gordon: Go thus far with them. She suits the action to the word.—Deighton: At this point salute them with a courteous gesture, a sweeping bow. The expression seems to have been especially used with contemptuous gestures, as in Winter's Tale, I, ii, 217; so Chapman, May Day, near the end of Act IV, where the hooting of a cuckold is the subject of conversation, Faunio says, ‘That dare I not do’ (i. e., laugh openly when he saw him), ‘but as often as he turns his back to me, I shall be here V with him, that's certain,’ the V indicating the gesture of his open fingers to imitate the cuckold's horns.—Case (Arden Sh.): This phrase varies in meaning according to circumstances. Here it approximately means, get at them this way. [In the passage quoted by Staunton] the stage-direction does not determine the sense there, which is: For thus I got at him, got on his weak side. Brome also uses the phrase in The Sparagus Garden, I, i. (ed. Pearson, p. 119): ‘Gil. And the cause or ground of your quarrel . . . may be as triviall, as that which was derided in our father's. Touch. Are you there with me?’ (Is that what you are at? Is that where you think you have me?), and in The Queen and Concubine, sc. viii. (ibid., p. 39): ‘nay, he that keeps me
Till now, he call'd me forth never spake a word
If I ask'd him, what News? here he was with me:
Or when he heard from Court? then there again:
Or why I was committed? still the same answer.’
Here the meaning is more or less defined by what precedes, viz., ‘never spake a word,’ and, that was his way with me, or that's how he had me. Shakespeare also uses the phrase, or a similar one, in Lear, IV, vi, 149, in As You Like It, V, ii, 32, and in Winter's Tale, I, ii, 217, similarly with slightly varaible meanings, but always indicating that the speaker, as the case may be, is conscious of making a good move against another, or of being taken, or sought to be taken, at a slight disadvantage.— [Case's admirable summing up of the question and his conclusion that the phrase bears variable meanings leaves little to be desired. That here it means, Treat them thus, is to the purpose much more than Staunton's paraphrase, suit the action to the word, which hardly bears out the forceful character of Volumnia's remarks.—Ed.]
Thy Knee bussing the stones Abbott (§ 453): Between noun and participle a pause seems natural. Often the pause represents in or a-. ‘The smile | mócking | the sigh,’ Cymbeline, IV, ii, 54; ‘My wind | cóoling | my broth,’ Mer. of Ven., I, i, 22. In these lines the foot following the emphasized monosyllable may (as an alternative to the ‘pause-accent’) be regarded as quasi-trisyllabic. bussing W. A. Wright: A familiar word, suggesting something of coarseness or wantonness. Compare Tro. & Cress., IV, v, 220, ‘Yond towers whose wanton tops do buss the clouds Must kiss their own feet.’—Verity (Student's Sh.): She is at pains to show, by her contemptuous choice of words, that she despises, every whit as much as Coriolanus himself, the course of action which for expediency alone she is counselling. Thus ‘waving’ [l. 96], to express ‘often bending,’ gives an admirable touch of irony and burlesque.—Gordon: She takes it like a great dame. This homely language is her way of shrugging at the whole vulgar necessity. She and her son were so much alike that she knew her tone would please him. She chooses ‘waving’ rather than ‘bowing,’ because it is more off-hand. To be offhand about the business is her way of making it palatable to Coriolanus.—Case (Arden Sh.): This is a vulgar word now, and would not be used in a serious passage; but in Shakespeare's day it was otherwise. See King John, III, iv, 35: ‘Const. Death . . . Come grin on me, and I will think thou smilest And buss thee as thy wife,’ and Golding's Ovid, x, 647, ed. Rouse, p. 213: ‘She thus began, and in her tale she bussed him among.’ Herrick, however, makes a distinction in degree in 1648, Hesperides (ed. Grosart, ii, 145), Kissing and bussing: ‘Kissing and bussing differ both in this; We busse our Wanton's, but our Wives we kisse.’—[I am not altogether sure that there may not have been a like distinction even in Shakespeare's time. Wright's apposite quotation from Tro. & Cress. indicates that there was a difference between the words, and the word ‘buss’ closely following ‘wanton’ is corroboration of its use in a vulgar sense, whereas ‘kiss’ in the next line is used in a more dignified sense. Even the passage from King John may be intended to indicate a certain amount of wantonness on the part of Constance as the bride of Death.—Ed.]
Action is eloquence . . . then the eares Compare: Horace, De Arte Poetica: ‘Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus et quæ
Ipse sibi tradit spectator.’—180, 181.
