Cotus Beeching (Falcon Sh.): This name is not classical.—Verity (Student's Sh.): The name (in Roman historians) of several Thracian and Macedonian rulers. I suppose that Shakespeare's classical names came mostly from North's Plutarch and Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis. [In the classical Dictionaries the name of the Thracian ruler is given Cotys. As Beeching notes, the spelling in the text is not classical.—Ed.]
in being Coriolanus Steevens: That is, in having derived that surname from the sack of Corioli.
Companions Malone: ‘Companion’ was formerly used in same sense as we now use the word fellow. [For other examples of this use of the word see Schmidt (Lex.), s. v. 4.]
Let me . . . your Harth Steevens: Here our author has both followed and deserted his original, the old translation of Plutarch. The silence of the servants of Aufidius did not suit the purposes of the dramatist. [See Appendix: Source of the Plot, p. 636.—Ed.]
Pray you poore Gentleman . . . auoid: Come Capell: It was not observ'd in due time that these lines were metrical, and should be broken as follows: ‘Pray you, poor gentleman,
Take up some other station: here's no place
For you; 'pray you, avoid.’
The speech following perfects the line; and the five speeches preceding are metrical likewise.
batten Skeat (Dict., s. v. 1): To grow fat; to fatten (Scand.). Shakespeare has batten (Intrans.), Hamlet, III, iv, 67, [‘Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed And batten on this moor’]; but Milton has ‘battening our flocks,’ Lycidas, l. 29. Strictly, it is Intransitive. Icelandic: batna, to grow better, recover; as distinguished from bæta, trans., to improve, make better.
the Canopy Compare Hamlet, II, ii, 311, ‘This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament.’
Beats him away François-Victor Hugo (Introd., p. 30, foot-note): Shakespeare here departs from his authority in order that there may be inflicted on the fugitive hero the supreme humiliation of a quarrel with lackies.—Verplanck: Shakespeare has, in this rough brawl with the servants, deviated from Plutarch, and lessened the grand, simple effect of the original story, which Thomson, in his Coriolanus, had the good taste to preserve by making his hero silently and quietly place himself muffled up upon ‘—the sacred hearth,
Beneath the dread protection of its Lares,
And sit majestic there,’ [I, iii].
In the rest of the scene Shakespeare works up the story of the old Greek biographer with equal spirit and fidelity. [The good taste manifested by Thomson in the present instance, which, by the way, may be open to question, is not a conspicuous feature of his turgid and undramatic treatment of the story. He was, however, influenced by Livy's version rather than by that in North's Plutarch.— Ed.]
Whence com'st thou? . . . name my selfe Bayfield (p. 200): The Folio continues Coriolanus's speech [after ‘know'st me,’ l. 58] as prose. Editors follow it in the first two lines, and then, making ‘If Tullus’ a short line, rightly go on in verse. Their arrangement is, however, hardly satisfactory, for a tripody, a tetrapody, and a monopody in succession form a sequence that is, I should say, without parallel. The fact is, nothing can be done with the lines if the Folio's abbreviations are retained, and I would read and arrange as follows: ‘Auf. Whence | com'st thou? What | wouldst thou?
Thy | name? Why | speakest | not?
Speak, man: | what is thy | name?
Cor. [Unmuffling]. If, | Tullus,
Not | yet thou | knowest | me, and | seeing me, dost not
Think me for the | man I | am, ne | cessi | ty
Commands me name myself.’
Line 59 is now of the common type which has a trochaic beginning immediately followed by a resolution. ‘If’ properly occupies a whole foot because of the pause made after it for emphasis. Such a pause must be made in delivering the words whatever arrangement be adopted, and since it is important, the poet naturally so provided for it. Coriolanus, who speaks in the low and lifeless tones of a broken man, begins very slowly and with great solemnity, his manner forming a fine dramatic contrast to the impatiently sharp and jerky sentences of Aufidius. It is a telling situation if well acted, and Shakespeare, even though he was Shakespeare, must have expended some little thought upon it. I cannot forbear drawing attention to the perfect rhythm of the three lines uttered by Coriolanus. But for the trifling inversion ‘not yet thou know'st’ for ‘thou knowest not yet’ the sentence has the balance of natural and musical prose; indeed, if it were not marked off into lines, many would take it for prose, as did the reviser of the Folio. Yet it is verse of Shakespeare's very best for rhythm and balance, and the art shown in one point in particular, the quadrisyllabic ‘Think me for the,’ is worth noting. He might have written ‘Think me the | man I | am,’ but he does not. With that sense of dramatic fitness which never ceases to amaze us, just in order that Coriolanus may not too obviously be speaking in verse at such a moment, he modifies the ordinary rhythm by the introduction of the single syllable ‘for,’ and the disguise is as complete as it need be. It would be difficult to find a better illustration of the ideal of blank verse at which he aimed in his mature work— prose that is also verse, and verse that is not, and yet might be, prose. Whence . . . Thy name Abbott (§ 510): Apparent lines of four accents can sometimes be explained by giving the full pronunciation to contractions, such as s for eth, 'd for ed, 'll for will, 't for it, &c; or they are lines of three accents with a detached foot. [Of the present line Abbott remarks, ‘But the pauses between the abrupt questions may be a sufficient explanation.’] What . . . Thy name? Collier gives as a corrected reading of his F2, wouldst thou. Inasmuch as F2 reproduces the abbreviated form of ‘thou’ as in F1, both in my copy and the Methuen facsimile, it would seem that Collier's Folio, 1632, has here an omission of this symbol, and the omission was supplied by the MS. Corrector.—Dyce (ed. ii.) queries: ‘and what wouldst thou? say, thy name?’ In this he is, however, partly anticipated by Capell. See Text. Notes.—Ed. 58. If Tullus, etc.] This speech and the following fifty lines are taken with but few verbal changes from North's Plutarch. Shakespeare evidently recognised that it would be difficult to improve upon the virility and the simplicity of Sir Thomas's translation, not from the Greek, be it remembered, but from Amyot's French. On this point Trench (p. 59) has this to say: ‘A word or two on this subject of Shakespeare's obligations to Plutarch. Nowhere, as is abundantly clear, does our English poet make any pretence of concealing these, but adopts all, even to the very words of Sir Thomas North, with only such transposition and alteration as may be necessary to give them a rhythmical cadence and flow. He is too rich, and conscious that he is too rich to fear the charge of endeavoring to pass himself off for such by the laying of his hands upon the riches of others. And here, indeed, is what properly determines whether an author should be adjudged by us as a plagiarist or not. The question is not what he appropriates, but what proportion these appropriations bear to that which he has of his own; whether, if these were withdrawn and resumed by their rightful owners, they would leave him poor. If such would be the result, then, however few and small these may have been, we can count him no better than a daw, passing himself off for a peacock by the aid of feathers stuck into his plumage, and not properly his own. If, on the other hand, all revindication by others of what is theirs would leave him essentially as rich as he was before, his position in the world of poetry is not affected by the bringing home to him of any number of these appropriations. We need not fear to allow Shakespeare to be tried by this rule; and we can only admire that noble confidence in his own resources which left him free without scruple to adopt and to turn to his own uses whatever he anywhere found which was likely to prove serviceable to the needs of his art.’ [See Appendix: Source of the Plot, p. 636.—Ed.]
thinke me for the man I am C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): We believe that the present passage affords one of those instances . . . where Shakespeare employs a usually known form of expression while introducing his own special word into it; thus giving the effect of the usually known expression together with the effect and the additional meaning of his own introduced word, so that here, ‘think me for the man I am,’ while giving the impression of ‘take me for the man I am,’ conveys also the impression of ‘recognize me in thy thought for the man I am.’ It is this skilful method of employing conventional and wellknown phrases in an unconventional and original manner which forms one of the merits of Shakespeare's peculiar and masterly style.—W. A. Wright: Compare Meas. For Meas., V, i, 144, ‘I know him for a man divine and holy.’ And Henry VIII: II, iv, 45: ‘The king, your father, was reputed for
A prince most prudent.’
commands me name For other examples wherein the ‘to’ of the infinitive is omitted after certain verbs see Abbott, § 349. Compare Jonson, Sejanus, III, i, ‘If the Senate still command me serve.’
the Volcians eares Collier (ed. ii.): We would fain read ‘Volscian ears.’ [See Text. Notes.—Ed.]
apparance W. A. Wright: Thus spelt also in Henry V. (Folio): V, ii, 76: ‘Why, what reade you there,
That have so cowarded and chac'd your blood
Out of apparance.’
