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Malone

Malone in his first edition of The Chronological Order of Shakespeare's Plays, which was given in the prefatory matter in vol. i. of the Variorum of 1778, assigns Coriolanus to the year 1609, and thus it appears also in his own edition of 1790. Malone gives for this arbitrary date no reasons other than, that as the other plays derived from Plutarch are assignable to the years between 1607 and 1609, Coriolanus naturally follows Julius Cæsar and Antony & Cleopatra. In his final revision of the list which appears in the Variorum of 1821 Malone advances the date one year and assigns Coriolanus to 1610. Abandoning his former reasons for accepting 1609 as the date of composition he says:

“‘Cominius, in his panegyric which he pronounces on Coriolanus, says:

“He lurch'd all swords of the garland.

In Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, Act V, Sc. last, we find (as Mr Steevens has ob- served) the same phraseology: “You have lurch'd your friends of the better half of the garland.” I formerly thought this a sneer at Shakespeare; but have lately met with nearly the same phrase in a pamphlet by Thomas Nashe, and suppose it to have been a common phrase of the time. 1 [See note by Malone, II, ii, 113.— Ed.] This play is ascertained to have been written after the publication of Camden's Remaines, in 1605, by a speech of Menenius in the first Act, in which he endeavors to convince the seditious populace of their unreasonableness by the well-known apologue of the members of the body rebelling against the belly. This tale Shakespeare certainly found in the Life of Coriolanus as translated by North, and in general he has followed it as there given; but the same tale is also told of Adrian the Fourth by Camden in his Remaines, p. 199, under the head of Wise Speeches, with more particularity; and one or two of the expressions, as well as the enumeration of the functions by each of the members of the body, appear to have been taken from that book.

In Camden the tale runs thus: “All the members of the body conspired against the stomach, as against the swallowing gulfe of all their labours; for whereas the eies beheld, the eares heard, the handes laboured, the feete travelled, the tongue spake, and all partes performed their functions; onely the stomache lay ydle and consumed all. Hereuppon they joyntly agreed al to forbeare their lazie and publike enemy. One day passed over, the second followed very tedious, but the third day was so grievious to them all, that they called a common counsel. The eyes waxed dimme, the feete could not support the body; the armes waxed lazie, the tongue faltered, and could not lay open the matter. Therefore they all with one accord desired the advice of the heart. There Reason layd open before them,” &c.

The heart is called by one of the citizens, “the counsellor-heart”; and in making the counsellor-heart the seat of the brain or understanding, where Reason sits enthroned, Shakespeare has certainly followed Camden.

The late date which I have assigned to Coriolanus derives likewise some sup- port from Volumnia's exhortation to her son, whom she advises to address the Roman people—

“—now humble as the ripest mulberry.
Which cannot bear the handling.”

In a preceding page I have observed that mulberries were not much known in England before the year 1609. Some few mulberry-trees, however, had been brought from France and planted before that period, and Shakespeare, we find, had seen some of the fruit in a state of maturity before he wrote Coriolanus.

1

But in Nashe there is only the word ‘lurch,’ which is of frequent occurrence, and the combination of this with ‘the garland’ by Ben Jonson seems to me to indicate that he had Shakespeare's phrase in mind, whether he intended to sneer at it or not, and I am therefore inclined to attach to the coincidence more weight than Malone felt himself justified in doing.

W. A. Wright (Clarendon Preface; Sh., p. ix.)

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