Thomas Drant issued a translation of ‘Horace his arte of Poetrie, pistles, and Satyrs’ in 1567.—Ed.
wauing thy head, Which . . . thy stout heart Warburton: But do any of the ancient or modern masters of elocution prescribe the ‘waving the head’ when they treat of action? Or how does the waving the head correct the stoutness of the heart, or evidence humility? Or, lastly, where is the sense or grammar of these words, ‘Which often thus,’ &c.? These questions are sufficient to show that the lines are corrupt. I would read, therefore, ‘—waving thy hand, Which soften thus, correcting thy stout heart.’ This is a very proper precept of action suiting the occasion: Wave thy hand, says she, and soften the action of it thus—then strike upon thy breast, and by that action show the people thou hast corrected thy stout heart. All here is fine and proper.—Johnson: The correction is ingenious, yet I think it not right. Head or hand is indifferent. The hand is waved to gain attention; the head is shaken in token of sorrow. The word wave suits better to the hand, but in considering the author's language too much stress must not be laid on propriety, against the copies. I would read thus, ‘—waving thy head With often, thus, correcting thy stout heart.’ That is, shaking thy head, and striking thy breast. The alteration is slight, and the gesture recommended not improper.— Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 92): This most admirable speech has been misinterpreted, mangl'd, and (by dint of false pointing) render'd scarcely intelligible; the only verbal corruption it had lay in ‘Which,’ l. 97, a word we see often mistaken, from being written contractedly, for that very word [And] which has now taken its place.—Steevens: Shakespeare uses the same expression in Hamlet, ‘And thrice his head thus waving up and down,’ II, i, 93.—Tyrwhitt: I have sometimes thought this passage might originally have stood thus: ‘—— waving thy head
(Which humble thus;) correcting thy stout heart,
Now soften'd as the ripest mulberry.’—
Badham (Text of Sh., p. 272), in reference to this arrangement, says: The simplest correction is to transpose the two first words of each line, and insert the s.]— M. Mason (Comments, etc., p. 256): As there is no verb in this passage as it stands, some amendment must be made to make it intelligible; and that which I now propose is to read bow instead of ‘now,’ which is clearly the right reading.— Malone: I am persuaded these lines are printed exactly as the author wrote them, a similar kind of phraseology being found in his other plays. Which, &c., is the absolute case, and is to be understood as if he had written, It often, &c. [‘An exegesis,’ remarks R. G. White, ‘which Malone might well revisit the earth to explain.’] So in Winter's Tale: ‘—— This your son-in-law
And son unto the king, (whom heavens directing),
Is troth-plight to your daughter,’ [V, iii, 151].
Again in King John: ‘Who having no external thing to lose
But the word maid,—cheats the poor maid of that,’
[II, i, 571]. In the former of these passages, ‘whom heavens directing,’ is to be understood as if Shakespeare had written, him heavens directing (illum deo ducente); and in the latter, ‘who having,’ has the import of They having. Nihil quod amittere possint, praeter nomen virginis, possidentibus. This mode of speech, though not such as we should now use, having been used by Shakespeare, any emendation of this contested passage becomes unnecessary. Mason says that there is no verb in the sentence, and therefore it must be corrupt. The verb is go, and the sentence not more abrupt than many in these plays. Go to the people, says Volumnia, and appear before them in a supplicating attitude,—with thy bonnet in thy hand, thy knees on the ground (for in such cases action is eloquence, &c.), waving thy head; it, by its frequent bendings (such as those that I now make), subduing thy stout heart, which now should be as humble as the ripest mulberry; or, if these silent gestures of supplication do not move them, add words, and say to them, &c. Whoever has seen a player supplicating to be heard by the audience when a tumult, for whatever cause, has arisen in a theatre will perfectly feel the force of the words ‘waving thy head.’ No emendation whatever appears to me to be necessary in these lines.—Steevens: All I shall observe respecting the validity of the instances adduced by Mr Malone in support of his position is that as ancient press-work seldom received any correction, the errors of one printer may frequently serve to countenance those of another without affording any legitimate decision in matters of phraseology.—Knight: This passage has been a stumbling-block to the commentators; and they want to know how the waving of the head corrects the stout heart. They have forgotten the maxim which Volumnia has just uttered, ‘Action is eloquence.’ She is explaining her meaning by her action: waving thy head, which often wave—thus—(and she then waves her head several times). She adds, ‘correcting thy stout heart,’ be ‘humble as the ripest mulberry.’ We owe this interpretation to a pamphlet printed at Edinburgh in 1814: ‘Explanations and Emendations of Some Passages in the Text of Shakespeare,’ [by R. Morehead, who wrote under the pseudonym Martinus Scriblerus.—Ed.].— Badham (Criticism Applied to Sh., etc., p. 14): That there is a screw loose in the words ‘which often thus’ is, we suppose, if not admitted, at all events not strenuously denied, by any commentator. . . . It is not unlikely that careless readers have often satisfied themselves with the interpretation ‘here stoop as low as they’ [for the expression, ‘here be with them]. And then observe how revolting to the ear is that unmusical line, ‘Thy knee bussing the stones, for in such bus'ness,’ where to get any harmony at all we must transpose the tonic accent, as it is called, from the former to the latter syllable of the word ‘bussing,’ and so make the trochee into an iambus. We propose to read the whole passage thus: ‘I prythee now, my son,
Go to them with thy bonnet in thy hand
And thus far having stretch'd it, with thy knee
Bussing the stones; for in such business
Action is eloquence, and the' eyes of the' ignorant
(a perfectly harmonious Alexandrine.）
More learned than the ears; vailing thy head
Now humble—thus;—correcting thy stout heart
Which soften as the ripest mulberry,’ &c.