It was probably a recognized form of the word, and represented the pronunciation, for Cotgrave gives: Apparance: f. An apparance, or appearance? In Florio's Worlde of Wordes (1598) we find: ‘Appariscenza, comelines, seemlines, apparance.’ And Huloet, Abcedarium (1552), has: Apparance. Species. [Murray (N. E. D., s. v. Apparence, = ance). The earlier form of the substantive answering to adjective apparent, which was subsequently refashioned as Appearance, by assimilation to the verb appear. Apparence survived, especially in senses which connected it more closely with apparent than appear, till c1686.]
Though thy Tackles . . . a Noble Vessell Steevens: A corresponding idea occurs in Cymbeline: ‘The ruin speaks, that sometime
It was a worthy building,’ [IV, ii, 354].
memorie Johnson: The Oxford editor [Hanmer], not knowing that ‘memory’ was used at that time for memorial, alters it to memorial.—W. A. Wright: Compare V, vi, 188 and As You Like It, II, iii, 3, where Adam addresses Orlando: ‘O my sweet master! O you memory
Of old Sir Rowland!’
And King Lear, IV, vii, 7, ‘These needs are memories of those worser hours.’ In the present passage Shakespeare has taken the word from North's Plutarch.
hath deuour'd W. A. Wright: The verb is singular because the subject, ‘cruelty and envy,’ is regarded as expressing a single idea, and is probably equivalent to envious cruelty. So in Psalm lxxxiv, 2, ‘My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.’—Verity compares Milton, Lycidas, 6, 7, ‘Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear, Compels me to disturb your season due.’
Hoop'd W. A. Wright: See As You Like It, III, ii, 203, ‘And yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping!’ Both forms [hoop'd and whoop'd] were in use. Sherwood's English-French Dictionary at the end of Cotgrave (1632) gives: ‘To hoope or hallow. Huyer, huïer,’ and Cotgrave has, ‘Forhuer. To whoope, shout, hoot, hollow; cry whoo-whup.’ Earlier still we find in Palsgrave (1530), ‘I whoope, I call. Ie huppe.’
of all the Men . . . voided thee Steevens: So in Macbeth, ‘Of all men else I have avoided thee’ [V, viii, 4].
voided Rolfe: We think the Folio spelling should be retained. In Golding's Cæsar we read, ‘they decreed that all such as eyther by sicknes or age were unnecessary for the warres, should void the towne’; that is, leave the town, not clear the town, make it void or empty, as they were but a part of the population. Compare Barrow, ‘watchful application of mind in voiding prejudices’; that is, avoiding them (not casting them out as Webster defines it). The same author has voidance = avoidance, ‘the voidance of fond conceits,’ etc. in meere spight . . . my Banishers Case (Arden Sh.): The intense pride of Coriolanus cannot endure the consciousness of being a living monument to the triumph of his banishers. He will escape it by death and be ‘full quit’ of them that way if he cannot have revenge. Some, however, take ‘quit of’ as equivalent to revenged upon, as we say ‘quits with,’ and as Hortensio says ‘quit with’ in Tam. of Shr., III, i, 92, ‘if once I find thee ranging Hortensio will be quit with thee by changing.’
heart of wreake Johnson: That is, a heart of resentment.—Steevens: ‘Wreak’ is an ancient term for revenge. So in Tit. And., ‘Take wreak on Rome for this ingratitude,’ [IV, iii, 33].—Wright compares the corresponding passage in North's Plutarch: ‘If thou hast any heart to be wrecked of the injuries thy enemies have done thee, speed thee now.’ that wilt Dyce (ed. i.): Here ‘wilt’ is usually changed to will, but the expression is elliptical—that wilt, i. e., that thou wilt.—Ibid. (ed. ii.): The Folio has ‘wilt’; which in my former edition I inconsiderately retained and defended.— —W. A. Wright: That is, that thou wilt. ‘Wilt’ is probably retained here in consequence of the immediately preceding ‘thee,’ just as above, l. 70, ‘My name is Caius Marcius who hath done,’ &c.
maimes Of shame Johnson: That is, disgraceful diminutions of territory.—Delius: Rather, those devastations which the Romans had inflicted on the Volscian territory, and which, like to open wounds, should be stopped. So Coriolanus speaks a little further on, ‘Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country's breast.’—Case (Arden Sh.): Those ignominious, dishonouring mutilations, or disablements (possibly territory annexed or cities occupied or, it may be, tribute. The verb ‘stop’ implies inflictions that continue, such as these would be, rather than the mere marks of invasion). See 1 Henry IV: IV, i, 42, ‘Your father's sickness is a maim to us.’
seene through thy Country Deighton: Which your country shows from one end to the other, though there seems to be also the idea of rents in a garment.— Case: It may be as Deighton puts it. Or, just possibly, Coriolanus intends to contrast the ‘particular wrongs’ of Aufidius (his personal beatings) with the shames which he apprehends through his country, and which affect him as being hers.
the Spleene Of all the vnder Fiends Steevens: Shakespeare, by imputing a stronger degree of inveteracy to subordinate fiends, seems to intimate, and very justly, that malice of revenge is more predominant in the lower than the upper classes of society. This circumstance is repeatedly exemplified in the conduct of Jack Cade and other heroes of the mob.—Malone: This appears to me to be refining too much. ‘Under fiends’ in this passage does not mean, as I conceive, fiends subordinate, or in an inferior station, but infernal fiends. So in 1 Henry VI: ‘Now, ye familiar spirits that are call'd
Out of the powerful regions under earth,’ &c., [V, iii, 10].
In Shakespeare's time some fiends were supposed to inhabit the air, others to dwell under ground, &c.—Steevens: As Shakespeare uses the word underskinker to express the lowest rank of waiter, I do not find myself disposed to give up my explanation of under fiends. Instances, however, of ‘too much refinement’ are not peculiar to me.—Boswell: ‘Under fiends,’ I apprehend, means no more than the common phrase, the fiends below.
Thou . . . and that For other examples wherein that is omitted and then inserted see Abbott, § 285.
Auf. Oh Martius, Martius Viehoff (Sh's Coriolan.: Sh. Jahrbuch, iv, 51): Aufidius recognizes Coriolanus as soon as he casts aside his disguise; he feigns for a short time not to know him in order to bring his hated opponent to a circumstantial declaration, and under cover of this to form his own plan as to how he will treat him. However warm and sincere his first speech, beginning ‘Oh Martius, Martius,’ may sound, it is by no means honest. The superabundance of his expressions and his bearing towards Coriolanus as the 3d Servant describes it [ll. 199-210] plainly point to dissimulation and duplicity. It is, indeed, quite usual with Shakespeare, if he portrays love and faith in the form of hypocrisy, to choose the most glaring colours. As regards Aufidius it is for the first time, at the close of the play, when his hated opponent lies dead before him, that we may trust his words when he says: ‘My rage is gone
And I am struck with sorrow.’—
Verity (Student's Sh.): We have noted how closely Shakespeare has followed North's Plutarch in the speech assigned to Coriolanus. Here we should observe how he has amplified the very brief reply of Tullus Aufidius given by Plutarch. This amplification is part of Shakespeare's general treatment of the Aufidius element, which bulks far more important in the play than in the history.— S. Brooke (p. 239): Aufidius is the instrument of the fate of Coriolanus. He shows the bottom of his heart in his answer to his former enemy. But his envy is only rooted out because he sees his ancient foe in the gloom of misfortune. Envy is too subtle a devil to leave the heart so soon, and Shakespeare knows its fashions. Moreover, with envy ever goes hate. It is envy's boon companion. And Aufidius's hate was deep: ‘Where I find him, were it
At home, upon my brother's guard, even there
Against the hospitable canon, would I
Wash my fierce hand in 's heart,’ [I, x, 27-30].
