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ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 19. but they think, we are too dear:] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth.
Line 23. Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes:] It is plain that, in our author's time, we had the proverb As lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obscure. Rake now signifies a dissolute man, a man worn out with disease and debauchery. But the signification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rakel, in Islandick, is said to mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the first use among us of the word rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthless to be fed. JOHNSON.
-I will venture
To scale't a little more.] To scale is to disperse. The word is used in the North. STEEVENS. disgraces with a tale.] Disgraces are hardships, JOHNSON.
Line 98. injuries.
-where the other instruments-] Where for JOHNSON.
-participate,] i. e. participating.
- 114. Which ne'er came from the lungs,] With a smile not indicating pleasure, but contempt. JOHNSON. Line 123. The counsellor heart,] The heart was anciently esteemed the seat of prudence. Homo cordatus is a prudent man. JOHNSON.
Line 176. Thou rascal, thou art worst in blood, to run Lead'st first, to win some 'vantage.] The meaning is perhaps only this, thou that art a hound, or running dog of the lowest breed, lead'st the pack, when any thing is to be gotten.
JOHNSON. Line 180. The one side must have bale.] Bale is an old Saxon word, for misery or calamity.
"For light she hated as the deadly bale."
Line 191. That like nor peace, nor war? The one affrights you, The other makes you proud.] Coriolanus does not use the two sentences consequentially, but first reproaches them with unsteadiness, then with their other occasional vices. JOHNS, -Your virtue is
To make him worthy, whose offence subdues him,
And curse that justice did it.] i. e. Your virtue is to speak well of him whom his own offences have subjected to justice; and to rail at those laws by which he whom you praise was punished. STEEVENS.
-I'd make a quarry
With thousands-] Why a quarry? I suppose, not because he would pile them square, but because he would give them for carrion to the birds of prey. JOHNSON. . Line 247. the heart of generosity,] To give the final blow to the nobles. Generosity is high birth. 'Tis true, that you have lately told us;
Line 269. The Volces are in arms.] Coriolanus had been but just told himself that the Volces were in arms. The meaning
is, The intelligence which you gave us some little time ago of the designs of the Volces is now verified; they are in arms. JOHNSON. Line 305. Your calour puts well forth:] That is, you have in this mutiny shewn fair blossoms of valour. JOHNSON. Line 312. - to gird-] To sneer, to gibe. So Falstaff uses the noun, when he says, every man has a gird at me. JOHNSON. Line 315. The present wars devour him: he is
Too proud to be so valiant.] I concur with Mr. Steerens. "The present wars," Shakspeare uses to express the pride of Coriolanus, grounded on his military prowess: which kind of pride Brutus says devours him. MALONE.
Line 332. Of his demerits rob Cominius.] Merits and demerits had anciently the same meaning. STEEVENS.
Line 341. More than his singularity, &c.] We will learn what he is to do, besides going himself; what are his powers, and what is his appointment. JOHNSON,
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 371. To take in many towns,] To take in here means as in many other places, to subdue. MALONE.
for the remove
Bring up your army:] Says the senator to Aufidius, Go to your troops, we will garrison Corioli. If the Romans bestege us, bring up your army to remove them. If any change should be made, I would read,
--for their remove.
ACT I. SCENE III.
Line 405. brows bound with oak.] The crown given by the Romans to him that saved the life of a citizen, which was accounted more honourable than any other.
Line 435. Than gilt his trophy:] Gilt means a display of gold, a word now obsolete. STEEVENS. Line 460. -mammock'd it.] To mammock is to pull in pieces, to tear. STEEVENS.
Line 464. A crack, madam.] The following. passage in the Cynthia's Revels of Ben Jonson, may best explain this term:
-Since we are turn'd cracks, let's study to be like cracks, "act freely, carelesly, and capriciously." STEEVENS
ACT I. SCENE IV.
Line 590. Who sensible, out-dares-] The thought seems to have been taken from Sidney's Arcadia, p. 293.
"their flesh abode the wounds constantly, as tho' it were "less sensible of smart than the senseless armour, which by piece"meal fell away from them, by the blows it received." STEEV.
Thou wast a soldier
Even to Cuto's wish: not fierce and terrible
Only in strokes, &c.] Plutarch, in the Life of Coriolanus, relates this as the opinion of Cato the elder, that a great soldier should carry terrour in his looks and tone of voice; and the poet, hereby following the historian, is fallen into a great chronological impropriety. THEOBALD.
Line 602. —make remain—] Is an old manner of speaking, which means no more than remain. HANMER.
ACT 1. SCENE V.
Line 606. -prize their hours-] Coriolanus blames the Roman plunderers only for wasting their time in packing up trifles of such small value. STEEVENS. Line 609.
doublets that hangmen would
Bury with those that wore them,] Instead of taking them as their lawful perquisite. MALONE,
ACT I. SCENE VI.
-the Roman gods
Lead their successes as we wish our own;] i. e. May the Roman gods, &c. MALONE. Line 685. Ransoming him, or pitying,-] i. e. remitting his JOHNSON.
Line 717. And that you not delay the present ;] Delay, for let WARBURTON,
Line 718. swords advanc'd,] That is, swords lifted high.
you to march;
And four shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclin'd.] I cannot but suspect this passage of corruption. Why should they march, that four might select those that were best inclin'd? How would their inclinations be known? Who were the four that should select them? Perhaps, we may read,
-Please you to march,
And fear shall quickly draw out of my command,
It is easy to conceive that, by a little negligence, fear might be changed to four, and least to best. Let us march, and that fear which incites desertion will free my army from cowards. JOHNS.
ACT I. SCENE VIII.
Line 763. thy fame and envy:] Envy here, as in many other places, means malice. MALONE.
Line 773. Wert thou the Hector,
That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,] The Romans boasted themselves descended from the Trojans, how then was Hector the whip of their progeny? It must mean the whip with which the Trojans scourged the Greeks, which cannot be but by a very unusual construction, or the author must have forgotten the original of the Romans; unless whip has some meaning which includes advantage or superiority, as we say, he has the whiphand, for he has the advantage. JOHNSON.
-you have sham'd me
In your condemned seconds.] For condemned, we may read contemned. You have, to my shame, sent me help which I despise. JOHNSON.
ACT I. SCENE IX.
Line 784. And, gladly quak'd,] i. e. thrown into grateful trepidation. STEEVENS.
Line 792. Here is the steed, we the caparison:] This is an odd encomium. The meaning is, "this man performed the action, and we only filled up the show." JOHNSON: -a charter to extol-] A privilege to praise her JOHNSON.