It is to be remarked that, except in the parenthesis [l. 93], the sense and construction of the sentence are kept suspended by participles until the word ‘say,’ which renders our removal of the phrase ‘here be with them’ still more probable; perhaps Shakespeare had written ‘here bends,’ describing the action of Volumnia. Vailing is to be understood as in the passage ‘Then vail your impotence,’ where all the editions we have seen absurdly retain ‘ignorance.’ Nothing can be more easy or simple than the transposition of the initial words, ‘Now humble’ and ‘Which often.’ In the introduction of the letter s we find that Warburton has anticipated us, but, as he did not see the necessity of the transposition, his emendation is worse than useless, as it makes Volumnia recommend her son to soften his head, or perhaps his hand (for that is another reading), instead of his heart.— R. G. White: ‘Which, often,’ i. e., which do often; by this repeated act of courtesy correcting thy stout heart. The difficulty seems to have resulted from a failure to perceive the elision in ‘which often,’ and that ‘thus’ belongs to ‘correcting.’ The whole passage is difficult.—Hudson (ed. i.): That is, ‘which often do—thus— correcting thy stout heart.’ Of course at the word thus she waves her head several times, acting out the verb while omitting it in her speech, and so making a practical illustration of what she would have him do. Commentators have stumbled much at the passage from not knowing what to do with ‘which.’ All becomes clear enough when we thus make ‘which’ to be governed not by the verbal sign of the action, but by the action itself.—Keightley (Expositor, p. 367) proposes and adopts in his text, ‘Often thus; which correcting thy stout heart,’ and the omission of ‘or,’ l. 99, remarking: ‘By these slight corrections this place gains sense—a thing it never had before. All through the speech, it may be observed, Volumnia acts the part she would have her son perform. The transposition he had made in the first line—where the folio has “Which often thus,”—having perplexed the printer, he took “humble” for a verb, and so introduced “or” to try to make sense.’— W. A. Wright: The two lines describe two different gestures—one indicated by ‘thus’ and the other by ‘Now.’ While uttering the former Volumnia raises her head to a position of command, in which ‘the kingly crowned head,’ where the reason is enthroned, corrects and controls the passions which are seated in the heart. Having curbed his pride he is to lower his head to the people in token of humility, as if it were the ripest mulberry just ready to fall. As regards the construction, ‘Which’ is used loosely, as the relative often is in Shakespeare, and is either redundant or equivalent to the personal pronoun. Compare V, vi, 26 and The Tempest, I, ii, 162, where the reading of the folios is: ‘Some food we had and some fresh water that
A noble Neapolitan, Gonzalo,
Out of his charity, who being then appointed
Master of this design, did give us,’ &c.—
Kinnear (p. 320), without reference to Warburton, proposes the reading, ‘waving thy hand,’ and in corroboration of this change quotes Lucrece: ‘There pleading might you see great Nestor stand Making such sober action with his hand That it beguil'd attention,’ l. 1403. Kinnear interprets the next line, ‘“Which often thus,—correcting,” &c., i. e., often pressing thy hand on thy breast, thus—indicating truth and devotion,—so Lucrece: “This said, he struck his hand upon his breast, And kiss'd the fatal knife, to end his vow,” l. 1844. So King John, III, i, 21, Constance asks of Salisbury, “What means that hand upon that breast of thine?
Be these sad signs confirmers of thy words.”
The folio has “waving thy head,” but Ophelia, [Hamlet, II, i, 93], considered the action to indicate madness. The folio has “or say to them”—evidently a misprint; so naturally follows, “And thus far having stretch'd it, &c.”’—Perring (p. 301): When expositors make such a fluster about the government of the relative ‘which,’ are they oblivious of the verb ‘do’ and of its occasional ellipse, specially in conversation, supplemented by gesticulation? I can only suppose that they shrink from this explanation because of the simplicity of it; but the simplicity of an explanation, if common sense go along with it, should recommend it rather than otherwise.