Such a hatred does not die; it only sleeps for a time. We have a comfortable way of thinking that our vices have gone when the reason of them is momentarily taken away. It was agreeable to Aufidius at first to be magnanimous to his rival, to be able to say ‘Poor Coriolanus,’ and to give him half his power. That flattered his patronising pride. But the moment Coriolanus again took precedence, envy came back with seven more devils than before; and in the resurrection of this envy and its results lies the rest of the drama. The envy of Aufidius is deepened by the pride of Coriolanus, who will, even in exile, have the first place; and he uses this insolent pride, as the Tribunes used it before, to work the ruin of Coriolanus, who had learned nothing from all his pain and follies, who was still himself his only law, his only right.
Should from . . . Martius Dyce opines that the metrical arrangement of these lines as given in the Folio is doubtless right, though l. 110 ‘is certainly mutilated.’ He speaks with decided disfavor of Pope's insertion (see Text. Notes). In his ed. ii. he queries: ‘Should from out yonder cloud speak divine things?’ quoting in support of this Hamlet, III, ii, 392, ‘yonder cloud.’ Both Wordsworth and Hudson, ed. ii, adopt Dyce's conjectured emendation in their texts.—Ed.—Lettsom (ap. Walker, Crit., iii, 209, foot-note): The arrangement of the old copies is probably right, but has not a word, perhaps cleaving, dropped out before ‘cloud’?—Abbott (§ 505) classes l. 110 as among those of four accents, as thus: ‘Shóuld from | yond clóud, | spéak di | vine thíngs.’
‘But,’ he adds, ‘I should prefer: “If Jupiter
Shóuld from | yond clóud, | spéak di | vine thíngs | and sáy
‘'Tis true,’— | I'd nót | belíeve | them móre
Than thée, | all-nó | ble Március.”
Shakespeare would have written “things divine,” not “divine things,” at the end of a verse.’ [See Text. Notes, ll. 110-112.—Ed.]—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): I have adopted Schmidt's [Capell's?] arrangement of these lines. In any case, one line must be octosyllabic, and the best dramatic effect is gained by letting it be l. 112. The place of the missing foot is filled up by a long pause, during which the old rivals gaze into each other's eyes.
where against For other examples of this transposition of the preposition see Abbott, § 203.
scarr'd the Moone Capell: Hyperbole is the natural speech of exulting, and Aufidius has several strains of it, but this the most signal; one of its words is ambiguous in its present orthography, and the old spelling should have been kept to, which is ‘scarr'd’; the face (as we call it) of the moon has something of that appearance, and hence rose the idea.—Malone: The old copy has ‘scarr'd,’ and, I believe, rightly. The modern editors read scar'd, that is, frightened, a reading to which the following line in Richard III. certainly adds some support, ‘Amaze the welkin with your broken staves,’ [V, iii, 341].—Steevens: I read with the modern editors, rejecting the Chrononhotonthological idea of scarifying the moon. The verb to scare is again written scarr in the old copy of Winter's Tale, ‘They have scarr'd away two of my best sheep,’ [III, iii, 66].—J. Mitford (Gentleman's Maga., Nov., 1844, p. 186): See Drayton in England's Parnassus, p. 450: ‘The staves, like yce, in shivers small did flie
The splints, like byrds, did mount into the skie.’—
Delius, following Malone, compares, for a like hyperbole, Winter's Tale, ‘The ship boring the moon with her mainmast,’ III, iii, 92.—W. S. Walker (Text, etc., iii, 212): The word meant is undoubtedly scared. Scare is frequently, if not uniformly, spelt scarre in the Folio, e. g., Tro. & Cress., near the end, last page, col. 1, ‘Scarre Troy out of it selfe.’ Rom. & Jul., V, iii, p. 79 (erratum for 77), col. 1, ‘But then a noyse did scarre me from the Tombe.’ And 1 Henry VI: I, vi, p. 100, col. 1, ‘The Scar-Crow that affrights our Children so.’ And Steevens's note.—Verity (Student's Sh.): ‘Scarred’ is stronger and more vivid than the suggested alteration, scared.—Case (Arden Sh.): Scar'd was adopted by Rowe without any advantage from exchanging one hyperbole for another. The heavens or heavenly bodies are often in danger in Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great (both parts), see, for example, Pt ii, II, iv. (ed. Cunningham, 39 b): ‘And with the cannon break the frame of heaven
Batter the shining palace of the sun,
And shiver all the starry firmament.’
cleep That is, embrace. See Shakespeare passim.
The Anuile of my Sword Steevens: Aufidius so styles Coriolanus because he had formerly laid as heavy blows on him as a smith strikes on his anvil. So in Hamlet: ‘And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
On Mars's armour forged for proof eterne
With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword
Now falls on Priam,’ II, ii, 511-514.—
W. A. Wright repeats, substantially, this explanation, adding: ‘It would have been unnecessary to explain this but for the proposal to read handle instead of “anvil” (Green, Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers, p. 327).’
Know thou first, Theobald (Letter to Warburton, 12 Feb., 1729, in Nichols, ii, 487): I would point it, ‘—Know thou, first,’ etc. Though I loved my wife before I married her, yet was I not more rejoiced to see her first enter my house, than I now am in seeing thee here. [See Text. Notes. Delius also offers the same suggestion.—Ed.]—Staunton: ‘First’ apparently means here noblest, as in i, 39, where Volumnia calls Coriolanus ‘my first son.’—Rev. John Hunter: We believe that Aufidius simply means that he would first mention the sincerity of his love for the maid he married in order to give effect to the protestation of his delight at seeing Coriolanus. [C. & M. Cowden Clarke interpret this use of ‘first’ here in the same sense as does Hunter.—Ed.]—P. A. Daniel: Read, ‘Know, thou first!’ i. e., thou first of men. Aufidius addresses Coriolanus throughout in superlatives: ‘All noble Marcius!’ ‘Thou noble thing!’ ‘Thou Mars!’ ‘Most absolute sir.’ Compare i, 39, where Volumnia addresses Coriolanus as ‘My first son.’
neuer man Sigh'd truer breath Malone: The same expression is found in our author's Ven. & Ad., ‘I'll sigh celestial breath, whose gentle wind Shall cool the heat of this descending sun,’ [l. 189]. Again, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, by Shakespeare and Fletcher, 1634: ‘And vow that lover never yet made sigh
Truer than I,’ [V, i, 125].
But that I see thee . . . my Threshold F. Harris (The Man Sh., p. 242): Aufidius was not such a friend to Coriolanus that we can take his protestation seriously. The argument is evidently a stock argument to Shakespeare; a part of the ordinary furniture of his mind; it is like a fashionable dress of the period—the wearer does not notice its peculiarity. The truth is, Shakespeare found in the literature of his time, and in the minds of his contemporaries, a fantastically high appreciation of friendship with a corresponding disdain for love as we moderns understand it. In Wit's Commonwealth, 1598, we find, ‘The love of men to women is a thing common and of course, but the friendship of man to man, infinite and immortal.’ Passionate devotion to friendship is a sort of mark of the Renaissance, and the words ‘love’ and ‘lover’ in Elizabethan English were commonly used for ‘friend’ and ‘friendship.’ Moreover, one must not forget that Lyly, whose euphuistic speech affected Shakespeare for years, had handled this same incident in his Campaspe, where Alexander gives up his love to his rival, Apelles. Shakespeare, not to be outdone in any loyalty, sets forth the same fantastical devotion in his sonnets and plays.
my wedded Mistris . . . my Threshold Steevens: Shakespeare was unaware that a Roman bride, on her entry into her husband's house, was prohibited from bestriding his threshold; and that, lest she should even touch it, she was always lifted over it. Thus Lucan, ii, 359, ‘Tralata vetuit contingere limina planta.’—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): So far from proving that Shakespeare was ‘unaware’ of the custom in question, we think that the present passage shows that he knew the classic ceremonial of receiving a bride at the entrance of the bridegroom's house, of her being borne across the threshold, and of its having been thus specially marked as the barrier which separated her from her girlhood's condition, and which introduced her to the new sphere of a wedded home and wedded duties. We think that Shakespeare's making Aufidius advert thus particularly to the point when first he beheld his wedded mistress cross his threshold, betokens the poet's perfect consciousness that there was an ancient solemn rite connected with the circumstance; and that the word ‘bestride’ is not to be taken literally for ‘step across,’ but is to be taken as meaning ‘pass over,’ ‘cross over.’—W. A. Wright: A Roman bride was carried over the threshold of her husband's house. We know nothing of the custom of Antium in this respect, nor did Shakespeare. [As a comment on Steevens's patronising and pompous note this, by Wright, is, I think, much better than that by the Cowden Clarkes. Wright plainly shows that the question does not merit serious discussion.—Ed.]—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Aufidius is in an ecstatic mood, and must use an energetic word for the act of entering a threshold. Besides he has already passed from his figure of speech as to his Bride crossing his threshold to this new-beloved warrior putting the first foot over, in the act of entrance, according to Roman custom, without touching the threshold itself, which it was unlucky to do. Hence brides were carried over.
