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Com. I shall lack voice; the deeds of Coriolanus Should not be uttered feebly.—It is held, That valor is the chiefest virtue, and Most dignifies the haver; if it be, The man I speak of cannot in the world Be singly counterpoised. At sixteen years, When Tarquin made a head for Rome,' he fought Beyond the mark of others; our then dictator, Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight, When with his Amazonian chin he drove The bristled lips before him ; he bestrid An o'er-pressed Roman, and i' the consul's view Slew three opposers; Tarquin's self he met, And struck him on his knee. In that day's feats, When he might act the woman in the scene, He proved best man i’the field; and for his meed Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age Man-entered thus, he waxed like a sea ; And, in the brunt of seventeen battles since, He lurched * all swords o’the garland. For this last, Before and in Corioli, let me say, I cannot speak him home. He stopped the fliers; And, by his rare example, made the coward Turn terror into sport; as waves 5 before A vessel under sail, so men obeyed, And fell below his stem; his sword (death's stamp) Where it did mark, it took : from face to foot He was a thing of blood, whose every motion Was timed with dying cries : alone he entered
1 When Tarquin, who had been expelled, raised a power to recover Rome.
2 The parts of women were, in Shakspeare's time, represented by the most smooth-faced young men to be found among the players. There were no theatres at Rome for the exhibition of plays until about two hundred and fifty years after the death of Coriolanus.
3 Plutarch says, “ seventeen years of service in the wars, and many and sundry battles ; " but from Coriolanus's first campaign to his death was only a period of eight years.
4 To lurch is to win or carry off easily the prize or stake at any game.
5 Thus the second folio; the first folio, “as weeds,” &c., which Malone adheres to.
6 The cries of the slaughtered regularly followed his motion, as music and a dancer accompany each other.
The mortal gate' o' the city, which he painted
Our spoils he kicked at ;
He's right noble ;
I do owe them still
It then remains,
you do speak to the people.
1 The gate which was made the scene of death.
4 Coriolanus (as Warburton observes) was banished A. U. C. 262. But till the time of Manlius Torquatus, A. U. C. 393, the senate chose both consuls; and then the people, assisted by the seditious temper of the tribunes, got the choice of one. Shakspeare follows Plutarch.
It is a part
I do beseech you,
Sir, the people
Put them not to't ;
Mark you that?
Do not stand upon't.We recommend to you, tribunes of the people, Our
purpose to them ; ? and to our noble consul Wish we all joy and honor. Sen. To Coriolanus come all joy and honor !
[Flourish. Then exeunt Senators. Bru. You see how he intends to use the people. Sic. May they perceive his intent! He will require
Come, we'll inform them
1 “ Your form " is the form which custom prescribes to you.
2 “We recommend to you, tribunes of the people, to declare our purpose to them.”
Enter several Citizens. 1 Cit. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.
2 Cit. We may, sir, if we will.
3 Cit. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do; for if he show us his wounds, and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those wounds, and speak for them ; so, if he tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is monstrous; and for the multitude to be ingrateful, were to make a monster of the multitude; of the which, we, being members, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
1 Cit. And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve;
we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.
3 Cit. We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely colored ; and truly I think, if all our wits were to issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south; and their consent of one direct way should be at once to all the points o’the compass. 2 Cit. Think you so ?
Which way, do you judge, my wit would fly?
3 Cit. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's will ; 'tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead ; but if it were at liberty, 'twould, sure, southward.
2 Cit. Why that way?
1 i. e. once for all. 2 Once signifies here one time, and not as soon as ever, which Malone takes to be its meaning. Rowe inserted when after once, which is, indeed, elliptically understood.
3 Consent is accord, agreement.
3 Cit. To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for conscience sake, to help to get thee a wife.
2 Cit. You are never without your tricks :-You may, you may
3. Cit. Are you all resolved to give your voices ? But that's no matter; the greater part carries it. I say, if he would incline to the people, there was never a worthier man.
Enter CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS. Here he comes, and in the gown of humility; mark his behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his requests by particulars; wherein every one of us has a single honor, in giving him our own voices with our own tongues. Therefore follow me, and I'll direct
go by him.
All. Content, content.
[Exeunt. Men. O sir, you are not right; have you not known The worthiest men have done it? Cor.
What must I say?I pray, sir,-plague upon't! I cannot bring My tongue to such a pace. -Look, sir ;-my
them in my country's service, when
O me, the gods !
Think upon me! hang 'em! I would they would forget me, like the virtues Which our divines lose by them.?
1 The force of this colloquial phrase appears to be, “ You may divert yourself as you please at my expense.”
2 “ I wish they would forget me, as they do the virtuous precepts which our divines preach to them.” This is another amusing instance of anachronism.