Now humble Delius: ‘Humble’ is here not an adjective, as the editors appear to take it, but rather the imperative of the verb to humble, and governs the foregoing ‘which.’ Those editors who do not understand the construction reverse the positions of the words ‘Now’ and ‘That’ at the beginning of this and the following line. [See Text. Notes. To this interpretation Schmidt gives unqualified assent.—Ed.]—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): Many emendations of this passage have been proposed. The best are Johnson's with for ‘which’ or Mason's bow for ‘now.’ If the text remain unaltered, ‘humble’ must be taken as a verb in the imperative. But in that case ‘now’ has no force.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): The reading of the Folio is not very satisfactory, as the only possible way of explaining it seems to be to take ‘humble’ as an imperative. None of the emendations proposed are quite good enough to adopt. I rather incline to two—Johnson's with for ‘which’ and Hanmer's omission of ‘or.’ The ‘thus’ means ‘by these gestures of submission.’ In any case the grammar of Volumnia's speech is loose, but if ‘or’ is retained the sense is wrong. She is not suggesting two alternative modes of procedure, but one only. Which (written wch) and with are easily confused in MS.—Herford (Eversley Sh.): If the text is right, ‘humble’ must be an imperative. ‘Humble (your head), correcting thy pride with submissive gestures, like these.’ The passage barely yields sense; but of the many alterations proposed (such as Johnson's with for ‘which’) none can be called convincing. Professor Littledale proposes instead of ‘often,’ offer (as if for decapitation).— Verity (Student's Sh.): If the text is uncorrupt we must either (1) take ‘humble’ as a verb governing ‘which’—a very awkward arrangement—or (2) leave ‘which’ without any verb and suppose that Shakespeare intended an anacoluthon, perhaps to indicate the speaker's emotion. The latter interpretation is, however, not very appropriate to a masterful, self-contained character like Volumnia. It seems more likely that some corruption of the text has occurred in l. 98 or after. None of the emendations is satisfactory. A simple word like ‘Which’ at the beginning of a line could not be mistaken easily.—Case (Arden Sh.): It is simplest to take ‘Which often’ as elliptical for ‘And do it often’ or ‘Which do often.’ If Volumnia acts her advice, the words ‘Which often, thus’ could be mistaken for nothing else than ‘And wave it often in this way.’ The dilemma of the commentators between supposing an anacoluthon and making ‘humble’ an imperative verb with ‘Which’ as its object seems needless. humble as the ripest Mulberry Steevens: This fruit, when thoroughly ripe, drops from the tree.—Musgrave (Variorum, 1778): Æschylus (as appears from a fragment of his *f*p*u*g*e*s h)/ *e*k*t*o*p*o*s *a*u*t*p*a, preserved by Athenæus, [Epit.], lib. ii.) says of Hector that he was softer than mulberries.
or say to them R. G. White: As the superfluous syllable [‘or’] is just in that part of the verse in which such superfluity is absolutely inadmissible, and as it is as fatal to sense as it is to rhythm, I do not hesitate to excise it, although it has been hitherto retained [see Text. Notes.—Ed.]. The sentence is one of the involved kind which Shakespeare often wrote in his later years (see, for instance, Meas. for Meas. and Winter's Tale, passim), and all between ‘stretch'd it’ and ‘say to them’ is parenthetical, parenthesis between parenthesis; the direct construction being ‘Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand, and, thus far having stretched it (i. e., your disposition), say to them, &c. The introduction of ‘or’ may be safely attributed to the incapacity of the compositor to keep up to the strain of the sentence. He thought there must be a place for a rest and a fresh start.
bred in broyles . . . the soft way Malone: So in Othello, ‘Rude am I in my speech And little bless'd with the soft phrase of speech. . . . And little of this great world can I speak More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,’ [I, iii, 82].
to vse . . . to clayme Abbott (§ 216): After a conjunction and before an infinitive we often find I, thou, &c., where in Latin we should have me, te, &c. The conjunction seems to be regarded as introducing a new sentence instead of connecting one clause with another. Hence the pronoun is put in the nominative, and a verb is, perhaps, to be supplied from the context. ‘What he is indeed More suits you to conceive than I (find it suitable) to speak of.’—As You Like It, I, ii, 279. [See also ll. 151, 152 below.]
thou wilt frame Thy selfe . . . As thou hast power G. Wilkes (p. 313): Here is a repetition of the same royal principle of perfidy practised by Prince John of Lancaster (with the approbation of our author) against the army of the Archbishop of York, Mowbray, and Hastings, in 2 Henry IV.; the Prince putting the forces of these leaders mercilessly to the sword after having persuaded them to lay down their arms upon terms, and a full pardon, secured by his princely honor—a like perfidy to that perpetrated against the forces of Jack Cade and Wat Tyler (also with the approbation of the poet) after they had been induced to disband on the most solemn promises of amnesty from the king.
their hearts Steevens: The word all was supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer to remedy the apparent defect in this line. I am not sure, however, that we might not better read, as Mr Ritson proposes, ‘Even as she speaks it,’ &c. [The Text. Notes will reveal the fact that Steevens has here neglected to verify his references. The suppression of any mention of Capell either as regards text or commentary is, however, unfortunately in accord with Steevens's custom.—Ed.]
in a fierie Gulfe Steevens: That is, into. So in Richard III, ‘But first, I'll turn yon fellow in his grave,’ [I, ii, 262].—W. A. Wright: Perhaps in the present passage the preposition is not so closely connected with the verb, and is used in the ordinary sense both in this and the following line. See also III, i, 120. a fierie Gulfe Bradley (N. E. D., s. v. Gulf. 4.): A yawning chasm or abyss; an opening in the earth produced by an earthquake or volcanic action; a vast ravine or gorge. A fiery gulf, gulf of fire: an abyss of flame. [The present line quoted.]
a Bower Murray (N. E. D., s. v. 2): An inner apartment, especially as distinguished from the ‘hall,’ or large public room, in ancient mansions; hence, a chamber, a bed-room. Still in north. dial.; in literature only archaic and poetic. 1596 Spenser, Astrophel, 28, ‘Merily masking both in bower and hall.’—Verity (Student's Sh.) says that though ‘bower’ originally meant any room, it more particularly meant the ladies' private chamber or boudoir; ‘hence it is easy to see how “bower” came to connote effeminacy, as it does here in Coriolanus.’