Once more . . . for't Deighton: I had resolved either to hew your shield from your brawny arm, or lose my own arm in the attempt. ‘Once more’ does not mean that he had ever done so before, but that he was once more to make the attempt, and either succeed in it or perish. thy Target from thy Brawne Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): That is, Shield from off his arm, so brawny that he calls it ‘Brawne.’ The emphasis in speaking should fall on the pronoun ‘mine’ in the next line, to give the contrast between the arm holding the shield and mine own arme wresting it from thine.
Thou hast beate mee out Murray (N. E. D., s. v. Out. 6. c): To a full end, completely, quite, outright. 1598. Barret: Theor. Warres, 110: ‘Such as be slaine right out.’ 1610. Tempest, I, ii, 41, ‘Then thou wast not Out three yeeres old.’—Delius: ‘Out’ does not qualify ‘beat’; but rather ‘twelve several times.’ [Thus also both Schmidt and Wright. Schmidt (Lex., s. v. Out. 5) gives several other examples of this word wherein it bears the sense completely, fully. Whitelaw and Rolfe connect ‘out’ with what precedes.—Ed.]
thy selfe Schmidt (Coriolanus): Shakespeare always writes thyself, and similar forms, as two separate words, and in many places it would be more conformable to pay attention to this orthography, since thyself is often with him only equivalent to thy person or thou. For example, ‘he whom next thyself of all the world I loved,’ [Tempest, I, ii, 68]. This will be more apparent if an adjective stands before self, ‘Your high self . . . you have obscured With a swain's wearing,’ Winter's Tale, [IV, iv, 7].
wak'd halfe dead with nothing Malone: Unless the two preceding lines be considered as parenthetical, here is another instance of our author's concluding a sentence as if the former part had been constructed differently. ‘We have been down’ must be considered as if he had written, I have been down with you, in my sleep, and wak'd, &c.—Keightley (Expositor, p. 370): [After ‘nothing’] there is apparently a line lost; or there is an aposiopesis.—W. A. Wright: The construction of the sentence goes back to l. 128, ‘I have nightly since,’ etc., as if ‘We have been down . . . throat’ were in a parenthesis.
to Rome W. A. Wright: That is, against Rome. See Much Ado, II, i, 243: ‘The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you.’ And Twelfth Night, III, iv, 248, ‘I am sure no man hath any quarrel to me.’ [See also Abbott, § 187.]
o're-beate Steevens: Though this is intelligible, and the reading of the old copy, perhaps our author wrote o'er-bear. So in Othello, ‘Is of such floodgate and o'er-bearing nature,’ [I, iii, 56. This note does not appear until Steevens's own edition, 1793, and is another lamentable example of his lack of attention to the texts of his predecessors; the more remarkable in this instance, as in the Variorum of 1773, which he himself edited with Johnson, the text, following Rowe, reads: ‘o'er-bear.’—Ed.]—Collier: The Folio, 1623, belonging to the Duke of Devonshire [has o'rebeate], while that of Lord Francis Egerton has ‘o'erbeare.’ Southern altered the word in his copy of the 4th Folio (now the property of Mr Holgate) to ‘o'er-bear.’—W. N. Lettsom (ap. Dyce ii.), in reference to Jackson's proposal ‘o'er-bear't,’ remarks: ‘The pronoun, I think, can scarcely be dispensed with here, but it should be her.’—Keightley (Expositor, 370) makes the same suggestion, and so reads in his text.—R. G. White: Every copy of the First Folio that I have seen has ‘Like a bold flood ore beate’; but Mr Collier says that the late Earl of Ellesmere's has ‘ore beare.’ I believe this to be the result of mere accidental injury to the t or the wearing of it before that copy was printed. Corrections of the Folio as it was going through the press are not to be assumed on such evidence. I have yet to find indications that they were made in any instance. Countless examples might be produced in contemporary volumes in which what appears to be an r in one copy of a book is plainly a t in another.—Cambridge Edd. (Note ix.): Mr Staunton, to whom [the Earl of Ellesmere's First Folio] has been lent, has kindly consulted it for us, and says that the reading there is ‘o're beate’ or ‘o're beare.’ He adds: ‘It is difficult to say which. There are other cases in the Folio where the t and r so nearly resemble each other that I can hardly decide between them.’—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): Rowe's correction seems to us to be obviously right, not only from the sense required here, but by the evidence afforded by another passage of similar meaning in the present play, where Shakespeare has used ‘o'er-bear’ and not ‘o'er-beat’: ‘Whose rage doth rend
Like interrupted waters, and o'erbear
What they are used to bear,’ [III, i, 299-301].
In Pericles, V, i, 195, we find: ‘Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me
O'erbear the shores of my mortality.’
It may either be that ‘'t’ is understood in this sentence, or that ‘o'erbear’ is here treated as a neuter verb, of which treatment (an active verb as a neuter verb) we have other instances in Shakespeare.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘O'erbear’ is evidently the correct reading of a word in the Folio, which may there be regarded as o'erbeat. The latter word is nothing; o'erbear, on the other hand, is the proper expression for a flood which overflows the bank and bears all before it. The lack of an object is somewhat remarkable.—W. A. Wright follows the Folio reading in the Cambridge, Globe, and Clarendon editions, though in the last of these he remarks that ‘o'erbear’ is ‘perhaps the true reading,’ quoting in support of it the passage from Othello given by Steevens, the passage from Pericles given by the Clarkes, and adding as his own contribution: ‘The ocean, overpeering of his list,
Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste,
Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
O'erbears your officers,’ Hamlet, IV, v, 102.—
Kinnear (p. 326): Both sense and metre require Jackson's correction ‘o'er-bear't.’ Compare IV, vi, 97-101: ‘A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius
Associated with Aufidius, rages
Upon our territories; and have already
O'erborne their way, consumed with fire, and took
What lay before them.’—
Verity (Student's Sh.): The metaphor of waves beating against and breaking down a barrier is a natural one, and the object of the verb is easily supplied. There seems no need for the change o'er-bear.—Gordon: ‘O'er-bear’ is Shakespeare's regular word for the action of a flood. We had it in III, i, 300. We have it again in IV, vi, 100. O'erbeat is possible, but unlikely.
You blesse me Gods Verity (Student's Sh.): It would have been a far greater ‘blessing’ if the Volscians had slain him at once.
in parts remote Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): In this cunning manner Shakespeare meets and makes use of the facts as told by Plutarch, who describes first a foray led by Coriolanus, before Rome itself was besieged. Otherwise Shakespeare leaves out the foray: that he knew he did and artistically why he did, this mention may persuade us.
ere destroy. But come in E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Various emendations have been proposed to avoid the octosyllabic line. But Aufidius ends his address with a dramatic pause; the rest of the speech is spoken as the two move towards the inner door of the hall. [To the same effect Abbott, § 484, remarks that ‘the last syllable of “destroy” seems prolonged.’—Ed.]
