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Thou should'st not scape me here.-[They fight, and cer
tain Volces come to the aid of AUFIDIUS. Officious, and not valiant-you have sham'd me In your condemned seconds.?
(Exeunt fighting, driven in by MARCIUS.
The Roman Camp.
Alarum. A Retreat is sounded. Flourish. Enter at one side,
COMINIUS, and Romans; at the other side, Marcius, with his arm in a Scarf, and other Romans.
Com. If I should tell theel o’er this thy day's work, Thou 'lt not believe thy deeds: but I 'll report it, Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles; Where great patricians shall attend, and shrug, l'the end, admire; where ladies shall be frighted,
- 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. Why may we not as well be contented with the old reading, and explain it, You have, to my shame, sent me help, which I must condemn as intrusive, instead of applauding it as necessary? Mr. M. Mason proposes to read second instead of seconds; but the lat. ter is right. So, King Lear: “ No seconds? all myself?” Steevens. We have had the same phrase in the fourth scene of this play:
“Now prove good seconds.!” Malone. 1 If I should tell thee &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: “ There the consul Cominius going up to his chayer of state, in the presence of the whole armie, gaue thankes to the goddes for so great, glorious, and prosperous a victorie: then he spake to Martius, whose valliantnes he commended beyond the moone, both for that he him selfe sawe him doe with his eyes, as also for that Martius had reported vnto him. So in the ende he willed Martius, he should choose out of all the horses they had taken of their enemies, and of all the goodes they had wonne (whereof there was great store) tenne of eucry sorte which he likest best, before any distribution should be made to other. Besides this great honorable offer he had made him, he gaue him in testimonie that he had wonne that daye the price of prowes above all other, a goodly horse with a capparison, and all furniture to him: which the whole armie beholding, dyd marvelously praise and commend. But Martius stepping forth, told the consul, he most thanckefully accepted the gifte of his horse, and
And, gladly quak'd, hear more; where the dull Tribunes,
Pray now, no more: my mother:
you have done; that 's what I cau; induc'd
You shall not be
was a glad man besides, that his seruice had deserued his generalls commendation: and as for his other offer, which was rather a mercenary reward, than an honourable recompence, he would none of it; but was contented to haue his equall parte with other souldiers.” Steevens.
And, gladly quak’d,] i. e. thrown into grateful trepidation. To quake is like wise used as a verb active by T. Heywood, in his Silver Age, 1613:
“We ’ll quake them at that bar
“ Where all souls wait for sentence." Steevens. 3 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. Fohnson. a charter to extol ---] A privilege to praise her own son.
Fohnson. that's for my country:] The latter word is used here, as in other places, as a trisyllable. See Vol. II, p. 160, n. 3.
Malone. He, that hath but effected his good will,
Hath overta'en mine act.] That is, has done as much as !
“ The flighty purpose never is o’ertook,
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
Mar. I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
Should they not,
I thank you, general;
cast up their Caps and Lances: COMINIUS and
L.ARTIUS, stand bare. Mar. May these same instruments, which you profane, Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shallo
not to reward
“To herald thee into his sight, not pay thee.” Steevens. 3 Should they not, ] That is, not be remembered. Johnson.
When drums and trumpets shall &c.] In the old copy:
when drums and trumpets shall
“ Let him be made an overture for the wars:' All here is miserably corrupt and disjointed. We should read the whole thus:
when drums and trumpets shall
An overture for the wars! The thought is this, If one thing changes its usual nature to a thing most opposite, there is no reason but that all the rest which
l' the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be Made all of false-fac'd soothing! When steel grows Soft as the parasite's silk, let him be made
depend on it should do so too. [If drums and trumpets prove flatterers, let the camp bear the false face of the city.] And if another changes its usual nature, that its opposite should do so too. [When steel softens to the condition of the parasite's silk, the peaceful hymns of devotion should be employed to excite to the charge.] Now, in the first instance, the thought, in the common reading, was entirely lost by putting in courts for campsi and the latter miserably involved in nonsense, by blundering hymns into him. Warburton.
The first part of the passage has been altered, in my opinion, unnecessarily by Dr. Warburton; and the latter not so happily, I think, as he often conjectures. In the latter part, which orly I mean to consider, instead of, him, (an evident corruption) he substitutes hymns; which perhaps may palliate, but certainly has. not cured, the wounds of the sentence. I would propose an alte: ration of two words:
when steel grows “ Soft as the parasite's silk, let this [i. é. silk] be made
“ A coverture for the wars!” The sense will then be apt and complete. When steel growssoft as silk, let armour be made of silk instead of steel. Tyrwhitt.
It should be remembered, that the personal him, is not unfrequently used by our author, and other writers of his age, instead of it, the neuter; and that overture, in its musical sense, is not so ancient as the age of Shakspeare. What Martial has said of Mutius Scævola, may however be applied to Dr. Warburton's pro. posed emendation:
Si non errâsset, fecerat ille minus. Steevens. Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, interprets the word Overture thus: “ An overturning; a sudden change.” The latter sense suits the present passage sufficiently well, understanding the word him to mean it, as Mr. Steevens has very properly explained it. When steel grows soft as silk, let silk be suddenly converted to the use of war.
We have many expressions equally licentions in these plays. By steel Martius means a coat of mail. So, in King Henry VI P. III:
“ Shall we go throw away our coats of steel,
“ And wrap our bodies in black mourning gowns?" Shakspeare has introduced a similar image in Romeo and Fiis liet:
Thy beauty hath made me effeminate,
“ And in my temper soften’d valour's steel.” Overture, I have observed since this note was written, was used by the writers of Shakspeare's time in the sense of prelude or preparation. It is so used by Sir John Davies and Philemon Holland. Malone.
An overture for the wars! No more, I
Too modest are you;
[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and Drums. All. Caius Marcius Coriolanus!
Cor. I will go wash;
1 For what he did, &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: “After this showte and noyse of the assembly was somewhat appeased, the consul Cominius beganne to speake in this sorte. We cannot compell Martius to take these giftes we offer him, if he will not receane them: but we will geue him suche a rewarde for the noble seruice he hath done, as he cannot refuse. Therefore we doe order and decree, that henceforth he be called Coriolanus, onles his valiant acts haue wonne him that name before our nomination.” Steevens.
2 The folio-Marcus Caius Coriolanus. Steevens. 3 To undercrest your good addition,
To the fairness of my power.) A phrase from heraldry, signi. fying, that he would endeavour to support his good opinion of him. Warburton.
I understand the meaning to be, to illustrate this honourable distinction you have conferred on me by fresh deservings to the