if he can thereto frame his spirit MacCallum (p. 609): That is just the point; and one wonders how anyone who knew Coriolanus could expect of him so impossible a feat. There remains the expedient of absence, which Cominius, from the third place he assigns to it, himself seems to prefer. And in the circumstances it is obviously the best. If only the accused had withdrawn for a time, he would soon have been recalled. It is inconceivable that when the new expedition of the Volscians, which he alone foresaw, broke into Roman territory, the state would not at once have had recourse to the great commander. Nor would there have been much difficulty in doing so, since he would merely have betaken himself to voluntary retirement; and even had he been exiled in default, the mutual exasperation on both sides, which the last collision was to produce, would have been avoided. But again it is Volumnia's overbearing self-will that imposes on him the pernicious choice. And though, as I have said, this proposal is ideally the best, for in such cases management and compromise are legitimate enough and may be laudable, it is not only the worst in the present instance, but she gives it a turn that must have made it peculiarly revolting to her son. In her covetousness for the consular dignity she recommends such hypocrisy, trickery, and base cringing as the self-respect of no honest man, much less of a Coriolanus, could tolerate.
vnbarb'd Sconce Hawkins: ‘Unbarbed’ is bare, uncovered. In the times of chivalry, when a horse was fully armed and accoutred for the encounter, he was said to be barbed; probably from the old word barbe which Chaucer uses for a veil or covering.—Steevens: The suppliants of the people used to present themselves to them in sordid and neglected dresses. ‘Unbarbed sconce’ is untrimmed or unshaven head. To barb a man was to shave him. [True to form, Steevens follows up this interpretation with an apt quotation from Promos and Cassandra, 1578, wherein ‘barbe’ is used in this sense. He also remarks that ‘to barbe the field was to cut the corn,’ giving as an example of this, ‘The labring hunter tufts the thick unbarbed grounds,’ Drayton, Polyolbion, Song xiii. Steevens quotes an objection by Dean Milles' in his comment on the Pseudo-Rowley, p. 215, ‘But would that appearance have been particular at Rome in the time of Coriolanus?’ The Puck of Commentators was for once caught napping; he answered that ‘Every one but the Dean understands that Shakespeare gives to all countries the fashions of his own,’ apparently forgetting that he had begun his note with the remark that this custom was peculiar to Rome. He concludes his note with a grudging admission that the signification given by Hawkins may be, perhaps, correct. All of which seems to justify the comment of W. A. Wright that ‘it is doubtful whether Steevens is serious in this interpretation’ of ‘unbarbed’ as untrimmed.—Ed.]—Professor T. S. Baynes, in an article in the Edinburgh Review for October, 1872 (p. 369), gives so clear an exposition of the matter in dispute as between these two interpretations that I gratefully avail myself of his remarks: ‘Curiously enough, of the two explanations [of unbarbed], that by Hawkins, the more correct, has been almost unanimously rejected by modern editors and critics. Thus Mr Dyce explains unbarbed, “unshorn, untrimmed,” [Glossary, s. v.]; the Cambridge Editors give the same meaning in the Globe Edition; while Todd in his edition of Johnson, Richardson in his Dictionary, and Nares in his Glossary give “unbarbed” as unshorn, each quoting this passage in Coriolanus as the example. Mr Staunton, it is true, adopts Hawkins' more correct interpretation, but he does this without a word of explanation or defence. Now, with an erroneous rendering in almost undisputed possession of the ground, this is hardly sufficient. It is necessary to indicate at least the reasons that make the one interpretation right, and the other wrong. It may be stated at the outset that the words “barbed” and “unbarbed” are used both literally and figuratively for shaven and unshorn. But in this speech of Coriolanus the term cannot be interpreted in this sense, as it would then have no real meauing or relevancy at all. So far as mere personal appearance is concerned, Coriolanus had just presented himself in the most public and official manner, both in the Capitol and the Forum before the senate and the citizens, with the confidence of a proud nature, and the indifference to mere pouncet-boxes and curling-irons proper to a soldier and a hero. There could thus be no possible reason against his returning, on the ground of mere personal appearance. If he really were somewhat rough and unkempt, he would surely, under the circumstances, be the better pleased. Least of all would he think of calling in the barber before presenting himself to the greasy multitude. The speech obviously refers not to mere personal appearance, but to the accredited signs of deference, humility, and respect. One of these—and that the most eloquently submissive—was uncovering, standing bareheaded, and bowing in a lowly manner to the assembled citizens. This the proud spirit of Coriolanus could not stomach, and he had the greatest difficulty in forcing his stubborn will into even momentary and simulated acquiescence. This was the bitterest element in the partial and mocking ceremony he had just gone through. When urged by his friends to speak to the citizens and ask their suffrages, according to established usage, he replies, “I cannot
Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them.”