Enter . . . Seruingmen S. Brooke (p. 240): It is characteristic of Shakespeare's work that he introduces here, after Aufidius and Coriolanus meet, a humorous episode in the talk of the servants. The two leaders deceive themselves into an apparent friendship, each ignorant of what their passions of pride and envy are sure to produce. But the servants see much further than their masters. They see the folly of both these great men and laugh at it, especially at that of their master. Their talk is an excellent piece of wit, of human nature; and also of their class, when they are mere hirelings. They have not a vestige of care for their country, only for their own interests. ‘Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as day does night; it's sprightly, waking, full of vent. . . . The wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians.’ And it may be that Shakespeare meant a satire on the class feeling of the nobility of Rome by noting something of the same kind in a different and a lower class.—Bradley (Shakespearean Tragedy, p. 61): Sometimes [towards the close of a] Tragedy we find humourous or semi-humourous passages. On the whole such passages occur most frequently in the early or middle part of the play, which naturally grows more sombre as it nears the close; but their occasional introduction in the Fourth Act, and even later, affords variety and relief, and also heightens by contrast the tragic feelings. For example, there is a touch of comedy in the conversation of Lady Macduff with her little boy. Purely and delightfully humourous are the talk and behaviour of the servants in that admirable scene where Coriolanus comes disguised to the house of Aufidius; of a more mingled kind is the effect of the discussion between Menenius and the Sentinels in V, ii.; and in the very middle of the supreme scene between the hero, Volumnia, and Virgilia, little Marcius makes us burst out laughing (V, iii.).
I had thoght Schmidt (Coriolanus): Shakespeare uses ‘I had thought’ rather than ‘I thought,’ and quite according to rule, inasmuch as the thought was abortive, and, conformably, the infinitive perfect follows; especially in the sense: I meant, I was about, I had a mind, where the intention has not come to fruition; for example, ‘I had thought, sir, to have held my peace,’ Winter's Tale, [I, ii, 28]; ‘I had thought to have yerked him here under the ribs,’ Othello, [I, ii, 5]. stroken Compare, for this participial formation, Jul. Cæs., III, i, 209, ‘How like a deer, strucken by many princes, Dost thou lie here.’
my minde gaue me Bradley (N. E. D., s. v. give. vi, 22.): Of one's ‘heart,’ mind, conscience, etc.: To suggest to one that; in unfavourable sense, to misgive. Also to prompt (one) to do something. Also, quasi-impersonal, It gives me = I have a foreboding. 1551. Robinson tr. More's Utopia: I. (Arber), 67, ‘To speke truelye as my minde geueth me.’ [Compare also Henry VIII: V, iii, 109, ‘My mind gave me, In seeking tales and informations Against this man. . . . Ye blew the fire that burns ye.’—Wright compares I, ix, 68, ‘To us that give you truly’; but this, I think, is not strictly parallel to the present passage; ‘give’ there means rather to represent, as in Ant. & Cleo., I, iv, 39, ‘men's reports Give him much wrong'd.’—Ed.]
I cannot tell how to tearme it W. A. Wright: The servants find it as difficult to express themselves as Bottom did on waking from his transformation.
He is simply . . . an assault too Case (Arden Sh.): This is an ambiguous passage. The Folio reading in l. 175 gives the adversative ‘but’ in ‘but a greater soldier than he’ a more natural effect, and makes the first servingman unmistakably mean Aufidius as the greater soldier in his first speech. What follows is ambiguously expressed, and throws doubt on the reading by creating a strong probability that Coriolanus is intended, but yet it is not inconsistent with a preference of Aufidius as the profession by both servants up to the intervention of the Third. On the other hand, Dyce's text [l. 171], if adopted—and it has very strong claims—extends the verbal ambiguity by not distinguishing which—in ‘but a greater soldier than he you wot on’—is the greater soldier, as well as which, in l. 174, is worth six of the others. But looking at the whole, including what follows after the entry of the Third Servingman, the first impression on reading Dyce's text, namely, that Coriolanus is intended in both cases, is confirmed. The ambiguity in ll. 170-172 arises from the fact that the words ‘but a greater soldier than he you wot on’ may mean a qualification of assent to the rare excellence of Coriolanus in this particular sense, ‘but you know of a greater soldier than he is’ (the sense of the Folio text), ‘but (also he's) a greater soldier than one you know of.’ ‘You wot on (or of)’ is a form of expression used to avoid an imprudent or indecent reference. See Two Gentlemen, IV, iv, 30, ‘'twas I did the wrong you wot of,’ Meas. for Meas., II, i, 155.
You wot one E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): I accept Dyce's emendation because both the servants seem agreed that Coriolanus is the better soldier.—Verity (Student's Sh.): You know the one I mean; ‘wot on’ (Dyce) would be simpler, or ‘you wot the one.’—Page: There is no making any consistent sense of what the servingmen say. By reason of their bewilderment, and from fear of speaking disparagingly of their own master (which may be high treason), their opinions are expressed confusedly, and in such manner as to mean either that Coriolanus is better than Aufidius, or vice versa. Further on they grow bolder.—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): The ‘but’ is certainly in favour of the Folio reading. What follows is in favour of Dyce's correction; and there would be no need of mystery if the servant were praising his master. In I, ii, 6 the Folio has ‘thought one’ for ‘thought on.’
Worth six on him Delius: In the opinion of the 2nd Servant Aufidius outweighs six such as Coriolanus. The following ‘him’ in ‘I take him’ refers to Aufidius.—W. A. Wright: Delius interprets this as referring to Aufidius, and so we should infer from the First Servingman's reply, but it is not consistent with what follows, ll. 191, 192, and perhaps Shakespeare did not intend that the servants should, in their admiration for Coriolanus, always express the same opinion of their master.
Come we are fellowes and friends Deighton: As fellows and good friends we may say among ourselves what we really think; and so I do not hesitate to admit that Marcius was always more than a match for our master. The Second Servant, who a short while before had asserted that Aufidius was worth six of Marcius, now that he finds which way the wind is blowing and that he need not be afraid of being betrayed to his master, turns round and admits that, after all, his master was no match for Marcius.
directly W. A. Wright: Like ‘simply,’ in l. 168, ‘directly’ here means plainly, manifestly. Compare Othello, II, i, 221, ‘Desdemona is directly in love with him.’ [Abbott compares Jul. Cæs., III, iii, 22, ‘Directly, I am going to Cæsar's funeral,’ where ‘directly’ means without ambiguity; Schmidt (Lex.） also takes it here in this sense, which is, I think, more consistent than the meaning plainly, as given by Wright.—Ed.] to say the Troth W. A. Wright: That is, truth. In this sense it is always used with ‘speak’ or ‘say.’ See Mid. N. Dream, II, ii, 36, ‘And to speak troth I have forgot our way.’ And Cymbeline, V, v, 274, ‘Now fear is from me, I'll speak troth.’ Elsewhere it signifies faith, as in Mid. N. Dream, II, ii, 42, ‘One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth.’ In a very considerable number of passages ‘troth’ has been changed by modern editors to truth.
scotcht W. A. Wright: That is, cut, slashed, as a cook slashes a beefsteak. Compare Macbeth, III, ii, 213, ‘We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it,’ where Theobald substituted ‘scotch'd’ for ‘scorch'd,’ the reading of the folios. The substantive occurs in Ant. & Cleo., IV, vii, 10, ‘I have yet Room for six scotches more.’
boyld Craig (Arden Sh.): There is no necessity to change ‘boiled’ to broiled, with Pope, as is usually done. The Second Servant wants to vary the metaphor a little; he means he was at his mercy.—Case (Ibid.): All the same, broiling naturally follows scotching, and boiling does not.
he is so made on That is, so much is made of him.
set at vpper end o'th'Table ‘In an Elizabethan mansion the hall, where the meals took place, was furnished with an upper table capable of extension, known as a draw-table, at which the family sat, chairs being set for the master and mistress of the house and stools for the younger members of the household and ordinary guests; along the sides of the hall were ranged plain long tables and forms for the servants and poorer dependents. When guests could not find room at the high table, the upper ends of the side tables were used for their accommodation, a salt being placed where the distinction of class commenced.’ Percy Macquoid, The Home (Shakespeare's England, vol. ii, ch. xx, p. 123). at vpper end For other examples of the omission of the after prepositions in adverbial phrases see Abbott, § 90, or Shakespeare passim. No question askt . . . but . . . before him Craig (Arden Sh.): That is, as to precedency; no one objected.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): ‘But’ is here a conjunction, unless.—Deighton: So far from venturing to show any doubt in their welcome by putting questions to him, the senators stand bareheaded in his presence.—Case (Arden Sh.): Of the three interpretations, in all probability the last and simplest is the right one.
Sanctifies himselfe with's hand Johnson: Alluding, improperly, to the act of crossing upon any strange event.—Malone: I rather imagine the meaning is, ‘considers the touch of his hand as holy; clasps it with the same reverence as a lover would clasp the hand of a mistress.’ If there be any religious allusion, I should rather suppose it to be the imposition of the hand in confirmation.— Steevens: Perhaps the allusion is (however out of place) to the degree of sanctity anciently supposed to be derived from touching the corporal relic of a saint or martyr.
sole . . . by th'eares Steevens: So Heywood, Love's Mistress, 1636, ‘Venus will sowle me by the ears for this,’ [III, i. (ed. Pearson, vol. v, p. 137)]. Perhaps Shakespeare's allusion is to Hercules dragging out Cerberus.—W. A. Wright: Major Moor in his Suffolk Words and Phrases gives, ‘Sowle. To seize a swine by the ear. “Wool 'a sowle a hog?” is a frequent enquiry into the qualifications of a dog. . . . Shakespeare happily uses the word in the exact Suffolk sense. “He'll go, he says, and sowle the porter of Rome's gate by the ears,” Coriolanus, IV, v. The last three words would be redundant to a Suffolk audience.’ It is found also in Hunter's Hallamshire Glossary, and according to Forby, Vocabulary of East Anglia, it is used in Norfolk and pronounced soll. Ray records it as a Lincolnshire word, and it is given also in Peacock's Dialect of Lonsdale and in Atkinson's Cleveland Glossary, as well as in the list of words at the end of Marshall's Rural Economy of Yorkshire. Rome Gates Compare III, iii, 130; for other examples of like noun compounds see, if needful, Abbott, § 430.
poul'd Johnson: That is, bared, cleared.—W. A. Wright: ‘To poll’ is, properly, to cut the hair, as in 2 Samuel, xiv, 26, in the description of Absalom, ‘And when he polled his head, for it was at every year's end that he polled it.’ [Steevens and Malone give several other examples of this use of the word.—Ed.]
Directitude Malone: I suspect the author wrote, Whilst he's in discreditude, a made word, instead of discredit. He intended, I suppose, to put an uncommon word into the mouth of this servant which had some resemblance to sense, but could hardly have meant that he should talk absolute nonsense.— Collier (Notes & Emendations, etc., i, 360): Perhaps the following [emendation] may be considered as belonging to the class of literal errors superabundant in both folios. ‘Directitude’ is clearly a misprint for dejectitude, a rather fine word, used by the third Servant to denote the disastrous condition of the affairs of Coriolanus, which might be just as unintelligible to the first Servant as ‘directitude.’ The blunder must have been produced by the scribe having written deiectitude with an i instead of a j.—Singer (Sh. Vindicated, p. 223): What does the passage gain by the change of ‘directitude’ for the equally non-descript word dejectitude? There can be no doubt that the Servant is intended to blunder in the use of ‘directitude,’ which he mistakes for discreditude.—T. Mommsen (Der Perkins Folio, p. 274): If, as Malone contends, the Servant was not intended to speak absolute nonsense, but merely to use an unusual word, wherein lay the source of amusement for the audience? The servant is not speaking pompous nonsense, like another Don Armado, but rather the purest servant-jargon, the prime characteristic of which is the use of strange words and the being baffled by them. When Mr Singer says that ‘directitude’ is a blunder of the Servant's for discreditude—which Malone suggests as a manufactured word—we really do not know whether Mr Singer or the Servant is the cleverer. The faulty utterance of the one dictating or the reader could, with an intentionally corrupt word, easily lead to yet greater corruption, as in Aristophanes, where a dialect is being spoken.—Leo (Coriolanus): The Servant himself does not understand the word that he uses or else he would show his erudition by answering the question. At all events he means dejectitude, the emendation of Collier's MS. Corrector.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): The Third Servant, wishing to use a fine long word and intending to coin some such term as discreditude from discredit, or dejectitude from dejectedness (Shakespeare using the words discredit, deject, and dejected in such a way as to countenance either of these suggestions), blunders out his grandiloquent ‘directitude.’ The author's relish of the joke is pleasantly indicated by his making the First Servant repeat the word amazedly, as if not knowing what to make of it, and ask its meaning; and then making the Third Servant avoid the inconvenient enquiry by not noticing it, but running on with his own harangue. [Were the Clarkes unaware that in both of their proposed readings they were anticipated? It is unusual for them to omit mention of the source of emendations given by them.—Ed.]—Whitelaw: That is, whilst he holds straight on the way prescribed to him, like a beast submitting to be driven. The word is no doubt an intentionally clumsy coinage (whether from direct or from direction） on the pattern of rectitude.—Schmidt (Coriolanus): Rather than Malone's discreditude we might suggest, with regard to what follows, a perversion of decrepitude. The word should remain clearly unintelligible, in comical contrast to the simple phrase ‘show themselves his friends,’ but spoken with the excusatory expression ‘as we term it.’—W. A. Wright: It is quite useless to speculate as to what the serving man intended, for he merely uses a sounding word without well knowing what it meant. That Shakespeare ‘could hardly have meant that he should talk absolute nonsense’ does not seem to be quite so impossible as Malone imagined. Menenius certainly imposes on the mob with words of his own coinage.—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): High-flown nonsense, of course, as the question of the next line shows. Malone's guess that he meant ‘discreditude’ is a good one; but not that the author so wrote, because it is clear that the author meant to show the fellow losing his little meaning in a heap of words, and capping his climax with ambitious senselessness.
like Conies after Raine John Burroughs, in his Notes by the Way, ed. v, p. 188, says: ‘In our northern or New England states we should have to substitute woodchucks for rabbits [in this passage], as our rabbits do not burrow, but sit all day in their forms, under a bush or amid the woods, and as they are not seen moving about after a rain, or at all by day; but in England Shakespeare's line is exactly descriptive.’
reuell all with him Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘Revel’ bears originally perhaps not the idea of rioting, but rather the freedom from all restraint. ‘Was't you that revelled in our parliament?’ asks Margaret in 3 Henry VI: I, iv, 71, of the captured York who had borne himself there as though master. In the same play ‘his father (i. e., Henry V.) revelled in the heart of France,’ [II, ii, 150]. In the present passage, therefore, the word does not convey a meaning in any way in contradiction to the picture of the conies after rain.
This peace is nothing Steevens: I believe a word or two have been lost. Shakespeare probably wrote, This peace is good for nothing, but, &c. [Steevens, as usual, ignores the work of his predecessor Capell, see Text. Notes.—Ed.]