Here “stand naked” cannot, of course, be taken literally, though it might be supposed to refer indirectly to showing his wounds. This, however, Coriolanus did not do, and the phrase must be understood as referring primarily to the fact that he was obliged to stand uncovered, bare-headed, before the “bisson multitude.” But his gall so rises at the degradation, that while going through the form he cannot help flouting the citizens to their face, “since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise the insinuating nod.” Again, Volumnia, well knowing what the chief difficulty was, addresses herself most earnestly to this point, detailing to her son in eager gestures the submissive actions by which he must at once seek to regain the popular favour. In her excited and intensely dramatic address [ll. 91-105] we see Volumnia pointing to her son's bonnet, and showing by her own action the way in which he should use it in addressing the citizens. At last, in reply to the reiterated and united entreaties of mother and friends, Coriolanus impatiently exclaims, “Must I go show them my unbarb'd sconce?” It may be easily shown that “unbarbed” has the meaning which the context thus requires. A war-horse protected by head- and chest-pieces of defensive armour was technically said to be barbed, barded, or bard, these being all different forms of the same word derived from the French bardé, which Cotgrave renders, “barbed or trapped as a great horse.” . . . To show an unbarbed sconce is thus to show an uncovered, unprotected sconce; in other words, to appear bareheaded. That the word in this connection cannot possibly refer to shaving is evident from the fact that sconce means head, and is never applied to the face by Shakespeare or his contemporaries.’ [This article appears also in Baynes's volume, Shakespeare Studies, and Other Essays, p. 301. Since this exposition by Baynes modern editors uniformly adopt this explanation of the word ‘unbarbed’; Steevens's explanation, though frequently mentioned, has been discarded.—Ed.] Sconce W. A. Wright: ‘Sconce’ is a half-comic word for head, used with intentional contempt by Coriolanus. See Cotgrave: ‘Teste: f. A head, pate, skonce, nole, costard, noddle. [The original meaning of ‘sconce’ is a small fort or bulwark, thence applied to a helmet, and thus to the head itself.—Ed.]
Must I . . . that it must beare F. C. Sharp (p. 70): In the entire range of Shakespeare's plays there is but a single record of a genuine conflict between the impulse to speak the truth, at whatever cost, and the desire to dissemble for what, apart from the deception, would be recognised as a worthy purpose. Coriolanus, having ruined his cause with the people by his plainness of speech, is urged by his friends to return to the Forum and disown his insulting epithets. At first he cannot bring himself to consent. But the ground of his refusal is no more an objection to deceit as such than it is a regard for social veracity. It is solely the aversion of the proud patrician to the humiliation of bending his uncovered head before the despised mob, of admitting to himself and to them that he dare not say what he pleases. His mother understands him perfectly. Determined that he shall yield, her last move is to appeal to his love for her, the appeal that had never failed. Coriolanus has within him the spirit of the Spartan prisoners who, rather than bear the name of slaves, took their lives. Like the mediæval knight, the lie was disgraceful in his eyes primarily, if not solely, because the sign of a cowardly spirit.
this single Plot Warburton: That is, piece, portion; applied to a piece of earth, and here elegantly transferred to the body, carcase.—Delius: Coriolanus means the spot of ground upon which he is directly standing, and from that proceeds to the consideration of his own body. ‘They to dust should grind it’ refers to ‘this mould’ alone.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): By ‘this single plot’ Coriolanus certainly does not mean the spot of ground upon which he is standing, but rather his own person. This same mode of expression appears in the Sonnets: ‘Why should my heart think that a several plot? Which my heart knows the wide world's common place,’ [Sonnet cxxxvii, l. 9]. The elucidating apposition in the next line—‘this mould of Marcius’—precludes any other interpretation.—W. A. Wright: Coriolanus speaks of his own person, not of the ground upon which he stands, as Delius interprets. The words which follow, ‘This mould of Marcius,’ make this clear. Plot, to loose This Mould Theobald: The pointing of all the impressions shows the editors did not understand this passage. What Plot is this, they are dreaming of, to lose the mould of Marcius? But plot and mould are but one and the same thing; and mean no more than the flesh and substance of Marcius's body. ‘Were there no other consequences annex'd,’ says he, ‘than the destruction of my body, they should grind it to powder,’ &c.
You haue put me . . . toth' Life E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): As Coriolanus's fate becomes too much for him, our sympathies swing to his side, and his position, at least when he is not angry, becomes charged with pathos.— MacCallum (p. 603): He was justified in objecting to methods of dissimulation and flattery, but, if only he had been reasonable, a middle would not have been hard to find which should safeguard his self-respect while pacifying the populace. It is because his self-respect is of passion, not of reason, that he is so unconciliatory, and therefore almost as culpable as if he were guilty of the opposite fault. Plutarch, indeed, thinks he is more so. In his comparison between him and Alcibiades he is in this matter more lenient to the latter. [See note by MacCallum, II, ii, 22-24, where the passage from the comparison is given.—Ed.] such a part, which neuer Malone: So in 3 Henry VI: II, vi, 66, ‘—he would avoid such bitter taunts Which in the time of death he gave our father.’ Again, above, ll. 71, 72; also V, iii, 8; also, V, iii, 155. This phraseology was introduced by Shakespeare in the first of these passages, for the old play on which 3 Henry VI. was founded reads, ‘As in the time of death,’ &c. The word as has been substituted for ‘which’ by the modern editors in the passage before us.— [The words, ‘the passage before us,’ seem to refer to this passage in Coriolanus, but Malone means that from 3 Henry VI, where, as a matter of fact, the Folio reads, ‘Which,’ and Pope, following the older play, reads As, thus also the editors down to Malone, who restores the Folio reading. This ambiguous wording misled the meticulous Cambridge Edd., who, in their Note VIII, give this last sentence of Malone's note alone, adding: ‘We have been unable to find it [the reading as for which in this line in Coriolanus] in Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, Johnson, Capell, or Steevens. It is probably a printer's emendation in some of the numerous reprints of the play.’ Their own Text. Notes on the passage in 3 Henry VI. would have settled the point in question.—Ed.]