audible Schmidt (Coriolanus): Not hearable, but rather with the active sense, hearing well, having an open ear. full of Vent Johnson: That is, full of rumour, full of materials for discourse.—Collier (Notes & Emendations, etc., p. 360): ‘Full of vaunt,’ says the old corrector, with much greater plausibility, full of deeds deserving to be vaunted. —Singer (Sh. Vindicated, etc., p. 223): This is a very unnecessary change; Johnson is right in his explanation. Shakespeare puts this word into the mouth of the conceited Servant to ridicule it, as he, in common with Ben Jonson, has done in Twelfth Night. Thus in Volpone, II, i, ‘Pray you what news, sirs, vents our climate?’ —T. Mommsen (Der Perkins Folio, p. 237): The common reading may well be retained, with comparison to, ‘Thou didst make tolerable vent of thy travel,’ All's Well, II, iii, 213, although it is possible that here also vaunt should be written. The other passages, such as, for example, Twelfth Night, IV, i, 12, where ‘to vent one's folly’ is merely a translation of ‘to vent one's secret,’ are not admissible, and it should be noted, in the first place, that vent absolute, equivalent to utterence, rumour, is admissible, as Johnson explains it. Vaunt is excellently appropriate.— Later: I am of the opinion that the Folio reading is best elucidated by, full of fresh air, in contradistinction to the dull condition of peace.—Delius: ‘Full of vent’ means everything whereby one may throw aside all restraint, that which furnishes opportunity for a man to sow his wild oats.—Staunton: ‘Vent’ is voice, utterance.—Baynes (Edinburgh Review, Oct., 1892, p. 339): The phrase ‘full of vent’ has so perplexed the critics that more than one has proposed to substitute for it ‘full of vaunt.’ The Folio text is, however, perfectly accurate, and peculiarly expressive, although it has never yet been correctly explained. The only explanation attempted is that of Johnson, repeated by subsequent editors, that ‘full of vent’ means ‘full of rumour, full of materials of [for] discourse.’ This, however, is a mere conjecture, and not a happy one, as it altogether misses the distinctive meaning of the phrase. ‘Vent’ is a technical term in hunting to express the scenting of the game by the hounds employed in the chase. Both noun and verb are habitually used in this sense. Their exact meaning and use will be made clear by an extract or two from Turberville's translation of Du Fouilloux, the popular manual of hunting in Shakespeare's day. The first extract refers to the wiles and subtleties of the hart when keenly pressed in the chase: ‘therewithall he wil lie flat downe vpon his bellie in some of their layres, and so let the houndes ouershoote him: and bicause they should have no sent of him, nor vent him, he wil trusse all his .iiii. feete vnder his belly and wil blow and breath vpon ye grounde in some moyst place: in such sorte yt I haue seene the houndes passe by such an Harte within a yeard of him and neuer vent him,’ [Booke of Hunting, Tudor and Stuart Library, p. 111]. Further on the author, speaking of the hart, says again expressly, ‘When he smelleth or venteth anything, we say he hath this or that in the wind.’ In the same way, when the hound vents anything, he pauses to verify the scent, and then, full of eager excitement, strains in the leash to be after the game that is thus perceived to be a-foot. The following extract from the rhyming report of a huntsman upon sight of a hart in pride of grease illustrates this: ‘Then if my Prince, demaund what head he beare,
I answere thus, with sober words and cheare:
My liege I went, this morning on my quest,
My hound did sticke, and seemde to vent some beast,’ [Op. cit., p. 96].
The use of the noun is exemplified in another hunting rhyme, or huntsman's soliloquy, entitled ‘The Blazon of the Hart,’ which is of special interest from the vividness of the picture it brings before us: ‘And whiles I seeke his slotte where he hath fedde
The sweete byrdes sing, to cheare my drowsie hedde
And when my Hounde, doth streyne vpon good vent,
I must confesse, the same dothe me content,’ [p. 60].
The technical meaning and use of the word in these passages is sufficiently clear, and it will be seen how happily Shakespeare employs it. To strain at the lyam or leash ‘upon good vent’ is in Shakespeare's phrase to be ‘full of vent,’ or in other words, keenly excited, full of pluck and courage, of throbbing energy and impetuous desire, in a word, full of all the kindling stir and commotion of anticipated conflict. This is not only in harmony with the passage, but gives point and force to the whole description. War is naturally personified as a trained hound roused to animated motion by the scent of game, giving tongue, and straining in the slips at the near prospect of the exciting chase. This explanation justifies the reading of the Folios, ‘sprightly walking, audible, full of vent,’ or at least affords a better explanation of it than has yet been offered. Staunton explains ‘sprightly walking’ as ‘quick moving or marching,’ with evident reference to military movements, and with regard to the special phrase under review he says boldly, ‘vent is voice, utterance.’ But the previous epithet, ‘audible,’ gives this feature of the description ‘vent,’ referring not to sound at all, but to the quick perception of the game, and the signs of eagerness, such as kindled eye, dilated nostril, and muscular impatience, which keen relish for the sport produces. In such a connection ‘sprightly walking’ would refer to the more lively and definite advance arising from the discovery of good vent as compared with the dissatisfied snuffings and uncertain progress when nothing is in view. [This article is reprinted in Baynes's volume, Shakespeare Studies, p. 300.—Ed.]—Whitelaw: That is, full of excitement, letting off of steam, freedom of utterance.—Schmidt in his notes to this play here accepts the interpretation of Delius that ‘full of vent’ means, with complete lack of all restraint, and so defines it in his Lexicon, s. v. Vent (5), with the present passage as the only example, adding, ‘If “vent” is, indeed, a technical term of sportsmen for scent, as it has been asserted in Edinb. Rev., Oct., 1872, and it could be proved to have been so in the time of Shakespeare, the explanation given there would be undoubtedly preferable to any other.’— W. A. Wright: According to the view [of the writer in the Edinburgh Magazine] war is compared to a pack of hounds in full cry. But I think it is scarcely in accordance with what follows in the description of peace, where the epithets appear to correspond to the epithets applied to war, but in an inverted order: ‘insensible’ corresponding to ‘spritely,’ ‘sleepy’ to ‘waking,’ ‘deaf’ to ‘audible,’ and ‘mulled’ to ‘full of vent.’ If this view is correct, the figure involved in ‘full of vent’ is not from the hunting field, but the expression must be descriptive of something in wine which is the opposite to that conveyed by ‘mulled.’ And as ‘mulled’ signifies ‘flat, insipid,’ ‘full of vent’ would seem to be either effervescent, working, ready to burst the cask, or full of scent. Cotgrave, indeed, gives ‘Odorement . . . a smell, waft, sent, vent’; but it does not appear from this that ‘vent’ means ‘scent’ except as a hunting term, and I therefore hesitate to suggest that it is equivalent to what is now termed the bouquet of wine.—Hudson (ed. ii.): ‘Full of vent’ has puzzled the editors vastly; and we are at last indebted to The Edinburgh Review, for what seems a right explanation of it.—Page: ‘Full of vent’ may mean simply full of utterance, i. e., sound or noise. Compare Ven. & Ad., 334, ‘Free vent of words love's fire doth assuage.’—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): The epithets of war and peace correspond to each other, spritely to insensible; waking to sleepy; deaf to audible, which must therefore have an active sense; mulled, to full of vent, which accordingly means ‘full of go,’ like champagne. It has been proposed unnecessarily to explain this last as a hunting term. Compare Macbeth, I, iv, 29, ‘full of growing.’—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): That is, full of outlets for energy; compare the use of ‘vent’ in III, i, 316.—Cholmeley: ‘Full of vent’ is opposed to ‘mulled’ in the next line. The meaning of neither expression is clear, but probably the metaphor is from wine in both cases, ‘full of vent’ meaning lively, ready to escape from the cask or bottle, while mulled wine is a comparatively flat concoction.—Madden (p. 53, foot-note), in corroboration of Baynes's interpretation, says: ‘The word “vent” occurs as a verb, in the sense of to scent in Spenser (Shepheard's Calendar) and Drayton (Polyolbion). It is the Norman-French equivalent for the Anglo-Saxon “wind,” used frequently in the sense of scent by Shakespeare, both as a verb and as a substantive: Tit. Andron., IV, i, 97; ibid., IV, ii, 133; All's Well, III, vi, 122; ibid., V, ii, 10; 3 Henry VI: III, ii, 14; Hamlet, III, ii, 262. In the Shepheard's Calendar the bullock “venteth into the winde.” This term of art must have been somewhat unusual in poetry, for Spenser thinks it needful to explain it in his Glosse thus, “venteth, snuffeth in the winde.” It is strange that the restoration of the Folio thus suggested has not been generally adopted. Dr Schmidt (Lexicon) accepts it conditionally upon its being shown that the word “vent” bore the meaning attributed to it; a condition surely amply fulfilled. The comparison of war (King John, IV, iii, 149) to an eager hound is a favorite one with Shakespeare, as in Henry V: III, i, 31, and Jul. Cæs., III, i, 273.’—Verity (Student's Sh.): Literally ‘full of the scent’ of the game, and so ‘full of dash and spirit,’ like a hound which strikes the trail and at once ‘gives tongue’; compare ‘audible.’ The metaphor here from hunting follows naturally on the metaphor in ll. 217, 218; and Shakespeare more than once compares war with a hound. The Glossary of the Globe ed. has, ‘like wine, full of working, effervescent, opposed to “mulled.”’ But the other explanation of ‘vent’ as a term of the chase is the one now commonly accepted, and there can be little doubt, if any, as to its correctness now that the history of ‘vent’ has been fully ascertained. Note that it opposes the phrase not merely to ‘mulled,’ but to the whole description of peace, especially to ‘insensible.’ I see no need to pair off each epithet as a precise contrast. The speaker is a serving-man, and such people are not masters of exact antithesis.—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Scenting the game ahead and full of life, as a hound strains to be let loose for the chase when upon the scent, ‘vent’ being for the hound, in hunting terminology, what ‘in blood’ is for the game.—Gordon: ‘Full of vent’ is literally full of emission or discharge; i. e., bursting with strong life (like strong wine), bubbling over, effervescent; opposed to ‘mulled’ in the next line. Compare I, i, 243, ‘to vent Our mustie superfluity.’ This explanation is a modification of that given by the Globe editors. The explanation now in favour is that ‘vent’ is a hunting term. A hound was said to ‘vent’ the game when he smelt him in the wind. War would then be likened to a pack of hounds in full cry; ‘audible’ would express their cry; and ‘full of vent’ would mean ‘full of the spirit of the chase.’ This is attractive but far-fetched. It is obtained by (1) singling out for over-emphasis one term of the four, and (2) entirely neglecting the antithesis in the four terms that follow in ll. 229, 230. The antithesis is strict and unmistakable: ‘insensible’ ((‘spritely,’ ‘sleepy’) (‘waking,’ ‘deaf’) (‘audible,’ ‘mulled’)), ‘full of vent.’ The hunting men who proposed the explanation may be pardoned their over-emphasis, but not their neglect of the whole structure of the passage. If ‘mulled’ corresponds to ‘full of vent,’ as it must, then ‘full of vent’ can have nothing to do with hunting.— Deighton apparently accepts the interpretation offered by Baynes that ‘vent’ is here used as the technical hunting term for scent. As regards Wright's interpretation Deighton remarks: ‘Granting a correspondency between the epithets (though “deaf” can hardly be said to correspond with “audible”), we have no proof that “mulled” meant in Shakespeare's day “flat, insipid.” At present the term is generally used of wine boiled with sugar and spices. But this modern sense Skeat says is due to a total loss of the original sense of the word. “The older form is mulled ale, a corruption of muld-ale or mold-ale, literally a funeral ale or banquet. . . . Compare Lowland Scotch mulde-mete, literally mould-meat, a funeral banquet.” In this uncertainty as to the figures intended I have preferred to retain the Folio reading “sprightly walking.”’—Case (Arden Sh.): As war is spritely, wide awake, keen of ear, so, possibly, it is full of utterance, vents much; compare ‘What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent,’ III, i, 316. Others are confident of allusion to hunting in the technical term vent, and some trace a personification of war as a trained hound through the series of expressions. It is true that Shakespeare makes war a dog elsewhere, but in plain language. Mr Craig, in the Little Quarto Shakespeare, combating this idea, thinks that ‘“full of vent” may mean, very efficacious to clear the country of its surplus population,’ and refers to I, i, 243, 244. This is given here as his only recorded interpretation of the passage, but with emphatic dissent. Wright sees an apposition in the epithets given to war and peace respectively, taken in reverse order. A correspondence may exist, but it may also be only apparent or accidental. Such exactitude is in strong contrast with what follows. That which is sprightly, walking, etc., may indeed destroy men, but apoplexy, lethargy, or anything sleepy and insensible may be acquitted of any activity in getting bastards.
Peace, is a very Apoplexy . . . of men H. Coleridge (ii, 179): ‘Plague of this dead peace,—this bastard-breeding, lousy, idleness,’ Fletcher, Mad Lover, Act I. By these, and many other scattered allusions in the plays of the period, we may conjecture that the long shutting of the Temple of Janus by the Rex Pacificus was far from popular. Yet there can be no doubt that in preserving peace, and neglecting the military, he acted most beneficially for the people, though ruinously for his family and the regal power.—Bucknill (Medical Knowledge, etc., p. 210): The activity and vigour of a state of war is paradoxically preferred to peace, as if the former were a state of health, and the latter a disease. Hamlet makes peace the time of health, though of plethoric health which ripens into war. Apoplexy is here confounded with lethargy, which is described as proceeding by the degrees—mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible. The term ‘apoplexy’ is used rather loosely by Shakespeare in many places, but always to signify an affection of the brain; whereas modern physicians have most absurdly used the same term for sudden diseases of other organs, and thus speak and write of apoplexy of the lungs and apoplexy of the liver.—Br. Nicholson (Notes & Queries, 16 Oct., 1886, p. 305): The phrasing [Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy] does not seem to me idiomatic English. To make it ordinary idiomatic English we must, I think, do one of two things. Either with Walker insert a before ‘lethargy,’ and also punctuate apoplexy; this makes the clause from ‘lethargy’ an explanation of ‘apoplexy’; and it may be remarked that such an explanation agrees very exactly with Falstaff's, ‘This apoplexy is, I take it, a kind of lethargy; . . . a kind of sleeping in the blood’ (2 Henry IV: I, ii, 104-5). Or we might read apoplexylethargy, the lethargy consequent on an apoplectic attack. And with reference to either suggestion it should be remembered that in those days ‘apoplexy’ did not bring to mind those ideas with which it is now associated. Thus Andrew Boord, ‘Doctor of Phisicke,’ in fol. 16 of the Breviarie of Health, 1552, tells us: ‘Apoplexis is the Greek word [ἀρορληξία, a sudden smiting]. In Latin it is named Percussio. In English it is named a sodeyne striking downe, taking away a mans wit, reson, and moving.’ mull'd Hanmer: That is, softened and dispirited, as wine is when burnt and sweetened. Latin: Mollitus.—Leo (Coriolanus): The only instance in Shakespeare where this word is used, and I agree, therefore, with Walker's emendation, mute. [Leo does not, however, adopt it in his text.—Ed.]—Case (Arden Sh.): That is, softened, drowsified like mulled wine, which is heated, spiced, and sweetened. So, perhaps, especially if contrasted with ‘full of vent,’ but the N. E. D. cites this passage under a rare obsolete verb ‘of obscure origin,’ meaning: To dull, stupefy, together with another from Cotton's Poems, 1689, p. 96, ‘Till ale which crowns all such pretences, Mull'd them again into their senses.’ It is, however, difficult to give this sense of dull, stupefy to Cotton's word even ironically. It occurs in a Burlesque upon the Great Frost and refers to two sides at foot-ball who were literally frozen stiff, ‘With a good handsome space between 'em.’ This points rather to the sense softened. The N. E. D., in discussing the origin of mull (to mull ale, etc.), says: ‘Another unsupported conjecture is that the original sense may have been “to soften,” “render mild” (compare Dutch mul, soft), of which Mull [to dull, stupefy] might be another application.’ The Cotton passage seems to favour that conjecture.
then warres a destroyer of men Malone: That is, than wars are a destroyer of men. Our author almost everywhere uses wars in the plural. See l. 232. Mr Pope, not attending to this, reads, ‘than war's, etc., which all the subsequent editors have adopted.—Steevens: I should have persisted in adherence to the reading of Mr Pope had not a similar irregularity in speech occurred in All's Well, II, i, 26, where the second Lord says, ‘O, 'tis brave wars!’ as we have here, ‘wars may be said to be a ravisher.’ Perhaps, however, in all these instances the old blundering transcribers or printers may have given us wars instead of war.—Boswell (Var. '21): Mr Malone had collected twenty-four instances from various contemporaries of Shakespeare in support of the text, but as the phraseology which Mr Steevens questioned is not altogether disused even at this day, I have forborne to insert them.—Dyce (ed. ii.): The two passages [the present one and that from All's Well] are not similar; and besides, though our author frequently uses ‘wars’ for ‘war,’ the first words of the present speech, ‘Let me have Warre,’ prove that in the concluding portion of it he employed the singular.— W. N. Lettsom: In our passage War is personified and is opposed to Peace. It is surely impossible that under such circumstances Shakespeare would have used the plural, particularly when he had begun with the singular.
Reason W. A. Wright: That is, with good reason, or there is reason for it. Compare King John, V, ii, 130, ‘He is prepared, and reason too he should.’ because they then lesse neede one another Warburton: Shakespeare, when he chooses to give us some weighty observation upon human nature not much to the credit of it, generally (as the intelligent reader may observe) puts it into the mouth of some low buffoon character.