discharge W. A. Wright: That is, perform; a technical word for playing a part upon the stage. Compare Mid. N. Dream, I, ii, 95, ‘I will discharge it in either your straw-coloured beard,’ &c. And IV, ii, 8, ‘You have not a man in all Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he.’
performe a part Malone: Our author is still thinking of his theatre. Cominius has just said, ‘Come, come, we'll prompt you.’
quier'd Johnson: That is, which played in concert with my drum.— Steevens: So in Mer. of Ven., ‘Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubins,’ [V, i, 62. Murray (N. E. D., s. v. Choired, Quired) marks this past participle of the verb as ‘rare.’ The earliest quotation there given is 1796; the present passage, therefore, escaped his vigilant corps of readers. Under Choir, Quire: To sing as a choir; to sing in chorus, the above line from Mer. of Ven. is quoted.—Ed.]
Small as an Eunuch W. A. Wright calls attention to Hanmer's reading, eunuch's, and compares, for this construction, I, vi, 34; see, therefore, his note thereon. the Virgin voyce R. G. White: Criticism of Shakespeare's poetry has no place in this work unless as an aid to the settlement of his text; but I may be pardoned for remarking that this is the most infelicitous use of epithet that I remember to have noticed in all these plays.—Hudson (ed. ii.): White notes ‘virgin’ here as an ‘infelicitous use of epithet.’ I cannot conceive why, unless on the ground that virgins never use their voice in singing lullaby to other people's children. Do none but mothers lull babies asleep?
That Babies lull a-sleepe W. A. Wright: The folios read, and Shakespeare probably wrote, ‘lull,’ in accordance with a law which accounts for similar inaccuracies, that when a verb is separated from its subject by an intervening substantive of a different number it frequently agrees with the latter. See Hamlet, I, ii, 38, ‘More than the scope Of these deleted articles allow.’ Again, Love's Labour's Lost, IV, iii, 345, ‘And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods Make heaven drowsy with the harmony.’ Sidney Walker supposed that ‘voice’ was plural, but this is unnecessary.—[In assigning this supposition to Walker Wright was, I fear, misled by a slight ambiguity in a note on this line by Dyce, ed. ii, who says that W. N. Lettsom, Walker's editor, retains the folio reading on the supposition that ‘voice’ is here the plural, giving, as his authorisation for this, Walker's Versification, art. LI, where is recorded a number of examples wherein nouns ending in s, ss, ce, etc., take a plural verb; but neither Walker nor Lettsom quote the present line as such. In any case the supposition is Lettsom's, not Walker's.—Ed.]—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): An inversion made through the emphasis characteristic of Coriolanus. He always bears on hard, and here his point is contempt for the Harlot's spirit, or the Eunuch or Virgin voice that lulls Babies, etc.—Deighton: I retain the reading of the folios because of the harshness of so many consecutive sibilants.
Tent . . . Make . . . bend For other examples of this optative use of the subjunctive see Abbott, § 365. Tent in my cheekes Johnson: That is, take up residence.—R. G. White: Dr Johnson's explanation has been hitherto accepted, and has given this passage in other dictionaries than his own, as illustrative of that verbal signification of ‘tent.’ But, as applied to ‘smiles,’ this appears to me a strained and very unhappy use of the word. I believe that ‘tent’ here is the ‘tent’ of ‘tent-stich,’ a needlewoman's phrase as old as this play, and that ‘tent in my cheeks’ means catch in, or draw in, my cheeks.
Who For other examples wherein who personifies an irrational antecedent see Abbott, § 264. On the present passage Abbott queries ‘But is who the antecedent here to “me” implied in “my”? (see § 218).’
an Almes W. A. Wright: Compare Much Ado, II, iii, 164, ‘An he should it were an alms to hang him.’ And Acts, iii, 3, ‘Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.’ The form of the word in Anglo-Saxon and Early English is ælmesse, elmesse, or almesse, from the Greek ἐλεημοσύνη.
honor mine owne truth Johnson: Ράντων δὲ μάλισ᾽ αἰσχύνεω σαύτον. Pythagoras, [Golden Verses, No. xii, ‘And above all things, respect thyself.’ The precept of Polonius, ‘This above all: to thine ownself be true,’ seems a closer parallel than the present passage. There was, moreover, no translation of the Carmina Aurea until the middle of the seventeenth century.—Ed.]
To begge of thee . . . Then thou See l. 102 supra, and note by Abbott.
let Thy Mother . . . Thy . . . Stoutnesse Johnson: This is obscure. Perhaps she means, ‘Go do thy worst; let me rather feel the utmost extremity that thy pride can bring upon us, than live thus in fear of thy dangerous obstinacy.’— Hudson, with a slight verbal change, adopts Johnson's explanation.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): This passage is only to be understood if we take ‘fear’ as an imperative, and not as an infinitive dependent on ‘let,’ ‘Let thy mother rather feel thy pride, than that thou hast or showest fear for the dangerous consequences of thy pride.’ The words thus carry out the natural parallel to the foregoing, ‘it is my more dishonor,’ etc.—W. A. Wright, accepting Johnson's interpretation as correct, remarks on Schmidt's, ‘But Volumnia is quite sincere in her desire to induce Coriolanus to yield to the people, and such an argument [as Schmidt's] would be a strange one to employ for the purpose.’—Thiergen (p. 206): Schmidt's taking of ‘fear’ as the imperative seems to me quite impossible by reason of the construction of the passage.—Perring (p. 302): Let it be observed that almost in the same breath that Volumnia avows a feeling of pride of some sort, she disavows the pride which stiffened Coriolanus (l. 157), as not derived from her, nor appertaining to her, but of his own begetting. And secondly, it is evident that Coriolanus felt that his mother had chidden him, and had not come round to his view of her own free will, but rather because she felt that she could not do otherwise. Her surrender to her son, then, was not a cheerful and spontaneous, but a half-hearted and compulsory one. Thus much generally; and now to come to particulars: in what terms does Volumnia describe her own feelings? Certainly not as one who feared the consequences; for (to use her own words) she mocked at death with as big a heart as Coriolanus did. How then? As one who felt pride, but not exactly the pride which Coriolanus felt; but a rational pride akin to what we sometimes call self-respect—a feeling that she had gone as far in entreating her son as a mother, or at least as Coriolanus' mother, should. He would be too proud to be continually suing, and continually denied; well then—that pride of his she too felt; she let it be as he willed; she passively permitted it, albeit it was contrary to her wish, her counsel, her best and highest judgment. I can almost fancy that Shakespeare had in his mind here that famous chapter in Israelitish history, when Jehovah, finding his people were determined to have a visible and temporal king like all the nations around them, let them have their will; allowing it rather than approving of it, conceding what was, in reality, repugnant to his commands and his counsel.—Verity (Student's Sh.) quotes Johnson's interpretation and adds. ‘Better, she means apparently, experience the worst in one's own person than live in constant fear of what the future may bring to you and to us. To know, even to suffer, the worst is a relief, compared with constant anticipations of evil.’— Deighton: If, though your mother, I must bow to your pride, that is a thing which I can bear; to fear the dangers it may bring upon us is, to one of my nature, an impossibility.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Volumnia gives up her cause, and resigns herself to the sympathy with Coriolanus's pride, which has throughout been competing with her alarm at his obstinacy.—Case, on the foregoing note, says: ‘But his pride is just what she cannot sympathise with, and disowns in him—“owe thy pride thyself.” Johnson's interpretation, though accepted by recent editors, assumes too much, and practically identifies “pride” with “stoutness,” which more nearly corresponds with “valiantness.” The fact seems to be that Volumnia, in her resentment, exhorts herself, not Coriolanus, saying in effect, “now let the sense of thy pride rather concern thy mother than fear of danger of thy valiant obstinacy.”’
Thy Valiantnesse was mine W. A. Wright: So Cassius, in Jul. Cæs., IV, iii, 120, attributes his hasty temper to his mother, ‘That rash humour which my mother gave me.’ And the influence of the mother in the formation of the child's character is again referred to in Macbeth, I, vii, 72-74. [See also Richard III: IV, iv, 157, 158, ‘Madam, I have a touch of your [his mother's] condition Which cannot brook the accent of reproof.’—Ed.] 158. Pray be content, etc.] John Ruskin in a letter to Miss Susan Beever, 16th March, 1874, says: ‘I had a real cry—with quite wet tears—yesterday morning over what, to me, is the prettiest bit in all Shakespeare, [ll. 158-165 here given]. And almost next to it comes (to me always, I mean in my own fancy) Virgilia: “Yes, certain; there's a letter for you; I saw it,”’ [Works, ed. Cook & Wedderburn, vol. xxxvii, p. 87].
Cogge W. A. Wright: That is, cheat, cozen, obtain by falsehood. See Richard III: I, iii, 48, ‘Because I cannot flatter and speak fair, Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive and cog.’ Cotgrave gives: ‘Ioncher. To strew . . . also, to gull; cog, or foist with; lie vnto, deciue, giue gudgeons, beare in hand with vntruthes; also, to dallie, ieast or toy with.’
The word is, Mildely W. A. Wright: That is, the pass-word, order of the day. Compare Jul. Cæs., V, v, 4, ‘Slaying is the word.’
Let them . . . mine Honor Case: Let them invent accusations against me, I will answer them in accordance with mine honour.